Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ratatouille at Tastes of Chicago

Tastes of Chicago is a yearly event here in the city, and the largest street festival in the Midwest. Over the years, it has grown into a huge 10-day (or so) event, with 1 to 2 million attendees gouging their way through various food being offered.

But besides the food vendors, there are also many other vendors and displays there. This year, lo and behold, we found a huge presence of the promotion for Ratatouille. There's a tent that shows the 7-minute version of the movie, a large Eiffel Tower, a small stage, and a "cheese wedge slide". They were also giving away paper hats that look like a chef's hat from the front, and Remy at the back. They are certainly pulling out all the stops in promoting this movie.

Here are a few pictures that I took today at of the Ratatouille promotion at Tastes of Chicago.


A Secret Way To Savor Illuminations at Epcot

Even I haven't done this, and I may have heard about this "cruise" to enjoy Illuminations at Epcot. Still, this is a brief report on one such excursion. It is interesting that you don't even have to pay for admission into Epcot. It appears that the boat loads people at the Yacht and Beach Club, brings them in to the lagoon surrounding the World Showcase (or what the writer called We Are The World Showcase), view the show, and then cruise back to the Yacht Club.

My question is, where did the boat dock during the fireworks?


Interview With Brian Dennehy

The NY Daily News has a rather sweet interview with Brian Dennehy, who voiced Django in Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille (have you seen it yet?). I like the part where he says this:

"You won't have to worry about bringing kids of any age to see 'Ratatouille' [pronounced rat-a-TOO-ee]," he says of the animated film that opened yesterday. "But at the same time, it doesn't play down to an audience."

The movie isn't a series of one-liners or gags. It is certainly has an "adult" sensibility.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Mrs. Potts Takes A Tumble

Thanks to John Frost at The Disney Blog for pointing this out. Mrs. Potts took a tumble during the Beauty and the Best show at WDW. As he said, when you are on such a stage, any mistakes might end up on YouTube.

Actually, I still can't stop giggling after watching the video, and I'll probably continue to do that for some time. Just hope no one around thinks I've gone over the edge....


Harry Potter Had A Sneak Peak at Downtwon Disney

One would think that since Harry Potter theme land is coming to Universal Orlando, that the most logical place to do a sneak peak of the next Harry Potter movie would be somewhere at or near Universal Studios. But it turns out, a few lucky Harry Potter fans got a sneak peak of the new movie at Downtown Disney.

Too bad this overshadows the opening of Ratatouille.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Ratatouille

... hum. I really don't mind more Ratatouille. I like that dish! :)

Anyway, here are more video links related to Ratatouille:

Two rough animation tests called: “Emile’s Workout” and and “Emile’s Magic Trick”. These are fun and hilarious videos. I wish they include these on the DVD!

This is the 9-minute version of the movie, which I believe is similar to the one Disney has posted on their website.

You can view and download images from the movie here.

A whole bunch of other videos on Ratatouille can be found at the YouTube Ratatouille Channel.

It is a visually stunning and glorious movie. Don't miss it.


Ratatouille Officially Opens Tomorrow

... with rave reviews. Still, many figures that this movie will be a hard sell for Disney.

I've already posted my review of this movie, which I saw during a sneak preview a couple of weeks ago. It is a gorgeous movie, and I would say, has the strongest storyline of any pixar movie. It just did not have the same level of "fun" as most of the other Pixar movie. This is certainly a more "grown-up" Pixar movie than most.

If you see Ratatouille during the opening weekend, you can get a free Ratatouille pin at a Disney Store with your ticket stub. In addition, if you belong to the Disney Movie Rewards program, your ticket stub will get you 100 points each.

So plenty if incentives to go see this movie. I hope you do. It is a movie to behold and wonder.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Disney's Doorway To Dreams

Just came in the mail yesterday to DVC members in the Chicago area:

Disney's Doorway to Dreams is the first store of its kind anywhere - and you can be among the first to see it! Disney Vacation Club Members and their friends are invited to a special preview of this new retail experience, which brings the magic of Disney Vacation Club to Chicago

Aug. 1st-3rd: Special Member Preview
Aug. 4th : Grand Opening - Come celebrate with Mickey and his friends.

I'm definitely planning on going on the 4th, but I'll try to see if I can trek out there on the member preview. I am definitely curious to see what it looks like. Hum... Maybe I'll wear a Mickey Ears hat! :)


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Double Dose of Disney Electronics

CNET has a quick look at 2 Disney electronics that are making their debut in the market. The first is the Disney dual-screen portable DVD player, which has two separate LCD screens, perfect for 2 kids to watch the same movie without being to close to each other. You'll no longer here "Mommy! Bobby just touched me!"

The second is a rather cheap, 3 megapixel Disney digital camera. I guess for kids, this would work.


Disney Board to Discuss Improvement to DCA and Hong Kong Disneyland

A rumor reported on LaughingPlace indicates that the Disney board of directors will be meeting this week to OK the project to improve California Adventure. However, a separate initiative to improve Hong Kong Disneyland will also be tabled, and that might compete with the limited resources available for California Adventure.

California Adventure is the vane of many Disney fanatics. Many would like to see it completely razed and a new theme to be built. I thought that it was rather strange to have a "California" theme in the same state anyway, especially when most of the locals can see the authentic locales in their own backyards or neighborhood. Still, since I don't live in California, I don't find DCA as "offensive" and boring as most of the regulars there. But I can certainly see why DCA is not pulling in the crowds that it should, and why Disney fans hate it.

Re-themeing it with something more exotic should work. But they somehow have to incorporate into their theme the two most popular attractions there - Soarin' Over California, and the watered-down Tower of Terror. Unless, of course, they do the unthinkable and raze even those two attractions.


Teen Dies on Disneyland Paris Ride

Another incident on a Disney ride. A teen was unconscious and later died while on the Rock N' Rollercoaster ride at Disneyland Paris Resort.

Not sure if this is the first incident at this theme park. Still, the ride is closed while they investigate.


Child Left In Stroller At Disney World

Sometime, when you think you've read everything, another piece of news made you sit up and shake your head.

These "parents" (and I use the word loosely here because I think apes and chimps are better parents than these people) left their child in the stroller, IN THE HOT SUN, while they went to ride on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at The Magic Kingdom. UNBELIEVABLE!

According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Juan and Dannette Rodriguez left the 3-year-old sitting in a stroller in the sun while they went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

The little girl was there for 45 minutes.

By the time anyone noticed, the girl was unresponsive due to heat exhaustion and had to be revived by paramedics.

I'm utterly speechless.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Another Scholarly Paper Out of Disney

An exploratory investigation of the effect of working in an environmentally themed facility on the conservation-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of staff.

Authors: Amy Groff, Donna Lockhart, Jacqueline Ogden (Walt Disney World Resort. Florida, USA); Lynn D. Dierking (Institute for Learning Innovation. Maryland, USA)

Environmental Education Research, Volume 11, Issue 3 July 2005 , pages 371 - 387.

Abstract: In the past decade, we have seen an increased focus on measuring the impact of zoos, aquariums, and other free-choice learning environments on the conservation-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of the visiting public. However, no such studies have been conducted on the impact of such environments on the staff working in these facilities - the very staff that in turn interact with the public on a daily basis. Clearly these interactions are recognized as being important; for example, the thousands of staff employed by Disney's Animal Kingdom are regularly provided with conservation-related training - both formal, in-class experiences, as well as more informal experiences with animals; these are a mixture of compulsory and freely chosen experiences. An exploratory qualitative study was conducted to investigate the impact of working at Disney's Animal Kingdom on staff knowledge, attitudes, and behavior related to animals and their conservation. The resulting findings offer preliminary evidence that working in an environmentally themed setting has a positive impact on all of these variables, and that particular experiences - notably experiences in back-of-house animal holding areas and with animal staff - are key. These findings suggest that further investigation into the impact of working in such learning settings could be fruitful in understanding the role that the work place plays in supporting the free-choice learning of staff. This is important both from the perspective of the staff themselves, and in relation to the impact that these individuals may have on visitors to free-choice learning settings.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Disney's Tarzan Will Close July 8th.

I can't say that I'm surprised by this. The Broadway performance of Tarzan will be closing July 8 after barely a year of performance. As far as I can remember, it was the only Disney Broadway musical to open with poor reviews. Even Aida had way stronger reception than Tarzan, and I consider Aida as the least successful of the slew of Disney's Broadway musicals, till now.

It's too bad that they're closing the show now after deciding to close down Beauty and the Beast to make way for The Little Mermaid. Beauty still had legs, and it could have gone on for a few more successful years, certainly doing better than Tarzan would have. No word yet on what will replace Tarzan, or even if it will be a Disney production.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Teens Face Crackdown at Downtown Disney

Security is being beefed up at Downtown Disney, especially after this last "incident" of an apparent abduction. The Disney security are targeting teens in particular especially after several incident of "wannabe gangbangers" starting to congregate and harassing guests.

Hopefully, it will make Downtown Disney a lot more pleasant, especially in the late evening. I still want to do my late evening walks from Saratoga Springs to Downtown Disney whenever I stay at SS. Maybe this crackdown will cause these kids to think twice before they mess with the Mouse.


Hannah Montana Mania

Wow! Did anyone watch Good Morning America this morning? At 7:00 am, Bryant Park in NYC was full of tweens waiting for the Hannah Montana thingy! Considering that many of these kids usually find it hard to wake up that early in the morning, it's amazing what a Hannah Montana craze could make them do!



Disney Tosses Toons Topper

Looks like the creative team of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull can certainly flex its muscle. The president of the DisneyToons direct-to-DVD operations has lost her job over the continuing problems with The Tinkerbell Movie.

Multiple sources also said that Morrill, who had headed DisneyToons since its inception in 1994, has repeatedly clashed with Pixar Animation toppers John Lasseter and Ed Catmull over creative differences on "Tinkerbell" following Disney's puchase of Pixar early last year.

For many avid Disney fans, these direct-to-video animations have been, on average, horrendously bad and diluted the Disney brand. So it will be interesting to see if there's any change in this operation and quality of its product.

Edit: Ooooh.. in fact, in another news report, it appears that this line of production might be ending. Reports has appeared that John Lasseter has been able to convince Bob Iger to end this direct-to-DVD profitable creative wasteland after the pipeline is empty.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

One Mighty Party 2007

On our last trip this past May/June 2007, we attended a private event at Disney-MGM Studios. It's one of the biggest party of the year, and certainly befitting the name One Mighty Party. This was part of the "Red Shirt Day" event at WDW.

Since the event started at 8:30 pm, the attendees entered Disney-MGM Studios via the cast member entrance, since the park still had regular guests. We managed to see a bit of the backstage area.

We past several familiar sights as they directed us to where ever we were supposed to be.

We then realized that they were directing us right to the Light, Motor, Action stadium, and in fact, until it reached capacity, the on-stage area of the stadium. They closed access to the on-stage area as soon as it reached capacity, so the rest of the attendees has to settle for seats in the stadium itself to watch the rest of the show.

The opening show that evening was Kathy Griffin. Needless to say, she was at her outrageous best, especially with her type of audience.

Kathy Griffin performed for about 45 minutes. After that, we were then herded towards the rest of the park, meaning we made a beeline towards the Sorcerer Hat, Tower of Terror, and Rock 'N Rollercoaster. Both rides, and Star Tours, were open to the party attendees. They herded us though the Streets of NY to get there.

Pictures of some of the party goers as we made our way towards The Hat.

The plaza in front of the Hat became one massive dance floor. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.... goes the beat.

The avenue leading to the Tower of Terror and Rock 'N Rollercoaster were full of people.

One final look at the theme park during the party.

We didn't stay that long, and left right as Donna Summer took to the stage (she was late). It was starting to drizzel, so we left early, and didn't even wait for the fireworks, which eventually went off at around 12:30 am. (we could hear the fireworks all the way to our resort at Old Key West).

It was certainly One Mighty Party.


Disney-Funded Referendum Headed for Ballot

Looks like the Disney-funded coalition to preserve the resort district in Anaheim has collected enough signature and is heading to the ballot.

On Wednesday, the city clerk approved signatures collected by a Disney-funded coalition for a ballot measure to overturn the council's 3-2 decision to allow homes in the Anaheim resort area. The office certified 14,200 signatures, more than the required 13,192, or 10 percent of registered voters, City Clerk Linda Nguyen said. Election officials found 6,397 invalid signatures.

In all of this, it is sad that the issue of affordable housing for ENOUGH people is lost. This developer is providing token affordable housing in return to its agenda of selling luxury condos within the resort area. The Anaheim City Council bought this scam hook, line, and sinker. Let's see if the Anaheim residents themselves and see through this.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pictures from Disneyland

A few pictures from Disneyland (thanks, Simon!) from this past weekend. The first is a picture of the vehicles at Autopia, while the other two are the new Finding Nemo sub from the new attraction there. I was told that the lines for that now is ONLY an hour long (or slightly more), rather than 4 hours long last week.

Crazy! Even Expedition Everest didn't see wait lines that long.


A Touch Of Romance At Disney World

So if you need help (or hints) on being romantic or romantic things to do while at WDW, this news article seems to have a few suggestions. Unfortunately, romance can come at a rather steep price, such as the Chef's Table at Victoria and Albert, not to mention, difficult to get.

I can't see why screaming your head off with the one you love while plunging down Splash Mountain isn't as romantic!



Man Rescued From Disney Lake Faces Charges

Oy vey. This person is lucky that he was swimming in a "Disney lake", because any other lake in FL and he could have been alligator food!

Investigators said the man, who is in his 20s, was swimming in the lake after a night of drinking

Still, he might still be trouble for the fib he told police.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Interview With The Vice President of The Magic Kingdom Theme Park

This is an interview with Phil Holmes, the Vice President of the Magic Kingdom theme park. In it, he stated that he started at or near the bottom and worked his way up:

Q: Like a remarkable number of other theme-park executives, not just here but anywhere, you started out at or near the bottom. How come that still works well in this business, compared with others?

A: For our company, a lot of our success is based on continuing to bring great people in. I think the culture is one of the draws. It really comes back to the associations and the people who are some of the best in the industry we do. You really enjoy the camaraderie and learning from each other. That has always served us well. What better way to learn the theme-park business than to grow up in it?

The question is, with the wages and employment nature as they are today, how many talented and dedicated cast members are willing to sacrifice their livelihood to stay there that long? Do they still have the ability to retain the outstanding cast members to produce another Phil Holmes?


Tigger and Pooh Renewed

It seems that just a month after its debut on the Disney Channel, the CGI-animated Tigger and Pooh series is a hit with toddlers and .... er.... women? It is already being renewed for a 2nd season.

Of course, many Pooh purists are aghast with this since it replaces Christopher Robin with a little girl named Darby. But obviously the kids don't care about such things.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Finding the Magic in Disney World

This is a hilarious and fun "trip report" from a Canadian reporter, but going to WDW not as one, but as someone accompanying a 4-year old.

And there are thousands of parents here today, many of them pushing multi-passenger strollers with unnatural patience; most of the American families wear matching clothing and mouse ears. The Canadian visitors remain less conspicuous, usually identifiable only by Toronto Maple Leafs T-shirts and white legs.

Hey, now I know how to finally identify those Canadians, other than the obvious ones hanging around the Canada pavilion at Epcot.

But here's where this reporter got a bit unrealistic:

It was remarkable, really: Each of the four parks was teeming with people, but everyone was polite, orderly and fully engaged by the experience. There were no enraged parents or crying kids anywhere in sight. Who throws a tantrum at Disney World?

Obviously, he hasn't been there too many times before, or during one the Brazilian school children trips! :)


Robinsons Coming to DVD is reporting that Meet The Robinsons will be released on DVD on October 23. The content of the DVD (and the Blu-Ray version) is available at that website. Unfortunately, I am highly disappointed that the animation shorts that accompanied the regular movie and the 3D movie are not included in the DVD. I would have loved to see "Working for Peanuts" that was shown with the 3D version of Robinsons be included in the DVD.


Walt Disney Named Top 'Art Hero'

Even after being dead for more than 30 years, this man still is highly admired, even by a generation that never saw him alive.

American animator Walt Disney is the most respected artist among 18-25 year olds, beating the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, a survey suggests.

Which is why many Disney fans truly believe that his legacy will continue forever.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Review of Ratatouille

We saw the sneak peak of Ratatouille last night. The theater was about 3/4 full, mainly because I think most people missed the TV spot indicating the sneak preview. But not only did a lot of the general public missed it, it seems that the projectionist at our theater almost missed it. After viewing the trailers, which happened to have been identical to the ones we saw when we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End (including a trailer for Ratatouille), the main feature started and it began to look VERY familiar.... yes, they started to show Pirates!

So of course, several people walked out to inform someone that they goofed. The movie abruptly ended a couple of minutes after that, and we waited for about 5 minutes before they started the show again, this time, with a different set of trailers (yes, it seems that they can't skip or fast-forward over that). Finally the movie started.

Let's get this out of the way, shall we? Ratatouille is FABULOUS! In terms of storytelling, it is one of the best that Pixar has ever produced. Not only that, the amount of details in the movie is astounding. You truly forget that you are viewing an animation. The exception being the animation associated with the human figures when they are cooking or engaging in cooking activities such as chopping, cutting, etc. Being a foodie and an avid fan of cooking shows, I find a few of the culinary actions a bit unnatural. But this is a minor complaint that most people would not even notice.

The main focus of the story is of course Remy, a rat that has a calling to being a chef. He is extremely well-animated, and you do tend to root for him in no time at all. In fact, all of the rats in the movie look good, and how many times can you say something like that? Just look at the beginning of the movie when you finally notice how rat-infested that house is. Makes the hair on the back of your neck stands up.

Now, having said all that, for me, while Ratatouille is definitely a terrific movie, in terms of the degree of "fun", it isn't as high as The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bugs Life, and Toy Story. It isn't even as much fun as Meet The Robinsons (which is a Disney movie, but not a Pixar production). Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm guessing that they set out to make a great movie, not just a "fun" movie. But in terms of big, laugh-out-loud scenes, Ratatouille does not have it, or as many. You don't have, for example, the big laugh-out-loud "That's Wicked!" scene at the end of The Incredibles, or the "Mine, Mine, Mine" chuckle of Finding Nemo. There are many funny scenes in Ratatouille, but nothing that made me laughed and cheered out loud. I think with the last two Pixar movies (Cars and Ratatouille), they are making a more "mature" animation film. They did not go for the cheap laughs.

I think if you do not expect the same hilarious expectations as previous Pixar hits, you won't be disappointed. It is a movie to behold, and you walk out in awe of the great artists that they have at Pixar. A small part of me misses the stop-all-the-traffic sense of fun that was so prevalent in A Bugs Life.


Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

We videotaped Mickey's Jammin' Jungle parade on this last trip to WDW. It is finally online. If you have not seen this parade, you might want to view it. It is one of the more creatively done parade at WDW.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Windy City Pin Traders June Meet

Had another lovely time at the June meeting of the Windy City Pin Traders. It keeps getting better and better each time we attend one of these things. This time a couple of things made it a lot more fun: we had new pins since we just got back from WDW, and two new groups of people came to the event for the first time.

Needless to say, we did a lot of pin trading. Got really very nice looking pins to add to our collection, especially the Donald collection. I think everyone there now knows we collect Donald pins.

We resting a bit now before we head off to the northern 'burbs to catch the sneak preview of Ratatouille. A few people from the pin event will also be attending the sneak preview at the same theater. I think if I wear one of my Mickey Ears hat that has the blinking lights, they would be able to find me, don't you think? :)


Friday, June 15, 2007

Meet The Robinsons Soundtrack

I mentioned a while back in my review of Meet The Robinsons that you can take a short quiz about the movie at the Disney Visa Rewards website to win the movie's soundtrack. Well, it certainly took awhile, but the soundtrack to Meet The Robinsons finally arrived today. It took slightly more than 2 months.

I'll listen to it on the way to work Monday morning.


Ratatouille Sneak Preview

While Disney-Pixar's "Ratatouille" is scheduled to officially open on June 29 (at least here in the US), several movie theaters will be showing a "sneak preview" of the movie this Saturday, June 16. We found a theater close enough to us and have bought tickets for the one and only show on Saturday evening.

So expect a review sooner than later...


Thursday, June 14, 2007

This Disney Treat Isn't For Everyone

Here's a rare look at the exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland.

Access to the club is restricted to members with reservations, and their parties. Even a Disneyland spokesman giving a tour wasn't allowed inside on one occasion.

To enter, guests lift a hidden panel in the doorway, push a buzzer on an intercom and provide a name to the receptionist. Only then will the door open to a small lobby designed like an old-fashioned French hotel, complete with a spiral staircase that wraps around a reproduction of an antique lift.

Er... I'll pass!



US Department of Energy and Disney Join Forces to Promote Energy Savings

Here's something new that I haven't seen before. The US Dept. of Energy is joining with Disney to promote wise energy use. Characters from the upcoming Disney-Pixar movie Ratatouille will be in 30-second spots to encourage viewers to convert to energy-saving lightbulbs.

Considering that the US Govt. already is consulting with Disney on the finger-scanning/recognition technology, and also how to improve the processing of visiting tourists from overseas, why not this?


Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Won't Change Name

... at least, not anytime soon. Rumors have been going around about a possible name change for the Disney-MGM Studios theme park, especially after the naming agreement with MGM expired. I first heard about them calling it The Walt Disney Studios - I even have a mug that actually says that from a couple of years ago, bought somewhere at Disney-MGM Studios theme park (but then again, this could simply be a reference to THE Walt Disney Studios in California). Then, with the acquisition of Pixar and the adding of new Monster's Inc attraction at that theme park, many were speculating that it might be renamed Disney-Pixar Studios. (isn't speculating fun?)

It seems that the official word for now is that there is no plan to change the name of this theme park. This is good, because I have automatically refer to this theme park as "MGM". :)


Followup On The Kidnapping In Downtown Disney

This is certainly something unexpected, certainly by me. The kidnap "victims" that were abducted in Downtown Disney this past weekend have refused to go any further in prosecuting the criminals.

The couple, who were visiting Walt Disney World with DellaCamera's parents, decided not to go any further with the investigation after they were asked to provide facial details for composite sketches of the robbers and to undergo voice stress analysis, a form of lie-detector test, according to the sheriff's office.

All I can say here is "Hummmm......... "


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WDW Zagat Survey

I mentioned earlier that I participated in the first ever Zagat survey of the Walt Disney World. Well, as a thank you for my participation, they sent me a free copy of the survey. I found it in my mail pile after we got back from our WDW vacation. :)

It is an interesting reading, even for hardcore WDW fans. I know that I'm familiar with the majority of attractions, dining, and other activities listed on there, but there are still a few that I haven't tried yet that got rather high rankings from fans. So this gives me more incentives (as if I need any) to go back soon! :)


Ratatouille Is Magical!

This has got to be one of the earliest review of the upcoming Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille. If this review is of any indication, they have hit a complete out-of-the-park homerun. Wow!

I am, of course, planning on seeing it on its opening weekend, so I can't wait already.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kidnapping in Downtown Disney

I'm sure this is already splattered all over the news media by now. A couple from Connecticut was kidnapped while walking towards their vehicle in the parking lot of Downtown Disney in Orlando. They were abducted into the criminal's vehicle, and then forced to withdraw money at an ATM. They were then driven away and assaulted by these losers. All of these happened around midnight last Saturday.

Of course, this raises concerns not only with the tourists, but also with Disney. Unless they want to limit access to their whole complex, unsavory criminals like this can get access to open public areas on Disney properties such as the Downtown Disney area. Having incidents like this can be a public affairs nightmare for Disney because the sense of safety and security has been shattered.

We walk around the Downtown Disney area a lot, although not very often that late in the evening. When we stay at Saratoga Springs, we regularly walk to Downtown Disney from the resort, even at night. Anyone who has walked there after dark can testify that some of parts of the path are pretty dark. I didn't have any hesitation then about walking around in that area then, but now, I may reconsider about doing that when it's dark, and certainly if there's just only 2 of us.

Still, with the clubs and various establishments in Pleasure Island going on till 2 AM, Disney may want to step up on its security for patrons leaving around that time, especially since the criminals involved in this latest incidents are still on the loose.


Monday, June 11, 2007

The Art of Animation

I think many people tend to skip this part of Disney-MGM Studios, where you go into a studio and learn how to draw a Disney character. This is too bad because other than having a good few minutes to sit down and cool off, you actually do learn how to properly draw a Disney character.

I've done this several times, but strangely enough, each time, I get to learn how to draw Mickey. Just the luck of the draw I guess. Last Sept. 2006, I got to draw Mickey's head, which didn't turn out too badly.

This past trip over May/June 2007, I also got to draw Mickey, but with a slight difference. Rather than drawing him straight on, we learned how to draw Mickey in profile. It was rather fun drawing something familiar yet new at the same time. So here is what I sketched. Again, if I may say so myself, it doesn't look half bad, no?



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End

So we finally had some time to finally see Pirates. Recall that we couldn't go see it on its opening weekend because that was when we left for our most recent vacation to Virginia and then WDW. Since we missed the opening weekend already, we thought we might as well wait a couple more weekends so that we won't be running into any big crowds. The matinée show at 11:00 am today was prefect - the theater was not even 1/4 full.

First of all, having read all the reviews that really didn't have that many good things to say about it, I wasn't expecting much. I was thinking that it might be like the Star Wars movie Ep. I, or II, or III, where it was all special effects and stunts, but not enough story. All the reviews have indicated that the movie has a convoluted story, things going in all directions, and certain things that just didn't make any sense. It was with that in mind that I saw the movie.

I will right off say that I LOVE IT! It wasn't as good as the second, and it certainly wasn't as good as the first. But I was so glad that it wasn't a dog that many reviews made it to be. I especially like the opening. It was "quiet" and an air of despair hanging over everything. That and the effort to rescue Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones Locker was actually the best part of the whole movie for me. It was only after that that the story becomes a bit convoluted, and the story got rather weak. By the time the final confrontation was about the occur, I lost track on who's betraying who to get what. During this part, they certainly depend more on the special effect to carry the movie, while the story took a back seat.

It was still a lot of fun. As with the earlier Pirates, you HAVE to stay all the way till the end of the credits because in this one, there are tantalizing hints that left open the possibility of another Pirates movie. I hope there's another one, but they will need to wait a few years to recharge, and maybe get some new blood especially in the storytelling and directing.


Archaeologists Discover Iron Iron Age Mickey Mouse

Thanks to Ivan at PF for pointing this out.

It seems that the Vikings may have had a precursor to our beloved Mickey Mouse. Archaeologists from Lund University in Sweden discovered a bronze brooch from an excavation that has such a resemblance.

"The find is from around 900 AD. It was probably a lion's head that originally came from France. It was however more than likely designed by somebody who had never actually seen a lion.

"Instead it turned into this sort of strange, fantasy animal," he told The Local.

Despite the cartoon coincidence, Rosengren insists there are no plans to open a Viking equivalent to Disneyland.

"No, I don't think so. But we do have a big exhibition at the Lund Historical Museum, which includes two to three thousand objects," he said.

Hey, if they open a Nemo-themed section, then they may be on to something. :)


Disney Hopes "Nemo Submarine" Boost Attendance At Disneyland

Disney will be opening the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction at Disneyland tomorrow (June 11, 2007). It is clearly a strategy to sustain the record crowds that visited Disneyland for its 50th Anniversary celebration more than a year ago.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is adding attractions to draw larger crowds to Disney's theme parks after last year's anniversary campaign. Using Pixar characters in the parks was part of his strategy for paying $8.06 billion for the animation studio last year. ``Nemo'' is the top-grossing Pixar movie with $864.6 million in worldwide box-office sales.

``It's only natural Disney would put in a ride for the Pixar movie that has grossed the most,'' said David Miller, a Los Angeles-based analyst for SMH Capital. ``We have always been somewhat surprised even before the Pixar acquisition there aren't more rides associated with the films.''

Well, it isn't that surprising considering that they have such a limited space there at Disneyland and limited opportunity to replace existing attractions. Having said that, it certainly took them long enough to figure out what to do with the old submarine.

Nemo has certainly "invaded" WDW, with 2 attractions related to the movie opening within a few months of each other: Finding Nemo the Musical, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. I would even consider Turtle Talk to be a "Nemo" attraction since it is clearly based on the movie (it is also an attraction that California Adventure already has). As much as I like all of them, I hope that this might be it for Nemo-related attraction for a while. There is a such a thing as an overkill (re: Who Wants to Be A Millionnaire).


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Food Network Challenge

Heads up for those of you who get The Food Network. Tomorrow, Sunday June 10, The Food Network Challenge heads back to Walt Disney World. This time, the challenge is for the contestant to build a cake around the theme of a Disney villain. Here's the synopsis from the Food Network website:

Villain Cakes
Five of America's best cake decorators travel to Disney World to compete in a cake competition where each cake revolves around a famous Disney villain.


Mike McCarey
Owner, Mike's Amazing Cakes
Redmond, Wash.
Assistant: Lana Klawitter

Richard Ruskell
Executive Pastry Chef, Montage Resort & Spa
Laguna Beach, Calif.
Assistant: Louise Chien

Hannah Tai
Owner, Hannah's Edible Art
Mill Valley, Calif.
Assistant: Cheryl Lew

Buddy Valastro
Head Decorator, Carlo's Bakery
Hoboken, N.J.
Assistant: Mauro Castano

Bronwen Weber
Executive Chef, Frosted Art Bakery & Studio
Dallas, Texas
Assistant: Jennifer Bartos


Katherine Alford
Director, Food Network Test Kitchens
New York, N.Y.

Dara Trujillo
Manager of Disney's Princess Merchandise Franchise
Orlando, Fla.

Kerry Vincent
Wedding Cake Designer/Hall of Fame Sugar Artist
Tulsa, Okla.

The show is scheduled to start at 10:00 pm, Eastern/Pacific.


Haunted Mansion at MK Closed for Renovations

The Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom has been closed down for a 3-month renovation project.

Disney plans its first major overhaul of the popular Humor-driven attraction this summer, including technology updates and a few new ghosts. The ride closed Wednesday and should reopen by mid-September.

Ride designers are promising revisions consistent with those made recently at other "classic" Magic Kingdom attractions such as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride last year and the It's a Small World ride the year before -- enhancing effects without altering the story or traditional features.

I'm glad we got to ride it while we were there last week. Not only that, if things go on schedule, we might be able to see the newly-renovated Haunted Mansion when we go back there in late Sept.


Happy Birthday, Donald Duck!

Today, June 9th, is Donald Duck's 73rd birthday. This is the info from Disney:

Donald Duck's birthday is officially recognized as June 9, 1934, the day he debuted in the Silly Symphony cartoon "The Wise Little Hen." Donald's fiery temper immediately endeared him to audiences, and in the 1940s he surpassed Mickey Mouse in the number of cartoons reaching the theaters. Eventually there were 128 Donald Duck cartoons, but he also appeared in a number of others with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto. A daily Donald Duck newspaper comic strip began on February 7, 1938.

He is reportedly more popular than Mickey Mouse in many parts of the world, especially Europe. When I was growing up, he was certainly my most favorite Disney character.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Largest Hidden Mickey in the World?

Thanks to John Frost at The Disney Blog for pointing this out (where does he find all these things? :)) This has got to be the largest hidden Mickey ever. It is outside of Orlando, close to large lakes named Lake Louisa and Trout Lake

I'm not sure what it is, and I'm not even sure if the person who did this, did it on purpose. If he did, he must be the biggest Disney fan around! :)

I did a quick Google Earth search on it and got two different view of it. Yup! It is definitely a hidden Mickey alright!


WDW and Labor Unions Strike Deal

At least we got some good news on this front. The Labor Unions representing more than 21,000 workers at the Walt Disney World has struck a deal with the company. Remember that the rank and file narrowly defeated a contract that most of the unions representatives recommended last May. So even though there was an agreed extension during the negotiations, there was still a threat of a strike.

This recent agreement is definitely good news and removed the possibility of a strike, at least within the next 3 years or so. I certainly hope the cast members reap some of the benefits from the record profits at the theme parks.


Disney Signs Exclusive Deal With Stan Lee

This certainly came out of nowhere, certainly for me. The Walt Disney Studios has signed an exclusive first-look deal with Stan Lee and his company, the creator of Spider Man.

"As the father of such renowned comic book heroes as Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men among others, Stan is considered one of the most creative and inventive forces in the industry today. His innate talent of tapping into the human qualities of his super hero characters has certainly struck a chord with generations of audiences and readers around the world," stated Cook in making the announcement. "We are honored to be working with someone as formidable as Stan and his production company and welcome them to the Disney family."

This might certainly add to the range of new characters that can be developed by Disney (read: MERCHANDISING!). It is certainly quite a coup by Disney, especially in light of recent Universal agressive pursuit and deal to get Harry Potter and the Simpsons for its theme parks.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The OLD Old Key West

During our trip last week, we stayed the Old Key West, a DVC resort. We seem to be bouncing between Saratoga Springs and OKW. It helps that they're both close to each other.

OKW is a very nice resort. Since it is the first DVC resort, it doesn't have that "new" feeling and all the vegetation are grown in. However, the only drawback is that the older part of the resort have buildings without elevators! We heard about this last Sept. when we first stayed there, but we luckily got one of the newer buildings. This time, we weren't so lucky. While the older buildings have larger rooms, the lack of elevators is certainly a drawback. And just our luck, we got a room on the 3rd floor. So imagine hauling large luggages up all that stairs.

Still, it was a nice place to stay. We'd ask for a building with elevators next time. Here are some pictures of the resort.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Splash Mountain

One of the things I have more of is a picture of me on various attractions at WDW. I tend to be the one with the camera, and then, when you are on the attractions, you can't get a good picture of yourself. Sure, there's the ride camera that snaps your picture while you're screaming your head off before plunging down Splash Mountain or Expedition Everest. But I want something that I can keep and print over and over again (and not have to pay close to $20 for it).

Luckily, on this last trip, a member of our group didn't like doing all of those roller-coaster-type of big drop rides. So he tends to stay and watch while the rest of us do the rides. On Splash, I got him to see if he could take a picture of us while we're plunging down the final drop - and he did!

So this is a picture of yours truly as he is enjoying Splash Mountain. I'm not telling you which one I am. Besides, the picture of us is blurry due to the obvious reason.


Retro Disney-MGM Studios

This is a rather fun picture from the Opening of Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. I don't recall seeing this one before. It looks like they were having a lot of fun and tongue-in-cheek ceremony.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Girl Hurt On Disney Ride Plans To Return To Park

A person hurt at the Kali River Rapids last week plans on going back to WDW. Good for her!

I was there at Animal Kingdom the morning it happened. While I did notice that Kali River Rapids didn't have people walking towards it, I didn't know what had happened until after I got back to the resort and read in the news. It was operating the day after when we walked up to the start of the line to get our stamp on a VMK Quest.


Back From My WDW Trip

It was a wonderful trip. We just flew back in last night, and I'm still tried but at work this morning. I will make a more comprehensive report on the trip once I recover. I didn't get to post as much and as often as I wanted to on here during the trip, mainly because it was getting a bit tedious posting pictures on here. Besides, I was busy spending a lot of time out at the parks! :)

So expect more detail description of the trip, including the "Red Shirt Day" at the Magic Kingdom this past Saturday.