Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm Off To The 'World'!

I'm all packed, and about ready to leave for the airport. This will be a packed, but fun trip.

The next transmission will be from the Happiest Place on Earth!


Friday, September 28, 2007

The "Reality" of Disney World

This is rather interesting to read on the eve of my trip to WDW. Author David Koenig talks about his new unauthorized look at Walt Disney World history in his new book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World. Here's some interesting tidbits from the interview:

Q: Was there ever a time when Disney World wasn't crowded?
A: Until the mid-1980s, entire months, like October, would be so unpopulated that you could safely shoot a cannon down Main Street. (But) those days are long gone.

Tell me about it! Even the so-called slow season isn't that much slower anymore.

Anyway, I'm done packing and now sitting here trying to figure out what I'm forgetting. The excitement is building, and as usual, I know that it is going to be hard for me to go to sleep tonight.


Epcot Retro T-Shirts

Just as I was getting ready for the trip, I read this piece of news on some of the Epcot 25 Anniversary merchandise:

Associate Product Developer Robert LaFlamme has reinvented the classic, opening-day Epcot T-shirt as a 25th anniversary tee that is limited to an edition of 1,982 pieces. The classic tee, along with its modern-day counterpart, reminds us that the future began Oct. 1, 1982.


So it is bad enough that we're having to plan our strategy for Oct. 1st. to get the pins while getting good seats for the re-dedication ceremony. Now we have to also plan for the merchandise!

Oct. 1st is going to be a stressful day, I predict! :)


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Disney Mobile Shuts Down

I don't know about you, but I could see this coming from a year away and half-way around the globe.

Disney will be shutting down the Disney Mobile service due to lack of customers, basically. How they can't predict this after the demise of ESPN mobile, I don't quite understand. Granted, they're going after a different market (family and kids versus testosterone-laden men who want sports all the time). But still, considering how competitive the mobile phone market is, even *I* could see that this isn't going to work.

Oh well. Maybe they could just sell Disney-themed phones and accessories but without all that service? What about Disney accessories for my Blackberry?


25 Epcot Fun Facts From Disney

Laughing Place has a list of 25 fun facts about Epcot, just in time for its 25th Anniversary.

I think the one that's most overlooked at not that much appreciated is the fountains:

The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can shoot water 150 feet in the air -- within 30 feet of the top of Spaceship Earth. If all of the shooters were fired at once, there would be 2,000 gallons of water in the air.

And in case you don't know it yet, you can get up-close and personal on that entry on the record breaking tomato plant if you take the Behind the Seed tour at The Land pavilion. In fact, they even let you have a taste of the tomato from that plant. You can see the pictures I took during one of these tours.


Pins, Pins, and More Pins Shopping List

I spent the whole evening yesterday cataloging, sorting, making a list, and then printing the tons of pins that we will be buying on our trip coming up soon. Since this upcoming trip covers 3 very special events: Epcot's 25 Anniversary, Food and Wine Festival, and our attendance to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, we have a lot of limited edition pins to buy. On top of that, we also have pin requests from our friends from the Windy City Pin Traders group. We don't mind buying the pins since we'll either get money back for the ones we bought for them, or get to trade. Besides, this is simply a fair thing to do since we had requested pins from others ourselves when they visited a Disney theme parks.

Still, this will turn out to be a HUGE pin-buying expedition. I've already decided that we will simply ship these pins directly to our home each time we make a purchase, rather than hauling them back in our luggages. Of course, we haven't even started to consider all the merchandise that we'd probably get, especially anything related to Epcot's anniversary. Oy! Luckily, all my credit cards have zero balance!

We leave very early on Saturday. As usual, expect some on-going trip reports on here, depending how much time I have and how tired I get. I think there are some very special events going on with this trip, and I'm so looking forward to it.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland

This news item reports on what can be expected this season at Hong Kong Disneyland as it celebrates Halloween. It sounds like they have put in quite a bit of effort. The pictures look amazing, especially that Jack Skellington riding on the pumpkin.


Could J.O.N.A.S. be Disney Channe's Next Franchise

More teen musical? God saves us! :)

The Disney Channel is certainly hoping that their upcoming original series J.O.N.A.S. will be as big, if not bigger, than their other successful franchise.

The Disney Channel production, featuring sibling rockers the Jonas Brothers, is scheduled to start shooting in early 2008 and premiere later in the year.

According to the house the mouse built, J.O.N.A.S. will star 19-year-old Kevin, 18-year-old Joseph and 15-year-old Nick Jonas as…pretty much themselves, but in addition to their daily rock superstar duties they will moonlight as secret agents, the bane of all benign bad guys' existence.

With a storyline like that, how can they lose? :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bugs Bunny at Disneyland?

Horrors! Say it isn't true! Your mind must be playing tricks on you!

Actually, your mind CAN play tricks on you. A research work reported at the 2003 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Meeting, as reported in Science 28 February 2003, had an interesting experiment on something they said would never happen.

Even impossible memories can be fabricated from suggestions, researchers reported at the AAAS annual meeting last week. And such memories can create physiological responses that are indistinguishable from those elicited by remembering real trauma.

Many people think their memories of dramatic events, such as where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot, are very reliable. But that doesn't appear to be true. To demonstrate the power of suggestion over such memories, Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues implanted a memory into people who had witnessed a bombing in Russia. They interviewed volunteers twice, 2.5 years and 3 years after the bombing. During the second interview, the team posed the suggestive question: "When you were taking part in our study, you mentioned a wounded animal. Could you tell us about it?" Almost 13% of the people recalled, incorrectly, that they had seen an injured pet.

Critics have argued that such false-memory experiments might call up real experiences--perhaps some subjects did see bleeding animals. So Loftus implanted a clearly impossible memory: a person in a Bugs Bunny outfit shaking hands and hugging children at Disneyland. "Bugs is a Warner Brothers character. He wouldn't be allowed on Disney premises," Loftus says. Her team recruited volunteers who had been to Disneyland earlier in their lives. They were shown an advertisement for Disneyland with pictures of Bugs and text describing a trip to Disneyland that included meeting the wascally wabbit. Weeks later, 36% of the volunteers who had seen the ads vividly recalled that they had seen Bugs Bunny in real life: They shook his hand or even hugged him, they reported.

"Her work points out to people that, in terms of our own subjective experiences, what we think is crystal-clear imagery could be inaccurate at the very deepest level," says psychologist Michelle Leichtman of the University of New Hampshire, Durham. A study of people who claim to have been abducted by space aliens helped psychologist Richard McNally of Harvard University determine how deep imagined events can go. His team recorded 10 volunteers' abduction stories. Volunteers listened to audiotape clips of their stories while the researchers measured heart rate, sweating, and facial muscle tension. All stress responses were elevated, to the point that they mirrored those of people remembering Vietnam combat events or childhood sexual abuse. More than half of the alien abductees exhibited some symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

The response to trauma "is driven by emotional beliefs, whether accurate or not," McNally reported. "If you sincerely think you were being abducted by aliens, you were." The result "is troubling," says Leichtman. "It underscores the similarities between true and false memories at an even more profound level" than researchers generally think.

So, if you see Bugs, or Elmer, or Tweety, etc. shaking hands and hugging people at Disneyland, just remember, it never happened!



Disney Wins Appeals Court Ruling Over Pooh Royalties

On another front other than the debacle at Anaheim, Disney has won what could be in a series of lawsuits/counter-lawsuits and more rulings on the royalties from Winnie the Pooh.

A California appeals court in Los Angeles, in a notice filed today, affirmed a 2004 trial judge's decision to throw out a lawsuit by Stephen Slesinger Inc., the owner of the merchandising rights to the cartoon character, after finding that Slesinger had illegally obtained evidence. The appellate judges' ruling wasn't yet available on the court's Web site.

Will there be more? I'm sure the lawyers hope so!


Disney's American Adventure at Epcot Gets National Treasures

Oh great! Another item that I will have the opportunity to get to see. The National Treasures collection will be on exhibition at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot starting on Sept. 28.

"These are the jewels of museums and foundations all over the country, all gathered in one place," said Jim Clark, Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador Representative and one of the team members designing National Treasures. "You'll see one of Abraham Lincoln's actual stovepipe hats, which has never been publicly exhibited outside of the Lincoln family home in Manchester, Vt. "We're also presenting many of Lincoln's personal items, like the book of Lord Byron poetry that inspired his second inaugural address and his dressing room mirror -- where he probably took his last glimpse of himself before he went off to Ford's Theatre."

Looks like this trip is going to be filled with things to do.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Villager’s Love for Disney emorabilia Runs Deeper Than the Lovable Mickey

Here's another news coverage on a Disney fan and he collection. I have to say that this one doesn't sound as "bad" as some of the previous ones that I've highlighted on here.



Disney's HalloweenTime Returns To Disneyland Resort

Disney's HalloweenTime returns to Disneyland and California Adventure.

Disney's HalloweenTime features a lively mix of Disney characters in seasonal costumes, whimsical decor, decked-out attractions, themed shows and tasty treats designed with the whole family in mind.

New this year is "Candy Corn Acres" inside Disney's California Adventure Park. The candy corn farm has taken root in Sunshine Plaza and features more than 6,000 pieces of decorative and colorful candy.

Of course, a crowd favorite that returns every year is the transformation of the Haunted Mansion into a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. One of these days, I'm going to get to see this...


High School Musical 2 a Smash Hit in the UK

As if there's ever any doubt that this would happen, the High School Musical 2 premier in the United Kingdom was a ratings hit.

The premiere pulled in 1.2 million individuals with an 8.4% audience share across multichannel homes. Over its two-hour slot its audience peaked at 1.3 million.

An average of 750,000 kids - an audience share of 38.4% - tuned in for the premiere, giving the channel the biggest audience among kids on Friday, beating EastEnders and Coronation Street.

It truly is a world-wide phenomenon considering that it is a hit almost everywhere in the world that it is broadcasted.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Donald Duck Soda

I promise that I'll stop with the Donald Duck drinks obsession after this one. But since I'm on a roll with it, here's something on Donald Duck soda.

But those outside the Disneyana collectibles world may be a little less aware of Donald's other foray into the drink market. The Chattanooga, TN-based General Beverages Inc. used our gregarious quacker's visage for its first-ever line of fruit-flavored sodas during the early 1950s, and Donald Duck Soda also became one of the pioneering General Beveragessodas to be canned.

Actually, the bottle cap (or in this case, can cap) looks like it would be something worthwhile collecting.


More on Donald Duck "Orange" Juice

OK, so now you know that once I get hold of something, I some time can't let go of it.

After I read about the "Donald Duck Juice" story, I had to go looking around and see who makes the thing. It turns out that the Florida Natural co-op brand holds the licensing agreement with the Walt Disney Company to produce a line of Donald Duck orange juice.

In the 1940s, America's wartime needs led the cooperative to build a concentrate plant on its property in Lake Wales, Florida, which produced juice for the military during World War II. This was also the beginning of the progression to producing and marketing grapefruit juice concentrate. In the same decade, the cooperative also signed an important licensing agreement with the Walt Disney Company, to establish the Donald Duck Brand of orange juice. The cooperative also expanded its marketing efforts behind 100 percent juices, including a national promotion of the Donald Duck brand by Clarence 'Ducky' Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck.

Hum... so is this thing still available today? And does it still tastes "grapefruity" in a rusted can? :)

I found a can on the web. The site is is selling this as a "vintage memorabilia", for $29.00, rusty can and all!

I don't think so!


Donald Duck Juice Is A Classic

Don't let Donald read this because he's bound to throw a major temper tantrum. I certainly would.

I didn't know that there was a Donald Duck juice. And from the way it has been described, I don't think I'd want a Donald Duck Juice.

Donald Duck orange juice tasted like grapefruit juice. For some reason, back in the 1940s, the Walt Disney Co. gave a license to an orange juice manufacturer to use the likeness of one of their top cartoon characters, Donald Duck, for use in a new beverage. The company then proceeded to put bitter-tasting grapefruit juice in a can and market it as orange juice. For a company that has licensed everything imaginable, it is their oldest surviving license still in existence

The cans of Donald Duck orange juice always looked rusted on the outside and the juice always had a faint taste of the metallic can.


Is this thing still around? If it is, maybe Disney needs to do its own independent testing the way it is planning on doing now on its toys.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Review of The Little Mermaid Musical

Another review, another poor/lukewarm reception. This one, from the Orlando Sentinel, isn't as bad as the one in Variety, but it clearly shows that while people do try very hard to like it, the direction is certainly at fault here.

I hope there's plenty of actions going on backstage to retool this show before it gets to Broadway. Those Broadway critics can be vicious. If they don't do something, it'll be dead before they know it.


One Week Till Disney Trip

So it is exactly one week till we leave for Orlando and spend a whole week (9 days to be exact) at Walt Disney World. I am extremely looking forward to this trip because of all the things we will be doing that are new or haven't done before. We had never done the Food and Wine Festival, so this will be something we'd like to experience. Of course, there's the Epcot 25th Anniversary on Oct. 1st. We will be joining the festivities with the Celebration 25 people on both Sept. 30 and Oct 1st. Since we're also signed up for the evening Illuminations Dessert reception, we hope to get to attend, during the day, the talk by Marty Sklar. That would certainly be the highlight of this trip.

Then, as if that's not enough, we will be attending the Mickey Not So Scary Halloween Party on the evening of Oct. 4th. I'm doing to dress up as a Chef/Cook, which is in-themed with Ratatouille.

I've been catching up with a lot of Epcot's history, and the beginnings of the park. I've been reading this large coffee-table book titled "Walt Disney's Epcot Center - Creating the New World of Tomorrow". The book was produced only a year after Epcot opened, so there's a lot of historical notes and pictures of what it was like back then when it was still known as Epcot Center.

It is interesting to note that with the approaching anniversary, and the rumors that Epcot may revert back to its original name of "Epcot Center", many Disney fans are urging the park to go back to its "original roots" or mission, or soul, whatever you call it. And my question is, what "original soul", or rather, which one?

Walt envisioned it as a park where innovations and future products are part of what people can learn. He didn't envisioned World Showcase, and certainly not in the same theme park. So when Epcot Center really opened 25 years ago, its "soul" is the future plus something resembling a world's fair. Thus, when people want the current Epcot to go back to its soul, what exactly do they want it to go back to, Walt's original vision, or the one that opened back in 1982? It would be almost impossible and highly impractical to transform Epcot to Walt's original vision. You'll either have to split Future World from World Showcase, or move World Showcase elsewhere. I don't see this happening. And if going back to its soul means going back to what we had back in 1982, I'm not so sure I'm in favor of that!

I fell in love with the park as in its present version, not the one back then. And if we were go to by the theme park attendance statistics, with Epcot being the 3rd or 4th most attended theme park in the world, I'd say a lot of people feel the same way as well. Has it kinda lost a little bit of its aim? Sure! No one is arguing with that. But attraction like Soarin' and Finding Nemo are bringing the crowds in. In fact, Soarin' was voted as the most favorite attraction in the first ever Zagat Survey of WDW. So this certainly isn't anything to sneeze at.

There are plenty of underused areas of Epcot (Innoventions, the old Odyssey building) that can stand an infusion of modern and future-looking technology and science. These are enhancement that would bring Epcot into a more distinct focus with some of what Walt had in mind. But I think that there's no going back. It's never going to be what he imagined it to be. All that can be done is make it as good as it can be with what it is now. Your kids will never turn out the way you intended or imagined. You just have to give them everything you can and just love them for what they are. So love Epcot for what it has become, one terrific place to visit.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Disney Cruise Line Flag Flies at German Shipyard

Disney officially opened its office at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, signaling the start of production of 2 new Disney ships to be delivered in 2011 and 2012.

“This is an exciting time as we take the first step in our new build process” said Frank de Heer, Vice President of New Ship Development for Walt Disney Imagineering. “Meyer Werft’s expertise and fine craftsmanship combined with classic Disney artistry and storytelling will ensure that our ships will be among the finest at sea.”

“This is a special moment for Disney Cruise Line,” said Fabio DiMarco, Director of New Build, Marine and Technical Design for Disney Cruise Line. “We are so happy to be here and fly our flag proudly at the Meyer Werft shipyard.”

Build them well, men and women! I'm hoping to be a guest on one of those new ships!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Disney Delays 3rd Narnia

Well, I supposed that's understandable. Disney is delaying the start of filming of the 3rd Narnia movie. We still haven't seen the 2nd one being released yet, have we? This will push the release date of the 3rd Narnia to May 2010.

The 2nd Narnia, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, is still scheduled to open in May next near.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mickey's Mystery Pin Machine Update

During my last Pin Celebration trip report, I mentioned about the Mickey's Mystery Pin Machine that I found at Mouse Gears at Epcot. It seems that today, they have introduced another machine at Sorcerer's Hat Shop at the Disney-MGM Studios.

More ways to spend your $5!


Disney Children's Hospital in Orlando

This would be a marriage made in heaven, I would think.

Disney has donated $10 million towards the construction of a children's hospital at Florida Hospital. So now there's plan to have it themed appropriately.

I just hope it doesn't become too popular and become a tourist destination. You never know what Disney fanatics like me would do. :)

Still, I'd say the Imagineers can do a lot of things. Let's start with every child that gets admitted gets to walk out with a special Mickey ears hat. There should be a character meet and greet everyday. And certainly the Disney channel on TV.


Disney Parks May Set Attendance Records Again?

This would be highly unexpected since many thought they couldn't top the Disneyland Golden Anniversary celebration a couple of years ago. But it appears that there's a possibility that the Disney theme park attendance in the US may set a new attendance record.

Walt Disney Co., the world's biggest theme-park operator, may post record attendance at its U.S. resorts this fiscal year as new attractions have lured more visitors, Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said Tuesday.

Attendance in fiscal 2007, which ends in two weeks, may exceed the record number of tickets sold in 2006, when all Disney's parks celebrated the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, the company's first theme park, Iger told a Goldman, Sachs & Co. conference in New York.

Oooh.. the Fiscal 2007 ends in 2 weeks? Then MY attendance at WDW may help! :)

I would say that if it includes Oct. 1st, the date of Epcot's anniversary celebration, then breaking the record is certainly a possibility. It would also be a stunning accomplishment considering that the Year of a Million Dreams promotion wasn't as clear and as distinct at the Disneyland anniversary, yet many still come. It shows how much new attractions (that is what I attribute it to) at the various theme parks can really boost interest.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Disney Expanding Grand Californian Hotel

It's official! The Grand Californian resort will be expanding, and will include a "token" number of DVC rooms.

Plans call for adding 203 rooms and 50 timeshares for Disney Vacation Club members. The timeshares will be the first for Disney on the West Coast.

That's nice, but realistically, 50 DVC units is not going to be sufficient, considering how popular the resort is already as it is. Unless one has GF as the home resort, I don't see a lot of possibility of making a reservation there any time soon.


Epcot's 25th Anniversary

{Sorry, I'm not calling it Epcot Center just yet till they make that official}

It was about a year ago that we heard the then vice-president of Epcot indicating that no celebration of any kind (other than with cast members) are being planned for Epcot's 25th Anniversary. That made a lot of fans mad, and when they are mad, they either get even, or do something. It was when, as a member of Disney fan forum, I starting seeing some grassroots fans organizing their own celebration at Epcot. They starting calling it Celebration 25.

Well folks, it has now come around with Epcot changing its mind (it also helps to have a new vice president that is more clued-in to what the fans want), and that the Celebration 25 has grown to this big celebration that will be part of Epcot's anniversary event. The Orlando Sentinel has a coverage of the upcoming anniversary event, and a coverage of the fans who have made a difference.

The resort's change of heart may be partly attributed to the emerging success of various private Epcot parties -- including "Celebration 25," which is being spearheaded by Adam Roth, a 16-year-old Dr. Phillips High School junior.

Celebration 25, which will feature Epcot history tours, get-togethers and parties Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, started as an Internet-networked get-together of Epcot fans. Initially, it was expected to draw 100 or so participants, but the latest count tops 1,100 registrants.

Way to go fellas, and thank you! I will be there on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1st to celebrate not only Epcot, but your dedication and hard work to make this happen!


Disney Says Park Bookings Strong Despite Economy

Disney's Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said that he has not seen the weakness in the economy affecting theme park bookings.

"It seems to me ... the estimation of how exposed our theme park business is to the economic cycle is probably a bit high. It's overestimated," he said at the Merrill Lynch Media and Entertainment Conference.

"I know there's a lot of concern about where the economy is going now, and I don't have any predictions for you about the economy," he said.

This is good. However, if Disney continues raising their ticket prices, at some point, the combination of the two will start affecting the park attendance.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Year of a Million Dreams Mickey Ears Hat

It is no secret that I've been dying to get one of those YOMD Mickey Ears hat. Other than spending a night in Cinderella Castle, which I don't consider a realistic possibility, getting one of those hats was the highest on my list. I thought it was a realistic hope, since I've seen quite a number of people walking around the parks with these hats. While we have been certainly lucky in getting something for the YOMD (the Dream Fastpasses during our June trip), we have never been lucky enough to win those damn hats!

And when John Frost had a small contest to win this hat, I of course tried that as well. Alas, I didn't win that one either. :(

So for the past few months, I've been helping a friend at work plan his family's WDW vacation. I was the one who told them about the free Disney Dining Plan that comes with the Magic Your Way package this year, and told them that if they want to go and save money, this would be the time to do it. The 4 of them (husband, wife, and 2 young sons) got a very good deal and booked the trip. During the past 2 months, we've been carefully planning on what they should do, where to go eat, etc. While the parents have been to WDW a long time ago, this will be the 2 kids' first trip to WDW. So they were very excited, and the planning got into full gear a couple of weeks ago. It happened that they were supposed to fly in to WDW on the Saturday of my Pin Celebration Trip, so I managed to meet up with them at Downtown Disney.

Anyway, they got back from their trip late last week, and only today did I get the chance to meet with my coworker to ask him how the trip was. And lo and behold, he brought with him TWO YOMD Mickey Ears Hats! I was speechless. Of course I then found out that they were selected to receive the hat. It was right after they got off Living With The Land attraction. And he told me that while the kids are keeping their hats, they are giving me these two hats!!!

To say that I almost fell on my butt is to put it mildly.

So I guess that my quest for the hat is over. I'm sure I'll find a suitable place to display the hat (it won't replace the July 17, 2005 Disneyland hat though). Nevertheless, I'm still wishing to get one for our upcoming trip in just 12 days from today. I can always hope.


The 2007 Pin Celebration Mystery Pin Set

The mystery tin pin set started at least year's pin celebration, and again this year, they had another one. These are sealed tins that contains 4 randomly selected pins. The whole set has 10 pins. So obviously, people would like to collect the whole set, which means you have to by at least 3 tins to give yourself any chance of having a complete set.

Well, it is not as easy as you think. You see, Disney tortures us by not having the same edition number for each of the pins in the set. Last year, the Pluto pin was the smallest edition number of ONLY 200! So imagine 1400 pin attendees and only 200 Pluto pins possible to get, and randomly scattered among those tins. I was told last year that by the end of the first day, the Pluto pin already appeared on e-bay and going for $40 (each tin costs $22 for 4 pins).

This year, it was the Goofy pin with a limited edition of 200. Next came the Daisy pin and the Donald pin, at 400, Chip and Dale, each of the pin at 600, Pluto at 800, Mickey and Minnie each at 1000, and Stitch and Tinker Bell each at 1500.

You can just imagine that by the last day of the event, there were pin collectors literally going from person to person almost begging to trade for the Goofy pin. I was also told (but I couldn't confirm this) that the Goofy pin appeared on e-bay with a going rate of $60. Yikes!

Now, if you had read my trip report from last year's pin celebration trip, you would have noticed that we were lucky enough that, after buying several of these tins, and trading with people, we managed to get 2 complete sets of the mystery pin set. Well guess what, folks? WE DID IT AGAIN this year!

We bought and traded, and when we finally got a second Goofy, we decided to go after a 2nd set. It was only on the very last day that, after some complicated trading, we managed to complete that second set. This is a picture of both pin sets. The edition number goes from low to high going from left to right.

So, if they're willing to pay $60 for just the Goofy pin, how much do you think a complete set would go for? Hum?


Epcot Jumbo Pin

This past Saturday was another Windy City Pin Traders meet. It may sound rather unbelievable, but this meet keeps getting better and better each week, and we enjoyed it more and more. This can't go on forever, can it? :)

It also was the largest turn out that I've ever seen. Since I'm relatively new with the group, I deferred to the more established members of the WCPT, who also proclaimed that it was the largest they can remember. So the group is certainly doing very well and getting a lot of support and participation from its members. I'm forever grateful to have been introduced to it since I've made several very good friends out of this group of wonderful people.

One of the pins that we got at this past weekend's pin meet was this Epcot jumbo pin that I saw about a couple of months ago. When I first saw it, it took my breath away because it was just stunning. It is the Epcot's geodesic and the hand/wand (hooray!) in silvery, shinny metal. It was a jumbo pin given to attendees at the 2002 Pin Celebration event at Epcot. And the thing is HUGE! I'm guessing it is about 5-6 inches tall and 6-7 inches wide.

Needless to say, I'm pretty happy to finally get this. It is now proudly on display on the shelf, along with a couple other pin sets. I think it will stay there for a while.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

2007 Pin Celebration - Day 3 (Final Day)

We began our day again by having breakfast on the waterfront at OKW. It was another peaceful, quiet morning breakfast on the last day of our trip.

After we checked out of our room, we went to Epcot to meet up with our friends who live in Orlando to spend the day with them. Upon entering Epcot, they had a sign by the entrance welcoming the Epcot guests to join the Pin Celebration event at 11:00. The event was opened at 9:30 am, but will open to the public at 11:00 am. More on this later.

We did Soarin' (again) and went over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends to do the Nemo ride (still lukewarm towards it), and then did test track. So here are pictures from Nemo and Test Track.

After lunch at Morocco, we rejoined the pin event with our friends, who had never been to one of these things before. There were still pin games and pin trading doing on. The characters also made their appearances. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Chip 'N Dale were there, and they were mingling with the guests all over the event floor. This is the way it should be, I'd say. They were roaming all over the event, playing with the guests/kids, and generally having a great time.

Mickey even tried the Mr. Toad vehicle.

While many pin event attendees have either gone home, or didn't attend the last day of the event, there were still interesting things to be had. They no longer replenish the games with the cast lanyard pins that were released at the event, but they still replenish them (less frequently) with good pins. But here's something I didn't realize till that day. The pin partners, who are cast members from other Disney theme parks (Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland) started trading with the guests as well using pins they they brought with them from their home parks! Long lines started forming to trade with Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo! Whoa! The last day of the event isn't a throwaway after all!

Anyway, it was a very exhausting trip, but I can say without a doubt that it was the most fun Pin Celebration that we have ever attended. It is certainly a lot more enjoyable when you know many friends at the event. Being able to leave our pin trading albums at one location with someone always keepign an eye on them while we go do our pin games certainly made it a lot more convenient. And just being able to sit down and talk with friends and other pin traders made it a lot more enjoyable.

We are already looking forward to the one next year. In fact, we are also considering going for the 1-day pin event at Animal Kingdom in May.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Pin Celebration Water Cups

I'll post the report from the last day of the Pin Celebration soon. But I wanted to mention something about this. During Day 1 of the Pin Celebration, I noticed that the water cups they were using at the various water stations throughout the event was rather ... er ... "interesting". It wasn't your ordinary cheap, flimsy plastic cup that we normally get. It was actually a sturdier plastic, with some Disney design on it!

So after a drink of water, I went back to the group that I was with, and asked "Am I the only one who thinks that this is a rather cool cup?" Everyone agreed that it was, so we were drinking lots of water and keeping a few cups as souvenirs. Let's just say that I kept "a few". :) {Hey, we're Disney fanatics and we love freebies!}

Well, I'm glad I did, because the next day, we were back to paper cups and flimsy, cheap plastic cups. I don't know if they used the nicer cups on purpose, or if it was a mistake, but I'm glad they did, because I got an extra nice souvenir. So if you happen to come visit me, don't be put off if I serve you drinks on a frosted plastic cup with some Disney design on it. It came from a very Magical place!



Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Look Back at Disney's The Jungle Book

Here's a preview of the Q&A session for the upcoming 40 Anniversary release of Disney's Jungle Book. It is a fascinating interview with the voice actors and filmmakers.


'Night of Joy' Moving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Oh, they're already calling it Disney's Hollywood Studios, are they?

The "Night of Joy" festivals, which currently are held at the Magic Kingdom, will be moved to Disney-MGM Studios next year, which will be called DHS.

Humm... Hollywood, Christian music...... yeah, I can see how those two fit.




'High School Musical 2' Still Tops On Billboard 200

The kids are still going nuts with High School Musical 2. The album has topped Billboard album charts for 4 consecutive weeks. Not only that, it actually increased in the number of sales from previous week!

With "Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus" album at #3, Disney is ruling the album charts at this moment.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2007 Pin Celebration Day 2

We started Day 2 of the Pin Celebration trip by going to Disney-MGM Studios for the early Extra Magic Hours, mainly to do Tower of Terror, which is my #1 most favorite attraction anywhere.

Rock 'N Rollercoaster was still closed for rehab.

We did a bit of breakfast at Starring Rolls (which isn't a bad place to have pastries and bagels) and then got on The Great Movie Ride. After that, we headed back to Epcot to join the Pin Celebration event. There were more pin games and pin trading to be done.

I think that THE most sought-after "pin" released at the event is this super jumbo pin called Pin Traders Dream. It is Mickey Mouse as Main Street reporter Scoop Sanderson, the Main Street Reporter that has been associated with many session on the details of Disney pins.

Now, I use the word "pin" very loosely here. This pin is HUGE and heavy, and comes in a very fancy box. It is outrageously gorgeous!

During the pin event, Scoop Sanderson made many appearances. People were lining up to take pictures of him, with him, and even to get him to autograph this pin, even though he wasn't the artist for this pin. I managed to get a picture of him as well right next to a picture of Mickey dressed as him.

Note that Scoop was actually WEARING this pin! I'm surprised that he could even stand up with that huge pin on his chest! :)

There were several special pin sets and framed sets, all one-of-a-kind, that were up for auction. They were all on display behind glass windows for people to look at before deciding if they're going to bid. Some of them went during the silent auction, while others were sold during an open auction. These things usually go for unbelievable amount (reaching into the thousands some time). Here are pictures of a few of them (sorry, I can only afford to take their pictures, not to buy them).

However, the one that was for auction that I actually gasped when I saw it (and would have bid for it if I had the money), was this framed set. It is full of Epcot pins and it was done to commemorate the upcoming Epcot's 25th Anniversary. I wasn't around during the bidding to hear how much it went, but I'm sure it went for a very handsome chunk of change.

We managed to escape the event now and then to do other things, such as having lunch, ride the Grand Fiesta at the Mexico Pavilion, and most importantly, had some Edy's ice cream at the newly opened ice cream place.

We left the event a bit early to meet up with friends at Downtown Disney (which was why we didn't catch the open auction). It was still a fun 2nd day, but we were getting horribly exhausted. We were doing what we told people not to do - to go the whole day straight at the parks without taking a breather. I think I'm too old to be doing that by now!


Zz. Broke Its All-Time Traffic Record is a hit, if you can't tell already. Last month, it broke its all time traffic records, registering 23.03 million unique hits.

It still isn't that easy to navigate, though. And I often have problems logging on to the DVC website, because even though I'm registered, I am sometime given a page where I have to enter the PIN number as if I've never registered before. Not only that, I couldn't get away from it and could not get to the member log-in page! And yes, I've cleared my cookies and cache (Firefox browser) and that didn't work either!


A Sequel to Tron?

That's what Roger Moore writing in his Orlando Sentinel blog wrote. Disney is pursuing the next chapter in the Tron story and has hired a director for it.

Just don't screw it up, because the original is much beloved.


The Greatest Disney Documentary You May Never See

This is a fascinating article on the documentary "The Sweatbox" that most of us have never heard, much less, seen. Along the way, we learn a bit about how The Kingdom of the Sun became The Emperor's New Groove.

Can anyone at Disney do something about this? I mean, I know you people are still squeamish about Song of the South. But what about including this documentary in a near-future release?


Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering

This is quite an informative discussion and interview with Jeff Kurtti about the highly-anticipated-but-now-delayed-till-March-2008 book "Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering". I'm actually looking forward to reading this book and have it in my Amazon wish list.


Happy Birthday, Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland celebrates its 2nd Anniversary today. This celebration goes on amid disappointing attendance numbers and poor public relations image.

Let's hope the planned expansion for the theme park can add more value to it and make it more than just a half-day destination.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2007 Pin Celebration Day 1 - Full Report

OK, now that I had the chance to recover a bit from this last trip, here's the continuation of the trip report from this past Pin Celebration event.

We started off with having a quiet breakfast along the waterfront at OKW. This, I think, has become my favorite spot to eat whenever we stay at this resort.

We then made our way to Epcot. This was my first view of Spaceship Earth after the removal of the Wand. It looks "empty". So yes, I do miss it. There! I've said it!

They directed us Pin event attendees to a different bag check area, as expected since they do this every year. However, this year, they didn't go through our bags as usual, but rather employed dogs to sniff our bags. It actually made the whole process went faster. So way to go, Disney, for thinking of doing it this way! Besides, it was fun watching the dogs sniffed the bags. Too bad it couldn't catch if anyone was bringing in scrappers or counterfeit pins! :)

Upon entering Epcot, we see that Spaceship Earth is still under renovation.

Since we were early, we had time to do Soarin' first, and then we headed straight to the World Showcase for our Pin event. This is the view as we were about to walk in.

Just outside the front entrance, there is this display. Already I realize that if they are putting this much effort into themeing and decorating even on the outside of the building, they inside should be fabulous. And I wasn't wrong.

This is the very busy registration and merchandise pickup area right inside the door.

And this is the "gateway" into the rest of the Pin Celebration area. Yes, Figment is everywhere this year with this pin event.

The place was already busy and buzzing with people playing various pin games and going through various stations to get their complimentary pins.

A very large section was set aside for pin trading, which for many people, is the major reason to come to this event. People from various parts of the world are here, either displaying their pins for trading, or walking around looking for pins to trade. This year, since we know a lot more people in the pin trading community, we managed to sit with a few people and get to display our pin trading albums. We did make quite a few pin trades during the whole event, so it was quite fruitful. These pictures don't quite convey the size of the crowd and the amount of pins on display on the tables for trading. It was jaw-dropping.

There were also other games being played at the stage area of the event. A few lucky attendees got selected to play these games and win prizes.

As I said earlier, the themeing and decorations this year was just outstanding. It added to the atmosphere of the event.

While we were in line to play some of the pin games, we bumped into this person, who we also met last year. He was quite memorable because he was wearing this vest and hat that was literally covered with Stitch pins. I remember him because several people came by and admired his vest and hat. So this year, I asked his permission to take a picture of him and his vest. Obviously, he collects Stitch pins. (This is a common practice where a person will pick a theme to collect, mainly because there's no way anyone can buy everything he/she likes, because there's just way too many pins out there.) Needless to say, this person was a head-turner and what he got was just impressive. So if by any chance you are this person reading this, thanks for letting me take your picture.

We ended the wonderful day by staying to watch Illuminations from the Italy Pavilion.


New Chills At The Haunted Mansion

Disney Insider has some description on what we can look forward to with the rehab of the Haunted Mansion attraction at the Magic Kingdom. It looks like, while they are keeping all the themes and storyline, they are going to extend some of them with extra items. I'm looking forward to the floating Madame Leota's crystal ball head.


Mickey's Mystery Pin Machine

During this past Pin Celebration trip, we found this pin game machine in Mouse Gears. We've never heard of it before. It was a game that you play ($5 per game) in trying to get a ball all the way to the top. But whether you win or lose, you still get a prize, which is one of the randomly selected pin out of the 3 pin sets on display at the machine.

This is a picture of the machine.

I think we spent $25 playing this game and got 5 different pins. Out of the 5, 3 came from a set, so we're one short of completing that set, which we'll try to get when we go back to WDW later in the month.

It seems that this particular pin machine was brand new. It made its debut on Sept. 6 at Mouse Gears. This of course, made perfect sense since the pin addicts were swarming all over Epcot starting on that date. I'm not sure how many of them knew about the pin machine though. Disney will be installing this machine at several other locations. It isn't a bad price for a pin, since the cheapest rack pins go for $6.95. So it can certainly be cheaper to use this for trading with cast members for the lanyard pins rather than using the rack pins or even the booster sets.


2008 Pin Celebration

The 2007 Pin Celebration had just ended and a new announcement of next year's 2008 Pin Celebration has been announced. It will be themed "Pin Trading University", and will take place from Sept. 5-7.

So there ya go, start planning now! :)

But the other exciting news is that WDW has announced a 1-day pin event next year to take place on May 5th, 2008. Titled "Expedition: PINS", it will be held at Disney's Animal Kingdom. With a registration fee of $150 (ouch!), I expect this event to have plenty of freebies to the attendees.

So many pins, so little time (and money!).


Monday, September 10, 2007

Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award

Amusement Today has given Ceder Point as the top amusement park in the US. Disney has 2 awards.

The award for best outdoor night show production went to "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth," at at Walt Disney World at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Rock'n'Roller Coaster at Disney-MGM Studios, also in Florida, won for best indoor roller coaster.

No argument with Illuminations here. It is my most favorite nighttime show anywhere in the world.


More On The Fastpass Patent Application

I mentioned earlier about the reports regarding the Disney patent application for a new Fastpass technology. There's more discussion on it in this Sun-Sentinel news report.

I don't see this happening anytime soon. I also think that as a member of the DVC, I may be the beneficiary of any "perks" being given using this new technology. Still, I think Disney should consider this very carefully unless they want to alienate their local customers, who visit the parks when most of the tourists are gone. This past weekend was a prime example.


Disney to Test Toys for Lead Paint

This is only the logical next step, isn't it? With all the scare of lead paint in toys, Disney will start testing their own toys ahead of the holiday season.

Let's hope this is not just something short term and that they continue to be vigilant of their products even after this debacle has cooled down.


2007 Pin Celebration Day 2 and 3

We are back home after a fun but exhausting Pin Celebration event. Give me a day or so and I'll make a more complete report on the going-ons and pictures. At this point, all I can say is that this was the most fun I've ever had at the pin event. It truly makes a difference that you know more people there, so the level of enjoyment certainly depends on that.

I'm now looking forward to our trip in 3 weeks to get to do all the rides that I could not get to this time around.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

2007 Pin Celebration Day 1

We had a wonderful and full first day of the pin event. Got back to our resort late, and now we are up early to catch Disney-MGM Studios' extra magic hour before heading back to Epcot. So I will post a more complete report later on.

Suffice to say that at this year's Pin Celebration, the themeing was done a lot better than last year. And oh, I also bump into Scoop Sanderson, the Main Street pin guru, in his full costume.

All of these will be posted later when I get the chance. Have a Magical Day!


Friday, September 07, 2007

2007 Pin Celebration Day 0

Greetings from the Happiest Place on Earth!

We made it into Orlando yesterday, early and ready to go. We got to our resort at Old Key West by Noon, had an early check-in, and then after dumping our luggage in our room, went to Downtown Disney to pick up our Annual Pass renewal using our DVC discount. So we are set for another year.

We then went to Fultons for lunch. I must say that they had drastically cut down on the number of selection for their lunch menu. The food was still good, but not as varied as I remember. The server told us that we can still order the items that was on the old menu, but who can remember? I had the lobster bisque and the seafood cob salad. They were delicious. And with the 30% discount during lunch for DVC members, there's no reason to complain.

After lunch, we headed straight to the Yacht/Beach Club Convention Center for the early registration. Unlike 2 years ago when the early registration was held here (last year it was at the Contemporary), the registration went very smoothly and fast (I was in line for more than an hour 2 years ago). They had a lot of cast members working the registration desk this year. And it is a rather lengthy process because they go through every single items that you have ordered, all the items that you are supposed to get with your registration, etc... So depending on how many pins you ordered for the event, it could take a while with one of the cast members. Still, there's zero complaint about the whole process. I just hope that the sculpt figure and pins that I had requested to be shipped home gets there. In any case, this is a picture of the registration area later in the day, with hardly any lines.

As usual, there was a pin trading area next to the registration area. You know us pin traders, we can't wait to start trading and looking for that one pin that we have been searching for, high and low. The pin trading area was packed! In fact, some of us (me included) had to sit on the floor and do our pin trading there, because there was just not enough tables and chairs. They did later on added more tables and chairs when they realized that they aren't sufficient.

Here are a couple of pictures of the pin trading area.

I think, more than anything else, what is also a lot of fun is the contacts and friendship that is made during one of these meets. It is certainly true for me. There was a couple of guys from The Netherlands, who flown in specifically to do this event. They were bursting with Disneyland Paris pins, and a lot of people were eager to trade with them, including us. And they were very nice and talked to us for quite a while, during which they offer to buy us pins from Disneyland Paris. We counter by offering to buy them WDW pins, so we exchange info and promises to keep in touch. So already this might turn out to be a rather fruitful event already. And this also is turning out to be a very enjoyable event since we now know a lot more people, not only because of people we recognize from previous events, but also because of the people we know of from the Windy City Pin Traders group that we have been going to for the past few months. A group of us went out to dinner at Cape May as a short break from pin trading and we had a blast of a time.

Note: I'm a bit disappointed with the amount of 'sea food' offerings at Cape May. Other than the clams, muscles and the fried fish, there's nothing else to qualify this as a 'beach' themed buffet. Don't get me wrong, the food tastes quite good (especially the fried tilapia), but I was expecting a seafood extravaganza. I was wrong. I don't think I'll make the trip back for dinner here again. There's no compelling reason for it. Still, since we had our dinner reservation between 5:30 amd 6:30 pm., we got our DVC discount of 10% (love those discounts!).

We then went back to the Convention Center to join the monthly Pin Trading night. This is where those who did not register for the Pin Celebration can also trade and mingle with those who did. I also took the opportunity to photograph the pins on display. These are all the pin being offered at this pin event.

We left around 8:15 pm because I was beginning to wilt. Today, the first day of the Pin Celebration, will be at the World Showplace at Epcot. There will be more freebies, plenty of pin games, and more pin trading to be had. So it will be a full day. In between, I hope to sneak out and do Soarin' and other attractions if time permits. If I'm not too tired, we might even stay for Illuminations later this evening.