Monday, December 31, 2007

Disney Christmas Train

So I mentioned earlier that we got a lot of Disney stuff for Christmas this year. One of the nicest thing we got was this Disney train set. It's not the ones you find at the Disney theme parks. That one is nice, but it isn't really of the highest quality. I bought the "gold" version of the train during the Golden anniversary celebration a couple of years ago, so we already have that one. No, this one is actually quite exquisite. It is actually titled "Mickey Mouse And Friends Christmas Through The Years Express Electric Train Collection".

I've seen this set for sale online before, but never gotten around to buying it. Luckily I didn't since we got it for Christmas this year. As soon as we got it, we noticed how gorgeous it is because of the details.

Right now, it is on display under our Disney Christmas tree, and will be there till this weekend when we remove all the Christmas decorations. I'll be sorry to see it go back into storage, but will look forward to seeing it again next holiday season. Maybe we'll connect the whole track and get it to move.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope 2008 will be your Magical and Happiest Year!


Disney Removes old "MGM Studios" Signs and Logos

This is an Orlando Sentinel news report on the removal process of the old Disney-MGM Studios signs and logos all around the resort. When one thinks of it, it is a big task. It involves not only signs at the theme park itself, but at other locations, especially street signs, booklets at various resorts, and promotional material.

I still have to get used to calling it the "Studios" instead of "MGM".


Sunday, December 30, 2007

DVD Review of The Chronology of Donald Duck Vol. 3

I read the beginning of this DVD review of the recently-released The Chronology of Donald Duck Vol. 3, and I knew that this person has almost the same opinion as I do.

In my many years as a cartoon fan, not quite an aficionado but definitely an enjoyer of fine animated fare, I have always tended to lean to the Warner Brothers side rather than Disney. I prefer the over-the-top violence that the likes of Bugs, Daffy, and the gang provide as opposed to the more family oriented tack that Disney goes for. Now this is not to say that I don't like Disney at all, there is a special place in my heart for their classic characters and toons alongside the Warner gang. In particular, there are always two Disney characters that float to the top of my favorite lists, and neither are the iconic mouse that has defined the brand for all of recorded history. One of them is the comical dog Goofy, I identify with his prolific ineptitude and enjoy his comical antics. The second is the focus of this two DVD set, the easily irritated Donald Duck. This waterfowl is the most quick to anger, and quite possibly the edgiest of the Disney bunch.

.. and I went, holy cow! This person is saying exactly what I've been saying! :)

It is no secret that the cartoons that I grew up with and that I still love dearly are the Looney Tunes cartoons. I find the Warner Brothers characters a lot more memorable than Disney cartoon characters, with the exception of Donald Duck, which remains as my most favorite Disney character, mainly because he does get mad and loses his temper.

So yes, we do have all 3 volumes of the Chronology of Donald, and all 5 volumes of Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVDs. :)


Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Disney World and Other Theme-Park Stores Taking Off at Orlando International Airport

Looks like the 2 Disney stores and other theme park stores at Orlando International are doing extremely well. The 2 Disney stores, of course, outsells all the other theme parks stores.

Disney dwarfs the competition. Its stores -- the flagship Disney's EarPort in the terminal's east hall and the Magic of Disney in the west hall -- outsell all of the other theme-park stores combined. Its stores ring up as much as $1.2 million in receipts in a single month.

Have you shopped there on your way in or out? I've never stopped there on my way in. I don't know why anyone would, considering that you're about to go to the center of it all in a few minutes anyway. Besides, we normally would make a bee-line to get our luggage and our rental car anyway since we want to get to WDW resort as quickly as we can to get our day started.

Now, on the way out, that's a different matter. Depending on how busy the airport is, especially the security check lines, if I have time, I do stop by both stores just to walk around. Usually, by this time, I would already be shopped out. We usually have several packages mailed directly to our home, so we certainly would have done a lot of shopping. So I have seldom bought anything from the 2 Disney airport stores. The few times that I did buy something was when I forgot to buy a souvenir for a few people.

It's too bad that they don't have a store inside of the secure area. People tend to get to the gate early since they don't know how long the security check might take. So there are a lot of people near the gate area simply doing nothing. A Disney store near the gates would be a great place to just browse around, and these tend to also be the customers that would make impulsive buys. I know I would.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Disney Holidays

I hope Santa was nice to you as he was for us.

One fun thing about being Disney fanatics is that it is no big secret. In fact, it is quite well known. So whenever there is a birthday or holidays, people always know what to get us. This holiday is no exception. It seems that almost every gift we got for Christmas was Disney-related, ranging from Disney ornaments all the way to antique collectibles and even a very nice Disney train set. We have no complains since we collect Disney stuff.

Now we have to figure out where to store these things! We're quickly running out of space! :)


Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Seasons Greetings to everyone. May your holidays be Magical!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa host Disney World's Holiday Celebration

Don't forget, the Disney's Christmas parade will air on ABC at 10:00 am EST on Christmas Day. If it is anything like the previous years, it will annoy the hell out of me, because they don't how enough of the parade, which is what I'm mainly interested in. I'm sure there will be a lot of "tween-attraction" performances just to get the ratings up. I can tolerate that if they show a lot of the parade, but unfortunately, they don't.

In any case, this is a rather nice article on Kelly Ripa and her jobs that frequently take her to WDW.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Goodbye Disney-MGM Studios

Disney-MGM Studios is no more. The WDW website has replaced it with the new Disney's Hollywood Studios. There are already reports that various Disney-MGM Studios logos have been gone from the park for some time now.

Now, rather than referring it quickly as "MGM", I now have to teach myself to refer to it as "Studios".


Friday, December 21, 2007

Book of Secrets Not Getting Good Reviews

I've scanned a few reviews of "National Treasures: Book of Secrets", and they aren't good. Roger Ebert, a critic that I tend to agree with most of the time, didn't like it at all.

But then again, he didn't like the first one either, and that movie didn't get stellar views as well from the critics. Yet, it still made a ton of money. So I think the crowd that would go to this one aren't expecting any high standards here.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Disney Tree

OK, so no self-respecting Disney fanatic would not have a Disney tree, would it? :)

As last year, we have a tree exclusively filled with Disney-themed ornaments. To say that the tree is loaded with it is an understatement. The poor tree appears to be literally sagging under the weight of all the Disney ornaments.

I can only imagine what it's going to be like next year when we get MORE ornaments! :)


Christmas Numbers Are Staggering

This article has some of the impressive numbers that are involved in the Christmas decorations at Walt Disney World.

Can't wait for next year when we get to go there during holiday event.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Disney Wilderness Preserve

Here's something that has the Disney name on it, but it is not something that Disney owns. It is the Disney Wilderness Preserve in southwest Osceola County.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve is a 12,000-acre sanctuary of natural communities just outside Poinciana that is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy, which has been restoring the land for the past 15 years.

Disney provided the property as a trade-off that allowed it to expand on wetlands near its theme parks, providing room here for more than 300 wildlife species, including 16 that are endangered or threatened today.

It didn't say when this was done. Anyone knows?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Inside the Book of Secrets with Nicolas Cage

With "National Treasures: Book of Secrets" opening on Dec. 21, this is a timely interview with Nicolas Cage. WARNING: there are a few spoilers in the interview. If you do not want to know about the storyline, do not read the link!


Hong Kong Disneyland 2nd Year Visitors Down Sharply

This just confirms what we all suspected all along. Hong Kong Disneyland's attendance numbers continue to fall.

Strangely enough, the fate of this theme park may rest of one of the most beloved attractions in any Disney theme park - It's A Small World - which is under construction and scheduled to open early next year.

Still, I think they need an E-ticket type attraction to really bring in the crowds or they won't get out of this hole for the next few years.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Walt Disney World Named Leading Theme Park Resort in World

A survey of 167,000 tourism professionals and travel agents gave WDW as the leading theme park in the world. This isn't a big surprise, is it? After all, The Magic Kingdom is already the most attended theme park in the world. So WDW as a whole has got to be the most attended theme park complex anywhere on earth.


Ratatouille Among AFI's Best Movies of 2007

The American Film Institute has announced its selection of the best movies of 2007. Naturally, Ratatouille is selected as one of them.


Religion and Disney: Not Just Another Mickey Mouse Course

I don't know what to make of this. A professor in St. John, Canada has a course studying Religion and Disney, and especially on religious connotations in its theme parks.

God and the Magical Kingdom aren't subjects you'd normally link. But the Kingston, Ont.-born Porter says the connection is there.

"The theme park productions, fireworks displays and so on always involve a morality tale and a requirement of the audience to believe in the power of good, and believe in the power of wishes," she said.

Disney and religion (or should I say, "religious" people) have had several "entanglements", so this isn't anything new. The Southern Baptists had a failed boycott a few years ago due to Disney's liberal policies towards Gays and their "approval" of Gay Days. (Strange that you don't hear about atheists boycotting Disney because of its observance of Christmas and other religious events). In fact, I think Disney is still on some boycott list somewhere.

On the other hand, we have heard about people having a "religious experience" visiting WDW.

Still, some time a cigar is just a cigar, and one can risk reading way too much into something benign.


"I'm Going To Disneyland Paris!"

"President Sarkozy, your divorce had just been finalized. So what are you going to do now?"

"Why, I'm going to Disneyland Paris!"

OK, so this is just plain old gossip, but it's a lot of fun! :)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, just was recently divorced, was spotted at Disneyland Paris with supermodel Carla Bruni this past weekend.

I hope they enjoyed all the holiday lights there. I hear that it is spectacular.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Disney Works Its Magic On Its Golf Courses As Well

I'm not a golfer, so trying out golf courses isn't something I would do. So naturally, I don't know anything about the golf courses at WDW, other than knowing that they're there, and some of their names. Well now I know a little bit more, thanks to this short news article on the various golf courses at WDW.

I guess it's pretty popular, since I often see people playing on the LBV course that is next to the Saratoga Springs Resort. Strangely enough, the golf players have to cross a sometime-busy 2-lane DVC Way to go from one part of the course to the other.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Devoted to Disney

I love hearing how much us Disney fanatics (or "Disneyphiles" as we are called in this article) have in common. These couple from Long Island, NY, appears to be inflicted by the same disease. :)

Disneyphiles, as the entertainment company calls them, are people like the Summerfolds who can't get enough of Orlando's Magic Kingdom and other theme parks. They are the people who know the difference between Adventureland and Frontierland. The people who know the meaning of Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.) The people who probably even know which animated chipmunk is Chip and which is Dale (hint: the latter has a red nose.)

Damn right! :)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Golden Globe Nominations

The nominations for this year's Golden Globe awards was announced this morning. As expected, Amy Adams received a nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for "Enchanted".

These are the Disney-related list that I noticed after a quick glance:

Actress, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, "Enchanted"
Animated Film: "Ratatouille"
Original Song: "That's How You Know" from "Enchanted".


Oscar Song Candidates Named

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science have announced the songs that are candidates for nomination for the Best Song Oscar at the upcoming Academy Awards. Of course, there are several tunes from a number of Disney movies that made the list:

So Close from Enchanted
That's How You Know from Enchanted
Happy Working Song from Enchanted
Little Wonders from Meet the Robinsons
Another Believer from Meet the Robinsons
Le Festin from Ratatouille

I am rooting for "That's How You Know". That musical number in the middle of Central Park was the show stopper for that movie.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Disney Plans New Health Care Facility

Disney is planning to build a new health care facility for its employees/cast members within the Walt Disney World complex.

"This onsite facility will be right here, with extended hours for our cast members through the day and on the weekend and will make getting health care much more available to them," Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton said.

This is good, no? I hope such service is of no cost to the cast members, who can certainly get some of the basic medical necessities.


A Belated Thank You to Pioneer Walt Disney

December is a significant month for the Disney Company. Dec. 5th was the date that Walt Disney was born, and Dec. 15th was when he died.

So this news article is a fitting tribute to Walt Disney. It actually is a neat article because it is basically a list of facts associated with him, all precise and compact in one relatively short article.


Follow-up To Disney Holiday Magic With Samantha Brown

So, did anyone catch the TV special? I thought it was well done, but they could have made a 2-hour show with it. But then again, I'm a Disney freak! :)

I noticed that the show has a slight "letterboxing". I'm guessing that they did this in high definition. I don't know if the Travel Channel has a high-def channel (DirectTV currently doesn't have a high-def Travel Channel). So if they did film this in high definition, that would amazing to watch again in that format.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Video of Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian

This is a time-lapsed video of the building of the huge gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Floridian.

Yummy! :)


Reminder: Disney Holiday Magic With Samantha Brown Tonight

The premier of Disney Holiday Magic With Samantha Brown is tonight on the Travel Channel, 8:00 pm EST. And don't worry if you miss this - they'll repeat the show several times this month alone.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Could "Persepolis" Be "Ratatouille"'s Serious Competition?

Could a little known foreign French black-and-white film be Ratatouille's serious competition during the film award season leading up to the Academy Awards? It might seem like it. The LA Critics are split, giving the best animation award to both film. In fact, Ratatouille lost out to Persepolis as the best animation film at the NY Film Critics Circle awards.

Let the games begin!



Disney Electrician's Holiday Lighting Safety Advice

Just because you see Disney using a gazillion lights all over the theme parks doesn't mean that you can do the same. All of these are done with safety in mind. So read this simple advice from a Disney electrician responsible for the holiday lighting at WDW.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Handgun Found On Woman Trying To Enter Disney

Humm.. those security bag checks do actually catch something. A woman about to enter a WDW theme park (they didn't say which one) was found to have a loaded semi-automatic weapon.

Richardson was trying to enter Walt Disney World with her family. She told security that she traveled with the handgun and forgot it was inside her purse. Along with the loaded 32 caliber semi-automatic handgun, security also found a pair of scissors and a locked blade knife in the purse.

I guess that could happen, but still, trying using that excuse at the airport.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Johnny Depp Wants In On High School Musical 3?

Whoa! It's not as if he needs the money or the work, especially after getting rave reviews in his latest turn Sweeney Todd. But Johnny Depp said he'd do High School Musical 3 if asked.

Still, you just don't know if he is just being facetious.


SunCal Just Won't Go Away And Die

The stupid housing controversy in Anaheim isn't dead, I'm sorry to say.

Attorneys for SunCal asked for a rehearing based on the developer's assertion that Anaheim broke state and federal laws by "denying affordable housing to low, very-low and moderate-income families and individuals."

"The City Council has effectively discriminated against such persons by limiting their housing options in the city," Robert H. Freilich, SunCal's attorney, wrote to City Atty. Jack White. "Moreover, the discriminatory impact of the City Council's decision will affect racial minorities within the city disproportionately."

How does not allowing housing in the resort district equivalent to denying affordable housing in the whole city of Anaheim? And since when has SunCal become such a champion of affordable housing? If they truly have the compassion for such a thing, why were they planning on building only a SMALL fraction of their housing project for such affordable housing?

Would you buy something, much less, a home, from a company like this?


Friday, December 07, 2007

Free Pirates Jibbitz Charms With Pirate-Themed Crocs

Crocs is running a promotion in conjunction with the DVD release of Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End. If you buy a Pirates of the Carribean-themed crocs, you get free Pirates of the Caribbean Jibbitz charms to attach to your new crocs.

Is this enough to push you over the edge and get a croc? :)


Disney Makes Changes to Epcot's Spaceship Earth Attraction

Spaceship Earth is rumored to be reopening some time next week. Well it's about freaking time too!

Its theme has shifted from communication through the ages to one of inspiration and innovation. The most recent script, read by Jeremy Irons, has been scrapped -- the new narrator is Oscar winner Judi Dench, whose words guide riders through the generations.

It won't be till late February next year before we get to go back to WDW, but this is certainly at the top of the list of things we will be doing.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

How Bob Iger Works

How does Disney CEO Bob Iger work? Here's how, and let's see how many of these I also practice.

1. Get up before dawn.
Check! I get up around 4:30 to 5:00 am almost every day, even on weekends and on vacation. So that much we share in common. I'm a morning person.

2. Be punctual.
Check! I hate being late, or anyone else being late. I tend to get to a place way early sometime just so I don't be late.

3. Lose your driver.
Check! I drive myself to work everyday, not that I have the option of having someone else drive me to work. :0

4. Write notes.
Er... OK, check! I write thank you notes and well-done notes to people that I know whenever appropriate.

5. Put history to work.
OK, this part lost me. I don't have a Disney history to work on. :)

A fascinating take on the man who has turned the Walt Disney Company around.


Disney wins injunction against Hong Kong travel company D Land

Would you confuse a company named "D Land" with "Disneyland"? Me neither. When I originally read this news report, I thought maybe Disney was being paranoid. But upon further reading, it appears that there's more to it than that.

However, an action brought jointly by Walt Disney Co, Disney Enterprises and Walt Disney Asia-Pacific successfully argued that the Chinese name for D Land Travel was 'virtually identical' to that of the US company and should be changed.

Ah, so that's it.

It gets complicated as one tries to go into different cultural and language market.


For 'Poppins,' Disney Has Done Its Chicago "Homework"

I mentioned earlier about the musical stage version of Mary Poppins on Broadway recouping money for its investors. An additional piece of information out of that news piece was the announcement that Chicago will be the first city for the touring version of Mary Poppins. It seems that there's a bit of history with regards to Disney's touring company and Chicago.

As long-time observers of the downtown theater scene here know, Disney made a 1999 deal that kept the tour of "The Lion King" out of Chicago for years. At the request of Toronto presenters, Disney agreed to give the Canadian city the territory that included Chicago. Since "The Lion King" was by far the hottest show of that era, the agreement infuriated the local theater-going public. In this newspaper, then-theater critic Richard Christiansen called the deal "a great big bonehead miscalculation."

"Lion King" didn't finally arrive here for three more years. That's not a miscalculation anybody—least of all Schumacher’s savvy Disney—would make anymore.

I certainly hope not. It was quite strange, really, with that "Lion King" debacle, because the city has proven with the long-running Beauty and the Best at the Chicago theater that it can give Disney a big hit. So it wasn't as if the city is an unchartered water. So I guess that was the part that was the "... great big bonehead miscalculation". :)


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ratatouille Wins First Award

... and the Awards seasons are off and running!

The National Board of Review awarded Ratatouille as the best animation film of the year.


`Mary Poppins' Recoups Its Investment

Not a major surprise considering it is doing quite well on Broadway, not counting the loss days due to the strike. Mary Poppins has now recoup its considerable investment.

The New York production, now in its second year on Broadway, has recouped its investment, both producers announced Wednesday, and plans are under way to unleash the show globally with a North American tour, a British tour, an Australian production and licensing agreements in foreign countries.

What is exciting for me here in Chicago is this news:

The North American tour will originate at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, premiering there on March 25, 2009.

This was the same theater that "The Producers" had its sold-out tryout with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. We sent it off to Broadway knowing fully well that it would be a monster hit. :)

So I can't wait for Mary Poppins to get here.


Disney Buys iParenting

I normally don't report on Disney buying different websites, but this one is in the Chicagoland area.

Disney has just bought website, a site full of resources for expecting parents and especially moms. This website is located in Evanston, IL, just north of Chicago.

"Their target is parents, and very often that means moms," said Emily Smith, vice president of Disney's Family Web sites. "They have this nice sweet spot with pregnancy issues, newborn and early childhood care."

I'm guessing it will be integrated within the family and interface.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tweety, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Daisy Summoned to Court

It is just way too hysterical.

An Italian court has summoned Mickey, Donald, and Daisy, and a few Warner Brothers cartoon characters, to appear in court in a counterfeiting case.

In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said.

The court summons cites Titti, Paperino, Paperina, Topolino — the Italian names for the characters — as damaged parties in the criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of Disney and Warner Bros.

It's so precious! :)


POTC - At World's End on DVD Today

Don't forget, Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End, is released on DVD today. It's a no-brainer that it'll shoot up the DVD sales chart.


Shanghai Awaiting Approval on Disneyland

Rumors are running rampant again that a deal is pending for Disney to build a new theme park in Shanghai.

"Once we have central government approval and a concrete plan and Shanghai Disneyland can begin construction right away," the magazine quoted local economic committee official Qian Weizhong as saying.

But the state-run newspaper China Business Post said that the site for the theme park might be switched from Chuansha to Chongming, an island in the Yangtze river to the north of the city that is being developed as an ecotourism district.

The park would be built after 2010, when the city is due to host the World Expo, it said.

Say it isn't so!

Am I the only one who thinks that this isn't a good idea? Disney is still having issues with Hong Kong Disneyland. What makes them think they know what to do in Shanghai?


Monday, December 03, 2007

Ratatouille Leads The Pack in Annie Award Nominations

This is no big surprise, is it?

Ratatouille leads the pack with 13 nominations for the Annie Awards given by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA-Hollywood).

This promises to be the first of many nominations and, hopefully, awards for this movie with the upcoming awards season approaching. We are still rooting for it to get the nomination for the Best Picture Oscar.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Where In Walt Disney World?

Alright. The last one went well, so here's another one. Again, this shouldn't be too difficult.

Where in Walt Disney World was this taken?


Enchanted Continues to Lead US Box Office

All the movies from last week had a big drop this week in attendance (wonder what the snow storm in the midwest will do to movie attendance), but Enchanted still easily lead the box office take this week with $17 million. I think the movie will hold up rather well through the holidays, it is just the type of movie that people go to during such time. I know of many people who want to go see the movie, but haven't done it yet.

So it will certainly glide over the $100 million mark, but how far above that is unknown.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Enchanted As A Broadway Musical?

This just came to me out of nowhere. But think about it! The movie would be perfect as a Broadway musical. In fact, it is almost made for it.

Of course, I'm not sure how one would want to depict the first 10 minutes of it that was presented as a 2D animation in the movie. Just doing it live as usual on stage somehow would be a bit of a disappointment. Maybe Julie Taymore might have a creative idea on how to do this.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of it.