Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Disney-Backed Measure Back Before Council

Another important decision to be made at the Funniest City Council On Earth, or what they would like to be called as the Anaheim City Council. Do they keep their word and stick to the original decision of having a resort district, or do they act stupid be renegading on their word and let the voters decide?

And then you got these so-called "housing advocates" who will be rallying during the meeting. Yeah, right. Like 150 units of housing ONLY within the Resort District would solve the housing problem. Give me a break!

Are you a resident of Anaheim? What do you make of all this?


Monday, July 30, 2007

Disney And Oklahoma

Humm.. could something be brewing between Disney and the state of Oklahoma?

The writer is certainly over-reaching it a bit with the speculation on a Disney theme park (I don't think he's serious). Still, he made a mistake when he discusses that Disney hasn't opened a new theme park since Paris. He obviously forgot about Hong Kong. Come to think of it, I think Disney would like to forget about Hong Kong as well.


Pieces of Epcot Wand Appearing on Ebay

With the dismantling of the Epcot Wand barely a month old, pieces of the wand are starting to appear on e-bay (where else?).

I'm not sure why anyone would buy such a thing. I'd like to have the whole wand, but unless you live in a gymnasium, I don't think it'll fit a conventional house.


Pixar Shorts To Debut On Blu-Ray

OK, this might tip me over to the Blu-Ray camp, because I love those Pixar shorts. Disney will be releasing a collection of Pixar shorts on Blu-Ray disks this November. It is another effort by Disney, I'm sure, to strengthen the Blu-Ray presence.

Too bad the combo players that can play HD-DVD/Blu-Ray are still so damn expensive.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Comic-Con Breaking News: Disney Commits to Make All 'Narnia' Films, One a Year

This is certainly a breaking and astounding news out of Comic-Con.

Disney's completely packed panel was about all things Narnia this afternoon, and the biggest piece of news was the fact that they'll be releasing a new Chronicles of Narnia film every May, starting with Prince Caspian 2008, and continuing through the rest of the seven books.

As the writer said, there's a worry that the quality of the movie might suffer just because they have this pressing demand to release a movie like that once a year. They might want to consider how the Harry Potter series is being done.


Curtains For Beauty and the Beast on Broadway

Disney's Beauty and the Beast takes is final bow today on Broadway. After 13 years, and being the first Disney musical on Broadway, it was still selling getting huge attendance number, unlike the flop Tarzan. And yes, many of us are scratching our heads on why they close Beauty but let Tarzan continues.


Where In Walt Disney World?

OK, here's another one of those Where in WDW question. Where in WDW can you find this?

You'll get extra bonus if you can also name the "event" when you can see this.


They'd Rather Work Than Go On Vacation

Go figure!

First of all, Oprah.com actually does surveys? Who knew?

Secondly, who are these people who not only prefer to stay home or work, rather than go on family vacation? And not only that, "....55 percent described Disney World in the summer as "the most terrifying place on Earth"."

I don't know about you, but I find these people to be terrifying!

But then again, in another survey, 55% of the general public still do not know that the earth revolves around the sun. I'm not implying these are the same people, but it is an amazing coincidence, don't you think?



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Disney to Give African Elephants Vasectomies

This is certainly not one of the slogans Disney would put up anywhere in its theme parks, I'm sure. :)

Disney is helping control the population of elephants in Africa by performing vasectomies on several bull elephants. The news report even has a video of the process (edited version). Eeewwwww!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to cross my legs.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Segway Tour at California Adventure

Hey, I didn't know they have started a segway tour at DCA! I suppose that makes sense since (i) the walkways are rather wide and (ii) there aren't too many people there most of the time to get run over! (OK, so that last one was a cheap shot.)

We went on the 90-minute segway tour of the World Showcase at Epcot last year. It was a lot of fun. And like the one described in the news article, the one at Epcot also is accompanied by many different trivia given by the tour guide at every country pavilion that we stopped. My advice to anyone wishing to do this is to pick a time before the World Showcase opens. That way, you get to go in and out of the different parts of several pavilions that are normally full of people. After it opens, they won't allow you to do that in case guests get run over by novice segway riders. :)


Six Flags Is Not Disney

This columnist tried to make a comparison between a Six Flag "theme park" with Disney's Magic Kingdom. Clearly, one can immediately see that the comparison is not even close. It tells you how high of a standard of service Disney has achieved. Even on its bad days, the level of service doesn't come close to what has been described here.

It isn't easy running a theme park, I'm sure. It is also rather easy to take for granted the smooth running of a theme park, because this is something we tend to not remember. And as for Disney, the guests EXPECT such a high standard. The only thing wrong the author of the article did was to expect almost the same level of service at Six Flags. I don't even expect that when I go to Universal Studios.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

To Disney and Beyond: The Rise of Animation

This news article is short on details and depth. Still, it gives a condensed view of the very crowded field in animated movie that used to be dominated by Disney alone.


Disney World's Epcot: Taking A Look Back

As the 25th Anniversary of Epcot looms ahead, this is a wonderful article on the history of Epcot, EPCOT, and EPCOT Center.

And I am glad to report that Disney had changed its mind about not doing anything for Epcot's Anniversary. I have no doubt that the grassroots effort done by many Disney fans might have woken up a few people at Disney. There are already reports that there will be events (a re-dedication ceremony, perhaps) at Epcot on Oct. 1st.

Yours truly will be there, so expect pictures and videos from this joyous day.


Pirates of the Caribbean - AT World's End DVD to Hit The Stores on Dec. 4, 2007

This link has the press release from Disney of the DVD and Blu-Ray DVD of At World's End. Looks like they pulled all the stops with this one.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" 2-disc Disney DVD set immerses users in hours of behind-the-scenes content and pirate lore from the four corners of the earth. Features include a behind-the-scenes documentary, "Keith & the Captain"; "Anatomy of a Scene: The Maelstrom"; "The Tale of the Multiple Jacks"; "Hoist the Colors"; "Masters of Design"; "Inside the Brethren Court"; "The Pirate Code: Revealed"; "The World of Chow Yun Fat"; "The Pirate Maestro: The Music of Hans Zimmer"; "Bloopers of the Caribbean"; and much, much more!


Mickey Mouse To The Rescue of NY Subway Riders?

Well, this is a rather creative idea. Why not "sell" advertising space at a New York City subway station to Disney? This is what a member of the NY's Metropolitan Transit Authority wants to do to avoid a fare hike.

What I am asking is at the same time we take the opportunity to look at different areas of raising funds to help support, if there is going to be an increase, to lessen the burden on the public. Example: I would rather try to sell 42nd Street’s subway system underground to Disney for $60 million a year and have them paint it any way that they want to paint it. They spend $100 million for one minute to be on the Super Bowl on a Sunday. I think that they would spend X amount of dollars in rent for that terminal. I think 34th Street would do it. I think other businesses around the state and the city would do it. That would lessen the burden on the public.

That's a rather novel idea. In fact, for Disney fans, it might even be an attraction in itself! :) If they have Disney characters there every morning to greet passengers, I'm moving to New York!



Disney Studios Reaches $1 Billion International Box Office Receipts for 13th Straight Year

Hey, not bad for consistency. The Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios reached the $1 billion mark in overseas box office based on the latest receipts from Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End. In fact, At World's End has edged ahead of Dead Man's Chest in worldwide gross.

WDSMPI entered the billionaire ranks again Wednesday when "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" became the fourth-most-popular movie ever released in the international marketplace by reaching a gross of $642.3 million and narrowly topping the final $642.2 million achieved by previous company record-holder, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

I think with Ratatouille still making its debut in many parts of the world, it will certainly add a substantial amount to the box office collection even if it isn't going to be at big as Pirates.


Euro Disney 3rd Quarter Revenues Rise 12%

At least there are now good news coming out of EuroDisney.

Theme park operator Euro Disney said on Thursday its third-quarter revenues rose 12 percent to 322 million euros ($444.7 million), citing stronger hotel revenues as well as a rise in the number of visitors.

Theme park revenues gained 8 percent to 173.7 million euros, boosted by a 9 percent rise in attendance to Disneyland Paris.

Maybe this will finally stops the bleeding. Now, if only they can turn around Hong Kong Disneyland.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

USPS 'The Art of Disney: Magic' Stamps

As a reminder, the new US Postal Service "Art of Disney: Magic" stamps are scheduled to be released in August. It's a set of 4. The Mickey and Dumbo/Timothy stamps are outstanding!

To commemorate the release of the stamps, a special set of pins of the stamps will also be released at WDW on Aug. 16.

Hope the pins are still there by the time I get to WDW on Sept. 6.


Disney Mouse Takes On Smokin' Joe Camels

After taking on trans-fat in the food offerings on Disney property, Bob Iger is now taking on the issue of smoking in Disney-branded films.

CEO Bob Iger announced the company's new commitment to remove cigarette smoking from future Disney branded films. Disney made this news public not in Hollywood, but on the national stage of Congress. Iger declaring his company's new commitment in a letter to House Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who last month held a hearing on smoking in the media, asking media companies to join the anti-smoking effort.

This is not unexpected considering the trend. Plus, we all know that the current CEO is pretty health conscious. So this is definitely something in line with what has been done so far.


Disney Cruise Line In Negotiations with Port Canaveral

A very interesting article from Orlando Sentinel regarding the upcoming contract negotiations between the Disney Cruise Line and Port Canaveral, where both the Magic and the Wonder cruise ships have been docking. There were a few things that I didn't know, such as:

What's more, the contract also gives Disney exclusive access to the terminal provided its ships make at least 150 calls a year, an obligation it has so far met. That prevents rival cruise ships that call on Canaveral from using Disney's terminal. It's the only time Port Canaveral has made such made an arrangement with a multiday cruise line.

and that:

Disney appears in no rush to announce its plans. Its current deal with Port Canaveral includes options -- at Disney's sole discretion -- to extend by one year for each of the next 40 years. And the company has tacitly signaled its plans to extend at least once by accepting bookings for cruises out of Canaveral throughout 2008.

Must be nice to have that kind of a clout or muscle. :)

However, I would strongly suggest they look at the situation in Anaheim. It's amazing how "friends" can turn on each other.


Disney Dreams

This is a rather moving story of a young boy who has lost all of his eyesight, and yet, still remembers what Mickey looks like. The community is getting donations so that he and his family can go to Disneyland.

Reading stories like this just reinforces my realization on how lucky we are to not only be able to go to WDW and enjoy all of what it has, but also to be able to do it a few times a year. For many families, such a thing is often a once-in-a-lifetime event. For even more families, it means saving for years for a week of enjoyment. A colleague here at work is bringing his family for the first time to WDW this Sept. While he and his wife have been there a long time ago, the two boys are going there for the first time ever. While they are not desperate for money, they do watch their spending quite a bit, not just to pay for daily expenses, but also for the kids' education. So it is quite understandable that that they are careful with money and that going on vacations like this isn't something they can do often.

So with my help (since I'm the "resident" Disney expert here at work), I told them about the upcoming Magic Your Way package that not only provided a very attractive deal for a family of 4, but also gives them the FREE Disney Dining Plan, which I've mentioned on here already. The whole deal proved just too attractive to miss, and they will be going to WDW this coming Sept. Needless to say, the kids are overjoyed. I was told that the eldest boy was almost speechless when he was told that they will be going to WDW.

So yes, each time I either read or hear something like this, I consider myself lucky to be able to go to WDW (and even once to Disneyland last year) on a pretty regular basis. Our next trip is for the Pin Event at Epcot in early Sept., and then we will be going for 9 days in late Sept/early Oct. (Yes, as I've clarified to startled faces of coworkers at work, I will be going to WDW twice in one month), which is all the more reason for me to be thankful.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boycott of Disney?

I'm sure the Walt Disney Company annoys many individual and organization enough to cause some form of a boycott at any given time. Several years ago, the Southern Baptist were boycotting Disney because it continues to allow the Gay Days event (which is a private event that isn't even organized by Disney). They have since dropped the boycott when they noticed that it hasn't cause any impact whatsoever.

Well, I came across this news release that some rabid anti-Planned Parenthood organization has the Disney company on "continuing" boycott, along with a slew of others. I find it amusing that they take credit for being able to cause "153 corporations" to drop support for Planned Parenthood due to their boycott, yet they somehow failed to note that this so-called boycott hasn't made a dent in the others. Let's look at the evidence with the Walt Disney Company, for example. Not only has it not "suffered" during the past few years, but in fact, it seems to be doing rather well. Theme parks are breaking attendance records. Profits are soaring. Disney Channel is raking in the audience. Movie division went from losing money to making money hand over fist. Stock prices soared.

I hate to burst your bubble, but your boycott is not working! In fact, I may patronize some of these businesses JUST because they are on your list.


Top 50 Disney Quotes at WDW

Laughing Place has a list of the top 50 best quotes that can be heard at Walt Disney World. It's a fun list. When I read the title of the list, my first instinct was "Well, I know of one immediately that should be on it"..... and guess what, it's at the #1! I won't tell you what it is. You'll just have to read it. :)

It's amazing how some of these lines stick into your head. Of course, it helps if you go to the theme parks very often. :)


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Week of Donald on Disney

Whoa! I should have known about this sooner! It seems that the Disney channel is going to have a week of programming on Donald Duck!


This whole thing is supposed to start tonight with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and culminating with the premier of Donald's Hiccups later on Friday.

Wow! Have to make sure we record these.


Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit

So Disney isn't satisfied with cornering the pre-teen/tween market in music and TV shows. They are now targeting pre-teen boys in the Latin market for their new line of fragrance! Yes, you read that right.

Disney is rolling out Pirates of the Caribbean- and Buzz Lightyear-branded fragrances targeting boys ages 4-11 in Latin communities.

The products, which will retail between $9.95 and $19.95, will reach retail shelves by September in time for the holiday season.

It's a bit of a puzzle why they are targeting only those boys in the Latin community. I'm sure there's an obvious reason, but I don't see it, especially after the "success" of the Cars fragrance.............. Hum, that didn't sound that interesting, but I guess there's nothing wrong with smelling like a car to some people.


Disney to Remake "Witch Mountain"

Disney has a director to do a modern remake of The Witch Mountain. I must admit that I haven't seen the original, so maybe this is a good impetus to find out about it.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

First Trip to WDW

Here's another trip report to WDW from a UK family that has been to Disneyland Paris a few times. This is their first trip to WDW, which may explain why they keep referring to "Key West Resort". :)

Still, this is a good trip report with a few useful tips for people making their first trip to WDW.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Chopper Tour Over Walt Disney World

This is rather cool. A WESH Channel 2 chopper pilot got an areal tour over Walt Disney World. There are videos and slide shows of the tour on that webpage. This is not something most of us have a chance to see, so it is neat to get to see it.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean TV Show?

Say it isn't so!

There are unconfirmed news reports (that's the fancy way of saying there are rumors) that Disney is developing a Pirates of the Caribbean TV show.

Disney is reportedly planning to make a TV spin-off of the swashbuckling franchise with Sparrow as its main character. A source tells British newspaper The Daily Star, "The idea is that we focus on a much younger Jack Sparrow and show fans how he became a famous pirate.

Yowzah! I don't know what to make of this. I am almost 100% certain Johnny Depp isn't on board for this one, and that is just a complete guess on my part.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Disney Claims Cable Ratings Top Spot

The Disney Channel is just going from strength to strength. It was the most popular cable channel in prime time last week.

All told, Disney served up three of the most-watched entertainment programs last week, while keeping its two-year demo streak alive, averaging 1.46 million kids 6-11 in prime and 1.34 million ‘tweens 9-14.

It seems that right now, they can do no wrong. With the sequel to High School Musical coming up, there's no stopping them now.


Bicyclist Hits Bambi at WDW

Well, OK, it isn't Bambi. But now and again, it is nice to report on something that isn't that earth shattering. :)

A bicyclist riding along a deserted part of Walt Disney World collided "head on" with a deer. Now how does such a thing occur? Deer going the wrong way?

Luckily, it appears both bicyclist and deer are OK.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Council Delays Decision on Disney Homes Project

The Anaheim city council has delayed a decision on letting the voters decide on the resort zoning decision. This isn't unexpected in light of the negotiations and possible agreement between Disney and the housing developer.

However, contrary to this news report, I do think that things are not going to remain the same no matter what the decision is. The cozy relationship between Disney and the City of Anaheim has forever changed.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and Other Sleep Disturbances in Disney Animated Films

I came across this abstract and thought, whoa! Not only are those animators of classic Disney films tremendous artists, they are also astute observers of animal and human behaviors!

A. Iranzo A, C.H. Schenck,and J. Fonte.
Sleep Med. 2007 Aug;8(5):531-536. Epub 2007 May 18.

Abstract: During a viewing of Disney's animated film Cinderella (1950), one author (AI) noticed a dog having nightmares with dream-enactment that strongly resembled RBD. This prompted a study in which all Disney classic full-length animated films and shorts were analyzed for other examples of RBD. Three additional dogs were found with presumed RBD in the classics films Lady and the Tramp (1955) and The Fox and the Hound (1981), and in the short Pluto's Judgment Day (1935). These dogs were elderly males who would pant, whine, snuffle, howl, laugh, paddle, kick, and propel themselves while dreaming that they were chasing someone or running away. In Lady and the Tramp the dog was also losing both his sense of smell and his memory, two associated features of human RBD. These four films were released before RBD was first formally described in humans and dogs. In addition, systematic viewing of the Disney films identified a broad range of sleep disorders, including nightmares, sleepwalking, sleep related seizures, disruptive snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia and circadian rhythm sleep disorder. These sleep disorders were inserted as comic elements. The inclusion of a broad range of accurately depicted sleep disorders in these films indicates that the Disney screenwriters were astute observers of sleep and its disorders.

Who knew that you could study about sleep disorders simply by watching Disney animation movies! :)


Disney's Magical Blu-ray Tour

Whoa! Disney appears to be going all out in promoting the Blu-Ray HD format. They are taking the promotion on the road and visiting malls all over the US.

At each stop, giant blue towers will feature widescreen monitors. And at more than a dozen interactive "stations," people can preview Blu-ray versions of recent Disney animated hits Cars and Meet the Robinsons, and play the Liar's Dice game from the Blu-ray edition of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

But the heart of the exhibit is a mini theater with hourly presentations on Blu-ray technology and high-definition in general, tying the technology to Walt Disney's legacy of imagination.

I think if the HD-DVD camp doesn't do something as "spectacular" as this, they might get swallowed up. They better "get in bed" with the porn industry quickly and them them on their side.



Happy 52nd Birthday, Disneyland

Lest we forget, today, July 17th, is Disneyland's 52nd birthday.

I still look fondly at all the events surrounding the 50th anniversary celebration in 2005. I still can't believe that Laughing Place had live pictures coming in that morning of an estimated 20,000 people already in line to get into Disneyland at 5:00 am in the morning! I would have so done that if I was anywhere near the place! :)

Still, we managed to talk our friends in LA into going there that day, and I got my commemorative 50th anniversary Golden Mickey ears hat with the embroidered date at the back. So I at least have a piece of something from that historic day. :)


Doorway To Disney Dreams - Follow-up

I mentioned earlier about the mailings we got regarding the DVC center that is opening in the Woodfield Mall outside of Chicago. There's more mailing on this center called the Disney's Doorway to Dreams.

As mentioned before, the DVC member special preview will be on Aug. 1-3, with the official grand opening to the public on Aug. 4. However, reservations are required for DVC members to attend the preview. So we have to call them and make an appointment. They will, of course, be presenting us with offers to add to our existing DVC points, which isn't something we haven't considered. So who knows, if it is attractive enough, we might add more points to our 230 yearly points - the ones for the Animal Kingdom villas are VERY tempting. But anyway, what is a bit of a bother is that the time period for the preview are only between 9 AM and 5:30 PM, during WORK hours! Oy vey!

So now we are trying to see if we can take an afternoon off on one of those days. I'm hoping they'll have lots of trinkets to give away as well. And for the opening on the 4th, "Mickey and Friends" will be at the Mall based on the mailing. I'm still debating if I want to wear my Mickey ears hat to the event.



Monday, July 16, 2007

Photos From Today of the Wand Removal

Someone posted the pictures from today of the wand removal. It looks like they are starting with the "Epcot" letters.

As I expect. It is beginning to look "bare". :(


MGM Expands Jedi Show

Looks like we will get a permanent show in Fall at Disney-MGM Studios.

One of the most popular features of Disney-MGM Studios' Star Wars Weekends will become a permanent show this fall when Walt Disney World completes construction of a new stage for the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy.

With the "Pixar land" being built there, it does appear that they're working hard to make that theme park more attractive to guests. For me, Disney-MGM Studios is Tower of Terror and Rock 'N Rollercoaster, and maybe the Muppets. But that's it. Without those three, I could easily skip that park.


Taking the Kids on a Disney Adventure

This is a rather fun and amusing trip report on a Disney European cruise. It covers a trip through Spain, Italy and the French Rivera.

Don't you just wish to be on one of these trips? I certainly do. Maybe one of these days.....


Possible Deal on Housing Near Disney?

Rumors are once again flying around like the cicada infestation we had in the Chicago area a month ago. There is an unconfirmed report that the housing developer and Disney may be heading towards a deal that may stop all of the nonsense that has been going on the past couple of years.

One can only hope something sensible comes up. But considering what has occurred, and that this is a lot of politics, I wouldn't put any bets on it.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ratatouille Holding Its Own In Its Thrid Week

With the onslaught of Potter mania this weekend, Ratatouille raked in another $18 million at the boxoffice this weekend, despite the record-breaking opening of the new Harry Potter movie.

Holding its own against the big, scary summer blockbusters was Disney’s critical darling “Ratatouille,” that ate up $18 million for third place. Rat or not, the Pixar piece is cooking up a storm, with a total gross three-week of an estimated $143 million.

I know of several of my friends who still have yet to go see it, but will soon. So that should add another million or two!



Windy City Pin Traders Picnic

We attended our monthly Windy City Pin Traders meet, but this time, it was a picnic at a member's home out near Lake Geneva, WI. Needless to say, we had a wonderful, wonderful time. While we certainly did a lot of pin trading, what was more important and enjoyable was the company. We feel very lucky to have found one of the nicest group of people to hang out with. It certainly helps that we all share a common passion of Disney and Disney pins, but even that would not have mattered much if people are jerks. These people are not. It seems that at every meet, we make new friends and acquaintances, especially since we are relatively new to the group.

Because of that, we now look forward even more to the upcoming Disney pin event at Epcot this Sept. At least on this one, we would know more than just a couple of people there. So it promises to be quite enjoyable.

Here are a few pictures that I took from our pin meet yesterday.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Strictly Disneyana Show and Sale This Sunday

The world's largest Disneyana Show and Sale is this Sunday, just barely a couple of miles away from the Disneyland Resort. Just reading about it made me drool...

Disney's Soda Fountain will be bringing a selection of goodies from their store on famed Hollywood Boulevard (right next to the legendary El Capitan Theatre) to sell and the pins are going to go fast!

The Disney Cast Member Store will be with us offering a huge array of Exclusive, Cast Member Only and Limited Edition Castle merchandise and goodies – so shopping at their booth is the next best thing to having the Mouse sign your paycheck.

On the other hand, maybe it is good that I can't get to these events that easily. I can just see myself going bankrupt in just one shopping trip to one of these things.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Recent Changes at WDW

Laughing Place has tons of pictures and videos of the recent changes and events at WDW, including pictures of several locations under refurbishments. For those of us who either don't live there, can't go there as often as we would like, or were not there during these events, this is the next best thing.


Cars 2 In The Works?

Man, I love spreading rumors! Don't you? :)

Again, read this with caution, because there's no shred of evidence at all, but someone is reporting that Pixar will start working on Cars 2 after Toy Story 3. So take that! Two unconfirmed rumors (redundant, I know) in one sentence! :)

And this is also the first time I've heard about "John Carter of Mars". Whoa! I feel so out-of-the-loop!


Tower of Terror Turns 13!

It's Friday the 13th, and what better day to promote the fact that The Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios turns 13 this month!

This is, without a doubt, my most favorite attraction in all of WDW. Everything about it is pure, vintage Disney. The theming couldn't be done any better. In the morning when you walk through the queue line and they have the mist going and the soft background 1930's tune playing, it can be eerie and wonderful at the same time. And of course, the set-up for the story is just outstanding and just seduce you into the whole scene.

Last June, we had a friend who isn't too thrill with thrill rides. He certainly would not ride ToT. But we told him that he simply must go through at least the whole set-up for it, and then, right before we load onto the elevator, he could simply ask to get off the ride and take the normal elevator out. We thought the set-up and the theming were something he shouldn't miss. So he went with us through the whole thing. I guess it was that enticing that by the time we were in line to get on the actual elevator, he surprised all of us by saying that he WILL get on the ride till the end. Well, all our jaws dropped and we made sure that he really wanted to. I think he replied something like "don't ask me again or I'll change my mind".

So we all went on the ride. Of course, the one thing that the ToT at Disney-MGM Studios has that is missing at DCA (not sure if it is also missing at the ToT at Tokyo's DisneySea) is the part where the elevator moves forward out of one elevator shaft and into another. To me, just this whole set-up alone, before the actual drop, is worth getting on this attraction. But of course, by the time you get to the drops, all your senses are already running wild. It is just PERFECT!

So Happy 13th Birthday, Tower of Terror. I'm just sorry I couldn't be there during your celebration month!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Farewell Epcot Wand

You will be remembered long after you are gone.


Anti-Disney Ballot Proposal Submitted

Here we go again. The Battle for Anaheim continues.

Vowing not to allow the Walt Disney Co. to run the city, a coalition of Anaheim business owners and residents announced Wednesday that they would pursue a ballot initiative to give voters zoning control over the entertainment giant's planned third theme park.

If the City Council puts the measure on the ballot, it could join two Disney-backed ballot measures — an initiative and a referendum — aimed at preserving nonresidential zoning in the area adjacent to Disneyland and California Adventure.

But what I chuckled on was this:

Councilwoman Lucille Kring said she was unsure whether she would support it. "I just am so disappointed we're into initiatives and ballot-box development," she said. "This is very divisive to the city."

Hello? Where has she been all this while? Your city is ALREADY divisive on this issue. That cat is out of the bag, and you are still thinking that it is asleep!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Deal Brings Select Disney Movies to Xbox Live

Microsoft has struck a deal with Disney to make a select Disney movies available on Microsoft's Xbox Live. It appears that these will be high-definition movies too!


Mystery of the Largest Hidden Mickey Solved

Again, thanks to John Frost at The Disney Blog for pointing out to this info. If you recall, I posted something about what could possibly be the largest "hidden Mickey" in the world, which is outside of Orlando and can be see using Google Earth. At that time, no one seems to know the origin of shape, as in who did it, why did they do it, etc. Well now, we know a lot more, and in fact, Disney was responsible for this "topiary". Chris Gent posted on the Orlando Sentinel blog on the details of the origin of this "Mickey Forest".


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Possible Epcot 25th Anniversary Celebration?

Oh, one can only hope, even if it is just to stop me from whining and complaining about it!

We have rumors floating around that leaves open the possibility that Disney might actually do something to mark Epcot's 25th Anniversary.

New Epcot Vice President Jim MacPhee is opening the door to possible public events, saying last week that the Oct. 1 anniversary would include "some surprises for our guests."

Good! I'm already planning on being there! Surprise me!


Monday, July 09, 2007

Disney's 'Gourd' Makes $1M in China

The Magic Gourd made a respectable box office showing for Disney's first full non-Hollywood venture into the Chinese market.

Disney's first major venture into localized Chinese content, made more than US$1 million (euro740,000), or 7.6 million Chinese yuan in the week since its debut on June 29, the company said in a statement.

I wonder if they'll release it here in the US? If they do, will it be subtitled, or would they dub the English dialog into the movie?


More on The Wand

As expected, one of the hottest topic of conversation around various Disney fans websites this past week is the official announcement of the removal of the wand from Epcot's Spaceship Earth structure. Some of it has gotten so nasty that there's now name calling of people who either (i) hated the wand and called for its removal or (ii) liked the wand and wanted it to stay. It got to the point that people who are in one camp or the other are being accused of not being "true" Disney fans, etc... Whatever!

I read some of them, and all I can do is shake my head, because this is becoming utterly silly. Of course, as someone who had no problems with the wand in the first place, I'm indifferent to whether it stays or goes. I will miss it when it is no longer there, though. But do I have a strong opinion way way or the other? Nope. I am more ticked off that Disney is IGNORING Epcot's 25th Anniversary than whether the Wand stays or goes. That, to me, is more of something to be "offended" about.

So now I'm waiting for some Disney fans to accuse those of us to have no strong feelings about the Wand as being fence-sitting Disney fakes. :)


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Star Tours 2.0

Laughing Place has posted something it got from BeautyBeast regarding the rumored upgrade of Star Tours at Disney-MGM Studios.

Sounds like it will be a significant improvement, specially with the 3D glasses. I've never liked the current version. It feels too jerky. So maybe after this upgrade, I might actually ride this again.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The Wand on Epcot's Spaceship Earth is Coming Down

It's official! The wand on Spaceship Earth that is the vane for many Disney purist, is coming down.

Epcot Vice President Jim MacPhee said Thursday that the time has come to remove the Mickey Mouse arm, glove and wand that have served as a colorful, lighted Epcot sign -- and as a lightning rod for criticism from many longtime Epcot fans.

As I've said before, I don't have a preference either way, and unlike many Disney fans, I don't find the wand to be "offensive" at all. On the other hand, I LIKE the Sorcerer Hat at Disney/MGM Studios. It give a well-defined focus and "icon" to the park that has none before it. So I certainly disagree with many Disney blogs and purists out there regarding The Hat. I hope they don't remove it.

Now, if only they'll do something about not celebrating Epcot's 25th. I find that to be more offensive than the wand.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Citizens Naturalized at WDW

Pictures and videos of the naturalization ceremony for 1000 new citizens on the 4th of July in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Looks like many VIPs gave up their day off! :)


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th of July

Happy 4th of July!


WDW Independence Day Celebration

Walt Disney World is all set for the 4th of July celebration.

I'm a bit surprised that they're bringing back the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Can someone videotape this so that I can see if they added something new to it? :)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Walt Disney Records Scored A Trifecta

How would you like to have the #1 Album on the Billboard Top 200, #1 album on the Soundtrack charts, and #1 album on the Children's Chart, all in the same week? That's what happened with the new 2-disc set Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus. It debut at the #1 position in all 3 charts.

With Ratatouille the #1 movie this week, Disney isn't doing so bad, no?


More on the "Smoking Trash Can"

We have learned a little bit more on the incident yesterday at Downtown Disney. It appears that it was a small pipe bomb that was stuff in a trash can on the West Side area of Downtown Disney. It didn't appear that it was meant to be anything substantial. Obviously, as a result of this, security in the area (and everywhere else I might suspect) is being increased.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Provides Education, Entertainment

This is a piece of news report on Disney's Animal Kingdom, written by a 9th Grader homeschooler. One can only wish everyone can write as well as that (especially me). She certainly covered many of the highlights of DAK.


A Smoking Trash Can at Downtown Disney

Doesn't that trash can knows that smoking is allowed only in designated areas in Walt Disney World? :)

It appears that early Monday morning, a trash can somewhere in the parking lot of Downtown Disney started smoking and making noises. Of course, with all the heightened security after the incidents in the UK, something like this isn't treated lightly. So far, there's no report of anything more, but obviously, they continue to investigate.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ratatouille Debuts at #1

Ratatouille was the #1 movie at the box office this weekend, with $47.2 million domestically. It is the lowest opening weekend gross of a Pixar movie since A Bugs Life. Still it opened ahead of a stiff competition, Bruce Willis's reincarnation of his Die Hard series.

I think they were smart that, in light of the stellar reviews Ratatouille has been getting (certainly a lot more positive than Cars), they are aiming for a long-term haul, especially this coming week considering the 4th of July holidays.


Disney After Dark

The latest report on the going-ons at Downtown Disney as both guests and Disney deal with the increase security, crackdown, and accusation of racial profiling by Disney.

I don't think they can sustain this level of security. I only hope that after this heightened period is over, they continue to monitor the security of that area.