Thursday, January 31, 2008

'Ratatouille' May Have Been Squeezed Out Of Best Pic Because It's Animated

This is a provocative article speculating on why Ratatouille did not become one of the nominated movie for Best Picture Oscar. One possible reason is the existence of the Best Animated Feature category that the Academy established in 2002, something that did not exist when "Beauty and the Best" became the only animated feature nominated for Best Picture. So the fact that this new category exists now allowed the academy members to reward animated movies separately from giving them nominations for Best Pictures.


WDW For Golfers

For you big golf fanatics, and for those of you who are married/attached to one (my sympathy to you :)), there's a Walt Disney World guide for golfers. They may not be Tiger Woods, but they can still play at some of the best golf courses around at WDW.

For golfers, staying at a Disney resort property comes with many benefits. Guests receive free transportation to and from whatever golf course they play and receive discounted green fees. You can book your tee times up to 90 days in advance (visitors may only book within 30 days). You're also never more than a few minutes from a golf course, which means no long commute and waiting in Orlando-area traffic.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ratatouille - A Vegetable Stew

I mentioned earlier of Thomas Keller of acclaimed French Laundry restaurant and his involvement in "Ratatouille". His recipe for the dish was used in the movie, which is technically confit biyaldi.

Here's another recipe for Ratatouille, and a bit more history behind the dish and how the movie connects with it.

Still, the dish itself is based on a simple structure. According to the venerable LaRousse Gastronomique -- The World's Greatest Culinary Encylopedia, ratatouille is a vegetable stew typical of Provencal cookery, originally from Nice, now found all over southeast France and is considered very popular everywhere.

"The word, derived from the French touiller (to mix or stir) at first designated an unappetizing stew," notes the book's authors. "A ratatouille from Nice is made from onions, courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplants), sweet bell peppers and tomatoes, delicately simmered in olive oil with herbs.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Sell Disney

To counter Citi analyst recommendation to sell Disney, Motley Fool offers counter argument on why one shouldn't sell Disney stocks. Certainly the fact that the plummeting dollar is attracting more international visitors to both Orlando and Anaheim favors Disney theme parks.

The financial area is always a puzzle to me. How does someone who has made wrong predictions before, remain in his/her job, and not only that, continues to exert such influence on the value of the stocks in a company? It makes no sense. If this were in science, that person would have no credibility left!


Disney's The Aristocats Special Edition hits February 5

One of the most beloved Disney animation movie of all time, Aristocats will be given a special edition treatment and released on Feb. 5.

All New Bonus Materials

• Never-Before-Seen Deleted song
• Games and Activities: Disney Virtual Kitten ROM, English Read-Along – The Aristocats
• Disney Song Selection
• Bonus Short – "Bath Day" a cartoon short from 1946 featuring Figaro
• Backstage Disney: The Aristocats Scrapbook



Enchanted - The Sequel Project

A while back, there was a rumor that Disney is look at Enchanted as a franchise, that there might be several sequels to the story. I think it's a good idea. So starting with this post, I'm going to explore several possible story line that could evolve out of the first Enchanted movie. Now I'm not connected with the Walt Disney Company in any way, so none of the story line that I'm writing has anything to do with any possible story line that the company has planned for future Enchanted movies. The stories that I'm writing came out of my own overactive imagination.

We pick up the story at the end of the first Enchanted movie.

Giselle and Robert are happily married in the real world, and so are Nancy and Prince Edward (now King Edward) in Andalasia. The early part of the story focuses on Andalasia. Things are going along fairly well, with Nancy (now Princess Nancy) trying to adopt to the fairy-tale life in the animation world. She in fact is going through what Giselle had gone through, but for opposite reasons.

However, their perfect life is interrupted suddenly. A citizen from the outer edged of Andalasia came with an ominous warning that a large army from the nation of Suh has invaded Andalasia and heading towards the palace. This surprised and puzzled Edward at the same time, since it is highly unexpected. While the ruler of Suh, King Germaine, isn't on the best of terms with Andalasia, both nations are also not at war with each other. Furthermore, Suh is extremely far away from Andalasia (a horse ride that takes 6 nights and 7 days) and the two nations are separated from each other by 2 other nations. So if King Germaine simply wants to conquer land, he would have gone after his neighbors first, and such an act would have caused alarmed news to be spread throughout the region. No such news has been heard. So it would appear that the army from Suh is aiming for Andalasia and the palace.

So Edward is certainly puzzled by this attack. Still, he has to defend his land, and he has been trained since he was a child in the art and skill of a battle. Much to the consternation of his advisers and Nancy, he decides to go into battle and lead his army. He leaves instructions for the palace to be fortified, and after one last kiss, he parted from Nancy to go into battle against the army of King Germaine.

Two days later, the palace at Andalasia is under seige from King Germaine's army. No one knows what had happened to Edward and the army he lead. The palace fortification holds for another 2 full days before finally, the palace is invaded. Many are taken prisoners, but only Nancy was taken captive and brought back to the King Germaine's castle in the nation of Suh. While she still has a feisty instinct from her life as a real person, she is still frightened and wondered why she is brought back to a place that she isn't familiar with. As she is forced to sit on the floor in the middle of the King's grand reception room, she realizes the sad possibility that her Edward may have perished in the battle.

But she does not have time to dwell on her sadness because all of the sudden, escorted by a number of palace officials, came in this towering figure full of royal regalia. As he stood in front of his throne, King Germaine looks directly at Nancy. During his stare at Nancy, his face turns from a cold, unemotional look into a red, anger. He suddenly takes bold steps towards Nancy.

"Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?!!!", he exclaims as he strides closer and closer towards Nancy with eyes full of fury.

[To be continued....]


Disney Stocks Downgraded

Concern about consumers discretionary spending has downgraded Disney stocks in the eyes of many money-market managers. This is even when Disney has outperformed past predictions and expectations.

Bazinet acknowledged that Disney has performed "extraordinarily well" over the last 18 months, which boosted performance across all segments.

But in 2008, Bazinet expects a waning economy to overshadow these improvements, with "early, tangible" signs of weakness in Disney's parks segment.

So, after the recent dive that the stock market has experienced, did you go on a buying spree of Disney stocks? We did! :) Currently, it is trading below $30, and could possibly be as low as $26. So damn right we've been stocking up (no pun intended) on a few more Disney shares! It certainly is the lowest it has been in a while.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Cruising With The Family On Disney

We don't get that many trip report and trip advice for taking a Disney cruise. So here's one. This is a rather informative description of a Disney cruise, especially if you have kids of a certain age. If you've watched the documentary on the Disney Cruse lines on the Travel Channel, most of the advice being given here will be familiar.

We are hopefully planning on taking our first Disney cruise some time next year (2009). Can't fit it into this year since we're already scheduled to make 4 separate trips to WDW (the next one in just 31 days!).


More WDW Vacation Guide

This vacation guide to Walt Disney World is written by a staff of the University of Massachusetts's college newspaper. This guide promises to be "... Part one of a week-long series... ". So far, the first part seems promising enough. We'll see how the rest of the series goes, especially on how it stacks up against my own Things You Must do at Walt Disney World.



The Globalization of High School Musical

Disney is pulling out all stops to hype the upcoming High School Musical 3 in the theaters. This NY Times article looks at what had to be done to make the musical relevant or understandable across various language and cultures.

Consider “Bop to the Top,” the title of a song from the first movie. In India, one of Disney’s most important foreign markets, the phrase was changed to “Pa Pa Pa Paye Yeh Dil,” which the company said roughly translates to “the heart is full of happiness” in Hindi. A Hindi translator contacted by The New York Times said: “It’s sort of like a Duran Duran song. The words sound sexy but mean nothing.”

The climax of “High School Musical 2” comes in “All for One,” an ensemble number about friends sticking together. In India, the title became “Aaja Nachle,” which all agree means “come dance along.” (A video used to promote “High School Musical 2” in South Asia can be viewed at

I'm surprised there had to be a translation in India, considering that a large portion of the population can speak English.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Images From Disney/Pixar's "Up"

I must admit, this movie has been flying under the radar for me. I knew that there's a Pixar movie coming up, but I've been paying more attention to Wall-E and Toy Story 3, etc. So it is about time Up gets some air time. Pixar Planet website has links to pictures of this movie that will be released in June of this year. The premise of the movie sounds rather interesting.

Still, I would think that the Disney publicity machinery would have kicked into gear already by now to publicize this movie. Or maybe that have but I just haven't found it yet.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Disney Was Not An Antisemite

Y'know, I've read something like this on various forums all over the 'net on the question on whether Walt Disney was an antisemite. I've always wondered why people would think that, and in various biographies about Walt, the evidence for Walt being such a person is just isn't there. Yet, the myth continues to perpetuate, much like his head being in a cryogenic state in storage somewhere. I suppose we could also include aliens at Area 51 and ESP remote sensing into this as well.

So what better way to debunk that myth than to have a Jew argue against it. This is as clear of an article as anyone can ask on why this myth about Walt is totally false. The author makes 3 major points:

First, Disney hired Jews, lots of Jews. Disney was not himself Jewish, of course, but the success of his business owed a great deal to a Jew. The bedrock of Disney was Walt’s merchandising partner, the Jewish Kay Kamen, the man who helped make Mickey Mouse into a cult and who once remarked that Disney had more Jews in it than the Book of Leviticus. This was not an accident, occurring against Walt’s wishes. When Harry Tytle joined the studio as a production manager and told Walt that he was half-Jewish, Disney replied: “It would be better if you were all Jewish.”

Second, the supposed antisemite was a frequent contributor to Jewish charities — the Yeshiva College and the Jewish Home for the Aged among them. And in 1955, he was made Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith.

Third, and most important, is what there isn’t. There just isn’t any serious evidence of antisemitism. And this is not a charge that can be waved about without proof. Jews can enjoy Walt Disney. He was an inspiration.

Will this lay to rest this myth? Probably not. Not everyone in the world read this article, or my blog! :) But hey, if just one person finally realizes that this myth is false, that's enough for me.

Unfortunately, as good as this article is, there are a couple of issues with it, and I'm probably nitpicking here, so my apologies far in advance.

Out of the imagination of this boy from Kansas came a wholesome vision of America, a passionate commitment to quality and a constant flow of brilliant ideas to keep us entertained. I love Walt Disney.

Er... Kansas? I know we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I don't recall Walt having any significant residence in Kansas. He was born in Chicago, moved to Marceline, Missouri, and then later on to Kansas City, Missouri. So that "Kansas City" may have been confused with "Kansas". This might be a good time to point out to the official biography of Walt Disney at the Disney website that runs the Walt Disney Family museum webpage.


There is nothing stronger than that. Neal Gabler has now written a biography of Walt Disney (another fabulous book, incidentally) and searched through the record with great care. Gabler is not a man who pulls punches; he is known as a controversial media commentator and his biography is balanced and fair. He portrays Disney as a difficult man, given to rows with his associates. But he acquits Disney of the charge of antisemitism.

If he is referring to Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination", then it should be pointed out that Walt's only surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, has come out against this book. It has been reported that she faxed the Walt Disney Company on its wide support and endorsement of this book. Supposedly, part of the fax read something like:

... a monstrous piece of libelous junk. My parents were not the people he creates in this book, and I cannot understand why all of you who aided and abetted Gabler in writing this book, and who praise it and promote it, can do so without suffering serious qualms.

Of course, we don't know if Gabler's dismantling of the argument that Walt was an antisemite is included in Diane Disney Miller's displeasure of the book. So Gabler's point here may still be valid. Still, it is worth nothing that the person who should know Walt rather well isn't thrilled at all with this book.

Still, the bottom line: Walt is NOT an antisemite. So enough already.


Ghirardelli Soda Fountain And Chocolate Shop At Downtown Disney To Be Redesigned

They are going to redesign the Ghirardelli shop at WDW's Downtown Disney. The report says that they will remain open during the remodeling.

The project will include a chocolate tower, flat-screen televisions on the exterior, updating the sign and a complete reworking of the soda fountain area.

A CHOCOLATE TOWER? This is going to be good! :)

I hope they also add more seating inside. It would help during the heat of summer.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Epcot 25th Anniversary Illuminations Tag

If you've read my trip report when we were at Epcot for its 25th Anniversary, you would have heard about the anniversary tag that was added to the Illuminations fireworks show. It is one of my biggest regret that night that, due to the weather, we didn't take out our camcorder and camera to get footage of the show.

Luckily, many people did. This is one of them, and this is from the very spot that that I viewed the show, in front of the Italy pavilion. This footage was taken by a few people attending the desert reception as part of the Celebration 25 group.

It brings back lots of wonderful memories of one of the most special day we had ever spent at WDW.


Toy Story 3 To Be In 3D

Whoa! This is wonderful news!

Toy Story 3 is being produced in Disney Digital 3D. In addition to that, there will be a re-release in 3D of the first Toy Story in Oct. 2009, and Toy Story 2 in Feb. 2010.

I can't wait! I think the 3D version of all the Disney movies that I've seen so far (Nightmare Before Christmas, Meet The Robinsons, Chicken Little) have been outstanding.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Euro Disney Q1 Sales Jump 20%

It seems that they have turned things around at Euro Disney. Sales went up 20% in its first quarter.

Theme park revenues surged to 175.1 mln, driven by growth in attendance and average spending per guest, while accommodation revenues reached 126.7 mln, reflecting increases in average spending per room and hotel occupancy, Euro Disney said.

This was the most troubled Disney theme park before Hong Kong came along. Wouldn't it be funny now to tell the Hong Kong Disneyland to learn from Euro Disney?


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

6 Ways To Make The Most Of Disney’s Dining Plan

MSNBC has a no-nonsense guide to dining at Walt Disney World. It is quite updated since it mentioned that the new Disney Dining Plan does not include gratuities. However, it doesn't mention that (i) there are several tiers of the new dining plan and (ii) the "standard" dining plan now also no longer includes an appetizer for table service.

Still, the rest are quite useful for someone who hasn't done the dining plan, or need some guide on food at WDW.


A Missing Donald Rubber Ducky

Remember a while back I told you of a "hunt" I went on to look for the Donald Rubber duckies? I had to run all over The Magic Kingdom search for them. They were not all in just one place, but scattered all over. We found 6 of them as I've mentioned in the earlier blog entry : Haunted Mansion Donald, American Donald, Pirate Donald, Splash Mountain Donald, Fireman Donald, and Sorcerer Donald.

On our last trip this past October, we also found them at MK and also at Epcot. However, over this past weekend, I was informed that there are SEVEN of them. I am missing one: Space Mountain Donald!!!!!

Now I haven't seen one, but I've been told it is around. And it is also not at the most obvious place in the world to find - the gift store at Space Mountain. Why do they make this so difficult?

So, has anyone seen Space Mountain Donald? If you have, can you tell me where you found it?


"Ratatouille" Best Reviewed Movie of 2007

Rotten Tomatoes has awarded "Ratatouille" as the best reviewed wide-released movie of 2007. This is an amazing accomplishment for any movie, and the fact that this is an animation, makes it even more astounding. Coupled that with Brad Bird's Oscar nomination for original screen play, Disney and everyone involved with this masterpiece should be extremely proud of what they have produced. Pixar and Disney have continued to do things that are unprecedented.


Main Street, Hong Kong.

This Wall Street Journal article highlights Disney's effort to make the connection with the locals at Hong Kong Disneyland, especially the Chinese from the Mainland.

Disney's efforts to give its Hong Kong park a more Chinese character reflect a broader effort by the company to understand the China market. Last summer, executives conducted research in the homes of Chinese consumers, who were asked about their knowledge of the Disney brand and their lifestyle habits as busy families.

"In other parts of the world like the U.S. and Europe, there is a longer heritage for the brand," says Lance Diaresco, Disney vice president of marketing for China. "There ... parents introduce their favorite stories to the kids. But in China ... the kids and families are discovering Disney stories together."

But how did they managed to avoid similar problems with Tokyo Disneyland? I don't recall that theme park having this kind of problems, at least, not of the same magnitude. Are the Japanese more familiar with the Disney brand when Tokyo Disneyland opened?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ratatouille Receives 5 Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the Academy Awards was announced this morning, and Ratatouille received 5 nominations, including Best Animation Feature Film. Here's the full list:

* Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
* Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
* Achievement in Sound Editing
* Achievement in Sound Mixing
* Original Screenplay

Enchanted received 3 nominations, but they are all in the SAME CATEGORY - Best Original Song! Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will be competing against themselves and 2 others! Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End receives 2 - Makeup and Visual Effects.

The full list can be found here.


In Australia, There's no High-Def Contest

While consumers in the US have been put in the middle of a tug-of-war between 2 competing format in the high-definition disk war, consumers in Australia seems to already made up their minds on which format they prefer.

Research by GfK shows Blu-ray DVD players and movies dominate their HD DVD alternatives in Australia and represented 95.2 per cent of the market by October. More than 97,700 of the 101,600 high-definition DVD players sold in Australia played Blu-ray DVDs, compared to just 3800 that played HD DVD discs. Blu-ray is also winning the software war, with consumers buying 87,000 Blu-ray DVDs and just 14,400 HD DVD discs.

It's no contest.

Disney, on its part, explains why they selected Blu-Ray as its preferred format:

Despite intense competition for DVD format loyalty, Disney worldwide brand marketing executive Gordon Ho says the studio's decision to support Blu-ray was simple.

"For our movies to look really good in high-definition we knew we needed more than a 30GB disc, which is what HD DVD offers," he says.

"Guess what? Today pretty much every one of Disney's movies is released on a 50GB disc. Paramount recently had issues trying to get all of their content on a 30GB HD DVD disc, and so their packaging listed some features that weren't on the disc. Ultimately we needed that space for the best pictures, the best sound and the interactive features you want to add to a high-definition DVD."

Ho admits other considerations also played a part in Disney's decision, including the added durability of Blu-ray DVDs, its large support base and the lack of Blu-ray DVD piracy (new equipment is needed to produce the discs).

But Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek says it is Blu-ray's extra storage and speed that will ultimately transform home movies.

Still, that regional specific disk for Blu-Ray should have been made extinct like the dinosaur. It didn't work in preventing piracy with DVD's, and it certainly isn't going to work with Blu-Ray. So who are they kidding?


Monday, January 21, 2008

Disney's CMO Video Submission

So, have you watched any of the submitted videos from people seeking the Disney's Chief Magic Official position? Whoa Nellie!

OK, so this isn't anywhere near the train wreck that is the American Idol, but I certainly feel like a gaper slowing down to take a look at a messy traffic accident on the expressway. There are a few good ones, though.

If I were voting, I'd still go for Donald's video. Unfortunately, he went over the 60 seconds limit, so that disqualifies him right away. But who is brave enough to go tell him that?


Chinese New Year Outfits For Mickey And Minnie

Hong Kong Disneyland unveiled new outfits for Mickey and Minnie to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. They were created by designer Vivienne Tam.

While they look nice, I find it a bit ironic that Mickey is wearing a "Mao Suit", inspired by the uniform worn by the late Mao Zedong, who during his lifetime, upheld strongly the communist principle. Considering that you can't get any closer to capitalism than the Walt Disney Company, this makes for a rather strange combination.

On a related note, it appears that The Walt Disney Company might increase its stake in Hong Kong Disneyland. The only significance that I can get out of this is that they will put in more of their own money into the park, rather than ask for more money from the Hong Kong Government-owned entity that is their partner in this endeavor. Whatever it is, it certainly appears from all report that Hong Kong Disneyland needs a fast infusion of attractions. So they'd better not think about opening any more theme parks in China (or anywhere else) before they solve this.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Where In Walt Disney World?

OK, here comes another one. Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Disney Whirled

I kinda like that title! Very clever! :)

This is a trip report (and other useful information) from one of our UK Disney fans who visited WDW. It gives the rest of us some perspective from a UK resident point of view, especially on the costs with the US dollar at its historic low.

With the pound being so strong against the dollar, the food and drink – normally a bit of a rip-off at theme parks – can work out good value. A hot dog is about £1.50, a bottle of water just over £1, an apple juice less. An ice-cold beer on average is about £3.

I'm guessing that many international visitors are more inclined to visit the US, and especially WDW, under such circumstances with the exchange rate.

Still, this author did make a small, amusing error:

Disney has four main parks – the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios and Epcot – while other parks such as the Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and All-Star Movies Resort – are also worth a visit.

I don't think All-Star Movies Resort would qualify as a "park" that one wants to make a visit to, unless of course, one is actually staying there or have to go there to get a pin. :)


An Airport Hopes To Tap Into The Disney Magic

Many companies and corporations attend the Disney Institute courses to improve on their customer relations and management. This news article describes how the Miami Airport had some of its employees attended one of these courses after the airport was ranked poorly in a recent survey.

Last fall, the institute landed a tall- order contract: Miami International Airport. Traversed by 32 million travelers a year, the airport received the lowest customer satisfaction rating in the 2007 J.D. Power and Associates analysis of 61 airports in North America.

The airport was marked down especially for accessibility problems imposed by its protracted reconstruction and for baggage handling -- the two things travelers care about most.

Disney certainly has plenty of expertise in dealing with customers, or Guests as they like to call it.

A key tenet of the Disney ideology is that employees are empowered by their ability to provide good service, especially in situations in which the unpleasantness, such as a weather delay, is beyond their control.

Take ownership of a guest's concern, Pearsall says: Even if it's not your fault, it is your problem.

And boy, did Disney cast members themselves need all the training they got to handle the recent Disney Dining Plan debacle. Many on the front line with the customers certainly were not at fault for it, but it became their problem to handle.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bob Iger and Disney Animation Movies

Disney XD has released a series of videos on Bob Iger and his recollection of the classic Disney animation movies that he has seen. The best one is certainly his recollection of seeing Snow White for the first time as a child.

This is such a wonderful series of videos because it tells you more about this person than any speech he could have given. You always want someone who cares about not only about the financial bottom line of a company, but also what the company is about. Since Day 1, I've always had the feeling that he's also very much a Disney fan as the rest of us (does he collect Disney pins as well?). I would think having someone like that as the CEO of The Walt Disney Company is rather reassuring.

Of course, what I've just said could turn around and bite me on rear end in a few years. For all I know, he could turn into a Michael Eisner and becomes a monster! :)


Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Winnie the Pooh Day!

I'm not making this up! Today, January 18, is Winnie the Pooh Day.

And I came across this article in Women's Issues website (please don't ask me what I ws doing there) that pointed out a fact that I never realized before, that other than Kanga (Roo's mother), all the characters in Winnie the Pooh are all "males". This is true, of course, before Disney decided to introduced a new character of a little girl into its animation series to replace Christopher Robin (blasphemy!).

I never realize this before because, frankly, whenever I watch any of the Winnie the Pooh shows, the issue of gender has never come up, or never relevant to the story. It's not as if these characters were sleeping together or going through puberty. So I never thought about these things. But obviously, based on that article, a lot of people have! And some of them really do have too much time on their hands.

As I've said before, sometime a cigar is just a cigar.


Developer to Buy Former SunCal Site

One can only hope that this will put an end to the housing debacle in the resort District of Anaheim. A developer is planning to buy the site that SunCal had planned to build its housing project that created all the controversy for year in Anaheim.

Casebier said the project will include hotels, timeshares and shops, but he declined to release details.

Opponents of the housing development said they were pleased that a tourist-related project is slated for the Anaheim Resort area, which is meant to be reserved for visitor uses.

But don't count your chickens yet. SunCal and the owner of the land still have a few dates in court over whether SunCal still has a valid contract to buy that piece of land. So stay tuned!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bring Back "Tapestry of Nations"!

So I was listening to the music for the Tapestry of Nations for the gazillion'th time on the drive home today, and again, for the gazillion'th time, I miss this parade very much. It is one of those parades where you are just in awe of what you were seeing, and then the music also became very memorable that it just won't leave you. In fact, I still believe that this is the best damn music for a Disney event at its theme parks that I know of. Period!

Tapestry of Nations had imaginative "puppetry" that probably was similar to Julie Taymore's stage production of The Lion King. So it had that same jaw-dropping and spectacular elements to it. It was at the "other side" of World Showcase Lagoon. If I recall correctly, it started at Morocco and goes all the way to Italy. It was the only parade at Epcot at that time.

So why did it go away? As far as I can tell, cast members were getting injured after the parade. The heavy puppetry that they had attached to them were causing severe neck and back injury, especially those that can easily get caught in the wind. I'm guessing there could be other reasons, but this is one of the reasons that I've heard being passed around.

So if this is the reason, then they certainly know a way to solve this. This is because the parade at Animal Kingdom, Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade, has managed to find a clever way to eliminate the injuries to the cast members. Most of the large puppets are now built on wheels that a cast member can either ride, or simply push along, rather than resting on their bodies. Now granted, this eliminates some of the more incredible acts that can be done during the original Tapestry of Nations parade, but still, I think they should bring back a newer version of Tapestry of Nations using this new technique. I think it would be nice to have a parade back at Epcot, especially if they could incorporate various elements from the different countries represented there.

And please, don't do Tapestry of Dreams. This was the parade after Tapestry of Dreams, using basically the same music, but chopped up and with added children's voices. While there were a lot of identical elements between the two, I found that the children's voices in the music to Tapestry of Dreams were quite annoying. In fact, if you buy the Illuminations CD being sold now, you will only get the Tapestry of Dreams version of it (even when Tapestry of Dreams is also listed on the CD). You can't buy, as of now, the original Tapestry of Nations music. This is why I hold so dearly my original Tapestry of Nations CD.

My one regret was that I didn't take many pictures of this parade. Back then, I wasn't quite the shutter bug that I am now, and it was also my first digital camera. All I had was just this 3, not-so-good pictures of the parade.

So Disney, and Jim McPhee in particular, please, please, bring back Tapestry of Nations parade!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Little Mermaid: In Defense of Disney

Well, take that!

Here's an article in Time Magazine that defends the Little Mermaid and criticize the critics, for a change.

Yes, it's a fairy tale, aimed chiefly at children. But would it be rude to ask why Broadway's fairy tales for adults (Oklahoma!, Guys and Dolls) can become musical theater classics while the ones directed at kids become critical dartboards? Or to point out that most of the children's theater I've seen in the past few years has had more theatrical verve and originality than most of the serious stuff I've had to sit through on Broadway? Or to wish, just once, that Disney might get a little credit for recruiting some of the most adventurous theater artists in the world to bring new ideas in staging and storytelling to a mass theater audience, kids and adults alike?

So there you go. We just to see it for ourselves, don't we?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Disney's "High School Musical 3" Heads To The Big Screen

God help us!


Disney's "High School Musical 3" will premier in the movie theaters instead of the Disney Channel.

This highly anticipated feature film is set to begin production in spring 2008 with DGA Award-winning director and choreographer Kenny Ortega returning to direct from a screenplay by Peter Barsocchini, who wrote the scripts for the smash hit Disney Channel Original Movies "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2." The musical film's producers are Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush and Don Schain.

But then, without a new HSM, can the Disney Channel pull in the monster ratings like what it has gotten these past few years? Do they have new Hannah Montana or the Cheetah Girls coming up? Well, at least they don't have obligations to advertisers to pull in certain ratings the way other commercial TV stations do.


Monday, January 14, 2008

What If Disney Channel Ran The Presidential Elections?


I can certainly identify with this person. While I am a "Disneyholic", I don't watch the Disney Channel that often other than the occasional viewing of the House of Mouse and maybe Winnie the Pooh (although I haven't warmed up to the new series with digital animation - I much prefer the old series with Christopher Robin). This means that I haven't seen Hannah Montana, any of the High School Musical, and none of the Cheetah Girls, etc.. etc.

Still, this author found a very good reason why the Disney Channel should run the current Presidential Election.

Walking past the television screen the other night, I had an epiphany about our presidential primary season: Why not let the Disney Channel do it?

Call it “High School Presidential Primary.”

Disney would cut to the chase immediately with what we want to know: Is Hillary Clinton more like smart but shy Gabriela or stuck-up Sharpay? Would Barack Obama have played with the basketball team or sung in the musical? And who dances better on the gym floor, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or John McCain? Are Huckabee and Romney better suited for “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”?

I'd go for that only if the "winner" gets a "pardon", be in parade at the Magic Kingdom, and spends the rest of his (or her) natural days in a cage somewhere at the Animal Kingdom. :)

Gobble, gobble!


Disney Likely Building DVC Resort At The Contemporary

This has got to be one of the worst-kept secrets involving Disney.

This Orlando Sentinel article is discussing what most Disney fanatics (and us, DVC members) have suspected all along, that the new tower being built next to the A-Frame Contemporary building will include Disney Vacation Club units. The news article dug in a little bit deeper to justify their conclusion.

So why aren't they announcing this while trying to continue to uphold this worst-kept secret?

Analysts say Disney may have strategic reasons for holding back on a Contemporary time-share announcement.

Disney, which has invested deeply in the time-share business in recent years, is still in the midst of peddling time shares in Animal Kingdom Villas and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, both at Disney World.

Announcing future time shares now in the Contemporary -- which are likely to be hugely popular, given their prime location along the Magic Kingdom monorail and within walking distance of the park -- could slow the current sales, said Robert LaFleur, a leisure-industry analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.

Well, we already have 340 points with SSR. I don't think we'll be buying anymore unless we win the lottery or something. :)


The First 8 Minutes

The first 8 minutes of the highly-anticipated Celebration 25 video has been released!

We were a part of Celebration 25 group that celebrated Epcot's 25th Anniversary last Oct. 1st, 2007. It was such a memorable and wonderful event organized by the fans. As expected, a lot of pictures and videos were taken, and many of these have been compiled together at the Celebration 25 (now called WDWCelebrations) website. The first 8 minutes of this video has now been released:

A few seconds of the video footage we took made it into this first round, so we're very happy about that. Can't wait for more.

If you've missed it, we have compiled our own video footage of this wonderful event into our tribute to Epcot.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Very Few Good Reviews for "The Little Mermaid"

The Little Mermaid musical on Broadway continues to be getting poor reviews. However, this is one of the rare good review that it has received.

Yet forget the overused and now cliche "theme-park" adjective. This musical, buoyed by one of the best Disney film scores and a delightful new leading lady, succeeds as enjoyable family entertainment. And, yes, the sets are big, but then, so is the ocean.

I am certain that Disney is counting on this fact that it is a family entertainment, and that most of its audience would probably not listen to the critics. Based on the record-breaking box office take during the holiday season while it was still on preview, this might be the case.


Enchanted on DVD/Blu-Ray in March

Enchanted will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 18. I am so looking forward to this because, with the list of "hidden Disney" in the movie, I want to look at it again and see if I can spot them. And maybe, by that time, we will have a Blu-Ray player and not have to buy the DVD first and later buy the Blu-Ray disk.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Videos of Disney Holiday Magic With Samantha Brown

I suppose it is inevitable nowadays that things are going to end up on YouTube sooner or later. So if you missed the Disney Holiday Magic with Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel, here is a series of videos that covers the whole show.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


Cook Ratatouille Like Remy

Fame chef of the French Laundry, Thomas Keller, was the consultant for Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille". Technically, Remy was following Keller's instructions and, most likely, recipes as well. Thanks to daliseurat at WDWMagic, you too can make a dish of Ratatouille just like Remy based on Keller's recipe.

Please send me some when you do!



Guests Say Bed Bugs Found In Disney Hotels

Hum... this can be a problem.

Guests are making more complaints about being bitten by bed bugs at Disney resorts. The latest one was from the All Star Resort. The Health Dept. thinks it is due to the weather:

The Orange County Health Department has indicated that the increase in reports could be due to certain pesticides and cleaners have been band, increase in international travelers and unseasonably warm winter. Disney has trained entomologists, bug experts, on staff to help combat the problem

“Our inspectors are saying in recent months, even the last year, we’ve been seeing more complaints of bed bugs in our area,” said Dain Weister of the Orange County Health Department.

I haven't had any encounter with this when we were at Old Key West a few times last year. But now, I'll probably get paranoid when I feel at itch while sleeping there. Oy! They better not have anything like this at Animal Kingdom Lodge!



Disney For Dreamers, Not Daydreamers

OK, I love this "trip report".

It started out with a rather cynical granddaughter:

Therefore you can understand my concern when at Disney World last week my 9-year-old granddaughter informed me the theme, “Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams,” was cruel. She said you can’t believe in dreams because look at all the children standing in line that weren’t going to get fast passes to all the rides, or a night in Cinderella’s castle or to be grand marshal of a Disney parade. She said it was just mean and children shouldn’t believe that kind of stuff will happen to them.

I can understand that. After all, it is rather mean NOT to have given me a chance to stay in Cindy's Castle Suite after all the begging that I've done on here. :)

But wouldn't you know it, this grandmother (and her family) actually got picked and received the Dream Fastpasses (which we have gotten as well, also at Disney-MGM Studios).

That is until our last full day of vacation when we were in MGM. I decided to take in the animation show first thing while the rest of the family rode a roller coaster (something I’m not that fond of). While standing in line, a nice young man came out and talked about Disney’s year of a million dreams and then gave out special necklaces that allowed those wearing them to enter all the fast pass lanes to the big rides and shows for that day.

Thinking of that unbelieving granddaughter, I told the man that I was with family and they were on another ride. He gave me a necklace for each family member.

When we reunited, it was the 9-year-old who was the most astonished that out of the thousands of people in the MGM park that day, we were among those who had a dream come true. We spent the rest of the day riding to our heart’s content and I’m not worried about that little cynic anymore.

Isn't that a wonderful story? (The only minor gripe about it is that it is "Innoventions", not "Innovations" at Epcot. I initially didn't want to say this because she had a fright there of losing her grandchild.)

Now I know my strategy next time I'm at WDW. Make cynical remarks on how it is cruel to make people dream of something that they can never get. Then our group will split and do different attractions.

I'll report back to you to see if this works.



Tokyo Disneyland To Resume Parades

I reported earlier that Tokyo Disneyland suspended all parades at its theme park. This was due to a technical problem during one of the parades that almost caused an accident. We now have reports of the good news that the parades will resume at Tokyo Disneyland.

They are still investigating the incident. Let's hope nothing else falls off the floats.


Disney Boosts Iger's Pay by 7%

It's good to be Bob Iger right now, moneywise.

Disney paid CEO Bob Iger a total of $27.7 million in 2007. This, of course, isn't unexpected since the company has been doing tremendously since he took over, and certainly in 2007.

At least he's getting all that bonus because the company is doing well, rather than at some other companies that still gave their CEOs obscene compensation even as the companies themselves were taking a dive. So far, I have no major complaints on how Bob Iger is running the Walt Disney Company.


Friday, January 11, 2008

More Rumors on Toy Story 3

It was almost a year ago that we started hearing rumors about the possibility of the 2nd sequel to the hugely-popular Toy Story movie. Toy Story 3 was rumored to be targeted for 2009 release.

Now come a corroborating statement from Tom Hanks that, indeed, Toy Story 3 is being planned 2009 release.

Disney Pixar's Toy Story 3 is slated for release in 2009 and is expected to have Tim Allen as well as Hanks returning to the cast.

Hanks, who voices the role of the cowboy hero Woody, said producers are "preparing the third one right now".

Lee Unkrich, who co-directed Toy Story 2, will be at the helm of the latest instalment.

When do we get to buy tickets?


This is one of the few movies where the sequel was even better than the original (you hear that, Gore Verbinski?). So Pixar certainly has quite a challenge ahead of them.


The Little Mermaid On Broadway Opens

The Little Mermaid musical on Broadway opens last night. Unfortunately, not much has changed since its out-of-town preview that received scathing reviews.

Newsday says "...the most amazing part of Disney's latest musical is its amazing shortage of originality - not to mention magic or cross-generational wit."

Reuters reviewer had this to say "...this production is visually unappealing and often murky in its execution."

The Chicago Tribune liked the actors: "Thanks to a tidal wave of stellar individual performances -- with Tituss Burgess' vocally stunning Sebastian at the top of the list -- the hugely talented human components of this latest Disney extravaganza save their show from the rocks. But despite the pleasures of their performances, the piece fails in its central obligation: finding a viable theatrical metaphor for the underwater universe that forms the bedrock of the beloved cartoon."

On the whole, the actors were highly praised, especially Tituss Burgess's performance as Sebastian. But the problems that dogged the preview appear to be continuing here, the most common being the confusing set and the flow of the story (no pun intended). No one appears to like them.

Whether The Little Mermaid musical can be immune to poor critical review just like Beauty and the Beast was remains to be seen. But Beauty was produced under very different circumstances - it was Disney's first foray into Broadway musical of its movies, there were very low expectations (or at least no one knew what to expect), and there weren't already this line of Disney Broadway hits. Certainly, Julie Taymor has created such high standards with The Lion King. Unfortunately, all subsequent Disney's adaptation of its animation musical to stage will be compared to that groundbreaking production. The Little Mermaid appears to have failed that comparision.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Russians Are Coming To...... Epcot?!

Of course, the hottest rumor of the week goes to Jim Hill Media for reporting the rumor of the possible edition to World Showcase at Epcot - the Russian Pavilion.

I am actually not surprised by this, since this would be logical. However, I am highly disappointed by the choice. For something called "World" Showcase, it is very "top heavy", as in populated entirely by nations from the Northern Hemisphere. It would have been nice if we get some nation from South America (Brazil and Argentina would be two contenders).

Also, and I will probably get into trouble for this but what the hey, this will make World Showcase even "whiter". Before you jump all over me and accuse me of being "racist", hear me out. I would love to visit Russia, and as a world culture, it is certainly one of the most important and dominant. But it would have been a bold move to include a country that is very different than what most people in the US are familiar with. To me, only the Morocco Pavilion comes close to accomplishing this with the current pack of nations at World Showcase, since the country and its food are not familiar to most people. Having something very different and exotic would be sensational and would fit in very well not only with the philosophy of World Showcase, but also indirectly with the mission of Epcot to educate and inform.

Of course, that "exotic" criteria alone doesn't get a pavilion built. Having a pavilion means that a corporation within that country needs to be able to afford to support it. So that other half of the equation is certainly an issue for many deserving countries around the world. This may not be something Disney can control entirely. Still, I wish they had done something more daring.

In any case, I am still rooting for this rumor to be true. It is about time that we get a new nation in World Showcase. Russia would be a great addition, and I expect excellent quality vodkas at the gift shop!



Swarvoski Disease Infects Mickey's Ears

So, a number of bloggers seem to think that the design of this Disney MP3 player studded with Swarvosky crystals has gone "too far". While they applauded the earlier design in the style of Steamboat Willy, they thought this was a bit gaudy.

What do you think? Personally, it's not my style with that PeptoBismol pink color. But would High School Musical-loving tweens like something like this?


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How To Apply For Disney CMO

I mentioned earlier of the press release that Disney is looking for its first ever CMO - Chief Magic Official. If you are thinking of applying for this position, you should read this Orlando Sentinel blog. Still, I think that you now have a serious competition on your hands, because if you scroll to the bottom of the link, you have a formidable opponent to fight for that position - DONALD DUCK!



Tokyo Disneyland Suspends Parades After Near Accident

This could have been worse. An "ornament" on a Toy Story float fell off during a parade, nearly hitting a guest at Tokyo Disneyland.

They have suspended all parades pending further investigation to figure out what caused it.


Paramount Ready to Join Blu-Ray

One of the staunch supporter of HD-DVD, Paramount Studios, might be ready to abandon the sinking ship and join Blu-Ray. If this is true, then I would say that it is check-mate against HD-DVD, and the battle is over. There's no way Universal can go at it alone. No one is going to buy a technology with very little content.

I'm hoping the 2nd or 3rd generation Blu-Ray players go down in price in the next 6 months, when I will be shopping for one (or two). I just hate the thought that I would have to buy all those Blu-Ray Disney disks, especially after already gotten the standard DVD version. Oh well....


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Search for First-Ever Disney Parks CMO

Do you have what it takes to be Disney's first ever Chief Magic Official? The search is on for the first CMO.

To prove that making dreams come true is no longer reserved for fairy godmothers, today launched the search for the first-ever Disney Parks Chief Magic Official (CMO) who will spread magic during The Year of a Million Dreams.

But really, what are the qualifications?

The ideal CMO candidate must be happy, never grumpy; able to easily befriend dwarfs, dogs, monsters and mice; have good manners - but also be able to pillage and plunder with pirates when necessary. Also required: pockets full of pixie dust, an aversion to poisonous apples, an interest in oversized teacups and flying elephants and, most importantly, a belief in all things magical.

The position will require travel, including travel to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, during the week and some weekends and holidays. While traveling as the Disney Parks CMO, he/she will receive an hourly rate of compensation for hours spent performing the CMO role, as well as airfare, accommodations and a spending allowance.

Check! I'm there! :)


The Portrayal of Older Characters in Disney Animated Films

I'm trying to get a hold of this publication (it isn't widely subscribed to in my line of work :)), so I'll let you know a bit more of its content if and when I get to read it in its entirety. For now, I'll give you the reference and the abstract.

"The portrayal of older characters in Disney animated films"
Tom Robinson et al, Journal of Aging Studies v.21, p.203 (2007)

Abstract: Stereotypes arise in children's lives from their direct experience and also from the media. Today, television and movies serve as an important socializing function supplying many children with images that can form, change, and reinforce stereotypes. Researchers have found that by the time children enter elementary school, they have already developed negative views of older adults. This research examines the representation of older people in Disney animated film in terms of their gender, race, appearance, role, personality, and physical characteristics of older characters. Disney films hold a prominent position in children's media consumption and children today come to know Disney's characters and stories just as their parents and grandparents. The findings indicate that while the majority of older characters are portrayed as positive characters, there is still a large percentage that is portrayed in a negative manner. These results help explain why children have negative feelings toward older people.


Disney World 101 With Moms (and One Dad)

I would say that this is rather unprecedented (I certainly haven't heard Disney doing this before). Disney has assembled a panel of moms and one dad to help family with kids plan a trip to WDW.

The folks at Walt Disney World feel your pain -- and your frustration. That's why they launched a contest that seeks candidates for the first ever Disney World Moms Panel (Dads weren't excluded, it's just that moms typically are the family vacation planners.) "The goal was to establish a forum for vacation planners where they can get insights from parents just like them on what might be considered vacation challenges, as well as insider tips," explained WDW spokeswoman Michelle Baumann.

I think it is true that all of us who are Disney "fanatics" have our own suggestion on how to do WDW. I certainly have help several people planned their Disney trips, and I'm sure my planning may be a bit different than others, especially if they have kids.

But no matter what anyone tells you, there's really no one right way to "Do Disney". The only real mistake you can make is to overload the schedule to the point where you and the kids are exhausted and cranky. No matter how long you spend in the park each day, you can't see it all -- not with new attractions and shows constantly being added. Figure out your absolute "must dos" for everyone in your group and try your best to fit those things into your plans," says Bret Caldwell, the lone dad on the Moms Panel and father of two young daughters and a son.

That is something I always tell people. If you're tired, and your kids are cranky because they're tired, no one is going to enjoy anything.


Monday, January 07, 2008

The New Disney Dining Plan Infuriates Guests

I knew this would happen! There's just way too many chances for miscommunication and lack of communication that this was almost a certainty to happen.

Jim Hill media is reporting that after the first week of implementation of the the new Disney Dining Plan, it has been almost a disaster, with guests yelling at servers and many unhappy guests walking out.

The major problem here is that these guests were not told, in no uncertain terms, that the DDP has changed, and these are the changes. When they checked in, they should be given a notice about the change again, and the Cast Member at the registration desk should also emphasize of the changes. Now the guests may claim they were not told of the changes when making the reservation (I've heard some not-so-good stories coming out of guest reservations - are they even cast members, or simply an outsourcing company?), but at least the guests know this before they actually sat down for their meals and get blindsided by the bill!

Oy... The thing is that if they really were losing money due to the old dining plan, I don't think anyone would mind paying a bit more to still get the same basic plan. After all, everything else has gone up in price due to things becoming more expensive all over. Besides, anyone in customer service can tell you that it is easier to add than to subtract something that people are used to.


What's Coming Up With Disney Cruise Line

This news article has a brief review of what's in store for the Disney Cruse Line, especially this year. Of course, the major news is that the Disney Magic will make a return trip to Los Angeles for the summer.

We hope to be doing the cruise, hopefully next year in 2009. With a planned 4 different trips to WDW this year, 2008 is already fully booked as far as Disney is concerned. :)


Goodbye Disney-MGM Studios

Today is the first official day of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Disney-MGM Studios no longer exists.

I wonder how much my Disney-MGM Studios logo pins will be worth in a few years? :) Oh, and I think I had the Disney-MGM Studios 15th Anniversary commemorative medallions given to Passholders a few years back. That should be worth something as well in a few years, don't you think? I should take a picture of that and load it on here. :)


Sunday, January 06, 2008

More Guests Getting A Night At Cinderella Suite

Of course I'm envious, because I probably would never get picked for this. Still, it is nice to hear when someone gets lucky and got to spend a night in Cindy's Castle suite.

Royal guests are chosen by a computer that randomly designates a different attraction, time and seat number every day. Among the hundreds of lucky Disney-philes who have lived the fairy tale are Joyce Weber, of Alexandria, Va., and her family, who spent a night there last year. For Weber, it was about time: By her estimate has visited the parks about 30 times.

Y'know, while I'm sure everyone gets very excited to get this "prize", I would imagine that Disney-philes would appreciate it more than most. I think not only do we desire such opportunities, but I would imagine that we experience it with a greater awareness of what actually is going on. We just like receiving something from The Mouse! :)


Where In Walt Disney World?

This is our first "Where In Walt Disney World" for 2008. See if you can figure out exactly where this is.


From 375 Pounds To Goofy Challenge

Here's a report on someone who will be participating in the Goofy Challenge at the upcoming Disney Marathon. I still don't know how people can do it, i.e. doing the half marathon one day and doing the full marathon the next day. I suppose that's why I have noticed a lot of people just "walking" though most of the event.

Hey, I would walk too if I have the time to do it, simply to get those medals!

What? You are surprised that I would do something just for the merchandise?!



Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mickey's Mystery Pin Machine Pins for $1 With Purchase

I mentioned quite a while back about the Mickey's Mystery Pin Machine that made its first appearance at Mouse Gears at Epcot, which is now at several locations all over WDW. It turns out that they're offering the pins you get by playing this game for just $1 for every $30 you spend on pins at the locations they listed. However, you can't choose which pin you get - you are given the mystery pin randomly, just like the game.

So now there are 2 ways to collect those pins if one is planning on getting the complete set. :)


Friday, January 04, 2008

Which One Is "Downtown Disney Resort Area"?

Did you read my blog post a while back on what I claim to be the missing road sign at WDW? This created a bit of a confusing to us when we first started driving around WDW ourselves. Of course, we are now 'experts' at getting around the area so this is no longer an issue. But we still wonder how many people get confused by this.

Now, when I first posted this, I got a few responses on it. One of the main issue was a possible ambiguity in the first picture. If you recall, this was where the confusion started because it seems to indicate that if one wants to go to Downtown Disney, one should make a left.

A few people mentioned that that sign actually indicates not Downtown Disney, but rather "Downtown Disney Resort Area". So I then asked "Which implies where?" The responses I got was that this could mean the Saratoga Springs and Old Key West resorts. I thought this was rather strange because I don't recall ever hearing those two DVC resorts being referred to as "Downtown Disney Resort Area". What I do recall was the hotels on Hotel Plaza Blvd. being called the Downtown Disney Resort Area. If I'm right, then one still only wants to go in the direction of Downtown Disney to get to that resort area, so the sign is still misleading and it also lacks the follow up after people make that left turn.

Still, I continue to keep an eye out whenever there's any reference to the so-called "Downtown Disney Resort Area". Well now, there is one. This news article specifically talks about the Downtown Disney Resort Area, and it matches what I thought was the Downtown Disney Resort Area, which is the hotels on Hotel Plaza Blvd. So now we have another separate confirmation that this is what people would refer to when they use that phrase.

So then I stand by my original claim that the sign is missing at the intersection of Overpass Road and Bonnet Creek Parkway to direct drivers to Downtown Disney, resort area or not.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Disney on Broadway

This Orlando Sentinel article roughly traces the history of Disney on Broadway, or more specifically, the evolution of the Disney Theatrical Group and its success and minor failures on Broadway. The highlight,of course, was, and still is, the Lion King.

The challenge right now obviously is The Little Mermaid, especially in light of the tepid critical reviews that it has gotten. Would the audience ignore the critics again the way it did for Beauty and the Beast?

We shall see. Still, whether you like Michael Eisner or not, you have to hand it to him for pushing Disney in this direction.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Disney/Pixar Making A Movie Based On "Don Quixote"?

Just after we got the release date of the highly-anticipated Disney-Pixar movie Wall-E, along comes a rumor from Magical Mountain that the can't-miss team is now planning on making a movie based on "Don Quixote" and will be titled "Up".

"Don Quixote" followed the tale of a man who has read so many books and stories that he becomes certain that he is a knight, and along with a friend of his, Sancho Panza, goes off and lives out many adventures, including fighting giants, which in reality, are only windmills.

This sounds awfully daunting. I'm also trying to think if Pixar has ever made a movie based on an existing source. Still, if this turns out to be true, they might want to rethink of that title. If I didn't know any better, it could be a sequel to "Jump". :)


Disney Sets Dates for Wall-E and Bolt

Disney has announced the dates for these two movies. The next most anticipated movie out of Pixar, Wall-E, has a release date of June 27, while Bolt will be released on Nov. 26.

I'm already planning ahead for Wall-E. :)


Disney Musicals Set Box Office Records

The 3 Disney Musicals currently running on Broadway did big business over the holiday week.

All three Disney on Broadway musicals set new box office records for the week ending December 30, 2007. The Tony Award-winning The Lion King, which set a new record at the Minskoff Theatre, did $1,571,937. The classic musical, Mary Poppins, which broke a new record at the New Amsterdam Theatre, did $1,465,793. And, Disney's newest musical on Broadway, The Little Mermaid, which set a new record at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, did $1,325,391.

Boy, aren't they glad that the stagehands strike is over, especially since they lost big business over the Thanksgiving week. Even the Little Mermaid, which is still in previews, did outstanding business.


Entertainment Marketer of the Year: Walt Disney

This is an article on how the Walt Disney Company is the king of product marketing. It examines, in particular, the High School Musical phenomenon and how Disney managed to squeeze as much as it can out of it.

"'High School Musical' is a great example of how we've leveraged a Disney Channel Original Movie that our audience loved from the start to become a franchise the whole company could get behind," says Adam Sanderson, senior vice president/brand marketing for the Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group.

Was there ever any doubt that Disney beats everyone at this game? :)


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It’s Disney World, It’s a Holiday Week, and That Means War

This is a trip report from a Dad going to WDW with his family during one of the busy periods. It is hysterical.

At last, we’re in the park, but thousands have beaten us there. We plunge into the throng, hustling down Main Street, pausing only when I realize a dad’s job is to record the most pleasant memories of family life, so I shout for all to stop, turn, line up, smile – good, done, now move it.

We used to plan, although not to such details, when we first went there. Now that we've done almost everything we wanted a few times, and that we go to WDW several times a year, our trips are more leisurely with almost no planning other than our dinner reservations. But still, this report is exceedingly hilarious.


How to Use Walt Disney World's Fastpass System

This is another one of those article that someone who isn't familiar with an aspect of Walt Disney World might find useful. This one is on the Disney Fastpass system. Knowing how to use it and how to make full use of it can help especially when the parks are busy.

One aspect of the Fastpass system that I'm not quite sure if it is part of the policy is that I've used the Fastpass even after their return times, but on the same day, of course. I think at least on a couple of occasions, we've been 1 to 2 hours beyond the return times on the Fastpass, and we still could go on the attractions. Not sure if the Castmembers were just being nice letting us in, or if this is an unannounced policy. If it is the latter, well now you know! :)