Monday, March 31, 2008

Disney Magic Behind the Scenes

This is a good article on the Disney Imagineers and what goes on behind the scenes. It has quite a good coverage on the upcoming and highly-anticipated Toy Story Mania attraction.

They are Imagineers. That means they spend their workdays (and probably a lot of work nights) dreaming up and ultimately implementing new attractions for Disney parks and resorts around the world. There are about 1,000 Imagineers, 750 of whom work in Glendale, California, in an office building (once a cosmetics factory) that has tighter security than many government buildings.

They are computer scientists and engineers, architects and graphic designers, programmers, special-effects designers and more -- representing 140 disciplines. Those who work in the Blue Sky Studio are charged with coming up with Disney magic we might not see for 10 years.

Don't miss the info about the World Science Festival at the bottom of the article.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pixar Scientist to Relate Math to Movies at Talk

I'm assuming that this is in the Syracuse, NY area. It is a short notice, but in case you happen to be in the area, this might be of some interest to you.

A scientist from Walt Disney's Pixar Animation Studios will talk about "Math in the Movies" on Thursday at Hamilton College. Tony DeRose, who heads the research group at Pixar, has a bachelor's degree in physics and a Ph.D. in computer science. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the college chapel.


Good Planning is the Key to a Better Disney World Experience

That goes without saying, especially if you are not a frequent visitor to WDW. But in case you need more convincing, here's a rather good article on planning one's vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth.

After my husband's 24/7 work schedule for nine months, his attitude for this vacation was "Wing it. Definitely wing it." However, my attitude was "I don't want to waste any time. Plan. Definitely plan."

I won. And it's a good thing I did.

The article has a lot of suggestions and also links where you can find more info on various aspect of a WDW vacation, including trip planning and dinning. It has one minor error, though (and us Disney fans are a stickler for details). Towards the end of the article, it has this:

Go to for a slide show of more photos from Disney World, and for a clip of the Toy Story Parade in Magic Kingdom.

Toy Story Parade in the Magic Kingdom? Maybe they meant the Block Party Bash at Disney's Hollywood Studios?


Insider's Guide to Deluxe Disney

I've posted many trip advise on how to save money at WDW. Now it is only fair to point out the other side of the scale. If you have money to spend and wish to have a deluxe treatment, Disney can accommodate that as well (of course!).

This article gives a glimpse of what you can do if you want to have a tailor-made Disney vacation at WDW.

And, unlike at some resorts, there are plenty of options. "Disney offers something for every vacation type," says Disney spokesman Charles Stovall. "Guests wanting to indulge will find lots of opportunities, including one-of-a-kind experiences that only Disney could create."

While the children enjoy a supervised kids-only pirate cruise, or having tea with Cinderella and the princesses, or just being entertained by a Disney babysitter, parents can plan their own itineraries-including spas, horse-drawn carriage ride and championship-caliber golf courses. Need a little help with your golf game? Private lessons with golf pros will fix that stance, while a follow-up hydrotherapy massage may change your whole outlook on life.

It's interesting that the article has a picture of the Presidential Suite at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. I've actually been inside this suite, but not to stay, unfortunately. I had a privately given tour of the whole suite for a few minutes while it was vacant and in-between occupants. To say that it was very well-furnished and very decadent is to put it mildly. It was a very, very impressive suite. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of it at that time (something I still regret).


Saturday, March 29, 2008

My WDW Restaurant Recommendations

I read a few Disney fans forums, and one of the most common question being asked is the favorite places to eat. Of course, something like this is highly subjective, and depends entirely one one's palate and tastes. So there's no reason why I can't put out mine. Keep in mind that I haven't eaten at every single food establishment at WDW (but I keep trying), so this recommendation is only based on what I had tasted and where I've gone to. Furthermore, I'm going to restrict this only to table service restaurants, not counter service or quick restaurants, as defined in the Disney Dining Plan.

So here goes. In order of most favorite (i.e. most favorite being #1), they are:

1. Boma

Can there be a better restaurant at WDW than this? A combination of exotic food (african themed) and prices (it's a buffet with a standard WDW buffet price), I can't think of a better place to get good food. Try the coconut seafood soup, or the lamb stew for starters. Just be careful, because you might end up eating too much of them and won't have room for others. Also try the crispy flat breads with various hummus. You can't go wrong there either. For entree, my favorite has always been the fish (usually salmon) grilled in banana leaf.

The atmosphere and the food makes this my all-time #1 most favorite places to eat at WDW.

2. Crystal Palace

Again, another buffet, and with Pooh and Friends. One would expect that a character buffet would have so-so quality food. But surprisingly, the food his rather good here, with a good selection and variety. I tend to skip the soups and go directly to the main entree, that can range anything from fish to prime rib. The vegetable dishes also are surprisingly good, i.e. they are not mushy vegetables that one expects. If you can stand the noise and the commotion, this is a great places to eat.

3. Citricos

We are now talking a bit about fine dining. If you're using the DDP, it uses two table service points. But it is well-worth the price. Focusing more on a "California cuisine" type, the food is top notch. But as with restaurants of this type, the portion is on the "small" scale. I would prefer 4 pieces of lamb chops, please. Service is impeccable, and the wine selection is quite good.

4. Jiko

Same with Citricos as far as price and DDP goes. It really is a toss-up between Jiko and Citricos for #3 and #4. Jiko, as with Boma, has an african theme menu and atmosphere. They have the largest selection of wines from Africa (or was it from S. Africa?) and the food has an exotic tastes to it, even their Mac 'n Cheese.

5. Marrakesh

This is my most favorite restaurant at the World Showcase. I also tend to think that, for most americans, it is also the cuisine that is most "different" or "unusual", when compared to the other pavilions at World Showcase. The food is very tasty, and the portions are generous. Try the hot, mint tea prepared the way it is done in Morocco. It comes unsweetened, but add a couple of packs of sugar to make it authentic. The lamb and beef dishes are outstanding, even if you don't like lamb. If you're lucky, you'll also get some live entertainment.


Buyers Flock to Disney's 'Copycat' New Town at Val d'Europe, Paris

This sounds very much like Celebration in Orlando, but with European/French architecture. Disney, with the approval of the local municipal government, continues to build residential homes and towns around the Disneyland Paris area.

When Disney decided to open outside Paris it resolved not to repeat its expensive mistakes - for example, at Anaheim, in California, where the failure to buy enough land hindered expansion. So Disney became a developer, optioning 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres), including chunks of the existing communes of Chessy, Coupvray, Bailly-Romainvilliers, Magny-le-Hongre and Serris. When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 the local population was 5,000: now it is more than 20,000. Ten per cent are “cast”, or Disney employees. “There will be 90,000 residents in 2030,” says Bertrand Ousset, vice-director general of EPA, the government development agency that is partnered with Disney. “This is one of the last Paris suburbs to be developed. Technically it's Sector IV of Marne-la-VallĂ©e, but that's not catchy so it became Val d'Europe.”

It sounds like the plan has become a resounding success so far.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Power Outage At Epcot Shuts Down Rides

Hum... another power outage? This time it was at Epcot and cause a few rides to shut down.

If this was confined to Epcot, why is the report mentioning Rock 'N Rollercoaster, which is at DHS?

Very confusing. I'm assuming the power trip affected more than just Epcot.


College Basketball Players Big Disney Fans

We are in the middle of March Madness here in the US, i.e. the NCAA College Basketball tournament. So it is nice to have a relevant tie-ins with Disney. :)

It seems that two of the players on the Stanford team that's about to face Texas are "hard core Disney fans". They are brothers as well.

Besides their height and Robin's crazy Sideshow Bob-like hairdo, the Lopez brothers stand apart from the rest of the crowd with their unique personalities as well.

Both sophomores are hard-core Disney fans to the point that they probably know more Disney trivia than anyone else. And they are also big fans of Michael Jackson, Greek mythology and comic books.

"They're both goofballs," teammate Taj Finger said.

When asked which Disney character they would most be like, Brook said Baloo the Bear while Robin said Robin Hood.

Well, there ya go! :)


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Resist the Princesses?

Here's an editorial against little girls wanting to grow up to be princesses.

You don't have to be Gloria Steinem to realize that these are not, for the most part, useful professional skills in today's world. So I was not thrilled when my 3-year-old informed me, over lunch, that she wants to be "a pwincess" when she grows up, and I was unhappier still when her 6-year-old sister expressed a similar ambition.

The whole article is actually rather amusing. Still, why is she that unhappy with Disney's princesses?

Start with some light feminist analysis. It will not have escaped you, Mothers of America, that Disney princesses -- Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the rest -- rarely slay dragons, play sports, pilot jets or do open-heart surgery. Instead, they fiddle with their coiffures, linger over invitations to the ball, flee ineffectually from evil crones and swoon.

Come to think of it, Disney's princes don't pilot jets or do open-heart surgeries either.

She also forgets that Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" is a rather strong-willed young woman who refused to be wed to someone she doesn't care for, and so was Ariel in "The Little Mermaid", who was dead set with her own view on how she wanted to live. These are not helpless femme fetales. And let's not forget, since we're talking about dragon slaying, of what Giselle did at the end of "Enchanted", rescuing Robert from that nasty creature.

Besides, this wanting to be a princess is only a phase. They'll grow older and then get over it when they realize that they want to be Hannah Montana!

:) :) :)


Antiphonal Exchanges in African Elephants

Here's another scholarly work that came out of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

K.A. Leighty[1], J. Soltis[2], K. Leong[3], A. Savage[2], "Antiphonal exchanges in African elephants (Loxodonta africana): collective response to a shared stimulus, social facilitation, or true communicative event?", Behaviour, Volume 145, Number 3, 2008 , pp. 297-312.

[1] Education and Science, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA; Animal Programs Administration, P.O. Box 10000, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA.

[2] Education and Science, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA.

[3] Biological Resource Management Division, National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Abstract: Female African elephants are thought to exchange 'rumble' vocalizations, but such temporally associated calls may not constitute communicative events. Affiliated females are more likely to engage in antiphonal calling, but affiliation is defined according to time spent in proximity. Affiliated partners may vocalize in sequence simply because their proximity causes them to collectively respond to shared external stimuli or due to a social facilitation effect. We used bi-variate and partial correlation analyses to test for the independent effects of the strength of the social relationship and distance between vocal partners on the likelihood of a vocal response. Female African elephants at Disney's Animal Kingdom were video-taped and outfitted with audio-recording collars that allowed for the individual identification of low-frequency rumbles. Affiliation had a strong influence on response likelihood, even after controlling for the effects of the distance between vocalizing partners. Further, the distance between vocalizing partners did not correlate with response likelihood, and factoring out the effects of affiliation did not significantly alter this result. These results suggest that rumble exchanges are communicative events that reflect social bonds, not simply artifacts of increased proximity and, therefore, provide support for functional hypotheses concerning rumble exchanges in wild African elephants.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where In Walt Disney World?

We haven't had this in a while, so here goes another one. Where in Walt Disney World can you see this. Try to be as specific as possible.


Disney Studios Helped Put Sleepy City On Map

This "sleepy city" happens to be Burbank, CA.

This article looks at the genesis of the Walt Disney Co. and Walt Disney Studios, and how it transformed a sleep town of Burbank into what it is today.

"Eventually the studio ran out of elbow room at the Silver Lake studio and Walt Disney started looking around. Warner Bros. Studios was already in Burbank and that may have given him the idea to relocate there," Cline said.

"Burbank was a sleepy place then. Cows grazed on Buena Vista Street. Burbank was not too far to drive for the workers. Walt Disney also commuted from his house in Silver Lake."

You can still have cows grazing on Buena Vista St., but it'll probably be in CGI. :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No "Rivers of Light" and Revival of "Beastly Kingdomme" for Disney's Animal Kingdom?

Jim Hill has some very juicy gossips about Disney's Animal Kingdom over at Jim Hill Media. Go right over there and read about the cancellation of the proposed "Rivers of Light" for Animal Kingdom, and the resurrection of "Beastly Kingdomme" as another land at that theme park.

I for one, am glad that they didn't rip out all the vegetation, etc. to accommodate the parade. I still like to see something there at night, but not to that expense.


Disneyland to Add ‘Alice’ to Small World Ride

I don't know if this still qualifies as "desecration of It's A Small World", but Disney appears to have confirmed that it is adding Alice and the White Rabbit to the attraction at Disneyland.

An “Alice in Wonderland” doll wearing a blue dress and a white rabbit in a playing card tunic based on illustrations created by Blair while working on the 1951 animated movie will be added to the England segment of the classic boat ride, officials said. The Alice and rabbit characters will be added near a chessboard and red rose tree already existing in the Small World attraction.

Officials confirmed that Alice is one of several Disney characters that will be added to Disneyland’s Small World in a controversial plan that has infuriated some purists. Officials have insisted that Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will not appear in the Anaheim attraction.

Again, this is a matter of balancing between keeping the attraction fresh and ever changing (which is one of Walt's philosophy) while keeping it true to its original intent and look. Let's see it first before we bash it. After all, look at what happened to Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and the Haunted Mansion attraction. I much like both of them now than before, especially the Haunted Mansion. So these Imagineers often do know what they are doing when given the creative chance.


Once Upon A Time Walt Disney : The Sources Of Inspiration For The Disney Studios

This is a review of an art book of that title, written by Bruno Girveau, Lella Smith and Pierre Lambert of the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. I like what the reviewer said at the end:

There are many books on Disney that examine his life, provide a critique of his influence or deplore his global domination, but few that celebrate the huge artistic impact of over a century’s triumph of film and animation that the Disney team achieved. This book illustrates how they did it, by acknowledging Walt Disney’s artistic curiosity in the wealth of cultural reference around him and the perfectionism to realise his vision with superbly talented teams who were also drawn from immigrant Europeans: technical masters in animation.


Muppets and Disney Star Wars Action Figures

Luckily, I don't collect these types of Disneyana merchandise, because if I did, I would be in serious trouble right now. :)

Disney has announced a new line of Disney and Muppets action figures dressed in Star Wars theme. They don't look bad, especially Miss Piggy as Princess Lea. :)

But really, I'm not going to start.... I'm not going to start.....


Monday, March 24, 2008

Walt Disney Cartoons "Contain Secret Messages on the Environment"

A university of Cambridge lecturer has written a book titled "The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation". David Whitley thinks that Disney's classic cartoons can teach the public about environmental conservation.

While Disney movies are often regarded as little more than escapism, and have even been criticised as bland populism, many feature messages about conservation and the relationship between people and the natural world that have proved to be highly influential, Dr Whitley said.

This shows that Disney was "green" before green became hip. :)


Sunday, March 23, 2008

College Demographic is a Whole New World for Disney

So we know that Disney certainly targets kids and tweens. We also know that they also cater for more mature adults. But could they be missing a growing demographics that, before this, would not think that it is cool to be associated with Disney?

This news article highlights the growing popularity of Disney, especially Disney Channel's franchises, with college students. One usually does not find such obvious devotion to anything Disney, except probably among some students at the University of Central Florida. :) So this is a bit surprising, but not unexpected, especially with regards to Hannah Montana. It's inevitable that, considering how popular that franchise is, it is bound to have fans across many ages/generations.

The question now is, is this demographic large enough that Disney might be missing a potential market by not focusing more in it?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Disney's Magical Express

Steve Russo over at Mouse Planet has a very good article on the Disney's Magical Express, the FREE service for Disney resort guests to take them between the Orlando International Airport and their Disney resorts. I think the advice given, especially on what you can expect out of the service, is valuable.

We personally have never used it. We still prefer having our own transport because we jump around a lot from one park to the other, and also going off-site. It also helps to keep some stuff in the car that we don't want to drag with us when we park-hop. But I know of many people who use this service and find it very, very convenient. Certainly if someone is new to WDW and don't quite know the area, this and taking the Disney transportation while at WDW would make for a very easy time.


Mariah Carey Prefers Disney World Over Las Vegas

So at least she and I have one thing in common. :)

In a recent interview, Mariah Carey indicated that she prefers Disney World over Las Vegas any day. She likes feeling young (she thinks she's eternally 12 - how many 12-year olds do you know who dress like that?) and Disney World makes her feel young.

I’m eternally 12. And that 12-year-old inside me is an eternal optimist. I know what it feels like not to have fame or money, and I do still feel like that same person in many ways. Honestly, I don’t even have birthdays. I call them ‘anniversaries.’ It really is about being as young as you feel. Some people convince themselves they’re old, or they think, ‘I have to grow up now; I can’t have fun.’ I will still always choose a day at Disney World over a night in Las Vegas, because that’s who I am.

So when was the last time she was WDW? :)


Someday My Prints Will Come

I reported earlier about the recently-found Disney art work. However, I just had to point to this article on the same news because of its cute title. I can't believe I didn't think of it. This is very clever! :)


Friday, March 21, 2008

Custom Mouse Ears Hat

Whoa! I love these!

One can now get customized mouse ears hat at Le Chapeau at The Magic Kingdom. Laughing Place has a set of pictures and detailed list of what can be added to such customize hats, and how much they cost.

I have a lot of the different Mickey ears hat that they have sold. My favorite one is the Jack Skellington grey/black stripped hat. It's nice to know that now one can make a unique, custom hat. Wish they have something that would commemorate a birthday.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disney To Regain Most Of Disney Stores?

Looks like The Children's Place may be losing roughly 2/3 of the Disney Stores back to The Walt Disney Company.

Disney confirmed it was talking about potentially buying back a portion of the Disney Store chain, which Children's Place has operated under a license.

"Given the challenging macro-economic environment, we believe the steps we are taking today, while difficult, will put The Children's Place in position to realize its full potential," Chuck Crovitz, interim chief executive officer of The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc, said in the earnings release.

That would be interesting to see if it really happens, especially on the nature of the merchandising, and the work force becoming full cast members the way it was.


Addendum: The Hollywood Reporter has a more detailed report on this. It certainly looks like Disney has a good reason to want those stores back.

When Disney ceded control of its U.S.-based Disney Stores, Michael Eisner was the company's CEO, Pixar had not yet been acquired and now-CEO Bob Iger hadn't implemented his plan to focus more heavily on the Disney brand.

Since then, "Hannah Montana," "High School Musical," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Cars" and others have become reliable franchises ripe for merchandising.

"We have so much more to work with now," Foster said.

I also hope they don't forget the adults! We would like to shop there as well!


Desecration Of "It's A Small World" At Disneyland?

Rumors are abound regarding the possible changes to Disneyland's "It's A Small World", prompted by the letter from the family of attraction's creator.

Disney Imagineers are considering changes to Small World that include adding Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Peter Pan, Belle, Simba, Nemo, Lilo and Stitch to locations throughout the ride while replacing the Papua, New Guinea, rain forest scene with an American tribute, reported MiceAge’s Al Lutz.

On one hand, as Disney fans, it is understandable that one doesn't one to see an attraction as beloved as "It's A Small World" to change that dramatically. After all, it is a classic, and it is not as if it has gotten less popular and not drawing crowds.

But on the other hand, we've been arguing on how the Imagineers have been handcuffed during the Eisner regime and not being allowed to be as creative as they could be. If Walt's philosophy of Disneyland (and other Disney theme parks) to continue to change and will never be "finished" is to be followed, then change is a constant process, and that includes the attractions.

It is how these two are balanced is what makes it difficult.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Orlando Airport Tests Hydrogen Engines

Not exactly Disney related, but since many of us fly into Orlando International, this might be of interest. It appears that Orlando airport will be testing shuttle vans that make use of internal combustion engines that will run on hydrogen.

The modified engines aboard the Ford E-450 shuttle buses are 6.8 liter V-10s. The airport's fleet also includes three gas-electric hybrid vehicles and 24 biodiesel buses. The facility also powers its maintenance equipment -- such as lawnmowers and tractors -- with biodiesel.

Not bad, but where do you get the hydrogen from? In most cases, it takes MORE energy to get hydrogen gas via, say, electrolysis, then what you get when you use it. So if we use the wrong source, then it isn't more Earth friendly overall. This doesn't count yet the energy required to cool the gas (do these vehicles get it in liquid form?) and maintain it in that form at the "pumping" station.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sneak Peak At Toy Story Mania

Looks like someone got the "media reporter" treatment and got to test ride Toy Story Mania at Disney's California Adventure. So until we all get to ride it, this is all we are going to get - 2nd hand report of the attraction.

This is going to be an awesome attraction from all that I've heard and read about. The author of this report left out the fact that a similar (identical?) attraction will also open at Disney's Hollywood Studios, probably around the same time. I'm not sure if they will do another Passholder/DVC preview of it the way they have been doing for other attraction opening, but we probably would not be able to go to it anyhow (we're already going to be at WDW a total of 4 times this year!) :) Still, maybe by the time we get there in early Sept., the lines would be as horrible, since that will be what I will aim for as soon as we get into DHS.


Disney Art Returns

Wow! I find this rather hard to believe even after reading this. A bunch of precious Disney Art will be returned to the Walt Disney Company after they were discovered languishing in "... a janitor’s closet.."

A Japanese university plans to return about 250 pieces of original animation art to the Walt Disney Company that were mislaid in storage after traveling to Japan nearly five decades ago.

Disney said that the art — cels, backgrounds, preliminary paintings and storyboard sketches — was part of a collection that was handpicked by Walt Disney himself. It was sent to Japan in 1960 for a touring exhibition timed to the opening of the film “Sleeping Beauty.” The exhibition opened at Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tokyo in May of that year and traveled to 16 other stores throughout Japan.

I'm glad they are safe now. I hope they put this on display somewhere at the theme parks so that the rest of us can view them.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

"O' Danny Boy" never had it so good with this Muppets rendition.


Follow-up to Disney's Pixar Play Parade is All Wet

Someone replied to my post reporting a news report on the "wetness" of the new Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure. So I'll report the comment here so that everyone won't miss it:

My wife and I have seen the parade 3 times already, and the main reason why is we know that somebody's going to complain and before you know it, it's going to be an all bubble & no water parade.

Yes, they DO warn you TWICE in a very nice announcement that water is a major part of the fun. And yes you do get wet, but this is not Splash Mountain. It's a play parade. The water is constant, but about as harmful as a shot from a cheap plastic squirt gun. By the end of the parade we were already dry. My wife had a Sully plush with her, and it was also dry by the end.

During the three viewings, the audience around us laughed at the squirters, and we didn't see anybody fleeing or even backing up out of range. (Note you will see no fleeing on the dozens of videos that are on YouTube.)

Disney has added a real fun element to their already impressive parade tradition, one that will be especially welcome during the upcoming Summer. And I hope they don't let a small, but (unfortunately) very loud minority take the Play out of the Parade.

So there. That's a different take than the LA Times blog report. Anyone else would like to chime in?


Disney’s Pixar Play Parade is All Wet

Eeewwww... I don't like the sound of the description of the new Pixar Play Parade that opened at Disney's California Adventure at all!

The water theme of the new parade is immediately evident as “Cars” star Lightning McQueen leads the procession accompanied by a pair of women dressed as mops (no, sadly, I’m not kidding) who squirt the crowd with water bottles and sponge off the red roadster. The car wash gag is an apt metaphor because you are about to be put through a soaking fit for a Ford Mustang.

Before the first float had even passed, I’d been squirted in the eye twice and dried my face three times with my shirtsleeve. By the time the second float went by, I was suitably annoyed — as were others who were fleeing the parade route as if attacked by a swarm of bees. As the third float passed, I uttered words not appropriate for a family publication.

Er.. no. No, no, no, no. I don't mind getting wet on rides, but this squirting at people watching the parade is not something I would enjoy, thank you very much, especially when we are pretty regular with snapping pictures and videos. Did they even warn people with something like "Caution. You WILL get wet when viewing this parade!" the same way the caution people on wet rides? Did they?

Who thought of these things anyway?


Sunday, March 16, 2008

WCPT March Meet

We had another one of our Windy City Pin Traders meet yesterday. Again, it was a wonderful meeting of friends who share the same interest - Disney Pins! We made a lot (and I mean A LOT) of pin trades and sales. Of course, since we just got back from WDW, we had not only orders from friends that we brought, but also a lot of new pins that people want (the "Mickey as Scoop Sanderson at Tower of Terror" pin was going like hot cakes!). So we managed to get lots of pins that we traded for.

Still, my jaw dropped when I saw this collection of pins.

Now, while I do have a few pins from Nightmare Before Christmas (I love this movie), I don't actually go out to collect them. But when I saw this complete set of pin of the Tarot card from Disney Imagineering, I knew that I wanted them. Since I collect sets anyway, I don't have to be collecting Nightmare Before Christmas to have this fit in with my collection. I ended up buying all of them. Let me tell you that this picture doesn't do them justice. They are gorgeous pins! I think these pins are limited to only 200 sets, and 50 of them are in framed sets. So I have a complete set of a really low edition number.


Like I said, it was a terrific pin meet. Now I have to put them in frames and figure out where I'm going to mount them. This may be difficult!


Friday, March 14, 2008

More Rumors on Adult Disney Theme Park

There seems to be conflicting rumors on the "Night Kingdom", which is the name given to the supposed theme parks for adults that Disney is contemplating at WDW. While the earlier rumor was indicating that the park might be built near Pleasure Island/Downtown Disney, the other rumor is indicating that it might be built near Animal Kingdom.

Park employees say a secret project is being prepped on land just north of Animal Kingdom where food is currently grown for the animals. The project is supposedly going to be a nighttime attraction. But internet bloggers claim if the park is built, it would be adjacent to the Pleasure Island nightclub area.

Aren't rumors fun? :) Anyway, as always, none of these things can be taken seriously until Disney says so. Still, I would be more excited if Disney would open a "regular" theme park rather than a more glamorized version of Pleasure Island, with or without real animals.


Enchanted On DVD/Blu-Ray March 18

Enchanted will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 18.

There's an interesting element included in the Blu-Ray disk.

The D-Files: "Enchanted" is loaded with witty hidden references to classic Disney films. "The D-Files" rewards players who spot them with a short featurette showing the original Disney reference. High scoring players are treated to three extra special videos: "So Close," "Making Ever Ever After" and "True Love’s Kiss."

I highlighted a webpage that had a list of the "Hidden Disney" in Enchanted, but that page seems to no longer be available. Luckily, I have compiled all the Hidden Disney from Enchanted that I've found on the Web. So if you are going to have the Blu-Ray version of Enchanted and don't want to spend time figuring out the various Hidden Disney element in the movie, you can refer to the list.


Disney/Pixar Joins Warner Bros. For Live-Action Movie

I'm guessing that this is the first Pixar venture into live action. Still Disney/Pixar will team up with Warner Bros. to let Brad Bird make "1906".

Now, if Disney and Warner Bros. can team up together in this, how about producing another movie that has all over their most-beloved cartoon characters much like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Is that too much to ask anymore nowadays?



Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Muppets Movie In The Works

Variety is reporting that Disney has started the ball rolling for a new Muppets movie.

No word yet whether this could be another 3D movie for Disney, but wouldn't it be fun if it is? I mean, considering that the Muppets attraction at DHS is in 3D, wouldn't Fonzie have a lot more fun with the 3D effects in a whole movie rather than just for a few minutes? Think about it!



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Disney Park Just For Adults?

.. and this is right after I posted the LA Times article on doing Disney without kids too! Great timing!

I got this from Mickey News. It's a news report, or more specifically, news RUMOR that Disney might open a theme park just for adults! It will be built near Pleasure Island, and will open only from late afternoon and well into the night. Er... just where exactly "near" Pleasure Island, considering that it is surrounded by Marketplace and West Side on either side? Maybe it is taking over the parking lot and that McDonalds? :)

Let's see. Does this gel with the 5th Gate rumor that keeps popping up every so often? :)

Anyhow, I've gotten onto the bandwagon of perpetuating this rumor on the 'net. So there!


How To Do Walt Disney World Like A Grown Up

This is a fun LA Times article on doing Disney without any kids in tow, something that I've done many, many times! It is a wonderful experience, and even as an adult, one can enjoy the "kiddie rides" as well (try stopping me from getting on Dumbo).

This past trip, I noticed a lot of elderly couples who were there just by themselves with no kids or grandkids. It is fun to see that Disney theme parks can be enjoyed by not only people of a wide range of age, but also under a wide range of conditions and circumstances. You could have kids, but it doesn't mean that you have to go to a Disney theme parks with kids to enjoy it. The level and nature of the enjoyment is different.

For me, I tend to notice a lot more of the details when I'm with just adults. I feel like I have a lot more time to appreciate the finer points of WDW, and to appreciate the small things that they do. That's why when a cast member does something unexpectedly nice, or when I notice some small "treasure" that I didn't notice before, it tends to make the visit/trip a lot more memorable. Adults tend to notice this, something that kids can miss, or something that we get distracted with when we're with kids.

So here's to more adults going to WDW without kids! :)


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Control System for WDW Monorail

So I was told this in person by someone who should know, but I have no way of verifying if it is true. I probably should have googled it first, but I also don't quite know of the exact spelling since I was told of this verbally, so that won't help. Besides, this is more of a trivia information rather than anything important. But for us Disney freaks, we LOVE Disney trivia! :)

Supposedly, the money for the Epcot monorail line was built using the profits from Mary Poppins movie. So when they designed and built the control system for the monorail, they named it MayPos (or something that sounds like that - this is where I can only go by what was said rather than exactly how it was spelled), which is a short form for Mary Poppins.

I would love to hear from someone more knowledgeable who can confirm or refute this, or correct the details of this information.


Monday, March 10, 2008

DVC Good News

The Spring 2008 issue of Disney Files, a newsletter for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, revealed several exciting improvement to the member services. The one that I'm really glad that they're going to have is the free internet connection for DVC members staying at DVC resorts. Currently, one pays the standard $9.95 per a contiguous 24-hour period, just like any guest at a Disney resort. The elimination of this fee for DVC members at DVC resorts will be very welcomed by us, and makes it feel even more like "home".

More details on this to be announced in the summer on when exactly this will take effect.


Disney's Hollywood Studios "Block Party Bash" Review

Mickey News has a review of yesterday's soft opening of "Block Party Bash" at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It sounds like it was a rousing success. I'm hoping that someone who did see the original parade at California Adventure could comment on the similarities and differences between the two parades. It would be nice if they made some changes and adapt it to DHS, rather than simply make a wholesale copy.

Still, if they can keep up what they did yesterday, it might turn into quite a hit. Of course, anyone who misses the Stars and Motor Cars on Parade can always see my video of it. :)


Disney Taking Heat Over China

This LA Times article deals with how Disney continues to have trouble in labor abuse of its merchandise being manufactured in China.

As a consumer of many Disney products, especially the pins, I am certainly a participants in this process. I am definitely conscious that many of the products that I buy from Disney are predominantly made in China, and one continues to wonder how and under what conditions they were made. Do I wish that there are many more Disney products made in the US? Definitely! In fact, on this last trip, the Mickey Mouse throws that they were offering for $10 for every $50 worth of purchase was made in the US, to my shock! And I remember a while back, the new year Mickey ears hat was made in the US.

But of course, these are very rare to find. I will honestly say that I probably would not mind paying a bit extra for the merchandise that I want if I am given the guarantee that they were made under a more supervised condition by Disney. Put a sticker on a product in which they guarantee that the product was made according to their guidelines.

I'm definitely not speaking on behalf of many other consumer of Disney products, I'm sure. After all, WalMart didn't become the largest retailer in the world because they care about how the products they sold were made. Most consumers probably only care about the bottom line - the price. But in my case, I would certainly be more inclined to consider buying a product if I am given the assurance of the conditions under which it was made.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Pictures From Enchanted Adventures Parade

This is the parade held during the Pirate and Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom. We attended this just this past March 1st.

Video of this parade is coming soon.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Pictures From Tokyo Disneyland

A reader of this blog has graciously sent me a few pictures that was taken at Tokyo Disneyland last year during the Christmas holidays. They look gorgeous. But the best and most hysterical picture is the picture of the "blank" sign. That is just precious! :)

Here's the sign! :)

Thanks very much for the pictures, Kai!


With Iger Charting the Way, Disney Sails on Smooth Seas

Even with the current economic slowdown in the US, there's plenty to like about the Walt Disney Company. I certainly would buy more shares in it.

This article gives an overview of the company after the shareholders meeting. The state of the company certainly has everything to do with how Bob Iger runs it.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett singled out Iger as one of the country's best CEOs, noting in a CNBC interview Monday how he had done "an absolutely terrific job since coming in a couple years ago. It's not an easy company to manage, and he's done a first-class job."


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Music, Magic and Mayhem Video

OK, the video that we took of Music, Magic and Mayhem during the March 1st Disney's Pirate and Princess Party is now available online. There are two versions of the video that I have uploaded:

1. Music, Magic and Mayhem - original soundtrack. I replaced the live sound with the actual music that accompanied this fireworks show.

2. Music, Magic and Mayhem - live audio. Same as above, but with the live audio.



Music, Magic, and Mayhem Photos

These are the photos from Music, Magic, and Mayhem fireworks show during the Pirate and Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom on March 1, 2008.


Stay tune for the video...


Doing WDW Right

I have a habit of posting these "guides" to visiting WDW. I think that if I post enough of them, there's something good that can be taken from each one of them, and we'll have all the info that we need! (hardly!) :)

This is a guide directed at people from the state of Maine. It is fairly sensible and accurate (hotels across from Downtown Disney are NOT "off-site"). I like the fact that it discusses a bit more on the issue of renting a car (we always do even though we stay at a Disney resort).

So hopefully this guide is some help to someone.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WDW Passholder Lithographs

I just finished reading John Frost's "adventure" in getting the lithos at WDW. So I thought I'd tell a similar, but fascinating adventure ourselves in getting them this past trip.

I knew about the lithos way early in the promotion because it was mentioned on WDWMagic forum. So knowing (i) that people have already gotten their Mickey Monitor and (ii) we were going to be leaving for WDW on Feb. 28, I immediately started to figure out why we haven't gotten it yet. Even our pin friends from the Windy City Pin Traders got theirs. So we called WDW (after hunting for the right number to call). We got a cast member who was very understanding. Not only she told us where to look for the link to write to the correct people, but she was going to mail us a Mickey Monitor as soon as she hangs up.

We still went to the link she gave us and wrote a feedback that we did not get our Mickey Monitor, and that the Passholder website was horrible to navigate to be able to find a place to write back to them.

2 days after we had that phone conversation, our actual Mickey Monitor arrived! This appears to be the one we were supposed to get, and not the one that the cast member we talked to arranged to send. So we were happy. But one day BEFORE we were supposed to leave for WDW, ANOTHER Mickey Monitor arrived, with a hand-written address. We assumed that this was the one taht the wonderful cast member we talked to on the phone had arranged to send. So now we have two of them. We don't feel so bad about it because there are 2 Annual Passholder in the house, and we usually only get ONE Mickey Monitor only (we used to get 2, but for some odd reason, one of us (me) stopped getting a copy about a couple of years ago).

Now, unlike John, I didn't actually got lost at DHS in getting the lithos there, because I kinda knew where the Prop Store was, since we often have our lunch at the Backlot Catering, which is just across from the Prop Store. So I had a good idea where to go. The others were pretty easy since, as has been mentioned, they were close to the front of the park.

So we have 2 complete set of lithos. Now, as nice as they are (and they're very nice since they're free), the lithos that you can buy for.... er... what, $10? when you purchase a certain amount of merchandise were A LOT nicer (for obvious reasons). We bought 3 sets of these lithos during our shopping spree for pins at Animal Kingdom (and had them shipped directly back to our home). We are anxiously waiting for the shipment to arrive.

Now I need wall space to put them up when they're finally framed.

BTW, the discussion at WDWMagic also mentioned that some people managed to get a copy of the Mickey Monitor at certain Guest Relations offices by showing their ID and Passholder and mentioning that they never got their copy. So for people who did not get it before they left for WDW, it may still not be too late to get a Mickey Monitor and get those lithos.


Disney Increases Safety On Primeval Whirl

Months after the tragic death of a cast member who got into a restricted area on the Primeval Whirl attraction at Animal Kingdom, Disney is making changes to the loading/unloading area of the attraction to prevent the same incident from happening.

One can only hope this does happen again


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dirty Soarin'

No, this is not about an "adult" version of Soarin'! :)

We went to Soarin' at Epcot this past Feb. 29. We were directed to Concourse B and we finally sat on the left side of the theater. Right away, as soon as we got hoisted up and the film started, I could see dirt and dust on the video. All through the attraction, I kept noticing the "dirty" video being projected onto the screen. This was my least enjoyable experience on Soarin', my most favorite attraction at Epcot and something that I've done countless other times. I just couldn't enjoy it because I kept getting distracted by the dirtiness of the picture. For me, it ruined the whole experience, so much so that I didn't feel like going back to see it again during this trip (we usually do Soarin' multiple times). I had noticed the dirty videos before, but not to this extent.

Someone from Disney needs to seriously view this and see how bad it looks. When you have something that big and supposed to be very realistic, such poor quality projection can lessen the experience. I've hear rumors that a newer version (or maybe a different version) of Soarin' might be in the works. Still, the current one feels rather neglected.

And speaking of disappointment, what happened to the queue line? I was looking for the "interactive" and more fabulous queue line for Soarin', and what I noticed was nothing like that! In fact, I'd say that the queue line that they have now is worse than what they had before. At least the old queue line had several trivia facts that could keep people entertained while they wait. This one had nothing. Even the huge pictures on the lighted screen didn't fascinate me the least bit.

Please take care of my Soarin'!!


Mold Problem at Disney's Grand Floridian?

Wow. If this is true, it is not good, especially considering that the Grand Floridian is the "grand dame" resort of WDW.

This news article reports that some parts of the Grand Floridian has mold problem.

The moldy discovery came from the guests themselves when a Florida family checked into their $788 per night hotel room hoping for a magical getaway. What they got instead was a room filled with a musty odor, much like that of an old fishing cabin at a lake that hadn't been aired out since the previous summer. It didn't take long before the guests spotted a dark, powdery substance on the walls and along the baseboards of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Concerned for their safety, the family left immediately and checked into a different resort.

OK, viewing the pictures just cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

The thing here is how come the housekeeping services didn't catch this earlier? If it gets to the point that one can actually smell it, shouldn't something be done already? Again, this is at the Grand Floridian, no less. One would be surprised if it occurs at the value resorts. One would be utterly shocked that it occurs at the deluxe resorts.


Disney To Debut Pixar Play Parade on March 14

The new parade to replace the Block Party Bash (which has been transformed to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando) at Disney's California Adventure will debut on March 14. The parade has been named "Pixar Play Parade". This LA Times travel blog has concept pictures of what the parade will look like. It looks to be a rather "colorful" parade. Just hope it has a better reception at DCA than Block Party Bash.

Speaking of Block Party Bash, I do hope to don't just copy the parade wholesale when it appears at DHS. It would be nice if they add new elements to it to make it more exciting and a bit different.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Fortune Magazine 2008 Most Admired Company

The Walt Disney Company once again tops the Entertainment industry's most admired company of 2008. The company ranked #1 in Innovation, People management, Use of corporate assets, Social responsibility, Quality of management, Financial soundness, Long-term investment, and Quality of products/services.

Not bad. Not bad at all.


The Birthday Cake

The birthday cake that we ordered for the birthday girl turned out to be quite spectacular! In fact, she didn't want to cut it! :) We convinced her that we're taking lots of pictures and videos of that so that she can remember what it looks like forever. The whole dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern was wonderful. So hats off to all the cast members and characters there, and the Disney division responsible for the cake. You had just made someone felt very special on her birthday.


We Are Back From WDW

We are safely back home from our latest WDW trip. I was planning on providing more on-going reports, but it was such a short trip, and we had plenty of things to do that I just didn't get around to it. So I'll write more about it after I recover a bit. Still, it was a wonderful trip, and all the planned surprises went very well. Will load a few pictures after I get them sorted out. I'm also hoping to upload the complete fireworks during the Pirates and Princess Party after I got the chance to edit it. So plenty of things to do here for the next couple of weeks or so.