Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Forget Miley Cyrus. Check Out Disney's Chinese Underwear Ad.

Oy vey!

Disney has its hands full especially with this unauthorized print ad for Disney undergarments for girls. I'd say that it is 10 times worse than the Cyrus picture, which isn't even for Disney nor has Disney's brand name.

I was walking from my Beijing bed-and-breakfast to a nearby subway station when I was stopped in my tracks by a billboard that made the controversial 1990s Calvin Klein underwear ads look artistic by comparison. Staring down at the throngs of shoppers on Beijing's Xinjiekou Nandajie Avenue, a busy commercial thoroughfare about a mile west of the Forbidden City, was a white girl who looked all of 12, reclining in a matching bra-and-panties set adorned with Disney's signature mouse-ear design. In a particularly creepy detail, the pigtailed child was playing with a pair of Minnie Mouse hand puppets. In the upper left-hand corner was the familiar script of the Disney logo.

Anyone doing business in China should be aware of this, that in many aspect, it really is the Wild, Wild East. Even a company as big and powerful as Disney, they still can't control all of their subcontractors.


Expedition Pin Trip - Day -1

So darn right I'm getting excited. It's barely 24 hours before we fly off to Orlando on what promises to be a very fun trip. The main reason for this trip, of course, is to attend the Expedition Pin event at Animal Kingdom on Saturday. There's a healthy contingent from the Windy City Pin Traders going to this event, and that is what will make it a lot more fun, if the last pin event is anything to go by.

I hope to blog the event (and possibly my trip) "live" by sending reports and pictures as it happens. We'll see how that goes since I'm doing this for the first time.

And oh, we will also be there when they start giving us DVC members free internet access on May 4th! Hooray! :)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mobile blogger test

With 2 days left before we leave for WDW, I want to make sure that my ability to blog "live" using my Blackberry is working. So here is a picture of the latest Disney addition to my office.


Edit: It works! :)

Pixar's Ex-CFO Could Face SEC Charges

The investigation on the stock option backdating at Pixar before the Disney merger continues. This one appears to be more serious than others. Pixar's Ex-Chief Financial Officer Ann Mather could face a civil suit by the SEC.

A lawyer for Ann Mather acknowledged that his client might become the target of a civil action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged stock option irregularities at the Emeryville, Calif.-based creator of such blockbuster hits as "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles." Mather left Pixar in 2004.

So far, all the major players in this, including former CEO Steve Jobs, have not been implicated in any wrongdoing. But it appears that the investigation continues....


Monday, April 28, 2008

Disney Cruise Line Will Levy Fuel Fee

This was bound to happen and it is no big surprise. Disney Cruise line will start charging fuel fee. They are the last major cruise line to do this.

Disney will charge the first two passengers in a stateroom $8 a person per day up to a maximum of $112 per person per vacation. It will charge any remaining passengers in a cabin $3 a person per day up to a maximum of $42 per person. It will begin levying the fuel surcharge on any new bookings made on or after May 28.

Oh well, let's see how bad it will be next year when we plan on going on a Disney cruise.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Disney's Doorway To Dreams Store

We visited this DVC Doorway To Dreams store at Woodfield Mall here outside Chicago for the first time since we came to their DVC Members preview. It was mainly to say hi to the Cast Members, chat a bit about DVC, and also to do pin trading. It is nice that the cast members working there (and at the info booth along side the Mall's information area) are wearing pins, including cast lanyard pins.

Anyhow, while I was looking around, I noticed a Mickey Ears hat that I've never seen before. It was their "new" hat for the store! It is different than the one we were given during the preview, which was the typical black Mickey Ears hat with the Disney's Doorway to Dreams logo. So of course, being someone who loves these hats, I had to ask them if they have one that I can have. Of course they did! In fact, the cast member was gracious enough to give everyone in our party one of the hats! Can I say how much we love it when we get freebies like that, especially something as iconic as the Mickey Ears hat?

So here are a couple of pictures of the hat.

Hats off to the casts members at the store that we met today. They were extremely nice to us (it helped that all 5 of us were Disney fanatics and were wearing Disney shirts, and also the fact that two of us are DVC members. :))

However, I think their location gives them a rather major disadvantage, since they are rather not in a major traffic area. Now, since Disney is going to get back most of the Disney stores, I have a suggestion for them. Assuming that the Disney Store at Woodfield Mall isn't one of those being closed down for good, then after they get that store back and do whatever they need to it, wouldn't it be logical to move the Disney's Doorway to Dreams store right next the Disney Store? Of course, just because it is logical doesn't mean they have the ability to do it, since it requires the corporation and willingness of the stores next to the Disney Store. I'm sure they won't want to move since they get the advantage of the location. But really, it would be nice if they could somehow be linked together. People who are in the store and buying are already in a "Disney mood". Why not get them to consider a vacation at WDW and buying into the DVC?

Just my unsolicited $0.02-worth of suggestion. :)


Eisner Gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Like him or not, Michael Eisner has made a major impact on the Disney brand. So he certainly deserve the 2361st star on the Walk of Fame. I also thought that it was very gracious of the Walt Disney Company to have both Mickey and Minnie (along with the Disneyland band) there. To not have a Disney connection there would be like ignoring a major reason why Eisner is known today and why The Walt Disney Company is the size it is today.


More Annie Leibovitz Portraits

More Annie Liebovitz portraits for the Year of a Million Dreams are coming out. One of them will feature Julianna Moore as Ariel, with olympic swimmer Michael Phelps swimming past. This picture shoot already had an effect on some people.

Leibovitz added: "There's a moment in the shoot where Julianne is sitting on a rock in her mermaid tail and her young daughter comes in, and there is not a dry eye in the house.

"She sat in her mother's lap. Her jaw just dropped. She could not believe her mother was Ariel."


Friday, April 25, 2008

Where In Walt Disney World?

We haven't had one of these in a while, so here we go. Where in Walt Disney World can you see this? Hint: this is what you actually see if you tried taking a picture with the flash on. It doesn't quite work. :)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Restaurant Concept for Downtown Disney?

In the ever evolving nature of Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island, a new restaurant is being planned for the Downtown Disney area at WDW.

The Orlando-based multi-concept restaurant group says the new 5,000-square-foot, two-story casual eatery will feature authentic Central and South American food, specialty tequilas, premium wines and live music on Downtown Disney's waterfront.

This doesn't sound too bad! I am always for more exotic offerings in terms of food at WDW, i.e. I don't want to see the same old thing that I can get easily. While it would have been more in line with the "theme" if such a restaurant can be built at the World Showcase at Epcot (it would stick out like a sore thumb, though, without an accompanying pavilion), I am glad to see that they are trying different ethnic variety at Downtown Disney. I know that there's already Irish and Cuban cuisine in that area, but I still think there's a shortage of ethnic variety in that area. In fact, I think that something like the failed Noodle Station at the Magic Kingdom might work as a Downtown Disney establishment. It is quick, and cheap, and would add another counter service eatery there. My suggestion would be to build it somewhere on the West Side because there's a lack of counter service eatery there, but unfortunately, that are of Downtown Disney doesn't see as much foot traffic at Marketplace.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Animal Kingdom Turns 10

Laughing Place has an amazing collection of reports, pictures, and videos from yesterday's celebration of Animal Kingdom's 10th Anniversary celebration. It certainly looks like a very festive event. Wish I could have been there.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Disney to Make Nature Documentaries

This is reminiscent of "True Live Adventures" series that Walt did many years ago. It seems that the Walt Disney Studios will be producing a series of nature documentaries for theatrical release under the banner of Disneynature.

Disney veteran Jean-Francois Camilleri, who has served as senior vp and GM of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures France, will head the new unit. Disneynature will be based in France, where Camilleri and his team will oversee the initiation, development and acquisition of feature projects.

Disney also is assembling a team of filmmakers.

Producer-director Alastair Fothergill, whose credits include the "Planet Earth" series for the BBC and Discovery Channel, has entered a multipicture deal with Disneynature. His first release under the new banner is "Earth," which is produced by BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media and co-directed by Mark Linfield. Lensed while making "Planet Earth," the feature "Earth" will be narrated by James Earl Jones and premiere theatrically in the domestic market on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. The film also will be released under the Disneynature banner in Latin America.

Not sure the level of commercial success they're looking for with this unit, but then again, look at the various documentaries films that have been released and became huge hits (re: "March of the Penguins"). Still, it is commendable that they are pursuing this, because I love watching this type of documentaries on TV as it is already. So the potential of watching this on the theater big screen, and I'm sure, later on DVD/Blu-Ray, is something I am looking forward to.


Happy Birthday, DAK!

Today marks the 10th Anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Wish I could be there with the rest of the WDWCelebration group.

Happy Birthday, Disney's Animal Kingdom! You are still Notahzu!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Disney World or Bust!

I typically love reading news article like this where people, especially kids, are given the opportunity to visit a Disney theme park, usually WDW. This one appears to start off in the same way, with 4 girls from Labrador, Canada being given the chance to to go WDW under the "Dreams Take Flight" program by Air Canada. That sounds like a wonderful opportunity, until I read towards the end:

The next morning, the entire Atlantic Canada group will leave Halifax on a Boeing 767 at 5:30 am. Once they arrive in Orlando three hours later, they will be bussed directly to Disney World, where they will spend about eight hours taking in the sights, sounds and rides of the Magic Kingdom.

At the end of the day, the Atlantic Canadian children and their volunteer chaperones will fly back to Halifax and arrive shortly after midnight. Our Happy Valley-Goose Bay jetsetters will fly home the next morning.

"It's a fairly grueling schedule for the children, but as you can imagine, they're going to Disney World, I'm sure they won't mind!" laughed Ms. Pomeroy, who said she also can't wait to go.

Yowzah! They are going to be zonked by the end of the day!

Maybe they're trying to save added expenses by not staying at least a night there, but really, how much more can that be? Going non-stop for 8 straight hours at the Magic Kingdom, trying to see and do as much as one can, does not sound like fun to me. But then again, I'm old! :)

Still, I guess this is better than not being able to go at all. It also makes those of us who can afford to go there many times count our blessings.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Toy Story Mania Sneak Preview

If you haven't heard of this yet, here it is. Toy Story Mania sneak preview for Passholders at Disney's Hollywood Studios will held on May 10 to May 12, 2008, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. This is the announcement from the Passholders website.

Calling all Passholders! You're invited to be among the first to experience Toy Story Mania! at Disney's Hollywood Studios™ during a sneak peek Passholder preview taking place Saturday, May 10 through Monday, May 12, 2008 from 9:00am - 7:00pm.

All I can say is : DRAT!

We are leaving WDW on May 6th. So we'll miss this preview. Sigh...


10 Years of Disney's Animal Kingdom

DAK will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary this week on Apr. 22nd. Here are 10 fun facts about DAK.

I wish I could be there for the anniversary. I will miss it by a few days since we're flying to there late on May 1st to attend the pin event at DAK. Oh well, hope they still have the anniversary pins! :)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Travel Channel's "Disney Splurge"

So, did anyone catch last night's premier of Travel Channel's "Disney Splurge"? I thought it was OK, but I liked Samantha's Brown's episode better, mainly she was there to at humor and liven things up. Besides, if you have the money, you could rent out the whole of Magic Kingdom. That's too easy, and for most of us, not something realistic. But then again, we are thinking of doing one of the Adventures by Disney....

But wait. Next week, as part of their Season of Disney series, it will be "Disney on a Dime". Now that would be more interesting and, I would think, more useful for most folks. It takes no creativity and hardly any effort if you have the money to splurge, but it takes a lot of creativity and research to do Disney wisely and on a limited budget. So the latter is more difficult and requires more effort. That is more interesting.

So next week's episode should be interesting.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Internet Access for DVC Members at DVC Resorts

I mentioned this earlier based on the DVC newsletter that we got. It looks like Disney has made it official. They have announced it on the DVC website.

Daily Internet charge to be discontinued effective May 4, 2008

Based on Member feedback, the daily charge for wired high-speed Internet access for Members staying at Disney Vacation Club Resorts at the Walt Disney World® Resort will be discontinued effective May 4, 2008. Guests renting Disney Vacation Club accommodations will continue to pay the daily rate for access, and high-speed Internet access charges still apply to Members staying at non-Disney Vacation Club Resorts.

In related news, plans call for wireless service debut inside vacation homes at Disney's Vero Beach Resort and Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort sometime this year. Look for updates on this Web site as new details become available.

Too bad they're not starting it on May 1st, the day we arrive. Still, it looks like we'll be able to take advantage of the free access for at least a couple of days while we're there during this upcoming trip.

Better late than never...


King of the Castles

This is a short article on King Ludwig II.

Er... King Ludwig II? {You double check the name of the blog.... Yes, you did reach "My Disney Mania" blog}. So what's the connection?

Ah, here it is. King Ludwig II built many castles during his reign. One of them, Neuschwanstein, looks awfully familiar. Folklore has it that this castle was the inspiration for Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. I believe that Samantha Brown, in one of her many "Passport to Europe" show on the Travel Channel, also mentioned this when she was in this part of Germany and visiting this castle.

Maybe that's where Disney should have built a theme park... :)


Disney/Pixar is Sending Out Body Parts in Boxes?!

A few people in the media seem to have gotten various body parts in the mail from Disney. No, there isn't a mass-murderer on the loose at Disney. Rather, it is part of the promotion for Toy Story Mania.

Nope, it’s just part of promotion for Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story Mania! interactive attraction at Disney Theme Parks. The first package contained a pair of Mr. Potato Head’s ears, and read: ‘Heard the News?’. The second package contained Mr. Potato head’s white right arm, and read: “I’d give my right arm for an attraction this fun!” I wonder what the next body part might be? Great marketing by Disney but kinda creepy when you think about it.

Hey, if they these things are creepy and don't want any of those, I'll take 'em!



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pixar's John Lasseter Was Inspired by 'Dumbo'

It's amazing what type of movie that can leave an imprint on a person. For John Lesseter, it was Dumbo.

"I have studied it from every aspect, from story, to story structure, to art direction," Lasseter says. "It's very funny. It's emotional. It's the most cartoony [of Disney's animated features]. It's very short.

"It's like 64 minutes, and it's so concise in its storytelling. I learned a lot from it, as a student at CalArts and a young animator at Disney."

For an animated movie, Dumbo has quite a strong, emotional content, especially the scene between Dumbo and his mother, as described in the article.

Wish I was in Southern California to attend one of these things.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Visual Tribute To Disneyland's "It's A Small World"

There's nothing more to be said about the current controversy on Disneyland's "It's A Small World". Each side has lobbed their ammunitions at each other, and caught in the middle of it is a classic, charming attraction that many have a strong emotional connection to. So instead, I decided to present the "It's A Small World" that I remember, both in video and in pictures. This was taken during Disneyland's Golden Anniversary Celebration. The video of the full ride can be seen here.

I wonder how it will change when it reopens.....