Monday, June 30, 2008

Rotten Tomatoes Officially Declares WALL-E Best Reviewed Movie of 2008 So Far

It is official. Wall-E has become the best reviewed movie of 2008 so far. It has a 96% positive ratings, compared to 93% for Iron Man.


WALL-E Easter Eggs

Just got this link from one of my buddies (thanks, Ralph!)

SPOILER ALERT - Don't click on the link if you want to hunt for these yourself.

This article lists all the "Easter Eggs" in Wall-E, such as the appearance of the Pizza Planet truck, which character John Ratzenberger voiced, etc. It isn't as extensive as the hidden Disney references in Enchanted, but it is still fun nonetheless to hunt for them


WALL-E Flavored with a Dash of Apple

I mentioned in my review of Wall-E that those who are familiar with Macs would have an extra love for the movie. I didn't want to say too much since I didn't want to spoil the fun for those who have yet to see the movie. However, since this has already been spilled, I might as well point to the news article that revealed all the references to Apple in the movie.

If you want to discover these connections yourself, don't click this link!


No Deal for Disneyland Park in Shanghai..... YET!

The rumors published in a Hong Kong newspaper last Saturday is being denied rapidly by both the Shanghai govt. and Disney. No deal yet on any possible Disney theme parks in Shanghai.

Can we get on with it already? I'm getting tired of this rumor.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

All Ears On Wall-E

One of the most important aspect of Wall-E is the sound, especially during the first half of the movie where there is hardly any dialog. The person responsible for making all of the sound for the movie is Ben Burtt, who already has a legendary history in sound production in some of the most important and memorable movies in history. This news item highlights his contribution to Wall-E and the movies.

That's just a day in the life of the pioneering sound designer, who went on similar field trips when he came up with Darth Vader's breathing in "Star Wars," the Indiana Jones whip in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and a variety of other iconic sounds now embedded in cinema history. After more than 30 years in the business and four Academy Awards, he found his largest challenge yet in "WALL-E," which features almost no dialogue in the first half of the movie. The story about a robot who finds love on an abandoned, polluted Earth used 2,500 new sound files - compared with the 700 to 1,000 for the typical "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" movie.

I love reading articles like this. We tend to be ignorant at how untrivial many of these things are that tend to be in the background, yet became signatures for a particular movie. It is nice to be aware of how the work of some of these men and women played a big role in these movies.


Wall-E Review

It's no secret that Wall-E has been getting rave reviews so far. We saw it last night and every hype given to it is well-deserved. As with Ratatouille, this movie has something a lot of movie doesn't have - A HEART! This robot shows more humanity than any Arnold Swarchenegger movie. And I could easily fall in love with Eve. Who wouldn't love a "female", gun-trotting robot that can fix a trash compacter in 60 seconds flat? :)

I thought the first half of the movie (before all the dialog started) was more mesmerizing than the second half. It's not because of the quality, but more rather due to Pixar's brilliance in telling a story and conveying emotions without a single word of dialog. Of all the parts of the movie, this was where I thought it was at its best. Within a few minutes, you felt as if you know Wall-E and empathized with him (it?). And if you're familiar with Macs, you'll love him even more! :)

As far as storyline goes, which is usually the strongest asset of a Pixar movie, I thought that Ratatouille had a more fascinating storyline. The second half of the movie that took place on Axiom spaceship was funny and fun, but with a rather pedestrian storyline. The conglomeration of misfit robots as Wall-E's allies felt a bit like the Tank Gang in Finding Nemo. One of my friends said that the 2nd half probably was to keep the kids awake and interested. So while the 2nd half was fun and action-packed, the 1st half was all heart and soul.

As far as intelligence goes, it is just slightly lower than Ratatouille, which isn't bad at all considering that Ratatouille was just brilliant. I don't think the French will be as enamored with Wall-E as they did with Ratatouille. Still, don't let this stop you seeing it, even if you're French! :) As many reviewers have said, this is the best movie of the year so far.


Disney Phone Mess Fixed

We don't much from people who actually bought the Disney phones and service, so this article is very "rare". Still, Disney should have taken care of this before the former owner had to write to The Fixer at this newspaper to get her money back.

After switching my service to Verizon on Oct. 6, I mailed back the phones the next day (within the 30-day period to get a refund). Approximately two weeks later, I received a notice from the company that it was unable to do any refunds and that I should contact Disney Mobile directly to obtain my refund.

So I contacted Disney Mobile, and it stated that yes, after all my bills were paid in full, a refund would be generated. It also agreed to refund my activation fees for the phones because it was within the 30-day policy.

After working with the customer service at Disney Mobile for more than four months, I did get the activation fees reversed, but the company would not refund the money for the phones or accessories because I purchased them at the kiosk at Downtown Disney. It stated that this was a third party.

I told the company I bought these phones on Disney property with the Disney brand name. Boy, oh boy, what a mess. The people that worked at the kiosk were long gone. I actually spoke to the person that managed that stand, and he said Disney reps had come in and shut it down the day after the notice of the Dec. 31 closure was announced.

The ONE thing that Disney needs to realize is that most guests really don't know or don't care if a vendor or a worker is from a "third party" organization. If it is on Disney property, it IS Disney and represents Disney. Period! So giving a guest the excuse that such-and-such came from a third party vendor does nothing but infuriate the guest even more! The guest may have a bad impression on that vendor, but will have an even worse impression on Disney. If it is a Disney product or service on a Disney property, it IS Disney and Disney needs to take ownership and responsibility for it. And this goes for any merchandise bought at stores, and outsourced workers working at Disney resorts.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Will You Miss Pleasure Island?

The big news late in the week from WDW is definitely the planned closure of Pleasure Island as we know it.

BET SoundStage Club, Mannequins Dance Palace, 8Trax and three other clubs that have for years catered largely to young, single adults -- rather than to Disney's bread-and-butter family market -- will close after Sept. 27.

During the next couple of years, Disney will reopen the Pleasure Island venues with a broader mix of restaurants and shops.

I must say that this isn't highly unexpected. While I've had a few good times at PI (8-Trax is just a blast!), it has never been something that I really want to do when I'm there, mainly because I live in Wrigleyville here in Chicago where bars and dance clubs are only within walking distance. So why would I want to do the same thing at WDW of something I can easily do here back home? Furthermore, they don't have any "Disney" feel to them. I suppose the local population would be the ones who would miss it more than the tourists.

I also think that PI sort of cut the flow between Marketplace and the West Side. I very seldom walk between the two, always turning around when we get to Fulton's. So maybe a more continuous flow between the two areas might not be so bad. I've always thought that they could do better if they intermix the clubs in between the "regular" establishments.

In any case, I probably won't miss the current version of PI that much, if at all. If they can somehow build something that makes it more enticing for people to go between the two ends of Downtown Disney, then I'd say it would be an improvement.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Call It Disney’s Food Kingdom

This is a rather interesting article on food at WDW (yes, ANOTHER one!). It is interesting because most of the places that the author went to were upscale dining establishments (Jiko, Flying Fish Cafe, California Grill). I am not surprised that they found the food there enticing and of high caliber. Jiko, especially, is one of my favorites. They should have tried to get into Boma when they couldn't get into Jiko the next night. (Boma is my #1 most favorite place to eat in all of WDW).

They also didn't try Crystal Palace at MK. Granted, the place can get hectic and loud, since it is a character dining. But from my experience, it has THE best buffet anywhere on a WDW theme park. The food quality and selection are surprisingly good. Having Pooh and friends drop by your table while you eat is an added benefit.


Is Wall-E Too Good and Too Smart?

With Wall-E opening today, this is a rather intriguing question. Is Wall-E too good and too smart, and also too dark?

"WALL·E" is really an art film. It is besotted with its own technology, its own art -- almost to the point that it allows technology to sublimate the story.

It is, the more I think about it, a jewel of a film in conception, execution and message. But the kids, who had been laughing at a recent screening, got very quiet during certain sequences, especially when the Earth seemed irredeemable. "WALL·E's" glance into the future didn't do much for my bliss either, but the idea that a company in the business of mainstream entertainment would make something as creative, substantial and cautionary as "WALL·E" has to raise your hopes for humanity.

This is why those folks at Pixar should be commended for taking such chances. It only makes me even more excited to go see this movie.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wall-E Opens Tomorrow!!

Just in case you've been under a rock the past few months, Wall-E officially opens nationwide tomorrow! And Roger Ebert gave it a glowing review (but not the perfect 4-stars, though, unlike Ratatouille which did get one).

The movie has a wonderful look. Like so many of the Pixar animated features, it finds a color palette that’s bright and cheerful, but not too pushy, and a tiny bit realistic at the same time. The drawing style is Comic Book Cool, as perfected in the funny comics more than in the superhero books: Everything has a stylistic twist to give it flair. And a lot of thought must have gone into the design of WALL•E, for whom I felt a curious affection. Consider this hunk of tin beside the Kung Fu Panda. The panda was all but special-ordered to be lovable, but on reflection, I think he was so fat, it wasn’t funny anymore. WALL•E, however, looks rusty and hard-working and plucky, and expresses his personality with body language and (mostly) with the binocular-like video cameras that serve as his eyes. The movie draws on a tradition going back to the earliest days of Walt Disney, who reduced human expressions to their broadest components and found ways to translate them to animals, birds, bees, flowers, trains and everything else.

We'll be seeing it on Saturday night, so no one better come here and spoil the movie for me! :)


Why Visit Every Disney Park in the World?

This writer got to do what I have longed to do - visit every Disney theme park in the world. So I'm utterly jealous.

Still, her wonderful piece is fun to read, especially her description of all the Disney theme parks:

Think of the properties as an extended family.

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. is the great aunt, a grande dame who has seen the world and has the wrinkles to prove it, but her pearls are still polished.

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. is the big brother, the star athlete who gets all the attention but is still humble enough to hang out with his nerdy little brother.

Disneyland Paris Resort is the slightly odd cousin - the one everyone tries to avoid at family gatherings but who is actually pretty nice once you get to know him.

The Tokyo Disney Resort parks are the uber-hip twins - those third cousins, twice removed, that you only get to see at weddings and funerals. They're fun and bubbly and intimidatingly cool.

Hong Kong Disneyland is the awkward tween nephew, who wants nothing more than to be just like his older and cooler relatives. He'll get there, but for now he's a bit gangly.

Top on my list is definitely Tokyo. So, one of these days..... Konichiwa!


The Pixar Touch

This is a book review of David Price's "The Pixar Touch". The review is quite informative in including some of the important milestone in Pixar's history, including a few jaw-dropping moments. For example, would Jeffery Katzenberg admit to actually saying something like this regarding the possibility of acquiring Pixar for Disney?

Kinsey wanted Disney to buy Pixar outright for $15 million, but he was overruled by Jeffrey Katzenberg, then head of Walt Disney Studios. “I can’t waste my time on this stuff,” Kinsey says Katzenberg told him.

Why, Katzenberg could probably be listed on the same Executive Wall of Shame as the many studio executives who rejected Lucas's "Star Wars" before he found 20th Century Fox.

Sounds like this might be a fun book to read.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NASA and Disney Invite Kids to Explore Space With Wall-E

So here's something I didn't know (maybe because I haven't been reading a lot of the news lately). It appears that NASA and Disney has some sort of a Space Act Agreement. As one of the acts of such agreement, they are promoting Disney-Pixar's Wall-E.

This collaboration highlights the similarities between the movie's storyline and NASA's real-life work in robot technology, propulsion systems and astrophysics. Disney-Pixar's WALL-E is set 700 years in the future. The film's main character is the only rover-robot left on Earth. He meets a new robot named Eve, and together they take a journey through the universe.

"Great ideas for future exploration of the universe start with the imagination," said Robert Hopkins, chief of strategic communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We hope that with the help of our new robot friend WALL-E, NASA can encourage young people to learn about science and technology and become the explorers of tomorrow."

This actually sounds interesting if it is effective.

Now, if NASA can actually participate in such a thing, how about getting them to also participate in ramping up or having an exhibition/area in Innoventions at Epcot? I know they were heavily involved in Mission Space, but it wouldn't hurt if they emphasize some of the science they are doing at NASA at the Innoventions pavilion. Wouldn't that makes sense as well?


Your Favorite Animated Space-Related Character

NASA actually has a poll for one's most favorite animated space-related character on their webpage at The characters to choose from are Marvin the Martian, Buzz Lightyear, George Jetson, and Space Ghost. So far, Buzz Lightyear is leading Marvin the Martian. This is definitely Disney versus Warner Brothers! :)

So don't forget to vote!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Disney To Overhaul Again?

Disney wants to make "younger", to attract younger children. This is a 2nd major overhaul in, er... what is it, 2 years?

The changes, scheduled to take place over the next few months, will introduce more free video to the site (including full-length movies like “Finding Nemo”) as well as more games and things for visitors to do with their cellphones. For instance, little girls (or bigger ones) who create fairy avatars in a virtual world called Pixie Hollow will be able to use their cellphones buy pet butterflies for their fairies.

I hope they remember that us adults also do go there. If they make it too "young", they might lose some of us.


Is it the Original Mickey?

I was browsing Laughing Place and saw this news report. A Fox News website is reporting on this guy who claims to have the original Mickey Mouse sketch done by Walt Disney.

I immediately had a deja vu feeling and said "Wait a second. Why is this whole thing sounding familiar? I swear John Frost had something on this already".

And sure enough, when I went to The Disney Blog, John already had a rant against this claim, and I was right, he DID already debunked this story.

I have the same low opinion of Fox News, and this only re-enforced that opinion.


Monday, June 23, 2008

9th Annual Harris Interactive Survey of 60 Most Visible U.S. Companies

The Harris poll has released the latest result on the poll of the reputation of 60 of the most visible companies. Not surprising to me, Google got the top spot this year, beating out Microsoft.

What does it take to get to the top? Google provides a case in point. Four years ago, the company was not included among the top 60 most visible companies on the list. But this year, Google rose to No. 1, beating last year’s RQ reputation leader, Microsoft. Google also beat this year’s second-runner-up, Johnson & Johnson, which was the top ranked company, until last year, since the inception of the survey in 1999.

The Walt Disney Company didn't do that badly, but wasn't stellar either. In the overall ranking, they are at No. 18, and they are also at No. 5 for the company having the highest public perception of corporate sincerity.

The full report can be found here.


Economy, Oil Prices Finally Catching Up To Disney?

This article brings out the possibility that the increase in oil prices and the reduction of flights by Delta Airlines into Orlando might affect business at WDW.

Now Pali's Rich Greenfield isn't so sure. He thinks that Delta's flights to Orlando will be down 26% in October, and down 12% plus for the last three months of 2008. And he thinks that will continue into next year, prompting him to cut both top and bottom line growth estimates companywide; he thinks the parks unit, meanwhile, will see revenues decrease by 0.6% and operating income drop by 2.3%.

I can never understand how these people make predictions, or the logic and rationality of some of their decisions or recommendations. For example, looking at this particular issue, just now large exactly is Delta Airlines presence at Orlando International? Someone correct me on this, but I think Southwest Airlines has the largest presence there, no? And I don't hear Southwest cutting back on anything. And if I were them, I would be jumping for joy hearing all these other airlines cutting back on their flights, because it would mean more passengers for me. This is, of course, in addition to the darling of the flying crowd, JetBlue.

If this guy thinks that there will a revenue decrease in the next few months, he hasn't tried to book a room at a WDW resort for December, for heaven's sake.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

WALL-E is the Latest in Long Line of Compelling Pixar Characters

This is a wonderful article on Pixar and their story-driven movies.

Most discussions of the Pixar filmmaking process involve words like cutting edge and modern computer technology. But at the heart of their films, the experts say, are old-fashioned storytelling values.

"They remind me so much of the Disney productions of the '30s and '40s," says Don Peri, author of "Working With Walt: Interviews With Disney Artists." "There's a lot of emphasis on warmth and personality. And you see good triumphing over evil in a more traditional way. There's a little more sincerity to their characters and films, than say a 'Shrek.'"

But the Pixar artists have also rebelled against some of the familiar Disney tendencies that once set the tone for animated features. Thus far, they've avoided fairy tales and musicals. And their lead characters tend to possess adult personas rather than the childlike ones who head up many Disney classics.

"It's almost like the kids are subsidiary characters," Beck says. "And that's different from a lot of Disney films where you have characters like the Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Bambi, the kids in Peter Pan and Simba in 'The Lion King' — classic innocents discovering the harsh realities of the world."

I think that this is the very reason that both the traditional Disney animation and Pixar almost compliment each other, because they approach their movies from different perspective but still have the storyline as the main driver. Getting Pixar to be a part of Disney while still maintaining Pixar's identity was a stroke of brilliance by Bob Iger.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where in Walt Disney World

OK, we haven't had this in a while, so here's another one. Where in Walt Disney World can you see this?


Friday, June 20, 2008

Disney Finds Park Space for Pixar

Variety has this rather interesting article on the "Pixar-rization" of Disney theme parks, especially recently since the Pixar acquisition.

But the Pixar-ization of Disney’s parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong is under way, with the Mouse set to spend hundreds of millions to turn the company’s characters into new rides, shows and other attractions.

It’s about time.

It lists all the recently-added Pixar-themed attractions at various theme parks and even the Disney Cruise line. Now most Disney loyalists probably (at least me) have no complaints about new attractions that emphasized the theme from various Pixar movies. Heaven knows those movies were quite good and were hits. But I think there's plenty to be said when existing facilities are retooled or rehabbed to be a Pixar-themed attraction. An example is the re-themeing of The Living Seas into The Seas with Nemo and Friends. While I don't quite care about the Nemo attraction that much, I think a lot of Disney fans are afraid that the Pixar-ization could take over many of the existing but weak attraction.

Although, truth to be told, I don't mind a lot of Pixar-ization of The Carousel of Progress, but I'm in the very small minority with this one! :)


New Oscar Rule Limits Song Nominations to 2 Per Film

So looks like Enchanted was the last movie ever to get 3 songs nominated from one movie.

The number of original songs that can be nominated from a single movie will now be limited to two, according to a rule change by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The academy's governors approved the change late Tuesday.

Last year, Disney's "Enchanted" had three titles in contention: "Happy Working Song," "So Close" and "That's How You Know." The winner of best original song: "Falling Slowly," from "Once."

I don't know about you, but I had a feeling that getting 3 almost equally-strong songs nominated from Enchanted may have hurt it from winning the Oscar.


The World According to Disney

This is a rather interesting article on Disney and race relations, especially the shows on the Disney Channel.

I know, I know, you’d rather not give any credit to the saccharine-sweet world of Disney. But the fact is, the Disney network is a racial nirvana, where children and adults of all races, creeds and colors play, date, and work together, without an eyebrow raised. Take the wildly popular High School Musical : the romantic leads, Troy and Gabriela, are a white jock and a Latina brain. Their best friends are both black and the villain is a rich white girl adored by a black basketball player who also loves to bake. Or how about Corey in the House, a spin-off of the hit That’s So Raven. African-American Corey moves into the White House when his dad is named the head chef by a Hispanic president. His best friends are a white surfer dude and a Middle East girl, who he secretly has a crush on.

Of course, you then get someone like Angelina Jolie cannot get past the idea that there are no african-american Disney princess. According to this article, she should look in her backyard and at her profession first.

Too bad the rest of Hollywood hasn’t followed suit. According to an Entertainment Weekly study of casts for the fall 2008 season, each of the five major broadcast networks is whiter than the Caucasian percentage (66.2%) of the U.S. population. And all of the networks are representing considerably lower than the Latino population percentage of 15.2%.


Disney Rides Again With Toy Story Mania

So what could possibly be "better" than riding Toy Story Mania with John Lasseter? Maybe riding it with Disney CEO Bob Iger!

Back to the ride, where Iger is killing me…. I'm having trouble pulling the cord that fires the "bullets" (Iger was quick to tell me they didn't want kids playing with anything that looked like a real gun). Iger is littering the screen with shots, finding the right way to pull the cord to keep the "gun" from "jamming." He seems to be dead-on. In the end, he's piled up 139,000 points (high scores are in the 300,000 range). I'm stuck at 69,000. "Well, I tried it out yesterday," Iger admits, grinning as he heads back to the company's Burbank (Calif.) headquarters.

The article also gave a brief report on the official opening of the attraction at DCA.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dance Off With the Star Wars Stars 2008

This video is just plain hysterical! It appears that this is part of the "Hyperspace Hoopla" at DHS during the Star Wars Weekend.

I didn't know Chewy can move like that! :) But definitely, Vader stole the show!


Disney Plans to Outsource Robotic Figures

Chalk another one up for outsourcing. Disney plans to outsource the production of most of their animatronics.

The memo states that after review, manufacturing all Audio-Animatronics figures in-house is not feasible in terms of cost and staffing. Instead, Imagineering's Manufacturing and Prototype Operations group, based in North Hollywood, Calif., will "build some select, highly complex" figures in-house.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ub Iwerks Story

Holly Cow!

It's about 7:20 pm Central time, and I was surfing the TV channels when I came across "The Hand Behind The Mouse : the Ub Iwerks Story" on Ovation TV channel! Luckily, it is still in the early part (the program airs from 7 to 9 pm). They had just completed the Alice Comedies and have now moved on to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.


Edit: Good grief! Ovation TV has a commercial almost every 5 minutes! No wonder this thing takes 2 hours!

Toy Story Mania: How I beat Pixar's John Lasseter

Oh, this is such a fun blog entry. First of all, most of us would DIE to be able to get on a ride, much less, Toy Story Mania, with John Lasseter. Secondly, to be able to "beat" him at it is even more fun. However, did Lasseter really got beaten?

So as not to bore you with all the play-by-play details (he took a Lakers-like early lead, I battled back a la the Celtics), I’ll cut to the chase: When the final scores flashed up on the big board, I was shocked to have outscored the legendary John Lasseter 205,400 to 200,100.

Upon further reflection, I’ve come to realize that he probably let me win. That he is so good as to be able to lose at will by a few thousand points. To boost my ego. Inflate my self-worth. And provide my happily ever after ending.

I would be gloating all year even if I got beaten by Lasseter by a gazillion points.


Disney Names VP for Planned Hawaii Resort

Disney has named Djuan Rivers to head the planned Hawaii resort at Ko Olina Resort. Now, usually this isn't such an interesting news for Disney fanatics, but I found one piece of information in the news report that I took notice of.

Djuan Rivers has been named vice president of Disney Vacation Club and Resort, Hawaii.

Hum... does that mean that this will be a DVC resort only and not a combination of DVC resort and a "regular" resort? Not that it has any significant meaning because non-DVC members can still book a stay there (and pay at a higher rate), just like Vero Beach, I suppose.

Still, I can't wait to see how many points they'll charge for a stay there. Wouldn't it be outrageous if they also build a glorious Disney store as well with Hawaii-specific merchandise? Pins, anyone?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Toy Story Mania Opens Today

This is no big secret, but just in case anyone missed it, Toy Story Mania opens today at both Disney's California Adventure and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Mania is nothing like a traditional theme park attraction. It's more like a ride-through 3D video game, and I speak with great authority because I rode it seven times yesterday (see the video clip). You're on a car going around a track, wearing 3D glasses so everything is 3D. The ride is designed to make you feel like you've been shrunk down to the size of a toy in a kid's bedroom, while you along with "Toy Story" characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody navigate classic kids games and play old fashioned midway games. You pull the rope on the shooter right in front of you to try to hit targets in a range of games- darts, ring toss etc- to rack up points.

This is probably the first thing I'll aim for when we go to WDW in early Sept.


Orange Stinger at California Adventure to Get New Disney Theme

Looks like the "face lift" for California Adventure is proceeding along. This article reports on the Orange Stinger in the Paradise Pier section of DCA that will be getting a Disney theme.

The Blue Sky Disney fan site reported the Orange Stinger will be redubbed…… “The Silly Symphonies Swings,” with a theme based on “The Band Concert” 1935 cartoon short featuring the first colorized Mickey Mouse.

The made-over 1 1/2-minute ride would feature a twirling tornado mast with smoke-spewing special effects, an orchestral score and a “Conductor Mickey” on top, according to Blue Sky.

All I can say is, anything would be better than what they have now. Having said that, I wish California Screamin' gets preserved in some way with a new theme, but keeping the ride. I actually enjoyed that one, and having the big loop going over a Mickey Head icon was a brilliant idea. But that's the only Disney connection the attraction had. So any further improvement would be a plus.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Disney Takes 'Science Fair' Prize

This is rather timely after Disney's recent participation in the World Science Festival. It seems that they won a bidding war for the rights to writer John Sullivan family adventure "Science Fair".

I really hope they do a different take on this rather than make it look generic like "Night in a Museum". There's a wonderful opportunity to really get the science correct, while still keeping the "fantasy" element of the science projects coming to life.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Disney Shows Some Secrets to Entice Youth Into Science, Engineering

I mentioned earlier about the Disney Imagineering participation in the first ever World Science Festival in NY City this past month. There is more post-coverage of this event in this news report. Looks like the Disney presentation was a huge hit and a crowd favorite.

Audience members didn't have to wait to experience other Disney technology, such as a a special effects tool called a "big puffer." The crowd filled with many kids and parents gasped and cheered as the massive cannon-like device rolled on stage and began shooting doughnuts of fog across the theater.

The Imagineers triggered a more chilling reaction when they used a special ultrasound speaker that projects sound in a narrow beam. With a young girl from the audience whispering "I am a spooky ghost" into a microphone, they sent her voice out to different parts of the theater.

"We wanted to create an effect that would make it sound like a sound was coming from right inside your head," said special effects expert AsaKalama.

Now, if only they could bring such a show to Future World at Epcot. Wouldn't that be a terrific location for such a demonstration?


Walt Disney’s Inspiration is a Copenhagen Amusement

This is a coverage of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. I'm sure most people know Walt Disney visited Tivoli gardens and it has been reported that it because the inspiration for Disneyland.

I've seen TV shows, especially on the Travel Channel, that reports on this charming amusement park. I think it is always listed as one of the best amusement parks in the world. Samantha Brown, my favorite TV traveler, has visited Copenhagen and Tivoli Gardens in one of her Passport to Europe shows.


Review of Disney Channel's 'Camp Rock'

Looks like the reviews of Disney Channel's "Camp Rock" appears to be quite good across the board. While the universal agreement seems to be that it won't be as big as High School Musical, it should be another major hit for the Disney Channel, and who knows, should be another possible franchise.

If it isn't obviously already, the Disney Channel is certainly on a roll.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Wall-E To Roam California Adventure

A "real live" Wall-E will roam Disney's California Adventure! This is what Disneyland's passholder were told.

A real-world mobile audio-animatronic Wall-E robot will roam around Disney’s California Adventure and interact with theme park visitors later this year, according to the monthly newsletter mailed to Disneyland Annual Passholders.
The adorable remote-controlled, 3-foot-tall robot built by Walt Disney Imagineering has been spotted on the streets of Los Angeles and at a Philadelphia science center, but the Mouse House has remained mum on future theme park visits by Wall-E.

After Lucky the Dinasaur, the Talking Trashcan, and other interactive animatronics around the parks, having Wall-E interacting with the guests makes a lot of sense. This will fit quite well with the new Pixar Land at DHS. So I hope they do bring Wall-E there as a permanent resident.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

CNET's Reporter Did The Segway Tour

Hope you have been following Daniel Terdiman's WDW road trip. He did the Segway Tour yesterday, and I was one of those who suggested that he did that.

Riding the Segways was one of the suggestions I got from readers when I asked last week what I should do at Disney World when I visited as part of Road Trip 2008, my journey around the South. And I have to say, it was a great idea. I love Segways, first of all, and secondly, how great is it to glide around effortlessly on a hot day when everyone else is working up a sweat just strolling from point A to point B.

So look at the comments he received here. One of them is from yours truly. :)

If you've never done the Segway Tour around World Showcase, you should really consider it. Do the one before World Showcase opens, so that you can ride it in and out of the pavilion in areas that can be accessed by the Segway. Besides, they give you a pin at the end of it! :)


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Disney Adds Blu-Ray Extras

Now that Blu-Ray has won the high-def war, Disney is going all out in promoting the medium with cutting edge extra to take advantage of the Profile 2 (or BD-Live) capability of Blu-Ray.

During a presentation Monday night to officially unveil Disney's first BD Live title -- an elaborate 50th anniversary edition release of "Sleeping Beauty" -- division president Bob Chapek promised to add BD Live elements, which allow movie viewers to tap into the Web for a wealth of interactive options, to all upcoming Disney-branded releases beginning in the fourth quarter. To further hasten the transition to Blu-ray Disc, Disney is including a standard DVD with "Sleeping Beauty" to make it easy for consumers to understand the difference between the two formats.

Chapek said the interactive extras on "Sleeping Beauty," from a menu backdrop that mirrors weather conditions in the viewer's home town to onscreen chat rooms and video messaging, are merely "our jumping off point of what's to come."

I tell ya, considering that this was the company that was hesitant to throw its full support behind DVD when it was first introduced, and actually joined in the DIVX camp during its early stage, Disney has come a long way.


Behind the Curtain at Disney World's Cirque Show

Have you been following CNET's Daniel Terdiman 2008 Road Trip? You should! As I've mentioned here earlier, he is starting off his road trip in Orlando and, of course, immersing himself into Walt Disney World.

His latest entry (at least as of this morning) is a look at behind the scenes at La Nouba. Quite informative, even for Disney veterans.


Hot Air Balloon Trivia

I always enjoy reading the Disney Insider newsletter, and my favorite has always been the trivia question and answer column handled by Dave Smith, the Disney archivist. The one from the latest issue is particularly good, because I didn't know about such "hot air balloon" (Oh no, do I have to return my Disney fanatic membership card?)

The question was:

I know that Ear Force One is the name of Mickey's hot air balloon. What was the name of Donald Duck's balloon?

And the answer was:

It was known as Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Duck. It made its inaugural flight on November 20, 1987.

Sorry Mickey, but that name wins in my book! :)


Tuesday, June 10, 2008 Breaks New Ground Streaming Full-Length Movies Online for the First Time Ever

Certainly exciting press release concerning the website. announced today that for the first time ever the site will stream full-length movies online, featuring selections from the Wonderful World of Disney. The films will first air on ABC as part of the network’s weekly Wonderful World of Disney presentation on Saturday nights throughout summer 2008. The full-length films will then be available for free streaming on ( for the week following the network presentation (Monday – Friday).

“Streaming full-length films on takes our commitment to delivering world-class online entertainment to the next level,” stated Paul Yanover, executive vice president and managing director, Disney Online. “This is a wonderful partnership with ABC, and just another example of how Disney’s unmatched, high-quality content can be leveraged on multiple platforms.”

Still, anyone else finding that the website is some time excruciatingly S L O W ... ? Not only that, the Passholder website is often down, and the DVC members website CRAWLS at time!


Monday, June 09, 2008

New iPhones Unveiling Had Disney Testimonial

Of course, the big tech news of today was the unveiling of the new 3G iPhone by Steve Jobs at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference. I guess it wasn't that big of a surprise that the Disney IT dept. gave a testimonial on how the iPhones have improved their multimedia communications.

IT departments at Disney and the U.S. Army presented testimonials about how the iPhone has improved their communications in videos aired during the keynote.

“Everything they told us they wanted, we built in,” the technology blog reported Mr. Jobs as saying.

There's also news that they had "deployed" seven different applications.

I must say, it sounds rather impressive. If they lower the costs for international roaming charges, I might seriously consider abandoning my T-Mobile Blackberry Curve for this cutie.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Disney PSA

While I was in downtown Chicago yesterday, I saw this Disney's public service announcement poster at a bus stop on S. Michigan Ave.

It's promoting healthy living and the new USDA's food pyramid. I'm sure this is being done all over the country, but it's the first time I'm seeing it here in the city.


Science World Gets Disney

Looks like a Canadian science museum somewhere got a Disney exhibit.

The interactive exhibit, created by the Experience Music Project in Seattle, displays more than 65 rare artifacts from the Disney archives, including the handwritten score of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie, released in 1928, to the blue floral dress worn by Vanessa Hudgens in High School Musical.

And there's plenty to keep people entertained and educated.

Kids can hop, skip and dance across a giant piano, similar to the one in the movie Big, or bang away at several percussion instruments at the Drum Tree.

There's a magic carpet ride set in front of a green stage that lets riders soar above a cityscape of Vancouver. Because the carpet operates on a pneumatic hydraulic system, it'll move and shift for a more realistic ride.

Not much a science content, though, from what I can read.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

75 Years of Mickey in Chicago

Back in 2004 as part of the celebration of 75 Years of InspEARations, many Mickey Mouse decorated sculptures were on display along the streets of Downtown Chicago within the Loop area. I was going through my archive digital album and suddenly realized that I had taken quite a number of pictures of them back then. Many of them are amazingly decorated.

So, better late than never.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Disney World Preparation 2.0

I mentioned earlier of CNET's Daniel Terdiman Road Trip that will begin at WDW. This time, his update for his preparation for this road trip highlights the hottest news in all of Disney right now - the 3D Google Earth treatment of Walt Disney World. This is being widely report not only on Disney fans website and blogs, but also the major news media.

In any case, Terdiman's road trip begins this Tuesday (did he purposely avoided this weekend's Gay Days? :)).


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reusable Shopping Bags at WDW?

Thanks to disneydiva72 at WDWMagic for pointing this out, and a picture as well, of the new shopping bags that Disney is selling at WDW. I guess they should be applauded for their attempt at going green and reducing the use of those plastic bags, but at $5.95? Many grocery stores around the country sell their reusable shopping bags for barely $1 each. They could have at least made it a bit more reasonable, such as $3.95. That would make it even more enticing for the consumers to buy. Let's hope that these bags are a bit more "substantial" to justify the $5.95 price tag.

So what if you want to have your merchandise sent to your resort, or shipped home? Can't exactly have that done in one's reusable bags, can it? I guess this would work if you're shopping and carrying.


The Rise of Disney's Hollywood Studios

This is a terrific article on the transformation that has been going on with Disney's Hollywood Studios. With the emphasis on many live shows, the studios already has the largest number in all of WDW.

Yet Hollywood Studios -- which already possessed the most concert and show venues in Disney World, not to mention several attractions popular among youth, such as Tower of Terror -- now has a broader entertainment theme and is getting even more venues. It also is quietly grabbing a larger share of the after-hours party crowd.

The article also lists several things that DHS is getting exclusively this year that makes it a top-notch attraction, biggest among those is the Toy Story Mania.

While I'm not that keen on the live shows and the High School Musical stuff, Toy Story Mania is certainly going to be my major reason for going to DHS on my next trip.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Angelina Jolie Needs To Get With The Program

In an interview, Angelina Jolie hits out at Disney for not having any African princess.

She tells Britain's OK! magazine, "(So) even the colour of the children in the cartoon matters. "There still isn't a Disney princess that's African and it's very difficult because our daughters' getting into princesses right now and it upsets me."

First of all, the Frog and the Princess is expected to be released soon that will feature Disney's first African-American princess. So what is she whining about? Hasn't she heard?

Secondly, Disney also already had an Asian princess. How come she hasn't adopted any Asian babies yet? What does she have against Asian children? See how silly it is if the same rule is applied in reverse?

Oy... I think I need more coffee...


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Disney Pilgrimage

This is a hilarious trip-planning to WDW of a family from Stillwater, OK.

It is a pilgrimage. In case you haven’t noticed, Disney has become a religion. First of all, it costs a tenth of your income (gross, not net) just to make the trip and get into the park. Once in the park, it is nearly impossible to avoid purchasing several of the “religious” icons. And you spend a lot of time praying, mostly that:

1. The heat doesn’t kill you;

2. The food doesn’t kill you;

3. The Brazilians don’t kill you.

They obviously had a previous encounter with a bunch of rowdy Brazilian school kids that are a common sight over the summer.

I don't they have to worry about the heat on their next trip, since they are going over the New Year holidays. However, the crowd will kill them this time since this is the WORST time of the year to go there! So good luck to the Hoover family!


Cirque du Soleil Nnveils Tarot-Inspired Show at Tokyo Disney

Cirque Du Soleil is opening another permanent show on a Disney Resort. This time, it will be at Tokyo Disneyland Resort and it will be called "Zed"! :)

Zed was inspired by the world of tarot. The show's title comes from the name of the main character, Zed the fool, said its director Francois Girard at a media preview.

Let's see if it is as good (or even better) than La Nouba at WDW.


Fire Department Works To Protect Disney

In light of the devastating fire that swept through Universal Studios Hollywood, here is a news article on the Reedy Creek Fire Dept. that protects all of Walt Disney World's property, guest, and employees.

"We do bi-monthly inspections on every structure out here, and in that bi-monthly inspection they're checking exit ways to make sure exit ways are clear, and they're checking storage to make sure we don’t have improper storage," said Jones.

"There are sprinklers in every occupied structure and in just about every unoccupied structure," Jones said.

We don't hear very often of the men and women whose jobs are to protect us and ensure our safety whenever we are at WDW. So its nice to hear even a bit on what they do.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Disney World Tips For Road Trip 2008

Daniel Terdiman at CNET is going on another one of his Road Trips. This time, he's starting it off in Orlando, and that means Walt Disney World. He is currently looking for suggestions on what to do, but with a certain criteria that fits into his Road Trip theme:

So here's the deal: I want to turn to you for advice on what would make the most sense for this project. And if you're the first person to send me a Disney World tip that I actually act on, I have a ticket to La Nouba, the Cirque du Soleil show there, for you.

Before you rush to send me an e-mail (daniel-dot-terdiman-at-cnet-dot-com) about your favorite ride, here's the catch: In order for me to take you up on the tip, it needs to fit into the theme of Road Trip. And the best way I can illustrate for you what works is to give you links here to the trips I did on Road Trip 2007 in the Southwest and on Road Trip 2006 in the Pacific Northwest. If your suggestion is in the same vein as what I've done the last couple of years, send it along.

What works: Tech angles; behind-the-scenes access; infrastructure; aviation themes; and the like. Whatever it is, it needs to be highly photogenic.

Yup. I've already sent in my suggestion, but I can't be around for the tickets if I win them.


Disney's Pin Celebration 2008 - Pin Trading University

It feels only like a few weeks since we were at the Expedition Pin event at Coronado Springs and Animal Kingdom. Now we are already registered and looking forward to our next pin event - Disney's Pin Celebration 2008. This is the largest yearly pin-event that Disney organizes, and typically gets attendance from pin fans from all over the world. This year, the theme is Pin Trading University and it will be held, as usual, at Epcot's World Showplace between Sept. 5-7 2008.

There are already artists drawings of the pins that will be released for that event. I haven't decided yet which ones I will get. I'm waiting for the actual pin pictures to be uploaded before deciding, especially when there's still plenty of time to fill up the Random Selection Process forms.

What is interesting this year is that the first day of the pin event (Sept. 5) is also the first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party of the year. Yup! It appears that they moved the party to an even earlier date this year. I think last year the first one started around Sept. 15. So the pin attendees contingent here from the Chicago pin trading group are also planning on attending that evening's MNSSHP. We attended one last year and had such a good time. We didn't plan on going again this year, but since it is there, and most of our good friends are going, heck, we can't pass it off. I just have to figure out a costume to wear that's different from last year, but is still easily packed in my luggage. Dressing as a pin-trading nerd is way too easy. :)

Lots of fun things to look forward to....


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Disney and Pixar: The Power of the Prenup


Not sure what brought this about, but the NY Times has a very in-depth look at the Disney-Pixar merger. What is fascinating is to take a look at how both Disney and Pixar have changed since then, especially on how John Lasseter has evolved in things that he was opposed to in the beginning.

But two years into the integration of Pixar — and as the company rolls out “Wall-E,” a risky love story about robots that is estimated to cost at least $180 million — the merger is notable for how well it’s faring. Indeed, in an industry where corporate marriages often create internal warfare (Paramount and DreamWorks SKG are the most prominent example) Disney and Pixar have found a way to make it work.

“Most acquisitions, particularly in media, are value-destroying as opposed to value-creating, and that certainly has not turned out to be the case here,” said David A. Price, author of a newly published book from Knopf, “The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company.”

There's a lot to read and digest here.