Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Real Truth Behind Tr2n's Comic-Con Surprise

For those who missed the brouhaha surrounding the recent surprised showing of the trailer to the sequel to Tron at Comic-Con, here is a summary of not only that, but also the behind-the-scenes story surrounding this sequel, called Tr2n.

I think the anticipation will only build towards its release date from now on.


Girl Mistakenly Left Behind at Epcot

Luckily, this has a happy ending.

An 11-year old special needs girl was mistakenly left behind at the Epcot parking lot during a field trip. Supposedly, this happened when they were changing buses to leave the theme park.

It is never a good thing to leave a child behind anywhere, but if it were to happen, I'm guessing that there's no better place than a Disney theme park. I'm still curious on how such a thing could happen. I know of teachers and chaperons on such trips that obsessively do a head count every time kids are on the bus before they move.


Cable, Parks Power Solid Quarter For Disney

I told you so!

Disney made solid gains in tough economic times for its fiscal 3rd quarter.

Its theme parks and resorts saw an increase in European visitors, encouraged by a weak dollar, contributing to 3% profit growth and 5% revenue growth. Its Florida and Paris parks logged strong traffic.

So, do the analysts that predicted a softening in the theme park numbers get to keep their jobs? Or do they simply change psychics?

Still, after posting numbers better than expected, I do not understand this reaction from the market:

Following its earnings report, Disney shares dropped 2.4% in after-hours trading to $30.90, canceling a 2.4% increase that occurred during the regular session.

This happens every time, with Disney and also with Apple from what I've seen. What gives? The financial sector has got to be one of the most irrational fields that I know of, as bad as politics.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

London Gains Flight to Orlando

This is a prime example of what I said earlier. As US domestic airlines cut services, international visitors and airlines are increasing their visits. This means that Orlando, and Disney, are getting more international visitors to off-set any decline in domestic visitors. This additional air service from London to Orlando is one such evidence that this is going on.

Let's see if this is reflected on the 3rd quarter financial report that Disney will release today.


First Trailer of "Princess and the Frog"

Disney has released the first trailer for their upcoming (and highly-anticipated) hand-drawn animation "Princess and the Frog". It is gorgeous!

Let's hope that they can overcome the advance controversy surrounding the storyline. I am truly hoping that this movie becomes a hit so that Disney will continue to make hand-drawn animation alongside the digital animation they and Pixar are producing.

Still, it is more than a year before the scheduled release of the movie. I can't wait!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake Shakes Disneyland

An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 hit the Los Angeles area today. This is a video report of the earthquake shaking Disneyland.


Mastering the Art of Theme Park Survival at Walt Disney World

This is another trip advice for anyone making their first trip to Walt Disney World. One thing sticks out:

Her survival key is a daily nap.

"With the big crowds and potential for headaches, down time is really important," she said. "Take a long lunch, a nap or a swim at noon, but break up the day into manageable pieces."

If you look at practically all of the trip advice that I've found on here, this seems to definitely be the most consistent advice being given. And it is also the main reason to find accommodations close to the parks. It makes going back to one's resort that much more convenient.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Disney's 3rd Quarter Earnings Due Wednesday

We'll know soon enough if the economic downturn is finally starting to affect Disney, and in particular, the theme park attendance. Disney is due to report its fiscal 3rd quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Analysts generally agree that Disney's theme-park business could soften late this year and into the next. International visitation has been robust, but they worry that domestic visitation could slow as airlines cut flights and raise fares. Major airlines are shedding capacity at Orlando International Airport, a gateway for visitors to the Walt Disney World resort.

"The theme-park business won't be nearly as bad as investors fear this quarter," Pali Capital Inc. analyst Rich Greenfield said. "But 2009 is much less clear and our concern grows substantially," at the end of this year.

Personally, I would continue to buy Disney stocks. If it drops below $30 again, it will become such an incredible buy, especially when the economy recovers.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random Selection Process for Pin Event

I finally completed by Random Selection Process (RSP) for pins that I wanted during the upcoming Pin Trading University pin event. When compared to previous years, I would say that I'm being a bit more conservative in my buying. No framed sets at all, and only one jumbo pin in my selection. I think my selection is more of what pins that I can use for trading, since some of these pins have very low release numbers.

It's amazing that some of the pins that we got from pin events a couple of years ago are now being snapped like hot cakes. There was a time that we couldn't even get people to look at these pins that have been in our pin trading books for months. Now, we could not keep them for barely 5 minutes before they are up for trading. After being in this pin-trading hobby for the past few years, I've yet to fully understand what goes and what doesn't. But I guess that's what makes it so much fun and so unpredictable.


The Balcony Is Closed

Most movie fans by know would have heard that both Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have left the Disney-produced "At The Movies", thus ending one of the most beloved and influential movie review program on TV that was started by Ebert and the late Gene Siskel.

Roger Ebert wrote a very moving piece about the show and saying goodbye to it. I still want to know if Disney made its decision based on the slowly-declining ratings of the show. I'm not sure if it would be a badge of honor to go down in history that "At The Movies" as we know it got changed while under your watch.


Disney Rumors Spur Money Grab In a Chinese City

This is why everyone involved is denying any kind of agreement or even negotiations in the rumor of a possible Disney theme park in Shanghai. Everyone wants to get a piece of the action, even those who have never heard of Disney.

Disney fever is sweeping Shanghai, and it has little to do with giddy anticipation of Mickey Mouse and company. It's about cash. Homeowners and businesses in the Shanghai village of Jinjia, where the rumors are focused, expect their properties will be bought up to make way for a Shanghai Disneyland. Residents expect that compensation will be proportional to the size of their houses, and even the number of trees on their property.

So, in a country with a well-known weakness for gambling, people are putting up new homes or adding extra rooms -- sometimes in defiance of local development laws -- for the shot at a payday.

So I guess that's one thing that Disney did right with Hong Kong Disneyland - building it on an island that was relatively uninhabited. :)

Still, what's happening in Shanghai isn't new. Walt certainly realized that this is what would happen when he was looking in Florida.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Wall-E Remove Controlled Robot Available For Pre-Order

It's finally here. Pre-order for remote controlled Wall-E is now available on Disney Shopping.

With all the included feature listed, and what it can do, it is rather funny that the one thing it can't do was the thing that defines it in the first place - waste allocation load lifter. In other words, it doesn't compact trash! :)

Guess if it does it, it would be an appliance.


Make-A-Wish Officials Troubled by False Chain e-mail

While this isn't directly about Disney, Make-A-Wish Foundation brings a lot of kids to Disney theme parks as that happens to be the most requested wish by the children. I want to highlight the despicable behavior of some creatures that dare to call themselves as "human beings" by taking advantage of the Make-A-Wish name and either produce some stupid chain mail or via some telemarketing scam.

However, Amy Bruce is a familiar name to the staff at the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Ann Arbor. A spokesman for the charity said Bruce is one of dozens of names that periodically pop up in chain letters. The spokesman said the chain letters are common enough, Make-A-Wish's national organization maintains a separate page on its a Web site,, about them.

"Words can not express how terrible that is," said Lapeer Superintendent Debbie Thompson. She said she's "totally disgusted" that someone would prey on people's willingness to reach out to a stricken child.

Most importantly, take note of the Make-A-Wish Foundation policy:

Make-A-Wish issued a statement earlier this month in response to complaints to its offices in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids from people upset over calls from telemarketers.

"I can assure the community that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is not affiliated with any telephone marketing efforts," said Susan Lerch, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. "The Foundation prides itself on its outstanding reputation and it saddens me to see that others are taking advantage of that reputation."

Lerch added, "As a matter of worldwide policy, the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not engage in telephone fund-raising for several reasons, mainly because so many find it distasteful and invasive.Ê Rather, the Make-A-Wish Foundation relies entirely on individual and corporate donations."

This organization deserves all the support that it can get, and all without using the annoying telemarketing route that some "charitable organizations" seem to be resorting to. Hope you can support the local chapter of Make-A-Wish in your area.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where's the Disney Princess to Please All?

With all the brouhaha surrounding the storyline of The Princess and the Frog even before it is even released, there's finally some sane view of this whole thing.

But here's the thing: Disney, the most powerful juggernaut in child and teen entertainment, didn't have to go there. Remember, Snow White is 81 years old, so Disney has been doing this for a long time without paying homage to black characters.

I'm not advocating against criticism. Some of it is valid and necessary because strong words may be the only thing that stand between a good film and "Song of the South," the 1946 film that embraced racist stereotypes.

But I differ from critics pushing for Disney to create perfection. I want the writers to be careful, but I also want little girls to know that girls other than those born to royalty find true love and their dreams.

And I hope that this Disney movie is as true to a winning formula as its past princess movies have been: A heroine in dire circumstances, aided by someone -- a genie, a fairy godmother, dwarves -- finds true love. I want Tiana to be revered for the same reason that other Disney girls were: They overcame obstacles.

The irony in all of this is that, casting stereotypes means that the person doing it has made a generalization of something he/she didn't quite fully understand or had the full, accurate picture. Now unless some of these critics of the Princess and the Frog had a sneak peak of the movie, then I'd say the vehement criticism of this movie has to come from the SAME "generalization of something he/she didn't quite fully understand or had the full, accurate picture".

I'd rather criticize something after that "thing" actually exists, so that I know what exactly is wrong with it. Call me silly.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beloved Disney-Pixar Characters Coming To Comic Books

I guess this is another avenue for revenue. Boom! Studios and Disney Publishing has just announced that several beloved Disney-Pixar characters will be published in comic books.

Comics will feature characters from the groundbreaking TOY STORY franchise and blockbuster FINDING NEMO film, as well as this summer's box office success WALL*E.

BOOM! Studios is also proud to announce Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid will be writing THE INCREDIBLES comic book, featuring cover art by DC: THE NEW FRONTIER writer and artist Darwyn Cooke!

I wonder who gets the control of the storyline.


Where In Walt Disney World

OK, here's another picture of Walt Disney World. Guess where this is from.


Pull The Trigger On Disney

See, someone else besides me also thinks that Disney stocks is a good buy right now.

At $30 a share, Disney(DIS - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) is a buy, said Cramer. Gasoline prices are likely to drop to $3.50 a share. While the weak dollar will make it difficult to travel internationally, Americans are going to flock to Disney World, he said.

Disney's High School musical is fabulous and its channel ABC is doing well. "Disney is ready to rock at $30. Pull that trigger," he said.

Like I said earlier, considering that all the statistics and the anecdotal observation of the resorts having such high booking rate for the rest of the year, the forecast of some financial "analysts" of Disney not going to do well is rather ... er ... strange. Are these the same analysts that caused Apple stocks to tumble just after they just posted record earnings? Go figure!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Sun-Times' Roeper Splits with Disney's 'At the Movies'

This is normally not a big news about a movie reviewer splitting a movie review TV show. But here in Chicago, this is big news, almost as big as who would replace Gene Siskel after he passed away. It seems that Richard Roeper will be leaving At The Movies that he had hosted with Roger Ebert due to contractual disagreement.

Roeper, who remains under contract until mid-August, said in his statement that "much transpired ... behind the scenes" after he fielded an initial offer months ago to extend his contract, "but an agreement was never reached and we are all moving along."

That is too bad! Roeper worked extremely well with Ebert and the show becomes not only a good source for movie reviews, but also quite entertaining on its own right. I certainly dread the news that Disney is contemplating a more "Entertainment Tonight"-type of a program. I don't need to watch any more shows about celebrity gossips and news.

Roger, can't you do something?


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fantasmic Cut To 2 Nights Per Week Starting January

It's been reported that WDW will cut Fantasmic to only twice a week starting in January. Presumably, this will be effective throughout the "slow" period of the year.

Hum... what does this mean about WDW's projected financial health and attendance due to the slowing economy? Are they as influenced by the projection done by the other financial analysts?

My personal experience at attempting to get our preferred reservations seems to indicate that they are booked solid through the New Year. So I'm certainly not privy to any of the projection they might have into next year.


A Disney Store Just Lost My Business

Yesterday, I went to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, just outside of Chicago. This is the mall that also has the Disney Dooryway To Dreams DVC center. Anyway, had a nice, short chat with the cast members there at DDD store and then proceeded to the Disney Store in the same mall to buy a few things. Now, keep in mind that this is Saturday, at around 4:30 pm. We just had a tough time finding parking at this huge mall complex. So if there's such a thing as a peak time, this WAS the peak time for shopping at the mall.

So I picked up a few things that I wanted to buy, and proceeded to pay for it. That's when I noticed that there was only ONE cashier! The line was at least 10 deep when I got to the back of it, and soon after, 3 more people got in line behind me. The line still had not moved. I looked around, and there was at least 2 other employees (are they now cast members as well?) around the store in addition to the one working the cash register. This was INSANE! Again, keeping in mind that this was PEAK period for shopping on a Saturday.

I don't know if they're having management problems, or staffing problems, or what during this transition period. But even while under Children's Place management, I never saw a time when a line gets this long that they did not open another register if it was possible to check people out. It makes no sense because these are people who are about to give you their money.

After standing in line for a few minutes and not moving, and not seeing any other employees attempting to open another register to handle the customers, I changed my mind. I put back the merchandise that I took, and simply walked away without purchasing anything.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Did Disney Lose Your Social Security Number?

OK, the title here is a bit (OK, a lot) misleading, but this is the title in this news article. It involves people who own Disney shares, but not all of them are at risk here of having their social security number falling into the wrong hands.

But its stock in now involved in a security breach....after New York's Mellon Bank reported the possible theft of 4 million names and Social Security Numbers.

Mellon bank was as a "transfer agent" for Disney shares. The Walt Disney company was not involved in this breach in any way.

However, Mellon and Disney are now alerting some shareholders their Socials may be compromised, and that they should sign up for credit monitoring, which they are offering free of charge.

If you haven't heard anything from Disney, then you shouldn't have to worry. But really, with all the problems already going on with such things, why are things like this still happening?

BTW, we own Disney stocks and are one of those people who were contacted by Disney and offered with the free 1-year credit tracking.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Travel to WDW is Up Among Carolinians

AAA is reporting that there is a 20% increase in the number of Carolinians who are making a trip to Walt Disney World.

The increase may be because Orlando is close enough to make Walt Disney World a drive-to destination.

AAA officials say that it is typically cheaper for a family of three or four in the Carolinas, to drive than fly to Orlando.

I would guess that this is the trend at the other states as well that is within reasonable driving distance to Orlando. Now couple this with the attractiveness of overseas visitors to visit the US, one can already see that WDW will continue to see the same, if not more, attendance this year despite the higher cost of fuel and other goods. So one often wonders whether analysts such as this actually really understand what they are doing when they predict a downturn at Disney theme parks. I mean, some fools predicted the same thing for the last fiscal quarter, and look at how wrong they were!

Now, add to that, USA Today had just listed WDW as one of the 5 affordable places for a US vacation.


Rediscovering the Disney Magic

This is a fun trip report, but unlike any other. It was written by someone (a mom) who, at first, no longer had any interest in going to a Disney theme park.

Moving to Orange County got us closer to Disneyland, but by the time I graduated from Saddleback High School, the D-land thrill was gone for me. What tore it was senior grad night when we were locked into the park until 5 a.m. Gads! There were probably fewer places to sleep in Disneyland than there were for make-out sessions. I spurned the park like a boyfriend that had outlived his shiny promise.

Anytime talk of a trip came up from my own kids, I'd start figuring out who but me could take them. Grandma Jaci came through most times. Last year, husband Joe and his fake knee took daughter Hannah and her friend Kristen to the Pirates of The Caribbean "At World's End" premiere. I was only mildly curious about the celebrities. I was more intrigued that they got to skip all the ride lines due to his handicap (the freaking ride lines, come on!).

Still, this has a happy ending. Well, sort of if you ignore the lost cell phone (which was found the next day) and kids starting to become grouchy at the end of the day. She even liked California Adventure!

Hoo boy, is Disney spot on with California Adventures or what? Pshaw to anybody that thinks a fake California doesn't have merit. Soarin' Over California almost made me cry it was so super cool! Never mind that the ticket taker wouldn't let us cut the line. Our Fastpass was no sweat and my disbelief was totally suspended. That ride alone made the price of admission worthwhile.

Good for her!



Epcot's Food and Wine Festival Snags Bocuse d’Or

Wow. This is certainly a major coup, and definitely "on theme"! This year's Epcot's Food and Wine Festival will also have, during its first week, the US semifinal of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition.

I've always thought that a prestigious competition like this should be hosted during Food and Wine Festival. It only makes sense. And if you have watched the Food Network on any regular basis, you'll notice that they have a lot of Food Network Challenge competitions. A few of those had been held at WDW. So one would think that they would have, if they haven't already, timed this to coincide with the F&W Festival. They could host a Food Network challenge competition every year during the festival.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lou Mongello Audio Guide To WDW

It's only natural that Lou Mongello, host of WDW Radio Show podcast, would produce an audio guide to WDW.

In his new audio guide, he gives listeners a more extensive and in-depth look into the elements of Walt Disney World that make it special for him and so many other Disney enthusiasts.

From the Victorian charm of Main Street USA to the African jungles in Adventureland, Lou Mongello details hidden treasures, secrets, and an extensive history of Walt Disney World in his new milestone audio series. He paints a vivid picture for listeners based on years of research and his own experiences visiting the park and reveals details about the park that will resonate with both first time visitors and Disney enthusiasts. The tour is particularly useful for visually impaired guests who want to enhance their Walt Disney World experience.


Everything Maple Product at the Canada Pavilion at Epcot

Just in case someone is interested (like I do) in knowing a bit more about some of the products one can buy from Disney, especially the authentic items from the various pavilions at Epcot. The maple products sold at the Canada pavilion comes from Everything Maple, and this news article has a short blurb on the company and how they got their stuff at Epcot.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ten Disney-Pixar WALL-E Trivia Questions

I guess Wall-E will be opening July 18 in the UK, but already this website based on Scotland has a set of trivia questions based on the movie. See how many you can get right, especially those of you who have seen it! :)

While we are on Wall-E, Digital Spy (also based in the UK, I think) has an interview with Angus Maclean on various elements in the movie, including what many people conceived as the environmentalism/anti-corporate message in the movie.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Couple Hopes to Sell Pig with Unique Birthmark to Disney

Chalk this up to another one of those quirky news. A couple in Wisconsin is hoping to sell this pig to Disney. Why? Well, this pig has a very unique birth mark. You guessed it! It looks like a Mickey head! :)

But the Chamberlins knew right away Miss Minnie Piggie was no ordinary oinker, considering the strong resemblance her birthmark bears to Mickey Mouse, a cartoon character created by animators Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1928.

"We want to give her as long a life as we can," said Nancy Chamberlin. "She's priceless."

Maybe, but the Chamberlins are hoping someone will put a price tag on their prize animal, and they've contacted attorneys from the Walt Disney Co. in hopes that the company will purchase the pig. They haven't heard anything back yet.

If you go to the news article, look at the 2nd picture they have. It shows a clearer image of the birthmark.

Maybe Disney can keep the pig with the other Thanksgiving turkeys that got the presidential pardons. Now, if this pig happens to have a friend that is a duck with the name of Ferdinand, we might be on to something... :)


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Obama Reviews 'WALL-E'

Barack Obama took time off from campaigning and saw Wall-E with his family. Of course he gave it an equivalent of 4 stars! :)


Disney Without Tears

Here's another trip advice for WDW. The analogy with a buffet is certainly different, but makes sense nevertheless. So we can add this to the many trip advice post that we already have in this blog.

Still, the common theme running through all of these trip advices (even mine), is this:

If you are staying nearby, leave the park for an afternoon break. Take a nap or a dip in the pool. Sure, you could spend that two hours waiting in a line in the park, but isn't it more logical to step back, enjoy a little conversation and return when it's cooler and the park is less crowded?

Attendance typically peaks around 3 p.m. The parks are often open until 10 p.m. or later, and many times the lines dissipate by early evening. Plus, if you get stuck in a line, it will be 80 degrees instead of 100.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gifts From DDD at WCPT Pin Meet

I mentioned that we each got a bag of free gifts from our special Windy City Pin Traders meet at the Disney Doorway To Dreams store this past Thursday. So here are a couple of pictures of the gifts we got in our gift bags.

This is the content of the gift bag (it also includes a food coupon for a free appetizer to the Rainforest Cafe, which I've already given away). It was a good collection of goodies (unfortunately, they ran out of the special DDD Mickey Ears hat) that includes a few DVC promotional items (of course). But the best was the collection of pins in the plastic bag.

The pins are all special DVC exclusive pins that can only be found at Disneyland. I know that I don't have any of them, till now. Just the Donald DVC pin alone was worth driving all the way to Woodfield Mall in the middle of storm for. So we are extremely pleased with the pins that they have given us.

So thanks to all the DDD Cast Members for making it such a fun evening.


Comparison of Adventures By Disney Tours

This is rather interesting. I haven't seen comparison done like this before (or lately).

This article compares how Adventures by Disney tours handle its reservation and tours based on the information one can gather by simply calling the published number. The article compares that with 2 other tour operators.

It certainly is obvious that the Adventures by Disney reservation system comes up way on top. It is summarized clearly by these points:

* Adventures by Disney, by far, made the best first impression among the three companies we compared.
* Adventures by Disney had the most complete package. The price was not lowest but still good value.
* Adventures by Disney did not forget the younger travelers, in their package planning.


Friday, July 11, 2008

WCPT Pin Meet at DDD - Pictures

This is a pictorial follow up to the Windy City Pin Traders Pin Meet at the Disney Doorway to Dreams store at Woodfield Mall. Luckily, while I left my camera and cell phone behind, someone did manage to snap a few pictures of the event (thanks, Patti!). So here they are:

Entrance to the DDD center.

Members of the WCPT are gathering for the initial welcome by the DDD Cast Members. A total of 44 members had RSVP to attend, which is quite a large number.

Diane at the DDD center holding a special gift box to be raffled off to one lucky WCPT members. Alas, yours truly didn't win it!

A closer look at the gift box.

WCPT members were welcomed to look around the DDD center at the AKL room models and around the store. Obviously, many of us were interested in looking at the layout of the new DVC's Kidani Village at AKL that will start taking reservations soon.

It was a wonderful event. Thanks Gene, and all the DDD Cast Members who made it such a pleasant, fun evening. It made many of us feel closer to "home" when we're so far away from our favorite Disney theme parks.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

WCPT Pin Meet at DDD

Well, so much for blogging live. Can't do that if I forgot to bring my cell phone, which was what happened tonight at the Windy City Pin Traders special pin trading event at the Disney Doorway to Dreams DVC center at Woodfield Mall.

Still, it was a wonderful event. The cast members at the center were all extremely pleasant and very welcoming. There were very little, no-pressure spiel on DVC, especially for those who were not already members. Most of the time, they just let us set up our pin trading stations and off we went! We had a great time doing quite a bit of pin trading with other traders, and the cast members went around having lively conversations with everyone. It was a great event!

We also got free gifts. I'll take a picture of all the items we got, but the best was the set of 4 DVC pins from Disneyland! That certainly was the highlight of the evening.

Oh, we were told that there will be some renovations done to the center, and they're hoping to have a reopening beginning next month with another special event. So that would be a good time to make a trip out there again.


WCPT at DDD Tonight

If you know what that means, then it must mean you are part of the WCPT group! :)

That cryptic topic means that the Windy City Pin Traders will be attending a special pin trading event at the Disney's Doorway To Dreams store at Woodfield Mall this evening. The members of the group have been graciously invited by this DVC preview center to have a special event at its location. Of course, we fully expect that they will have some sort of a sales pitch for either buying into the DVC or adding more points to existing DVC membership. However, we were told that, along with some food and refreshments, there will be special gifts and pins for each attendee (which WCPT members have to RSVP in advanced). And who does not like freebies?

Your truly will be attending this special event and will try to report live from it this evening if possible.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Reservations Begins at Kidani Village

The new wing of the Disney Vacation Club villas called the Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge will accept guests starting on May 1st, 2009. So DVC members that have AKL as their home resort can start booking units at the new villas starting on Aug. 10, 2008 (the start of the 11-month window). This is reported in the new DVC members newsletter.

This is exciting news, because getting a DVC unit at AKL has been extremely difficult. Hopefully, with the opening of the new section, more members can get to stay at this gorgeous resort.


Disney's Greatest Songs

LA Times staff writer Susan King has a compilation of what she considers as Disney's greatest songs from their movies.

Strangely enough, it included the 2 most memorable tunes in Wall-E that isn't original to the movie, but rather came from "Hello Dolly".


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Winter of Disney's Discontent

I read this latest Jim Hill Media report and my jaw just about dropped!!

The one that I could not fathom is the removal of the character dining in the evening at Liberty Tree Tavern. That's utterly unthinkable, considering how extremely popular that whole experience is. I totally agree with Jim Hill with this one that it is total BS that Disney is claiming that the guests ".. asked for less character dining.." If this is true, then it is totally inconsistent with what they did to Arkeshus at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, which was turned into a character dining a couple of years ago. I'd rather they remove that and bring back what they had before, which had rather excellent food.

They'd better not touch the food quality and the character dining at Crystal Palace. That's all I will say.

OK, now I'm depressed!


Laughing Place Interview With Kevin Lansberry, Vice President of Downtwon Disney

Laughing Place has a timely interview with Kevin Lansberry, the Vice President of Downtown Disney. Of course, the news regarding the closure of Pleasure Island is the topic of the interview.

There are few more insight into what they have in mind, but most of it is still under wraps. I am, however, looking forward to the tethered balloon ride. That might be very cool, especially at night.


Expired WDW FastPasses On Sale At EBay


This is one of those things that I don't get. It appears that there's a brisk market for expired FastPasses on eBay. I'm guessing that these are days old fastpasses. I'm quite puzzled on why people would buy such things. The only thing that I can think of is that they're hoping that they could use one of these fastpasses at the attraction with the Cast Member not noticing the different date, since they are more intent on checking the return time.

Of course, if you read the article, Disney is not going to sit back and do nothing. I can easily see them going with some barcode reader so that it no longer requires a human to read and verify not only the time, but also the date and the authenticity of the fastpasses. But what irks me the most is the comment from one of the vendor who sells these things:

"This is the first time I've ever sold any FastPasses," the unidentified seller stated in an e-mail. "You might be better off asking someone with a little more experience. If Disney didn't scam ME every time I blinked, I wouldn't feel it necessary to try to make a little money back from our trip. You can put that in your write up. :) Thanks for asking."

This is so LAME! Scam this person every time he/she blinks? And this is the justification for this person to do this? So because he/she wants to get even with Disney, Disney will institute a more rigid system for the rest of us who continues to visit the theme parks (I'm assuming he/she won't be coming back since we all don't want this person to get "scammed" again, do we?). This person does this without thinking of the consequences and how it will affect the rest of us. Think of what our society would become if we all think that we are entitled to take up such similar actions just because we had the perception (and really, there's always 2 sides to the coin on almost every issue here) that we had been wronged.

Some people just need to get over themselves already!


Presto Now Available On iTunes

Thanks to John Frost at The Disney Blog for pointing this out. Presto, the short film that was shown before Wall-E, is now available on iTunes.

It is a hilarious, old-fashioned slapstick cartoon animation.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Get Your Caffeine Fix at WDW's Ticket and Transportation Center

It's true! You can now get coffee and pastries at the WDW Ticket and Transportation Center. The place that used to be nothing more than a "wasteland" in between people hurrying to get to The Magic Kingdom or to their cars have opened a booth for such refreshment, as reported in the theme park rangers column of the Orlando Sentinel, complete with a picture.

Still, if they only serve Nescafe coffee, it isn't something that I'm impressed with. And speaking of which, with Nestle pulling its sponsorship of The Land, is Disney still tied to only serving Nestle's product where ever available? It would be nice if they start serving very good coffee for a change.


Wall-E for President

OK, so I have seen this NY Times piece covered at several websites and a few blogs (see The Disney Blog and CNN blog). Still, it is a must read, especially to Americans who are facing a very important decision soon. Besides, it isn't too often that a Pixar movie gets mixed in with American politics and presidential election. When was the last time that happened?



Sunday, July 06, 2008

Disneyland's Guests Will Have To Wait For The New Monorail A Bit Longer

The Mark VII monorail that has been tested on and off at Disneyland is not quite ready yet for Prime Time.

On Saturday the long-awaited new train, the park's only upgrade of the attraction in 21 years, failed to appear after several hours of on-again, off-again operation over the previous two days.

Disney officials attributed the glitches to the attraction's normal "test and adjust" period, when mechanics and designers work out the bugs.

"We are working on solving them," spokeswoman Betsy Sanchez said of the unspecified problems.

She would not predict when the ride would open full time.

It certainly is pretty slick when they were first introduced. I don't remember the last time they introduced new monorail vehicles, but did they had the same lengthy problem as well back then?


Wall-E World

You know a movie is having an impact if the discussion about it goes beyond just the normal channel. It appears that the world created in Wall-E has generated quite a discussion.

From “I Am Legend” to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” recent pop culture has been full of post-apocalyptic stories. But “Wall-E” departs from those tales in one key aspect: The human race in this movie isn’t becoming extinct, it’s just on an indefinite vacation. In the future created by “Wall-E’s” filmmakers, we humans flee our ruined planet in 2110 for giant, cruise-ship-like space vessels, where we drift numbly through the solar system for the next 700 years. Coddled by servant robots, carted around on levitating recliner chairs, fed through Big Gulp-like cups and medicated by programming on ever-present hologram TVs, we have become infantile and morbidly fat.

In this way, “Wall-E” takes 21st-century societal trends – ecological destruction, rampant consumerism, corporate consolidation and obesity – and projects them forward to their most drastic consequences. Right-wing bloggers already have attacked what they see as the movie’s save-the-Earth message, although they might be heartened to see that in “Wall-E’s” vision of the future, government doesn’t seem to exist (the spacecraft are operated by Buy N’ Large).

Sometime, a cigar is just a cigar. I don't buy into the idea that there's a message here. It is simply a good story. If one is inclined to take care of our planet better after seeing this movie, what is so wrong with that?


Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Solid Surface for Disney Success

Here's a coverage, by the New York Times no less, of something that is often neglected, the Disney On Ice production. It reveals how this has become an important aspect of the company to introduce the Disney brand into markets that are difficult for the company to penetrate.

Disney on Ice, once a backwater that the media giant practically ignored, has quietly grown into an important tool for the company as it seeks to further exploit its creative franchises and turn young children into Disneyphiles. Moreover, the shows — which are populated with figure skaters dressed as Disney cartoon characters — are helping the company expand into difficult foreign markets, analysts say.

“People forget that these kinds of live shows can be extremely powerful brand builders,” said Alan Gould, an analyst at Natixis Bleichroeder in New York.

The article describes one example where the ice shows have managed to generate considerable interest in Disney merchandise.

But the company has been able to use a powerful lever — Disney on Ice — to increase demand among Russians. Last year, Moscow and St. Petersburg played host to “Princess Classics,” a skating show meant to introduce children to characters like Snow White.

The tour, Disney’s second such effort in the country, sent retail sales of Disney merchandise soaring and generated positive local media reports. Three more tours are in the works.

For me, the Disney On Ice show is another opportunity to get into the Disney spirit (I've been now to wear my Mickey Ears hat to one of these shows) in between our trips to WDW.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Sign Language is Part of Disney's World

This is something I don't know before. I mean, I know they have services for hearing-impaired guests, but I didn't know that they had invented a number of Disney-specific signs.

Throughout Walt Disney World, stage shows, parades and a few of the other attractions offer American Sign Language Interpretation services, at least once a week, for deaf and hearing-impaired visitors. Everything at Disney has a name, and the company has never been shy about inventing its own words, which is why it has invented hundreds of Disney-specific word signs.

Of course, some of these signs are rather obvious for anyone who knows about Disney.

How about this instead? Walt Disney World manager Mark Jones curls his fingers on both hands, thumbs on the bottom, to form opposing "C" figures, places them on top of his head, and then smiles.

Chances are, most people -- hearing or deaf -- would get the improvised mouse ears as the sign for Mickey Mouse -- even though Disney officials made it up themselves.

I will have to learn the sign language for Donald.

Donald Duck? Jones gave the sign for the letter D, then formed a beak with one hand, straight fingers on top, thumb on the bottom. He put the back of his hand to his lips, and then flapped his thumb.


Stars And Stripes Forever (Muppets Version)

To commemorate 4th of July today, enjoy the Muppets version of Stars and Stripes Forever.


Disney: 'Reslience and Value'

This is an analysis of the financial outlook of the Walt Disney Company.

"However, Disney (NYSE: DIS) is one of those consumer-dependent stocks where conventional wisdom may not be correct," he adds in his The DRIP Investor.

"The stock offers a solid value at current prices, and investors would do well to buy aggressively on pullbacks below $30.

Holy Cow! He's giving our secrets away! That's what we've been doing all along every time it dips below $30, which isn't very often.



"Little Mermaid" Ride Coming to California Adventure?

It appears that there's a delicious rumor that "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" attraction will be coming to Disney's California Adventure. With an estimated price tag of $100 million, this is going to be a part of DCA's rehab.

Artist sketches show Mermaid riders sitting in clamshell vehicles similar to the Haunted Mansion’s doombuggies, but Screamscape says it’s still possible an overhead track similar to Peter Pan’s Flight dark ride might be employed.

With a heavy emphasis on the movie’s soundtrack, Voyage of the Little Mermaid storyboards show the ride traveling through five scenes representing every major musical number:
* Part of Your World
* Poor Unfortunate Souls
* Under the Sea
* Kiss the Girl
* Part of Your World (Redux)

I just hope that the hype doesn't result in anything similar to the disappointing Nemo attraction at The Seas With Nemo and Friends in Epcot.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Independence Day

To all Americans celebrating the Independence Day, Happy 4th of July!


Harvey Weinstein Manipulated Disney?

This tell-all "book" by an ex-employee of Harvey and Bob Weinstein claim that they manipulated Disney while they were still running Miramax for Disney.

The so-far-anonymous author - who signed off an e-mail to Page Six as "The Final Nail" - claims, "The book, which is told from a deep insider's [point of view], will detail the day-to-day . . . manipulation of the Disney company by the Weinstein Bros." Disney owns Miramax, with which the Weinsteins are no longer involved.

Really? I find that rather hard to believe. But then again, this was during the Eisner regime, so who knows.....


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Disney Your Way

I don't mind admitting that I'm a big sucker for reading about fond memories that people have at a Disney theme park. I just love reading about how the little things that happened, especially when cast members go out of their way to make those little magic, can really create a lifetime of memories.

So this is why I had a lot of fun reading the latest issue of the Disney Insider. They devoted the main section to guests' account of the wonderful things that happened to them while they're at a Disney park. I wish they could have more of this in every issue.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

At Pixar, Everyone Gets to be a Critic

This MSNBC piece at the way Pixar works is quite informative. The only time that I remember reading about a similar culture is the working conditions at Google. I guess when you have that degree of success, a lot of perks and privileges come along with it. With Pixar, the best that Disney can do is let them be the way they are.

It still going to be interesting, though, to see what happens when things don't go so well. I wonder how long before the suits step in and interfere when things start to go sour. However, at the rate that things have been going, I don't foresee that happening anytime soon.