Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Bolt" Increases Its Box Office Take

"Bolt" performed better this weekend than it did during its opening weekend!

Disney's "Bolt", playing in 3,654 runs, pulled off a stunning coup in showing a 1.4% increase over last weekend. Family film grossed an estimated $36 million for five days, and $26.6 million for the weekend, for a cume of $66.9 million in its 10th day.

Not bad! This movie may have staying power well into the holiday season.


Random WDW Picture

Tigger was such a playful creature at Crystal Palace.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Disney Accused by Catholic Cleric of Corrupting Children's Minds

Corrupting, he says!

Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, has accused the corporation of "exploiting spirituality" to sell its products and of turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.

He argues that it pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture.

Oh brother!

When someone makes silly statement like this, the physicist in me always wants to ask a direct question: Can you please point to me valid evidence to back up your claim and to show that you simply just didn't make this up? In other words, show that there are children who were influenced by Disney, and ONLY by Disney, despite different backgrounds and conditions, and were "corrupted" by it.

I can easily argue that the things he believe in are more corrupting than Disney, but I won't.


Disney's Bolt Teaches Important Lessons for Kids

Here's something that might have been overlooked by many of us who saw "Bolt" and were entertained by it. "Bolt" may provide valuable lessons, especially for kids, regarding pets and pet care.

Even with all of this reality seeping through the plot of the movie, the two best messages from Disney’s Bolt are:

* Each pet is a unique being and not simply replaced or exchanged for another.
* Owning a pet is a lifelong commitment to that animal and not a property you dispose of because you have lost interest.


Friday, November 28, 2008

JC Penney's Disney Snowglobes 2008 - Follow-Up


Our trip to JC Penney this morning (very EARLY this morning) to get the Disney snowglobes was a success. We got our snowglobes before the hordes of people descended upon the store.

Our trip to Best Buy to get the 3-disc Blu-Ray of Wall-E was less successful. They had NONE left. They had the 2-disc Blu-Ray, the 2-disc DVD, and the 3-disc DVD, but no 3-disc Blu-Ray. I suppose we could have gone to Target, but they were going to open at 6:00 am, and there was an obscenely long line already forming outside the store in 30-degree (that's Fahrenheit) weather to get into the store when it opens. We wanted Wall-E, but not THAT much. So we opted out to get the discs another time.


JC Penney's Disney Snowglobes 2008

I'm up at 3:30 am to get ready to go out to JC Penney to get the free Disney snowglobes, just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.....

Some time this feels rather nuts, but once we get there, the rush of the shopping season somehow makes it fun! And we certainly can't break the tradition of collecting these cheap, worthless snowglobes, for some strange reason. :)


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Disney Holds Hawaiian Ground Blessing Ceremony

We had reports earlier of the ground breaking ceremony for Disney's Hawaiian resort. Disney has now released the video of the ceremony.


Seen Any Hidden Mickeys Lately?

One of the "curse" of being a Disney nut is that you start to find Disney-related things around you that often have nothing to do with Disney. One of the things I enjoy doing whenever I'm at a Disney theme park is to try and spot the Hidden Mickeys that have been cleverly placed all over the parks. This is fine and dandy, but for some odd reason, that "haunt" continues subconsciously even when I'm back in the real world away from anything remotely Disney! :)

Case in point. This is a nice, simple, innocent article about the physics of complex network systems. There's an image that accompanies the article, and I swear that I noticed at least 2 hidden Mickeys in that image! :)

I suppose this just means that I need help! :)


It's A Small World Holiday

Laughing Place has a complete ride-through video of the 2008 version of It's A Small World Holiday attraction.

I have 13 days left before my trip to WDW and get to see this first hand. :)


No More Pirates and Princess Party

Rumors running around all over the web is that Disney has already a plan in place after the first of the year to cut back on spending and costs. This includes a layoff of some cast members, cut back on operating hours, and no more Pirates and Princess party for the foreseeable future. A quick glance today at the WDW webpage for the Magic Kingdom reveals that the link to Pirates and Princess party is completely gone. So there may be some truth to the rumor here.

That's too bad, but that's expected with the anticipated decline in attendance for next year. It's one of those things where they're just going to try to hang on until the economy recovers. Coincidentally, after our upcoming December trip, for the first time in a long while, we have no solid plans on when we will be back at WDW, which is sad. I'm sure we'll make a trip some time during the year, but it is highly unusual for us not to have at least a tentative plan on our next trip.


So What Happens to Turkeys After Pardons?

More stories on the lucky turkeys that received the presidential pardons.

The first pardoned turkeys to go to Disneyland were Marshmallow and Yam in 2005. In his speech that year, President Bush joked that their retirement location had been changed because the turkeys "were a little skeptical about going to a place called Frying Pan Park," a historic farm park in Virginia that had been the home of the previous honorees.

Disney spokesman Duncan Wardle remembers it a bit differently. One Thanksgiving, chatting about the pardoned turkey over coffee, someone on his staff said, "Doesn't that make him the happiest turkey on earth? We should bring him to the happiest place on earth."

The funny part is that these turkeys had to go on a diet after all the excitement died down. :)

In any case, here's the video of the ceremony this year where the outgoing President Bush pardoned the turkeys. They are heading to Disneyland!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pardoned Thanksgiving Turkeys To Live At Disneyland

The two pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys this year will get to be the grand marshal in the Disneyland Thanksgiving parade. They then will get to live the rest of their lives at Disneyland.

Such a deal, those lucky birds.

To everyone who are in the US, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where in WDW?

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


Monday, November 24, 2008

Buzz Lightyear and John Lasseter in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Is this true? It appears that Buzz Lightyear will make his debut as one of those giant balloons during the upcoming Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. And what's even more interesting is that John Lasseter will be one of the balloon handler!

I guess there's a reason to watch the parade this year.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indy Racing Experience

I didn't know they started another "experience" at that race track near the Transportation and Ticket Center. It seems to be called "Indy Racing Experience", and it is alongside the original resident, the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Indy Racing Experience will operate alongside the track's long-time resident, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, which offers rides in stock cars specially built for the experience.

For $109 (£73), the Indy attraction also allows customers to be a passenger in a stretched-out, two-seat Dallara Indy car that has an Indy Chevrolet engine and is driven by a professional racer. The two-passenger car is worth $600,000 (£405,000), said Scott Jasek, co-owner of the Indy Racing Experience.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Videos From World Premier of "Bolt"

Laughing Place has a series of videos from the red carpet at the world premier of "Bolt" last Monday. There are interviews with several prominent people, including Bob Iger, Dick Cook, and John Lasseter. But pay attention to the Lasseter interview. He gave an advanced preview on what to expect from Cars Land at DCA.


Random WDW Picture

This is from Animal Kingdom Lodge, when we stayed there last February. This is what we get to see right outside of our room as we sat on the balcony.


"Bolt" Opens Today

"Bolt" officially opens today nationwide. So far, it has gotten generally good reviews:

Chicago Sun Times
It's not among the most original Disney animated films, yet ''Bolt'' is one of those movies that in the end does what it's supposed to do. It's charming, nicely paced, often quite funny and features well-chosen voice talent. Most important, it provides a satisfying entertainment ''meal.'' It's not a ''gourmet'' banquet on the order of ''Ratatouille'' or the first ''Shrek,'' but this peppy picture is certainly more than a cinematic ''snack,'' and for its 96-minute running time will not bore kids, the parents or other adults joining them.

But from the moment Bolt sticks his head out the window of a speeding truck and feels the breeze of freedom and free will, the picture snaps to life and instantly acquires heart (Lasseter's favorite movie organ).

NY Times
But if “Bolt” — originally conceived by the old regime at the Disney animation studios and refurbished after John Lasseter of Pixar took over — does not quite rise to the level of bona fide Pixar masterpieces like “Wall-E,” “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille,” it does manage to be frisky, funny and inventive enough to engage the attention of grown-ups as well as children. Perhaps some of the show-biz jokes will sail over the heads of very young viewers, who won’t understand why Penny’s unctuous agent keeps talking about sticking pins in things (I’m not sure I did), or what that mean lady from the network is so angry about.

LA Times
At the end of the day, "Bolt" is a sweet Disney family film, but Lasseter's oversight has made it smarter than it otherwise would have been. It's not in Pixar's league, but it's laced with idiosyncratic characters with pleasantly wacky attitudes. That may sound like the obvious thing to do but that doesn't mean anyone else has done it.

And of course, my own review of when I saw the preview of "Bolt" last weekend.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Disney Cruise Line Inaugurates Its 3D Theater With "Bolt"

The Disney Cruise line will inaugurates its 3D theater with the premier of "Bolt" in 3D.

The Disney Cruise Line is the first and only cruise line that has such 3D theater technology.


Disney Hawaii Resort Project Broke Grounds

The Disney Hawaii project at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina on Oahu broke grounds yesterday with the ground blessing ceremony.

From the description so far, it looks that the Imagineers are really going to try and make the resort as respectful and authentic as possible to the Hawaiian culture and spirit. But then again, we expect nothing less of then, do we?

Beyond activities for the whole family, the resort is being designed to respect and connect with the local culture of the Hawaiian islands. During the past year, the Walt Disney Imagineering team has been researching Hawai'i and working with local architects and cultural experts as part of the resort's creative design process. The resulting design is a village celebrating the Hawaiian customs and traditions that lead to a life filled with joy and in harmony with the natural world. To further incorporate Hawaiian traditions, cultural programming in the areas of environmental education, music, dance, history, and arts and crafts; a story-driven, technology-enabled adventure game; and other surprises come together to create a Hawaiian destination that's uniquely Disney.

I'm dying to know how many DVC points per night the resort will require, because this could easily be a very popular destination. But, that's a long ways away.


Oriental Land Aims to Attract Chinese Disney Fans

An interesting article on how the Oriental Land Holding Company, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland Resort, is trying to attract more Chinese visitors to the theme parks. This is in response to the aging Japanese population, and the economic recession that Japan is in the middle of.

With Japan's aging population and its economy in recession, Oriental Land is increasing overseas marketing and working with travel operators arranging package tours to its resorts. Visitors from abroad currently account for 4.2 percent of customers.

The number of Chinese tourists to Japan is ``expected to increase explosively'' and many of them will be visiting ``leisure locations such as Tokyo Disneyland,'' Masayuki Ohtani, a strategist at Securities Japan Inc. in Tokyo, said in a phone interview today.

Of course, there's the obvious issue on whether they are then competing with Hong Kong Disneyland for the same pool of people. Oriential Land dispute this, but the response appears to me to be a rather backhanded smack to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Increased marketing in China and other Asian countries doesn't mean competition is intensifying with the operator of Hong Kong Disneyland, the region's only other Disney theme park, Nagaoka said.

``Hong Kong Disneyland isn't our rival,'' he said. ``The Chinese tourists coming to our resort tend to be much wealthier than those that visit Hong Kong. We're targeting different demographics.''

What, only trailer park trash goes to Hong Kong Disneyland? :)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beauty And The Beast To Be Released In 3D in 2010

Holy Cow! More amazing news! Disney will release "Beauty and the Beast" in 3D in 2010!

SINGAPORE, Nov 19, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Further demonstrating its commitment to quality 3-D motion picture entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios has begun re-rendering its Oscar(R)-winning animated favorite, "Beauty and the Beast," in preparation for its Disney Digital 3-D(TM) debut on the big screen in 2010, it was announced today by Mark Zoradi, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. The announcement was made today in Singapore at 3DX: 3D Film and Entertainment Technology Festival, the industry's first conference devoted to the latest advances in 3-D technology and exhibition. The addition of "Beauty and the Beast" to its schedule brings the total number of Disney Digital 3-D releases to 11 for 2009-10.

Next year's 3-D schedule includes "Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Movie" (2/27/09), Disney-Pixar's "UP," (5/29/09), "G-Force" from Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films (7/24/09), the newly re-rendered Disney Digital 3-D debut of Disney-Pixar's "Toy Story" (10/2/09), and "Disney's A Christmas Carol," from director Robert Zemeckis (11/6/09) and starring Jim Carrey in multiple roles. In addition to "Beauty and the Beast," Disney's 3-D offerings for 2010 include Disney-Pixar's newly re-rendered 3-D version of "Toy Story 2," Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" starring Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, the debut of the all-new "Toy Story 3" from Disney-Pixar, Disney's enchanting new animated fairy tale, "Rapunzel," and from Touchstone Pictures the dance phenomenon "Step Up 3" (2010).

Creating a Disney Digital 3-D version of "Beauty and the Beast," which won two Oscars(R) and is the only animated feature to ever receive a Best Picture nomination from the Motion Picture Academy, will be handled entirely in-house at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and will utilize innovative proprietary software, along with the latest techniques and advances in 3-D technology. Overseeing the project from the creative end will be the film's original team of acclaimed filmmakers -- producer Don Hahn, and directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. A team of technical experts at Walt Disney Feature Animation will be headed by Sara Duran-Singer, senior vice president of Worldwide Post Production. The re-rendering is expected to take about nine months to complete, and will require a painstaking frame-by-frame analysis of the film's original computer files in order to create new images for each eye.
Commenting on the announcement, Zoradi said, "Disney is proud to be a pioneer in creating spectacular 3-D motion picture experiences, and we have a great lineup of animated and live-action features to satisfy moviegoers of all ages. The re-rendering of our animated classic 'Beauty and the Beast' into Disney Digital 3-D is another exciting step for this medium, and further proof of our commitment to the art and technology of 3-D filmmaking. With our animated feature 'Bolt' set to hit 3-D theaters later this month, and eleven more 3-D features on the schedule over the next two years, our Studio is taking the lead position in bringing quality 3-D entertainment to moviegoers all over the world. Disney has created some fantastic new proprietary software to make the 3-D imagery better than ever, and we think audiences are going to love experiencing these films in a whole new dimension."

Don Hahn, producer of the original "Beauty and the Beast" feature as well as the upcoming Disney Digital 3-D version, adds, "It's a real thrill to be reunited with the film's original directors, Kirk and Gary, in bringing new magic to this beloved animated classic. By going back to the original animation files, which have been carefully archived for 17 years, and using the separate background, effects and character animation elements, we're able to come up with a fun and unique 3-D experience for existing and new fans of the film. With its exciting story, dazzling musical numbers, and landmark computer animated ballroom sequence, 'Beauty and the Beast' lends itself particularly well to the 3-D process, and moviegoers will feel more connected than ever with the fairy tale world of Belle, Beast and the castle's enchanted objects. It's wonderful to revisit some of our favorite animated friends, and to bring them to life in a whole new way."

Originally released in 1991, "Beauty and the Beast" proved to be a major success at the box office (the first animated feature to cross the $100 million plateau in its initial release), a favorite with moviegoers all over the world and an important milestone for the art of animation. In addition to its unprecedented Oscar(R) nomination for Best Picture, it received five other nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (and won trophies for Best Song and Best Original Score). The film also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy/Musical and garnered two Grammy Awards. A Broadway stage musical, based on the film, played from 1994 through 2007, and became the sixth-longest running production in Broadway history with 5,464 performances.

SOURCE The Walt Disney Studios

I will put my money on this being a big hit. Call me crazy.


Disney Embraces Imax

Disney has signed on to release 5 pictures in the Imax format, and they could also all be in 3D!

The agreement with Imax increases the number of screens capable of showing the films beyond those theaters using Real D's technology.

Imax Corp. co-Chairman and co-CEO Richard L. Gelfond said his company's decision to embrace digital projection laid the groundwork for the Disney deal.
Director Robert Zemeckis' "A Christmas Carol," a 3-D retelling of the classic Charles Dickens tale due out for the 2009 holiday season, is the first film slated for Imax release.

The director will use the same motion-capture technology and computer-generated images he popularized with the film "Polar Express" to re-create 19th century London and the performance of actor Jim Carrey.

Certainly something to look forward to.

Now, if only they could do the same "upgrade" to Soarin'! Make it into a 3D show, think of how spectacular it could be.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Picture of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter?

This is what I was sent (thanks, Ralph!). This is Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland".

Disney will have to make a whole new set of hats to match this one.


Microsoft Research and Disney-Pixar's WALL-E Explore the Real Universe

More press releases related to Disney, but this time it was released by Microsoft. It is on something that's quite exciting.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Research teamed up with Disney-Pixar to create a virtual tour of the universe hosted by none other than WALL-E, the animated robot from Disney-Pixar's latest film, "WALL-E," which is available in stores today on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can take the tour and view the universe from WALL-E's perspective by visiting A teaser for the tour can also be seen on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Along for the adventure with WALL-E, Academy-Award-winning director Andrew Stanton narrates the tour. "Using Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope, WALL-E takes you on a real ride through space," Stanton said. "After watching the movie on DVD, the whole family will be inspired to learn more about the world in which we live and the universe beyond."

WorldWide Telescope is a rich Web application that brings together imagery from the best ground- and space-based observatories across the world to allow people to easily explore the night sky through their computers. WorldWide Telescope has been embraced by the astronomical and education communities as a compelling, astronomical resource for students and lifelong learners.

"WorldWide Telescope is about making science fun for everyone," said Curtis Wong, manager of Microsoft's Next Media Research Group. "By working with Disney-Pixar, we're enabling kids and families to discover the magic of the universe for themselves in an even more engaging way. What could be more fun than exploring space with a famous robot?"

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at

About Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award(R)-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. Creator of some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and most recently, WALL-E. The Northern California studio has won 21 Academy Awards(R) and its nine films have grossed more than $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office to date. The next film release from Disney-Pixar is Up (May 29, 2009).

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

So don't forget. Wall-E is out on DVD/Blu Ray today.


Mickey Mouse Turns 80 Today

I'm not very good at memorizing dates. This news article says that Steamboat Willy premiered on Nov. 18, 1928. So today would be Mickey's 80th birthday.

So Happy Birthday, Mickey! You helped Walt to start an empire!


Disney Stores Black Friday

Press released from Disney on the Black Friday sale at all the Disney Stores:

PASADENA, Calif., Nov 18, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Disney Store locations nationwide will usher in the holiday season earlier than ever with day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) specials starting as early as midnight in more than 100 of its more than 200 stores. In malls across the country, most other Disney Store locations will kick off Black Friday shopping with 5 a.m. openings. All stores will offer an additional 20 percent off almost everything*, including already low one-day only pricing, from opening hours until 10 a.m.

The store for everything Disney is a favorite location for holiday shoppers looking for that perfect gift to fit any budget. Throughout the remainder of the weekend, Disney Store will continue to offer sale pricing on top toys such as Disney Princess dolls, tween and plush toys, and more.

"This Thanksgiving weekend, Disney Store has stocked up on our most popular items for holiday shoppers such as toys and gifts inspired by High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Hannah Montana, WALLaEURcE, Tinker Bell and Disney Fairies, Disney Princess, Club Penguin, Disneya^(TM)Pixar Cars, and Disney's newest animated feature film Bolt," said Molly Adams, Vice President General Manager, Merchandising & Marketing, Disney Store. "For the first time, we're opening our doors earlier than ever in more than 100 stores in malls across America. Our midnight openings are sure to please consumers eager to start their holiday shopping extra early, but we'll continue to restock our shelves for Disney Store guests who need to shop later in the day or at night."

To find the nearest Disney Store location and check store hours for Black Friday, please call 800-757-5933.

Following are some of the magical Disney Store gifts that shoppers will find at an additional 20 percent off before 10 a.m. on Black Friday this year:
Note: Prices below reflect original retail pricing. Sale prices will be in effect on Black Friday.

Totally Tween -- Inspired by Disney Channel Hits

-- Camp Rock Electronic Drum Set ($39.50) and Camp Rock Keyboard ($69.50): Kids and tweens can create their own rock band with these musical instruments. The drum set comes complete with five drum pads, two drumsticks and carrying handle to take your show on the road. The keyboard has multiple sound effects and five different musical instruments and even comes with a stand to rock out!

-- Hannah Montana MP3 Video Camera ($79.50): Kids and tweens can record their favorite dance moves while singing and playing their favorite songs. The MP3 video camera features a docking station, detachable microphone and volume control, and also plugs into the TV so kids can enjoy their own show! Also available in High School Musical 3: Senior Year theme.

-- Hannah Montana Wireless Drumsticks ($39.50): Kids and tweens will discover their inner pop star with ready to rock outside the box wireless drumsticks. Equipped with two wireless drumsticks, volume control and realistic drum effects, all kids need is air space!

-- Hannah Montana Holiday Stocking ($19.50): A boot shaped design in Hannah's signature color--purple.

-- High School Musical Wardrobe Dolls ($29.50 each) Gabriella & Sharpay dolls come with three additional High School Musical 3: Senior Year inspired outfits for graduation and the prom. Comes in a fashionable re-usable box for storage of clothing.

-- High School Musical 3: Senior Year Fashion Dolls ($12.50 each): Gabriella, Sharpay and Troy dolls are dressed in trendy outfits ready to make the most of their senior year.

Wondrous Widgets -- Celebrating Disney and Disney-Pixar Favorites

-- WALLa^(TM)E and Eve Remote Control Robots ($49.50 each): These fully functional robots come with a wireless remote control that allows users to make them walk, talk and interact with each other.

-- Infra Red Remote Controlled Cars ($49.50): On your mark, get set, GO! These remote control cars follow the Infra Red beam and come in a variety of characters for both girls and boys, including Disney Princess, Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen and Power Rangers Jungle Fury.

Preschooler Treats-- Playtime with Playhouse Disney

-- Little Einsteins Rocket Remote Control ($24.50), Ages 3+: Take Rocket on an adventure with his pals, the Little Einsteins. Remote control moves forward and backward with an easy-to-use remote specially made for preschool age hands. Features three character voices and light-up after burners!

-- Little Einsteins Musical Adventure ($14.50), Ages 2+: Flip open the panels to explore the world of music with each adventure. 20 unique melodies play when all panels are open, or enjoy creating your own music with four interactive instrument buttons.

-- Handy Manny Tool Set ($14.50), Ages 3+: Preschoolers can play with these handy tools and pretend they have their own workshop.
Favorites for Girls

-- Disney Princess Wardrobe Dolls ($29.50): These dolls inspire storytelling and creativity. Choose from Ariel, Belle and Cinderella. Each doll comes with four outfits true to her character, complete with three tiaras, jewelry and hair accessories.

-- Disney Princess Royal Bath Set ($39.50): The little princesses in your life will be able to care for their water-proof dolls with our new Royal Bath set, complete with a real shower head that sprays water and all the accessories she will need to give her baby a real bath.

-- Disney Princess Doll Stroller ($59.50): Girls can give their dolls the royal treatment with the Disney Princess Doll Stroller. It has an adjustable canopy and includes a satin baby blanket and pillow.

-- Tinker Bell Styling Head ($24.50): Unleash your inner stylist, with this Tinker Bell styling head. Comes complete with hair extensions, a floral halo, charm bracelet, barrettes and sticker sheet.

*Media, electronics, gift cards, theme park passports, Disney Dollars and shipping charges not included in this offer and will not be discounted.

About Disney Store North America

The Disney Store retail chainis owned and operated in the United States by Disney Store USA, LLC andin Canada by Disney Store Canada Inc. Disney Store is an affiliate of Disney Consumer Products, the business segment that extends the Disney brand to merchandise. Disney Store carries high-quality products, including exclusive product lines that support and promote Disney's key entertainment initiatives and characters. In 1987, Disney Store opened its first store in Glendale, California and, in doing so, originated the themed retail business model. There are currently more than 200 Disney Store locations in North America, each offering a magical shopping experience that can only be delivered by Disney,one of the world's largest and most successful entertainment companies.

SOURCE: Disney Store North America

Plan your holiday shopping now! :)


Monday, November 17, 2008

"The Race To Witch Mountain" Trailer

It appears that audiences in other theaters in different parts of the country saw a different Disney movie trailers during the sneak preview to "Bolt". Some of them got to see the trailer for Disney's upcoming movie "The Race to Witch Mountain".

You can see the trailer here.

Looks like there's plenty of good Disney movies to look forward to in 2009.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bolt Review

We saw a sneak peak of Disney's "Bolt" last night. But before I proceed, allow me to have a short rant against a movie theater chain.

We saw the movie at one of the Marcus theater, and this one was in Addison, IL, which, to us is pretty far from where we live on the north side of Chicago. Still, that was the same day we were having our month Windy City Pin Traders pin meet, and the theater is barely a couple of blocks away, so it made sense to go to the movie there that evening after the pin meet.

Anyway, when we looked up for where Bolt was being previewed that evening, there were only, what, 5-10 theaters in the Chicagoland area (none in the city, of course!) showing it. What was more disappointing was that NONE of them indicated if the movie would be shown in 2D or 3D. So we tried calling the theater we were planning on going, which is a Marcus theater in Addison. Guess what? You cannot get a live person to talk to when you call that number. No matter what button you push on your phone, it will not get you to talk to a live person. So even calling the movie theater does not get us the information we need. So we decided, what the hey, we'll go anyway.

The movie we saw was being previewed in 2D!

Yeah, so I was a bit disappointed. I would have gone to see it anyway in 2D because of the reason that none of theaters were advertising which were showing in 3D. Besides, all the other theaters were just too damn far away.

Anyway, on with the movie. But first, as with any movie, we have to get to the trailers first. This is important because they showed 3 trailers before "Bolt" started, and all of them were animation movies that will be opening soon (next year). The first trailer that was shown was Dreamworks' "Aliens versus Monsters". Now, I must admit, the trailer was hysterical! It seems that an alien has landed on earth and about to "take it". But some government agency or something actually has been experimenting on producing these "monsters" that they've kept secret all this time. So they're sending these monsters to battle the aliens. I was cracking up while the trailer was being shown. So this one is a definite see.

The second was a sequel to Ice Age, which would make it "Ice Age 3 - The Age of the Dinosaur". The tailer was entirely on that squirrel (it's a squirrel, isn't it?) and his acorn, but this time, he has a "damsel in distress" companion. We'll probably go see it since we saw the first two and had a good time.

But it is the third trailer that had me perked up. It was a trailer of "Up", Disney/Pixar's next movie. Boy oh boy, this one is going to be GOOD, both in terms of the story premise (from what I can gather from just watching the trailer) and from the picture quality (those balloons!!! My god!). An old curmudgeon has had enough and decided to float a lot of helium-filled balloon attached to his house, which then lifted off its foundation and started to being him on an adventure. But, he had a stowaway, a kid who he let come along with him on his adventure.

I can't wait!

So, enough beating around the bush. Let's get on with "Bolt". Note that I cannot guaranteed that there are no spoilers here. So read at your own risk.

First and foremost, the picture looks amazing! With animals, you tent to pay attention to their fur and details of the bodies, and no details were skimped with this movie. So right off the bat, the animation was outstanding.

The story started out very warm and fuzzy. Bolt was a young puppy at a pet store that a girl named Penny (they didn't say if her "screen name" is the same as her real name, but in the credits, they only credited "Penny" as the character name of Miley Cyrus) adopted. This scene was well done because right off the beginning, you a drawn to the puppy and fall for it. The animator manipulated all the emotional strings to get us to love the puppy (I do! I do!).

But it is in the next scene, 5 years later, that the premise of the movie is set up. Bolt is now in this TV series called.... of course "Bolt", and Penny is his "person". But the Penny that Bolt knows is Penny the actress, who plays the daughter of a scientist that has been kidnapped by the evil Green-Eyed man. Not only that, Bolt seems to think he has superpowers because his world has been confined to only the TV set and TV shoot. Those involved with the show have gone out of their way to try to make the show an actual life for Bolt, simply, as the director of the show puts it (voiced by James Lipton of the "Inside the Actor's Studio"), because he wants to get the true emotion out of the dog.

So Bolt truly believes that what goes on on the TV show is real world. But when Penny was kidnapped (on the show, not in real life) and separated from him, he of course decided that he has to go rescue her. He somehow got loose from the trailer that he is normally confined to when the show is not shooting, and got knocked unconscious after he got hit a few times trying to invoke his superpowers, landing in a shipping box full of Styrofoam (remember the Styrofoam!). He got shipped to the other side of the coast (NY City). So when he escaped out of the box, his mission is to try to get back to LA and rescue Penny.

In NY, he encounters several hilarious creatures (the pigeons were hilarious throughout the movie), but the most important creature he met was Mittens, the cat. She became his originally-unwilling companion on their cross-country trek to LA, along the way being joined by another delusional animal, Rhino (I forgot what he is - a hamster?) who lives mainly in this clear ball. More importantly, as they got closer to LA, Bolt finally realizes that he does not have superpowers and began to enjoy real life as a normal dog, such as sticking his head out of a window on a moving vehicle).

What happens when Bolt and company reach LA and try to find Penny is something I won't reveal since you want something left as a reason to watch the movie, ya? :)

The story line started out in an intriguing manner - very much like the Jim Carrey movie "The Truman Show". But as it progresses, I find that the story became predictable. I could sorta guess what would happen next, even though I can't tell exactly HOW it will happen. It isn't a big deal since most movies are like that, especially if they deal with familiar issues. Is the movie entertaining? Very much so. I definitely recommend it as a family entertainment. But it doesn't have that "bite" that a Pixar movie normally has. And when compared with other recent digital Disney Animation production, I think I still prefer "Meet The Robinsons" as being the best so far.

But you sholdn't miss "Bolt". We may have to go see it again in 3D, and it will be worth it.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Disney Cruise Line Plans Industry's First 3-D Theaters

Somehow, this makes perfect sense.

The Disney Cruise Line will unveil the cruise industry's first ever 3D theater on the Disney Magic on Dec. 6, 2008.

Disney Digital 3-D, as the company is calling its proprietary technology, is being installed in two theaters on each of the 1,754-passenger vessels and will allow for the showing of the first 3-D movies at sea. But Disney has even grander plans for the technology.

Starting in early 2009 the company will pull off another first with the debut of a once-per-cruise theatrical extravaganza that combines 3-D movie projection with in-theatre special effects. Tridimensional images will combine with lasers, fog, streamers and lighting effects to create an immersive experience.

Holy 3D glasses! This gives an even bigger incentive to go on that Disney cruise next year!


Daniel's Dream Came True

I will never get tired of reading trip reports like this.

A family from the UK with a son suffering from a muscular dystrophy disease gets to spend a wonderful vacation in Central Florida (including WDW, of course), thanks to the generosity of the community that they lived in.

And swimming with dolphins was definitely the highlight of the holiday for 15-year-old Daniel, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Mum Mary Lavery will treasure the pictures of a dolphin called Dixy playing with Daniel and rising up to give him a kiss for the rest of her life.

OK, so that was at Discovery Cove, not a Disney theme park, but who cares? Many of us are lucky enough to be in good health and be able to go to our favorite place many times. Stories like this reminds us how others can't do what we take for granted.

The other thing we overlook is how "friendly" most of the US is with regards to disabled access.

Daniel's stepdad Ian said the American approach to disability made it a lot easier to get around, and meant the family could relax more. They are so disability orientated in America," he said.

"They go out of their way, from companion toilets to automatic doors in restaurants and shops, and we never had a problem with access."

People living in other parts of the world, or anyone traveling overseas a lot, can tell you that such conveniences and accessibility are scarce.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Missed Getting A Tour Of Cinderella Castle Suite! :(

{sobbing uncontrollably}

Well, ok, it isn't that bad, but it is still highly disappointing.

A e-mail was sent to WDW passholder giving them an opportunity to sign up for a tour of Cinderella Castle suite on Dec. 15! Well, that's right smack in the middle of our upcoming trip to WDW, hell yes, I want to go!

But as expected, I am sure everyone who got that e-mail was rushing to sign up. I tried logging into the webpage on the passholder website yesterday, and could not get the page to work, even after repeated attempts. So it was this morning when we tried again, and of course you can guess what the result is - it is FULL!!!



There was another tour that is offered, which is the behind-the-scenes look at the American Idol attraction at DHS. Er... no thanks. That one is still available, but I have no desire to go see that one.

What a bummer! This should ruin my day today.


Where in Walt Disney World?

Here's another one, and it shouldn't be too difficult. Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

4 Reasons Why Disney Won't Buy Yahoo!

Motley Fool has 4 reason why Disney should not buy Yahoo! And I damn hope whoever thought this might be a good idea would have some sense into reading this and get that idea out of his/her head! As a Disney stock holder, I would be AGHAST if Disney buys Yahoo! Every CEO should have learned his/her lesson from the Time/Warner/AOL merger already!


Your Cellphone Can Become A Disney Theme Park Tool

Disney has teamed up with Verizon to offer a technological feature on guests cellphone to enhance their visits to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are at least two reports on this story: LA Times and CNET.

On the face of it, the application appears innocuous enough: Visitors to Disneyland or Walt Disney World would be able to download an application to their mobile phones to make trip plans, including booking hotel rooms and creating a checklist of attractions and shows to see. Once they arrive, they'll be able to use their phones to check wait times at Space Mountain or find the nearest pizza.

"What we're doing is putting tools in the hands of our customers to better personalize their experience," said Scott Trowbridge, vice president of creative research and development for Walt Disney Imagineering.

I suppose your cellphone becomes almost a glorified Pal Mickey, without the cuddliness. :)

Not sure if I'm all that interested in this capability, though.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Disney Means Business With Their Blu-Ray Discs

If there ever is any doubt that Disney truly means business with their Blu-Ray discs, the December 2008 issue of Home Theater Magazine should dispel all doubts. The magazine picked the Top 5 blu-ray discs in several different categories, and other than the music video category, Disney blu-ray discs feature prominently in each of the categories presented. I will list only the Disney blu-ray that made it into the listed 5 in each of the categories:

Best TV on blu-ray : Lost: Season 3
Best Extras: Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary
Best Interactivity: Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary; Ratatouille; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (yes, 3 Disney blu-ray made it into the top 5 list)
Best Restoration: Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary
Best Sound: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Best Picture Quality - Animation: Ratatouille, Cars
Best Picture Quality - Live Action: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Best Overall: Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary, Ratatouille, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

In other words, Disney blu-ray discs kick ass!


Hurricane Paloma Forces Disney Magic To Change Itinerary

If you think that going on a cruise in November would save you from a hurricane, this proves that anything can happen.

The strengthening hurricane Paloma is forcing several cruise ships, including the Disney Magic, to change their routes.

The Disney Magic, which departed from Port Canaveral, is changing to a Western Caribbean itinerary from the planned Eastern Caribbean route. The cruise ship will call in Costa Maya, followed by Cozumel and then Grand Cayman – if that port has reopened by mid-week.

It doesn't say whether Castaway Key is affected by the hurricane path.


Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade Taping

Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the taping for the 2008 WDW Christmas Day Parade show at The Magic Kingdom has been tentatively set for these two dates: Nov. 29 and Dec. 6.

The folks at Lightship Entertainment, a local company that produces the show, were able to tell me that the tentative taping dates are Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 in the Magic Kingdom. Usually, one day is dedicated to filming the actual parade on Main Street, with celebrity hosts on a platform near the train station, and the other is for the musical guests performing on the Cinderella Castle stage.

So if you're there on those dates, you'll know what to expect. Or maybe it is a good day to avoid the Magic Kingdom and go to another park!


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mickey Mouse Collectibles Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to Patti and Anne for winning the giveaway contest. Both of you will receive the "Official Price Guide to Mickey Mouse Collectibles" book by Ted Hake.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Disney Profits Drop 13%

After a series of quarterly earnings that defy analysts expectations, Disney for the first time is reporting a decline in profit for the past quarter, with a drop of 13% blamed on the weak economy.

But Disney on Thursday reported a 13 percent decline in quarterly earnings on weakness in nearly every part of its empire. Movie earnings in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 27, plunged 42 percent because movies like “Swing Vote” and “Miracle at St. Anna” were virtually ignored at the box office. Advertising declines hurt two Disney properties, ABC and ESPN, leading to a 4 percent drop in income at the media networks unit.

Income at the theme parks dropped 4 percent because of lower bookings at Disneyland and higher costs at Walt Disney World. Over all, Disney reported net income of $760 million, or 40 cents a share, for the quarter, compared with $877 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier. For 2008, net income dropped to $4.4 billion from $4.7 billion.

Again, for me, this is not unexpected, and I fully expect Disney stocks to dive today. But this also means that we will be buying even more Disney stocks. One needs to consider that if one looks at other parts of the entertainment sector, Disney hasn't suffered much at all in terms of its earnings. This means that this is a solid, well-managed company, and, as most people seem to forget, is still MAKING PROFIT! This is way more that can be said when compared to many other companies that are losing money.

For my part, I'm still going to WDW this December! :)

Edit: and now, with the added incentive to book a Disney vacation comes a terrific deal.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chicago's Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

If you are in the Chicago area, or will be visiting Chicago later this month, don't forget the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Chicago's Michigan Avenue on Nov. 22, 2008. Disney has been a big part of this festivities ever since it started, and as with the previous years, Mickey Mouse will be the master of ceremony of the parade. He typically will light each section of the street as he passes by.

Something to look forward to.


Disney, by Design

This is a rather interesting New York Times piece on Disney consumer product division's effort to expand its market into high end clothings and home furnishing, with barely any hint that they came from Disney.

Shoppers may be surprised to learn that these pricey and Mickey-free products are from the same company that foisted “Hannah Montana” on the world and turned singing Chihuahuas into a cultural touchstone. While some of the items have recognizable characters on them, others contain only winks and nods to the company’s animated movies and theme park rides. And sometimes the only hint of Disney’s involvement is on the label.

Hum... I definitely do not mind at all having any recognizable characters on any of my clothings and furnishings, but then again, I'm a Disney freak, so that doesn't count, I suppose.

So, would you buy any of the products mentioned in the article? Or have you bought some of them already? :)


Disney Theme Park Music Top 3

Mouse Planet has a discussion on the Top 3 Disney theme park music in various categories. That of course, led me to think of what my Top 3 for each of those categories would be. So here goes:

Top 3 Original Attraction Music, Instrumental

1. Soarin'
2. Epcot Entrance Medley
3. Futureworld loop

Original Attraction Music, Vocal

1. Grim Grinning Ghosts
2. Making Memories
3. Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)

Live, in-park musical performance

1. Dapper Dans
2. Festival of the Lion King
3. Finding Nemo - The Musical

Fireworks or Parade Soundtrack

1. Tapestry of Nations
2. Illuminations - Reflections of Earth
3. HalloWishes

So what are YOUR Top 3's?


Random WDW Picture

From the Boo To You parade during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why Disney Stock Is Still A "Buy"

{Note that this blog still has an ongoing giveaway contest}

Business Week has an interesting article on why Disney shares right now is a bargain that one shouldn't miss, even with the economic slowdown.

Tuna Amobi, the analyst who follows Disney at Standard & Poor's Equity Research, voices the same upbeat note and rates the stock a strong buy with a 12-month price target of 32 a share. "Amid increased concerns with a consumer spending pullback, we note Disney in recent years implemented some steps to help its parks weather an economic downturn," he says. And compared to its large media peers, Disney's exposure to advertising-dependent businesses is somewhat manageable, adds Amobi. (S&P, like BusinessWeek, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP).In the meantime, Disney posted better-than-expected third-quarter results.

"We have been encouraged by recent trends at ESPN and ABC, and see some multiplatform upside with newer franchises such as Hannah Montana and High School Musical," says the analyst. And in these times of financial stress, Disney's strong balance sheet, with its "ample financial flexibility," is a source of comfort, adds Amobi. He figures Disney will earn $2.32 a share in its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2008, and $2.49 in fiscal 2009, up from fiscal 2007's $2.24. Revenues are expected by some analysts to jump to $39.1 billion in fiscal 2009, up from an estimated $37.8 billion in fiscal 2008 and $35.5 billion in fiscal 2007.

We certainly have been stocking up (no pun intended) on Disney stocks while they are still well below the $30 mark.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Presidential Election Day

It is the US presidential election day, and possibly, a historic one. There is one, and only one, clear choice!!

Read here for all the benefits if Mickey were to become president!


Could EA Be A Disney Target?

Electronic Arts has had quite a fall in its value. The Wall Street Journal has speculated that the company is now ripe to be bought by a major corporation, and has mentioned Disney as the most likely and compatible suitor.

Disney makes the most sense. EA's biggest assets include its sports games, such as Madden NFL, which would fit with Disney's ESPN cable network. Disney also could save at least part of the roughly $200 million it spends annually developing its own games.

It sure is daring, though, with the current economic climate, and with Disney already considering belt-tightening measures and even possibly layoffs. But acquiring EA sure makes sense otherwise.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Planned Disney Bowling Center Temporarily In The Gutter

The planned 100-lane bowling center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (is it still called Wide World of Sports?) has been delayed while the company building it seeks financing. It looks like, for now at least, the sucky economy is affecting development at WDW.


Mickey Mouse Glove USB Flash Drive

We seem to have a lot of merchandise announcement and news lately, which is understandable considering the time of the year.

Still, this is not a bad gadget to have especially if you're a Disney freak like I am. It's a USB flash drive with Mickey's gloved hand attached to it. It looks rather cool. Too bad it doesn't say how big the drive is (I'm assuming it is 1 Gig or larger) or how much one of these things costs. We'll just have to search the web, won't we?


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Santa Mickey at Menards

Again, as in the Kmart story, I don't work for Menards, but I shop there a lot! :)

I was at Menards yesterday, and they already have their Christmas stuff out in full force. And unlike Kmart, etc., many of the Disney-related stuff are suitable for adults as well. So that's why I always love shopping there. (Home Depot, on the other hand, had barely any Disney-related Christmas stuff. Not going to shop there this holiday season, for sure.) Anyway, I was browsing around when I saw this Santa Mickey, and of course, I just had to have it! I think it was retailing at $29.95 or something, but it is about 30 inches tall and adorable!

They also had a Tigger, but the trunk of my car was already full, and I decided to get him later, assuming of course he'll last several more weeks till after Thanksgiving.


Early Sneak Preview of Pixar's "Up"

Thanks to John Forst at the Disney Blog for finding this. A lucky blogger got the chance to preview the next Pixar release "Up", which is now scheduled for some time in May, 2009.

Holy cow! If this is accurate, Pixar may have outdone itself once again and have taken another risk head on! At this point, whether they succeeded or not, one thing is for sure - they are never formulaic or boring.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Disney-Themed Gifts at Kmart This Holliday Season

{Note that this blog still has an ongoing giveaway contest}

Hum... It is rather strange for a retailer to simply issue a press-release to "announced" that they'll have a lot of Disney-related stuff for sale this holiday season, isn't it?

That's what Kmart has done. And at the risk of sounding as if I work for Kmart (I don't) and promoting them, here's the press release for those of us who love buying Disney merchandise:

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Oct 31, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Kmart has ramped up its selection of Disney-inspired items for the holidays to delight gift givers and gift getters of all ages. The extensive selection at Kmart makes shopping for the season's hottest Disney products easy, convenient and fun.
With more than 10,000 Disney-inspired items available throughout Kmart stores and several thousands on, moms, grandparents and siblings alike will be able to find the gifts kids want most, featuring favorite Disney characters like Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princess, Disney Fairies, and characters from the Disney-Pixar film Cars, as well as products inspired by Disney Channel hits Hannah Montana(TM) and High School Musical.

Kmart offers many sought-after Disney products, including the Handy Manny Fix-It-Right Transforming Tool Truck which has been singled out as a top pick in's "Editor's Picks," and the Toy Insider's "Hot 20," as well as High School Musical 3: Senior Year Singing Dolls and the stunning Hannah Montana Holiday Doll. Several Disney products are combined with exclusive Kmart promotional offers throughout the holiday season. Recent offers found only at Kmart included:

-- Free Sleeping Beauty Teapot Play Set ($14.99 value) when customers buy Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty DVD or Blu-Ray and Mattel Magic Fairy Lights Sleeping Beauty Doll ($14.99 value; while supplies last).

-- First-ever Disney Pixar Cars-themed collector event - perfect for young kids starting their very own collection.

-- Save $10 instantly when customers buy Tinker Bell Disney on DVD ($19.99) or Blu-ray and Tinker Bell 15" doll (sale price $12.99).

Many more Disney products and offers across multiple Disney characters will be featured in the Nov. 2 Kmart circular.

"The 2008 suite of Disney products are a great way to celebrate the holidays and we are proud to offer these products to our value-conscious customers," said Kmart CMO, Mark Snyder. "Kmart is the convenient place for an extensive selection of Disney items at affordable prices for every shopper and can be found in all sections of the store from Toys, Kids Apparel, Home, Electronics and more."

Kmart has created a Disney shop at that showcases a breadth of Disney products inspired by the Disney characters kids and families want most. Kmart and shoppers can browse at their local Kmart store or online at .