Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Disney's Alice in Wonderland to be Released to IMAX(R) 3D Theatres March 5, 2010

Mark your calendar!

One of the most anticipated movies (at least for many Disney fans) has a release date! Here's the press release:

LOS ANGELES, CA, March 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and IMAX Corporation (NASDAQ: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced that Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen and Mia Wasikowska as Alice, will be released to IMAX(R) theatres simultaneously with the film's wide release on March 5, 2010. The special IMAX(R) 3D release will be digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience(R) with IMAX DMR(R) (Digital Re-Mastering) technology. This is the third film confirmed out of the five-film agreement between IMAX and Disney, which was announced on November 19, 2008.

Commenting on the announcement, Mark Zoradi, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group, said, "If ever there was a film that cried out to be presented in Disney Digital 3D(TM) and the premium IMAX 3D format, Tim Burton's fantastic interpretation of Alice in Wonderland is that film. This is going to be an eye-popping cinematic experience as Tim takes moviegoers down the rabbit hole and into the dimensional world filled with incredible characters, sly humor, and wild adventures. Disney's partnership with IMAX is taking shape with two amazing films already on the schedule. We look forward to working with them in bringing exciting new experiences and quality entertainment to IMAX screens around the world."

"We think that Disney's new Alice in Wonderland is exactly the type of 3D story telling that will resonate with IMAX audiences," said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "We believe our worldwide commercial theatre network will be approximately 50 percent larger by the time this film is released, giving more and more people a chance to experience the magic of Disney in IMAX."

"Alice in Wonderland is a fantastic addition to our 2010 film slate," added Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "Combining a beloved Disney classic re-designed through the imagination of Tim Burton's creative vision with these incredibly outrageous characters and world class actors certainly makes for an event-status film, and we're pleased to add another level of excitement to this highly-anticipated movie."

Visionary filmmaker Tim Burton will put his distinctive touch on the combination live-action and performance capture version of Lewis Carroll's classic tale "Alice in Wonderland." The all-star cast includes Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman and Mia Wasikowska as Alice.

About IMAX Corporation

IMAX Corporation is one of the world's leading entertainment technology companies, specializing in immersive motion picture technologies. The worldwide IMAX network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event Hollywood films around the globe, with IMAX theatres delivering the world's best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX, IMAX(R) 3D, and IMAX DMR(R) technology. IMAX DMR is the Company's groundbreaking digital re-mastering technology that allows it to digitally transform virtually any conventional motion picture into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX ExperienceÒ. IMAX's renowned projectors display crystal-clear images on the world's biggest screens, and the IMAX brand is recognized throughout the world for extraordinary and immersive entertainment experiences for consumers. As of December 31, 2008, there were 351 IMAX theatres operating in 42 countries.

IMAX(R), IMAX(R) 3D, IMAX DMR(R), The IMAX 3D Experience(R), and The IMAX Experience(R) are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information on the Company can be found at www.imax.com.

This press release contains forward looking statements that are based on management's assumptions and existing information and involve certain risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. Important factors that could affect these statements include ongoing discussions with the SEC and OSC relating to their ongoing inquiries and the Company's accounting, the performance of films, the signing of theatre system agreements, the viability of new technologies, businesses and products, the timing of theatre system deliveries, the mix of theatre systems shipped, the timing of the recognition of revenues and expenses on film production and distribution agreements, risks arising from potential material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting and fluctuations in foreign currency and in the large format, general commercial exhibition and out-of-home entertainment markets. These factors and other risks and uncertainties are discussed in the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and most recent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.


SOURCE IMAX Corporation


There is zero question that I'll be seeing it in 3D.

Zz.

It's The Dog! It's All Due To The Dog!

An interesting quote from The Daily Show on Jan 28, 2009 made by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

People are crazy, and I think it's the dog. I blame it on the dog because people in Europe don't behave this way.


He was, of course, commenting on why so many Americans were so upset at the demotion of Pluto from planet status.

I wonder what dog he is blaming......... :) :)

Here's the video:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Neil deGrasse Tyson
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


Of course, it doesn't help that we get heart-tugging posters like this when Pluto was demoted.



Zz.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Did It!

I finally did it! I took the plunge and became a D23 charter member yesterday. I just couldn't resist it even though in the back of my mind, I didn't think the whole thing was such a good deal, at least, not for $75.

There is a substantial risk with D23 that Disney could not only alienate loyal fans, but also get bad publicity out of it. So even with the launching of it during this bad economy and Disney cutting back on expenses, the club better deliver a lot of perks for members, especially those that cannot attend the D23 Expo in Sept. of this year. Without such perks, these members will not get the bang for their buck, and that's the quickest way to send something like this into oblivion.

So I'm giving D23 a chance. I'm already a DVC member and an annual passholder. What can D23 do to impress me?

Zz.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update on our Disney Pins

So it has been a while since I mentioned about our Disney pin collection. It has gone through a few major revamp. Since my last reports, we have stopped collecting attraction pins and most holidays pins except for Halloween and Christmas. All of those pins that we no longer collected (including a few valuable Piece of History pins) are either in our trading books, or have already been traded. We did this because we were just running out of space to display all of our pins. Besides, it was time to really limit what we collect.

Donald and duck pins are still our #1 collection, and it has gotten bigger since. Complete sets and theme park icons pins have also gotten big. However, while we eliminated a few themes, we also added a few more, but we're hoping the number of pins for these won't be as big. We have started collecting Disney Imagineering pins, but only those that can be part of sets, preferably complete sets. We also started collecting Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror pins, but not religiously, meaning we'll only collect them if they make complete sets, or if they look good. The one thing that we did start that could balloon very quickly is the Chip 'N Dale pins. This could turn out to be a big one because there's a huge amount of Chip 'N Dale pins out there. Luckily, so far, we have resisted getting every single Chip 'N Dale pins that we come across, and only collect those that actually are very cute, or funny, or beautiful. So for now, the collection is still small, but it can easily explode very quickly if we're not careful.

I've updated the pictures of our pins that we have on display. The Donald (and ducks) pins dominate our collection, obviously. It is still our #1 collection and it is the only one where we try to get our hands on every single pin that we come across.

Still, if someone were to ask me what is my most favorite set of pins, I'd say it would be the Nightmare Before Christmas Imagineering pins set, and I don't even collect Nightmare Before Christmas pins! It is just the design of it that is so impressive and gorgeous that I can't help collect them. These pins are definitely made for display. This framed pin sets below also has the Imagineering Haunted Mansion pins, which are also gorgeous.



Zz.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Random WDW Picture

Not many people ride the AstroOrbiter, but it truly offers one of the most spectacular view of The Magic Kingdom.



Zz.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jungle Cruise Skippers From Disney Parks Meet At Tokyo Disneyland

Whoa! I would love to have been at Tokyo Disneyland for this.

As part of Tokyo Disneyland's 25th Anniversary, 2 skippers from each of the Jungle Cruise attraction from all the Disney theme parks get to represent their home theme parks for a few days at Tokyo Disneyland. This is so cool!

Cast members Beth Schafer and Alex Williams represented the Magic Kingdom this month at a global gathering of skippers as part of Tokyo Disney's 25th anniversary celebration. In Japan, Jungle Cruise is extremely popular, Schafer said.

"To them, it has this weird almost cult-classic following," she said. "When they heard that Jungle Cruise skippers from around the world were coming — and we were billed as the best from around the world — they just thought it was the greatest thing."

The enthusiastic response included autograph requests and long lines forming for rides.


It would be interesting to see how they overcome the language and cultural barrier because I can easily that the Japanese may not get the point of some of the puns. Still, with all the wonderful skippers from all around the world, I'd say everyone will come out ahead.

Zz.

John Lasseter Talks About Disney's Bolt

Magical Mountain has a very informative interview with John Lasseter on "Bolt" and its rather "tumultuous" history that required a name change from "American Dog" to the removal of the original director.

I find each one of John Lasseter interviews to be quite entertaining to read. I'm sure it would be even more entertaining to hear it in person, but hey, you get what you get.

Zz.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Magical Surprise

Awwwwwww! A made-for-Disney surprise proposal!



Zz.

"Why I Prefer Disneyland to Disney World"

Before I get hate mail, this "I" refers to a Salt Lake Tribune columnist, NOT ME! So back off!!!

:)

Issues like this always brings out the worst in Disney fans. For some odd reason, there is a need to actually either tout "my park is better than the rest" attitude, or the need to bash one park more than others. I've always stated that I'd rather be at a Disney theme park on any given day (yes, even California Adventure) than most anywhere else! So let's get that out of the way first.

There's nothing really one can argue about preferences for one park over the other. It's like arguing about one's favorite color. There are, however, a couple of issues that I don't quite agree with the writer.

It's purely subjective, but I also did not find the "cast members," as Disney likes to call its employees, quite as helpful or friendly in Florida as they were in California.


I do not find this to be true in general based on MY personal experience. I remember being "brushed off" when I asked a cast member at DL about DVC pins. And get this. DL cast members cannot be forced to wear pin lanyards, or participate in pin trading with guests. I was told that that was part of their labor agreement.

This is why it was extremely difficult to find cast members wearing lanyards, and it is extremely difficult to find DL cast lanyard pins. So what does that tell me? It tells me that these cast members prefers NOT to interact with the guests. I mean, think about it. If I am a cast member and I'm doing some menial job, I would CHOOSE to wear a cast lanyard because guests would at least now pay attention to me just to see what I'm wearing and possibly do a trade. I know that when I walk into a WDW theme park, I pay attention to ALL cast members, no matter what their job is, because I know everyone from the cleaning crew to quick service push-cart cast members could be wearing a lanyard full of pins that I want. I would think that these cast members would welcome guests interactions (if they're friendly) that breaks the monotony of the job.

So the fact that the DL labor agree allows them to opt out of wearing one, and the fact that as a result, you don't see them wearing one, tells me that they'd rather not interact with the guests. So who's "friendlier"?

The biggest reason I like Disneyland and California Adventure is that they are smaller. That makes rides and attractions easier to access, a definite bonus when you are spending 12-hour days with younger children. Three days is probably too short a time to spend at Disney World. But a family can see most of what Disneyland and California Adventure have to offer in two days, making the trip more affordable and shorter.


But the fact that it IS big is the very reason why I like it!

The last time I was at DL, I stayed at the Marriot Courtyard on S. Harbor Blvd., just across from DL. It's literally crawling distance from the entrance. So how did I get there? I walked across the street, and BAM! I was there! While this is certainly convenient, even as I walked through the gates into DL, I still can't help thinking that it was just a few minutes ago that I left "real world" where there was someone on the sidewalk peddling some homemade music CD and other stuff. Reality was still lingering with me as I walked down Main Street. There wasn't this "buffer zone" that forced me to think that I'm leaving real world and was now going to some place magical. It was too quick and too abrupt of a transition.

This is not the case with WDW. Getting to the theme parks can be tedious, especially if you stay off-site. But this "travel" forced you to think that you are going to some place "far" away and magical. The roads, boats, monorail, etc. are the buffer zones between reality and fantasy. It isn't across the street, but it is someplace you have to get to, both physically and mentally.

So while this writer thinks that the size is what works against WDW, I'd say that it is the size that works for me and accomplishes what it is supposed to do.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

At Disney's Animal Kingdom.



Zz.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Sneak Peek at Disneyland's "Celebrate"

This article presents a sneak peek at "Celebrate! A Street Party", which will debut this Friday at Disneyland.

The show — and yes, it’s more a series of performance show stops than a traditional marching parade — seems the perfect anecdote for these dire economic times. A no-frills performance low on costly gadgetry and theatrics and high on affordable energy and fun. Call it a recession-era jolt of glitz, glam, vamp and camp with just a bit of retro-1970s cheese thrown in for seasoning. Dare I say it was even a tad bit hip and sexy, with the sequined-skirted female dancers high-kicking and back-flipping in a way that could only seem risqué if you filtered the scene through a Disney lens.
.
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The parade will be held twice on busy days at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and once on slower days at 7 p.m.


I guess this replaces the daytime parade.

Zz.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biggest Character Breakfast Ever?

{Thanks to Patti for the link}

Not sure if it is the biggest ever, but it is certainly humongous! This lucky family won this character breakfast as part of the Year of a Million Dreams, which is now over.



It looks like a lot of fun. I love character dining, so this certainly looks quite enjoyable.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

This was my most favorite shot from last year's Flower and Garden Festival.



Zz.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dole Whip Pin Update 2

Here's another Chip 'N Dale dole whip pin update. If you've missed it, read my previous blog entries on my quest to collect as many of this cast lanyard pin as I can get my hands on.

After yesterday's Windy City Pin Trader monthly pin meet, I have increased my collection of this pin. I'm up to 26 pins so far.



Most of my friends, and certainly my pin friends, help me with my quest. They either point out the dole whip pins to me when they see one, or they try to get those pins for me. So this is almost like a group project as well. :)

The quest continues....

Zz.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Random WDW Picture

This, of course, is from SpectroMagic parade at MK.



The multi-colored light saber is not part of the parade. :)

Zz.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Up" Will Premier At Cannes

In another brilliant move by Disney and Pixar, "Up" will make its premier at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. It will also make history as being the first ever 3D showing at the festival.

There is still no decision if it will be part of the competition.

Zz.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Partners with Disney

Celebrity and Food Network's Iron Chef Cat Cora will open a restaurant at WDW. The Disney-run Mediterranean-themed restaurant will be named Kouzzina and will open at the Boardwalk, replacing Spoodles.

She says the new restaurant will feature "time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves."


I love Mediterranean dishes, so this is really right up my alley. However, there's very little info on this restaurant. We don't know the estimated date on when it will be open, other than Fall of this year, and we don't know if, just like Spoodles, it will be a 1 table service point for someone on the Disney Dining Plan. That area already has a 2-point table service restaurant with the Flying Fish. I can't see them opening another 2-point restaurant.

Here's the full press release:


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Chef Cat Cora and Disney are joining together to open an exciting new family dining restaurant at Disney's BoardWalk Resort. Kouzzina by Cat Cora will feature a menu of Mediterranean-style cuisine that pays tribute to the chef's Greek roots.

The restaurant, to be owned and operated by Disney, is scheduled to open by fall 2009 in the space currently occupied by Spoodles.

"I am pleased to welcome Cat Cora and her engaging new concept for Kouzzina to the Walt Disney World Resort," said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "This collaboration between Cat and Disney represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to offer unique culinary experiences and choices for our guests."

As a Mississippi native born to a family of Greek restaurateurs, Cora grew up immersed in two different and flavorful cultures, and has taken from that unique background the kitchen "know-how" handed down through generations. The cuisine at Kouzzina (Greek for "kitchen" and pronounced "koo-zee-nah") will showcase Mediterranean cuisine and Chef Cora's philosophy to create simple yet sensational meals.

Cora said that the new restaurant will feature "time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves."

She began working with Disney in 2008 by creating a Disney Video on Demand series to showcase ways to help families develop more healthy eating habits. "I'm extremely excited about this latest extension of my relationship with Disney," she said. "Together, we're going to develop a truly amazing contemporary Mediterranean restaurant."

The first and only female Iron Chef on Food Network's hit show "Iron Chef America," Cora is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She also is Executive Chef for Bon Appetit magazine. In addition to hosting the instructional cooking demonstrations for Disney Video on Demand, Cora has been a featured chef at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and at Disney's California Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort.


Zz.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shake

Here's an instruction video on how to make the peanut butter and jelly milk shake that is served at the 50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios.



I have been told that I've eaten in this establishment, but for the life of me, I cannot remember the experience, which means that I've only been to this place only once. If I can't remember it, it wasn't memorable enough, I suppose. It also means that I've never had this milk shake, at least not that I can remember.

Sigh... the mind is always the first thing to go, isn't it?

Zz.

Official Trailer of the Haunted Mansion at WDW

More "Official Trailer" from Disney Parks. This time it is the Haunted Mansion at WDW.



Zz.

"Witch Mountain" Director to Direct "Monster Attack Network" for Disney

Get the #1 movie for the week and you get rehired to direct another movie. It's that easy! :)

"Escape to Witch Mountain" director Andy Fickman has been slated by Disney to direct its adaptation of "Monster Attack Network".

It appears that FirstShowing doesn't think much of Fickman's directorial ability.

AiT's Monster Attack Network graphic novel, written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, is about a team of first-responders who guard the citizens of Lapuatu, a Pacific island that would be a paradise except for frequent attacks by giant monsters from the sea. Disney is developing this as a visual effects-heavy tentpole, built around an elite government agency's resolve to protect our coasts from huge, rampaging monsters. It seems like a cool concept in theory, but in Fickman's hands, it's bound to be a pile of crap. As a reminder, Fickman's filmography includes She's the Man, The Game Plan, and Witch Mountain.


Like I said in my review of "Witch Mountain", it is ironic that the live-action Disney movies just doesn't have the same heart, emotional content, and intelligence, as their animated movies. It appears that "Monster Attack Network" might suffer from the same fate.

Zz.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hong Kong Disneyland Halts Expansion

This is certainly a turn of events for Hong Kong Disneyland that might jeopardize its future.

Disney has halted all expansion plan at Hong Kong Disneyland and cut more than 30 jobs. This is due to the lack of any agreement with the Hong Kong government on timetable for expansion.

So here's the worst-case scenario. Disney pulls out of Hong Kong, and builds the theme park in Shanghai.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

Consider this as a "retro" picture from a few years ago. There are two hints here that this is not from within the past 2 years:

1. The Epcot Wand is still there
2. People are in yellow poncho, which went away about 5 years ago in favor of the clear poncho.



Zz.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Witch Mountain" Wins Weekend Box Office

Disney's "Escape to Witch Mountain" won the weekend box office, becoming Disney's first #1 movie of 2009. Hopefully for Disney, this is only the first in a line of #1 movies that will come out this year.

My review of "Witch Mountain" can be found here.

Zz.

"Race to Witch Mountain" - A Review

"Race to Witch Mountain" opened this past Friday, and all indications seem to point to a solid opening day.

I went on Saturday for a matinee with rather low expectations. The reviews have been mixed, which is not surprising for this kind of movie. I think I was more anticipating seeing a trailer for "Up", but disappointingly, there were none.

Now for the movie. First of all, parents, look at the rating for the movie. It isn't "G". While kids can certainly enjoy the movie, you might want to seriously consider bringing kids under 5 to see this one. There are scenes that could be a bit too intense for this age group, and a few were already crying barely a quarter into the movie. And if the precious young ones cannot sit still and not continue to kick the seats in front of them, then that's even more reason to not being them to a movie theater!

The storyline is simple. Two aliens looking like a couple of teenagers (how they assumed that look was never revealed, or if they have always looked that way) crash-landed on earth near Las Vegas (Vegas! Why does it have to be Vegas?!) trying to look for a device that contain some evidence their parents have gathered that can save their home planet. Again, they never explained (or I must have missed it) why the evidence are found in an old decrepit house in the middle of nowhere on the third planet from the sun, but I digress. So they have to find this evidence, and bring it back to their home planet before the military of their home planet decides that the better solution is to just simply invade earth, rather than save that home planet. The alien's military have sent this "thing" that is hunting the kids to stop them from bringing back the evidence.

But there's a problem. The US military is also tracking these kids and want to "study" them. They tracked the crashed space craft and have stashed it in an installation at Witch Mountain. So these kids are actively being pursued by two different "parties".

In came a Vegas cab driver play by The Rock. To make a long story short, he gave them a ride to find the secret place where the evidence that the kids were looking for, and then with the help of an astrophysicist, help them track their space craft at Witch Mountain. Along the way there's a lot of chase scenes, explosions, hot pursuits, firearms, a cuddly dog, humans dressed as aliens, UFO conventions, big bad government men, dark tinted SUV's, etc... etc. You get the idea. It is all quite predictable.

So is it worth seeing? Kinda. Again, if you have such low expectations, and you still want to go see it, then you won't be disappointed. It is what it is. The Rock was surprisingly adequate for the job, and you start to like him towards the end of the movie because there's a feeling that he's not taking himself that seriously. Still, I was hoping to be surprised by a Disney's live-action movie. It seems that lately, the animated movies out of Disney, both within their animation division and out of Pixar, have more heart and intelligence than the live-action movies. It seems like a reversal of fortune, that the animated movies are more geared towards adults and adults sensibility, while the live-action movies are getting to be dumbed down to appeal to appeal more to kids.

Zz.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

'Mary Poppins' in Chicago: Which Poppins will Land in the Loop?

This news article from the Chicago Tribune talks about the impending opening of the touring version of "Mary Poppins" that will kick off here at the Cadillac Palace theater in Chicago. However, it also traces the history of the original movie and the evolution of the stage production. In other words, there are a lot of stories surrounding "Poppins" that I've never known about.

In 2005, The New Yorker published a riveting account by Caitlin Flanagan of how much Travers hated the Disney movie and regretted handing Walt Disney the rights. Flanagan’s story begins with Travers sitting at the Disney premiere, weeping.

In essence, Flanagan claimed, Travers thought Walt Disney had cheapened her complicated heroine with animation, flattened the Banks parents (whom Travers had based on her own family) and generally “Disneyfied” the whole enterprise with chirpy specialty songs by the Sherman Brothers (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee”).


Fascinating!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

50 Disney Theme Parks Execs Take Buyouts

The Walt Disney Co. announced the buyout offer to its executives a while back. We already know that the top chef at WDW took that package. Now comes a report that 50 theme park executives took the buyout offer, but the company doesn't list who, and how many from WDW.

In the blog where I first mentioned the buyout, I mentioned that I hope Jim MacPhee doesn't take it and that he remains at Epcot. There have been rumors flying around that he has been reassigned away from his position as the Vice President for Epcot. I can't find any other reports to verify this. If this is true, it is highly disappointing. Having met him personally, and seen how he interacts with the guests, I can't think of anyone who would be capable of taking care of Epcot for the fans than he. I don't pretend to know how the Walt Disney Company works, and how things are in the backrooms of decision-making. But considering that he has worked his way from a parking-lot cast member to his way to the top, I'd say that he knows the theme parks very, very well. Many fans credited him for saving Epcot's 25th anniversary, and I know for certain that he made our celebration more magical simply by his presence with us. How can one not reward someone like that, even if he is nothing more than a PR guy?

Zz.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Disney Shareholders Meeting Day 1 - A Glimpse of Johnny Depp

So what's the big "oohs and aahs" during the first day of the Disney shareholders meeting? A quick glimpse of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter!

It was a blink-and-you-missed-it moment but most shareholders seemed to catch it, with a chorus of oohs and ahhs rising from the packed theater. The image even seemed to impress Disney board members, who sat mostly stone-faced in the fifth row during the two-hour meeting.


If you want to read more about the two measures that were defeated yesterday, more detailed information can be found here.

Zz.

Disney to Release "Princess and the Frog" Earlier

The release date for "Princess and the Frog" has been moved from Dec. 25 of this year to Dec. 11.

In its old date, "Princess" would have gone up against 20th Century Fox's holiday family tentpole "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel."

"Princess" has far more breathing room with a Dec. 11 opening. So far, the only other film skedded to debut that weekend is Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones," from DreamWorks and Paramount.


I would say this is a good move. It'll open just after we get back from WDW, and we would be able to see it on opening weekend. I'm hoping that Disney will be doing a lot of promotions (i.e. pins) leading up to the opening. :)

Zz.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Walt Disney Company Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Follow the Walt Disney Company annual shareholders meeting at the Disney corporate website. The audio webcasts listed on the page are available only for a limited time (most will be gone by end of March).

Zz.

Disney Announces 'D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans'

This has got to be one of the most highly anticipated promotion for many Disney fans. You can read the entire press release here.


(thanks to the Disney Blog for the video)

I think this is a neat idea for a "Disney Fan Club", because that's essentially what it is. If this is a way to cultivate and preserve the fan base that they already have, then it is definitely something worth doing. We will just have to see to what extent such a membership is worthwhile.

What is also interesting for me to see is how the publication of such magazine will affect the other fan-based periodicals that's already out there. There's the Laughing Place publication that is released every few months, and there's the new Celebration magazine that's released 3 or 4 times a year. Will the new D23 magazine diminishes the need for these magazines, or can they find a niche for themselves? Again, we shall see.

Zz.

Welcome Disney's "Dream" and "Fantasy"

Disney has announced that the two new cruise ship currently being built will be named "Disney Fantasy" and "Disney Dream".

There's also more info on the new ship here at this website.

Zz.

Disney World is Unreal — That's Not Bad

A wonderful "trip report" by a columnist at the Chicago Sun Times. But more importantly, he hit it right on on the whole purpose of a Disney theme park when he addressed the often-derided criticism of Disney parks - that it is phony.

Those who haven't been there invariably invoke its falsity -- it isn't the real world, it's Disney World. That's absolutely true. If Disney were trying to approximate the actual Africa, they would need to place 5,000 desperate refugees living under plastic tarps in their savannah instead of antelopes.

In that light, reality suddenly seems over-rated. What those who haven't been don't realize is Disney offers some very well-done falsity, giving you a taste of things that, without Disney, you might never experience at all.


All of us who are big Disney fans know that the place tries to create an illusion or fantasy world. It never pretend to be anything else, and this is despite many scholarly and important work being done in technology, agriculture, and animal/ecology research that certainly relate to the real world. It is such illusion that draws many of us to it, and draws us back repeatedly. So such criticism that it isn't real is really its selling point, IF you get it!

Zz.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Disney Sets Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions to Zero

Disney sets a very lofty goal in helping to preserve the environment.

By 2013, Disney plans to reduce electricity consumption by 10 percent compared with its 2006 baseline at existing assets, and to develop a plan to "aggressively" pursue renewable electricity sources, the report said.

To get to zero net direct emissions, Disney plans to find efficiencies to cut emissions and to replace high-carbon fuels with low-carbon alternatives, then use "high-quality offsets" for what is left.


Very commendable, and I think, will set the tone to many other companies, especially those in the same type of business. Typically what Disney does is followed by many other companies, and this is not such a bad thing to copy.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

This is Chernabog during SpectroMagic.

The last 2 times that we have viewed SpectroMagic (Sept. 2008 and Dec. 2008), Chernabog never appeared. Oh, the float with him and the "volcano" was there, but the volcano never opened to reveal him, which is truly a disappointment.

Has anyone seen SpectroMagic recently and seen Chernabog?



Zz.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Disney Chairman Makes His Movie Debut

This is actually rather amusing an destined to be a trivia classic.

Disney Chairman Dick Cook will make his big-screen debut in the upcoming Disney movie "Race to Witch Mountain". But what is funny is that his cameo will be as a train conductor. Supposedly, Cook started his career with Disney as a locomotive driver.

Now it makes me actually want to see the movie, which I wasn't planning on that much before.

Zz.

A Brief History of Pixar Studios

There are a lot of fun facts about various Pixar movies in this article, including a link to an "Up" trailer.

Pixar has won ten Academy Awards, including last month's Oscar for Best Animated Feature for "WALL-E." But success has never come easy for their band of Hollywood outsiders, and each film has its own unique story behind how it was made. Here's a look inside every one of Pixar's movies, along with the exclusive trailer for their next film, "Up," coming this summer.


Reading it like this kinda re-emphasized the brilliance of Pixar, and how varied the stories are from one movie to the next. These people take chances and do not follow the commercial formula.

Zz.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Third Trailer for "Up"

Disney has released the third trailer for "Up". Reports has it that this was shown to audience waiting to see "Watchmen".

The other "Up" trailers released so far can also be found at Yahoo! Movies.

Zz.

"The View" At Walt Disney Studios

The highly-entertaining and often-controversial show "The View" will air from the Walt Disney Studios next week. The guests list can be found here. It looks like I will be recording the one on Wednesday when Bob Iger and John Lasseter will be the guests. Lasseter will also preview "Up".

Zz.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A West Coast Home For Disney Cruise Line?

It looks like Los Angeles and San Diego are both vying to be the west coast home of one of the Disney ship.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports its home town is well into negotiations with Disney to become the home port for the first Disney ship to be based in the West full time, but the growing cruise hub still has to beat out the Port of San Pedro in the Los Angeles area.


Maybe one of the new ship being built right now might be stationed there full time. That would certainly make a lot of sense. But then again, both Wonder and Magic, the two operating ships right now for DCL, can equally handle the demand there, I would think.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

This is from my most favorite night-time show in all of WDW.



Zz.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Disney Park Bookings Slow Down

Bob Iger is reporting that the bookings at Disney theme parks are slowing down. Or is it?

“We’re on par with where we were a year ago. But we’re discounting in the marketplace,” said Iger. “So the bottom line will be affected somewhat by that.”

Disney said in early February bookings between January and June were running slightly ahead of last year’s pace, thanks largely to its seven nights for the price of hour hotel-and-ticket promotion.


I had friends who just came back a couple of weeks ago from spending a week at WDW, and they said that the parks were busy for that time of the year. So who knows....

Zz.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Kermit's What-Happens-Next-Machine Reloaded

OK, so some of you reading this blog kinda knew that I'm a physicist. It always makes my day whenever my profession and my hobby intersect now and then. It has happened a few times.

This time, I'm taking the liberty of making that intersection since the Muppets are now being "managed" by Disney. This is a rather "scholarly" article on what first appeared on Sesame Street. It is Kermit the Frog's What-Happens-Next machine. The author, from the University of Konstanz in Germany, painfully dissected the mechanics of the machine to come up with some equation of motion that cannot be solve analytically. So this is solved numerically. The FORTRAN code is even included in the manuscript! :)

Some day, when I have the time, I'll go over this very quickly. Till then, I just find this rather amusing. :)

Zz.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Random WDW Pictures

Crowd waiting for SpectroMagic. If they're also waiting for Wishes, they're sitting way too close to the Castle.



Zz.

The Force Is Strong In Mickey Mouse

This writer isn't too impressed by the various figurines of Disney characters as Star Wars characters, especially at $195 each.

OK. Not to be Mr. Negative, but in These Troubled Times (TTT), are there really that many people who can drop almost $800 for a whole set (let's be honest; if you're buying one, you're probably going to get them all)? This, on top of admission to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida? Or Disneyland; out of the 600 made, 500 go to Florida, and the rest go to California.

The latest batch (previous statues included Goofy as Jar-Jar Binks, which I oppose on moral grounds) features Mickey Luke; Minnie Leia (in the gold bikini from "Return of the Jedi"); Goofy Chewbacca; and Donald in Carbonite. They look great, but still, I dunno.


The picture of the figures can be found here.

I'm also a casual fan of Star Wars, but not rabid enough that I would buy this. Maybe the Donald Duck in carbonite might be fun, simply because we collect Donald stuff, but even that is a stretch.

Zz.

Trade Zone Can Aid Disney Parks

This Orlando Sentinel news article describes how the recently-approved free trade zone in Orange Country may help not only the Disney Cruise Line, but also the theme parks.

The chief purpose of the foreign-trade zone is still to allow Disney Cruise Line to move foreign-made goods between its warehouses and its Bahamian-flagged cruise ships without having to pay import duties. That's because goods stored in such a trade zone are treated as thoough they had never entered the U.S. The goods for the ships include everything from spare diesel-engine parts and extra icemakers to artwork, bed linens, televisions, plush toys, liquor and chocolate.

But a secondary benefit of such a warehouse is that it could allow Disney World to defer paying duty on foreign-made merchandise used or sold in the giant resort.

Disney could import items straight to the warehouse and not have to pay duty on them until it was ready to use them.


Too bad we can't shop in there. :)

Zz.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The First Annual Disney Jazz Celebration Festival

This is a rather good wrap-up article on the First Annual Disney Jazz Celebration festival at WDW. I at least learned about the great jazz legend Arturo Sandoval being an "honorary citizen of Disney" before he was a citizen of the US.

An "Honorary Citizen of Disney," this was not Sandoval's first appearance at Disney World. Having performed here many times, he boasted that before becoming a citizen of the United States, Disney was kind enough to grant him citizenship first. Explaining that he was glad to be asked to be at this first Jazz Celebration Festival as a part of promoting jazz to younger audiences, he implored the students to keep jazz alive, stating that once jazz "used to be the locomotive [engine] of the train and now it's more like the caboose."


Let's see if Disney can cultivate this event to be as big as the Chicago's Jazz Fest. :)

Zz.