Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy

OK, let me just say that they SERIOUSLY need to do this at Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom as well! It might even be a reason for me to go back on Space Mountain!

This is the Space Mountain at Disneyland being outfitted for the Halloween season. Very cool!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dinsey offers free ticket to its theme parks for volunteer service

Disney Parks announced today their new program "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day." Starting in January 2010, Disney hopes to inspire one million people to perform a day of volunteer service for a participating organization. In return, participants will receive a free one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Go to for more information.

Pooh's Rights Belong To Disney!

Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends from the 100 Acre Woods will remain with the Disney family. A judge has dismissed the remaining lawsuits against Disney brought by the Slesinger family.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper determined that Disney -- not the Slesinger family -- controlled the copyright and trademark to the bear and his forest friends.

"Stephen Slesinger Inc. transferred all of its rights in the Pooh works to Disney, and may not now claim infringement of any retained rights," Cooper wrote in her ruling.

Cooper's decision -- which brings to an end the two lawsuits outstanding -- means that Disney is free to exploit Pooh. However, the company must continue to pay royalties to the Slesinger family when Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang appear in movies, merchandise and other products.

But what amused me a bit was the report at the end.

Slesinger's daughter, Patricia Slesinger, said Monday that she hoped the latest Cooper ruling would allow the two sides to cooperate with each other, as they once did.

"Judge Florence Cooper provided a potential and elegant middle-ground solution that will allow us to go forward with our business relationship -- hopefully without more litigation," Slesinger said.

Hello? It took you how long to realize this?


Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Disney Preparing to Replace Depp in "Pirates"?

So is Disney quietly preparing the possibility of replacing Johnny Depp in case he either doesn't come back to do the next Pirates 4 movie, or will not continue beyond that? Rumor has it that Disney is considering that possibility (which would be stupid if they don't).

Adding to the comments Depp made to the L.A. Times, our regular tipster is saying that even if he makes the fourth film, he definitely won't be back for a fifth or sixth. Given that the Pirates franchise was the only live-action property making any money for the studio, they could reach deep in their pockets and keep Depp on for #4, but they're also preparing to replace Captain Jack with a entirely new character if he refuses a fifth and sixth film.

Of course, now the speculation game begins on who will take over as the central character in the Pirates franchise. It will not be the same without Jack Sparrow, though. Whoever takes over will have such a huge presence to fill, and the movie will always be compared with the ones that Depp made.


Walt Disney World and Disneyland Launch Official Theme Park Blog

The Disney theme parks in N. America are launching their own blog at

The blog will be the official source for information about new rides and attractions, exclusive videos and photographs as well in-depth coverage of events at Disney theme parks in the United States.

The Disney theme parks blog will be managed by the in-house public relations team, with social media director Thomas Smith serving as the leading voice. Select employees at the company’s theme parks in Anaheim (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure) and Orlando, Fla., (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) will contribute to the blog.

I'll include the link to the blog in our collection of Disney links. This should be interesting.


Disney, GM, and Test Track

The latest word on GM's involvement with the Test Track attraction at Epcot is that there is no word. Both sides are still not saying anything beyond the fact that they continue to have a "relationship".

Nothing to report today," he told me when I asked about the latest negotiations between the two companies. He declined to say anything further other than, "We've had a great relationship at Epcot for many years."

A Disney spokeswoman was also vague on the topic.

"We continue to have a relationship with General Motors and are having ongoing discussions about continuing this relationship in the future," said Kim Prunty.

Sounds like a platonic relationship to me. It's like when a couple has actually separated, but they're staying together in the same house because each side simply can't afford to live separately.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Chicago to Hollywood

A very nice summary of Walt's life in conjunction with the opening of the Disney Family museum this past week. Of course, since this article appeared in the Chicago Sun Times, there's a clear description of the times he spent in Chicago.


Random Disneyland Picture

A picture taken during the golden anniversary celebration of Disneyland. That's the "golden" car at Autopia.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Disney Rejects Mamet's "Diary of Anne Frank"

Show of hands for those who saw this coming from a galaxy away! {raises hand}

It appears that the marriage between Disney and David Mamet didn't work (duh!). It really isn't the fault of anyone, since each one has a separate vision. Disney is ... well, Disney, while David Mamet is a creative genius that has never been afraid to reinvent things and explore themes up to the n'th degree. So when Mamet was hired by Disney to remake "The Diary of Anne Frank", it was a rather puzzling choice, to say the least.

It now appears that Disney has dropped the project. It's not because of the nature of the story (which in itself is dark and sad since we all know Anne Frank's fate), but it is that Mamet has changed the story into something else.

But the screenplay is not a retelling of the famous Holocaust drama taken from the diaries of Frank, but about a contemporary Jewish girl who goes to Israel and learns about the traumas of suicide bombing.

With the studio in a state of limbo after the ouster of chairman Dick Cook, it is unlikely that any projects will be getting the go-ahead at the moment, say executives doing business there.

"It's very intense, and dark and scary," said the executive. "It's not a film version of 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' The story evolved into something more intense."

It probably could fit into the Miramax brand, but I don't think Disney want to touch this potentially controversial subject even with a 10-ft Pinocchio's nose.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Walt's Birthplace Home Unsold

The current owner of the home in Chicago that Walt was born has been unable to sell it during this tough housing market.

Disney's birthplace at 2156 N. Tripp has been on the market for more than a year, said owner Radoje Popovic. In 2006, Popovic and his wife, Barbara, also unsuccessfully tried to sell the home on eBay.

The couple bought the home in 2002 for $190,000 and currently are listing it at $199,000.

I've always thought that the Disney family should have bought that house, and build another building near it to be the Disney Family museum, rather than the one currently about to open in San Francisco. There's a stronger tie historically with Walt here, or even in Marceline, MO, than in SF, I would think. But hey, I'm sure they have their reasons for building it where it is.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Disney's Culinary Academy at Disneyland

A video of the Disney Culinary Academy at Disneyland.

Is there something similar at WDW?


Donald's Alaskan Adventure

Wow! Donald sure gets around, doesn't he? On the heel of the video released by the Disney Cruise line of their upcoming Alaskan cruise, it looks like Donald already has big plans of his adventure to Alaska!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Disney Cruise Line Announces Alaska Cruises

Disney has released a video promoting their first-ever cruises to Alaska.


Who Will Replace Dick Cook?

The guessing game has begun on who Iger will pick to be the next Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, to replace Dick Cook. LA Times has several candidates:

1. Disney Channel President Rich Ross
Ross' star has been on the rise since his successful rehab of Disney Channel, once an also-ran pay-cable network that has generated such billion-dollar creative franchises as "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana."

Although Ross has virtually no experience on the feature film side, he has helped Disney Channel forge relationships with the company's other divisions. Such cross-divisional collaboration is a priority for Iger, who often extols the work of Disney Channel on calls with Wall Street analysts.

2. John Lasseter
Another touted prospect for the top studio job is John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, who directed "Toy Story," "Toy Story 2" and "Cars." Lasseter is also principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, the group that develops attractions for the theme parks.

My guess is that this is not very likely, i.e. I don't think Lasseter wants this job. He's having way too much fun running Disney animation.

We shall see......


Monday, September 21, 2009

Is Johnny Depp Changing Is Mind About "Pirates 4"?

Well now, things have certainly taken a turn into rather ominous directions. In an interview, Johnny Depp has hinted that he is reconsidering his involvement in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" after the departure of former Disney Studios chief Dick Cook.

"There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment... It was all born in that office," Depp told the Los Angeles Times, referring to a verbal agreement he made with Cook about the new Pirates film.

Depp hinted that he had only accepted an offer to return for a fourth movie, which currently has no script or director, because of his friendship with Cook.

It would be a total understatement to say that without Depp, there is no "Pirates". Maybe Bob Iger should have waited until he got Depp's signature to star in the movie before firing Cook.

Let's see if this works out in the end.


"Adventures by Disney" Reduces in Size

The economic slowdown is hitting all aspects of the tourist/vacation market, and Adventures by Disney certainly isn't immune to it. For the first time, the number of tours being offered in 2010 is smaller in number than in 2009.

For the first time since Adventures' inception, Disney is scaling it back. The company has cut scores of trips from Adventures' 2010 schedule and has dropped a handful of destinations — including Spain, Austria and the Czech Republic — entirely.

Analysts say the pullback reflects the difficulties even brand icons such as Disney face selling premium vacations — such as $6,500-a-person safaris through South Africa — in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression.

These are certainly premium vacations that many average families simply can't afford, even under the best of times. It will be interesting to see if Disney comes up with a "value" version of these premium vacations to expand the demographics of the guests buying into Adventures by Disney. I suppose it depends on what they can offer without sacrificing too much on the quality and the "adventure" aspect of the vacation.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Donald's Great Adventure - WCPT September Pin Meet

I made my first appearance at the Windy City Pin Traders pin meet yesterday. Boy was I mobbed by throngs of adoring fans! I had to run away for a while before the plucked away all my feathers! If I didn't know any better, I'd say those WCPT members yesterday looked hungry!

After it calmed down a bit, I managed to browse around the many, many, many Disney pins that they brought for trading. Here are some of them.

Mickey, of course, just HAD to be there as well. Luckily, they made him tend to the computer that they set up for the various WCPT members to use. I don't know what they used it for. They kept looking at this site call "Dizpins"? What is it? Place for people who get dizzy looking at pins? Where do I sign up?

The WCPT people meet at Fuddruckers in Addison, IL once a month. They told me that the Fuddruckers people here are very nice to them. They even put a few of my friends from the Hundred Acre Woods next to the dates of the WCPT pin meet. Hey there, Eeyore and Tigger!

By then, I was starving and needed to place an order. I was told that they have a good veggie burger here, and sweet potato fries!

Here I am, waiting for ZapperZ to show up and place my order. He has the money. Unfortunately, this isn't a Disney restaurant, and I don't get complimentary meals here.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where in Walt Disney World?

Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Dick Cook Abruptly Leaves Walt Disney Studios

In what is a total shocker, Dick Cook, the head of Walt Disney Studios, has abruptly stepped down and left the Walt Disney Company after 38 years of service.

The news, which came just as offices were emptying out for the weekend, stunned the entertainment industry for its suddenness, even as it revealed a rift between Cook and Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger. The studio has had an uneven box-office performance and has been struggling creatively. It lost money in its most recent financial quarter.

This, of course, came off the heel of a very successful D23 Expo where Cook revealed the slate of upcoming releases from the Walt Disney Studios.

I must say that while this is certainly unexpected, I am not totally surprised by it. Other than movies out of Pixar, the performance of the movie division after the Pirates franchise has been lethargic. The live-action movies have been generally a disappointment. But is this directly attributed to Cook? I don't know, but as is common for big companies, the head of the division is considered the one to take the blame.

Still, the news article hinted at what could possibly be a different approach to management between Iger and Cook.

Cook, the onetime Disneyland ride operator who rose to head the studio, is viewed as a traditionalist at a time when Iger is seeking new ways of doing business. Cook tended to be uncommunicative to the point of secretiveness -- a personal style that frustrated Iger, who emphasizes collaboration.

It will be interesting to see who takes over the studios.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Captain Jack Fan on the Loose

OK, I think this was "staged", i.e. it isn't real. Still, a lot of fun.

I'm not sure I know of any adults WDW guests that would go do that. :)


Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Walt Learned From South America

I mentioned a while back about the documentary on Walt's trip to South America during the early part of the 20th century. It seems that NPR has a more in-depth coverage of this that include an interview with Ted Thomas, the director of "Walt and El Grupo".

It sounds like a fascinating movie. I hope it makes it to the Chicagoland area, because I would certainly go see it.


Donald's Great Adventure - Club 33

Being a big shot celebrity, I get to go to many places around Disney theme parks. Whenever I'm at Disneyland, I can always get a table at Club 33, so that's where I went last week for dinner.

Did you know that whenever I eat inside Disney, all my meals are complimentary? Yup! I eat for free, and I don't have to wait for any special Disney Dining Plan promotions either! Besides, how much can leaves and grasses cost anyway?

Several of the guests that evening asked me to play a tune on the piano. I had to decline since my webbed fingers are even a bigger impediment to playing the piano than my speech is to human conversation. Still, I took a picture with this old piano for my fans.

And speaking of fans, just like all those cast members at the Doorway to Dreams center at Woodfield Mall, the cast members simply adore me here as well. Patrick was a wonderful bartender and made me a wheat grass martini. So I obliged when he asked for a picture with me.

I was stuffed to the bills by the time I waddled out of Club 33. I then went to say hi to that nasty dragon before she appeared in Fantasmic.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where in WDW?

OK, here's another one. Where in Walt Disney World is this? Try to be as specific as possible.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Behind the Scenes at D23 Expo

Now that the first ever D23 Expo is in the history books, here's an article that looks back at the amazing fan convention.

It was an interesting experiment in one of the few burgeoning trends in media today, a move toward selling already-loyal customers premium memberships that offer access to things they wouldn't normally see. It was a small glimpse at how an industry hungry for growth is trying new ways to find it. And it gave new meaning to the term "Mickey Mouse Club."

Certainly, it is a Mickey Mouse Club for adults!

But as interesting as this news article is, what was more interesting for me is the video clip that is embedded in the article. It is a 17-minute interview with Bob Iger that covers not only the Walt Disney Company, but a little bit about himself. There is a short description of how he celebrated his 35th year in the company towards the very end of the video which I found endearing.


Details of Upcoming Slate of Disney Animation Titles

Combining bits of information from John Lasseter's presentation at the recent D23 Expo and at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, this news release provides a comprehensive summary of the upcoming Disney animation releases.

There certainly is plenty to look forward to in the next few years.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Interview With "Tron Legacy" Producer

This is a very interesting interview with "Tron Legacy" producer Sean Bailey. Of course, he couldn't spill the beans on many aspects of the movie, it still, there's quite a bit of insight into the movie and the storyline. For example:

Are there any iconic throwbacks to the original movie? Do we see Encom's laser bay again? The place with the giant door?

Oh, you mean where Jeff Bridges said, "Now that's a big door!"? Yes, there are a lot of those little Easter eggs like that. I think that people that know the first movie really well will appreciate them. When you get the guys who write Lost, it is just in their blood.

I'm sure by the time the movie comes out, there'll be someone doing a list on all the Easter eggs in the movie.


Where In WDW

Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Marvel Hits With Lawsuit

Hold that merger! A class action lawsuit has been brought against Marvel.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Marvel Friday by company investors.

The suit was filed in New York state court.

The suit claims Marvel's takeover was not right because the board of directors did not conduct a fair and open sales process, and that the current deal undermines Marvel's stock.

We will just have to wait and see if this actually goes anywhere.


Donald's Great Adventure - Donald Pins

This isn't really my great big adventure since all I'm doing is sitting on a chair. But my Handler ZapperZ collects these things called "pins" and wanted me to take a picture with a few that he recently obtained.

I normally don't have any interest in these pins, but I make an exception for these because they are Donald Duck pins. ZapperZ told me that these are not easy to find because they are from the "Disney Auctions", which is no longer around. I wouldn't know. All I know is that these are cool pins because they have ME in it!

The one below has my nephews in it. As much as they try to get under my skin some time, I still love them. Besides, I promised Dumbella that I'll take care of them.

I hope ZapperZ doesn't expect me to wear one of these pins. Just look at the size of one of these things!


Disney Announces Major Expansions to It's US Theme Parks

Here are more news coverage of the announcement reported by Patti yesterday from the D23 Expo.

Reuters is reporting the major expansion to Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. We have a more official detail that the expansion will come at the expense of Toon Town.

Disney Imagineers, who design rides and attractions, said the Toon Town attraction would be dismantled and its popular Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse houses relocated to another section of Walt Disney World.

LA Times has a more in-depth coverage of the current plans for California Adventure, including the new Cars Land and upgrading Star Tours.

The biggest attraction in Cars Land will be Radiator Springs Racers. With rock work built on a scale similar to the Expedition Everest attraction, the ride will sprawl over six acres and take visitors on a road trip through the caverns and past the waterfall and other scenery depicted in the movie to join the film's characters, including the Goofy-like character Mater, on a mischievous "tractor-tipping" exercise. The ride culminates with a race through Carburetor Canyon and Ornament Valley. A scale model of Cars Land is on display at the convention center in Anaheim.

OK then, let's get on with it.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

All the scoop from D23 presentation of Disney parks and Resorts

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo gave D23 attendees some behind-the-scenes scoop on several new projects in the works. Here's some of the jaw-dropping highlights:

* As Zeke had previously stated, Walt Disney World in Florida will expand the size of Fantasyland. It will practically double. Each princess will have her own land where you can visit her. For example, visit Belle and dine at the new Be Our Guest restaurant or grab a quick bite at Gaston's Tavern (be warned - he uses antlers in all his decorating!)

* For all you Dumbo fans out there, Walt Disney World in Florida is planning to double the size of the Dumbo attraction. It looks like there will be two rides adjacent to each other. And guests will be able to play interactive circus games in the line queue.

* Coming in 2012, you can also visit Tinker Belle and friends in Pixie Hallow. You'll feel like you have shrunken to the size of a fairy amongst the over sized grass and tree stumps.

* It's been previously announced that Disney is building new cruise ships. Castaway Cay is expanding to accommodate the larger ships, and a big water slide will be built on the island. The Disney Wonder will relocate to California.

*Hong Kong Disneyland has 3 new lands, over 12 acres: Grizzly Trail will include a roller coaster that runs backwards. Mystic Point will include the Mystic Manor, the Chinese version of our Haunted Mansion. And finally, Toy Story Land will house over sized characters from the movie.

*A fantastic preview of the new Carsland at Disneyland California was previewed. The area will include Luigi's Flying Tires, which will be an updated version of the Flying Saucers bumper cars ride (and with better technology comes a better ride). Radiator Springs Racers will use the best of the Test Track technology to allow guests ride in the Cars race cars.

*Perhaps one of the funniest bits from rasulo's presentation came when he announced that Star Tours was closing. There was a gasp of surprise from the audience. before he could explain further, a small army of Storm Troopers appeared on stage with Darth Vader. Vader demanded to know what he meant, and Rasulo explained they would be creating a bigger better Star Tours adventure by 2014. Darth Vader pressed him to have it completed by 2011. Rasulo had the audience don their 3D glasses and he showed a preview of the new attraction's film.

*As guests left the arena, they were given a limited edition numbered poster for the new Star Tours attraction.

New D23 Expo Update

Patti is reporting that Dumbo attraction at WDW will double in size. Interactive game while waiting.

WDW Fantasyland will also expand. Each princess will get her own land.

Johnny Depp at D23 Expo

Of course, the web and news reports are just bubbling over the appearance of Johnny Depp at yesterday's D23 Expo. Don't miss Patti's summary of the evening.

The LA Times has further reports on Depp's dramatic onstage appearance. It appears that Disney has pulled out all the stops for this event.


Best. D23 Presentation. Ever.

Disney Studio executive Dick Cook lead this morning's presentation of news and upcoming movie sneak peeks at the D23 Expo. There was so much activity that I'll just recap it with bullet points. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed in the arena.

*Guests were given 3D glasses upon entering the arena. Several of the movie clips to be shown would be in 3D.

*A rather lengthy intro clip highlighting the Disney studio films and music through the years got the crowd motivated.

*As Dick Cook took the stage to welcome the Expo guests, snow began to fall inside the arena. It was the perfect set-up to present Disney's holiday film "A Christmas Carol". Director Robert Zemeckis came on stage to talk about the film and a behind-the-scenes clip with Jim Carrey was shown. ZapperZ has written about this film in previous posts, and after seeing the sneak peek, I also agree that you'll want to see this film!

*Dick Cook also confirmed rumors that a new 3D version of the Beatles movie Yellow Submarine.

*Disney has been heavily promoting their upcoming film Old Dogs, starring Robin Williams and John Travolta. This film was a family affair, as John, his wife Kelly, "and their daughter Ella Blue all appear in the film. They came on stage and John answered a few questions from Dick Cook.

*The crowd of 5,000 attendees began to grown excited as Dick started to describe the accomplishments of his next guest, director Tim Burton. Burton rarely makes appearances and his arrival at the D23 presentation was met with thunderous applause. The trailer for ""Alice in Wonderland" was shown. When asked what made making the film so difficult, Burton paused for a moment and answered, "uhhh... Me." Big laughs from the crowd.

*It was also revealed that a stop-motion feature of Tim Burton's short film "Frankenweenie" would be created.

*And what kind of presentation would it be without a visit from the Muppets? Our favorite pals appeared in a replica of the Mark Twain, complete with singing from Miss Piggy and Kermit. A new Muppet movie is in the works called "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made."

*Producer Jerry Bruckheimer then appeared on stage to present a sneak peek at "Price of Persia: The Sands of Time". This movie, slated for May 2010, is pure Bruckheimer summer big action flick. Be prepared for lots of explosions and heros in peril.

*Next on the agenda was an appearance by Nicholas Cage. We had seen him at the Haunted Mansion event earlier, so it was no surprise that he would appear at the D23 expo to promote his new film "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". I don't know if Dick Cook was teasing, but when he asked Nicholas Cage is he's be interested in doing a third National Treasure movie, Nic said, "Sure!"

*The DisneyNature section was previewed next. Dick reported that 2.7 million trees were planted in response to the film "Disney Earth". Next year on Earth Day, they will be releasing a new film titled "Oceans". The tag line is "If you think you have seen the ocean, you haven't even scratched the surface." The film looks gorgeous.

*Disney Studios also revealed a collaboration with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro to create a new branch of the company called Disney Double Dares You that will create darker, creepier films. The first film to be produced under this label is titled TrollHunters".

*Another film released by Disney is "The Last Song", a movie adaption to the popular book by Nicholas Sparks. It's star of the movie, Miley Cyrus, made a surprise appearance at the presentation and performed one of her hit songs "The Climb". Although entertaining, I think the performance was largely unappreciated by the mostly-adult expo attendees. I did hear about a few pre-teen girls in the balcony who became very excited, but that reaction was limited.

*The sequel to Tron has been generating a lot of buzz at the expo, and the audience at the presentation welcomed the review of the original movie and the rough cut test footage of Tron Legacy.

*The partnership with Dreamworks to produce 6 live action films was also revealed, but I didn't hear any additional details on this.

*Andrew Stanton of Pixar Studios is creating a live action film "John Carter of Mars". It is expected to be a trilogy. Concept art for this film was shown to the audience. Expected date of summer 2012 for the movie.

*The rumors regarding a remake of The Lone Ranger were confirmed, and Johnny Depp has been secured to play the role of Tonto.

*And speaking of Johnny Depp, Dick Cook sure know hows to end a presentation with a pow! The title of the next Pirates movie was announced -- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, coming summer 2011. And as the audience applauded the news, the theme music from the Pirates movies began to swell. Curtains opened to reveal a mock-up of the Black Pearl. Cue fog and wind fan to billow out the sails. The crowd roared its approval. The boat turned to reveal its passenger: Johnny Depp in character as Jack Sparrow. The audience went absolutely crazy! Depp played his drunken yet charming Sparrow character with gusto.

What a great climax to an awesome presentation! The crowd left the arena very happy and anticipating the new films to come out of the studio.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Disney Sells "Princess and the Frog" at D23 Expo

While it is like preaching to the choir, it is nevertheless a necessary step to first and foremost convince the avid Disney fans to go see the hand-drawn "Princess and the Frog". This is what Disney tried to do with the Bob Iger opening speech at the D23 Expo yesterday.

"Nowhere do we shine more brightly than in classic Disney animation," Iger said to applause as he announced the 30-minute screening, adding, "Promise me you'll go see the rest when it opens."

Extracting such an assurance from hard-core Disney fans might not be difficult. But with the wider public, "Princess and the Frog" presents potential obstacles.

That's absurd. There can't be that many irrational people who won't see a movie simply because it is hand-drawn and not computer-generated. It is all in the STORY. Are these the same people who predicted that "Up" isn't going to be successful because the story about an elderly gentleman and an adult theme won't appeal to kids? As Donald would say "Phooey!"


The Pirates League at Walt Disney World

Video of the "Pirates League" at WDW. Looks like the "Boutique" but with a Pirates theme.

Parents, make sure your kids want to look like that all day before they get those make-ups! If not, you'll be paying for something they'll wear only for a few minutes! :)


Thursday, September 10, 2009

More D23 Opening Day Photos

Here are more photos from Patti from today's D23 opening day.


D23 Expo Merchandise

Just got a picture from Patti of a couple of D23 merchandise being sold there right now. This picture shows a t-shirt, a reusable bag, and Mouse ears.


Of course, I told Patti to get me some. :)


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

999 Haunted Mansion Event update

Guests that purchased the dinner package ticket were ushered into California Adventure. The dinner was set up in Soundstage 17. Several attendees were dressed in costumes like the Haunted Mansion characters. Other attendees wore custom-made shirts. Most sported at least a Haunted Mansion tshirt.

As guests walked through the door, the theme of a wedding was present with an overhead sign proclaiming "Best Wishes to Newlyweds, George and Constance!". The theme continued with a performance of a mock ceremony, complete with bridesmaids, the Bride, but no groom since he had met with an untimely demise.

Dinner was served, followed by a Q&A session moderated by Tim O'Day with author Jason Surrell, Kim Irvine, Tony Baxter, Alice Davis, and X Atencio.

The festivities concluded with a performace with the Bride and dearly departed Groom. It ended with a rousing chorus of the tune Grim Grinning Ghosts, and an appearance of our favorite ghosts Gus, Phinneas, and Ezra.

Event attendees then made their way to the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Masion. The Bride and Groom appeared on the second floor balcony to cut their wedding cake (with a hatchet, no less!) and pose for photos. Cake and punch was served and attendees had the chance to ride the attraction.

A bit of buzz was created when actor Nicholas Cage showed up at the event and rode the Haunted Mansion. He left shortly after his ride. I'm not sure he even stayed for his piece of cake!

Live from the 999 Haunted Mansion event

"They asked if I'd ride the Haunted Mansion...I've been on it before...but I'll go again...see if they put Johnny Depp in it..."
~X Atencio

10% Off Merchandise at WDW with Disney Visa Card

Thanks to Anne for bringing this piece of information. It appears that from the All Ears Newsletter, there is unpublished (yet) benefit to the Disney Rewards Visa card:

The 10 percent Disney Visa discount that has only been offered to Disney Visa cardholders at World of Disney (with a minimum $50 purchase) is now available at all locations that sell Disney merchandise on property. This includes theme parks and resorts. You must make a minimum $50 purchase and you must pay with your Disney Visa card.

A couple of readers added important comments to this news:

Filipa Douma says: The discount is valid in all Disney stores that sell Disney merchandise on property. However, the guest must indicate that they want to make use of the discount. Cast members are not allowed to automatically apply the discount... Keep this in mind when you go up to the register to pay.

Mary Ann Devine writes: When I was at Walt Disney World in July, we just had to show the Disney Visa card to get the 10 percent off. We were able to pay cash. Just ask the cast member.

So one needs to not only spend at least $50 (a trivial thing) but must also ask for the discount even when paying with the Disney Visa card.

There appears to be no official announcement of this anywhere yet. So consider this to still be a rumor, and even the possibility of having conflicting reports (such as being able to get the 10% discount simply by showing the Disney Visa card but not using it).

If anyone has gotten this discount, I'd like to hear about it.


Woody Scarecrow "Kidnapped"

Someone either didn't like it, or liked it too much.

A scarecrow that has a strong resemblance to Woody from "Toy Story" was stolen from a North Yorkshire village in England.

The scarecrow, which police said was a "very distinctive" replica of Woody from the Toy Story films, was taken from a garden in Well, near Bedale.

It had been due to feature in the village's annual scarecrow festival, but was stolen between Sunday 30 August and Monday 31 August.

Maybe Buzz was offended that there's no scarecrow of him. :)


When Walt Disney Visited Latin America

I always love reading short article about Walt and what he did that isn't widely known. This LA Times piece describe a period where Walt was asked to be some sort of a goodwill ambassador to various countries in Latin America. This visit has been documented in a new documentary "Walt and El-Grupo".

The documentary "Walt & El Grupo" chronicles the trip. Shot in five countries, the documentary travels in Disney's footsteps and features personal letters, interviews with historians and survivors both here and in Latin America, and never-before-seen photographs and film footage.

Before Disney ventured south, several other celebrities had been sent down to the Americas without much success.

I'm glad that the visit gave Walt the inspiration to create two very important films that have become Disney classics - 1942's "Saludos Amigos" and 1944's "The Three Caballeros" - mainly because this is where Donald Duck became popular.


Long Lines for the Haunted Mansion event at Disneyland

Early Registration for the 09-09-09 Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary event started this evening. We arrived two hours early to wait in line so we could be some of the first people to access the Event Store. Unlike many Disney pin events, this Haunted Mansion anniversary celebration did not include a 4th day-of-event RSP (RSP is a lottery system to obtain the collectible merchandise released specifically for the event). Instead, the leftover merchandise was sold in a first-come, first served event store. Most of the additional items in the store were limited to one per person.

Cast Members dressed in Haunted Mansion uniforms assisted guests through the registration process.

There were three steps to the Haunted Mansion event registration process tonight: First, small groups of attendees were brought into a room to show their photo id and pick up their event credentials, event gifts, and various coupons and tickets to be used during the event. Once they picked up their packets, they moved to a sitting room with rows of chairs. From that room they were ushered into lines to enter the second room to pick up their collectibles and merchandise they had previously ordered, and another line to ship the items home. And then they moved into the line for the final room of the Event Store if they wanted to purchase additional items.

Event credential for the 999 Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary is also a magnet!

Although the process was orderly, it certainly took a long time. As I mentioned before, we were in line early and there were about 30 people ahead of us. Overall, it took us 3 hours to get through the entire process (5 hours if you count our 2 hour wait time for the doors to open!) One of our friends arrived much later in the evening, about 9:15, and it took her 2 1/2 hours and she didn't even go to the Event Store! I think tomorrow's lines will probably be even longer as more guests arrive for the day of the event. I hope the Disney Event Services staff took note of this and will have more resources in place for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

999 Haunted Mansion Early Registration

Guest blogger Patti checking in live from Disneyland's Grand California where early registration and merchandise pickup is starting this evening. There's about 60 people lined up outside the conference center waiting for the 5pm start. The atmosphere resembles a high school reunion. Many Disney fans are reconnecting with friends and easily chatting with each other while waiting in line.

I've seen about a dozen Cast Members in the Haunted Mansion uniform enter the conference center. We assume they are assisting with the registration process, which adds to the general theming of the event.

Stay tuned for updates.

The Eve of 999

On the eve of the 999 Haunted Mansion event tomorrow at Disneyland, here's a picture of the Haunted Mansion at WDW.


"Waking Sleeping Beauty" - An Inside Look At Disney Animation

OK, I so want to see this documentary already. "Waking Sleeping Beauty" is being shown at the Telluride Film Festival, and it documents the turmoil during the resurrection of Disney animation unit between 1984 and 1994. This is the period when Disney hits unbelievable heights in animation with "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beasts" and "The Lion King". But it also led to a lot of internal power struggle that ultimately ended with the animation unit being shut down completely until recently.

“Waking Sleeping Beauty” was made by Don Hahn and Peter Schneider, who are scarcely anthropologists stumbling across an interesting uprising. Hahn, who directed and produced the film, produced “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” while Schneider, who produced the movie, was the animation president during its resurrection. The documentary also was financed and will be distributed by Disney next April.

It would be interesting to hear what the participants involved in this whole period has to say now. On second thought, maybe I don't want to hear what they have to say anymore.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Luxo Files Lawsuit Against Luxo Jr.

The Norwegian lamp company Luxo is suing Pixar and the Walt Disney Company for the plans to include a limited edition Luxo Jr. lamp with the forthcoming release of "Up" on Blu-Ray.

Norwegian lamp maker Luxo filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in New York accusing Pixar and parent Walt Disney Co. of infringing its copyright by selling a limited-edition Luxo Jr. lamp packaged with a Blu-ray version of the Disney/Pixar movie "Up."

Luxo said in the suit that the sale of the Pixar lamps would "cause devastating damage to Luxo."

It will? How?

I don't know about you, but I'm getting one as soon as it is released!


Donald's Great Adventure - Back at Woodfield Mall

For some strange reason, my Handler was back at the Woodfield Mall again for the second day in a row. He must be awfully bored.

Still, I had a nice visit with all my pals at the Disney Store. My Handler thought it would be "cute" for me to sit on the railing, which has a long drop down to the first floor. Is there a law against the endangerment of a Disney plush?

We then made out way back to the Disney Doorway to Dreams center because, you guessed it, Handler ZapperZ wanted to do some pin trading. So while he was busily pin-trading away, I decided to just sit and chill out. I like this place - it is always nice and cheerful.

Of course, being as famous and popular as I am, it didn't take long before I'm surrounded by adoring fans. And as I've mentioned before, cast members just simply love me to pieces. Cast member Steve at the DDD center was just dying to have a picture taken with me.

I told him that if he wants another picture with me, he should lose the hat. Mickey has enough publicity as it is already. I think it is about time that Disney makes Donald Duck hats, don't you think? It will be a big hit.

By the end of the day, I was very tired and took a nap in my Handler's bag.


John Lasseter Answers Fan Questions

I saw these videos several days ago, and finally gotten around to posting them here. It is a series of videos where John Lasseter answers several questions sent to him via various social networking sites. It is quite interesting because it certainly appears that Lasseter was answering them spontaneously, and no Disney PR got in the way of filtering things out.

The videos were sent to DailyMotion for release.

So here they are:

Those were a lot of fun, especially the Jungle Cruise jokes! :)


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Donald's Great Adventure - at the Woodfield Mall

I was at the Woodfield Mall yesterday and visited the Disney Doorway to Dreams booth on the main floor. I love coming here and also visiting the DDD store upstairs. Handler ZapperZ comes here to do pin trading. I come here to meet all of my fans. They always tell me the same thing - that I look smaller in person. I tell them that TV puts on a few extra pounds.

While everyone was busy doing pin trading with the DDD cast member, I climbed up the DDD sign. It was very high... for me.

I have a lot of fans among Disney cast members as well. Cast member Nikki wanted desperately to have a picture with me, and as a major star, I obliged. She was very nice, and as you can tell, was completely thrilled to get a picture with me.

I then went upstairs to the DDD center. I always like coming here because I miss my home at Walt Disney World, and people at the DDD center are always sympathetic to that. They make me feel very welcome and very much at home.

I decided to sit on Goofy's nose while he posed. He can pose very still for a long time, almost like he's a statue.

It was a fun day at the Woodfield Mall.


Donald's Great Adventure

Since we now have my friend Patti being our guest blogger while she's in California attending all these amazing Disney events, I thought I should also invite another good friend of ours to also do his own blogging. I'm sure you all know him (and his temperament) very well, especially since he celebrated his 75th birthday this year. So please welcome Donald Fauntleroy Duck to My Disney Mania blog.

Donald travels all over the place, and will report on all of his fine adventures. But as many of a place that he has been too, he still longs to go back to Walt Disney World, where he is the happiest and least cranky - at least, until someone starts playing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song.

So without further delay, I'll hand this over to Donald, who has been hovering over my key board since I started typing this.


Hello everyone! I'm Donald Duck!

My Handler ZapperZ said that I should earn my keep and start reporting all of my great adventures. I love that idea, because it will mean that I will be taken out of the bag that he puts me in more often. It is dark in there and there are these sharp, pointing metals that he puts me next to. He calls them "pins". I call them a pain in the.... {ZapperZ told me not to type that word}.

I hope you will get a quack out of all the places I go to. Please write if you like them. I love fan mail and I want to get more than Mickey. If you don't like them, well then, PHOOEY!


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mickey Halloween

Just saw this at a Disney Store. It is so cute! But it is $99. There is a sale with 25% discount though.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Your Guest Blogger Checking In

Greetings ZapperZ and readers. This is Patti, your guest blogger.
I am testing the technical capabilities to ensure that I'll be able to provide you with on-the-spot coverage of next week's activities at Disneyland. I'll be submitting reports and photos from the 40th Anniversary of the Haunted Mansion event on 09/09/09, as well as all the news from the D23 Expo. So stay tuned for some great scoop!

Maleficent has Arrived!

And boy, has she ever!

New videos of the "dragon" that is now part of the Fantasmic show at Disneyland. Awesome!


Tron Legacy - Dec. 17, 2010

So Disney has announced the release date for the highly, highly-anticipated "Tron Legacy". It is in the topic.

But there could be a serious bloodbath going on. The Green Hornet is also scheduled to be released on the same day! This could get very interesting, or very ugly, for both movies because I would think that the demographics they are targeting are the same.


Creating Buzz for Toy Story

This Wall Street Journal article describes Disney's push to promote Toy Story 3 by rereleasing both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D this October.

An few eye-opening fact from this article was this:

The process of rendering the films -- or translating computer data into images -- was vastly accelerated by current technology. Where the original "Toy Story" required an hour per frame to create, Mr. Lasseter said, rendering the new 3-D version took less than 1/24th of a second per frame.

Holy plastic green men! An hour per frame? I can only imagine how long it took to render the whole movie.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Disney Cruise Ship Saves Man

Can't make this up. Man fell off a Carnival cruise ship, and gets rescued by a Disney cruise ship! It did happen.

Officials said the man fell off the Sensation at 11:21 p.m. Wednesday, about 28 miles east of Port St. Lucie.

The Coast Guard launched a search helicopter and a 47-foot-long rescue boat from Fort Pierce. An alert also went out to seagoing vessels to assist with the search. The Disney Wonder also responded to the call and spotted the man.

“We were on our way back from the Bahamas and did respond to an emergency call,” said Rena Langley, spokeswoman for Disney Cruise Lines.

He's one lucky fella! Now comes the question on how he fell overboard.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cyrus and Disney Thrilled About Gay Dancing Video

OK, this is just waaaaay too much fun that at first, I thought this report is a parody. Still, it might be true.

It appears that a video made by someone of a group of gay men having a vacation in "F.I.P" (which I would guess to mean "Fire Island - Pines") by using Miley Cyrus tune "Party in the U.S.A" has caught on not only with a lot of fans (has it gone viral yet?), but also with Cyrus and the Disney people!

The singer admits she's "obsessed with this video," and Disney chiefs, who are usually quick to seek legal recourse against all copyright infringements are reportedly eager to get hold of the man behind the promo, so that he and Cyrus can hook up for publicity.

It is a well-made and fun video! Who knows how long it will be up and if Disney might change its mind about the use of this tune. Still, in the mean time, I'm embedding it here. So see it while you can!


2009 Disney Legends Awards at Upcoming D23 Expo

Oh boy! The D23 Expo is really, really turning into a major event. This year's Disney Legend Awards will be presented at the Expo, and the public gets to attend this for the first time.

The Disney Legends Awards are a 22-year tradition of The Walt Disney Company, and the four-day D23 EXPO provides a rare opportunity for the public to watch the awards presentation. The awards ceremony, hosted by ABC personality Tom Bergeron, will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. It directly follows a special, one-hour presentation by Walt Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger that kicks off the first day of the D23 EXPO - which promises to be the ultimate Disney fan event.

Drat! Wish I could go!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Could Universal Studios be in Disney's Crosshair Next?

More issues surrounding Disney's acquisition of Marvel. This time on what it means to Universal Studios, which pays Marvel for the rights to several attractions at the theme parks in Florida.

So of course, inevitably, the possibility of Disney buying Universal Studios had to come up. While this is certainly "attractive", I don't quite see it happening, and certainly not for the sole reason of attracting tween boys. Still, it is just a little bit ironic that Universal will soon be paying The Mouse for the rights to use the Marvel characters names.