Sunday, February 28, 2010

Transformer Donald Duck

OK, so we had Easter Donald Duck. Now along comes a Transformer Donald Duck. You can read the entire review of this new "toy" at It looks rather complicated.

Transformation is way tricker than on Mickey. I would have felt confident that a young child could easily transform Mickey but Donald is nore elaborate. He's something of a shellformer and folding his various little tabs and pegs in. It'll present no problem to anyone who's transformed a movieverse figure or Universe Sunstreaker but it may be worth noting for anyone planning to buy this for kids.

Hum... But then again, Donald is a complicated and complex creature himself. So this is only appropriate! :)


"Tron Legacy" Secret Trailer Event

OK, Disney is being way too clever with the promotion leading up to "Tron Legacy". To their credit, they certainly know the audience that the movie appeals to, and playing it up to full tilt. This is one such example, where ....

....Diehard fans of the movie (Tronheads? Trononites?) had to look for clues and go an scavenger hunt in cities like Sydney, Berlin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, then work together via the Internet to piece together what would eventually tell them where the sneak peek would occur.

The report gives an account of the special trailer of "Tron Legacy", which doesn't come out till December this year. But already, the excitement is building almost to a frenzy, it seems.

What I'm afraid of here is that they might release too much of the movie and give it away. The best part of any movie is the expected, something that just blows you away the FIRST time that you saw it. We now have quite a glance at the new Tron world, the light cycle, etc.. etc. That's too bad, because that's something I want to be wowed with when I first see it in the movie theater. I'm sure there's be other surprises, but I wish they didn't reveal these either.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Easter Donald Duck

I was rolling on the floor when I saw this.

I went to the Hallmark store a couple of nights ago, and bought the Easter Donald Duck that they were selling. If you've never bought anything from them, this is the one you want to get, so GO! NOW! It is so hysterical that I just had to take a quick video of it!

It has a tag on one of the ears telling you NOT to pick up by the ears. But you should do it anyway! :)

I wonder why Disney doesn't think of such clever merchandise for themselves. This would be a HUGE seller at the theme parks. It seems that many of the fun and funny stuff are licensed and sold elsewhere.

I'm thinking of buying another one. It costs $14.95 if you purchase 3 Hallmark cards, which is nothing since we typically buy a few Hallmark cards anyway!


An Amazing HK Disneyland Pin Set

{Thanks to Simon for getting me this pin set}

This is an amazing pin set from Hong Kong Disneyland. It is to commemorate the recent Chinese New Year. It is an amazing set. The box itself looks impressive.

But the content is even more impressive. When you open it, it contains 5 amazing pins all mounted on what looks like 5 panels of a Chinese screen.

Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy are all in their Chinese outfits.

In fact, you can stand it up like a screen.

The pin set costs HK$350. If the exchange rate is ~HK$7 to US$1, then it's about US$50 for the set, which is about right if you consider that you got 5 pins, and an amazing mount for the pins.

I love this set!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Orlando's SeaWorld Trainer Killed by Killer Whale

Not a Disney news, but still, it's tragic news.

A SeaWorld trainer in Orlando was killed after she slipped and fell into a pool, and then attacked by a killer whale.

"The trainer was explaining different things about the whale, and then the trainer that was down there walked away from the window. Then [the whale] took off really fast in the tank, and he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing [her] around," Biniak said.

Wow. This is horrifying.

Condolences go to the trainer's family and friends. This is just tragic.


Captain EO Officially Returns to Disneyland

Fans of "Captain EO" can now catch it at Disneyland. There is even a YouTube clip of one of the musical numbers, "We are here to change the world".

Honestly, I didn't get this before, and I'll probably not get this again, especially now. It looks like a music video from Thriller, and definitely feels out of date. I guess many fans will like it for the "nostalgic" reason, which is understandable. I, on the other hand, would rather be on Dumbo.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Give A Day, Get A Disney Day Pin Hat

I mentioned earlier that I received the voucher for my volunteer work for Project Linus as part of the "Give A Day, Get A Disney Day" promotion. I haven't redeem the voucher yet, since our next trip to WDW isn't until end of April. However, a friend already has cashed it in. Since most of us have Annual Passes, we will probably opt for either the super fastpasses, or the pin hat. My friend opted for the pin hat, and she has graciously sent a picture of it through the Windy City Pin Traders group (Thanks Melody, Gene!). Here is what it looks like:

It looks quite nice, and you get quite a few pins. I was going to choose this anyway, but this now makes it even more worthwhile to get! Can't wait to get my hands on it.


Toy Story 3 Characters at Toy Fair

The characters from "Toy Story 3" dropped in at the International Toy Fair in NY City.

Ah, merchandising. It's what Disney does best!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Disney Fact or Fiction - Episode 3

Another fun video to dispel (or confirm) the various myth of Disney theme parks.

If you missed the earlier videos, here are Episode 1 and 2 below:


Disney's Volunteer Promotion Overloads Programs

Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion is too successful. It is overloading many volunteer programs. Raise your hand if you saw this coming from a mile away at the age of 10! I did.

In Southwest Florida, the program has flooded nonprofits like the Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate in Bonita Springs and the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers.

The Komen affiliate received 501 queries and ended up with more than 218 volunteers. They can’t take any more for the March 13 Komen Race at Coconut Point mall in Estero. But still the calls keep trickling in.

Still, many of these volunteers will continue to volunteer with these various causes. So that's the significant benefit to this promotion.


"Waking Sleeping Beauty" Trailer

This is the trailer for the documentary "Waking Sleeping Beauty".

It sent chills through my spine just watching the trailer. I am so waiting for this movie.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johnny Depp Talks About "Pirates 4"

While making rounds for the upcoming "Alice", Johnny Depp talked a little bit about "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides". The short interview can be found here.

No new revelation and no insight into the movie, which is fine. I want to be surprised by it, and with a new director, maybe it will have a different feel than the last two (the first one was totally wild and unexpected, so that was good).


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alice (Underground) Music Video

Avril Lavigne performs "Alice" from the soundtrack of the upcoming (March 5 here in the US) "Alice in Wonderland".

On a related topic, as part of the promotion for "Alice in Wonderland", Disney is going all goth!

While the movie itself is aimed at a much wider audience, ground zero of the marketing effort is Hot Topic Inc., a mall-based retail chain that is a shopping destination for 12-to-22-year-old goths, whose favorite color tends to be black, whether for clothes or makeup.

Disney has licensed an extensive line of clothing and accessories to Hot Topic's 680 locations. The selection includes a black shackle bracelet for $10, along with T-shirts and fragrances.

The approach represents a twist on Disney's successful strategy of turning its "princess" movies into merchandizing juggernauts. What's distinctive about the new initiative is the target audience. Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney says the buyers of "Alice" merchandise are "definitely more 18 to 34 than our traditional 6 to 11."


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Longest Hotel Rehab in WDW!

That Holiday Inn hotel on Hotel Plaze Blvd. FINALLY re-opened after a gazillion years!

We used to stay there when it was the Marriott Courtyard, before we became DVC members. Then it became the Holiday Inn, and then came the hurricane. Now, it actually opened AFTER the hurricane, because we did stay that afterward. Some of the rooms were not available due to the hurricane damage, but the room we stayed in were perfectly fine. It was shortly after that that they closed it down completely. The hotel was due for a major overhaul anyway, but none of us imagined it would take THAT long. Considering that it is in such a popular area, and it was not making any money, it was strange that they let the rehab dragged on for years (what is it now, 5, 6 years?).

We always paid close attention to the building each time we drive on Hotel Plaza Blvd., and each time we always shook our heads at why they let that building just sat there for that long. We did see quite a bit of activity the last couple of times we were at WDW, and the last time (this past December), we did see marked improvements and changes to the building. So it is not a surprise that they've announced a reopening of it now. While we probably won't stay there again now that we have DVC resorts to go to, we still have fond memories of our stay there a while back.

Edit: there are a couple of pictures of the hotel at this web report. It looks really slick and very nice!


The Building That The Mouse Left Behind

This is a rather fascinating short article on a building in NY City. Like so many buildings there, there's a long history to it, and a story of the architecture. This building was occupied by the World of Disney store on 5th Avenue till the end of last year. It is now empty, and for rent.

Disney opened on the ground floor in 1996 and installed the bronze-toned sculptures over the Fifth Avenue entrance. But now they are gone and the space is for rent. Zoraya Suarez, a spokeswoman for Walt Disney World, says mice and dog are bound for Florida — snowbirds like so many New Yorkers.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disney's Chicago Merchandise

Was at the Disney Store in Downtown Chicago on Michigan Ave. this past Monday. They have a few Chicago merchandise at the store. The first one is the reusable bag (of course). It actually is a neat-looking bag. So I bought 4! :)

There are a couple of t-shirts with Chicago-specific design. The first one has the same design as the reusable bag.

The second design is nicer. It shows all the various neighborhoods within the city of Chicago.

I definitely like the 2nd one better.

I think these merchandise are exclusive only to this store, because I haven't seen any Disney's Chicago merchandise at other Chicago area Disney stores. There are certainly none at the Woodfield Mall which I've been to several times.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Swindon, UK Twinned with Walt Disney World

I mentioned earlier of some of the things that the town of Swindon in England is trying to do after being selected as the twin city with the Walt Disney World. This is the video that officially welcomes the town of Swindown at WDW's twin city.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dance Star Mickey

We have a new merchandise that has been receiving quite a bit of publicity - Dance Star Mickey!

"Our newest Mickey plush, Dance Star Mickey, combines the strength of the Disney brand and its powerful storytelling content behind the Mickey Mouse character, with the magical playtime experience that Fisher-Price has been bringing to kids for nearly 80 years," said Gina Sirard, vice president, marketing, Fisher-Price. "The collaboration between Fisher-Price and Disney brings Mickey Mouse to life in an exciting new way, proving that the iconic character continues to resonate strongly with kids today. And when it comes to dance stars, it takes one to know one, so we are thrilled that Donny Osmond is here to help us show everyone just what this new Dance Star Mickey can do."

It's supposed to be released nationwide in October, and for $69.99, you can have one too!

Edit: here's a picture of the little darling.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Tom Staggs First Public Appearence As Disney Parks Chairman

The new Disney theme parks Chairman, Tom Staggs, made his first public appearance at the unveiling of the world's largest structure of canned food as part of the Disney "Give a Day, Get a Day" promotion.

The stunt was intended to kick off a promotion called Give a Day, Get a Disney Day. Working with the Points of Light Foundation, Disney for a limited time is offering a free ticket to one of its six North American theme parks to anyone who completes a qualified day of community service. About 600,000 people have already completed or committed to one, according to Disney.

He obviously is quick on his feet too, or should I say, Kermit was.

Mr. Staggs did a grand job on his can of tuna, a squadron of Disney executives decided afterwards, even if there were a few missteps. For part of the introduction, the marketing staff had written a skit for him to perform with Kermit the Frog. But the teleprompter fizzled for a moment, and the pair had to crack some impromptu jokes.

Mr. Staggs: “Should we add something to the structure, like a canopy?”

Kermit: “Canopy. Can of peas? I get it. Who writes your jokes, Fozzie Bear?”

The video of the construction of this structure can be seen here.

It looks like this was done at the World Showplace at Epcot.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Drumming for the Mouse: Kumidaiko and the Exhibition of "Japan" Walt Disney World

This is a rather fascinating research treatise. This is someone's thesis for a Master of Arts degree.

Abstract: Performing at Walt Disney World as often as six times a day, seven days a week, the kumidaiko group Matsuriza has the unique opportunity to expose thousands of people per day to the world of Japanese taiko. Simultaneously, the group serves as an ambassador of sorts for Japan, representing the country within a section of the Epcot theme park known as World Showcase. Their performance space is the Japan pavilion, part of a modern day World’s Fair that seeks to introduce tourists to various cultures from around the world.

Matsuriza’s participation in Disney’s World’s Fair is not without its consequences, however. The group must grapple with issues of commoditization, authenticity, and representation in Walt Disney World that have long caught the eyes of scholars. At the same time, the group must deal with the expectations of the tourists that have come to Epcot, expectations that are fueled in part by the atmosphere created by the Walt Disney Company.

Due to this confluence of issues, kumidaiko at Walt Disney World as performed by Matsuriza is a reified art form, static and unchanging. Taiko is discussed by group members using a discourse that adheres to the sense of Japan created within the pavilion, and repertoire and performance practice are modified so as to not disrupt the atmosphere that has been created. Even as kumidaiko continues to grow and evolve outside of Epcot’s borders, within the theme park it is simply another exhibit on display for the paying tourist in the museum of culture that is World Showcase.

I haven't finished reading the whole thing yet (obviously), but I intend to go through a bit at a time. Japanese culture (and food) is something I'm quite fascinated with, so this is right up my alley.


Disney Magic Stuck At Castaway Cay

There are, of course, worse place to be stuck in (think cramped airplanes).

Disney Magic had to delay departing Castaway Cay by a day due to high winds.

The Disney Magic was making its final stop at Castaway Cay, but it did not leave as scheduled Friday, because of 50 mph winds.

The ship will have to cruise into the northwesterly wind on its journey back to the U.S. It is expected to take 13 hours to reach Port Canaveral.

The delay impacts thousands of people, including those already on the ship, and the thousands more who were set to head out on the Disney Magic’s next seven-day cruise.

So many people will have so many messed-up travel plans! I certainly won't want to be at Port Canaveral, or any of the frontline Cast Members, when this ship docks.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Using a Behavior Change Model to Document the Impact of Visits to Disney's Animal Kingdom: A Study Investigating Intended Conservation Action

This would be an interesting research paper to read - if you can get it.

"Using a Behavior Change Model to Document the Impact of Visits to Disney's Animal Kingdom: A Study Investigating Intended Conservation Action", L. D. Dierking et al., Curator: The Museum Journal v.47, p322 (2010).

Abstract: Abstract Over the last 10 to 15 years, zoos and aquariums have set out to influence visitors' conservation-related knowledge, attitudes, affect, and behavior. In 2000, the Institute for Learning Innovation collaborated with Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) on a comprehensive baseline study conducted to assess the outcomes of a DAK experience on visitors in four areas: knowledge, attitudes, affect, and behavior. This article describes one aspect of the comprehensive study: an investigation of the long-term (two-to-three-month) impact of a visit to Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom on visitors' intended conservation action. The study used a behavior change model from the health arena: the Prochaska Model of Behavioral Change. The model proved helpful but had some drawbacks, suggesting the need to develop a more sensitive change model. The implications of this study could assist institutions in thinking about what audiences or messages to emphasize in order to influence behavior.

Again, Disney's "theme parks" are often more than just theme parks. This is certainly very true for both Epcot and DAK, which have produced many scholarly articles.


"Rapunzel" Becomes "Tangled"

Disney's version of "Rapunzel" will not only get a new spin on the classic story, but also a new name - "Tangled".

Why I'm not as enthusiastic about this movie like the others, I don't know. Maybe as the release date gets closer, I might get more excited about it. But I guess until I know more about it, I'm ambivalent.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Electrical Parade Coming Back to WDW

Well, this is rather unexpected!

A slew of new stuff being introduced at WDW this summer as part of the Summer Nightastic festivities. The main one here being the reappearance of Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom. Now, is this in addition to SpectroMagic, or as a replacement for it? I love SpectroMagic, and would hate to see it gone.

There's also hints of a modified Tower of Terror. This definitely is something to look forward to. I still think they need to do something with this attraction during the holidays. It would be awesome if they can re-theme it for Halloween.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Cars 2" Delayed

The release of "Cars 2" has been delayed by 6 months.

In a conference call about the Disney Company's first quarter earnings, Iger told financial analysts the film would be released in December 2011.

But what was interesting to me was something I didn't know before that I found in the same news article.

The date shift is likely to affect the release of another Disney title, fairy tale The Bear and the Bow.

The first Pixar feature to be directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman's film had been set for a December 2011 release but is now expected to be delayed as well.

This is the first that I've heard of this movie "The Bear and the Bow". Now I gotta go do some digging...


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Disney Beats Stupid Analysts Again!

Disney's first quarter earning reports beats analysts predictions once again!

Excluding one-time charges, Disney (DIS, Fortune 500) said it earned 47 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically strip out one-time items from their estimates, were looking for 38 cents per share.

Sales rose 1% to $9.7 billion, which beat analysts' forecast of $9.66 billion.

What is even better news is that theme park revenue remains flat, considering that everyone predicted a drop. It shows that the aggressive strategy they have been implementing has worked!

I've never paid much attention to these "analysts" before until I started buying Disney stocks a few years ago. I don't know how people can keep making a living at being WRONG that often.


Drew Brees at Disney World

First, this is the commercial of Drew Brees saying he's going to Disney World after winning the Superbowl. It's a TV capture, obviously, but its the best I could find.

And now, here he is, in a parade in his honor.

Laughing Place has more more videos and stills of this joyous event.

Congratulations to him, and to the New Orleans Saints.


Monday, February 08, 2010

"Up" Wins Big At Annie

"Up" won for Best Animated Feature at this year's Annie Awards. Pete Doctor also won for Best Director.

"Princess and the Frog" also didn't do too shabbily, winning 3 awards.


"Alice" Superbowl Commercial

If you missed the commercial for "Alice in Wonderland" during last night's superbowl, here it is again.

Have I mentioned that I CAN'T FREAKING WAIT for this already? :)


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sequel to "Enchanted"?

News has been flying (is there any other way for news to travel?) around that Disney is ready to go ahead with the sequel to "Enchanted". That was such a fun and clever movie! It appears that Disney is certainly courting Amy Adams back to reprise her role. This article also mentioned that they're trying to get Patrick Dempsey and Susan Sarandon as well. That should be interesting because, presumably, Sarandon's character, or the dragon, got killed at the end of the movie.

Still, they can do so many things in a "fairy tale", obviously. It would be interesting if they do a "Wicked" style story, i.e. explain why the Sarandon's character got as mean as she did. It would be one clever story if they can give a big twist that people aren't expecting. I would also be curious if they're going to employ a lot more of the 2D animation in the movie.

Anyway, I'm getting way ahead of myself already!


Danny Elfman and "Alice"

A wonderful interview with Danny Elfman as he finishes the score for the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland". Elfman, as many Disney fans will know, wrote the songs to my most favorite soundtrack "Nightmare Before Christmas". So it's not as if I need any more incentive to go see "Alice", but this certainly pushes it over the top. Can't wait. Just one more month!


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pete Doctor And "Up"

Video of Pete Doctor's reaction to "Up" multiple Oscar nominations.

Congratulations, Pete. I'm rooting for "Up" all the way!


Disney/Pixar's "Up" Gets 5 Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning, and the glorious "Up" has 5 nominations, including the prestigious Best Picture nomination, now that they've expanded it to 10 candidates.

The nominations for "Up are for:

1. Best Picture
2. Best Original Screenplay
3. Best Animated Feature
4. Best Sound Editing
5. Best Original Score

"Up" will be competing against another Disney animation "Princess and the Frog" for Best Animated Feature. Two of the songs from "Princess" were also nominated for Best Song, so Randy Newman will be competing with himself as well in that category.


Random Disneyland Resort Picture

The launch area of California Screaming at California Adventure.

Of course, this is all different now with the current revamping of DCA.