Monday, February 28, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet Won Weekend Box Office

This is the movie that might have legs! It was a slow box office weekend. But still, for a movie that was released 3 weeks ago, and was in 3rd place, Gnomeo and Juliet has slipped only a little in its box office take. It has now won last weekend's box office!

Disney’s Gnomeo & Juliet debuted two weeks ago in third place. Last holiday weekend it rose to second place, and this weekend, it took the box-office crown. At this pace, it’ll be running for President by next year, and five years from now, we’ll all be groveling at the feet of our new ornamental overlords. The animated musical won a decidedly slow weekend with $14.2 million, dropping only 26 percent and raising its cumulative gross to $75.1 million. Even though Gnomeo started the weekend in fourth place, it jumped a ridiculous 101 percent on Saturday thanks a strong turnout from families. Not too shabby for a film Disney inherited from its now-sold Miramax Films production company.

I will put it to you that even Disney is not expecting this. They may yet have to scramble and figure out of they can squeeze merchandising and other stuff out of it. Remember folks, "franchise"! Lawn Gnomes with Mickey Ears hat!

Speaking of movies, congratulations to Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. Each won 2 Oscars at last night's Academy Awards, with Toy Story 3 winning, as expected, the Best Animation movie award.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Disney Jazz, Volume 1: Everybody Wants to be a Cat

I first saw this CD on the Disney Movie Rewards webpage as one of the merchandise I could redeem my points for. So I went to check it out both on iTunes, and on Amazon. The review posted on Amazon was outstanding. The snippets of the tunes that I listened to on iTunes confirmed that impression.

This review gives a too-brief of a description of the CD. Still, I've already made up my mind to get this. The only question is on whether I'm going to wait till I have enough DMR points (I've just redeemed a huge amount for a Donald Duck pin set), or just go ahead and buy it.

Since it says "Volume 1", one would expect that there'll be more in this series. BTW, I'm not sure why it is Volume 1, since this isn't the first time that Disney's music has been "jazzed". There is an amazing CD titled "Disney Adventures in Jazz" that was produced in 2001. I have that CD and I highly recommend it.

Edit: more reviews have come in for this CD.
Review 1
Review 2


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dates Announced For Disneyland Resort's New Attractions and Parades

Disney had announced the debut dates for upcoming new attractions and parades at the Disneyland Resort.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade: May 27
Star Tours: June 3
The Little Mermaid – Ariel's Undersea Adventure: June 3

This video shows a bit of the behind-the-scenes preparation for the Mickey's Soundsational Parade. It looks impressive.


Friday, February 25, 2011

La Hacienda

The new restaurant, La Hacienda, at the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. It looks a lot better than the sorry excuse for Mexican fare that was there before this. I might just try this.

As with my general "complaints" about food being served at World Showcase, I truly wish that they would get it as authentic as possible. I know that this would probably turn off a lot of the guests who can't stomach the exotic dishes from many of these places, but that's the whole point of these pavilions. There has to be something unique with the food. Or else, we could simply get it elsewhere, and for those of us who live in large cities, we could have just stayed home and get the same thing.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Height Requirement for AquaDuck Lowered

Looks like more kids will be able to ride Disney Dream's AquaDuck! first reported and a DCL spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that the minimum height requirement for kids will drop from 48 inches to 42 inches.

To ride alone, however, the height requirement increases from 48 inches to 54 inches. Also, kids must be at least 7 years old to ride alone. Otherwise, they must ride with someone 14 or older.

From all indications, this appears to be a rather tame ride.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New (Temporary?) Animated Hitchhiking Ghosts At Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion

Whoa! I had a huge scare with this one, and it wasn't because the ghosts scared me.

This video shows animated hitchhiking ghosts at the Haunted Mansion attraction at the Magic Kingdom. At first, I couldn't figure out where they would have such a long stretch of black background to project such a thing. Then when I read the synopsis of the video (copied below), I realized that this was at the end when we see the hitchhiking ghosts. My first reaction was "NOOOO!!!!!! Don't replace that!!!!!"

Well, obviously, if you've read the synopsis closer than I did the first time around, you would have noticed that they're simply working on the hitchhiking ghosts animatronics, and this is a temporary thing until those animatronics are back. PHEW!!! That part is one of the best part of the whole attraction, and so they'd better not touch that!

Here's the video, and the synopsis accompanying it.

The Hitchhiking Ghosts have been (temporarily?) replaced in The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom by projected, animated, computer-generated versions of themselves, floating by. It appears, at the moment, that these are temporary replacements while the Audio-Animatronic figures behind the black projection screens are enhanced.


Random WDW Picture

On Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride at Adventureland, The Magic Kingdom.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Disney's Believe

This is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Disney's Believe, the new stage production on the Disney Dream cruise ship.

It looks quite amazing, especially the set design. I'll get to see this first hand come this December, which can't get here fast enough.


"Gnomeo And Juliet" Showing Staying Power

This tells you how much I know about the movie business (which is NONE).

"Gnomeo and Juliet" is showing incredible staying power at the US box office this weekend, coming in a strong second, and possibly take the lead after the 4-day holiday weekend tally is in.

However, despite its current No. 1 position, Unknown may wind up losing the four-day holiday weekend to Disney’s Gnomeo & Juliet. The G-rated animated musical nearly doubled its Friday gross with $8.4 million on Saturday, and is estimated to finish the three-day weekend with $19.4 million — a scant 24-percent drop from last weekend. The family film is projected to lead today’s box office, and with kids out of school for Presidents’ Day, it should top Monday’s chart as well. Both Gnomeo and Unknown are on pace for a four-day tally of around $26 million — it could very well be a photo finish.

It's the little gnomes that could. While it may not be a runaway blockbuster, the movie might give Disney a nice tidy profit.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where In Walt Disney World?

Hum.. the last "WIWDW" that I posted a couple of weeks ago was harder than I thought. No one made any comment on where that is. It is Olivia's Cafe at Old Key West.

Hopefully, this one is easier. I there's there's a hint in there if you are not sure where this is. So where in Walt Disney World is this?


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Staying At A Disney Resort More Expensive?

This is a rather interesting article that looks at the cost of staying on property versus off property at Walt Disney World.

So if all you care about is dollar value off the special Disney amenities, a non-Disney hotel theoretically has to cost at least $36 less than a Disney hotel for you to break even.

I think the article, in general, stated that it is cheaper, on average, when comparing similar type of resort, to stay at a non-Disney resort.

The question here is whether other resorts have the same range of period as Disney on when they consider their cheaper season versus more expensive season. If they are not in synch, then it is not a fair comparison for either of them. Disney's expensive season might not coincide with other resorts, and since the comparison was done for a specific date and month, one doesn't know who is having what.

The other thing here is that Disney tends to offer vacation packages. So if you include the room and tickets as part of the whole thing, then is this more expensive than a package that one gets at an off-Disney resort when one factors in the ticket prices for that length of stay? I'm guessing that many, if not most, Disney resort guests don't pay "rack" prices.


Toy Story Gang To Live On

We have news from Disney/Pixar that the Toy Story gang will ride again in 2 motion picture short films.

The first one, titled "Hawaiian Vacation", will be shown with "Cars 2", while the other still untitled short, will be shown with "The Muppets" that will be released around Thanksgiving.

So toys we've come to know and love will live on.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Disney To Focus More On Franchise

Disney is shifting even more resources to nurture franchise movies and merchandise.

"Franchises drive higher returns for the company," said Jay Rasulo, Disney's senior exec VP and chief financial officer. Rasulo noted that while only 40% of the studio's feature production dollars were spent to make franchise films last year, the results generated 60% of its overall revenue. This year, 80% of its production spending will be devoted to franchise features.

However, his comparison between Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Toy Story 3" is not quite a fair comparison.

While the live-action "Alice" has raked in more than $1.6 billion since its release in March, most of that was collected at the B.O., since the Tim Burton pic offered little opportunity for consumer products. Licensed merchandise homevideo and TV sales made $400 million.

"Toy Story 3," on the other hand, earned more than $1 billion at the B.O., plus $650 million on homevideo, $250 million from books, $220 million from videogames and $7.3 billion in other merchandise sales, while launching park rides and cruise ship shows, turning it into a $10 billion property.

"Toy Story 3" is already a part of Toy Story franchise. It was already selling. "Alice", on the other hand, isn't part of an existing franchise.

While I see the economic sense out of something like this, I hate to think that movies such as "Alice" would not have been made under the current proposed schemed. I'm sure the people at Pixar never consider merchandise and franchise possibilities when they make their movies. Yet, this is implicitly the criteria that appears to be used to finance new stand-alone projects. One can only hope that the remaining 20% of the Disney Studios production doesn't have that pressure of producing a franchise. Just produce good movies!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Disney's "Nextgen"

Hum... what could it be? Devoid of any official word from Disney, rumors are circulating on what Disney's Next Generation of experience for the guests would be.

Details of the project, dubbed within Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as "next generation experience" or "NextGen," are being closely guarded. But there is widespread speculation among former Disney executives and bloggers who follow the company that at least part of the project involves wireless-communication technology that could be used in concepts ranging from keyless hotel-room doors to rides and shows in which the experience varies based on an individual guest's preferences.
Just before Christmas, Disney assigned oversight of the project to Nick Franklin, head of global business and real-estate development for the company's theme-park unit. Franklin's newest title is "executive vice president of next generation experience." At Walt Disney World, the project is being led by Jim MacPhee, a vice president who once ran the Epcot theme park. MacPhee's title was changed last month to vice president of park operations and next generation experience.

But then we read this new ability of guests to not only check-in from home, but also to reserve ride time, character meet-and-greet, and other activities.

"Our new tools will help them better understand all that we have to offer and better plan their time with us," Staggs said. "They'll be able to create a personalized itinerary that gives them the exact Disney vacation they want."

Visitors will be able to create vacation itineraries from home: reserve times for attractions, character greetings, shows and meals. Hotel guests could arrive with their room keys in hand, avoiding check-in lines.

Could this be part of the Nextgen project?

Disney is certainly doing a lot of technological enhancement for guests experience. But I'm just a bit apprehensive with all of this, because if it gets to the point where everything has to be done and planned in advanced, the spontaneous visit to the theme parks, especially by the locals, will be a lot more of hassle because all of those experiences will either be booked, sold-out, unavailable, or full. A bit of planning, yes. But over planning to the point that you can even reserve ride time, etc., that might be a bit too much.


Disney Recalls Kids Watches

Yowzah! Disney is recalling certain kids watches that can cause burns.

The children's light-up watches, featuring either Buzz Lightyear, Tinker Bell or the "Cars" character Lightning McQueen, were sold at Disney's theme parks from November to January for about $30.

The watches were also sold at Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line ships and the Magic of Disney Shop at Orlando International Airport.

Disney, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said the batteries in the watches can interact with the stainless steel backing, causing the burning.

Oy vey. And you thought that, when your kids were complaining that they were getting hot this past summer, they were exaggerating!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Disney Cruise Line Online Check-In

For those of us who don't know about this and who will be embarking on a Disney Cruise, this online check-in process might be something we want to do before getting to the big ship!


The Fierce Animation Competition in Oscar 2011

LA Times has an interesting piece on how far animation movies has come as far as Oscar respect is concerned.

Ten years on, the competition has become much fiercer: This year, the three films vying for the prize are all critical darlings that had to beat out two other well-reviewed box-office hits to earn a nomination.

The three nominees are Pixar's "Toy Story 3," the highest-grossing animated movie of all time and the culmination of a franchise that revolutionized the way animated films are made; DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon," another computer-graphics blockbuster that set a new benchmark for 3-D with its sweeping flying sequences; and "The Illusionist," an independently produced French film with very little dialogue that's a love letter to the waning art of hand-drawn animation.

While it used to be that getting an animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture is already a huge accomplishment, it is good to see that now, there is a serious push that such a movie should have a legitimate chance to WIN in that category. Of course, I still don't see it happening anytime soon simply due to the fact that the actors branch makes up the largest percentage of the Academy. But at least now, just getting nominated is no longer good enough for many of the animated movie studios and producers. This medium is being taken seriously as a legitimate story-telling medium.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mickey's House at Toontown

Here's another video to keep as nostalgia. It is a walkthrough of Mickey's House at Toontown, and a character Meet-and-Greet. It is of course no longer around with the closure of Toontown due to the expansion of Fantasyland.


Random WDW Picture

Sunset at World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Don "Ducky" Williams Draws Donald Duck

Don "Ducky" Williams is an amazing artist. Here, you get to see him whip out a sketch of Donald Duck is no time at all! In the video, he talks about the sketches he has done throughout Walt Disney World, including what he did at Tony's Town Square restaurant.


"Gnomeo and Juliet" Opens to $25 Million

So much for my dire prediction for "Gnomeo and Juliet" based on the sparse attendance at the matinee showing. The movie came in third at the box office this weekend, with a "solid" $25.5 million.

It isn't a work of art, but it is good for quite a few laughs and chuckles.


You Can Buy Your Own Tron's Light Cycle!

Yup! And it is street-legal too..... I think!

Trust Hammacher Schlemmer to actually sell one of these things. Although it doesn't quite move as the light cycle in the movie, it has all the appearance of the same vehicle.

This is the illuminated, street-legal motorcycle inspired by the computer animated cycle from the 2010 film Tron: Legacy. Designed for casual cruising and slow ride-bys at shows, it is made from a steel frame covered by a fiberglass cowling that replicates the sleek look of its computer-generated imagery counterpart. Electroluminescent strips built into the tire cowlings, wheel rims, and body illuminate the cycle. It is powered by a fuel-injected Suzuki 996cc, 4-stroke engine. Riders lay at a near-horizontal position astride the padded leather seat, with feet on foot pegs that control its 6-speed constant mesh manual transmission and hands on the handlebars for throttle and braking. The hubless wheels are former truck tires built up then custom-shaped to fit onto one of two counter-rotating rims spinning within each other, providing the broad-tired authenticity of the computer cycles from the movie. A chain-driven friction drum manages acceleration and braking from the handlebars. It has spring-loaded front and rigid rear suspension. Its wet sump lubrication system eliminates tubes and hoses for oil pick-up, facilitating its streamlined, minimalist design. It uses a 3 1/2-gallon main fuel tank and 1 1/4-gallon reserve tank. All cycles are built to order. 8 1/2' L x 23 1/4" W x 28 1/2" H. (474 lbs.)

... and oh, it costs $55,000!

But I tell ya, it will definitely turns heads if you ride this through town!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

POLL: What Is Your Favorite Drink At Club Cool?

Have you sampled the free drinks at Club Cool whenever you are at Epcot? Surely you must have! Aren't you a fan of Beverly?

We know the Donald LOVES Beverly since he made it a point to take a sip each time he is at Epcot. But for most humans, they seem to have a rather an adverse reaction to it.

Well now, you can have a voice in voting for your favorite drink at Club Cool. Cast your vote in the right panel of the blog (open until Dec. 30, 2011). You know which one Donald will be voting for!


What Is This?

I took this picture back in 2009. I think I saw this while walking in between Test Track and Mouse Gears at Epcot. My first guess was that these were security cameras, but security camera usually are not that obvious.

So anyone knows what this is?


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of "Gnomeo and Juliet"

We saw "Gnomeo and Juliet" in 3D during one of the Saturday afternoon matinee. The theater was not even 1/4 full. So if Disney is hoping for a similar success as "Tangled", they will probably be very disappointed.

And that's too bad too. If you don't have that high of an expectation (which we didn't have), you'll be pleasantly surprised and entertained by the movie. It isn't high art, and it doesn't have the emotional strength as a Pixar movie. But boy, does it have its funny moments! There's enough moments that either made you snicker or laughed out loud throughout the movie that you can't help liking it. And let me tell ya, that frog stole the movie! Still, the movie has a very Toy Story'ish side to it where by all the gnomes have to freeze when there are humans around to observe them.

And while the movie has been aimed at young children, I will flat out say that the dialog and many of the inferences will probably be way over their heads. Adults will get the dialogs, the young kids won't.

The 3D effects, again, felt very natural. At some point, just as in Toy Story 3D and the 3D movies before that, I just lose track that I'm wearing 3D glasses. They felt that comfortable and natural.

So yes, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie and will recommend it. It was better than what I was expecting.


Gnomeo and Juliet

5 mins before the start of the movie at 2 45 pm and there is only 9 people in the theatre. It doesn't bode well for the movie.

I'm glad I did not fandango the tickets.


John Lasseter To Cameo On "Cars 2"

The animators at Pixar working on "Cars 2" surprised their boss John Lasseter with a car of his own. Named John Lassetire, the vehicle is an American pickup truck. Lasseter also voices the character in the movie, although it had only one line.

"It was news to me," said Lasseter, who is also serving as a director on the animated film. "I did not know about that, so I was a little surprised. I ended up voicing this character. It was just one line, but now I have a 'Cars' character. I'm very excited about that. He's a good ol' American pick-up truck, which I think is very appropriate for John Lassetire."

Lasseter's character serves as the pit crew chief for a high-profile race car. In the sequel, slick race car Lightning McQueen and his tow truck friend Mater set off on an around-the-world adventure. "Cars 2" producer Denise Ream said she was inspired to inject Lasseter in the film by George Lucas' brief cameo in "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith."


Snow White's Scary Adventure Ride Through

We've been talking about the demise of Toontown and remembering what that Land has, or had. Since we're in such reminiscing mood, we might as well consider also the demise of Snow White's Scary Adventure ride that is being demolished as part of the Fantasyland makeover. Although it is being replaced by a new rollercoaster attraction, I'm sure many people will miss this one as well.

So here is a ride-through video of Snow White. I think the video camera that was being used to record this doesn't have a good low-light capability. You see stretches of black screen.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Goodbye Toontown!

Goodbye, Toontown! May your spirit lives in the new Fantasyland.

And here's the video of a "walk-through" of Toontown, to be preserved for eternity even when it is long gone.


Goofy's Barnstormer Ride-Through Video

With this being Toon Town's last day of existence, here's a ride-through video of one of the attractions there, the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm. While the ride will be coming back in the new Fantasyland, I don't think the theme will survive. So the original attraction will survive only on videos and in memories.

And yes, I've been on this ride a few times.


Parents Sue Disney Due To Burns From Nacho Cheese

Parents of a child from San Diego are suing Disney because their son suffered "severe burns" due to the cheese from nachos served during their Disney World vacation.

In their suit, filed in California district court on Wednesday, parents Michael and Maria Harris said they were eating dinner at Disney World while on vacation in March when the cheese was spilled on their son's face.

"The cheese was scalding hot and resulted in severe burns" to the child, 4-year-old Isaiah Harris, the suit says. The suit alleges that Disney served the cheese "negligently and carelessly" and made "no effort" to regulate its temperature.

Is this like that woman who sued MacDonalds many years ago for serving coffee that was too hot? C'mon now. I think that these parents themselves should also be hauled off to court for child endangerment! They're risking their son's health by feeding him nachos with processed cheese in the first place! Those "severe burns" are nothing compared to what's clogging that child's arteries!


Last Day for Toon Town

Today will be the last day for Toon Town at The Magic Kingdom. As part of the current expansion, the new Fantasyland will swallow Toon Town.

Friday is the last day for guests to visit Mickey's Toontown Fair, an attraction that first opened in 1988.

Plans call for Mickey Mouse and some other animated characters to move into a new home in the spring. They'll be located in the building currently known as Town Square Exposition Hall on Main Street.


HGTV Is Partnerting With Disney Destinations For This Year's Flower and Garden Festival

I love Disney theme parks, and I watch HGTV very often. So this, to me, is my perfect match. HGTV is partnering with Disney Destinations in sponsoring this year's Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, as revealed in this press release:

New York, N.Y. [For Immediate Release—February 8, 2011] HGTV and Disney Destinations, LLC, have signed a multi-year partnership marketing agreement that will leverage the popularity of HGTV’s lifestyle content and expertise in-park. Beginning March 2, 2011, the 75-day The Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV will feature appearances by star designers on the HGTV Stage in the Festival Center, including Genevieve Gorder, Lisa LaPorta, Kim Myles, Brian Patrick Flynn, Taniya Nayak, Ahmed Hassan, Patti Moreno, Michele Beschen, John Gidding, Frank Fontana, and Vern Yip. HGTV also will support its sponsorship of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with a promotional campaign on the network and website.

During the festival, HGTV will sponsor the newly-expanded Bambi’s Butterfly House located along the Future World Imagination Walkway. HGTV also will present a year-round garden in Epcot’s World Showcase. As part of the partnership, the Festival Center’s HGTV Theater will feature a special-engagement film highlighting tips and hints from HGTV programs.

“We are thrilled to welcome HGTV and so many of the network’s great Talent to Epcot this spring,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president, Epcot. “HGTV’s design and gardening personalities add an exciting and entertaining new element to a festival that reinvents itself year after year.”

In addition to its own celebrity stage appearances, HGTV also will sponsor the popular twice-daily Disney Gardening at Home series, where guests can join a workshop and take home projects ranging from hanging baskets to water garden features. In September, HGTV’s designers will return to the HGTV Stage during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival with weekend appearances.

“People visit Disney for a memorable experience where they are inspired, enlightened and entertained,” said Jim Samples, president, HGTV. “Our star designers will provide just such an experience for the Disney guest. Disney is the ideal venue and destination for us to connect face-to-face with our passionate viewers.”

In its 18th year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV will bring back by popular demand dozens of Disney character topiaries. Also, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and chief villain Lotso of the Oscar-nominated Disney blockbuster, “Toy Story 3,” make their first topiary appearance in front of Spaceship Earth at the park’s front-entrance garden. Topiary craftsmen also will debut floral versions of Lightning McQueen and Mater, stars of “Cars 2,” to be released in theaters this June.

Flower Power concerts will rock the open-air America Gardens Theatre stage three times each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening with popular acts like Davy Jones and Chubby Checker & The Wildcats. New-to-the-festival performers will include Melissa Manchester and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.

Too bad I won't be there this year. I would have loved to meet Genevieve Gorder and John Gidding. I have been dying to ask Genevieve about that moss thing she put on the wall in one episode of Trading Spaces. :)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

World's Hottest Pepper At Epcot

A video showing the world's hottest pepper at Epcot's Living With The Land.

I bet you, if they advertise that one could sample the world's hottest pepper if one goes on the "Behind The Seed Tour", that tour will be a runaway hit! Sure, you could make the brave souls who want to have a taste to sign all the necessary waver forms, etc. But there will be more than enough publicity to make people want to have a go at it! That's just the way it is!

So Disney, c'mon! Here's a way to make money!


Pirates 4 Superbowl Commercial

If you missed the "Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides" Superbowl commercial, here it is once again:

I am actually quite excited to see this one, mainly because I want to see how Rob Marshall tackles this subject. The last Pirates was getting too complicated (at least for my simple brain). So while the visuals we have so far, based on such trailers, are stunning, I'd like to hold judgment until I see the storyline.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

It's Good To Own Disney Stocks

Remember way back when (not that long ago) that Disney stocks were trading at or BELOW $20? I said it then that this was THE BEST TIME to buy Disney stocks, because I know for sure that it will shoot back up sooner or later. Y'see, I don't need to have any knowledge of the stock market or anything, and what do you know? I'm right!

After the astoundingly good 1st Quarter report from the Walt Disney Company, the day after is a good one for Disney stock holders. The stock reached record high!

Disney, based in Burbank, California, advanced $2.48, or 6 percent, to $43.66 at 12:29 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading after reaching $44.05. The old closing high of $43.05 was set in April 2000.

The recovering economy drove attendance gains at Disney theme parks and advertising growth at cable networks led by ESPN. Anthony DiClemente, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York, predicted 3 percent higher attendance at parks in Orlando, Florida. Analysts on average projected sales of $10.5 billion. Income from Disney’s studio and consumer products also rose.

Don't say that I didn't tell you so!


Random WDW Picture

This, of course, can be seen on "It's A Small World" at the Magic Kingdom.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Disney Marketing To Newborns?

Well, not exactly the newborns since they can't say "charge it!" just yet. But Disney is certainly marketing directly to newborn mothers!

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from More than 200,000 bodysuits will be given away by May, when is set to begin selling 85 styles for a starting price of $9.99 for two; Nordstrom and Target will follow with more Disney Baby items, including hats.

Now, of course, many people and organizations would object to this, which would be understandable. The news article mentioned the debacle surrounding Baby Einstein, which I don't think is the same comparison because Baby Einstein is claiming something that is more difficult to quantify. A baby bodysuit is easier to judge if it is good or not.

The fine line here is to not step beyond what is tasteful into a campaign that is perceived to be too aggressive. You do that, and it will backfire really quickly, and then what's to become of your "brand" now?


Monday, February 07, 2011

Florida Tax Fight Between Hotels, Online Travel Companies, and Theme Parks

When the money is low and the economy still in a tough situation, people, companies, local municipalities, and states are fighting for every tax dollars that they can avoid or collect. This is what it seems is going on here on the issue of how online travel companies such as Orbitz and Expedia sell hotel rooms. But what is interesting here is that the battle pits hotel giants such as Marriott and Hilton on one side, against theme park giants Walt Disney World and Universal Studios on the other.

One on side are hotel heavyweights such as Marriott International and Hilton Hotels & Resorts, which are out to eliminate what they contend is a competitive advantage the online companies have in selling hotel rooms.

Aligned with the Internet companies are theme-park giants Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, motivated at least in part by concerns that requiring Expedia, Orbitz and others to absorb higher taxes could jeopardize a tax advantage the resorts themselves now have when selling vacation packages.

You will have to read the whole news article to see what they are fighting about. At some point, it got too complicated in my head and my eyes just glossed over the rest of the details. Someone else will have to explain to me what this is all about. :)


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Where In Walt Disney World?

OK, here's another one. This one shouldn't bee too difficult, I would think.

Where in Walt Disney World can you find this? Try to be as specific as possible.


Tron and Tron: Legacy On DVD/Blu-Ray April 5, 2011

We're getting news of the Blu-Ray release of the original Tron and Tron: Legacy on April 5th, 2011. The movies can be purchased separately, together in a box set, or in a limited edition Identity box set.

I think I'll get the combined box set, but not sure if I'll pay the extra $10 for the limited edition Identity box set (not sure what you get out of that one). It'll be nice to see the original Tron in high-def. But then again, one might also be able to see the blemishes of the old movie under such fine display.


Friday, February 04, 2011

Star Tours at DHS to Reopen On May 20, 2011

Reports are coming in that Star Tours attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios will reopen on May 20, 2011.

I am definitely curious to see if the virtual reality ride itself has improved. I didn't like the old attraction that much - it was too jarring.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Random WDW Picture

Early morning chores for cast members working at the savanna at Kidani Village.


Disney Mobile Enters Android Tablet Market

This is rather fascinating. Disney Mobile is now making apps that will run under Google's Android Honeycomb OS.

Today, Decrem, now an executive in charge of Disney Mobile, announced that Disney is doing three mobile apps for the tablet-focused Honeycomb version of Android, which Google showed off today. Disney will release the Jelly Car game, Radio Disney music app, and Tap Tap Revenge 4 for Honeycomb. The apps will debut whenever Honeycomb-based devices, such as the Motorola Xoom, are released into the market. That’s going to be a matter of days or weeks.

Considering that Steve Jobs is on Disney's board of directors, and that Disney has been supporting a lot of Apple's product, it is interesting that Disney Mobile is also supporting the Android OS. Still, I think this shows that Jobs doesn't appear to be micro-managing these kinds of decision, and that it makes perfect business sense for Disney to not ignore a substantial portion of the market.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Disney Dream Not Ready For Prime Time?

So we now hear a little bit more about the Disney Dream maiden voyage beyond just the glamor and excitement. Stitch Kingdom is reporting several problems with the Disney Dream that kinda ruined the "magic" of the maiden voyage. It ranged from facilities not working as it should, fixtures that were not repaired, sound dampening that was inadequate, to cruise cast members that are not yet that experienced.

Well, I guess it was a good idea for us to not try for the maiden voyage. I hope that by the time we do our cruise on the Disney Dream come December this year, all of these will have been straightened out. The crew certainly should have had plenty of experience by then, one would hope!


Snow and the Seven

If you think the title is a variation on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", you are correct! It appears that there are already competing projects to remake, in various forms, "Show White". And now, along comes Disney with a third version of this, which has been titled "Snow and the Seven". And get this, it will be set in China!

The unique project, which Disney has been developing since 2002, centers on a 19th century Englishwoman who returns to her Hong Kong home for her father's funeral, only to discover that her stepmother is plotting against her. She escapes to mainland China, finding solace among a rogue band of seven international warriors.

Now, can they make it as clever and as stunning as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"? I think a very strong adult slant to this movie would be very interesting.


"Pirates" Merchandise Has Made $1.6 Billion In Sales

Whoa! It's good to be a pirate, or in this case, a Pirate of the Caribbean.

Disney Consumer Product chief announced that worldwide sales of Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise has generated $1.6 billion.

Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has so far brought in $1.6 billion in global merchandise retail sales, Jo Pascoe, director of toys at Disney Consumer Products, said Tuesday night.

And the Disney unit is looking to add to that haul this year with new toy lines, which the company unveiled Tuesday in a pirate-themed setting, and other merchandise, including publishing, apparel, cosmetics, accessories and stationery.

So is it any wonder that Disney wants to try and make more of the "Pirates" movie, and willing to pay anything to get Johnny Depp back? It is a franchise in the truest sense, and no company can exploit that better than The Walt Disney Company.

Time to buy more Disney stocks! :)


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Random WDW Picture

This may not be that familiar of a sight to many people. This is the walk way to get between the old Toontown and Tomorrowland, right next to Space Mountain.


WDW Splash Mountain Ride Vehicle Gets Lap Bar

After being closed for one month due to refurbishing, Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom will get lap bars for its ride vehicles, all due to stupid guests.

It's an issue that has vexed Disney for years, posing both a safety hazard and an operations headache, as workers are forced to bring the popular Magic Kingdom attraction to a halt when someone tries to exit early.

"From time to time, we have had guests attempt to prematurely exit the ride vehicle. It is our hope that the new lap bars will prevent this from happening in the future," Disney World spokesman Bryan Malenius said Monday.