Sunday, July 31, 2011

Random WDW Picture

"Welcome, welcome, welcome...."

Dancing to the "Trolley" song on Main Street, USA, Magic Kingdom.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hidden Mickey Author Steven Barrett

Here's a short article on one of the ultimate Disney fans, and author of the definitive book on Hidden Mickeys, Steven Barrett.

Emergency medicine has long been one of Barrett’s passions, but out of his growing love of Disney came a second career as an author. During his many visits to Disney World, Barrett kept track when he spotted Hidden Mickeys — partial or complete images of Mickey Mouse that have been hidden by Disney’s Imagineers and artists in the designs of attractions, hotels and restaurants. And when the folks at The Intrepid Traveler, the publisher of Barrett’s “The Hassle Free Walt Disney World Vacation,” found out, they suggested the Hidden Mickeys guidebooks.

I try to spot at least one hidden Mickey on each trip. It just adds a extra, small dimension to that trip. Of course, if you followed the trip report on my last trip, I found more than just one! :)


Friday, July 29, 2011

We're In For "Room For One More"!!

Holy cow! We got tickets for "Room For One More" event! How lucky is that?

So now we are definitely planning on going. And not only that, they have updated the merchandise list for this event, and boy oh boy! I'm going to be poor after this one. There are some really amazing stuff they've put up for sale at this event. But towards the end of the catalog, it looks like they are including some generic WDW 40th Anniversary merchandise! I mean, Main Street Electrical Parade? The Shooting Arcade? What do those have anything to do with Haunted Mansion?

Looking at the itinerary, I'm a bit disappointed that there is no provision to give attendees a special ride-through of the Haunted Mansion itself during the event. Maybe they'll update the activities as the event gets closer, but if this is it, I'll be a bit disappointed.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where in Walt Disney World

OK, this one should be utterly easy that, if you don't know this, your Disney fan card should be revoked! :)

Where in Walt Disney World can you find these lovable "creatures"?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Select DCL Merchandise Available Off Ships

Certain Disney Cruise Line merchandise will be available for sale off Disney ships, starting on Aug. 1. It appears that some are already being carried by the online Disney Stores.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 1 — the official launch date of the program — customers will be able to search to find a variety of goods, a DCL spokesperson confirmed. The current line includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and mouse ears for children and adults; a photo album, frames and a scrapbooking kit; a tote bags and a compact umbrella; a Christmas ornament; a couple of plush characters; and more.

Previously, only discontinued DCL merchandise could be found off the ships at Walt Disney World’s two outlet stores, Disney ’s Character Warehouse and Disney’s Character Warehouse.

Oh well, I will just have to search for stuff they don't sell elsewhere but the ships when I go on the cruise in December.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Slow Changes At Pleasure Island

I reported a while back about changes to Pleasure Island being stalled while they "rethink" some of the plans. This news article expanded that a little bit more and described some of the changes that was done, those that were planned, and those that might no longer come through.

To me, there still isn't a flow between Marketplace into Pleasure Island. It doesn't feel as if it is one continuous walking area that you just want to stroll along. There is almost an abrupt transition, and it makes me want to stop and turn around. In Marketplace, as you walk from one end to the next, there's always something just ahead of you that always makes you want to move forward to see more. There's hardly any area where you don't quite see what's ahead of you that makes you want to continue to walk forward. This isn't the case with the transition from Marketplace and Pleasure Island. While this transition is necessary when Pleasure Island was either charging admission, or when it was completely an adult entertainment area, this abrupt discontinuity is a flaw if they want to increase foot traffic from either Marketplace or West Side.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Dropped Backpack Stopped California Screamin'

Oy vey! I would be royally pissed if this happened to me.

A dropped backpack onto the tracks of California Screamin' at DCA stopped the roller coaster in its tracks, literally!

A dropped backpack has brought a roller coaster to a halt at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, prompting the rescue of 24 people from the ride.

Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown says the California Screamin’ ride came to an automatic stop around 6:30 p.m. Friday when someone’s backpack fell onto the track.

The question is, where exactly can a guest accidentally drop a backpack onto the tracks of California Screamin'? The only place that I remember where guests can actually look DOWN onto the tracks is right at the launching area. Here's a picture to illustrate my point.

But dropping a backpack on here doesn't require that much of an effort to "rescue" the guests. Besides, one can just not start the ride. So my guess is that this dropped backpack happened elsewhere, but where? Does anyone else know where, along the ride, can a guest drop something like a backpack onto the tracks?


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Donald Great Adventure - The Wanyama Safari

Hello there my wonderful fans! I'm sure you've missed hearing from me. It has been a while since ZapperZ brought me out of his bag and let me wonder on my own to the various interesting places around. In any case, I just came back from a wonderful time at WDW. While I was there, I was invited to go on the amazing Wanyama Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you haven't done so, I strongly recommend you do it. Even for a duck like me, it was a fun thing to do to see how the rest of the animal kingdom live.

Now, if you've never done the Wanyama Safari before, this is a tour of the safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge, followed by a special dinner at Jiko. This safari is available only to guest of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, of which I was at that time. Just make sure you try to book it way in advance, it is a very popular tour.

The safari tour started out in the late afternoon. They put us on this converted truck, which was surprisingly quite comfortable. Of course, with my lush feathers, a few rough bumps here and there didn't bother me.

This was our tour guide. She was very nice, and he liked me!

And now, on with the tour. We did quite a long, slow drive around the AKL safari grounds. I saw lots of giraffes.

I also saw a few zebras crossing....

Hum.. I wonder what he tastes like... Oh, not for me, of course. I'm a vegetarian!

It was HOT. A lot of the animals were under shades. Too bad they could not get a nice, cool bath that I would get later on back in my suite.

It was a fun safari! But I was starving towards the end, and was glad when we moved to Jiko for our dinner. I've always liked Jiko. It is such a unique place to eat. Even though it was sweltering outside, it was nice and cool inside, and they had a nice fire going in this huge "oven".

Here I am looking at the special Wanyama Safari menu. I'm glad they don't have roast duck!

The chef made quite an amazing, special dinner for us. Of course, he was honored to have me as one of his guests. He was one of my biggest fans!

At the end of the evening, I ate like Miss Piggy! The food and the wine were just outstanding. I'd fly to Orlando just to do the tour again.

That's all for now. This is Donald Duck signing off till my next Great Adventure.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Disney's "Gargoyles"


First we had gnomes. Now its on to gargoyles?

Writing duo David Elliot and Paul Lovett ("G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra") are the latest scribes to tackle a project that explores the world of gargoyles at Disney.

Project is not tied to "Gargoyles," the popular animated TV series that Disney produced in the 1990s. Instead, it centers on a world in which the stone statues on buildings come to life. Elliot and Lovett would portray them as guardian angels for the cities in which they are located.

Let's see. I'm expecting a movie on pink flamingos to be next!



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random WDW Picture

The old Dumbo ride at the Magic Kingdom. I can't wait to see the new transformation and, hopefully, shorter wait times.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pooh Returns To The Hundred Acre Woods

This is a rather pleasant article from the NY Times on the evolution of Disney's version of Winnie the Pooh, commemorating in the release of the movie this past weekend. There certainly is a more in-depth look at the "philosophy" behind decision to give this new film a more nostalgic feel to it.

Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, the directors of the new movie, said they labored to distill the characters to what made them superstars in the first place. “A touch of cynicism is certainly prominent in movies today, and we were adamant that absolutely none of that could creep in,” said Mr. Anderson.

Mr. Hall added, “People want these characters to be who they are and not grow and change, which is a real difference.”
 I'd probably see the new Pooh movie this coming weekend and will have more to say about it after that.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Diane Disney Miller Reminisces Life With Walt

This is a nostalgic trip down memory lane by Diane Disney Miller about life with her father, Walt Disney. It includes the reason why she opened the Disney Family Museum far away from LA and the theme parks.

Through the Walt Disney Family Foundation, Miller and the family decided to build a museum about her father. It sits in San Francisco's Presidio, relatively close to her home in Napa Valley. Miller and her children decided they did not want to put the museum in Los Angeles or near the theme parks in Anaheim.

"It's so saturated with Disney that we felt we needed to be away from there," she said.
 This certainly is an appropriate piece at this time with yesterday (July 17) being the 56th Anniversary of the opening of Disneyland.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter Official Trailer

Disney has released the official trailer for John Carter, which has a scheduled movie premier in 2012.

Obviously, they decided to drop the "of Mars" for this movie. Maybe they're hoping this will have a sequel (franchise?) so that the next movie will be "John Carter of Mars"?

One can only hope that the live-action movie will be a hit, since Disney really needs one in this genre. It will also be interesting to see how Andrew Stanton of Pixar's "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E" tackles this.


"Room For One More" Haunted Mansion Event

I just got wind of this 1-day event at WDW on September 30, 2011 as part of the WDW 40th Anniversary celebration. And it's a good one! A Haunted Mansion themed "Room For One More".

This doesn't look like it is of the same scale as the one held at Disneyland a couple of years ago (or was it last year?) and reported by Patti in this blog (see here, here, and here). Certainly, the amount of merchandise isn't as extensive. They also seem to have learned the debacle in the online ticket purchasing process that left many guests unhappy. This time, you make a request for tickets, and a random selection will be done.

I'm still debating if I want to go, or even make the ticket request. I will already be there in early Sept. for the yearly pin event. Do I want to go back 2 weeks later for this?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Day in the Life of John Lasseter

Oh, this is a wonderful video that has quite a private look at John Lasseter.

I'm just shocked at his collection of Hawaiian shirts! :)

Edit: OK, I don't know what the story is, but the video is no longer available. Maybe it wasn't meant for public consumption, but it somehow got released? Hum... well, I hope you got to see it while it was still available.


Pleasure Island Makeover Stalls

Hum.. looks like we have to tolerate the state of the current Pleasure Island for a little bit longer. Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the current makeover of Pleasure Island into Hyperion Wharf will be put on hold while they reevaluate.

"During the course of this site work, we identified opportunities to further refine our master plan and are pausing to evaluate them," Disney wrote in an update to its company-run blog. "What does this mean for you? While we're moving quickly, it will admittedly cause a delay in construction. But we're willing to bet that any delay will be worth the wait once we're able to share details about the exciting work we've been doing."

This makeover has been going on long enough, but I still don't get a feeling of it being a place that I would like to hang around. But we'll see how it turns out in the end, I suppose.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Disney Cuts WDW Monorail Operating Hours

Starting Aug 1st, Disney will reduce the operating hours of the WDW monorail, from 1 1/2 hours after park closes to only 1 hour after. So if you need transportation beyond 1 hour after MK or Epcot closes, you will have to use either buses, or a ferry/boat.

Disney plans to start shutting down monorail service one hour after regularly scheduled park closings.

The monorail had previously run for about one and a half hours after closing and during any extended late night hours.

The changes are expected to go into effect August 1 and only affect the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
 I love riding the monorail, even nowadays when they no longer allow guests to sit up front. However, I wish they move faster. The fact that one can often hear the spiel at the Transportation and Ticket Center that it takes almost the same amount of time to get to and from MK using either the monoral or ferry is NOT a positive image for a monorail, considering that the express monorail should make no stop between the two stations AND the ferry moves slower on average. So if it takes roughly the same amount of time, then the monorail most either be moving very slow, or is rather inefficient, or both.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Disney Dream Is Sailing To Full Capacity

It appears that the Disney Dream, Disney's newest ship till early next year, has been a wonderful success so far.

Occupancy aboard the ship, which has been sailing, three-, four- and five-night itineraries to the Bahamas, averaged 150.7 percent, far higher than on ships operated by industry giants Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which do not carry nearly as many families with children. Two people per cabin is considered 100 percent occupancy, and the Disney Dream is averaging just more than three people per cabin.
 It's probably due to the AquaDuck! :)

In any case, I'm looking forward to our first Disney Cruise on the Dream this coming December. Can't wait!


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011

Hidden Mickey On Princess Catherine's Dress?

Some time, being a big Disney fan can be so distracting. Case in point, I some time see Hidden Mickey in the darndest thing!

This news article talks about the newly-wed Prince William and Princess Catherine arriving in LA for the last leg of their North American tour. It includes a video of their last day in Calgary. But look at the video, and the still image representing the video. The light-colored dress that the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing appears to be dotted with .... HIDDEN MICKEYS!

 Could it be that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is a big Disney fan? :)


For $399,000, You Can Buy Replica Of "Up" House In Utah

I'm not kidding. It appears that a builder has built a replica of Carl and Ellie's house from "Up" in Herriman, Utah. And it is for sale for $399,000.

The outside of the house is painted in vibrant sherbet shades, and comes complete with Carl and Ellie’s hand-printed mailbox and custom-made garden hose reel. Builders had to make some small modifications, Bangerter explained, as the laws of physics don’t apply to cartoon buildings. The chimney and fireplace have been tweaked in the real version so they actually match up, and the house is a narrow rectangle, rather than a square. With an upper story and a finished basement, it comes in at a roomy 2,800 square feet. Asking price is expected to be $399,000.

The details continue inside, with a painting of fictional Paradise Falls over the mantle and a custom-built fireplace. The upstairs nursery has the same mural Ellie paints in the film, and Carl and Ellie’s armchairs have been custom ordered. The house is being built as it appears early in the movie, when the couple first married, Bangerter said.
 OK, this is bad, because I'd rather have the stuff they put in the house rather than the house itself! :)

Now, how may balloons, do you reckon, it would take to life this house?

Anyway, it might be nice to take a look at the house, especially before it is sold.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Johnny Depp Plundering In The Big Bucks For "Pirates"

Johnny Depp is raking in the big bucks for the "Pirates" franchise. Some reports are indicating that he made $280 to $350 million for the entire "Pirates" series.

He’s earned close to $350 million from the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced franchise, according to an individual with knowledge of his deals.

Disney disputed the sum, calling it "highly inaccurate" but declined to provide any details.

Another individual close to the franchise said the number was closer to $280 million for the four Pirates combined.

Whatever the actual figure is, it is more than what most of us can comprehend. But then again, he's supporting his agent, lawyer, press agent, etc.. etc. After those and taxes, I'm sure he's only taking home $12 and some change.



Random WDW Picture

Sunset at World Showcase, Epcot.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Major Reorganization of Disney Parks and Resorts

Following the retirement of Al Weiss, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs has reorganized the responsibilities of top Disney executives responsible for theme parks, resorts, cruise, merchandise, and even DVC. The most significant of which is the appointment of Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton to overseas Disney theme parks in North American and in France.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs appointed Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton to the new post of president of operations in the U.S. and France. Crofton will maintain her current responsibilities as president of Disney's Orlando resort — a position she has held since 2006 — but she will also assume oversight of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and Disneyland Paris.

Not sure how this will directly affect the current operations and decisions. I would guess that not much will change.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

4th of July Fireworks

If you weren't lucky enough (like me) to catch the 4th of July Concert in the Sky firework show at WDW yesterday, here's a video of it from the Polynesian. It looks spectacular. It also appears that if you were to see this from inside the Magic Kingdom, you'd miss quite a bit of the fireworks.


Monday, July 04, 2011

Disney and Pixar - A Collision Of Creativity And Cash?

A rather interesting commentary on the marriage between Pixar and Disney, and the tug-of-war on the movies being produced by Pixar.

This isn't the first time such an issue has been brought up. Plenty of things were said when Disney bought Pixar a while back. Still, we know for a fact that the purchase did not dull the creativity out of Pixar. Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 were some of the best films the studio ever made, all ofter being purchased by Disney.

However, this new commentary was written in the aftermath of "Cars 2" critical disappointment. The consideration here is towards the obvious reference to merchandising of the movie, and how the "Cars 2" feels like a " ... a movie created solely to drive merchandise ... "

I'm guessing that Pixar and John Lasseter has no to little control over how the movie is marketed, the amount of merchandising being done, and what commercial the characters from the movie are being used in. Seeing all of these, one certainly can't be blamed for thinking that this movie was being created to sell stuff, especially when the storyline isn't one of the strongest that has come out of Pixar.

Will and should there be a "Cars 3"? I dunno. I hope they stop the "franchise" here because I don't see how I would have any kind of emotional connection to the characters in this movie. However, if I have to pick a guess, the lure of merchandising from the movie is too strong to simply kill the goose that's laying the golden egg.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

"Pirates 4" Reaches $1 Billion Worldwide

It may not do as well as expected in the US, but the worldwide box office take for "Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides" has crossed the $1 billion mark.

The news article listed some of the "fun facts" about "On Stranger Tides":

* Eighth film in history to reach the $1 billion threshold.

* Third Disney film in less than 18 months to gross $1 billion globally ("Alice in Wonderland" was the other).

* The Walt Disney Studios' fourth title to earn $1 billion.

* No. 3 film of all time at the international box office.

* Crossed the $500 million international threshold in a record-setting 14 days.

* Crossed the $800 million global threshold in only 20 days, the second fastest ever to reach this milestone.

* Set a new industry speed record by crossing the $700 million global threshold in only 16 days.

* Disney's biggest international release ever.

* The biggest "Pirates of the Caribbean" installment in 58 territories.

* Highest-grossing Disney film ever released in China and Russia.

* Nearing $100 million in Japan, where it's been No. 1 for all six weeks of release.

It certainly will make a boatload (pun unintended) of money for Disney. The question is, will it be able to reinvent itself into its critical acclaim, is it going to be a giant disappointment the same way the Star Wars franchise had become with its last 3 movies?


Friday, July 01, 2011

The Star-Spangled Banner

Since this is the 4th of July weekend, it is appropriate to show the video of the Voices of Liberty singing the National Anthem.

Happy 4th of July holidays!


Random WDW Picture

One of my most favorite shot that I took of The Hat and DHS.