Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Disney Hotel Near Washington DC

It was reported a while back in 2009 that Disney has bought land in the Washington, DC area to build its newest hotel resort. Turns out, that is not going to happen, at least in the immediate future. Disney has decided to cancel that plan.

"Given the full slate of expansion currently underway at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the timing isn't right to proceed with another new project of this scale," Disney spokeswoman Kristin Nolt Wingard said in a prepared statement issued Friday, over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
As stated in the news article, Disney is certainly in the middle of a lot of construction and capital spending. Maybe it is a good idea to do that while the economy is still struggling, so that you positioned yourself rather well when it recovers. Still, this cancellation might be wise move to reduce a little bit on such spending and letting other projects finish first.


Mahna Mahna

If you saw "The Muppets", you'll walk out of the movie theater with this infamous tune stuck in your head. And when I saw this video this morning, it happened again! So why should I be the only one walking around this morning with this infliction?

And here's the video that started it all way back when....

Enjoy having it in your head the rest of the morning!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Walt Disney History Items To Go On Auction

Thanks to Gene for giving me links to these stories.

Two historical items linked to Walt Disney will go onto the auction block.

The first one will go on auction tomorrow (Nov. 11, 2011). It is a sketch done by Walt himself.

The image of a cigar-smoking man in a derby hat is believed to have been drawn in 1920, a few years before Disney came up with his most popular character, Mickey Mouse, in 1928.

The sketch is expected to attract bids of between $35,000 (£21,875) and $50,000 (£31,250) at the auction, which starts at the Atlantis Casino Resort on Tuesday
 The second one will go on auction on Dec. 14, 2011 in Los Angeles. It is a newly-discovered "Hungry Hobo" cartoon featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

"Hungry Hobos" was one of 26 episodes featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character created by Disney and cartoonist Ub Iwerks in 1927 for Universal Studios.
Robert Dewar, commercial director of Huntley Film Archives, one of Britain's biggest independent film libraries, said he and colleagues found the only known surviving copy of Hungry Hobos during a routine cataloguing exercise earlier this year.
Supposedly, according to the news article, The Walt Disney Company is aware of the discovery of this film. I wonder if they ever made an attempt to buy it?


The Muppets Movie

First of all, I loved the first Muppets movie that was released back in the 70's, besides being an ardent fan of the show on TV. And when I first heard of "The Rainbow Connection", I fell in love with that song. So it was that nostalgic background that I went to see the new Muppets movie this past weekend.

The movie looks back with fondness to the "golden" years of the Muppets, and anyone who loved the show would be thoroughly pleased with this movie. The story traces the effort the Muppets to get back their old studios by raising money to get it back from an "evil entrepreneur". To get the money, they decided to redo the old variety show on TV.

The movie follows Kermit's effort to get the old gang back together again, including, of course, the curvacious Miss Piggy. A lot of this was done tongue-in-cheek, with reference to showing a montage of the smaller characters being asked back to join the gang, and a very neat trick of making quick travel via map. The climax of the movie was the staging of the show itself. The clucking chicken number was easily my favorite. But when Kermit started singing "The Rainbow Connection" again, I challenge anyone who was at the first movie to keep a dry eye. This song was done as a duet with Miss Piggy, and it could have been the emotional highlight of the movie - but they interrupted it for a short period of time during the song with a side plot. They got back to it, but the emotional high was lost by then!

This movie was done as musical. I think there was a bit too much "musical" in the movie that I can do without. I would have preferred a lot more scenes of the "Muppet Show" itself. They were hysterically funny, and a lot of the "musical" could have been there. I can't help wondering if this is going to be Disney's next Broadway musical production (not going to be easy with all the Muppets on stage). They also missed a golden opportunity to replicate a bit of the Muppet Show into the movie at the end. They could, after the credits, have Statler and Waldorf shoot their last words about the movie, just like they usually did at the end of the Muppet Show. Sadly, the movie did not have that.

It was a very entertaining movie, and certainly a very strong argument to bring the Muppets back to centerstage, rather than just remaining as an attraction at DHS in WDW. And with the movie making a solid $42 million over the Thanksgiving weekend, there's hope that Disney will do just that.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

What If Epcot Gets The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights?

Well, that's a rather fascinating question. Attractions Magazine has a video that tries to imagine what it would be like if Future World at Epcot gets all "dressed" up like the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights during the holidays.

I'm not sure what to think. After Epcot lost the Lights of Winter that adorned the entranced to World Showcase, it certainly needs something to be draw people to that park. Maybe having something like this is a good thing, I don't know. I have to see it first.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Disney Ice Sculpture

As part of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, around 30 international ice sculpting artists are producing Disney-inspired ice sculptures. You may watch the video of the preparation here.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Donald's Great Adventure - At Haunted Mansion Queue Line

Hello there my legions of fans! This is your lovable Donald Duck again. This time, I am having a wonderful time standing in line at the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion. Ever since they added this amazing set of stuff to interact with the guests, I've always loved to get my wings and feet on all the fun things to do. In fact, this is more fun than going on the attraction itself! Well, not quite, but it is a lot of fun!

Here I am visiting with my Aunt. Do you think we have a strong family resemblance? No? Just a bit?

Frankly, I think she looks more like Margarette Thatcher. But that's just me.

Here I am showing my musical artistic talent. Oh, you didn't know that I can play the organ?

Finally, I flew right in trying to fish this guy out. Turned out, he was already stiff as concrete, or in this case, as a resin.

Ah, it was such a fun time!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

At DVC event

Standing in line at doorway to dream store for dvc members event.


A Tribute To Jack, The Biggest Goofy Fan That I Know

Yesterday, during our monthly Windy City Pin Traders meet, we were informed that one of our dearest friends passed away on Friday. Jack has been in poor health the past few years, but even during the last setback that happened during our trip this past September, we still thought he was going to pull through, just like he had done many times before. Sadly, it did not happen this time.

We met Jack and Judie through our mutual interest in Disney pin trading. They were originally part of the WCPT here in the Chicagoland area, but by the time we met them, and by the time we joined the WCPT, they had already moved to Central Florida. Still, when we first met them at one of the yearly Disney Pin Celebration Event at Epcot, you cannot help but be drawn to them, either through their enthusiasm in Disney pins, or their interest in what you have to say, or their kindness that you can see in their eyes.

Jack had a fondness for Goofy. I don't know of anyone who has that many Goofy pins and items. One of these days, I will have to ask Judie how this all started. I wish I had the time to sit down with Jack himself and ask him.

We always try to meet up with them whenever we are at WDW, at least for dinner, which often occurred at Boma. Each one of these became memorable evenings filled with conversations and laughter, and of course, good food. Over the years, our friendship has transcended beyond just the sharing of our common interest in Disney and Disney pins. They become part of our lives and people that we care about.

Jack leaves behind a family that loves him, and a large, extended Disney family that will miss him awfully.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Time Lapse Of Cinderella Castle

This is way cool! The Orlando Sentinel has this time-lapse sequence of photographs (3,000 of them) of the Cinderella Castle that produced an amazing video. You have to check it out.


The Franchise Surrounding "Swampy"

Hey, have you played "Where My Water?" yet? What do you think?

Disney, as I reported earlier, is hoping to build a franchise around the star of "Where's My Water" - Swampy the Alligator. This Bloomberg article highlights that further, with Disney hoping that the merchandising for Swampy will take-off as much as it did for Angry Birds.

So far the Swampy experiment is going swimmingly. Following its Sept. 22 release, “Where’s My Water?” quickly jumped to the top of the Apple App Store’s paid applications chart, displacing the record-setting “Angry Birds” game from the No. 1 spot for three weeks.
Disney already has Swampy’s career plotted out. A 12- episode animated series will air on Disney.com and on Google Inc.’s YouTube sometime in the first quarter of 2012, part of a deal that will have the two companies spend as much as $15 million on co-branded content. A book and a movie featuring the cute green gator could follow, Decrem says.

The company aims to replicate Rovio Entertainment Oy’s success in catapulting “Angry Birds” into something beyond a digital phenomenon.

The Finnish gamemaker sells 1 million plush toys a month -- along with T-shirts, school lunch boxes and other gear -- and publishes a comic strip online. There are also plans for educational books and a movie.
Certainly, Disney can take Swampy to heights (or depths, in this case) that the maker of Angry Birds do not have immediate access to. Still, I think that Angry Birds is a fad, very much like the Rubik's Cube and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Can Swampy sustain a  popularity beyond being just a fad? I think they should run with Perry the Platypus, because he already has an almost cult following, even among adults. I want to see a Perry character at the theme parks.

Speaking of Angry Birds, don't you think that Disney should try and license it as an attraction inside Innoventions? After all, it is a physics-based app, and might teach kids about simple, basic, Newtonian mechanics on 2-D motion. It is similar to the projectile problems that many intro physics students encounter. How they could accomplish this in an entertaining way, I haven't thought it through yet. But even with Swampy, how about a lesson on gravity?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random WDW Picture

One of the most spectacular moments during The Magic, The Memories, And You.

This is also one reason why, to view this show in all of its glory, you have to be right on Main Street. You, of course, need to be close enough to be able to see what is going on on the Castle, but if you are off-center, you just will miss out on something like this, because anywhere else will not get you the right angle to see how they had lined up the images on Castle with where the fireworks shoot.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Brave" Official Trailer

"Brave" looks very, very good! Disney has released the first official trailer for Disney/Pixar "Brave".

Who's going? Raise your hands! :)


Bob Iger Joins Apple's Board

Looks like Apple and Disney will continue to have a very strong tie despite the death of Steve Jobs. Apple has appointed Bob Iger to its Board of Directors.

Adding Iger may cement ties to Disney, on whose board Jobs had a seat, and may ensure that Apple retains access to the entertainment company’s TV shows and movies, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. Levinson’s appointment lets Tim Cook concentrate on being CEO without the added responsibility of being chairman, he said.

“They’re trying to shore up the Disney relationship or strengthen that relationship because it’s an important part of where Apple is going,” Munster said.
So far, nothing unexpected. One would hope that while Disney and Apple continue their synergetic relationship, it doesn't and continues with the other mobile operating system, mainly the Android OS.


Random WDW Picture

In Dinoland, USA at Animal Kingdom.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is D23 Worth It?

So my D23 membership is about due in the next couple of months. I am seriously debating if I want to renew it. During the last renewal period, I thought I was not going to renew, but then I got wind of the Florida Project event, and decided that I want to go to that event. So I renewed.

Well, almost a year later, was it worth it? Till the Florida Project, I have not been to a single D23 event. Most of the reason for this is that it was simply held at an inconvenient time of the year. However, there were also a few events in which it got sold out literally within SECONDS of it being opened for reservation! Other events simply had too short of a lead time for most of us to make plans, especially when these events are in Orlando or in Anaheim. The few events that were held here in the Chicagoland area were so pathetic, and so last-minute, they were not worth the effort to attend.

So my membership fee went mainly to get the D23 magazines, which would make them to be the most expensive magazines around! So is it worth it? In my opinion..... NO!

Therefore, unless something comes up that really is enticing enough for me to renew, come due time, I will not be renewing my D23 membership.

What about you? Are you, or were you, a D23 member and do you think it is worth it? If you post a comment, please indicate where you live, because I think if you are in Orlando or Anaheim, it might be a factor in whether you are able to take advantage of all the events that are held at those locations.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Disney Stocks

So, if you own Disney stocks, the latest financial report from the company for the 4th quarter should have you sitting pretty. The company posted a 30% gain for that quarter, beating estimates. So naturally, Disney stock prices shot up.

But y'know, there is another reason to own Disney stocks, and you can do this even with just owning ONE share in the company. While most people who own stocks have them in their names only on paper or electronically, the "certificate" that represents the stocks can actually be a work of art in itself, and worth owning. This is certainly true for the Walt Disney Company. Shown below is the paper certificate for one share of the Walt Disney Company, obtain way back in 2002 (personal information has been removed).

Of course, this was during the reign of Michael Eisner. I would love to get a new one with Bob Iger's signature. Curiously enough, the certificate doesn't show all of the Fab 5, with only Mickey and Donald representing them. Yet, it has Winnie the Pooh, which isn't a Disney creation.

As much fun as that was, we now next go to the Pixar stock certificate. Of course, this stock no longer exist since it has been bought by the Walt Disney Company. Still, it is a "historical" document in the sense that this stock has the signature of Steve Jobs, who was its CEO at that time.
Obviously, back in 2003, the stable of Pixar hits was still small, with Toy Story still its major signature. If you owned Pixar stocks then, you would have them converted into Disney stocks after the merger.


Random WDW Picture

From Illuminations.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Magic, The Memories and You - Holiday Edition

This is a video of the Holiday Edition of The Magic, The Memories and You. They've incorporated holiday themes within the regular show. I must say that the candy cane and gingerbread castles looked spectacular.

We definitely will be seeing this when we're there in early December. Hope we get our usual spot to videotape this.

Edit: this version has less camera movement than the earlier one, except for a brief moment when some lifted a kid right in the camera's view.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Where in Walt Disney World

OK, here's another one. This one shouldn't be too difficult.

Where in Walt Disney World can you see this? Bonus points for those who can pin-point the location that I was standing at to snap this photo.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Bob Iger Interview on Aulani

The Hawaiian Business had this exclusive interview with Bob Iger on the opening of Disney's Aulani resort, and also other Disney business plans in Hawaii.

When I first saw the article and saw the picture of Bob Iger, I thought "Oh no! He has what John Lasseter has - the Hawaiian shirt diseases!" :)  But of course, the shirt was appropriate considering that he probably was in Hawaii at that time.

What was interesting about this interview is that no mention of the debacle surrounding Aulani and the DVC villas that resulted in the firing of the DVC President and a couple of other DVC executives. Man, sometime these "reporters" and interviewers really miss the most fascinating story!


Monday, November 07, 2011

Where in Walt Disney World

The last Where In Walt Disney World stumped everyone, it appears. No one posted an answer! This was taken in the lobby of Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

So let's see if we can do better this time. Where in Walt Disney World can you find this? There's plenty of hints around on where this is.


Friday, November 04, 2011

John Lasseter Receives A Star

Laughing Place has a nice account (and video) of the ceremony that presents John Lasseter with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and right in front of the El Capitan theater too! Still, don't miss is emotional recount of his meeting with Steve Jobs. Zz.

40 Years Of Fireworks At WDW

A short video on the fireworks and their history at WDW.

I still think that Illuminations at Epcot is the most unique of all Disney fireworks, mainly because it has no obvious Disney elements to it, and the World Showcase is the only place in any Disney theme parks that can have that type of a show. I hope it stays that way.

Too bad this video doesn't cover all the different fireworks at WDW since its inception. It will make for a longer video, but that isn't such a bad thing.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Copycat Disney Characters In Iranian Parks

This report is rather sad, actually. It gives an account on how, even with the Iranian government's strong anti-US rhetoric, iconic American symbols such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck welcome the citizen to its amusement park.

At Eram Park, Mickey simply welcomes people to the funfair, while the Dwarves urge people to enjoy themselves. Shrek offers tickets to ride and Donald Duck helpfully points to the exit.
I'm sure Disney won't be filing for copyright infringement anytime soon. It's not as if they have any effective legal means to stop such a thing. But what is surprising is how the Iranian government, who are so wound up about not having any kind of "Western influence", much less, American cultural influence, would let something like this stand. Maybe the Ayatollahs and the Mullahs and the President don't quite know what these characters are or what they represent?

What they don't know won't hurt them! :)


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

2011 Halloween Golf Cart Parade At Fort Wilderness

This looks like so much fun! This is a video of the highlights from the 2011 Halloween golf cart parade at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. Just like the Christmas decorations each year, these guests really outdid themselves in the elaborate decorations they managed to do for these golf carts.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mickey Can Talk!

Well, of course he can, on TV and in the old movies. But in real life during character meet-and-greet?

Let's see if he can carry a full conversation! :)


Final Report On Monorail Collision

The NTSB has issued its final report on the tragic monorail collision from two years ago that killed a Disney monorail operator.

The agency faulted Disney itself in three areas.

First, investigators noted that the resort did not require its employees to follow an operating guide in which monorail drivers were supposed to switch from the front cab of their trains to the back cab before driving in reverse, so they could operate the trains while in a forward-facing position. The driver of the train that hit Wuennenberg's trains told NTSB investigators that it was "not an uncommon practice" for trains to back through track switches while drivers were still operating their trains from the front cab.

In addition, NTSB noted that Disney's policies did not require that the central coordinator be stationed in the control tower when directing monorail movements. The tower is equipped with both a grid showing how the monorail beams are aligned and an emergency shutdown switch that can stop all trains on the tracks.

Lastly, the resort's procedures did not require that the employee in the monorail shop responsible for operating the track switches verify that the beam had been realigned after entering the switch command into a control panel.
One can only hope that something that is this preventable would not occur again.


Random WDW Picture

Country Bears Jamboree