Saturday, December 29, 2012

O'Hare Immigration

I flew in from Hong Kong yesterday into Chicago's O'Hare International Terminal (Terminal 5). I haven't done this in ages, since my usual port of entry into the country is either JFK, LA, or SF. In any case, I had been traveling for more than 24 hours, and haven't slept much during that period.

While standing in line waiting to get through Immigration, my ears perked up. Holy Cow! They were playing the music from "Illuminations" in the background! I know that tune anywhere considering that "Illuminations" is my most favorite fireworks show in all of WDW.

But the funny thing was that the music had been chopped up. It wasn't being played in the order that we are familiar with. The "slow" part kept getting edited into the middle of the fast part.

I would love to hear the story behind this. Did they get Disney permission to use the chopped up tune? Did the Homeland Security people attended a Disney Institute training and, in the process, got Disney's permission to use their tunes? Anyone has any info?

In any case, considering the groggy state that I was in, I certainly gave myself credit for being alert enough to notice this.

Now wait till I tell you about my shopping spree at the Hong Kong Disneyland stores at the Hong Kong airport!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WDW Premium pass discount drops to 10%

The merchandise discount for WDW premium annual passes will drop to 10%, after being at 20% this year.  This posting on DIS News has a statement under Annual Pass Merchandise that the discount for the premuim pass will be 10%, the same as for regular annual passes.

New Tapas restaurant at Morocco?

The rumor mill is talking about a new Tapas restaurant at Morocco.  This story  at DIS News says construction may begin in 2013, and the restaurant would sit on the shore of the lagoon.

The restaurant would have 120 outdoor seats, as well as 60 indoor seats. Menu items would include a variety of tapas (appetizer-sized portions), olive oils and wines from Mediterranean countries.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fastpass for EPCOT Illuminations has an article about Disney testing the use of Fastpasses to get preferred viewing locations for Illuminations at EPCOT.  This is probably inspired by the similar way you can get a certain viewing spot at Disneyland for World of Color.  However, there is a big difference.  The viewing area for World of Color is somewhat confined, but you can see Illuminations from just about any spot around the lagoon.  Your Fastpass for the "preferred" location for the fireworks at EPCOT might seem less desirable if the wind is blowing at you. So, is this a solution for a non-existent problem?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Holiday Lighting At World Showcase

Sometime, you look at something, and you have a nagging feeling that something is missing.

That's what I had with me last week week when we were at Epcot's World Showcase waiting for Illuminations. We've been here for the holidays for the past few years, so we're quite familiar with the decorations, etc. However, in this one, even most of the people in my group kinda either missed it, or didn't care much about it.

During the holidays, the various pavilions at World Showcase used to have this additional blueish lighting. It made the buildings look even more festive in the evening. However, this year, I noticed that this special lighting is entirely missing! I mentioned this to other members of the group, and they either didn't remember, or maybe vaguely were aware that there were such lighting during the holidays. Instead, what we saw this year were the typical evening lighting that one can see on a normal evening.

Just to be sure that I wasn't hallucinating during those other times, I looked back on the photos that I took in previous years. I'll let you compare them yourself and see if I'm correct.

1. This trip

2. This trip


3. This trip


So as you can see, it was as recently as last year (2011) that they had these special holiday lighting on the various pavilions. So are they cutting even more corners now? It is bad enough that Epcot lost the Lights of Winter a few years ago. That lost was certainly more obvious than this one. But I certainly noticed it, and I wonder how many others did.

It's just that I'm apprehensive to think that this might be a trend in cutting back many of the "details" that made this place so special.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Very Tomorrowland Christmas

A scene from the Christmas party show at Tomorrowland.

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Mickey's sweetheart in real life (sort of).

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Sequel To Alice?

News reports are indicating that Disney has ordered a sequel to Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland". The script will be written by Linda Woolverton, who had previously written for "The Lion King", and "Beauty and the Beast". The movie will be produced by Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd, the same producers as "Alice".

As of the report, no word yet on the participation of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter,  Anne Hathaway, and "Alice" herself Mia Wasikowska.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Candlelight Processional

The popular Christmas concert at EPCOT, with orchestra and choir. Guest narrator was Jodi Benson, recently named as one of the Disney Legends.

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Last time this century

Donald is checking his watch as a very special moment happens. The time and date is 12:12 12/12/12. A combination like this will not happen again this century.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beach Club Christmas

The chocolate castle at the Beach Club.

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Beaches & Cream

At the counter at B & C.

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Gingerbread house at the Boardwalk

Donald is coming down the chimney- not a good idea.

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Agent P?

Is one of these the real Agent P?

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DVC Merry Mixer

Inside the DVC Merry Mixer.

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DVC Merry Mixer

Waiting in line for the DVC Merry Mixer.

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The Chandelier at Palo

This is the chandelier at Palo on the Disney Dream.

It is supposed to represent spaghetti and meatballs.

Whatever it was supposed to be, it looks spectacular. And so was the food!


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas at the campgrounds

A night view of some of the decorations at Ft. Wilderness. Some of the campers go all out.

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Getting ready for the parade

These ponies are getting ready to go to work pulling Cinderella's coach in the MK Christmas parade.

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Donald with a parade pony

Our favorite duck may be reminiscing about Grandma Duck's farm, as he looks at a pony a short while before the MK Christmas parade.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Almost there

We are at the terminal and checked in. Just waiting to board.

Disney Dream

We are at the port waiting to get into the terminal.


We just checked out of our hotel room and about ready to return our rental. We will then take the shuttle to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Dream. Our cruise is about to commence!!!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mickey Mouse Poster Sold For $101,575

Better go dig into your attic to see if you have any vintage Mickey Mouse poster! A 1928 Mickey Mouse poster sold at an auction for more than $100,000!

The poster was auctioned in Dallas, Texas and sold for $101,575. The name of the winning bidder was not disclosed.

Grey Smith, director of movie poster auctions at Heritage Auctions, in a statement called the poster "an important piece of pop culture treasure," and said it was likely to be the only Mickey Mouse poster created until 1930, when Columbia Pictures started distributing Disney cartoons.

All Packed And Ready To Go!

I wish it was tomorrow already!

I am all packed and ready to go. I just have to figure out if I can sleep tonight.

I am not the only one who is excited and rearing to go. Donald help me packed everything we need, and he's all set to leave right this very minute! Not quite yet, Donald. We still have to sleep tonight and get to the airport tomorrow!


WDW/Disney Cruise Trip

We are a day away from flying out to Orlando for our vacation. We plan on spending a couple of days on the coast visiting the Space Center before doing the Disney Dream cruise on Sunday. After that , we will have a few days at WDW to enjoy the holiday festivities.

As always, I will try to blog live from where ever we are except while we are on the cruise. Donald is all excited and ready to go already!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tokyo Disneyland curtails balloon sales

The Disney Blog reports that Tokyo Disneyland has stopped the sale of balloons due to a shortage of Helium. 
...the cost to import that precious gas to Japan has caused Tokyo Disney Resort to put the sales of the popular souvenirs on hold at the park.
 Follow this link for a story on the worldwide Helium shortage. Party stores are also feeling the effects of the low supply of Helium...
Not long ago you could find these canisters of helium for personal use all over town, but the supply has dried up and that means balloon parties may cost you more.

Loading Up Disney Ornaments Onto The Disney Tree

All these many Disney ornaments going onto a rather small Disney tree? How are we going to do it?

Stay tune to find out!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

No Penney's Snowglobes This Year?

Rumor has it that JC Penney will not have their Disney snowglobes to give away this year. I haven't seen any advertisements in the papers yet to say that they will have it.

If this is true, that this will break our annual tradition that we had done for the past many years. In fact, there is now no longer any reason to shop at Penney's on Black Friday. Not sure if they even realize this, but the few cents they spent making one of these globes got us into the store and spent quite a lot of money buying stuff.

We will know for sure by tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll write to them and let them know what a mistake it was for them to no longer do the snowglobes.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving To Everything Disney

A day before Thanksgiving.....

I have plenty to be thankful for. But since this is a Disney-related blog, here's my Disney Thanksgiving.

Due to our love for Disney theme parks, and Disney pin trading, we have met some of the most wonderful people one can ever know. Our lives are significantly richer for it, and these people have become part of our extended family. We have shared laughter, tears, joy, and sorrow.

For that, I will always be thankful for.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Disney Movie site closing down

Thanks to GM for passing this along.  Yahoo financial news reports that the Disney Movies Online site will be closing down on December 31.
Disney Movies Online did not attract many customers and had limited capabilities. Users couldn't download their digital movies for offline playback, there was no support for connected devices like game consoles, and it only offered movies for streaming on Web browsers.
Disney is the only studio of the six Hollywood majors that has declined to participate in UltraViolet, a standard that gives consumers the ability to view their movie purchases on multiple devices. It is developing its own technology called KeyChest that performs a similar function.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Star Wars Land rumor

Dan Madsen ran both the Star Trek and Star Wars fan clubs for several years.  In a recent Spacing Out podcast interview, Dan voiced his opinion that Disney has big plans for the Star Wars franchise, including possibly converting Tomorrow Land at WDW to Star Wars Land.  Dan had a brief cameo role in the movie Phantom Menace with Jar Jar Binks.  Disney isn't likely to include Binks in the theme park though since many people found Jar Jar rather jarring.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celebrate The Magic

If you haven't seen it already, here's a video of the new castle projection show at the Magic Kingdom that replaces The Magic, The Memories, And You.

I must say that I'm a bit underwhelmed by the new show. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think the castle projection is spectacular, and they've definitely improved on the technology and complexity of it. However, the whole concept and theme is rather weak, and the accompanying original tune is utterly forgettable! The whole show feels more like a hodge podge of Disney movies stitched together into a commercial advertisement. It feels very disjointed.

Let's see if I change my mind about it when I see it in person this coming December.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Main Street Bakery and Starbucks posted this story about the bakery at Magic Kingdom and the changes due to Starbucks. As the article states, opinion has been more on the negative side.  But it sounds like the bakery will not be replaced by a Starbucks store, rather it will serve their products.  A Starbucks store might fit into Downtown Disney, or even on the Boardwalk, but not very well in the parks.
The Main Street Bakery will keep its name and theming when it reopens in early summer. It’ll also continue to serve Disney favorites like cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, in addition to Starbucks signature beverages and other items.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Test Track To Reopen Dec 6

Good timing. It has been announced that the newly-themed Test Track at Ecpot will reopen on Dec. 6. This is terrific because our cruise on the Disney Dream will end that day, and we will be spending the rest of the week at WDW. So we will certainly be in line to check this out.


Random WDW Picture

I love fireworks. Don't you?


Friday, November 09, 2012

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party posted this story about this year's MVMCP.  All dates and prices are listed, along with what attractions and dining will be open. For people who play the Sorcerer game, this news should be interesting...
Get a special Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game card that is only available at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!  Just show your party ticket and wristband at the Main Street Firehouse to receive the special card!  The card features elves Wayne and Lanny from ABC's "Prep & Landing" Christmas special.
 You will only be able to use your party ticket once since they punch a hole in it when you get the special card.  To get more than one card you could try talking a total stranger into helping you.

Angry Birds Meet Star Wars

Oh, you're still in the funk with Disney buying LucasFilm, are you? Well, this should get you out of that pretty quickly.

It seems that Angry Birds will come out with a Star Wars-themed game! Yup!

To quote from Rovio Entertainment's press release, the game follows "a plucky group of Rebel birds in their fight against the evil Imperial Pigs." Players will get to "use the Force, wield a Lightsaber, and blast away Pigtroopers on an intergalactic journey from the deserts of Tatooine to the depths of the Pig Star."

"Angry Birds Star Wars" features more than 80 levels. Successful players will eventually face off against a porcine version of Darth Vader.
I'm sure this deal was inked before the sale, but this will be very interesting to see how Disney will handle it. Don't forget that Disney has at least 2 physics-based games with Swampy and Perry the Platypus.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Donald Duck Effect

Ah, Donald Duck is highly respected in the academic circles.

In a book "Communication Systems" by Simon Haykin, we get this passage on signal phase distortion (see Pg. 100).

In the latter method, it is inevitable that there would be some phase error in the local oscillator output with respect to the carrier wave used to generate the incoming SSB modulated wave. The effect of this phase error is to introduce a phase distortion in the demodulated signal, where each frequency component of the original message signal under-goes a constant phase shift. This phase distortion is tolerable in voice communications, because the human ear is relatively insensitive to phase distortion.In particular, the presence of phase distortion gives rise to a Donald Duck voice effect. In the transmission of music and video signals, on the other hand, the presence of this form of waveform distortion is utterly unacceptable.
Well, now at least you know how you can get a Donald Duck voice without any kind of talent or training. :)


Monday, November 05, 2012

Major Polynesian rehab planned posted this news that Disney is planning a major rehab of the Polynesian resort. The post has a link to the building permit document filed with the Orange County Comptroller.  The project appears to include all the rooms at the Polynesian, in buildings 1-11, and the completion date is 12/31/2013. 

Random WDW Picture

I often like to take photos very early in the morning when I'm at WDW (I'm a morning person in general). I find that the lighting is as rich and amazing as it is for dusk, but with fewer people around.

Some time, when everything is very, very still, the water is almost like a mirror. This is one such case. This was taken at Old Key West resort.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Speaking of food...

DisneyParks Blog reports that the French Market restaurant at DLR's New Orleans Square has made big changes to their menu.
More than a dozen new dishes have debuted at French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square at Disneyland park, redefining fast-casual dining at the classic Cajun-Creole restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner. Now, instead of an all-day menu, they’ve added a few more dishes for dinner.
Dinner adds panko-crusted red snapper with veggies, Red Bliss potato wedges and a sweet pepper sauce; and Creole shrimp pasta tossed in a smoked Gouda Creole mustard sauce

Phineas and Ferb's Campbells Soup

I don't normally buy Campbell's condensed soup. However, walking through the soup aisle at my local grocery store one day this week, I noticed this!

It's Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup with Agent P on the front! How could I resist? So I bought a can (yes, just ONE can).

The fun continues if you look at the back label. First, the nutrition information (always important):

But then, here's the fun part. The noodles all have interesting shapes!

Here's a closer look at those shapes:

No, I haven't opened it and ate it yet. Not sure if I will. I wonder how long I can keep this can of soup before it goes really bad and the can explodes? :)