Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big Thunder Mountain reopens

As reported in, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is reopening after refurbishment.  Follow this link for a rather extensive report including many photos of the updated attraction.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had extensive work done to its track, show scenes, primary queue, and lighting.

Art of Animation resort opens today

The first phase of Disney's resort number 26, the Art of Animation, opened today, May 31 2012.  The resort will ultimately add 2,000 rooms to WDW capacity.  The first phase is named "Finding Nemo".  There will be three additional phases coming in 2012, in fairly short order.  Check out the full story and more pictures here.  The interior shot looks very interesting.
The resort falls into the “value” range (similar to the All Star and Pop Century resorts), but this marks the first time Disney will open a hotel that features mostly family suites .

Art of Animation Resort

Random WDW Picture

From the Figment ride


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Push To Save Laugh-O-Gram Studio

A group of people is making the final push to raise money and save Laugh-O-Gram studios in Kansas City, MO, where Walt Disney had his first animation job.

The group has raised and spent nearly $1 million and hopes to raise $2 million to restore the studio, called Laugh-O-Gram, where Disney began his animation career in 1922.

"There is an important question people raise: Why is this taking so long?" said Butch Rigby, chairman of the group Thank You Walt Disney Inc. "The answer: It's just a slow fundraising process.
I wish them well. I'm surprised that they didn't get any additional help from either the Walt Disney Co., or from the Disney Family. This certainly wasn't indicated in the news article.


Disney Fantasy rescues four at sea

From this story comes word that the Fantasy rescued four men in a raft near Key West.

On Sunday, May 27, crew members saw the men signaling for help near Key West, Florida and were able to get them aboard the cruise ship.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Registered For 2012 Disney Trade Celebration

Well, it was formerly Disney Pin Celebration, but now, it is called Disney Trade Celebration so as to include vinylmation trading. In any case, we are registered for this year's event at Epcot.

This will be our first trip to WDW since our WDW trip plus cruise last December. So it is a very long break in between, considering that we went to WDW 4 times last year. We needed the break, but now it feels like it has been such a long time in between trips. We miss it.

In any case, anyone else going to this event? I know of a few from my circle of friends, but anyone else out there going?


Friday, May 25, 2012

"Brave" playground at EPCOT

We had already seen the female lead character from Brave in costume at EPCOT in May.  A Brave playground will be added to coincide with the movie opening on June 22.  See the story here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paris cast members go on strike

Thought this story  reported in DIS (news) would be of interest.  Definitely not something you would associate with Mickey and Donald.

Costumed characters at Disneyland Paris went on strike last week after a fight about a sexual harassment allegation.
 The strike was the second one in two months; in March cast members also went on strike over a dispute in pay and working conditions.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Universal Challenging Disney?

The NY Times published this article about how Universal is trying to add new attractions to challenge Disney Parks.

Extracted from the article...
Universal’s parks have always languished in the shadow of mouse ears, and that will not change anytime soon. Disney has eight parks in California and Florida that attract over 73 million visitors each year, with summer the busiest season. Universal operates three parks, with annual attendance totaling about 18 million...But Universal is starting to look a lot less puny. A $265 million Harry Potter-themed addition to its resort here sent 2010 attendance soaring 30 percent over the year before, draining attention from Walt Disney World in the process.

Avatar Land at AK may have flight simulation

This article quotes a NY Times story about possible flight simulation at Avatar Land.

The New York Times today claimed that the upcoming Avatar land to be built in Disney's Animal Kingdom will include a ride that simulates flight.  This is the first public report of any remotely firm details on any of the actual rides that may be part of the land

WDW Ticket prices going up

Here's a short story that says WDW ticket prices are due to be raised.  The Premier Passport has already been increased.

Sources familiar with the situation tell us that increases to Walt Disney World ticket prices are imminent.  Expect a 1 day ticket to increase from the current $85+tax to $89+tax.  The last ticket price increase was June 12 2011

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fantasmic Turns 20

 Fantasmic recently reached its 20th anniversary.  See this story for an in-depth report on the popular attraction.

There is now a whole generation of Disneyland fans for whom Fantasmic! has always been a part of the Happiest Place on Earth. But it is only since May 13, 1992 that nights along the Rivers of America have been coming alive with the show that some regard as the best ever created for a Disney theme park.

Aulani and Laniwai on Conde Nast Hot List

From Disney Public Relations , Aulani and Laniwai were picked by Conde Nast to be on their 2012 hot list.

If you picked up the May issue of Conde Nast Traveler, you may already know that Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i, is one of 12 U.S. hotels included on the “Hot List” for 2012. Also on the list, in the spa category, is Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani.
In their evaluation, Conde Nast editors particularly cited “the resort’s main attraction…the pool area” (aka Waikolohe Valley) and noted, “Apart from meet-and-greets with Mickey and Minnie and themed activities like ‘Surf’s Up’ time with Chip and Dale, the property feels more like a five-star family-focused resort than a Disney showcase. And it lives up to its promise to educate kids about Hawaiian culture…”

Tokyo Disneyland To Allow Same Sex Wedding Ceremony

Looks like Tokyo Disneyland is stepping way ahead of other parts of Disney in this one.

Tokyo Disneyland will start allowing for same-sex wedding ceremony to be performed at the theme parks. This is nice, but it carries no legal authority since there's no legal status for same-sex marriage in Japan.

The park said it would accept all applications for same-sex wedding ceremonies. The only obstacle now appears to be financial: a full wedding ceremony in Cinderella's castle, with Disney characters included on the guest list, costs 7.5m yen (£60,000).

Disneyland's stance was a rare sign of progress in a country still uncertain about its attitude towards homosexuality. There are no laws against homosexuality, and Tokyo is home to a large lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population, many of whom took part in the capital's first rainbow pride event last month.
So, I wonder when we'll have similar announcement for the US Disney theme parks. After all, those rabid Southern Baptist churches are short of things to protest on against Disney lately.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Facts About Cars Land

Disney has listed some of the features of Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure.

The Mater and Lightning McQueen characters will move and talk, unlike the static cars that now are staged in Disney California Adventure. Mater and Lightning McQueen mostly will be based at the Cozy Cone Motel, but also will travel down Route 66.

Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers, the largest ride, will be available outside Cars Land by It's Tough to Be a Bug theater.

Radiator Springs Racers will have 23 full-size, animatronic figures from the first "Cars" movie. The height requirement is 42 inches.
Still, is Radiator Springs Racers will make us WDW regulars have a deja vu feeling of Test Track?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Build-a-Droid at Hollywood Studios

As reported in the Orlando Sentinel , you will be able to build your own droid if you are so inclined.  Along the lines of Mr. Potato Head, Tatooine Traders at Hollywood Studios will have a "build your own droid" area.  An enlightening quote from the article...
...Disney Parks toy designer Brad Schoeneberg said, "One of the problems I had when I was a child was that in my droid playset, I never had enough droids. You need a droid army."
 Well said.  Here's an image of one possible droid army from the article...
New build-your-own droid feature coming to Disney in time for Star Wars Weekends

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brainstorming with Darth Vader

OK, this is way too funny. Someone was having too much fun with this one.

I want an Ewok Pinata!!


Changes to Kilamanjaro Safari at AK

As reported on WDW News Today... Many changes are planned for the popular safari. Click the link for the whole story - most interesting.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Says Goodbye to Wilson and “Jambo” to Nighttime Safaris?

According to this article, The story line of Wilson, poachers and Little Red the elephant are being replaced by a Zebra showcase.  IMHO, based on past experience with cantankerous Zebras, they may not be the best role model.  But they could be at least entertaining.  Disney is even considering night safaris with possible night vision equipment.  The story reports that the first changes will be in place by Fall, and more changes are planned for "3-4 years" out.  It seems Disney is looking for ways to keep people at AK past 5 PM.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alice Davis Gets A Disneyland Window

Finally, Alice Davis, a Disney Legend, gets a Disneyland window right next to her late husband, Marc.

On Thursday morning, Alice Davis, 83, got her wish when Disney unveiled a window in her honor, right next to that of her husband that sits above the Disneyana shop along Main Street, USA.

I have friends who know Alice pretty well, and I am sure they are also quite elated by this news.


Disney's Touché

Hey, you could be using something in the future that was developed out of Disney Research. This is certainly something that could go beyond the capacitive touch screen that most of us are used to.

The new technology relies on "swept frequency capacitive sensing" capable of processing far more information than current touch sensors that monitor a single frequency to detect single and multiple finger movements. Touché can monitor multiple frequencies, allowing it to understand hand grasps, complex finger gestures, and body position such as when a user is covering her ears or uses his elbows to lean on a table.

 Touché can be used in almost any object imaginable because it requires just a single electrical conductor embedded into the object and then a wired or wireless connection to a sensor controller. Disney imagines you could have a Touché-enabled living room where you sit down on your sofa and the TV automatically turns on. As you get more comfortable and lean back to enjoy the show, your living room lights would dim. And if you become so comfortable that you fall asleep, the sensors in  your sofa would recognize this and shut down the TV for better rest. You could also put touch sensitivity into a doorknob that would lock based on how firmly you grasped the door handle, or even unlock with a "gesture password," a feature in use today in Android smartphones and upcoming Windows 8 PCs.
The mouse is pretty smart! I wonder if Apple knows about this? :)


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Agent P Replacing Kim at EPCOT

Just saw the news that Kim Possible at EPCOT is being re-themed into Phineas & Ferb and Agent P's Adventure in June.  Follow this link to see the story:

 According to the news article, Kim will be phased out on May 17.  This is interesting to at least some of us who recently tracked down the Jade Monkey.

Disney Stocks Hit All-Time High

... and this is not even including the revenue from "The Avengers" yet!

Disney shares hit an all-time high of $45.80 per share during trading yesterday, before retreating to $45 at closing. This comes after a stronger-than-expected earnings during the previous financial quarter.

Just remember that barely a couple of years ago, the shares were trading below $20! I told everyone back then that that was the time to buy Disney stocks. Did you listen?


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Saga of the Jade Monkey

My trip report from last week mentioned doing the Kim Possible adventure at EPCOT and finding the Jade Monkey in the China mission,  in a pond outside the temple at the China pavillion.  This monkey has been somewhat of a nemesis.  On a previous trip we saw the monkey out of the water, and tried to take a picture only to have the monkey submerge before said picture could be taken.  Waited several minutes for the monkey to rise up out of the water again - but no monkey.  Did some shopping and came back - still no monkey.  Waited many more minutes - no monkey.  Wondering if this thing only comes up once a day, suddenly out of the water comes the monkey.  Almost by accident we discovered the monkey is controlled by a Kim Possible agent, who happened to be standing near us.  So, on our Kim Possible adventure we finally got to the last clue in China and pushed the button on the Kimmunicator to reveal the monkey.  Unfortunately we were standing by the wrong rock and just caught the monkey submerging again.  Bummer.  While some of the Kim Possible clues have a "do over" option, the Jade Monkey did not. So,we ended up doing the whole China mission over again and finally saw the monkey rising out of the water.  But, as you can see, the phone's camera is not the best and you can barely see the monkey in the photo.  If you are at the China pavillion, check out the Jade Monkey.  But you will have to wait for a Kim Possible agent to come by.

Mad T Party at Disneyland

Obtained From Disneyland news...
Mad T Party -- Beginning summer 2012, Disney California Adventure park guests will fall into the rabbit hole and land in a wild and whimsical world at Mad T Party. Inspired by world of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," the all-new nighttime family celebration will feature a live band, unique entertainment, fun-filled games and plenty of dancing
 See more of the story at

Monday, May 07, 2012

Two Disney Movie Items

Disney Studios is releasing Maleficent in the US on March 14, 2014. Angelina Jolie will play the role.Cinderella is coming out of the Vault on October 2.

Welcome Philaduckia1111

If you have been following this blog for the past week, you would have noticed a wonderful, and often-hilarious trip report from Philaduckia1111. Well, it is my great pleasure to officially announce that this blog will now be equally shared between me and Philaduckia. He will no longer be a guest blogger but will actively run this blog.

But beware! We are both HUGE Donald Duck fans! Expect that a lot of feathers will fly. So if you are allergic to feathers, get well-medicated before proceeding any further!


Review of "The Avengers"

We went to see "The Avengers" yesterday. I have one advice to tell you:


Even if you don't like this type of movie, go see it! It is fun, the writing is witty, and it is hysterically funny. Not only that, all the superheroes have such distinct characters and personalities that each one of them did not get lost in the very busy story. I think I could have done without Thor, who was the only non-earthling superhero.

I've always criticized movies like this where often the action goes too fast (digitally) that I can't quite follow what I'm seeing on screen. This movie suffers from the same problem, especially when the action is shown close up. Luckily, there aren't enough of those that distract from the movie.

A word of warning: DO NOT LEAVE THE THEATER WHEN THE CREDITS ROLL. Stay till the very end or you'll miss something. I know many of you want to rush to the bathrooms, but just trust me on this.

A wonderful and entertaining movie. A Must See. It certainly deserves the record-breaking weekend.

BTW, a bunch of us who saw the movie went out for Mediterranean food afterwards and had shawarma for dinner! If you have seen the movie, you'll get the relevance. :)


Saturday, May 05, 2012

WDW Trip (last post)

Inside the Yak N Yeti restaurant at AK. Donald refused to come because they have duck on the menu. He was worried they wouldn't recognize his star status, thinking a duck is a duck. At least in France they disguise it by calling it canard. The bok choy and Shitake stir fry side is especially yummy. It accompanies a few of the entrees.

WDW Trip

Donald is looking at the Tree of Life. He's wondering if there are any ducks on the tree.

Friday, May 04, 2012

WDW Trip

One of the Sorcerer portals deep in Adventure Land.

WDW Trip

One last run thru Haunted Mansion, not too busy. Stopped to talk to Prudence Pock using SpectreCom for the nearly departed. But Prudence was hard of hearing, so we had to yell "turtles" several times to answer her question with a word that rhymes with hurdles.

WDW Trip

Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride represented in Lego blocks at Downtown Disney.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

WDW Trip

Part of the Kidani Village lobby at night. Not as big as Jambo house but still very attractive.

WDW Trip

A better look at the construction of the new DVC resort at the Grand Floridian. View from the Monorail.

WDW Trip

The Avengers Monorail. Finally saw it at the Contemporary. Some people thought the Tron train was cooler.

WDW Trip

Clarification: Haunted Mansion is testing FastPass. When asked abouit it, a CM said there was no info available now.

Sent via BlackBerry

WDW Trip

Haunted Mansion has FastPass now.

WDW Trip

One of the Frontierland Sorcerer portals. There is apparently a multi-level scheme that has yet to be activated.

WDW Trip

Donald is checking his Sorcerer cards before heading to his next portal. You get the next portal after you cast a spell at a portal.

WDW Trip

A sign on the way to the Frontierland portals.

WDW Trip

The Sorcerer enlistment center.

WDW Trip

Starting the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game. Enlistment is at the firehouse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

WDW Trip

Yes, I remember this role. I was great as as an airduck.

WDW Trip

A fine painting of my sweetheart in one of her classical roles.

WDW Trip

At the Backlot Studio Catering Co. at HS, cast members drawing a hopscotch game on the ground. The birds are agressively after everyone's lunch. It's touch and go.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

WDW Trip

Fantasyland construction. View mostly blocked by a high fence.

WDW Trip

Fantasyland construction showing a circus tent.

WDW Trip

View of the construction of the new Fantasyland. A high fence blocked easy viewing.

WDW Trip

History of the Lei, table with about 20 different Leis. Guests were voting for their favorite.

WDW Trip

History of the Hawaiian lei exhibit at the Polynesian. People we asked to vote for their favorite, photo in next post.

WDW Trip

Bad news! The Monorail is down most of the day. Apparently repairs on the line. Back to the boat for return to MK. There are other options, but not very appealing.

WDW Trip

The Tonga Toast with strawberry compote.

WDW Trip

We arrived at the Kona cafe and began scarfing down a breakfast of Blueberry pancakes and Tonga toast.

WDW Trip

Here's a photo of the construction of the new Grand Floridian DVC. This is at the very early stage, and it will be interesting to watch it develop. The new DVC resort was confirmed at the 2011 annual meeting.

WDW Trip

On the boat from MK to the Polynesian, heading to breakfast at the Kona Cafe.