Friday, June 29, 2012

15 years of Off Kilter

July 1st is the 15th anniversary of the Canadian bagpipe-rock group Off Kilter, according to this story in Disney Parks Blog.   Most of us have heard this group at EPCOT at least once.  Even if you were across the lagoon you probably heard them.  The bagpipe adds a very unique sound to the rock music.
Off Kilter founder Jamie Holton first started playing the bagpipes when he was 11, inspired by his family’s Scottish heritage and his father’s love for bagpipe music.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anaheim monorail plans shelved

Plans to build a monorail system in the city of Anaheim have apparently been scrapped.  The Voice of OC reports in this story  that the system, which could have carried people from Disneyland to other locations in Anaheim, would be too expensive to build.  Other options are still being considered, and it's possible neighboring cities could cooperate on a single system to save money and improve chances of federal approval.
The overall vision is a system that would make it possible for workers in the neighborhoods of Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove to travel among the cities without using cars and also carry tourists from Disneyland to rail stations.
According to the story, the monorail system would have cost on the order of $700 million but other options, such as streetcars, would be about a third of that cost.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Matterhorn reopens at DLR

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Matterhorn attraction has re-opened after extensive reworking.  The story talks about the changes including the reappearance of "mountain" climbers.
The facelift project, which cost about $1 million, brought brand new sleds with it. Instead of the old two-seaters (in which you'd share seat belts with your companion) the cars now have three individual seats.
Another difference is not entirely welcome. The abominable snowmen, while being better groomed and lighted, have grown much louder during their 6-month hibernation. They are loud, startlingly so.
Photo of the new sleds, from the Sentinel.

Matterhorn reopens at Disneyland

Cars Land Imagineer heading to Animal Kingdom

San Diego U-T News published a recent interview with Jim Kearns, the Imagineering project manager for Cars Land.  Kearns talks about the project and how it was done.
“Think ‘Pirates’ and ‘Indiana Jones,’ ” Kearns said. “You’re engaging with almost 21 of the cars from the ‘Cars’ movie at full-scale animatronics. Imagine the challenge of taking what occurs on the screen and make it mechanized.”
 The third phase of the ride is the actual race between two cars (you don’t get to control the speed, but either of you can win).
At the end of the interview, Kearns reveals that his next big project is at Animal Kingdom, leading to speculation that this is related to the new Avatar attraction.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

D23 Fanniversary

We are at Chicago museum of contemporary art for the D23 Fanniversary event.

Disney Store in Downtown Chicago

At the State Street store in the loop. They have new Chicago Disney pins that I haven't seen before.

Edit: Ack! You'll have to stand on your head for now to view the photos. I'll try to correct these later today.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

WDW using more wireless RFID

Disney is beginning to use RFID technology for more applications at WDW.  New room key cards with RFID chips are in use at some resorts now, according to this story from DIS News.
The new locks will work with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.  Guests' Key to the World cards will allow access to the rooms like before, but instead of inserting the cards into the locks, guests will just need to tap the lock for the door to open.
This wireless technology is also being applied to the FastPass system.  See this story  from April for more details.
Select Walt Disney World guests will be part of a test for "FastPass+", part of the upcoming NextGen initiative. Disney's new system will allow guests to make reservations for ride times before they even begin their vacation.
One idea with the new FastPass system is to allow people to plan a park itinerary with prearranged times to go to the attractions.  Veteran passholders might be tempted to say "good luck with that".  A trip to WDW planned out literally by the hour can be disrupted by the weather, attractions going down, or other factors.   If this is your only trip to WDW it might be appealing to have everything planned out, but this is also a recipe for stress and disappointment. 

A comment on widespread use of RFID in the parks - people can easily be tracked which could help Disney manage the parks.   But, with the new room key Disney could know where specific people are.   And what about credit cards with embedded chips?  RFID sensors could be anywhere and everywhere.   Despite Disney's attempts to make this system secure, how easy would it be for someone to reprogram a sensor to grab thousands of credit and debit card accounts.    We'll see how all this goes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Disney Merchandise In Sorrento, Italy

My friend Patti sent me these photos of what she saw in the two of Sorrento, Italy. It is a store selling Disney merchandises.

Note that I didn't say that this is a Disney Store. It is only a store that apparently specializes in Disney merchandise. Unfortunately for us adults, I've been told that the store has predominantly kids stuff. Maybe in most parts of the world outside of the Disney empire, Disney merchandise are only meant for kids.

Still, the long arm of the Disney influence reaches out far and wide.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Central Florida Theme Park Injury report

A number of sources have reported on the 1st quarter 2012 Central Florida Theme Park Injury Report.  This story from DIS News is referenced because it has the most detail, but it contains one error worth mentioning.  Based on all the other sources, WDW had only 10 injuries, not 16 as reported.  WDW, Universal and Legoland had a total of 16 injuries between them.  Note that the injury report also contains medical incidents, such as heart attacks and seizures.  Given the number of people who attend the parks, this number of reported incidents seems pretty low.  Some people no doubt have pre-existing medical conditions which they may or may not be aware of.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mickey Mouse discovered on Mercury

From the LA Times comes word that the Messenger probe has found definitive proof that Mickey has been to the planet Mercury. Unlike the face on Mars which is a matter of interpretation, this image leaves no doubt about who's the Mouse.  Of course NASA will try to say it's only a trick of the light but some of us know better.  Maybe Pluto has been to Mercury  too. Read the whole story here

Mickey Mouse has been discovered on Mercury! NASA's Messenger probe has been orbiting Mercury since last March and delivered more than 100,000 images of the planet -- and this is the one we get excited about.

Mickey Mouse on Mercury

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

85-Year Old Oswald Cartoon "Harem Scarem"

D23 recently unearthed this Oswald The Lucky Rabbit's cartoon "Harem Scarem". The link has the 90-second video of the sketches made by Walt.

During a private D23 "Disney Fanniversary" event for fans in Burbank, San Francisco, New York and Boston, Disney unveiled the animation, titled, "Harem Scarem." And now it is being shown to the public for the first time.

"We wanted to do something unique and cool. We went into our animation files and discovered that we had a lot more art than we thought we did," Cline said.

"We scanned the original artwork. Scanned every single page, put them together in order. In the end, we created a piece, about 90 seconds of animation. You can see that the animation is adorable. No bells and whistles."


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Opening Ceremony of the New Carlifornia Adventure

Video of the opening ceremony of the new, rehabbed California Adventure.

From all report, the opening day was a huge success, with wait lines stretching to hours. Didn't think those Californians (especially the Los Angelinos) would stand in line THAT long. :)


Friday, June 15, 2012

New "Brave" Section in "World of Color" With Lighted Mickey Ears Hats

OK, this whole thing is way cool, but I want those hats!!!! :)

That is spectacular! I hope they will try to do this at WDW as well. Illuminations would be perfect with something like this!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Carthay Circle restaurant at DCA

The new Carthay Circle restaurant at Disneyland California Adventure park looks like a good bet for an upscale lunch or dinner.  From, here's a story about the wines and executive chef.
The new Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure will have something a little different than the average theme park restaurant - 92 sommeliers on staff.
...the restaurant offers "250 international wines, with 30 wines available by the glass in the restaurant and lounge.
Interesting that they have 92 sommeliers - hope they don't all converge on your table at once.  How much of a tip would that be?

 In case you were wondering about the menu, here's a link .  Some items are pricey but others are not too bad. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

EPCOT 30th anniversary October 1st 2012

EPCOT will be 30 years old on October 1st, 2012.  D23 will be hosting a special 30th anniversary party on September 30th.  See this story  from for more details.
D23’s Epcot 30th Anniversary Celebration will offer the most detailed look at the design, development, and evolution of Epcot ever presented by The Walt Disney Company and will include rare and never-before-seen artwork; film and video footage and photos; along with a number of pioneers of Epcot, including such Disney Imagineers, Legends, and Epcot luminaries as Marty Sklar (exclusive pre-taped presentation), Tony Baxter, Ron Schneider, Charlie Ridgway, Ron Logan, Bill Sullivan, Bob Garner, Jason Surrell, Jason Grandt, Alex Wright, Duncan Dickson, and Steve Taylor.
Photo from


Monday, June 11, 2012

CNET's Road Trip Picture Contest Has A Disney Connection

CNET's contest on the Road Trip Picture of the Day today will be quite familiar for Disney fans. This is, of course, one of the dwarfs that is depicted in front of the the building that housed the Walt Disney Company headquarters.


Friday, June 08, 2012

Fastpass return times being enforced

Not sure how many of us are aware of this, but it seems that WDW has started enforcing the 1 hour window for Fastpass return times.  This story from USA Today back in March goes into the details.  Some of us assumed you could always return anytime after the earliest return time, but apparently not any more.  The wording implies that this is only a WDW thing, not DLR. 

"Walt Disney World is now enforcing both the beginning and end times, allowing guests holding a (FastPass) to only return during the one-hour window stated on the slip.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Trailer from Disney's Animation Studios "Wreck-In Ralph".

OK, so this looks like a hybrid between Tron and Monsters Inc. I dunno. So far, I don't have that enthusiasm yet to want to see this.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Cast discontent at DLR

A  new parking policy at DLR has some cast members upset.  According to this story in USA Today Travel titled "Parking Lost",  Disney is opening up cast member parking lots to visitors in order to handle the crowds expected for the new Cars Land, and cast members are unhappy with the change. 

 Even as the Disneyland Resort scrambles to hire and train the last of the thousands of new workers needed to handle the crush of summer visitors looking for a first peek at Cars Land, current cast members are considering heading out the door in reaction to changes aimed at dealing with the congestion.
The biggest bone of contention, first alluded to at a series of mandatory cast member briefings last month, is on extra-busy days this summer allowing guests to park in the cast member parking lots and forcing employees to park literally miles off site, as far away as Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center.
Reportedly, some cast members have resigned and others are appealing to management or the union.  Some are afraid they will face much longer commutes with no compensation.

Random WDW Picture

At the Germany pavilion at World Showcase, Epcot.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tinkerbell look-alike barred from Animal Kingdom

From DIS News - A girl (April Spielman) dressed in a Tinkerbell outfit was barred from Animal Kingdom, apparently because she looked too much like the real Disney character.  According to this story , April and her friend, who happened to be dressed as Peter Pan, were stopped at the entrance to AK and she was asked to change clothes.
 The pair was allowed into Disney's Hollywood Studios with no issues, but they were stopped by security officers at the Animal Kingdom later that day. Spielman was told she would have to change the clothes to enter the park.
 They gave her a free t-shirt to put on and gave the family some fast passes.  I wonder if the shirt said "I am not Tinkerbell".  Interestingly, they got into Hollywood Studios earlier without any problem and nobody said anything about the guy's Peter Pan outfit at AK.

Monday, June 04, 2012

GayDays "Bears" Sing-A-Long At Country Bears Jamboree

It was Gay Days at WDW this past weekend, and one of the tradition is the "Bears" meeting at Country Bears Jamboree each year at 1:00 pm. In fact, the description accompanying the video said "Each year at 1 p.m. the "Bears" and their friends go to see the Country Bear show. Really, there's so many guests in line all at once that it usually takes three continuous shows to clear the queue."

Here's a video of the festive occasion.

Sounds like everyone was having a rollicking good time!


Squirrel delays monorail

A monorail was delayed by a squirrel, according to this story in the Orlando Sentinel.  Fortunately, the monorail driver had the sense not to run over a relative of Chip and Dale with hundreds of people watching.  Satisfied that it had accomplished its mission, the squirrel raced to the station far ahead of the train, apparently to a standing ovation.

Where In Walt Disney World?

Haven't had this is quite a while, so here's one.

Where in Walt Disney World can you see this? Be as specific as possible.