Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Retiring FBI Agent Joining Disney

Here's an interesting piece of trivia. The FBI agent who arrested the infamous former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is leaving the agency to join the Walt Disney Company.

Grant, 54, a 29-year veteran of the FBI, will officially step down Sept. 3 to join The Walt Disney Co. as part of its global security team. He said his decision to step down a month after the retirement of former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was a coincidence.

Hope he doesnt encounter the same type of crime and corruption in the new job.


2012 Hallmark Disney Ornaments - Group 1

Hey, did you get the first release of this year's Hallmark Disney ornaments? If you didn't, you may have missed out on some of them, because they were selling rather quickly, at least on a few of them.

In any case, we got ours, and here are the ones that we got.

Can't wait for the next release! That poor Disney Christmas tree is going to be sagging even more this year!


Monday, July 30, 2012

WDW Master Plan

Check out this article written by Kevin Yee and posted on MiceChat.com.  Kevin writes about the master plan for WDW, apparently from his memory of seeing the plan somehow.  As he points out, these are just possible changes that may or may not actually happen. And, some of the article is his opinion.
The biggest theme park will come next to the MK parking lot. It appears to have as much acreage as Epcot, maybe a touch more. The two other big zones, near ESPN Wide World of Sports and north of DAK, could each be about the same size as Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Talking about expanding the monorail system...
Adding hotels and DHS would be nice, but the real prize is DAK. It’s so far out there that it gets visited much less frequently. I wonder if they could add a monorail track just to DAK. Surely there would be a way to do this from Epcot, or even from the TTC.

Dates announced for 2012-13 Spectacle of Lights

WDWInfo.com posted the dates for this year's Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Hollywood Studios.  They will be viewable from November 9 to January 4.  The article also goes into the history of the lights and how they got moved from the Osborne's home in Arkansas to WDW.
The display grew to millions of lights. There were flashing lights, multi-colored lights, custom-made light sculptures and a 75-foot Christmas tree adorned by lights. This drew onlookers from all over Arkansas. Displeased by the resulting traffic jams, the local residents asked that the Osborne family stop the annual display. Legal intervention was sought, and it appeared that the Osborne's beloved tradition was about to come to an end. When Mickey Mouse got word of this, he offered a venue where the Osborne lights could be shared with visitors from around the globe.

Mickey and North Korea

Thanks to Gene for sending me this article  from Slate magazine about North Korea's use of unlicensed Disney character costumes.  The article explores whether Disney can stop the DPRK from doing this.  Short answer - not likely.  The article also mentions that Disney may have been lucky not to lose the rights to Steamboat Willie due to a technical interpretation of the copyright.
...A 2001 North Korean law prohibits infringement of foreign-owned copyrights, but the law is useless to Disney because there is no international court to hear intellectual property disputes between private parties. Since U.S. courts lack jurisdiction over the Moranbong band—the group whose concert involved the misappropriation Mickey’s likeness—the company would have to sue them inside the hermit kingdom. Disney isn’t going to prosecute such a suit, because the country is notoriously unfriendly to such claims, and trade restrictions prevent the company from hiring or sending attorneys.
In a discussion of the technicalities of the copyright law, and why Disney's copyright of Steamboat Willie could have been challenged,  the article explains why Disney might well have lost their exclusive rights to the characters in the 1920's.  But that probably wouldn't happen today.
Modern judges are reluctant to make sweeping rulings based on such legal technicalities, however, especially when the results would cost one of the world’s largest corporations approximately $3 billion, so it’s probably unwise to challenge the Mickey Mouse copyright.

Donald's Great Adventure - Pin Trading At Doorway To Dream

Hello there my legions of fans! This is Donald Duck reporting once again. It has been a long time since I get to see my fans, and you get to see me. I wish they take me out of the bag more often!

Today, I am at the Doorway To Dream center at Woodfield Mall, just outside of Chicago. They have been having 3 straight weekends of pin trading. Of course, I have been graciously invited to make the occasion more festive!

There were times when there were a lot of people doing pin trading and vinylmation trading. Also needless to say, a large portion of those doing the trading are members of the Windy City Pin Traders. They're everywhere!

I get to look around a bit at all the pins/vinylmations, and also mingles with my adoring fans.

Hey, there's goofy!

I get to sit on top of the Disney Dream!

The Doorway to Dream center is scheduled to close in mid-September. This is sad. I'll miss them. It was my home away from home.

Till next time.....


Friday, July 27, 2012

Santa asked to change clothes at WDW

Santa was visiting WDW in the middle of summer, or at least that's what people must have thought.  Disney asked "Santa" (aka Thomas Tolbert) to change his clothes so as not to confuse people.  This story was reported by wdwinfo.com and many other sources.
Disney released a statement about the incident, saying, "The guest was asked to change his attire because it was disruptive to our operations and confusing to our other guests, particularly children who asked to take photos with him. He was not asked to leave, instead, we tried to work with him so that he could continue his visit."
For those with a devious streak, you could get someone to dress as a large squirrel and head for the monorail at MK. How far would the squirrel get?

Here's a photo of Thomas Tolbert

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Airports ranked for spreading disease

Many of us fly to WDW or DLR, so this is an interesting article from MIT that talks about a study that ranked US airports for their potential to spread disease. 
...a new study by researchers in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) shifts the focus to the first few days of an epidemic, determining how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in their home cities.
The top 2 are LAX and JFK, with O'Hare also in the top 10.  Airports such as MCO (Orlando), SNA (John Wayne)  and MDW (Midway) are not on the top 10 list.  You might think Orlando would rank high based on the number of world travelers that use it, but the MIT model looked at many other factors. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where In Walt Disney World

Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


WDW To Reduce Evening Extra Magic Hours

The 2013 WDW theme park schedule has revealed that Disney is reducing the evening Extra Magic Hours for Disney resorts guests from 3 hours after the park closes to 2 hours.

Disney on Tuesday would not say why it is cutting back on the extended hours, which the resort markets to travelers as "Extra Magic Hours." A spokeswoman would say only that "we regularly evaluate and adjust our offerings based on a variety of factors."

The decision, revealed when Disney published early 2013 operational calendars online late last week, has inflamed some of the company's ardent fans, who have labeled it a crass cost-cutting maneuver.
Now, I don't know whether it is a cost-cutting measure or if there are other reasons behind it. However, after raising the price of tickets to the theme park recently, cutting back on something like this, for whatever the reason, certainly will leave a bad taste in the mouth for theme park fans. It certainly gives the impression of us paying more for less!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Use of Segways by visitors

An Appeals Court panel recently told Disney that it needs to study whether visitors should be able to use Segways.  This is based on a case where a disabled girl was refused permission to use a Segway at Disneyland.  See more details of this story in the Orlando Sentinel.
"As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests have an experience more akin to that of non-disabled," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the court.
Disney must show, based on actual risks, why Segways would be unsafe in the park, the panel said. The case now returns to district court.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Coolest Souvenir Mug

Thanks to Patti for the photo. I received this photo of the coolest souvenir mug that I've seen at a Disney theme park. Our friends are in California, and I'm guessing that this came out of Cars Land at California Adventure.
Hands down, it has to be the coolest souvenir mug that I've seen!


Deevy See Is Gone?

A very disturbing news. Our friends who just came back from WDW are reporting that at the recent Welcome Home Wednesday for DVC members, Deevy See was conspicuously absent! When asked where Deevy was, our friends were told that Deevy See has "retired" and gone back to Wisconsin!


Anyone else has any more info on her?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Food and Wine bookings

Reservations for special events at this year's Food and Wine festival will be accepted starting August 14th.  The event runs from September 28 - November 12. Events include things like the Marketplace Chef Tour and the White Truffle lunch at Tutto Italia. See this page for more details.  There are also some wine seminars at the Festival Center, and a new vegan Market Place (i.e. food stand).  From past experience it's safe to say these will be very popular.
 With a Taste Your Way Around the World theme and at least 12 dishes new to the Marketplace Booths, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Refillable mugs and smart chips

Ran across this thread from LaughingPlace.com.  Reading between the lines, and the actual lines, it appears that Disney's refillable mugs could have embedded smart chips that can be used to enforce the refill policy.  The current policy is that the mugs are only good at your current resort and during your current stay.  But, as one poster mentions, older mugs may have been sold under a different policy (and probably without chips).
 Word has it that when they have the chip in operation, it enforces the two rules above, as well as a time limit, such as not allowing multiple fills within a 5 or 10 minute window. This is to prevent you from buying one mug for the whole family, then filling the single "unlimited refills" mug, dumping it into another glass for another family member, then immediately refilling it again. The 5- or 10-minute rule is not going to impact anyone using the mugs in a legitimate way.
This turns out to have been a big controversy about a year ago, but not much of substance has been seen lately.  The issue still generates heated discussion. The new system was tested at All Star Sports last year, using new machines from a company called ValidFill.   For more background see this post at disneydispatch.com,  or this post at passporterboards.com, or this story from mousesteps.com.  Part of the problem Disney is apparently trying to solve is people using their own containers to get drinks.  However, solving that problem may be creating new customer relations problems.  We'll no doubt be hearing more about this, especially if the new system goes into more resorts.

Well, so far we know about chips on room cards and chips on drink mugs. Short quiz - fill in the blank...
'This really________" .  Hints:  (1) "is an imaginative and helpful use of technology"  (2) "shows the Mouse is interested in what we do"  (3) ???

An aspect to all this that seems to have escaped attention is the possible consequences of having RFID sensors all over the place at WDW.  This includes the ones we know about and the ones we don't know about.  Think about gas cards, credit cards, debit cards etc. that have imbedded chips.  Let's hope that Disney has a handle on possible security problems with this technology.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

For Friday the 13th - unfortunate souls at WDW

Well it's almost Friday the 13th - again.  So it seems appropriate to post this story  from the Orlando Sentinel about poor unfortunate souls who dwell in various theme parks.  Of special interest to us is what goes on at WDW.  Here's an excerpt from the story about our feathered friend, but he's not the only one with bad luck.
Donald Duck in Mickey's PhilharMagic, Magic Kingdom: He dominates screen time in the "4-D" presentation, but the story has him surviving giant broomsticks, heartbreak (and electrocution) with Ariel, a harrowing magic-carpet ride, a tumble from London's Big Ben and being cornered by giraffes, all in trying to rescue Mickey Mouse's sorcerer's hat. In the end, Donald becomes a projectile and lands in the back wall and still doesn't get top billing in the attraction.

"Avengers" DVD/Blu-Ray At Target Will Have Bonus Disc

If you are planning on getting The Avengers when it is released on Blu-Ray/DVD (I do), you might want to consider getting it from Target.

Starting September 25, the retail outlet will be selling the blockbuster film for $32.99. For that you get both the Blu-ray and DVD edition in one single package.

But Target is throwing in a bonus disc called "Building a Dream: Assembling the Avengers." The extra 90-minutes of footage will show how the original Iron Man, Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America films were developed, forcing the array of mighty superheroes to eventually assemble into the Avengers.

 The bonus disc features interviews and footage of the stars, directors, and other creative talents behind the various films. Different creators of the comic books are also on hand to share their thoughts about the growth of Marvel from comics to movies.
All I can say is they better include the extra tag at the very end of the credits!


Where In Walt Disney World

This time, it is going to be a bit different. Rather than telling me where this scene is in Walt Disney World, I want you to guess where this photo WAS TAKEN FROM!

If you look closely, you can see clues, but you might also become confused because there are items that appear to not belong there. Click on the photo for a larger image. Anyhow, let's see how well you know what your Walt Disney World. :)


Monday, July 09, 2012

Fireworks testing at EPCOT

The forums at wdwMagic.com have a thread discussing the recent fireworks testing during the night at EPCOT.  Some people think this might mean a change to Illuminations is coming, but others think Disney is just testing for other reasons.  Illuminations is getting a little "long in the tooth" so a change might be a good thing, or not.  I often wondered when they tested fireworks.  Maybe it's odd that we don't hear more about it.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

New country rumor

What's this?  A rumor is making its way around some boards that Disney is considering adding Iran to the International side of EPCOT.  This is either nonsense or insanity, but let's assume nonsense.  So where does a rumor like this get started?  This reporter found one possible source.  In August 2009 Progress City posted this story that in 1978, the empress of Iran visited WDW and this led to speculation that Disney was considering adding Iran to the countries.  Someone may have run across this story and posted something about it, and some people missed the fact that the story is 34 years old.

As Progress City reports, in 1978 there was a factual possibility of adding Iran, but political events soon put an end to that.  Disney Imagineers apparently went to Iran and a deal was in the works - but it never happened.  Check out the story for some interesting historical information.  Imagine if an Iran pavillion was actually built and then the Islamic revolution happened.
It’s January of 1978 and Disney is desperately trying to sign up governments to sponsor pavilions for World Showcase, which was still in the conceptual phase. EPCOT’s groundbreaking was still almost two years away, its development slowed by uncertain management and the inability to line up sponsorship deals. Later, Disney would give up on recruiting governmental participants entirely and go directly to individual corporations in desired nations for funding. But in 1978 Disney executives continued to wine and dine diplomats and envoys from around the world.
 (Disney)The Empress of Iran in the Magic Kingdom, 1978
 Last weekend, Bob Allen and Carl Bongirno hosted Her Imperial Majesty Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi and her official party for a briefing and update on World Showcase. The Empress of Iran and her party visited the Magic Kingdom early Saturday evening before departing for a formal dinner on the Empress Lilly where she was joined by Governor and Mrs. Askew.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

MK and DLR tops in theme park attendance

DIS Unplugged Blog published this report on worldwide theme park attendance for 2010 and 2011.  The original source of the report is the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).  Magic Kingdom and DLR were the top two draws in the world both years. In North America, EPCOT was 3rd, but worldwide it was Tokyo Disneyland.  The report noted that fewer people went to Japan's parks, most likely due to the earthquake and tsunami.
 Typhoon Lagoon at Walt Disney World is the world’s top water park with attendance of 2.1 million. Blizzard Beach is third in the world with 1.9 million.

WDW Rehabs and Closings

Follow this link to Dis News for a list of attractions, restaurants, etc. either closed or down for rehab. The California Grill will be closed for a good part of 2013.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Big Hero 6 - The Next Avengers?

Disney is hoping that lightning will strike twice. Disney Animation is teaming up with Marvel for another multi-hero movie, but this time, consisting of less well-known ones - Big Hero 6.

Big Hero 6 is not as well known as The Avengers, but it’s another group of powerful individuals with wildly different histories and powers, united by the Japanese government as a crisis-fighting super-squad.
Oooh... I wonder if they will be fighting against Godzilla!


Characters In Flight Balloon Ride Pulled

Following an accident on a similar balloon at Hong Kong Disneyland, the Characters in Flight Balloon ride at Disneyland Paris and Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World has been pulled for inspection.

The Standard, an English-language news Web site in Hong Kong, reports that five people were injured when a balloon sprang a leak and plunged to the ground from a height of more than 60 yards on Thursday. None of the injuries was serious.

There is no word yet on when — or if — the balloon will resume ferrying passengers into the sky above Downtown Disney.
Oh my!