Friday, May 30, 2014

Random WDW Picture

A retro photo of Epcot's Spaceship Earth with the wand. This was taken outside of the park while walking towards the entrance from one of the side parking area.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Random WDW Picture

Another photo of "The Hat" at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I like this shot because it isn't from a common perspective as seen in many other photos of the Hat. I took this one because of the angle, and also the light at that time was just perfect from this direction.


Rivers of Light posted this article about the new "Rivers of Light" show planned for Animal Kingdom.
According to Disney, “Rivers of Light” promises to be an innovative show unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery.
 The show will take place on the river between Discovery Island and Everest, and will open at some time in the future.  This sounds like it might be a little like World of Color at DLR.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Random WDW Picture

Taken during the "cake cutting ceremony" during the 2005 Happiest Pin Celebration on Earth pin event at Epcot's World Showplace.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Festival of the Lion King moving to new theater

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the long running Festival of the Lion King will be re-opening in the new Harambe Theater at AK. 
The Harambe Theatre is set to open in June in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. The venue will act as the new home of the "Festival of the Lion King" show that was put on hiatus on Jan. 5. 
The Harambe Theatre will also host "The Lion King - Concert in the Wild," a new 55-minute theatrical show held during the 10 nights of Harambe Nights, the park's first-ever ticketed special event.
The show was put on hold due to the construction of Avatar Land in the Camp Minnie Mickey area. 

Downtown Disney at WDW has two Starbucks has this post about the two Starbucks at Downtown Disney.  The marketplace site opened recently and the store on the West Side is nearing its opening day.  The West Side Starbucks features a grass roof, which will help insulate the building.  Many buildings in large cities are using this technique to help with energy costs.
Rather uniquely, this Starbucks features a grass roof covering a large part of the building. Looking exactly like the original rendering, the sloped section of the roof features tall grasses. Other details on the exterior are also being put in place with just a few more weeks to go until opening.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Disney's take on MyMagic+

The Orlando Sentinel posted this story about how Disney views the new MyMagic+ system at WDW.
Disney said about three-quarters of travelers staying in one of Disney World's 27,000 company-owned hotel rooms and time-share suites are using MyMagic+, which includes a "FastPass+" reservation system that allows customers to book ride times for certain attractions up to two months before they ever set foot in a theme park.
While the high cost of the new system is reducing profits, Disney feels that the intended benefits are beginning to be seen.
One of the biggest benefits so far, the company said, was the rising number of visitors planning details of their trips in advance. Disney says its research shows that travelers who do more preplanning ultimately spend more time on its property — rather than visiting competing parks, shops and restaurants — "so we like these trends," Rasulo said.
In addition, Disney said it is more effectively spreading crowds inside its parks, allowing it to squeeze in "thousands" of additional visitors during peak periods such as Christmas and Easter.
The article quotes Disney as saying that the ability for people to get into the parks even on peak days provides a "huge enhancement" of guest experience.   Also, the MyMagic+ system might reduce the number of people going to Universal.  So, the strategy is to keep the parks as crowded as possible, keep people in the parks, and hope people spend more money.  However, when you get too many people going after too few attractions, and park facilities are constantly jammed, the guest experience might not be as enhanced as Disney thinks. 

Disneyland raises ticket prices

According to this story in the Orange County Register,  Ticket prices at DLR are going up by $4 to $96 for a 1-day / 1-park ticket.  Disney is also stopping sales of the SoCal pass, reportedly in an effort to deal with overcrowding.
The increase comes as the Disneyland Resort is experiencing strong growth. Since Cars Land opened as part of the Disney California Adventure makeover in June 2012, Disney has often reported record attendance during its quarterly reports.
Also, Disney suspended new sales of its popular Southern California annual passport because of the crowds. Those who already have them can renew them. And those who let Southern California passes expire in the last 90 days can renew them as well.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Comments on MyMagic+ system at WDW

Having just returned from 8 days at WDW, here are some impressions and comments of the new MyMagic+ system.

The Magic Bands generally worked to get into the parks and resort room.  They also usually worked to pay for food and merchandise, the main problem being positioning the Mickey logo on the band over the reader.  It can be a little awkward. Some people might find the band uncomfortable to wear on the wrist in hot weather, but you can always put the band into a pocket or purse. But then, it's beginning to be like the old tickets or passes. The band can integrate a lot of information including pass numbers and event tickets (and even Sorcerer info), so this is helpful.

The FastPass+ system needs to be improved in order to keep experienced visitors happy.  As of this posting, you can use the mobile app to get Fastpasses but Disney forces you to take 3, even you if only want one.  On the other hand, you only get 3 for the entire day and experienced visitors often would get more than that under the old system.  Disney says you can add a Fastpass beyond the 3 but it requires lining up at a kiosk, and the lines at all the Fastpass kiosks were very long.  There are also long lines at the Fastpass entrance to many attractions. It seems to take longer to read the bands than it did to just present a paper ticket.  One advantage of the new system is that you can get a known time for a "major" attraction well in advance, and this helps plan your time a little better.

The system is evolving, so the way it is today may not be exactly the same a few months from now. We went to Guest Services one day to ask why the app was showing an event that was 6 months in the future under past and completed events. When we showed the problem to the CM, it had been fixed in the few minutes it took to walk to Guest Services.  So it seems that the system is changing as we speak.

The parks are becoming much more crowded and even "lesser" attractions now have long wait times.  This is probably due to two factors: the MyMagic+ app forces 3 Fastpasses on people so they are apparently deciding to go to all the attractions they are given; second, the parks are just getting more crowded and wait times are going up.  Standby lines for almost anything are getting very long. This also translates into increased difficulty in just walking from place to place.  A very experienced visitor said that they have never seen such long wait times on all attractions in 21 years at WDW.  Another VEV said they are getting tired of playing Frogger trying to walk around.

The combination of the Fastpass+ limitation and long wait times could easily mean that you are going to be able to do less in a given day than under the old system.  First time visitors might not see this, but experienced visitors certainly will. So, growing pains of the new system? Or, is Disney catering primarily to first time visitors?

Saturday, May 03, 2014

First Look At Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

Get your first look at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride during the past press preview.


Exciting Things Coming to Animal Kingdom

Looks like a lot of exciting stuff coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom, beyond just the Avatarland. This includes the often-rumored nighttime show Rivers of Light, night time safari, and live performance on Discovery Island.


Where in WDW is this ?

Maleficent preview

Just saw a sneak preview of Maleficent. This looks like a good movie.

Magic Band ID clips

A Magic Band with Passholder and DVC clips. You still need your actual ID cards for purchases etc so the clips are mostly bling.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Elbow Room - Flower and Garden Festival

Chip Wade from HGTV gives a talk on home design ideas and how to maximize space.

What to do in the rain

A lecture on successful planting in baskets

Peter Pan (topiary) on the roof

Mike and Sully

Greeting guests at the Monstrous Playground.

Disney Stocks Above $80 Today

... and it has shot above that a few times.

Back in late 2008, I wrote an entry titled "Time to buy Disney stocks". At that time, Disney stocks was selling around around $20 per share! In fact, a few weeks later, it even dipped below that. I urged people to buy Disney stocks at that time, and we bought more to add to our portfolio.

Now, I'm not a stock market genius, nor do I have these prognosticating ability like these market analysts, but you have got to admit, if you had listened to me back then, you would have made yourself a nice tidy sum of profit right now. Disney shares are above $80 each! You've increased the value of your shares 4 times!

The thing with The Walt Disney Company right now is that, the movie division of the company, which had been a drag on their profit till maybe a year ago, is now firing on all cylinders. And it looks like it is going to get even bigger. Marvel movies are knocking it out of the park. The Star Wars franchise is about to restart. And Frozen was bigger than any of us expected. So the division that was, at one time, the weakest link in all of the Disney company, is now not only making all this money, but also creating ripple effects throughout the company in terms of theme parks and merchandise. So things are going to get even bigger!

The only drag on the company right now is still the ABC TV network, especially with the lack of consistent major hit series. But that isn't enough to make me very bullish on the company. Hey, if I was bullish on them at the low point of the crash in 2008/2009, why wouldn't I be now?


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Where in WDW is this?

Donald and the cupcake

Don is about to enjoy the DHS 25th anniversary cupcake at the Commissary.

DHS 25th

People waiting in the line for merchandise.

DHS 25th

Handprints of 4 people who were at DHS on opening day in 1989.

DHS 25th

The Fab 4 take the stage.

DHS 25th

Don Lampton is the 1st speaker.

DHS 25 th

Bo Rangler with an action figure of himself.

DHS 25th

Citizens of Hollywood lead off the event.

DHS 25th anniversary rededication

Standing in line 45 minutes before the dedication ceremony.