Friday, October 31, 2014

Big Hero

Look who just showed up on the West Side of Downtown Disney.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Our ride at Castaway Cay. Dumbo is on the front of this ship. Hard to tell in this photo but it rained pretty hard all day. The ship went to Plan B for activities but hundreds of people braved the weather to shop and eat. DCL handed out free ponchos on the way out, and dry towels on the way in.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Donald walking on deck 4, on his way to meet his fans in a photo session. Lots of characters on this voyage.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Leaving St. Thomas with a Coast Guard escort. Note the gunner stationed at the bow. All boats, even little sailboats, we're not allowed near the ship.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Another view of St. Thomas. The scenery here is beautiful.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

A view of St. Thomas from the Botanic Garden in the hills. One nice thing about St. Thomas is that it's a US territory. Cell service is on domestic rates.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The cruise ship harbor on St. Thomas seen from the hills above it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Pirate night on the ship. People wore costumes to dinner and there was a show by the pool

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

One of the desserts served at an afternoon event at Remy. The desserts were accompanied by 3 wine servings and champagne

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The Pumpkin Tree grew out a few days into the cruise. Passengers got pumpkin seeds in a special event and they helped the tree grow pumpkins.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Donald is happy that he got this nice bag as a gift for his many Disney cruises

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Don is pondering the towel art that the stateroom attendant made. Our favorite Duck had a spa treatment and his feathers are nicely puffed.

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Ships at St. Maarten, our ride on the left

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

One of the beaches at St. Maarten. This one is near the shopping district across the Salt Pond from the port

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The famous church at St. Maarten. A short walk after a water taxi ride

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The Black Mamba water taxi- lots of water taxis. No sign of the Black Pearl though

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The courthouse at St. Maarten

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

St. Maarten is quite hilly

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Our ride docked at St. Maarten

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

Porthole as pumpkin

Halloween cruise on the Fantasy

The Pumpkin Tree in the atrium

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sorcerer Hat To Be Removed From DHS

It is now official that the Sorcerer Hat, the unofficial icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, will be removed in early 2015.

Disney confirmed the giant hat's impending demise Friday. The company said it is "reimagining" the area where it stands. Disney would not provide details about what will replace the hat.

I will be sorry to see it go. Unless Disney has something else in mind (and I do not doubt that they do), DHS will be left with no clear icon to represent that theme park, unlike the other 3 WDW theme parks that have very strong iconic symbols to represent them.

It will be a tall order to find something equally eye-catching as the Hat. The picture below was something I snapped a while back, and it remains my most favorite shot of the Hat.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Mickey Plush Chicago Hot Dog Vendor

Found this Mickey plush this week at the Disney Store on Chicago's State Street. Not sure if they also have this on the Michigan Avenue store since I didn't check there.

They did a fair job of trying to include the stuff on a real Chicago-style hot dog, down to the green dots for the neon-green relish. But they missed the sport peppers! :)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Disney helping make better robots

IEEE Spectrum has this article about how Disney Research is developing a better robotic arm. Up to now robotic arms have had a sort of steam punk quality, with a lot of gears and small motors.
Now engineers at Disney Research have developed a new kind of robot arm that, instead of conventional motors, uses what's called a fluid transmission. It consists of tubes filled with air or water that connect antagonistic actuators.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

First Tomorowland Trailer

Just as soon as I mentioned about Tomorrowland, Disney has now released the first trailer to "Tomorrowland"

I wonder if they are going to insert a character with the name Tom Morrow into the movie?



Wednesday, October 08, 2014

First Look At Disney's "Tomorrowland"

Entertainment Weekly has the very first exclusive look at next year's Disney release of "Tomorrowland".

A Florida girl who dreams of the future while watching the launchpads of Cape Canaveral being disassembled goes exploring one day and, after landing in a bit of trouble, finds herself in possession of a mysterious pin. Touching it reveals a vision of a place that may not be a different world but simply a better one. (You can see the concept art above.) Then it’s gone—out, out, brief candle!—and the quest to discover the real Tomorrowland begins.

Of course you know it had to involve a pin! I smell merchandising!

I'm kinda curious about this movie because, with the newly-married George Clooney in it, it lends a bit of gravity (get it?) to the movie.


WDW Toy Story Mania 4-day Experiment

This can't be good.

Disney is in the middle of its 4-day experiment with Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios where you can only ride that attraction via FastPass+ only, no standby line.

In a test that started on Monday and runs through Thursday, Disney World is requiring Hollywood Studios visitors to make advance reservations via the FastPass+ system if they want to hop aboard the popular Toy Story ride, an interactive “4D” attraction in which guests twist through a series of virtual carnival games while wearing 3D glasses. Normally, the wait time to ride Toy Story Mania can easily stretch over an hour, but the new reservation-only system means that Disney World guests won’t have the option of waiting it out in the standby queue.

The issue here is if Disney is going to extend this to other popular attraction, thus forcing everyone to have to plan ahead if they want to do these attractions. Gosh I hope not. My sentiments run along the same line as this Disney guest:

In a post at Theme Park Insider, most Disney fans seem opposed to reservation-only rides. “I want a vacation, for Christ’s sake, and if I have to plan everything in advance, then it’s simply not fun anymore,” one commenter stated, bashing the entire swath of policies pushing guests to plot minute-by-minute plans ahead of time. 

There is a point where thing thing can be taken way too far.


Monday, October 06, 2014

Euro Disney gets financial help

This article at BBC News talks about a financial restructuring package that Euro Disney is arranging to help its Disneyland Paris operation. This is being called a bailout or rescue plan by some. Attendance numbers at DP have been dropping off lately and the parent Walt Disney company, which owns about 40% of Euro Disney, is "contributing" 400 million Euros to help the cause.  An additional 600 million Euros is planned to be raised by converting debt to stock shares, brining the total infusion to a billion Euros or about $1.3 billion.
"Disneyland Paris is Europe's number one tourist destination, but the ongoing economic challenges in Europe and our debt burden have significantly decreased operating revenues and liquidity," said Tom Wolber, president of Euro Disney.
Euro Disney stock shares dropped significantly after the announcement.  Being number one in a shrinking market is not going to help if revenue falls below a certain level, which it apparently has. 
Euro Disney said on Monday that it believed a new financing package would allow it to invest in the business and boost visitor numbers.
No details yet on what will be done to improve attendance, but it would seem that it will take more than short term fixes given the economic climate in Europe.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Learn To Draw Jack Skellington

Halloween is coming, so it is a good time to learn how to draw Jack Skellington.