It Really Is A Tower Of Terror - Disney Dose
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Has the Disneyland Traveler taken his last plunge on the Tower of Terror? Has Mrs. DisneylandTraveler? The official answer is - Yes.... but. Read more about my love / hate / anxiety ridden relationship with the hotel elevator on the Disney Dose fan site along with other interesting Disney related offerings.
It Really Is A Tower Of Terror - Disney Dose
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Did Disneyland miss the boat with the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage? Well....yes....and no. See my latest post on the Disney Dose fan site along with other fine Disney content. You have to admit, the colorful subs do make for a mighty fine picture.
Direct link to the Disney Dose post -
Did Disney Miss The Boat With The Finding Nemo Subs
Monday, January 28, 2013
I'm not really a TV, movie, or science fiction geek so the announcement a few days ago that director J.J. Abrams has been hand selected by LucasFilm chief Kathleen Kennedy, also with the stamp of approval of George Lucas himself, to direct the next Star Wars film doesn't really float my boat one way or another (not that anyone cares). But the people who are TV, movie, and science fiction geeks are saying that Disney and LucasFilm couldn't have selected a better or more capable person to relaunch Star Wars movie franchise and do it the right way. May the Force be with him.
Looking over the work of Abrams in his Wikipedia bio the one thing that jumped out at me was that Abrams directed the very good but under appreciated movie called Super 8. Stupid name for a movie which may have contributed to its fairly weak box office numbers. Not going to have to worry about that with a name like Star Wars. It's 2 years away and Star Wars geeks are probably already making plans.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I come back to this topic every so often simply because, in my personal opinion, Pirates of the Caribbean is the best attraction in either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. The great Disneyland and Southern California videographer asianjma123 (YouTube) has come up yet another high definition Pirates ride through video and this is his best effort yet. The Disneyland version of POTC is long, coming it at a little over 12 minutes (almost twice the length of the WDW version), but its a journey well worth the time for any fan of the ride.
The purpose of a real life pirate was to accumulate riches and that is the perfect word to describe Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean - rich. The attraction is rich in theming, rich in character, rich in atmosphere, rich in story, rich in fun - over the top rich, a Disney treasure beyond belief and it came directly from the man himself, Walt Disney. The construction of POTC was Walt's last major Disneyland project at the time of his death. He didn't live long enough to take that first ride as the huge attraction opened about 6 months after Walt's passing but he was involved with the ride long enough through its development and initial construction that Walt knew the joy and thrills the attraction would bring to the visitors of his park.
I'm a student of history. I studied history in high school and college, love to read about history, watch the History Channel when they actually broadcast programs about history instead of pawn shops (the programming direction that the History Channel has taken the last 2 years is an embarrassment). As a student of history, as much as I admire Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, I have to admit it's something of a guilty pleasure. Much was written when several years ago POTC was made "politically correct" by having the "wenches" chase the sad-sack pirates instead of the other way around as was shown with the original attraction. But when you really think about it - the whole Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (and movies) can probably be considered "politically incorrect" in these times.
The changing of the ride from pirates chasing women to women chasing pirates was something that had to be done because what Walt and company left out was what would a drunken pirate do to that woman if he ever caught her. Imagine the worst and you probably have it right. In the heyday of pirating in the 17th and 18th centuries as depicted in the ride, a true pirate is not someone you would want to cross paths with. They were murderers, and rapists, and drunkards, and thieves, and purveyors of assorted methods of horrendous torture. Go out on the internet and find out what it means to be "drawn and quartered". And the assaults weren't just directed at other sailors or pirates, pirates attacked towns and all inhabitants, including women and children. Go read the exploits of the real Blackbeard or Captain Morgan. It's a far cry from what is depicted in the movies or what Disney magic seeks to romanticize and gloss over. A typical pirates life was quite short. Those that weren't killed were usually ravaged by some disease at a very young age. And quite to the contrary, a pirate usually didn't make a whole lot of money.
But Disney is in the business of sometimes obscuring the facts in order to cash in on the illusion. They have no issue charging premium prices to dress up young boys as swash-buckling pirates. Even now as a young man, my son has a Pirates of the Caribbean spread hanging on his wall. He has POTC pins, and t-shirst, and caps. It's easy to get caught up in Disney's world of pirates. But I've also encouraged him to look at the world of pirating at it really existed (and still exists) and not the illusion that Disney gives you. A real pirate and a Disney pirate? Two completely different things.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
I remember leaving the theater after seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal saying to myself "I want to like this movie. This is Indiana Jones, one of the greatest movie heroes of all time. I want to like this movie....."
Then the realization set in - "An alien? Are you kidding me?" Not to mention surviving a nuclear blast by being locked in a refrigerator and a punk kid who I just wanted to smack silly. It was bad. And in the bad marketing department - if you want a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark on Blu-Ray, you have to buy all 4 Indiana Jones movies including this piece of garbage.
Now, thanks to the good people at Screen Junkies and their Honest Trailers YouTube site, we finally get some truth about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And it is plenty funny....
I don't know if we have seen our last Indiana Jones movie. Hopefully now that it is a Disney property something more can be done with a great character and franchise. If it exits with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then that is a pretty sad way to go out.
It's not often that Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, makes it twice into this blog within a week but somehow the man has done it. Now he may need to put in a little bit of work to justify that $40 million dollar annual compensation package we reported on a few days ago.
With a lot of fanfare (and press) Disney is rolling out their MyMagic+ (also known as NextGen) initiatives into Walt Disney World this year. It's complicated but beneath it all is the ability for Disney to track almost every movement of one of their resort guests from the time they set foot on the property till the time they leave. Through the use of RFID chips coded in bracelets that get scanned throughout the resort, Disney can slip on hotel room access, credit card information, what you are purchasing, what rides and attractions you are going on, what characters you want to see, what and where you are eating. It's called data mining. This information is then stored and reused as a marketing tool where Disney has the ability to target you based on the accumulated data through mailings, email, and various social media outlets. And this includes the targeting of children. Disney has invested a huge amount of money in the potential of this technology that will better allow them to program resort experiences catered to individual and family preferences.
Disney likes to say that this will allow guests to pre-plan trips through advanced reservations leading to shorter waits in line for rides and attractions, character meet and greets, and the ability to better get you into that restaurant you are dying to try. Congress has a different take. Is this an invasion of privacy? Sure Disney should be allowed to streamline the in park experience of guests but what is the real purpose of this data. If it is used to continually target you in the marketing for all things Disney, then there could be some problems, especially if you are target marketing kids and teenagers.
Below is a link to a pdf of a letter a Massachusetts sent to Disney CEO Walt Disney asking some very blunt and serious question regarding Disney's end game with MyMagic+. It's worth the read.
Get off the train at New Orleans Square, walk straight over to the banks of the Rivers of America, then turn around. There they are - all lined up for you; from left to right - The Jungle Cruise Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain. Five Disneyland signature attractions where the starting entrances are all within a hundred yards (or so) of each other. How great is that? See my latest post on the Disney Dose website along with all their latest Disney related offerings.
Here is a direct link to the post. Hope you enjoy it!
Disney Dose - One Hundred Yards of Disneyland Magic
Monday, January 21, 2013
It was only a matter of time. In what may be the widest stretch of Disney cross promoting its franchises (as they have a tendency to do) the Muppet's Swedish Chef has shown up on an ESPN SportsCenter promotional commercial. And its funny. Also appearing is New York Ranger's goalie Henrik Lundqvist who, as a Swede, may be the only person who can actually understand the ramblings of the temperamental chef. Disney owns the Muppets (and the Swedish Chef). Disney owns ESPN. As far as I know, Disney does not own Lundqvist.
|The Two Guys Who Run The Walt Disney Company|
A Disney Photo
I was fortunate last year - got promoted to a new position and also got a cost of living raise along with a little bit of a company performance bonus. Maybe the whole thing totaled out to 8 or 9 percent. Not bad considering the economy continues to spurt and stumble along.
Bob Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company got a raise last year too. He got a little more than I did. Bob's annual compensation package moved up from a little over $33 million a year to a bit over $40 million last year. Bob's raise was about 20%. Nice. It's also nice that Disney had one of its most successful years in recent memory with both profits and stock prices well up. The massive success of Cars Land and DCA, the huge box office receipts from the Avengers, and the purchase of LucasFilm Ltd were all feathers in Iger's cap which led to large deposits in the bank accounts.
Bob is set to gracefully exit Disney in 2015. Chances are he will not have to pick up a part time job as a greeter at Wal-Mart to make ends meet when he retires.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
|Disneyland's Haunted Mansion|
A Disney Photo
My latest post on The Disney Dose website has to do with the return of the "classic" Haunted Mansion to Disneyland after the removal of the holiday overlay. I prefer the holiday overlay over the classic mode because, well, I sometimes find the classic mode rather boring at times. The editor of the Disney Dose seems to have taken the opposite position on Twitter but I'll stand by my comments. Come to your own conclusions. Direct link the Disney Dose post....
Disney Dose - The Return of the Classic Haunted Mansion
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Impressed with Disneyland's Limited Time Magic promotion so far? Somehow, I think I've seen this all before as Disney comes up with new ways to pull things out of there park archives, put it in a new package, then call it Limited Time Magic. There doesn't seem to be a lot of original thought going on here.
We've had the 3 Kings Day celebration. They did that last year. We have a Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue - nice - but that show came and went and the new (shorter) show just borrows from the old classic show minus some of the comedy bits. We are now in 3 weekends of celebrating Mardi Gras which seems to bring out a lot of the same elements Disney used when they were promoting The Princess and the Frog (an excellent movie BTW). Some New Orleans Jazz, a few special dining options from the NOS dining establishements and, well, you get the picture - been there, done that.
During Valentine's week, Limited Time Magic brings a week of love. Really? Kind of a no brainer there. They've announced a week of celebrating American independence during the July 4th holiday - something that has been done forever as far as I know. Also coming up in February comes a solute the the Chinese Lunar New Year over in DCA. Below is a promotional Mickey and Minnie picture from Disney Parks Blog. Somehow I get the feeling I've seen that picture before.
|Mickey and Minnie Celebrate The Lunar New Year|
A Disney Parks Blog Photo
Maybe there will be something in this Limited Time Magic promotion that strikes the imagination and shows some original creativity. So far it appears to be a lot of retreaded material from Disney's bag of tricks.
If there is one part of the massive Walt Disney Company that badly lags behind the rest it is the Gaming division. Video games and online gaming are hugely popular and profitable when the gaming creations hit the all right notes and deliver a product the public can't get enough of. Disney is kind of a niche player in the world of gaming, picking up their fans with the Epic Mickey games and Pirates of the Caribbean Online but so far Disney games just haven't produced the kind of mass appeal Disney is looking for. Enter Disney Infinity.
With Disney Infinity, many of the most popular Disney and Pixar characters, primarily from the world of movies, come together is various playing scenarios. In a world like this, Disney wins by bringing films, home video, consumer products, and many other aspects of the company into living rooms everywhere - providing the game can prove popular with a wide range of ages. Disney Infinity looks like it is set to release in June on all gaming platforms. Should prove interesting. Below are videos from John Lasseter promoting the game and the first official trailer.
In my latest contribution to the Disney Dose fan site I give my 3 can't miss treats that are must have's on any of my trips to Disneyland. Delicious Disneyland goodness from a place not known for fine dining. Here is a direct link to the post:
Disney Dose - Favorite Disneyland Treats
I did leave one treat out of my post. On some days, when you've been on the move for hours, fighting crowds, and the is sun beating down on you, it just may be the best treat of all:
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Pluto, the planet, was discovered in 1930 and was considered the 9th planet of the solar system from 1930 until 2006. In 2006, Pluto was re-evaluated by scientists and astronomers and since it did meet all the requirements for planetary status was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
Pluto, the dog, is Mickey Mouse's pet dog. Pluto, the dog, is considered one of Disneyland's "Fab Five", the 5 main cartoon characters created by Walt Disney himself. As part of the Mount Rushmore of Disney's cartoon characters which also Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and Goofy, Pluto, the dog, has achieved lofty status in Disney echelon. Other than being Mickey's dog, I'm not sure why Pluto fits in with this group. The dog, other than being cute and lovable, does nothing as far as I can tell.
You can understand the status of Mickey and Minnie even if their relationship through the years makes no sense at all. Mickey and Minnie are the real king and queen of Disney characters. "Fab Five?" You bet. You can understand Donald Duck, a classic character, whose ill tempter makes him one step away from a full on expletive laden tirade. Fab Five material?" Sure. Goofy.... well he's everyone's uncle Dave, the well meaning relatative who tries hard but is basically.....an idiot. "Fab Five?" He's funny, absolutely. But Pluto? Pretty darn useless if you ask me.
I don't know a lick about the history of Walt Disney animated characters. Maybe there is something about Pluto that makes Fab Five worthy. I haven't seen it yet. Maybe the status of Pluto, the dog, needs to be re-evaluated and devalued like Pluto the planet was a few years ago. If you want to be at the top, you have to earn your way there. It can't be just handed to you just because you're cute and like to be scratched behind the ears....
Then again. What do I know?
Monday, January 14, 2013
It hasn't happened yet but the strong (very strong) rumor is that the Market House on Main St. Disneyland will close sometime this month and start the conversion into a Starbuck's. I would imagine the name Market House will stay since its part of Disneyland history but instead of what is a fine cup of coffee they serve up now, it will be Starbuck's beverages. I've said it before - I really like Starbuck's - they make a fine product. I like the Market House, they make the best cup of coffee in Disneyland and give you free refills for the day to boot. It's putting the two together that is the cause for my trepidation.
As it is presently configured, the Market House is a small quaint coffee establishment. There can be a bit of a line first thing in the morning but not a ridiculous one by Disneyland standards. Al Lutz reported earlier this month that the Starbuck's in the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe over in DCA is now the highest volume most profitable Starbuck's location in the country. And over there, you do generally have a bit of a wait but they do tend to be quite efficient for the most part and the space is quite large and able to handle the lines of people.
So where does Disneyland put the extra people who will be heading to the Starbucks when its located in the much smaller Market House without have an excess line spill out to Main Street. Well, that's why the conversion is slated for several months rather than a quick setting up of coffee machines. Disney needs to allocate space with the most likely candidates from the neighboring stores like Disneyanna or using the alley way that is outside the Market House where the Disneyland lockers are now located. There is also a plan to open a public walkway behind the Main Street stores that is currently off limits to everyone but castmembers. Somehow, they need to hide the line and reduce the possibility for a bottleneck condition.
|The alley just outside the Market House|
I guess I'm OK with Starbuck's being in Disneyland and on Main Street as long as things are kept orderly and running smooth. I trust that is Disney's intention as well. Creating chaos shouldn't be on the drawing boards. But here would be my other take. You spend a whole lot of time waiting in lines at Disneyland. I'm not going to spend a whole lot of my Disney day waiting in line for a Starbuck's beverage when there are probably a half a dozen of them within a mile of my house. If the wait is longer than 10 minutes, forget it. Too much else to do in Disneyland.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Disney executives woke up to a pleasant surprise a few mornings ago. All three of their 2012 animated releases were nominated for an Academy Award as best animated film. At least I think it was pleasant surprise. All 3 were well received by critics though not quite the lofty status of Pixar's best efforts like Toy Story 3 or Wall-E. The public came out in good numbers to see Brave and Wreck-It Ralph but stayed away from Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (which uses stop-motion animation as opposed to being completely computer generated like the other two films). And while both Pixar's Brave and Disney Animation's Wreck-It Ralph turned nice profits, they weren't the over the top type of numbers again like Toy Story 3 which was a billion dollar box office smash. So there isn't really a clear head and shoulders winner of the three and maybe Disney's nightmare is they split the Academy's vote and another animated feature swoops in and picks them off.
I'm certainly not the one to pick a favorite because I haven't seen any of them. I never felt compelled to do so. I passed on Brave because well, I'm sorry to say, it just looked too much like a girls movie. I could be wrong about it but that's the way it is. It's been available on video for a couple of months and I still haven't seen it. I passed on Tim Burton's Frankenweenie because it just looked too weird and seeing a beloved family pet being dying only to be brought back to life is just not a subject matter that appeals to me. I've had far too many pets pass away in recent years so that is kind of a touchy subject. Besides I thought Burton hoodwinked me with his Alice in Wonderland, an enormously popular movie that I absolutely hated.
Which brings me to Wreck-It Ralph, a movie I really wanted to see but just never got around to it in the theaters. I still want to see it so the home video is one I really look forward to picking up in another month or two when it hits the stores. This movie just looks like a lot of fun and that's the main reason why I want to go to the movies.
So I really don't have a horse in this race. As of now, I just don't care who wins and who loses. If I were I betting man (and I'm really not) I'd put my money on Brave simply because Pixar has a way of combining all animated movie elements (technical craftsmanship, story, music, editing, etc.) into eye popping, dazzling films if we can excuse the horrid Cars 2 (which I never will because it was such lazy effort after a string of great, great movies). I don't know but I would also think that Brave costs as much to make as the other two movies put together. Maybe that's my clue. If Brave goes out and wins and Academy Award, it might be worth my while to actually sit down and watch it.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
MiceChat's In The Parks weekly Disneyland post (link) featured the first video of Disneyland's Limited Time Magic Salute to the Golden Horseshoe revue. I'll re-post their video below and the viewer can come to their own conclusions.
Westerns like Bonanza and Gunsmoke on TV eventually faded away to the point where they are almost non-existent in modern pop culture. The market for "the old west" dried up in the current world. Not to say it can't come back because things tend to run in cycles (like Disney's remake of The Lone Ranger) but as of now, the market is limited, especially with kids.
As for the show, I'm just not a fan. Give me the talents of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies in the Golden Horseshoe and things will seem right again. Just a personal opinion.
How does that go? "I see England, I see France, I see ......"
How does that go? "I see England, I see France, I see ......"
Friday, January 11, 2013
The Academy Award nominations came out yesterday and leading the pack was Steven Spielberg's epic biopic Lincoln with 12 nominations including all the major categories outside of Best Actress. Great honor for a worthy effort as Spielberg brought the words of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to life in a memorable movie.
Yesterday morning a lady I work with, who was watching some of the nomination activity on the TV before coming to work, mentioned that someone had said something about Lincoln being a Disney movie and she asked me if I knew that was true because "it sure didn't seem like a Disney movie". So I gave the explanation again. Lincoln was made by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Pictures along with other financiers (including 20th Century Fox). DreamWorks makes movies but has a long term deal in place for Disney, through Disney's Touchstone Pictures subsidiary, to distribute all DreamWorks live action pictures (not the animated ones like Shrek or Kung-Fu Panda which are separate). Disney has absolutely no say so in the movies that DreamWorks makes. Disney only distributes the movies as they did with Lincoln (and only in the United States, international film distribution is also separate).
So when Steven Spielberg gets up to accept an Oscar or two for Lincoln, which he is favored to do, he will most likely say thanks to Disney execs for their help in delivering his masterpiece to the theaters and the large audience who have seen the movie but the movie is his and not Disney's.
Which brings me back to my soap box and Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I hope with all the attention being brought to the great president, more people are stopping by Disneyland's Opera House to see Lincoln, perhaps the the most advanced animatronic on earth. It's a wonderful show that began with Walt Disney himself as the creator of the first animatronic Lincoln for the New York's World's Fair in 1963. Disney imagineers have continued to change and advance the show through the years and it's all done as a labor of love because no one goes to Disneyland to see Lincoln and there is no Lincoln souvenir shop.
It saddens me to see scores of people walk (or run) through the entrance tunnels of Disneyland and never once look to the right where the magnificent Opera House stands with open arms. People are too focused on what is down at the end of Main Street - a world of rides and mountains. Hopefully now with more attention being paid toward Lincoln, the Opera House has more than a handful of people to see the short but great Lincoln presentation put on by Disneyland. It is time well spent, just like the movie.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
See my latest post on the Disney Dose fan site along with the rest of their Disneyland, WDW, and all things Disney content. Thinking about a trip to Disneyland in January? Some of the lowest crowd levels of the year but unpredictable weather and a variety of ride closures can make things interesting. You pay your money and take your chances.
Direct link to the post -
Saturday, January 5, 2013
|The Classic Golden Horseshoe Revue|
A Disney Photo
As one of its first events in the so called "Limited Time Magic" (a name I'm already getting tired of hearing) promotion, Disneyland is staging "A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue" from January 10 - February 4 in the namesake Golden Horseshoe Saloon. The GS Revue was the original stage show from the classic days of Disneyland's Frontierland when people still had an interest in the old west along with Cowboys and Indians before people knew what it really like to be an American Indian kicked of their land and forced into reservations. The GS Revue featured Disneyland's consummate showman in Wally Boag and his partner Betty Taylor who performed for years on the saloon's stage to packed houses and smiling faces.
|The Golden Horseshoe Saloon|
A Disney Photo
I vaguely remember seeing those performances as a young boy when I would make occasional trips to Disneyland on summer vacations with my parents. I mostly remember that I couldn't get out of that show fast enough because time was a wasting with staged silliness and forgettable songs when rides were waiting. So the Golden Horseshoe Revue doesn't occupy the same sense of warm Disneyland nostalgia as say the Enchanted Tiki Room or Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln which remain quite special to me to this day which is kind of weird.
This isn't to say that the Golden Horseshoe Saloon as a venue isn't special for me because it is. It's special because the best shows I have seen in there belong to the great Bill Hill and the Hillbillies who can't get back in there fast enough as far as I'm concerned. Surprisingly, others on Disneyland forums and discussion boards have said the same thing.
And while return of a classic Golden Horseshoe Revue show is welcomed by many let's also not forget that it is something of a money grab by Disney primarily targeted at annual pass holders. A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue will bring people into Disneyland during one of the slowest times of the year. And you annual AP's out there, don't forget that for about $35 you can have one of those special dining packages which also features a collectible boot mug, sandwich, and a salad with your reserved seat for the show. Seems like a high price to pay for a show I once couldn't wait to end.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
|Walt Disney - Grand Marshall of the 1966 Rose Parade with Mickey|
A Disney Photo
You get a lot of fluff with the various Disney Twitter feeds - mostly self-serving promotional material. Once in awhile you get a gem, like today, when the @Disneyland feed tweeted out this photo of Walt Disney and Mickey serving as Grand Marshals of the 1966 New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena. Walt would not live to see another New Years Day passing away in December of 1966. Kind of sad. Kind of thankful for all that he left behind and continues to delight and entertain millions of people. What a legacy.
Ah yes, the annual tradition of making New Years resolutions. Here would be my Disney resolutions in 2013 (and as I sit here right now, really plan to keep, unlike most of my non-Disney resolutions).
- Two trips to Disneyland in 2013. Mrs. DisneylandTraveler blurts it out to me at least 5 times a week "I want to go to Disneyland" - I guess that means we are going. My guess is one trip between late spring and early fall and the second trip coming during next year's holiday season. See you there.
- While I'm at Disneyland in 2013, I hope to cross at least 3 things off My Disney Bucket List (hint: those having to do with food are most likely to be crossed off).
- Start a new Disneyland collectible collection. I don't know what, but I'm going to start collecting something (hint: it won't by pins or vinylmation).
- See the Disney / Pixar / Marvel theatrical releases of The Lone Ranger, Monsters University, Iron Man 3, Saving Mr. Banks, and hopefully a new Muppets movie.
- Avoid seeing Oz: The Great and Powerful (simply because it looks creepy and I'm probably the only person alive who doesn't like The Wizard of Oz).
Happy New Year from The Disneyland Traveler.