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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Princess Fantasy Faire - A Main Street View

What is wrong with this picture?
A MiceChat Dateline Disneyland Photo

Just look at the picture above. MiceChat's In The Parks and Dateline Disneyland (link) weekly photo reports have given us the best look at how the Princess Fantasy Faire construction has progressed over the last several months. As it nears completion Disneyland fans can now begin to form a real opinion of just how nice the brightly colored and extremely detailed buildings show themselves or just how much of an intrusion the classic views from Main Street are compromised by an out of place village.

I think lot of this depends on your view of where exactly does Main Street end? Does it end at the photo shop on one side and the Coca Cola Plaza on the other or does it include The Hub and its surrounding area? If you are one of those people that think The Hub is a transitional area to all the lands it connects to, then maybe the brightly colored Princess Fantasy Faire is not a big deal. It looks nice and doesn't occupy a huge amount space.

If you are one of those people who think The Hub, with the Partners Statue and the lovely seating area that surrounds it, the classic Plaza Inn Restaurant, and the Jolly Holiday Bakery are all part of Main Street, then the Princess Fantasy Faire just might be an out of place intrusion and the questionable decision to put a Fantasyland expansion area in front of the castle which has always been the traditional transition point.

I fall into the latter point of view. It comes down to money of course. In Disney, now matter how much magic and illusion they want to throw at you in pretense, it always comes down to money these days. The prior resident of the Princess Fantasy Faire space - the Carnation Gardens, really wasn't a money maker in the traditional sense. Oh it could be rented out or use to bring in park guests with swing dancing or other events that required a stage but it wasn't set up for what Disney likes - the constant handing over of cash and credit cards.

Enter the Princess Fantasy Faire. Beneath all the exquisite detail, it is primarily a meet and greet for Disney Princesses. But aren't meet and greets free you might ask? They can be but the best photo ops with a Princess are going to come from a Disney Photo Pass photographer. And right beside the meet and greets with a Princess is the shop with princess dresses and all the assorted goodies that come with it that little girls must have and moms are willing to pay for. When you strip it all the way down, Princess Fantasy Faire is a store that caters to a very specific demographic.

All that being said, when I first get my chance to look at Princess Fantasy Faire Village up close, I'm going to be a picture taking fool. But after that, do I really have any real reason to go in there? No, not really. I may be a one visit and done kind of guy unless the specialty snacks they serve in there are good enough to be "must have's". And you got a think that after all the regular Disneyland visitors make their first visit to PFF, it's probably only a small percentage that actually need to go back. This doesn't mean the place won't be popular. When the Princess Meet and Greet was held in the Fantasyland Theater, the lines often went beyond 60 minute wait times. Princesses are hugely popular and big business. Just not for me.

And I'm not going to lose any sleep over Disney violating another section of the park by putting a Fantasyland extension on Main Street. Goodness knows they have done that enough that you kind of get numb to it. But when I think about it, I don't have to like it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Disney Puts Up A Brave Front At The Oscars

Brave promotional poster - Disney / Pixar artwork
Well, it wasn't exactly Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln last night at the Academy Awards where Oscars where handed out. Steven Spielberg's epic film Lincoln (a DreamWorks release but distributed by Disney's Buena Vista Pictures in the U.S.) was suppose to come up big but instead went out with a whimper with only Daniel Day Lewis's performance as the great president getting the film its only major award as best actor. And since Lewis is the first man to get a third best actor Oscar in its history, he might very well be the best actor - ever. (The extremely serious and somewhat reclusive actor also had the funniest line of the night as he accepted the award from perhaps the greatest female actor ever, Meryl Streep.) Somewhere Walt Disney sheds a tear as the president he most admired and even built an attraction to honor him got pretty much stiffed by the Academy. From what I have read, many believe Spielberg's Lincoln will stand up better over the course of time. Once can only hope as Disneyland will once again on Wednesday of this week, halt the performances of its grand Lincoln attraction and spend a day showing the film Peter Pan in its place. Peter Pan will fill every seat of every showing, the animatronic Lincoln? Not so much.

Disney's Pixar once again flexed its muscle with the Academy with Brave getting the Oscar for best animated picture. This award was a shoe-in for Disney as Brave's main competition was its own Wreck-It-Ralph and Frankenweenie. I pretty knew Brave had it in the bag as the level of detail (and the high production costs) of Pixar films really shows through on the screen. Even the dreadful Cars 2 was visually eye-popping.

Disney also pulled off an Oscar for best animated short film with something called Paperman. I would assume its good but I never heard of it until last night. When I think of Disney short films I think of Mickey and Goofy and Donald but that's just me. Nothing else matters.

With a theater full of celebrities there was one head shot of Disney CEO Bob Iger sitting in the audience going into commercial break. Why? Disney's ABC network pretty much runs the Academy Award telecast though if they want to continue to attract an audience to watch, they had better put on a better show. The three and a half hour telecast was excruciatingly uneven and sometimes dreadfully boring. They now have a year to figure out how to make the show smoother, classier, and funnier. It shouldn't be that hard. 

And don't get me started on that Red Carpet pre-show. There couldn't be a worse 60 minutes of television time ever. I only watched because Mrs. DisneylandTraveler came in the living room and said we had to watch because she likes that sort of celebrity nonsense. Even she got up and left about 20 minutes into it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful Promotional Blitz Begins

The Oz promotional hot air balloon at Disney Studios
A Disney Photo
Over the weekend, the promotional bandwagon blitz for Disney's upcoming movie Oz The Great and Powerful got ramped up on several fronts. An Oz playground opened in WDW. An Oz promotional hot air ballon made publicity appearances at both Disney Studios in Burbank and at the Disneyland Resort. An finally, once again, the Muppets have been kicked out of their own namesake theater in Disney California Adventure to make way for yet another  "4D" preview of the new Oz movie as was done for TRON: Legacy and Frankenweenie. The DCA preview gives about 8 minutes worth of clips from the movie while fans blow wind in your face along with a few lighting effects. The preview will show in the Muppet Theater until the end of March. Oz The Great and Powerful officially opens March 8 though the red carpet premiere at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood has already taken place.

Interestingly enough MousePlanet's Bryan Pugh in a weekly Disneyland Resort Update (link) felt that the preview might be a little too intense for younger children. You can usually tell this when you are watching one of these shows and children begin to scream and cry and beg parents to get them out (happens often in It's Tough To Be A Bug). I can't blame the kids for wanting to get out. The original Wizard of Oz creeped me out as a kid, gave me nightmares, and I never could enjoy what is considered a film classic. I have zero desire to see Oz The Great and Powerful and Disney only hopes they do not have another potential John Carter bomb on their hands. The other side is nothing about Oz screams Disney and its hard for me at least to pair up the two logically.

MiceChat's Dateline Disneyland Andy Castro in his weekly park update (link) shows off some great photos of the balloon's appearance at the Disneyland Resort. Be sure to check it out even if you are someone like me who hates the movie idea but loves great memorable Disneyland images.

Oz The Great and Powerful Balloon as seen from DCA's Buena Vista Street
A MiceChat Dateline Disneyland Photo (Andy Castro)


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Things I Will Avoid On My Next Trip To Disneyland

Sorry to miss Thunder Mountain Railroad on my next trip
Closed for refurbishment till Halloween

I can't say officially that the Disneyland light is on and our next trip is on the calendar but we're getting close to that point. A few text messages went back and forth last week with my sister and maybe, just maybe, a trip to Disneyland at the end of April or the beginning of May is a pretty good possibility all things considered.

It's easy to make plans or get excited about all the things you plan to do. Just as easily for me is tell you all the things I plan to avoid with a pretty good degree of moral certainty. Nothing is for sure but below are places, rides, attractions I have a pretty good idea I will be staying away from.

No horse drawn street car rides for the Disneyland Traveler
Let's start right out on Main Street where many people avoid Lincoln or the Main St. Cinema like the plague. Not me. I go to those places out of respect and tradition more than anything else. What I won't do is allow one of those beautiful horses drag my sorry butt up Main St. in a street car. Sure that is what the horse is bred to do and Disneyland horses are probably some of the best cared for animals on the planet but nope, I'm not letting one of those beautiful creatures haul me around. Can't do it.

I have seen the last of Captain EO.
The Disneyland Traveler is just a bit on the old side for the Astro-Orbitor

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage? Just don't care for the claustrophobic cartoon ride.
Love ASIMO - Can't stand the rest of Innoventions

A wave from Mrs. DisnelandTraveler and the Boy from years ago
Sorry, I know how to drive a car. So does the Boy now.

Tomorrowland seems to have my most sure fire losers. You can start with Innoventions. I have no use for what is nothing more than a commercial sales pitch and a total waste of time outside of ASIMO, the Honda robot. They can't tear this place down fast enough for me. Autopia is a nice ride for its kind and extremely popular but since I spend many hours a week driving around in a car, driving one in Disneyland doesn't thrill me much. I love the subs but don't care for the Finding Nemo cartoon overlay minimizing the once proud Disneyland vessels. The Astro-Orbitor is fine for what it is but just not for me. Just a bit too old for it. And without any hesitation whatsoever - it would be fine with me if Captain EO shut down permanently at the close of business today. It was a silly 80's remnant when it closed in the 90's. It's even more silly now - even for many Michael Jackson fans. I forgot to show a picture of Red Rockets Pizza Port. I've never eaten there. Have not intention to - ever. Also I never have or will ever stick a coin or token in a Starcade game. Why?

Storybookland Canal Boats - Sweet, historic, boring as all get out

Pinocchio's Daring Journey isn't really daring.
King Arhur's Carousel - A merry-go-round by most accounts

Over in Fantasyland I've said in the past that Mrs. DisneylandTraveler usually go through all the dark rides every few years. Will this be the year? Probably won't know till we get there. We go through rides when we know we can do them all quickly in a short amount of time although waits usually are always present for Peter Pan's Flight and Alice in Wonderland. At the bottom of the dark ride list is Pinocchio. Other than the music, it just doesn't offer much to most people. I can easily, easily pass on it even if I went on other Fantasyland dark rides. Speaking of boring, here comes the Storybookland Canal boats. It's has its charm, is an original Disneyland ride created by Walt himself, but defines what a boring ride is. Someone said to go on it at night. I did. Same ride, just dark outside. (I prefer the Casey Jr. Circus Train which covers the same territory - a little more fun, a little less boring). King Arthur's Carousel? My merry-go-round days are over.

Thunder Mountain Railroad - Love the ride - closed most of 2013 for refurbishment.
I've never been to the Davy Crockett Shooting Exposition as an adult

Riverbelle Terrace for lunch - the most overpriced food in the park

Out in Frontierland, Thunder Mountain Railroad is closed for a complete refurbishment. That's too bad. I'm not avoiding the great ride on this next trip. It's sadly avoiding me. I keep wanting to walk over to the Shooting Gallery and give it a try but I never do. Probably because I am a terrible shot. I'm mentioning the Riverbelle Terrace as a place to eat lunch or dinner. At close to $15 a pop for a carved meat sandwich, this is probably the most overpriced food in Disneyland for what you get. Breakfast is a little easier on the wallet and has possibilities but for some unknown reason, it has just kind of dropped off our list. The Riverbelle Terrace is where we camp out for Fantamic. Food is brought over from other nearby choices.

Gadget Go Coaster - It's a kids ride.

I could say that I would avoid ToonTown completely because that possibility certainly does exist. But I have to make allowances for the great Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and the fact I need some new pictures of the place. I'll make a special note about Gadget Go Coaster. Even if it is a ride primarily aimed at giving kids their first coaster ride, I will never understand that 30 minute wait for a 30 second ride. Just....wow!

Tarzan's Treehouse. Kind of gets in the way

The Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country corridor is my favorite area of the park. It's a favorite for many which is why the foot traffic sometimes approaches near gridlock. And right there getting in everyone's way is Tarzan's Treehouse. Once again, I keep saying that I am going up in there, if nothing else, to take pictures but I just never do. Too many better things available in that neighborhood.

That's it for Disneyland. Let's take a walk over to Disney California Adventure park and see what I can avoid there.

The loathsome Mad T Party
Aladdin - just maybe past it's prime

I've never seen it but I already no I want no part of Mad T Party. I'm not sure why Disney keeps pursuing the nighttime street party gatherings (well money is at the bottom of everything) but I have absolutely zero interest. If there is any reason to go there at all, it would be to confirm just how much I had this abomination. If I wanted to spend money on an overpriced "cocktail" I'd go to the Cove Bar and at least be an adult. The flip side of the nighttime Mad T Party is the neighboring Aladdin show at the Hyperion Theater. Aladdin was a great show. Seen it many times and enjoyed it every single time. I said 'was' a great show. The Whole New World flying carpet sequence was my favorite moment of the show. It has been removed as a safety issue for the performers. Without the flying carpet, it just doesn't seem like Aladdin anymore and it might be time to move on to something else.

What's next - nothing really
I don't have a problem with Blue Sky Cellars where Disney gets to show off it's new upcoming creations for the 2 parks. Stopped in there several times and learn a lot. It's just that if nothing changes over the next month or two, they really don't have anything to show in there at this time, at least nothing I'm interested in. That's too bad.

A grown man, not small, suspending on a swing from a couple of chains?
I don't think so.
Guess what the maintenance guy that is in the picture is cleaning up from the bottom of
Mickey's Fun Wheel?

Jumping Jelly Fish - not exactly an adult replacement for the Maliboomer
Now That Ariel's Grotto is just a meet and greet dining experience, I'll skip it

Paradise Pier gives us the child rides of King Triton's Carousel and Jumping Jelly Fish. Too old so I'll pass. I'll also give a big pass on Silly Symphony Swings. Just the thought me swinging around the air on a swing suspended by a couple of chains gives me the heebie-jeebies. No way. Also, the same goes for the swinging gondolas on Mickey's Fun Wheel. Even though I'm not a person who handles heights very well, I've got used to the non-swinging gondolas. Not going near the ones that swing though. Ariel's Grotto used to offer a World of Color dinner dining package. They stopped doing that and meed the dining facility strictly a princess meet and greet eatery and an expensive one at that. The last time Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I ate there, we had a very nice dinner and we walked over with WOC passes and had a great viewing spot. Nice. But up until that last meal, I would have to say that Ariels's Grotto gave us some of the worst dining experience Mrs. DLT and I have had in either park. Walking away from this dining establishment is not hard at all. It could be so much better on many levels.

I don't even know what's in here.
A Bug's Land - A nice place to visit but I wouldn't want ride there

I'll close with A Bug's Land and the 4 little rides that live there. They are for small kids and their parents. Unlike many people, I'm perfectly fine with that. I find A Bug's Land charming.

Well that's about it. I'm sure there are many places I will miss on my next trip. Time is precious when making a trip to Disneyland and even with the best plans, there just isn't time enough for everything it seems. But the best plans begin with eliminating the non-essential.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Disney California Adventure - 12 Years Later - Disney Dose

In my latest post to the Disney Dose website I take a quick look back at 12 years of Disney California Adventure which quietly had its anniversary on February 8. Everyone is pointing to the opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street as the point where really DCA became all it could be (for now). But in reality, the park has been slowly and steadily improving probably since after its first year of initial of operation. New shows, rides, attractions, have been added all along all the while, the mistakes have been swept under the rug.

Direct link to the Disney Dose post -

Disney California Adventure - 12 Years Later

Harrison Ford Returns As Hans Solo in Star Wars VII. He's 70

The young Hans Solo

So there I was eating my lunch yesterday at work while surfing the the internet (life in the 21st century) when the blurb starting hitting various news feeds: Harrison Ford has to agreed to return to the role of Hans Solo in Star Wars VII slated for release in 2015. It was first reported in the Latino Reporter but apparently this source is credible enough and tends to get their Hollywood gossip right to the point that the story was then repeated in the USA Today and Christian Science Monitor. It is unsubstantiated though.

I think the last time we left Hans Solo, he was blowing up a Death Star and being promoted to General. Harrison Ford / Hans Solo is now 70 years old give or take, an age when most Generals have already retired. Can a 70 Hans Solo have a significant role in Star Wars VII? Sure he can. Most fans of the Star Wars saga (espcially episode IV, V, and VI) would welcome the return of Hans but I also remember the elderly Indiana Jones coming back to discover aliens. Ugh! Let's hope that director J.J. Abrams does a better job with a classic movie hero than Steven Spielberg/George Lucas did a few years ago with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A lot of lessons should have been learned from that weak effort.

A not so young Harrison Ford

Monday, February 11, 2013

John Lasseter Plays With Some New Toy Monsters

His title is Chief Creative Office for Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also the Chief Creative Adviser for Walt Disney Imagineering. He reports directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger. Aguably, he is one of the top 5 most powerful men in the Walt Disney Company. His name is John Lasseter and today, thanks to YouTube, we can watch this powerful visionary play with some of his new toys for the upcoming movie Pixar's Monsters University. The man does seem to know how to enjoy himself.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Great Peter Pan's Flight - Disney Dose

Now on the Disney Dose website, I take another look at Peter Pan's Flight, quite possibly Disneyland's best attraction, on the week that celebrates the 60th anniversary of the release of Walt Disney's Peter Pan animated classic to the theaters. To celebrate the anniversary, Disney has released a brand new home video blu-ray that is rich is special features giving fans a new look into the film. Enjoy the movie, enjoy the ride, enjoy the world of Peter Pan.

Direct link to my Disney Dose article -

Peter Pan's Flight - Possibly Disneyland's Greatest Attraction

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mickey and the (Hopefully) Magical Map

Mickey and the Magical Map Artwork
A Disney Image

The old Fantasyland Theater is still currently being rebuilt but should be ready soon for Mickey and the Magical Map, the new Disneyland 25 minute summer stage show (probably begins in June) featuring everyone's favorite Mouse and a host of Disney characters. Sounds like a winner that will be sure to pack them in because.....well....it's Mickey Mouse, a character that is probably underutilized in a park he supposedly co-founded.

But with the Disneyland Traveler there seems to be always a ...... but. I'm just not a huge fan of staged Disney shows in the park. Oh, they certainly add to the overall atmosphere of the park and are crowd pleasers especially for kids. My question has more to do with their long term staying power. I'm sure I will see Mickey and the Magical Lamp somewhere along the line, but is it something I wouldn't mind seeing again and again? That's the difference between shows and attractions. A good Disney ride well themed is something that becomes repeatable with every trip, shows are more problematic.

I never saw a show in the Fantasyland Theater even when they had them (before the space was wasted for the Princess meet and greet). Just had no interest. I saw the little Aladdin show they did in the Oasis once but that was it. I've see the show at Playhouse Disney in DCA twice, the second time I fell asleep (for us non-kids, the benches that line and back and side walls are most welcomed). The big Aladdin stage show at the Hyperion Theater in DCA is different. With a huge cast and a length of more than 50 minutes, its impact is for more dramatic though even that show has lost some of its oomph when the flying carpet scene was removed over safety issues. And you can't regard something like Fantasmic as a staged show given all the elements that are put into use beyond the characters. After seeing Mickey and Magical Map once, I fear it will become a waste of precious park time, and something I will not go back to (though admittedly, I could be wrong). Of course, Disney could rotate new shows through the theater but that is something they tend not to do since the development costs are expensive. 

Since the Fantasyland Theater is a large cavernous space, my hope would have been for a ride attraction to be put in there, maybe move a new and improved Pooh ride in the spot more along the lines of the impressive Pooh ride that is in Tokyo Disneyland (you can check it out on YouTube). The space freed up where the old Pooh ride was could have been put to better use (and no, not the return of the Country Bear Jamboree). This is pie in the blue sky stuff. Rides are very, very, expensive to develop and construct. A staged show is easier and cheaper in the long run.

This is all personal opinion of course, there won't be an empty seat in the house for Mickey and the Magical Map through the summer (another problem). Long waits for a character stage show? I'm not so sure. Shows come and go. Well themed rides last through generations. Does anyone pay admission to Disneyland where seeing a show is tops on your list of things to do? Not likely. People will always love attractions that move. I can sit at home and watch Disney on TV. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

More Disney Parks Coffee Wars - Starbucks A Winner, Nescafe Out

Last year at this time, I think a spent a lot of time writing about the anticipation of DCA's Cars Land and Buena Vista St. along with the refurbishment and return of the might Matterhorn in Disneyland. Big time stuff. This year, I seem to be writing a lot about Disney's parks pursuit at serving a decent cup of coffee. As already noted, the Starbucks station in the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe (still a really dumb name) in Disney California Adventure's Buena Vista St. is a huge hit and a winner for both Disney and Starbucks. The Starbucks station will soon be placed inside the Market House on Main St. Disneyland, a touchy subject for sure since the Market House has a great deal of historical significance to the park. Starbucks also is now in the process of being placed in WDW Magic Kingdom and Epcot parks as well.

With Starbucks, the coffee gods were looking down fondly on Disney parks but Disney wasn't through. For years, the coffee vendor for Disney parks was Nescafe, a name synonymous with lousy coffee and pretty much thought of as an instant coffee concoction. This past week, Disney has given the boot to Nescafe out of their parks to be replaced by something called Joffrey's Coffee and Tea. I know nothing about the Joffrey product but one can only guess that it will be an improvement over the Nescafe offerings which were / are continually maligned and for good reason.

The Joffrey coffee deal in no way impacts what Disney is doing with Starbucks. The Starbucks locations will continue to move into each Disney park (one per park one would assume). Joffrey coffee is what gets served everywhere else - coffee stands, restaurants, hotel rooms, etc. around the resorts. I haven't heard one bad remark about replacing park the current park coffee with something new and when does anything Disney does get greeted with unanimous approval? When I'm looking for a decent coffee or coffee beverage and do not want to stand in line with the mob waiting to get a Starbucks, its nice to know there should be a better alternative. Then again, other than first thing in the morning, I don't think about coffee very much when I'm in the parks. When the weather is eighty degrees, give or take, most of the year, its hard really hard to give that steaming hot cup of joe a lot of thought.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Disney Earnings, Al Lutz, Truth & Rumors.

On Tuesday of this week, MiceAge / MiceChat's Al Lutz posted one of his Disney insider articles to his website (link). Later in the day, Disney's Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo gave their quarterly earnings report for the company. The two events are not unrelated colliding in a Disney world of truth, rumor, and speculation.

As a company, Disney saw revenue decrease in two major areas. Disney's biggest money maker is always ESPN and their other cable channels. Revenue was down sharply in this area as ESPN had to shell out big money for continued football and basketball coverage. Disney recoups this expense when commercial air time is sold for the sports telecasts. Eventually, Disney and ESPN will get its money back and expect to turn a profit. No big deal here.

Once again, the film and home entertainment divisions were down as Disney struggles to keep this important side of the company (its where the company originated) on an even keel. After the massive success of The Avengers over the summer, the rest of the year proved pretty quiet. Brave did nice business at the box office but its release to home video was not very receptive. It looks like the days of collecting Pixar movies for the home just for the sake of having all of them may be over. And then there was Frankenweenie which failed both in theaters and home video (though critics did like the movie very much). Wreck-It-Ralph was another box office success but not really an overwhelming one. It's release to video is coming soon. On tap is Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful that will be released next month. Will this big budget live action CGI driven production reverse the tide? I'm betting no. It looks too far out there for conventional audiences. Stand-by Iron Man flying into town in May.

Speaking of Iron Man, Al is reporting that the massive Iron Man ride that was to go into Disneyland's Tomorrowland has been put on hold. The thinking is that instead of piecemeal attractions being added one at a time, Disney may be better served in the long run and do a complete Tomorrowland makeover. The piecemeal approach for WDW's Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion has not drawn in guests as expected. On the other hand, Disney rolling out a complete Cars Land was a massive success. It seems to me the thinking is off here, the Fantasyland expansion in WDW failed to generate expected business because only one new ride was opened and that was the gentle Little Mermaid ride, a clone of the existing ride in DCA. The double spinning Dumbo and rethemed Barnstormer do not count. The rest of the Fantasyland expansion consisted of a new restaurant (needed), more stores (ugh!), and meet and greets (double-ugh!). Now the level of detail is nothing short of amazing but people want something to do, not something to look at. Disney probably could have seen a better jump in the numbers if the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened first and the other stuff came later. Rides generate guests through the turnstiles, the better the ride, the more people walk through. A single Iron Man ride in Tomorrowland would work if the anticipated result is an uptick in the number of guests coming into the park. But you can't completely disagree that a total Tomorrowland makeover might be a better business decision long term. It would be smashing.

So if there is nothing new and impactful to report for either U.S. theme park what is Disney going to announce at this year's D23 Expo? Park news is big. If there is no big park news, then the Expo could fall kind of flat (which it may anyway). PS. No one cares about Avatar Land which may be dying on the vine.

One thing that Bob Iger did say is he still believes there is room for price increasing in the parks. Ouch. Come May or June, expect to pay more. It just better not be up the levels of last year's massive price increase or the revolt is on the the "price elasticity", as Iger calls it, may spring back the other way as people find other ways to spend their entertainment dollar outside of Disney.

There may be an announcement of a new ship being being built for the Disney Cruise Line. Since Mrs. DisneylandTraveler won't go near one, in this household, Disney boats are a non-issue. Apparently they do a nice business.

One last thing that Al mentioned was a confirmation of my belief that while Disneyland forums and websites spoke glowingly of the Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue, the average Joe who takes his family to Disneyland every couple of years for vacation was not all thrilled with the show complete with can-can dancers showing off their under garments and a vixen hostess trying to pick up husbands in the audience. Complaints were filed for what was deemed by many as an inappropriate family show. Not to mention, the restaurant business fell flat on its face. Billy Hill - you and your brothers are needed to bring this back the way it should be.

And you when you talk about Disney earnings reports, what Al writes, and what I think or speculate, underneath it all, it's all about the money. Something is missing here. Disney needs to get it back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Other Side of the Mouse - Disney Dose

Think a day at Disneyland is all smiles and laughter? Think again. This is the other side of the mouse - the frustration, the anxiety, the irritability that also flares up from time to time. Read about in in my latest contribution to the Disney Dose Website along with a lot more Disney related articles.

Direct link to the Disney Dose posting

Bad Day At Disneyland - The Other Side Of The Mouse

Monday, February 4, 2013

The New Home For Disney Prince$$e$

Model for Disney's Fantasy Faire Village
A Disney Photo

March 12 has been set for the opening date of Disneyland's Fantasy Faire Village which is now nearing completion of its construction. The date corresponds nicely with the busy Disneyland Spring Break season which now seems to run from mid-March until the end of April. The photos of the near completed village show a great deal of detail and charm but underneath it all, it really is just an elaborate meet and greet for the newly relocated Disney Princesses. 

There's big money in princesses. I have now doubt the best photo ops will be reserved for those who purchase and make use of Disney's expensive Photo Pass services. And of course, a princess meet and greet would not be complete without a gift shop which specializes in all things Disney princess related. And just to pull your wallet out one more time, the Fantasy Faire Village will offer some snack foods and beverages that are not available anywhere else in the park.

I look forward to when I can whip out my trusty camera and shoot many pictures of the ornate village but as for the rest of it, I'll pass. Like ToonTown, for a grown-up without kids, Fantasy Faire Village is an elaborate facade covering little of interest. For parents of kids wanting to meet their favorite Disney princess, get ready to wait and probably wait a long time this spring and summer, and maybe spend a few bucks too.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Last Look At Tony And His Railroad

MiceChat / MiceAge In The Parks Photo

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is down for an extensive refurbishment till about Halloween - a total of about 10 months. Yesterday I posted about imagineer Tony Baxter's sudden retirement. Tony and his railroad are forever linked so I guess it only seems right to take one more look at the man and his train. Right now, beside the majestic Big Thunder Mountain, sits an even more majestic construction crane which now dominates Disneyland site lines. The track is being ripped out piece by piece soon to be replaced by a new track (and new trains). Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was Tony's first major project. Though he would go on to work on the 1983 Fantasyland renovation  Splash Mountain, Indina Jones Adventure, Tony is most closely remembered as the creator of Big Thunder Mountain which has now been propagated in Disney parks around the world (under different names in some cases).

Thunder Mountain Railroad is a great ride, a fully immersive themed experience and guess what? It isn't based on a movie. It was created at a time when imagineers could still let their concepts and ideas reach for the blue skies and Disney was willing to put up the large amounts of money it took to finance them (Note: not all of them, even Tony Baxter had many of his greatest ideas squashed in corporate budgeting).

When the refurbishment is completed in late October I'd bet my dog that Tony Baxter will be there to greet its awaited return. Maybe he even gets the first official ride. It would only be right. Over the spring and summer and on into fall, many will miss Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but it will be back. Behind the scenes, fans of Disney parks may miss Tony Baxter even more.

A MiceChat / MiceAge In the Parks Photo

And how about one more ride on the wildest ride in the wilderness. YouTube videographer asianjma123 just recently posted another POV ride through and it may be the best look yet at the great attraction.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tony Baxter Rides Off Into The Sunset

Tony Baxter
Senior Vice President
Walt Disney Imagineering
Retired - Feb.1, 2013 

Walt Disney passed away in December 1966. Since that time, arguably the two men who have been most responsible for keeping the memories, ideas, and legacy of Walt alive within Disney parks have been Mary Sklar and Tony Baxter. Marty, who worked along side Walt for many years and often gave Walt his most endearing words as a Disney publicist and writer before moving on to Walt Disney Imagineering, retired in 2009. His window of honor sits right above Disneyland's City Hall where he once had an office.

Yesterday, Tony retired. Though youthful in appearance, Tony Baxter did turn 65 and is at an age where retirement often seems like a good option. Of course, he did take on the obligatory role of part-time Disney consultant. I believe Marty, who seems to still turn up at every major Disneyland event, has the same role. These are high profile men that fans of Disney parks adore for their unwavering commitment to keeping Walt's dreams alive. 

Tony's career at Disney spans some four decades of service. He was there as the Haunted Mansion opened, conceived and built Thunder Mountain Railroad, and oversaw the last renovation of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. He could often be seen walking around Disneyland, a solitary man with a smile without the usual hangers-on of high profiled executives. Some have speculated (and it is speculation) that Tony, like Marty, may have been nudged a bit into retirement either because he couldn't handle the continuing efforts of Disney to put profits ahead of creativity and imagination or people above him just wanted people of his commitment to do the right thing instead of the most profitable thing out of the way. 

Tony is very much old school Disneyland and you have to wonder about the future of the place now that the old guard is leaving. I sent out a tweet this morning from my @ShrunkenNed Twitter account in response to his retirement announcement: "Abraham Lincoln now weeps knowing there is a storage crate with his name on it." Sadly, I fear it just may be true.

Marty Sklar
Walt Disney Imagineering
Retired July 17,2009