Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Disneyland Logic:: "Don't Worry, You'll Walk It Off"

The "Duke": Test Menu Item - A MousePlanet.com Photograph
Two menu items appeared at Disneyland this past week almost guaranteed to send a cardiologist into a side to side head shake at best, or bring a tear to his eye at the worst. Man, I'd love to give them a try.

First up (and the real bad one), Disneyland is "testing" something called "The Duke" at Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe while they are experimenting with new things to do in that classic landmark venue (STOP IT! BILLY HILL AND THE HILLBILLIES SHOULD BE IT"S ONLY PURPOSE). Anyway, I digress, "The Duke" is a hot link polish sausage battered up and fried like a corn dog then smothered in nacho cheese sauce, jalapeno, onion, and bacon bits. It is served with a side of fries also smothered in the sauce. MousePlanet published the photo above this past week. What can you say? For someone like me this looks incredibly good and enticing. It is also probably the worst thing someone like me should eat if he wants to add some years on to a decreasing lifespan. Maybe I could split it with Mrs. DisneylandTraveler but I think if this thing packs any kind of heat level at all, she probably wouldn't be game. I know how to justify eating the calorie laden, artery clogging, heart attack inducing beast. Here's where the logic comes in. "In the course of a Disneyland day, I'll just walk it off." You do burn off some calories walking but the saturated fat clogging your arteries is a different matter altogether.

The Lobster Roll From The Harbor Galley
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

Here's the second menu item the peaked my interest this past week and is served at The Harbor Galley, a walk up counter service dining facility on the banks of Rivers of America in New Orleans Square. Disneyland has introduced  a lobster roll ( ! ? ). A good lobster roll back in their native New England tends to run about $20 and up. I can't see the Disneyland quite making it up to that price point so I have a tendency to believe, despite what's shown in the picture, you're going to get a lot of mayanoise and "filler" and lobster - not so much. Again, lobster is a healthy protein alternative, the addition of mayonaise is just the opposite. Oh well, let's start walking again.

I got my friend Mike on the case. He's on his way to Disneyland in 2 weeks. The lobster roll is filed away in his list of things to eat.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Another (Sad) Visit To Disneyland's Court Of Angels

What If This Was Just....Gone?
A few weeks ago I was worried about whether Disneyland was going to turn their lovely Court of Angels in New Orleans Square into another hideous shopping bizarre during the upcoming Halloween and Christmas seasons as they have been known do - (link). Boy, was I off the mark.

Reported by MousePlanet's David Koenig, a very reliable Disneyland insider, the Court of Angels is slated to be shut down for good next month in preparation for a Club 33 expansion next year. Here is a link to David's article - Clubbed.

I posted about this bit of sad news this morning in thread that was lamenting the Court of Angels closure in the MiceChat Disneyland forum this morning. Here is what I wrote....

If this is a permanent closure of the Court of Angels then the news is incredibly sad. Think of the countless numbers of people who have had their photographs taken in that lovely area - couples on their honeymoon, celebrating anniversaries, family reunions (perhaps with loved ones no longer among the living). It's easy to say, when looking at a photograph, that we have the memory of that special place and time. Here is the point that Disney misses. Each and every time you return to Disneyland, the opportunity is there to relive that memory in the moment, to see it as it was all over again. When places like the Court of Angels are removed then they take a little bit of Disneyland's heart and soul with it. They are killing the memories for the sake of profits. Yes, slowly but surely corporate Disney is making the place a soulless shell of its former self. Its not about guests at all. Its about a massive money making machine.

And still the people keep coming.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Moving Into Disneyland's "Silly" Season

Disneyland's Refurbishment Season Kicks Off With The
Haunted Mansion

I used to watch a lot of NASCAR racing on TV - not so much anymore as the sport has seemed to lost some of its grit. Every year, as the NASCAR season winded down, it would begin a period of time known as their "silly season". This is the time of year when drivers with expiring contracts would begin jockeying for where they would be racing next year. Drivers would get signed for next season's car while still driving the car that they have a contract to drive. Drivers would be dropped from cars so a better driver (or maybe more sponsor friendly driver) could get signed for next year but told they can finish out the year without a chance of coming back - the so called "lame duck" driver. So every year there are perhaps 6 - 10 drivers racing at the end of year knowing that when next racing season begins, they will be racing in another car and often, they know exactly what car its going to be.

I just thought about the term "silly season" and that's a term that kind of fits Disneyland as we come to late August and into September and the peak tourist season has come to an end. The correct term is more like "refurbishment season" but that seems kind of dry and that Disneyland actually has a plan when it comes to taking rides down. Yes, I'm joking to an extent because there has be be a master plan for refurbishments since it is a very, very, expensive necessary operation but sometimes it is difficult to see that plan.

The Columbia and Mark Twain Will Always Spend A Few Days In
Refurbishment In The Fall. They're Wood and Wood Needs To Be
I should mention that its not just rides that go down for refurbishment, its also attractions, restaurants and even stores but its rides that that everyone interested and pouring over potential refurbishments when planning a trip. But how much can you trust official refurbishment lists? Disney has the right to take any ride or attraction down any time if they feel the need and they are not shy about executing this right. So now you have official refurbishments and unannounced refurbishments. Let's go on. Now some guy in L.A. says his next store neighbor is a Disneyland park manager and his neighbor says "Noboday knows this yet but Disneyland will be taking down ride X for X many weeks pretty soon." So what does a guy do with that kind of inside information? He posts it on the internet of course in some Disney forum where it catches fire and explodes the message boards. So now you have official refurbishments, unannounced refurbishments, and rumored refurbishments. And now you know why I call it silly season. Here's another element. Captain EO closes next month. Most Disneyland regular visitors think this is for good and begin posting that on the internet. Disneyland hasn't said anything but now we have "speculation" to add to the rumors.

Would You Have A "Bad" Time If RSR Happened To Be Closed During
Your Trip?

Refurbishments have an inherent risk. There is a rumored refurbishment of Radiator Springs Racers the third week of September. That's all well and good but what if you, almost a year ago, planned a Disneyland vacation for your family for the third week of September specifically to see Cars Land and ride Radiator Springs Racers. Talk about disappointment. That's why Disneyland keeps a lot of refurbishments under wraps until the last possible moment because they don't want to let a particular ride (or rides) going down for refurbishment to be a deal breaker in someone planning a trip - keep planning, keep coming, there's plenty more to do.

No Buzz? No Deal

I tend to take Disney's side on this. There is plenty more to do even in a schedule that is filled with refurbishments. For Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I, there are probably only about 4 rides that if they happened to be down on one of our trips, we would really miss them - and most of them aren't the rides that people think. Well, Pirates of the Caribbean would always be missed if it were down but the other rides that would be missed, by me anyway, are the Disneyland Railroad, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Toy Story Mania. Mrs. DLT may throw Indiana Jones in there because that is her favorite ride. Why the train? For tired old people like us, the train is often just used for welcomed transportation. Buzz and Toy Story? Those are the two rides where Mrs. DLT and I get our competitive juices flowing and have a great time on them.

So even with a refurbishment list as long as your arm in September, don't hold back. In the end Disnelyland itself is the starring attraction. There is always plenty to do.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Mighty Thor Goes To Disneyland

With the barest of information in terms of what is involved - Disney Parks Blog posted this week that something Thor related would be coming to Disneyland this fall that will tie into the November release of Marvel Studios - Thor: The Dark World (link). Subsequent reporting has this as a Thor meet and greet area as opposed to what was done with Iron Man 3 and the display of Iron Man suits inside Innoventions. Kids can now line up to meet the god of thunder.
While I was good with the Iron Man suits - I thought they were way cool - having Thor as a meet and greet somehow just doesn't feel right to me. Thor is one of the more complex Marvel comics since they guy seems to work in a couple of different universes and is part of a world that seems to bend time and space. Hardly the thing a 6 year old would understand. Heck, I don't understand it. And anyone who does have a good grasp of the Thor world probably is a bit too old for the meet and greet demigraphic.
Now if some other displays go along with Thor meet and greet, maybe this will work but like I said, Thor in Disneyland, at least with the information at hand, just doesn't "feel" right. Admittedly, I could be very wrong about this and Thor on display in Disneyland could be hugely popular. We'll just have to see. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Disneyland Resort Continues To Get Starubuckified

In their never ending quest to take over the world through caffeinated beverages, Disney announced last week that two new Starbucks locations will open in Downtown Disney this winter. This is in addition to Starbucks that is currently operating in Disney California Adventure withing the Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe and the Starbucks that will open on Main St. Disneyland next month in the old Market House location. 

The new Starbucks in Downtown Disney will be just adjacent to the World of Disney Store (and conveniently located near the entrance/exit of the Grand Californian Hotel). A secondary location will just feature a Starbucks kiosk further on down the road toward the Disneyland Hotel.

When they're all open, there will probably still be a stinkin' 20 minute line.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Favorite Foods Around The Disneyland Resort #1

The San Francisco Shrimp Louie from the Pacific Wharf Cafe - DCA

Now I have to be honest here. I have never had the shrimp louie from the Pacific Wharf Cafe in Disney California Adventure. This is for my sister. Time permitting, she will eat one of these things at least once a day over a several day trip and I've even seen her go for two in a day. She's addicted to the things. And I must say, I'm tempted. I'm actually breaking. Next trip, I'm in, especially considering the meal we had at the neighboring Cocina Cucamonga was absolutely dreadful on our last trip (making Mrs. DisneylandTraveler violently sick and almost having to ralph in some bushes). So yep, my willingness to go for shrimp salad has made a major jump forward. My misgivings to this point has been with "bay" shrimp. I tend to like my shrimp on the large side. To me anyway, the smaller the shrimp get the more fishier they taste. It could be a personal thing. But my sister swears by this salad so my experience is going to be all on her. Besides, if it tastes bad, the Karl Strauss beer wagon is right across the courtyard.

Here is the desciptions of the salad from Allears.net

San Francisco Shrimp Louie - Chilled bay shrimp on a bed of mixed greens with hard-boiled egg, tomato wedges, olives and a zesty Louie dressing. $9.99

Saturday, August 17, 2013

And Now Space Mountain Goes Down For The Holidays.

And MousePlanet is reporting that Space Mountain will be down for refurbishment beginning Nov 4 and staying closed until Jan 17, 2014. So Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad will be closed for the holidays if all this reporting is true. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.....

Holy Crap! Thunder Mountain Railroad Stays Closed Till Next Year

According to MiceChat, Disneyland has officially announced that they will miss their October 31st reopening for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which has been closed since January for a complete refurbishment. The new opening is now said to be February 15, 2014. The reason for the extension is Disneyland's recent self imposed emphasis on safety upgrades for maintenance workers and staying ahead of potential issues with California's Occupational Safety and Health people. These safety upgrades were not part of TMR original refurbishment work. This will push the total length of the refurbishment close to 14 months. Wow.

Mr. Negativity Looks At Disneyland Again

Who's the clown that thought Vinymation was a good idea?
Mrs. DisneylandTraveler called me at work a couple of days this week and talked about making a trip to Disneyland. Given our present situation of taking care of her father who cannot care for himself makes thinking about a trip to Disneyland seem like an impossibility. But she tries to keep my mind in the Disneyland game and one thing about Mrs. DLT, she never stops trying to figure out ways to do anything.

But her phone calls made me smile. A co-worker brought back some park maps from her trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago and I pinned them up on my cubicle wall. After I hung up the phone, I stared at the maps and thought about the sounds of Disneyland - the music playing on Main St, the drumbeats of Adventureland. I thought about taking a nice trip around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain. Yeah, a trip to Disneyland - just what the doctor ordered.

But also while staring at the maps, I looked at the things that kind of rub me the wrong way about the place, the bad ideas, the eyesores, the things that should have been removed years ago. Yes, out of my momentary joy comes Mr. Negativity.

Captain EO: - Disney retired the dated attraction back in the 90's but brought it back to either 1) remember the musical legacy of the late Michael Jackson or 2) sell a few more t-shirts and trinkets based on the talents of a musical artist who died far too early and tragically. The story is that after this summer Captain EO will close again for good to prepare for a Star Wars based 3D movie. If it closed to tomorrow, that would not be soon enough. Incredibly silly and horribly dated - goodbye forever Captain EO.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey: - The dark rides of Disneyland's Fantasyland are a mixed bag for sure but bringing up the rear is the Pinocchio ride. My family has an ongoing discussion of the worst / most boring ride in the park. Pinocchio gets my vote. Who doesn't love Jiminy Cricket or When You Wish Upon A Star? Neither the character or song can save this ride. At lease it is very (very) short.

Innoventions: - Yeah, the display of the Iron Man suits is pretty cool. And I find Honda's ASIMO robot incredibly fascinating but Innoventions, as a whole, is one gigantic waste of space. Everyone knows it including Disney.

ToonTown: - My position through the years is clear. Keep Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, keep Mickey's House, and move the Gadget Go-Coaster over to DCA's It's A Bug's Land. The rest of ToonTown can be bulldozed for something much better. 

Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage: - The subs are cool. The Finding Nemo animation the ride forces you to look at it not. The subs need a real adventure as they were intended - not a cartoon.

Critter Country: - Splash Mountain is a great ride, and Disneyland classic. Heck, I may be one of the few who actually likes the Winnie the Pooh ride. The Hungry Bear Restaurant is in an absolute lovely setting away from the maddening crowds and constant noise of the park. I object to the name Critter Country. Just seems like the area could be called something better.

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant: - The absolute worst place to eat in Disneyland from our experience. A lovely setting for horrible Mexican food. The place used to serve up ribs once upon a time. Those were much, much better.

Aladdin's Oasis: - Nice building facade. Too bad there's nothing behind it any more other than a place to sit down.

The Golden Horseshoe Saloon: - Yo....Disney....This stage, in this building, is to be used for performances of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies and nothing else. They pack the place each and every time. Quit trying to change things.

"Ah...quit your nit-picking, belly aching, and complaining" some of you might say.

All right. I will. There's at lease 150 things to love about Disneyland. I'll go think about those instead.

Friday, August 16, 2013

In Search Of A Rainbow Connection

It's been a very rough week. It's been a rough week at home with stresses seeming to come from all sides at once. It's been a tough week here at work where various problems have had my days limping at less than full speed. I think I'm going to swing by Best Buy on the way home to meet up with some old friends. This past week Disney released the Blu-Ray version of The Muppet Movie - not the Muppet Movie of a few years ago - but the original Muppet movie from 1979, about 35 years ago. These are the Muppets lovingly guided by the hand (and voice) of Jim Henson. These are the Muppets of The Rainbow Connection, a group of characters with more humanity than most people I know.
Sometimes you just need a friend even if they are green, speak incoherent Swedish, or happen to be a narcissistic pig. Sometimes you just long for that wonderful rainbow connection in a world that seems pretty hard.

A Final Comment About Disney's D23 2013 Expo

You know who out front of the Anaheim Convention Center for D23 Expo
A Disney Photo

The 3 day Disney D23 Expo opened one week ago today. For the last week I have been reading reviews and forum comments from those who attended the event (and those who just like to give opinions for the heck of it). This was Expo # 3 and without a doubt it was the best organized, best run Disney D23 Expo to date with the fewest number of complaints except for glaring one.
There was virtually no new news about Disney Parks which Expo attendees seem to demand. If you pay admission to be a Disney insider, it would really help to have some cutting edge Disney Parks updates. The Expo just touched on what was already known.
The event catered to Disney shoppers which seems to be a trend that is growing in the Disney realm and depending on how you look at it, either good thing or something very unsettling. But all in all, everyone seemed to have a pretty good time of it and Disney announced there would be another Expo (in Anaheim again) in 2015. Already planning to avoid it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Disneyland's Court of Angels

It's really one of the most loveliest spots in all of Disneyland - New Orleans's Square Court of Angels. Last September the quiet tranquil courtyard was overrun with wannbe pirates and the buzz of humming cash registers. The beautiful area was transformed into home base for something called "the pirates league" Step right up and your young buccaneer can get decked out to be swashbuckling pirate (at various price points of course). 

Well hopefully this year the Court of Angels gets a reprieve as the Pirates League gets moved over to the festival arena area for this years Halloween festivities. In an increasing busy and crowded Disneyland, hopefully the people that run the parks take a good look at what few oasis of charm are left and leave them be. Sometimes change and progress in the name of profits do not make good business sense.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The D23 Expo Comes to An End....Not With A Bang

D23 Cover Art From Disney

So there is the line in the T.S. Elliot epic poem The Hollow Men which classically ends.

This is the way the world end
Not with a bang but a whimper.

And so after today, the D23 Expo in Anaheim closes once again. The pack up has already begun and its only 10 in the morning. Disney's executives have played their big guns but this year they mostly shot blanks. No earthshaking news came out of the Expo but on the other hand, Disney seemed to be better able to manage the crowds so their didn't seem to be as many cranky people with their laundry list of complaints as in past Expos.

I think the people that attended, wanted to be there, and has a good time. It was all you could ask for. As for me, in past Expos, I kind of wish I could have attended despite my misgivings about D23. This year, I;m glad I stay away. When the highlight of the show is an animatronic hotbox ghost then, your probably not missing a whole lot.

The audio-animatronic hotbox ghost shown at the D23 Expo

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Space Mountain - The Ride Where There Is No Middle Ground

There's a certain demographic of Disneyland park guests who tell you that Space Mountain is the best ride in Disneyland. These are people who are probably 13 -35 and have put the venerable mountain ahead of Indiana Jones Adventure, often regarded as their second favorite ride.

And then there is a certain segment of park guests who would not get on Space Mountain if they were getting poked by a cattle prod. Space Mountain = No Way Man. I think one of the reasons Mrs. DisneylandTrveler and I have yet to eat at Red Rockets Pizza Port is the entrance to the dining facility takes you right by the Space Mountain entrance, at which point Mrs. DLT will be bend over in convulsions and come up with the sever case of the heebee-jeebees. "It messes with my head" will be a standard excuse for not going on. I've heard this for close to 15 years. No sense in even asking anymore about the possibility of a ride on Space Mountain.

But she's not alone. Of all my fellow Disneyland Travelers at work, they are divided about 50 - 50 in whether they ride space mountain or won't go near the place. There is no middle ground with the ride. You love it or hate it. There is never a "eh....it's just alright comment" about the ride.

And that's alright too because it leads to an aura of mystery about the ride. Always fun to hang around the exit corridor and hear the "never again" comments with the guests pouring off the ride. So what's the big deal? Space Mountain is not especially large or especially fast. As for as coaster types, I believe it is labeled as a wild mouse ride. But the thing about Space Mountain is that for a few carefully placed scenes of light, the coaster is almost completely ridden in the dark. Now a space mountain veteran who knows every twist and every turn can have a lot of fun flinging their way through the dark, but a first time ride may find this quite unsettling to downright frightening.

Count me as a Space Mountain fan. On a hot day, its rather refreshing to have that cool air blowing against your face (which increases the illusion of speed.). My only objection is I always get to ride early before the crowds show up if I ride by myself. But like Indiana Jones - that's really is a long, lonesome walk going by yourself. It's well worth the walk as Space Mountain truly is one of Disneyland's great attractions.

The altered Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Starts in Mid September through Halloween.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Deck The Halls....It's Already August

Cars Land - Radiator Springs decorated for Christmas in 2012
A Disney Parks Blog Photo

In a matter of weeks, I'm sure you will begin to see Christmas decorations starting to appear at your local Wal-Mart store. That's the way it works now days. It's never too early to get you to start thinking about spending money for occasions that are still months away.
Certainly, this isn't a novel concept to Disney either as earlier this week, Disney Parks Blog (link) posted its first formal announcement about the Christmas Holiday Season at the Disneyland Resort. Christmas at Disneyland will run from November 12 - January 6, ample opportunity for many people to enjoy what Disneyland can bring to one's celebration of the holidays, The good news in the post from Disney is there is no word about taking some of the traditional Christmas events (Christmas Fantasy Parade, Christmas Fireworks, etc.) and wrap them into a special separate admission event. It looks like Christmas at Disneyland as usual and that's a good things because Disney does the Christmas season right if you stay away from the cash registers. The biggest change is the addition of the World of Color Winter Dreams show (and the removal of the multiple nights of the Candlelight Processional which apparently was just to much of an obstacle that required a lot of overhead). The Candlelight Processional is back as a two night event rumored to be December 7 and 8, the way Walt always intended it.
Also missing from Disney's announcement it the return of reindeer roundup which appears to be now heading for a second year without the beautiful creatures (again, the apparent costs to transport the animals to Disneyland, keep them cared of and fed, and the demand for upgraded pens has made the proposition a little more expensive than what Disney now is prepared to pay for). But still, if I had a personal wish for the rest of 2013, it would be to walk through Disneyland's gates on November 17 and getting my holiday season off to a great start.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Disney Profits Saddled By The Lone Ranger

So the money juggernaut that is the Walt Disney Company runs merrily along. Theme park attendance - up, hotel occupancy - up, park spending - up, cable media revenue - up (ESPN remains the single most profitable entity of The Walt Disney Company - by far). Yep, it should have been great news as Disney reported their quarterly profits yesterday.
And then came the Studios Division.
And then came the Lone Ranger.
When all is said and done, Disney will write down a $160 - $190 million dollar loss on The Lone Ranger just missing the epic $200 million dollar record loss of 2012's John Carter bomb. Combine that. with all the success of Iron Man 3, that movie still fell pretty well behind the previous year's box office champ -  The Avengers. The good news on the movie front is Pixar's Monsters University beat out Brave from the previous year. Overall, Disney Studios remains on a high risk, high reward or huge failure tight rope. Disney has given no indication that they will alter this direction because a single successful movie can lead to years of profitability in the realm of Disney through park promotion and merchandising.
Despite seeing all that Lone Ranger money go down the drain, don't shed any tears. Making money is what Disney does best and they do it from more angles than you can count.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hey Disney....What About The Parks?

The D23 Expo with its previous two runs in Anaheim (2009 and 2011) has caught a lot of flack. Yep, there have been problems with crowd control, misjudging venue sizes, panel and event scheduling issues, and just generally Disney not having the real experience necessary to keep a large convention flowing instead of bottle necking and breaking down into chaos.

My favorite D23 Expo fiasco story occurred in 2009, the Expo's first year. In its inaugural year, the Expo was a 4 day event (instead of the current 3 day event) that started on Thursday with the keynote speech by Disney CEO Bob Iger. Well, turns out that on a Thursday, the Expo attendance was going to turn out to be pretty meager much to Disney's disappointment and there would be an abundance of empty seats for Iger's speech. Now that just wouldn't look good for those reporting on the event so quick acting Disney went over to Disneyland, grabbed every available on the clock cast member, then bussed them over to the convention center to basically fill empty seats and pad attendance. I think they even got a free lunch out of the deal. Yep, Iger's keynote speech was pretty full after all but many of those in the audience worked for him.

Ah yes, attendance, there is also the story from 2009 that with numbers of people actually paying full price or discounted D23 members price falling fall short of expectations, stacks of admission tickets were given to supervisors and managers at Disney's corporate offices that were to be sold to Disney employees at a major discount (down to about $5.00). Well, even at $5.00, there were still tickets sitting on managers and supervisors desks to the point where they eventually just told their employees to help themselves to tickets in some cases. Ouch!

But there are aspects of the D23 Expo that are immensely popular with Disney fans. Certainly the presenting of the latest group of Disney Legends, special evening musical performances from Disney notables, and celebrity gawking at the Disney Studios presentation rank right up there with popular Expo events. But probably the post popular is the presentation by Disney Parks and Resorts on what's coming in the future for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts (not to mention world wide Disney parks and the cruise line). This is what Disney fans die to hear. This is what focuses their rabid Disney vision toward the future. Remember 2009 and the announcement of Star Tours 2.0, Cars Land, and the Magic Kingdom expansion? Big news.....really big news.

But the rumors are that Disney is not going to have any major announcements about their U.S. based theme parks this year. Oh, there may be some minor announcements about increasing a Star Wars presence in the parks and maybe something will finally be said officially about that Avatar Land in WDW that no one seems to be really thrilled about. Major announcements is a tricky proposition. People tend to take them literally and in order to go through the motions of presenting a major announcement with concepts and artwork, Disney actually has to commit the hundreds of million dollars it now takes to build major attractions. Apparently they do have a lot of ideas, but aren't to the point where they are actually going to commit the money to build them. When Disney revamped Disney California Adventure at enormous expense the apparent position was to rest on getting return on their investment back on that before announcing more brand new building projects.

If that really is the case, I think you are going to hear more disappointment from Disney fans about this years D23 Expo. But if I'm honest with myself, in a perfect world, I wouldn't mind being at the Expo and check it all out. I'd be the one with a cynical look on his face.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Disney, D23, and Me

Image from insidethemagic.com
Disney fans have choices to make. There is no shortage of ways to spend your money on anything / everything Disney. And how you choose to spend your money earmarked, so to speak, for Disney really comes down to each fans business, tastes, and preferences. To criticize how someone else spends money on Disney neglects what you may have stuffed in your own closet.

Back in 2009 I guess, Disney announced it was going to create a special insiders fan club named D23 – D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year Walt made it to Hollywood to begin his remarkable story. Many people rejoiced  thinking that at last there was something for them to put them on the inside track for special access to their own enhanced Disney experiences. But many others, like me, were immediately cynical about the concept.

Disney is a multi-billion dollar corporation run by college type executives that serves its shareholders by giving them return on their investment. Disney does nothing for its fans without an ulterior motive that affects bottom line profits. So once you put D23 in that perspective, one can see what the D23 fan club truly is – another Disney revenue stream, another way for Disney to separate money from its legions of fans.

So for the first year, Disney charged $75 a person per year to be a D23 member (no family plans here). For that $75 you did get a beautifully published quarterly magazine, some charter member trinkets, and the opportunity to purchase exclusive D23 merchandise and gain access to exclusive D23 events that were to be held around the country. And of course there would be a D23 Expo were members could get a discount off the steep admission price and enter a convention that would give them ample opportunity to spend even more money. D23 is all about money.

But after the initial excitement, cracks began to appear in the D23 model. $75 a person, per year? Why would four people in the same family all need a magazine? D23 events?  Unless you lived within a 100 miles of Disney headquarters in Burbank, events were few and far between across the rest of the country. Orlando held some D23 events but compared what the Disney Studios could offer; WDW most definitely came up short on the D23 side. I remember one Disney World fan website get so excited about the events that were coming Florida and how the D23 Expo would be held in Orlando every other year. Boy did that guy miss the boat. Disney is a Southern California based company. That’s where the good stuff is. That’s where the access to major Disney stars and celebrities exists. That’s where the key people that make the big decisions that run the company live and work.

Then there is the numbers question. The number of Disney fans in not unlimited. Once everyone who wanted to become a D23 member became one, there was no room to grow. The numbers stagnated then began to reduce as people jumped off realizing that D23 brought them little. So Disney added a second tier of pricing at about half off the $75 but eliminating the magazine (which really is pretty nice). But Disney’s ultimate goal, even at half off, remained the same. People with D23 membership will still spend money on D23 merchandise and events.

So now here we are a after little over 4 years D23 first started at staring at the next D23 Expo that begins this Friday. These days, there is so little excitement about D23 that Disney took the next step with their fan club and added a “free” membership to D23 hoping that membership would trigger into bringing crowds to the Expo at a discounted members price. But as we a taught from childhood, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Once in D23, Disney’s hope is you continue to buy stuff and support the program. For people who enjoy what D23 offers - go right ahead. I’m a Disney fan. Just don’t need to spend any more money than I already do.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disney August - The Complaint Dept Is Now Open

Well, a new month has rolled around and we are officially in the midst of the dog days of summer. I should forewarn regular readers that this month may bring more than a few blog posts of the more critical type pointed at Disney with the big target being D23 and the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center starting in a little over a week from now.
But let's start with Disney's Planes which opens August 9. I saw an extended Planes preview before the showing of Comcast Universal's great Despicable Me 2 and the preview only confirmed my preconceived impressions of the movie - namely - it is an easy money grab for Disney devoid of any sort of typical Disney (or Pixar) quality whatsoever. Planes was intended to be a direct to DVD video made by a Disney company offshore (Disney Toon Studios). Don't be fooled. Planes is not made by Pixar, despite the resemblance to Cars, or Walt Disney Animation Studios. Planes was probably produced at a quarter of the cost of a typical Pixar movie and from what I saw on the big screen, the lack of quality showed in a big way. (And the preview was just "plain" boring)
But I'm not naive enough to think that Planes cannot be a major hit for Disney after the disastrous failure of the Lone Ranger movie. Planes has hit movie written all over it mostly because it looks like an extension of the massive popularity of Cars within the Disney realm. Hopefully people see through this and wonder where the quality went but I wouldn't count on it. Just count me as one person who wants no port of Planes just on a matter of principal. Disney is better than this.