Disneyland Traveler Blog Sites

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Got My Annual Halloween Rock - Now On To The Disney Christmas Season

Happy Halloween from the Disneyland Traveler and Mrs. Disneyland Traveler.  Now let us move on to what is far more important on the Disneyland Calendar of Events - the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Marvel Takes Over Innoventions Real Estate

Does this guy really look like the movie Thor?
A Disney Parks Blog photo

Last week Disney Parks Blog posted a couple of preliminary photos of the new Thor: Treasures of Asgard exhibit that will open in Tomrrowland's Innoventions building beginning November 1 ahead of the films general release on November 8 (link here). The exhibit shows off a few of the actual movie props then you cross over to an actual Thor meet and greet area. Now the Thor we see in the above picture doesn't look like Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor in the movie - but then again, who does? And while we are at it - can we get a Natalie Portman? But I digress....

The thought was that when Thor moved in, the current Iron Man exhibit would move out. Apparently this isn't the plan. Thor movies in, Iron Man stays, and I'm suspecting the when the new Captain America movie opens next year, a spot will be found in Innoventions for him as well. Exhibits are far cheaper than any kind of ride or attraction and what Disney has found is that the Marvel exhibits provide Innoventions something that the old building hasn't had in years - foot traffic. People are actually going inside.

I'm sure that Disney will get around to doing something with the building eventually but for now, showing off Marvel stuff seems to work out just fine.

Thor: The Dark World movie props
A Disney Parks Blog photo

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Disney and the Business of Producing Nothing

I was taken aback last week when I heard a financial report on the radio going to work that Google stock prices had crossed the $1000 a share barrier. Cyber companies amaze me. Here's a company that produces very little in the way of physical products - mainly tablets which are imported. You can't drive a Google; you can't eat it; you can't put it on to keep you warm. The majority of Google lives at your fingertips. How do they make so much money and become so valuable? Well the bulk of it comes from ad revenue. Companies and people pay plenty to part of the Google universe. Their other revenue stream comes from licensing primarily from the android operating system which Google owns.

But this is a Disney site. Google is certainly not the only company which derives most of their income from the non-physical. The Walt Disney Company started by producing animated cartoon shorts then evolved into producing feature length movies. It now not only owns several movie divisions but it also owns parks, hotels, resorts, and cruise ships. Disney produces consumer products by the boat load and makes video games (still a consistently money losing part of the company). These are all tangible products. But none of them equal what is the Walt Disney Company's single largest source of income. And we are right back to the way Google does it - ad revenue.

Disney's major source of income doesn't come from our paying gobs of money to get into their theme parks or stay in their hotels. Disney gets most of its money from selling ad revenue on ESPN and the assorted Disney Channels (ABC - not so much because of the high operating cost of network TV). Not only that, but everyone in America who foots the bill for a cable or satellite package that has ESPN and/or Disney Channels, is paying Disney a monthly subscription fee whether you watch the channels or not. I know plenty of people who are not sports fans but since their channel package contains ESPN, part of their monthly payment goes right into Disney's bank account. All this comes under a division called Disney Media Networks - the place where money is made. Invisible income - sweet.

One of the biggest fears in the world of cable/satellite TV is if Congress gets serious and forces providers to not bundle TV packages and allow people in their homes (and businesses) to select the individual channels they want and not have to pay for 120 channels - 80 of which they may never watch. Certainly the technology is there to do this but the financial impact to many large companies would be huge. The politics of economics wins out on this one.

So Disney fans, even though we live in a world of Mickey and Walt, Buzz and Woody, Darth Vader and Hans Solo, Disney is raking in the real big bucks on the NFL and college football on ESPN and the hundreds of hours of programming that support it with advertisers paying plenty to be part of it. Remember that the next time you walk down Main Street.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Small World Transformation

And so it is that time of year, that time of year in late October into early November when Mary Blair's charming it's a small world transforms from artful playfulness to Christmas magnificence. Few images in Disneyland are as powerful as it's a small world with the facade is lit up in all its Christmas color. And the new ability to project whimsical images off the facade at timed intervals only enhance the experience. It is an awe inspiring site.

In my years of going to Disneyland, I have learned a few valuable lessons. One is - I can't compete. At one time Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I used to decorate and decorate and add lights and add more lights to the house during Christmas. But if you take a trip to Disneyland during Christmas, you will soon learn what decorating and lighting for the holidays is all about. Our house is small potatoes. So we decided gradually over the years to pull back on our decorations here at home and make our Christmases smaller and more intimate. We'll leave the big time decorating to the professionals and rather than spending money on gobs of Christmas lights and ornaments, save a little money and maybe apply it to a trip to Disneyland for the holidays. I've always said that as long is you are in the right frame of mind, a trip to Disneyland during the holidays only enhances your Christmas season. A trip to Disneyland is the best present you can give or get. No scrooges allowed.

And speaking of it's a small world, even with the ride now closed till November 7, Disney created a bit of controversy last week by selling a new T-Shirt. "I CONQUERED it's a small world" the shirt proudly proclaims. When I first saw it, I kind of chuckled to myself. Anyone who is familiar with the ride knows there is nothing to conquer - it's more a test of endurance because of the endless looping of a classic song on a 14 minute boat ride. But some in the Disney community have taken offense that Disney would mock a ride that was built by Walt Disney himself for the 1964 World's Fair (in New York City). Here's the deal. Disney knows the jokes made about the attraction as it has stood the test of time. If they can make a few bucks off some T-Shirts, then better Disney pocket the money instead of non-licensed T-Shirts that are put up for sale. With Disney, there are very few sacred cows when it comes to making a buck.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Is There Anything I Miss About The Old Disney California Adventure?

Home Base for the Food and Wine Festival.
Rumored to become Monsters Inc. city of Montropolis
So while I'm trying to contain myself and keep myself in check from thinking about our December trip to Disneyland, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I have been quietly asking the question of what are the 'must-do' things we must put on our agenda. And thinking of Disney California Adventure and how much there is to do there now and some fine places to eat, I thought to myself ":is there anything I miss about the old California Adventure?"

The short answer is a resounding No. Everything Disney has done to the place for the last 10 years or so has been an improvement beginning with the Tower of Terror construction. Cars Land was just the crowning achievement. But two removals come to mind and yeah, I sort of miss them. The first is the removal of the Disney Electrical Parade (packed up and sent to Florida). True, the parade was a bit hokey and maybe the music relentlessly buzzing in your brain could cause brain damage, but there was something about it. Maybe it was the tradition, maybe it was than on that special night, when the mood was right, it really was a beautiful site.

The second thing I miss about the old days was the shutting down of the DCA Food and Wine Festival held for a couple of years in late spring. Imagine, a Disney Park event really meant for adults - not the street party non-sense of Glowfest, ElecTRONica, or Mad T Pary, but a sophisticated festival built around the enjoyment of fine wine and beers along with some excellent finger foods to enjoy along the way. Even my sister, a non-drinker, thoroughly enjoyed the festival with cooking demonstrations by top chefs and the whole grown up spin on the park experience. The Food and Wine Festival was a great addition to DCA.

The Food and Wine Festival was stopped due to the massive construction occurring in DCA especially with Buena Vista St. Others believed that Disney used the construction as an excuse to bring an end to the event. The rumor mill had the story that while there was some opportunity to produce revenue from the Food and Wine Festival in California, it just didn't produce enough revenue to make it worth while and it gets back to an old story. The Food and Wine Festival is an enormous success at EPCOT in Walt Disney World in Florida. People travel from all parts of the country to attend the festival, spent money in the resorts, and dropped additional money into special Food and Wine Festival events (often hundreds of dollars to enter certain events). It's a money making machine.

The Disneyland Resort is a different animal. Most of the attendees of the special admission events featuring guest chefs and wine experts were the usual Disney local annual passholders, the kind who drop into the park, attended the event of there choosing, then went home. Disney just wasn't able to pull people into the Food and Wine Festival high admission events who came from great distances and filled the hotels with extra tourists dollars.

At the time it was announced the Food and Wine Festival would not be held due to construction reason, Disney insinuated that the event would return. That's the last that was heard of it. But I know a couple of people who would love to see it return. Imagine: replace Mad T Party with a Food and Wine Festival - replace an $11 cocktail that glows in the dark with a sophisticated glass of a nice wine or unique micro-brew. There is a place for adult events in Disneyland.

Even the Food and Wine Merchandise was for adults.

Some were for beer, some were for wine, but DCA was littered with sampling opportunites

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Christmastime Trip To Disneyland? Could It Actually Happen?

Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I haven't been out for awhile. Taking care of her elderly father, who for both mental and physical reasons, is no longer able care for himself in many areas has proved to be a challenge. It is a 24x7 job and a difficult one at that. Some brightness occurred yesterday when Mrs. DisneylandTraveler's son (who is 24) said he could care for his grandfather (along with the dog and the cat) for a week or so giving us a break and a chance to get away.

Immediately we began looking at a trip to Disneyland. Since most of holiday vacation time here at work has been booked by others, I had to scrounge for some dates and call in a few favors from co-workers to get the necessary time off. And I got it - second week in December. Right after that, Mrs. DLT booked a room at our favorite non-Disney place to stay - the Candy Cane Inn. Today Mrs. DLT is looking at rental cars since our vehicles are still of the large gas guzzling variety and not the best choices to negotiate L.A. traffic (for those who have never experienced it, the traffic mess in Southern California is far worse than what they make fun of on TV). Mrs. DLT called me a little while ago asking if there is anything else she can do trip planning wise? The excitement builds.

Now, being who I am, I know 50 things can come up between now and the second week of December. 50 more things can go wrong preventing the trip. I guess the trick now is to stay positive which isn't always easy for me. Given the situation in our lives at the present time and what we are committed to going into the future, I'm willing to concede that each trip to Disneyland could be the last. It was beginning to look like the trip we made last April was the last even though we have annual passes until next April.

For now and looking ahead - could there be anything better than a Christmastime trip to Disneyland?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where To Place A Restaurant In Disneyland and DCA

Beer and Pretzels from DCA's Bayside Brews
A Disney Parks Blog Photo
I must say I found it rather amusing that last Friday, Disney posted in their Parks Blog (link) an announcement that had the Limited Time Magic promotion celebrating an Ocktober Fest time over at DCA's Bayside Brews. The picture shown above of the beer and pretzels came from the blog posting. What does Bayside Brews usually provide to guests when it isn't October? Well, they serve beer and pretzels. I guess when you serve up special German brews and add Bavarian mustard to the pretzels and offer a bratwurst, you can call it a Limited Time Magic event. 

But maybe there is something else. It isn't written about a lot but every once in awhile out in the Disney blog world you hear that DCA's newest dining facilities, Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta & The Paradise Garden Grill, on the far side of Paradise Paradise don't pull in the people that Disney had hoped even though the food served up at these places is really pretty decent. Meanwhile the neighboring Bayside Brews seems to have a line that is much shorter than the Karl Strauss beer truck located in the more centrally located Pacific Wharf dining area (often 10 or 15 people deep).

Bayside Brews - usually never a long wait

Here is the reason lack of diners summed up in a simple question. "You mean we have to way over there to get something to eat?" Very few people just pass by the Paradise Pier dining establishments. Being in the far corner of the park you have to be over there for a reason, If the mostly amusement park rides of Paradise Pier do not appeal to you, then you have no reason to be in that area,

Over at Disneyland, the same can be said for the Hungry Bear Restaurant. Now Hungry Bear can pack them in at lunch time due to the close proximity of the popular Splash Mountain but much of the day, the place can be pretty quiet (and a very nice place to take a break). On really slow days in the winter months, the place may not even open at all. Compare that with a place like the Tomorrowland Terrace which serves up some of the worst food in the park but because of its centralized location, usually has people searching for tables. Being off the beaten path is also why a place like Toon Town probably doesn't have a real dining facility at all (hot dogs and slices of really bad pizza don't count).

If you want a dining facility to be really popular try keep it close proximity to foot traffic where people just pass by getting from one place to the next. It doesn't hurt to serve good food although this doesn't appear to be a requirement in all cases.

Entrance to the Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta & Paradise Garden Grill

Saturday, October 12, 2013

AVATAR-Land Moves Forward as More Rumors Fly

Tom Staggs - Chairman - Disney Parks and Resorts
A Disney Photo
Tom Staggs has been a busy guy this week announcing things. Making official announcements is easy after Disney official fiscal dollars are actually committed to build projects. As noted in a previous post - a big time Iron Man attraction is slated to go into Hong Kong Disneyland. This morning Tom posted in Disney Parks Blog (link) that plans to build the much discussed and debated AVATAR based land are going forward in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park (much to the chagrin of many Disney Parks fans).

Disney has posted some artwork for the AVATAR project where the planet of Pandora is recreated. (Please note that the Disneyland Traveler did not care for the movie AVATAR - good to look at but thought it to be long boring and silly).

Disney artwork for what appears to be an AVATAR boat ride
Disney concept art for AVATAR Land

 Disney concept art for AVATAR Land

AVATAR director James Cameron - Tom Staggs - and project Imagineer Joe Rhode
at work bringing to life AVATAR - Land

So AVATAR in a Disineyland is going to become a reality. Thank god it's going to be in Florida. You can have it (though that boat ride looks cool). So you want another Florida rumor? Tom Corless of WDW News Today website (link) is reporting that Disney and Warner Bros. are in negotiations to bring Lord of the Rings (and Hobbit) based attractions to Disney Parks. Hopefully this is another Florida based idea - while attendance at Disney's Magic Kingdom and EPCOT parks remain strong - Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Animal Kingdom continue to lose ground to that snot nosed Harry Potter kid over at Universal and Disney has some ground to make up. It should be noted that Mrs. DisneylandTraveler IS a big fan of LOTR and plays the online game at an expert level).

Whatever happened to those cute little Disney characters?

Anyway - as a California person - I'll take Marvel and Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Disney can put these lands of mysticism somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Iron Man Flies East

Iron Man Experience - Disney Artwork

While Disneyland's Tomorrowland continues to flounder with good rides surrounded by theming that is all over the map and the massive Innoventions building is by far the largest waster of space in the park, Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs announced plans the plans for building the first Iron Man attraction in a Disney Park. The only problem is you have to go to Hong Kong so see it. Thanks Tom.....  Check out Tom's comments in Disney Parks Blog

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Who Framed Roger Rabbit Influence

Last weekend, I think it was late on a Saturday or Sunday night, I decided to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit that I had stored up on the DVR. There has been a bit of uptick in the interest of the movie now that it hit its 25th Anniversary and over the years I have probably seen the Robert Zemeckis film probably 6 - 8 times, The live action film that prominently features multiple cartoon characters is nothing short of genius in creative film making. This was Zemeckis at his best as his Forrest Gump has not seemed to have held over time the way Roger Rabbit (and Back to the Future) have.

The film was enormously important for Disney. Disney animation in the late 80's had gone down the tubes and few people seemed to care about the weak animated efforts Disney put out during that time. The glory days of Disney Animation were long gone. But Disney thought they had something with Roger Rabbit and they proved to be right with the help of producer Steven Spielberg who was brought into the project. Because of some internal conflicts, much of the animation was done in England and the film went way, way over budget. But once the film was released, it was gold and a huge critical and commercial hit..

With Roy Disney leading the way and new success infused into Disney Animation, Roger Rabbit paved the way for the next Disney renaissance in animated films. The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast were all made because of the success of Roger Rabbit and the return of great Disney animation.

Now it is true, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is not pure Disney as many people know it. It was a murder mystery about an alcoholic detective that featured a swearing cigar smoking baby and female animated lead that had no issue in exposing her long curvy lines. I won't post them here but there are animated scenes in Roger Rabbit that would be considered a very hard R rated if you looked at the frozen stills. In the movie, the provocative scenes of Jessica Rabbit go by so quickly in animation that questionable scenes are invisible to the naked eye. You can see them if you dig into Google a bit. Since Roger Rabbit wasn't even close to G rating, it was released through a Disney's Touchstone Pictures (and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment).

We all now about ToonTown in Disneyland and how it came to be after the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the early 90's. As colorful and whimsical ToonTown looks and really captures the visual aspect of the film, I'm one of those guys who rather see the space be put to better use. With the exception of the great Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin ride, the rest of ToonTown is more style over substance. There's just not that much there.

What surprised me the most after watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit is how much Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land now reflect scenes from that movie. Some or the areas in the Disney California Adventure entrance are almost spot on with the movie which isn't really mentioned in Disney Blogs and websites very often. So it's not just ToonTown the carries the Roger Rabbit influence. Watch the movie and take a walk from the DCA entrance to the Tower of Terror. You will see the L.A. street scenes of the 30's that pop right out of the movie. Again, Disney's attention to detail is nothing short of amazing.

As I was watching the movie last weekend my father-in-law got up out of bed and came into the living room to watch the movie with me.  After about 5 minutes of viewing Roger Rabbit he blurted out "What the hell is this garbage...." It must be a generational thing. Despite his objecting, I kept on watching and we eventually got to a shirtless Bob Hoskins. "My god, that's the hairiest man I ever saw." He might be right about that.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"But I Don't Want To Be A Pirate...."

The "Pirate Ship" Columbia
A MiceChat Dateline Disneyland Photo
There's a classic episode of Seinfeld where Jerry mistakenly agrees to wear a puffy pirate styled shirt on the Today Show because the person who asked him to wear the shirt spoke so softly that he couldn't hear what he was agreeing to do. When he found out that he really did agree to wear the puffy shirt on network TV has his classic response in a child like like voice was "...but I don't want to be a pirate....". No, not every boy wants to be a pirate.... thank goodness,

At the end of September, Disneyland had a Limited Time Magic promotion for Pirates week. At a cost, Disneyland would deck your kids out as swashbuckling buccaneers and spend a day leading the pirate life. Disney has made a lot of money on this pirate theme from the great Pirates of the Caribbean ride, to the subsequent blockbuster movies, to the pirate merchandise, to the special dress your kids up as a pirate customers set-ups that have popped up in different areas of the park.

Kids love to pretend. But even for Disney, a little lesson should be learned from history. The classic pirates of the 15th and 16th centuries were pretty much murderers, robbers, plunderers, rapists, and alcoholics. Most died very young primarily at the hand of another or ravaged by disease. It was a hard life, a dangerous life. Maybe someday, a real pirate movie will be made, a movie not based on tales of the high sea and romanticized fantasy but grim depressing story of the lowest scum of the earth who would kill someone else at the drop of a hat.

But I don't want to be a pirate.

Jerry Seinfeld and his puffy pirate shirt.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Power Of Mickey (On Skates)

So it's time for the WNBA Championship Finals (Women's Professional Basketball).  The Minnesota Lynx play the Atlanta Dream for the title. Congratulations Atlanta on getting into the Finals....now get out. The Dream play their home games at Phillips Arena in downtown Atlanta. Getting into a basketball finals is kind of an iffy proposition and certainly the owners of the arena can't hold dates open just in case a team advances into a post-season tournament which may or may not happen. When an arena or stadium have a a chance at a solid booking, they'll take the sure thing every time. Especially when Mickey is the star of the show.
Disney on Ice occupies the Phillips Arena on two of the dates the Atlanta Dream has home games for the Finals. Mickey gets the arena and a capacity of 18000 cheering Disney fans. The Atlanta Dream hits the road and gets to play at a much smaller arena in a suburb about 30 minutes north of Atlanta (which is kind of OK since the market for women's professional basketball is pretty small and not a whole lot of people show up to games).
It should noted that Disney on Ice is not really a Disney thing at all. Disney on Ice is produced by Feld Entertainment, the same people who own Ringling Bros. Circus and various monster truck events.. Disney just  licences the characters to Feld for which they are paid quite well I would assume. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Darth Vader - The New Pitch Man For Disney Parks

Show Your Disney Side - the new Disney Parks Promotional Campaign

"Let The Memories Begin" - no, get that out of here. "Limited Time Magic" - the quicker we can get rid of that half baked idea the better. Disney needed to turn to a new source to pitch Disney Parks in a their upcoming promotional ad campaign with corresponding theme park activities. New source? I mean "force". There's a new pitch man in town. The ultimate salesman. When Disney CEO Bob Iger wrote out a check to George Lucas several months back to purchase Lucasfilm, Iger new what he had. Star Wars is one of the most valuable and profitable franchises in the entertainment business and standing in front dressed in Black is Darth Vader, now probably Disney's most valuable character. Mickey.... sorry. Woody and Buzz...sorry, again, there's a new sheriff in these parts. Vader may be the only character that has the ability to pull people into the parks in mass quantities just to get a glimpse. 

Disney knows this so the new Disney pitch man for their newest promotional park campaign begins with the big guy himself. This may not be classic "Disney" but Vader has something bigger. It's called the force. Here is Disney Parks first promotional video.