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Thursday July 2, 2015
ABC’s ‘The Chew’ Will Broadcast from 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; Also Featured in Two First-Ever Future World Marketplaces
‘Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky’ Fireworks Live Stream Set For July 4

ABC’s ‘The Chew’ Will Broadcast from 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; Also Featured in Two First-Ever Future World Marketplaces

DisneyParks Blog - We all have a favorite host from ABC’s “The Chew” – superstars Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Daphne Oz each have a special way of sharing their culinary know-how on the Emmy-Award-winning lifestyle series. And for the first time in the show’s history, these dynamic hosts are leaving the Manhattan studio to tape shows October 7, 8, and 9 from the 20th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. The five festival episodes will air October 12-16.

 

Shows will be taped before a live audience (visit thechew.com for information on how to obtain tickets), and we’re sure the hosts will be all over Walt Disney World Resort discovering remarkable dining finds, getting a taste of innovative, fun and healthful eats – the best the vacation kingdom has to offer.

 CLINTON KELLY, DAPHNE OZ, MARIO BATALI, MICHAEL SYMON, CARLA HALL

Along with the taping of the show, “The Chew” will be featured in two marketplaces throughout the festival’s 53-day celebration from September 25-November 16, helping celebrate 20 delicious years. For the first time in the festival’s history, marketplaces will expand into Future World in the new Next Eats festival area with three delicious dishes from “The Chew” in their Sustainable Chew Marketplace: Savory Pork Spareribs with Cheesy Mascarpone Grits; Ricotta & Zucchini Ravioli with Tomato Sauce, and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Figs and Pistachio Brittle. (Herbs and veggies from The Land pavilion will flavor the marketplace dishes when harvested.) The eco-home-inspired marketplace will offer a chance for guests to learn more about how food is grown and the importance of sustainability.

Also in Next Eats, Disney chefs are collaborating with “The Chew” for the Chew Lab, a cutting-edge marketplace inspired by food-science labs and the hottest culinary tech trends.

“The Chew” airs on ABC Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. EST, noon CST. For updates on the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, visit epcotfoodfestival.com throughout the summer.

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‘Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky’ Fireworks Live Stream Set For July 4

DisneyParks Blog - So you’re not able to be at Walt Disney World Resort for the Fourth of July but you want to celebrate the holiday in Disney style? Well, the Disney Parks Blog has you covered. We are excited to announce that the Magic Kingdom Park July 4th fireworks show will stream ‘live’ at 9 p.m. EDT right here on the Disney Parks Blog.

 JULY 4TH CELEBRATED AT WALT DISNEY WORLD IN FLORIDA

Join us as “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert In The Sky” paints the sky red, white and blue and fills the air with patriotic music. This special show features perimeter fireworks launched from around Magic Kingdom Park and an island in Seven Seas Lagoon.

To make sure you have the best view in the house we are providing two live cameras for you to choose from. One camera in front of Cinderella Castle and the other near Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to take in the entire perimeter spectacular. Guests viewing from their desktop will be able to switch between the two cameras during the show. Those ‘on the go’ and joining us on mobile devices, will be able to take in the live view from the castle location.

The live feed starts at 8:50 p.m. on the Disney Parks Blog, with the fireworks show beginning at 9 p.m.

We are excited to offer this unique opportunity and hope you join us as we celebrate this great nation Disney style.

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Wednesday July 1, 2015
Final Phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Opens Today
This is How Disney Knows You Won't Get Dismembered On A Rollercoaster

Final Phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Opens Today

DisneyParks Blog - The final phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, the newest Disney Vacation Club property at the Walt Disney World Resort opened today, marking the completion of all 360 Deluxe Villas at the resort.

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I recently had the opportunity to stay in one of the resort’s Deluxe Studios and it was truly a fantastic experience. During my stay, I zipped over to Epcot via the monorail and made it back in time to watch the Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from the resort. I strolled along the resort’s beach area and tested out room service (late-night pizza was fantastic, but not as yummy as eating Tonga Toast in bed the next morning). At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort I took my son on his first pontoon boat ride on Seven Seas Lagoon, spoiled his lunch by getting him a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai and sampled drinks on the outdoor patio of the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.

In addition to the resort’s unbeatable location and fun amenities, the features within our Villa make this my favorite Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Studio to date. We especially enjoyed the spacious split bath design, the hidden pull-down bunk-size bed and the kitchenette (the fridge would have been perfect for our leftover take-out pizza, had we not polished the whole thing off right away).

Want to see more? Take a tour of this unique accommodation in this video.

 

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This is How Disney Knows You Won't Get Dismembered On A Rollercoaster

Jalopnik - If you’ve ever been on Space Mountain at Disney, you just know deep down that if you stuck your arm out, your limbs would get chopped off by one of those rafters flying by. Except it doesn’t. No one’s limbs ever get chopped off. This weird looking device is how Disney makes sure it doesn’t happen.

 

Well, hopefully doesn’t happen.

In a post about the banning of selfie sticks on reddit’s r/offbeat, a user claiming to be a Disney employee under the nom-de-plume EnglishMobster noted that this is the only real way companies have to be sure that you and your unusually long-necked family won’t get your heads forcibly separated:

We have a thing called the “Envelope of Protection.” Basically, all attractions made since 1965 are designed in such a way that the human body cannot reach out and touch anything — here’s a vehicle they use to test this (that’s from Walt Disney World in Florida, but California uses the same concepts). This means that when a rollercoaster is going 45 MPH, you can have your hands out and you won’t get hit (it’s not a good idea to test that, however — we do tell you to keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times).

As you can see from the video, it’s basically a big spindly disc that simulates the furthest possible reach even the most orangutan-shaped human could muster. If it can make it through the ride, you can (most likely) make it through the ride.

Not all “envelopes of protection” look like this, though. Some look like this, though they’re generally all built around the same concept.

Anyways, EnglishMobster went on to talk more about why selfie sticks are now banned at theme parks, which mostly boils down to the fact you are all idiots who can’t be trusted not to bring them onto the ride no matter how many times people tell you not to do it.

Oh, also, there’s huge matters of good taste here, since selfie sticks are the new Crocs and Socks combo.

But that last part is actually just my personal opinion.

Which is correct, right, and true.

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Tuesday June 30, 2015
DisneyQuest closing at Downtown Disney
Disney (DIS) Names Christine M. McCarthy CFO
Hollywood Studios: Magic of Disney Animation closing next month
Show Your Patriotic DisneySide with Americana Themed Goods from Disney Parks
Disney Interactive merger shows that the Mickey Mouse house’s new gaming strategy works
Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Give Back to Port Communities

DisneyQuest closing at Downtown Disney

Orlando Sentinel - Out with virtual reality, in with basketball hoops: DisneyQuest will close next year to make way for an NBA-themed attraction.

The five-story center with video and virtual games opened in 1998 at the entertainment district's West Side. The building is a landmark at Downtown Disney, which is undergoing an expansion.

DisneyQuest's attractions include CyberSpace Mountain, a a design-your-own-roller-coaster motion-simulator ride, and Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a life-sized game in which players stand on a joystick that controls cartoon characters on a screen. DisneyQuest has more traditional video games too.

It appears DisneyQuest — once planned to be a worldwide chain of 20 virtual-reality centers — fell victim to changing technological times. In an era of smartphone apps, lifelike video games and other interactive attractions, DisneyQuest started to appear dated to many people.

Chris Fouche, 37, of Orlando remembers being "blown away" when it first opened. When he took his 5-year-old daughter last year, though, "wow" quickly morphed into "meh."

"Now it seems really stupid and really cheesy. I have more power in my phone than in that whole building," he said. "But back then, it was a trip."

A few weeks ago, the majority of the features were out of order, Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlaster broke down, and most of CyberSpace Mountain's simulators didn't work.

The experience is not cheap. One-day tickets cost $47.93 for adults and $41.54 for children.

That cost — along with the difficulty of reaching anyone by phone and the relatively late opening time — was the reason StarChild Academy in Apopka stopped taking summer-camp programs there.

"The whole thing was too complex for us," StarChild owner Cindy Zimmermann said.

Visits to DisneyQuest are included in Walt Disney World's premiere passes. The company did not have details about whether it will substitute any other experiences in the premiere passes once DisneyQuest closes.

The Orlando location had a longer run than others Walt Disney Co. tried building. One in Chicago closed shortly after opening because it didn't live up to the company's expected returns. Plans for another in Philadelphia fell through amid financing problems for a proposed urban entertainment center there.

Ed Chambers, president of the Service Trades Council coalition of Disney unions, said new jobs will be available for DisneyQuest workers.

The NBA Experience at Downtown Disney will include high-tech experiences, a restaurant and a store.

"It seems like a perfect fit for that kind of restaurant and entertainment center," Roseboom said of the building. "Just the size of it. There's lots of areas in DisneyQuest where you can look over and see down. I can just picture basketball games there people can play on and things like that."

Earlier this year, Disney removed all the redemption counters for video games at DisneyQuest and its hotels. It also closed Tomorrowland Arcade in the Magic Kingdom, placing games from that location into the hotel arcades to replace the ones that issued prizes for points.

Many thought those moves were related to concerns about not complying with recently-changed state laws that banned Internet cafes, but also affected other types of games.

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Disney (DIS) Names Christine M. McCarthy CFO

StreetInsider - Christine M. McCarthy has been named Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Kevin Mayer has been named Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), effective immediately, it was announced today by Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

“Christine has done an incredible job as Disney’s Treasurer over the past 15 years, and her strong leadership and keen financial acumen make her an ideal Chief Financial Officer,” Mr. Iger said. “She is highly respected in the finance sector, and in this new role she will have even more impact on creating value for Disney shareholders.” Ms. McCarthy will report directly to Mr. Iger.

“Kevin has overseen Corporate Strategy and Business Development at a time of unprecedented growth for Disney, playing an integral role in our successful acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm,” Mr. Iger said. “With this promotion to the new role of Chief Strategy Officer he will continue to focus on growth opportunities and help position the company for the future.” Mr. Mayer, who previously reported to the Chief Financial Officer, will jointly report to Mr. Iger and Thomas O. Staggs, Chief Operating Officer.

As CFO, Ms. McCarthy will now oversee Investor Relations, Corporate Planning and Control, Tax, Corporate Treasury, Corporate Real Estate, Facilities, Integrated Supply Chain Management, and Corporate Citizenship. She succeeds James A. Rasulo as CFO.

“I am humbled and honored to be entrusted with the role of CFO of this incredibly dynamic company,” Ms. McCarthy said. “Under Bob’s leadership, Disney has delivered record results, and I look forward to working with our talented senior management team as we build on the company’s financial strength and strong balance sheet to deliver shareholder value.”

In Ms. McCarthy’s most recent role as Executive Vice President, Corporate Real Estate, Alliances and Treasurer, she developed a finance team responsible for treasury, corporate finance, capital markets, financial risk, international treasury and investments, credit, and risk management.

Mr. Mayer has served since 2005 as Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, and in his new role as Chief Strategy Officer he will oversee Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Acquisitions, Enterprise Information Technology, Innovation, Brand and Franchise Management, and Global Corporate Alliances.

“I'm extremely gratified to be given this opportunity to further expand Disney’s assets and businesses,” Mr. Mayer said. “Disney’s growth has been incredible these past several years, and I am proud of the role my group has played in facilitating that expansion and excited by the strategic opportunities that lie ahead for the company.”

In 2009 and 2011, readers of The Deal named Disney the Most Admired Corporate Dealmaker in the consumer sector.

Mr. Mayer rejoined Disney from L.E.K. Consulting LLC, where he was a partner and head of the Global Media and Entertainment practice. Prior to L.E.K., Mr. Mayer held leading positions at interactive and Internet businesses, including chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Interactive, where he managed all aspects of new media business, including content, sales, business and technology development, and distribution.

Mr. Mayer first joined Disney in 1993 as Manager, Strategic Planning, where he spearheaded strategy and business development for all of Disney's interactive/Internet and television businesses worldwide. Later, he became Executive Vice President of the Internet group, responsible for the operations, business plans, creative direction and distribution of Disney's popular Web sites, including ESPN.comand ABCNews.com. Mr. Mayer received his M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1990, and holds a M.S.E.E. from San Diego State University and a B.S.M.E. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ms. McCarthy has served as Disney’s representative on the board of FM Global since 2010. She is also a Trustee of the Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, Calif., and a mentor for the National Math and Science Initiative’s STEM program. She has been named multiple times to Treasury & Riskmagazine’s “100 Most Influential People in Finance,” and in June, 2015 she was named Treasury Today magazine’s Woman of the Year, one of the profession’s most highly regarded benchmarks.

Prior to joining Disney, Ms. McCarthy was the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Imperial Bancorp from 1997 to 2000. She held various finance and planning positions at First Interstate Bancorp from 1981 to 1996, and was elected Executive Vice President in Finance for First Interstate in 1993. Ms. McCarthy completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences at Smith College, where she received an award for excellence in botany, and later earned an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the Anderson School at UCLA.

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Hollywood Studios: Magic of Disney Animation closing next month

Orlando Sentinel - Another attraction is closing at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. The last day for the Magic of Disney Animation will be July 12, Disney confirmed Monday.

"Work is underway on a new experience, and we look forward to sharing more information in the future," a Disney World spokeswoman said.

The adjacent Animation Gallery will remain open until late August.

The area is one of the original attractions when the park opened under the name Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. One of its features was the ability for guests to spy on actual Disney animators at work. The attraction now includes a short film about how Disney characters are made; Animation Station, where character-driven art lessons are given; and a character greeting area.

The closure is the latest in a series of recent departures at Hollywood Studios. Gone are the Studios Backlot Tour and American Idol Experience. Earlier this year, Disney removed the large sorcerer's hat that had become the icon of the park.

In March, Disney CEO Bob Iger told shareholders that the park would undergo another name change, although the new moniker has not been announced.  It started going by the Hollywood Studios name in 2008.

Disney has said it will build more Star Wars attractions at its parks, and Hollywood Studios is usually listed as a natural choice because of its current ties to the franchise, including the Star Tours ride and the Star Wars Weekends events.

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Show Your Patriotic #DisneySide with Americana Themed Goods from Disney Parks

DisneyParks Blog - With the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner at Disney Parks, I recently found a few items to help guests show their patriotic Disney Side.

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Our newest retail MagicBand features Mickey Mouse standing in front of an American flag. This limited release item has a retail of $24.95 and can be found in select merchandise locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

 FOJM7474892

I adore the Fourth of July limited edition pin with Carl and Ellie from Disney•Pixar’s “Up.” This pin has an edition size of 3,500 and will be released at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. I also like the new, open edition Minnie Mouse bow decorated in red, white and blue.

 FOJM7474893

The Graphic Apparel team introduced shirts including a tank top along with short and long sleeved options. These designs will be similar in both California and Florida with the only differences being the name of the Disney Resort destination.

 Show Your Patriotic #DisneySide with Americana Themed Goods from Disney Parks Show Your Patriotic #DisneySide with Americana Themed Goods from Disney Parks

Finally, guests visiting Heritage Manor Gifts in World Showcase at Epcot will find some unique Americana items including shirts. The location also carries USA Charm Bracelets by Alex and Ani in both gold and silver.

Happy Independence Day!

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Disney Interactive merger shows that the Mickey Mouse house’s new gaming strategy works

VB - Disney Interactive is no longer a standalone pillar with The Walt Disney Company

The corporation announced that it is combining its video game publisher wing with Disney Consumer Products. This new division is now known as Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI). In recent years, Disney has pulled back from some of its more ambitious attempts at tackling the gaming market, and it is now much more focused on smartphone and tablet apps. This signifies that — beyond its mobile and Disney Infinity business — the multimedia conglomerate wants to limit its exposure to the gaming space. In the past, the division has bled money due to having several in-house studios, but the company’s gaming strategy is now much leaner and focused.

The merger with the products division also comes as the Disney Infinity franchise continues to find success. The series combines games with interactive toys, and it is one of the top sellers over the last two years. It seems likely that the company may want more initiatives along those lines and DCPI could deliver that. Since publisher Activision kicked off the interactive-toy market four years ago with Skylanders, these kinds of games have generated more than $4 billion in sales. And a survey has found that parents regularly spend more than $100 on these kinds of products and toys every six months.

Disney Infinity and Disney Infinity 2.0 debuted during the last half of the year in 2013 and 2014, respectively. 2.0 focused on Marvel characters, and 3.0, which is coming Aug. 23, is all about Star Wars. With huge brands like that, Disney Infinity has started to grab a significant portion of the interactive-toy market — both in terms of software and action-figure sales. This has led to Activision firing back with a new Skylanders game that will include some Nintendo characters and vehicles, but it has also led to Warner Bros. and Lego agreeing to enter the space with Lego Dimensions. That game will bring together interactive toys from popular brands like The Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Back to the Future. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s Amiibo interactive figures are still so popular that they are often nearly impossible to find in stores and regularly outsell Skylanders and Infinity.

In a statement, The Walt Disney Company chief operating officer Tom Staggs explained that “a shared innovation strategy will enable this new segment to create unique and engaging products and experiences that exceed consumers’ expectations.”

Disney notes that the consumer-products division and its gaming publisher have had increasingly similar objectives over recent years. The merger will enable the two companies to share their expertise in technology as well as their relationships with retailers.

Going forward, Leslie Ferraro and Jimmy Pitaro will jointly run the division. Ferraro was previously the head of Disney Consumer Products while Pitaro ran Disney Interactive.

In addition to the existing consumer products and gaming businesses — which include licensing, product development, and game development — Disney will create a new research-and-development division called DCPI Labs. This group will look into cutting-edge technologies to build new immersive products.

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Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Give Back to Port Communities

DisneyParks Blog - Disney VoluntEARS Month at Disney Cruise Line is a unique opportunity for shipboard crew members to give back to communities in different ports of call around the world. More than 150 crew members across all four Disney ships participated in Disney VoluntEARS Month in May, demonstrating that we all have the ability to make a positive impact.

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This May, 10 organizations from five communities in Central Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean benefitted from more than 450 volunteer hours. Crew efforts impacted charitable causes focused on areas including education, health/wellness and animal care/rescue.

 Disney Cruise Line Members Crew Give Back to Port Communities Disney Cruise Line Members Crew Give Back to Port Communities

Each year, the cast and crew at Disney Cruise Line provide thousands of hours of community service – from raising funds for disaster relief to spreading Disney cheer in children’s hospitals around the world.

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Monday June 29, 2015
Celebrating the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort
Here's why Disney is working to stop an Anaheim gate tax
Spending at Disney increases as prices rise, economy recovery
Why Cash-Cow ESPN Is Becoming a Drag on Disney

Celebrating the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort

DisneyParks Blog - Independence Day is coming up, and the parks at Walt Disney World Resort are planning to celebrate our nation’s 239th birthday with some star-spangled salutes to America!

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If you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort for the 4th of July, here are some highlights of the special entertainment planned for that day:

  • Magic Kingdom Park – “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” rockets into the air above Cinderella Castle. This special, fireworks spectacular will be presented two nights in a row, at 9 p.m. on both July 3 and 4.
  • Epcot – On July 4, enjoy a special concert of great American songs by Voices of Liberty at America Gardens Theater, where they’ll be performing at 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3 p.m. You can also meet Chip ‘n’ Dale in patriotic attire outside The American Adventure, and at 10 p.m. that evening “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” joins the celebration with the addition of a heart-pounding, all-American grand finale.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios –The “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party leads up to a “Rockin’ 4th of July Celebration,” as the sky above Disney’s Hollywood Studios ignites in a shower of shimmering light for a pyrotechnic, rock ‘n roll road trip across America. The DJ kicks things off at 5:45 p.m. and keeps the party going until fireworks time at 10:15 p.m.

Looks like the 4th of July is going to be a blast all across Walt Disney World Resort!

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Here's why Disney is working to stop an Anaheim gate tax

OC Register - Last week, The Walt Disney Co. showed how much it values keeping Anaheim out of its ticket-pricing business.

The corporation announced it would commit to a $1 billion expansion at Disneyland Resort. provided the city forgoes taxing admission tickets for 30 years.

Anaheim has never charged taxes on Disney tickets. But the 1996 deal that spelled out that policy expires next year.

Disney’s effort to get ahead of the curve shows how much control it wants to maintain over its carefully calibrated prices that have kept rising – but not so much that attendance has suffered. A new tax, even a relatively small one, could affect that strategy, experts said.

“Every dollar they can save from a tax is a dollar they can charge,” said Scott J. Smith, an assistant professor of hospitality at University of South Carolina. “It’s not like they’re going to keep the price the same” without the tax.

Smith, who studies theme parks and revenue management, said Disney has been very smart at angling for “price optimization” – the highest it can charge without hitting resistance from customers.

Despite pricing out some – one-day, one-park tickets now cost $99 – Disneyland last year attracted 16.7 million visitors, a 3.5 percent increase from 2013.

Start adding taxes and, unless Disney is willing to eat the difference, it might push tickets past the breaking point for many consumers, Smith said.

Disney officials said they believe a tax would hurt attendance and guest spending.

There’s also a subtle psychology involved in prices. If tourists have to figure in taxes and fees, the price of a theme park ticket could start to feel like the expanding cost of travel, with its hefty hotel taxes and airline luggage fees.

Billions from parks

Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider, an industry blog, said he doesn’t believe Disney has a real fear that the city will start charging admission tax after decades without one. The company, he said, is more likely trying to give political cover to its allies on the City Council when the deal comes up.

“It gives the impression that Anaheim gets something in return,” he said.

At the end of 2014, Disney’s parks and resorts were its second-biggest source of revenue, after its media networks, with operating revenue of $2.6 billion, a 20 percent jump from the previous year, according to financial filings.

Here in Orange County, Disneyland Resort accounts for nearly a third of the $9.6 billion tourism market and generates $370 million in state and local tax revenues, according to a study commissioned by Disney. The city’s tax revenue from hotel stays, heavily tied to Disney parks, is projected to hit $133 million next year – nearly half of its total revenue.

Still, Anaheim faces a half-billion dollar unfunded pension obligation. And mayor Tom Tait opposes Disney’s proposal, saying he doesn’t want Anaheim to be handcuffed for another three decades. As of Friday, the majority of the Council was in favor of Disney’s $1 billion plan.

No other city that houses a Disney theme park has applied an admissions tax. Florida charges a general sales tax of 6.5 percent for each ticket purchased for Walt Disney World.

Bryan Starr, vice president of government affairs with the Orange County Business Council, called the deal proposed by Disney a “no brainer” for Anaheim City Council members. “Anaheim has a golden goose right here. It seems natural they’d seal the deal.”

Niles, the industry blog editor, said he doubts Disney would walk away from its investment over the admissions tax deal.

At the state level, there have been efforts to charge sales taxes or admissions surcharges on theme-park tickets. None has panned out, said John Robinson, chief executive of the California Attractions and Parks Association, an industry association that fought the proposals.

Tax ‘education’

A study commissioned by his group last year found that even a 4.25 percent admissions tax would result in 1.6 million fewer visits at California parks.

“It was education of the legislators and the realizations that there are consequences to raising taxes,” Robinson said, citing reduced business and cuts to the workforce. “You have to make up that revenue.”

At municipal levels, an admissions tax is nothing new for sports parks and other entertainment venues. In San Francisco, home to the Giants professional baseball team and former home of the football 49ers, the city has a maximum $2.25 admission tax for tickets that cost more than $27. In 1998, voters approved an amendment to a measure that would limit admissions tax for Giants game to 25 cents until 2023.

San Francisco received $2.8 million in 2013-2014, according to the city controller’s office. With the loss of the 49ers, that will fall by half.

In Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Fair’s Cedar Point theme park – a sister park to Knott’s Berry Farm – has had an admissions tax since at least 1998.

Last year, when that city faced a $1 million budget shortfall, park executives actually lobbied for voters to raise the admissions tax from 3 to 4 percent and committed an extra $500,000 a year to help the city.

Voters approved the 4 percent tax measure. A few months later, the one-day admission ticket to Cedar Point increased by 4 percent, to $62.

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Spending at Disney increases as prices rise, economy recovery

Orlando Sentinel - Walt Disney Co.'s theme-park visitors are spending a lot more money, on everything from $105 Magic Kingdom tickets to $110 special-edition Tommy Bahama shirts.

Per-visitor spending at Disney's domestic parks has increased 7 percent to 8 percent annually for the past four years. That figure outpaces attendance growth and is higher than in previous years back to 2003, when Disney began providing those details in regulatory filings.

Analysts say a combination of factors is at work, including a recovering economy, price hikes, higher-quality offerings, and the MyMagic+ technology project.

Disney did not make executives available for an interview.

In an e-mailed statement, spokeswoman Kim Prunty noted Disney has experienced record attendance — "the result of delivering a magical experience that only Disney can provide. As guest demand continues to grow for our parks, we will work to ensure that all our guests have experiences that consistently exceed their expectations."

Walt Disney World prices drew attention this year as one-day Magic Kingdom tickets broke the $100 barrier. Other increases included a 9 percent jump in basic annual passes for Florida residents.

Disney raises prices regularly. Still, "I actually think they're being a little bit more bullish than they have in the past," said Scott Sanders, a former Disney vice president of pricing.

The possibility looms of even higher prices during peak seasons to spread out demand. Disney recently sent out a survey suggesting a hypothetical tiered pricing structure including $125 Magic Kingdom tickets during Christmas and July. The survey asked guests about how tiered pricing would have affected their visit choices.

Water parks on Disney's property have already begun charging higher summer prices. Tickets cost $58, as opposed to $53 the rest of the year.

Disney says it is far from turning into an elitist playground. Its affordable options include budget-oriented hotels, monthly payment plans for passes, Florida-resident discounts, and lower prices on renewed passes.

A recent report from the Themed Entertainment Association and consulting group AECOM noted the stagnation of middle-class incomes. That, the report said, "raises questions about the sustainability of recent ticket price increases" throughout the industry.

So far, though, experts say big theme parks haven't hit the price ceiling.

"They know they can take pricing and they have been taking it pretty aggressively," Sanders said. "Until they see a negative impact, they're going to continue to do it."

Universal Orlando recently raised one-day ticket prices to $102. Owner Comcast Corp. says in SEC filings that both attendance and guest spending have grown but does not give details.

SeaWorld, on the other hand, saw declines in both attendance and per-person spending last year as it struggled with controversy and competition. In May, it raised its one-day ticket price to $97 but dropped the cost of an advance-purchase weekday ticket.

Disney discounted during the economic downturn, with offers including free birthday admission. Those have gone away. Visitors can — and want to — spend more now, Pacific Asset Management analyst Bob Boyd said.

"Disney has also done a better job in recent years with the quality of their merchandise and their food offerings such as the Be Our Guest restaurant," Boyd said in an email. "Many consumers are quite willing to pay more for that kind of high quality experience."

New opportunities for conspicuous consumption abound. Disney has rolled out dessert parties costing up to $100, time-share Polynesian Village bungalows renting for more than $2,000 a night, and Disney-style Tommy Bahama shirts with triple-digit prices.

Experts say Disney is also providing more opportunities to spend. Increased FastPass usage through MyMagic gets people through lines quicker so they can spend more time in shops and restaurants. MagicBands can also function as credit cards.

Meanwhile Disney's per-guest domestic hotel spending rose to $280 last fiscal year, compared with $267 in 2013.

The company recently told analysts occupancy at its domestic hotels, at 89 percent, was close to peaking.

"How do you then build your operating profit, which Wall Street expects?" said Dave Shute, who tracks hotel costs for his Disney-oriented yourfirstvisit.net website. "If you can't put more hotel rooms in, you raise prices."

"How do you then build your operating profit, which Wall Street expects?" said Dave Shute, who tracks hotel costs for his Disney-oriented yourfirstvisit.net website. "If you can't put more hotel rooms in, you raise prices."

There have been some discounts available. Nicole Paris, a Maryland middle-school teacher, recently took advantage of one for her family's visit at the Wilderness Lodge.

Still, "it seems like there's a lot more … opportunities for those with more money to get something better than everybody else," said Paris, 44.

"It seems against the Disney spirit," said her mother Hermi Schijf of the Netherlands.

Kevin Gates of Warsaw, Ind. saved for a year for his Disney trip, which he said cost $35,000 for a family of 13 to visit for a week.

It's more expensive than other vacations, said Gates, 46, but "it's a life experience. It's a one-time experience."

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Why Cash-Cow ESPN Is Becoming a Drag on Disney

The Street - For years, ESPN has gone by the nickname of the "The Worldwide Leader In Sports."

Lately, however, it seems like the cable-TV network has also been the leader in rising costs for Disney (DIS), its parent company. Programming and production costs at Disney'scable-TV unit, of which ESPN is its larger component, are expected to rise by "low-teen percentage points" for the company's fiscal year ended Sept. 15.

In a business in which content is king, the price of acquiring live-sports content is continuing to rise, and ESPN may have to trim costs elsewhere, possibly with its on-air talent and behind-the-scenes employees.

Last month, ESPN severed ties with popular sports blogger and columnist Bill Simmons and his reported $5 million annual salary. Simmons was seen as on the hot seat for months after some of his comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence incident.

Some industry analysts have raised concerns about ESPN's impact on Disney. Last week, Morgan Stanley's Benjamin Swinburne said that he even though Disney may take in almost $2 billion in box-office receipts from Star Wars: The Force Awakens later this year, he is keeping his rating on Disney's stock at equal-weight, partly because of ESPN.

Swinburne said he sees "more limited upside" for ESPN to increase revenue from affiliates that carry the network, as well as programming-rights costs that "may grow more quickly than expected." He estimates that ESPN's ad revenue during Disney's fiscal third quarter will fall 2% from a year ago and will rise just 3% for the company's full fiscal year ending in September, as opposed to an earlier estimate of a 6% increase.

In a statement, Disney said that "ESPN has led the sports and media industries for more than 35 years by making smart, strategic investments and constantly innovating. It is a key component of The Walt Disney Company's diverse portfolio and will remain a consistent driver of shareholder value."

Disney shares were slipping 0.7% Monday to $114.15, trimming its 2015 advance to 21% compared to a 1% gain for the S&P 500 (^GSPC).

When Disney reported its fiscal second-quarter results in May, the numbers were typically formidable for the world's largest entertainment company.

The company posted earnings of $2.11 billion, or $1.23 a share, on $12.5 billion in revenue, up from a profit of $1.92 billion, or $1.08 a share, on sales of $11.65 billion in the same period a year ago. Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the company's results were "reflected in the phenomenal worldwide success" of the recently released film, Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, which has grossed more than $1.3 billion since its release in April.

But ESPN, which is a cash cow for Disney, got a bit of a short shrift in the quarter. Its earnings performance appears to be enough of a concern to warrant some cost-cutting pressure.

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Sunday June 28, 2015
No News Updates Today

Saturday June 27, 2015
No News Updates Today

Friday June 26, 2015
Disney joins growing number of venues banning selfie sticks
Celebrating the Fourth of July at Disneyland Resort
'Captain EO' back on Epcot schedule
Epcot to get a Cell Charging Station and Rest Area

Disney joins growing number of venues banning selfie sticks

USA Today - If you're looking to create an artful self-portrait with that famous mouse at the Magic Kingdom, you'll have to do it the old-fashioned way -- with your arm.

The land of Mickey and Minnie Mouse is banning the selfie stick.

Word on the popular "selfie" device came from Disney officials Friday.

Citing safety concerns, the sticks will no longer be allowed inside any of Walt Disney World's four Florida parks and two Disneyland parks in California, as well as DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive in Orlando. Disney hotels and resorts will still allow the devices.

The selfie-stick ban in Disney's U.S. parks starts Tuesday. The sticks will be banned from Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disney on July 1.

"We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast," Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in a statement.

Selfie sticks – which attach to smartphones or cameras and allow users to take self-portraits, or "selfies" – have steadily grown in popularity the past few years, especially among vacationers wishing to capture their special moments and post them to social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disney joins a growing list of attractions and stadiums around the world banning selfie sticks, citing safety hazards or view obstructions. They include: the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, all 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Rome's Colosseum, Brazilian soccer stadiums, the Kentucky Derby, the Wimbledon tennis championships, and the Lollapalooza and Coachella music festivals.

They have been the subject of growing concern at Disney's theme parks. On Wednesday, Disney California Adventure's California Screamin' roller coaster was stopped mid-ride when a passenger pulled out a selfie stick. Passengers were evacuated from the ride, which was stopped for more than an hour.

Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster has had to be stopped several times when passengers pulled out selfie sticks.

The sticks have always been banned on rides and earlier this year Disney officials began posting "No Selfie Sticks" signs at the entrances to attractions to remind guests, but the park-wide ban will keep them off the premises entirely. Guests bringing selfie sticks to the gates at the parks' entrances will be asked to check the devices there, according to Disney.

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Celebrating the Fourth of July at Disneyland Resort

DisneyParks Blog - The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration continues all summer long, honoring 60 years of the Happiest Place on Earth, and on July 4th we’ll also be saluting 239 years of the United States of America with some special Independence Day entertainment.

 'DISNEYLAND FOREVER' SPARKLES IN THE NIGHT SKY -- 'Disneyland Forever,' a new fireworks spectacular at the Disneyland Resort, illuminates the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. 'Disneyland Forever' transports guests into the worlds of beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar films through traditional pyrotechnics, innovative projection mapping technology and surprising special effects. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

  • Disneyland park – “Disneyland Forever,” the all-new street-to-sky fireworks spectacular, will be presented July 4 at 9:30 p.m. Following the show on that night only will be a patriotic, pyrotechnic grand finale to celebrate America’s birthday.
  • Disney California Adventure park – On July 4, a special pyrotechnic water display will be presented at the start of all three performances of the new “World of Color – Celebrate!” at 9 p.m., 10:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.
  • Military Bands – Several outstanding Air Force and Marine bands will be performing at locations throughout the Disneyland Resort, from July 2–6. Be sure to check out Kevin’s original post for all the details!

Who’s ready for some red, white and blue?!

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'Captain EO' back on Epcot schedule

Orlando Sentinel - Captain EO," the short sci-fi film starring Michael Jackson, is back on the schedule at Disney World. The company website puts it on the roster beginning Sunday, July 19.

The feature left Epcot in April to make room for a preview of the Disney film "Tomorrowland," starring George Clooney. Later, that Future World space was home to "Inside Out," an animated feature that debuted last Friday. It made $90 million in its first weekend in theaters.

"Captain EO" also was seen at Disney parks in Japan, France and Anaheim, Calif.

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Epcot to get a Cell Charging Station and Rest Area

Disney News - Epcot will soon have a new location where Guests can charge their cell phones and rest at the same time inside the Innoventions West area near the Character Spot in Epcot's Future World.

Named D-Zone, this area will have seating, electronic charging stations, and a few food and drink carts starting as early as next week.

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Thursday June 25, 2015
Special Military Performances at the Disneyland Resort for Fourth of July Weekend
Disney California Adventure Roller Coaster Stopped After Rider Pulls Out Selfie Stick
New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Learn to Draw Anger from Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Special Military Performances at the Disneyland Resort for Fourth of July Weekend

DisneyParks Blog - From July 2-5, guests can enjoy more special performances by military acts than ever before, continuing a tradition of inviting the military to perform at Disneyland, started by Walt Disney on opening day. If you are visiting the Disneyland Resort this Fourth of July weekend, you may want to catch one of these patriotic shows! Below is a schedule of performance times.

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United States Air Force Honor Guard from Washington D.C.
July 2-5, 2015

Disneyland Park

  • 3:15 p.m. – Sleeping Beauty Castle Forecourt
  • 4:05 p.m. – Prior to Mickey’s Soundsational Parade

Disney California Adventure Park

  • 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. – Paradise Pier, near the “World of Color” viewing area

Fourth of July added performances

  • 5:15 p.m. – Flag Retreat Ceremony (Color Guard only) in Town Square
  • 6:45 p.m. – Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

United States 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band from Mira Mar, CA
July 4, 2015

Disneyland Park

  • 4:10 p.m. – Prior to Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
  • 5:15 p.m. – Flag Retreat Ceremony in Town Square
  • 7 p.m. – Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Downtown Disney District

  • 11:30 a.m. (breakout rock band) – Main Stage

United States Air Force Band of the Golden West from San Francisco, CA
July 5-6, 2015

Downtown Disney District

  • 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. (breakout rock band) – Main Stage

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Disney California Adventure Roller Coaster Stopped After Rider Pulls Out Selfie Stick

KTLA - The California Screamin’ roller coaster at Disney California Adventures Park was temporarily halted on Wednesday after a passenger pulled out a selfie stick mid-ride, according to a report.

The stoppage, which lasted less than an hour, occurred around noon as a result of an unnamed passenger taking out a selfie a stick during the ride, according to the Orange County Register.

Twitter user The K-Lee, who tweeted several photos of the stopped ride, wrote that he was on California Screamin’ when the ride “broke down at the very top.”

He later indicated that the use of a selfie stick had prompted operators to stop the ride.

The photos were taken at the ride’s peak, and included a selfie along with shots of the upcoming steep drop and a stunning view of the park and surrounding area.

Recently, Disney began putting up signs around its theme parks prohibiting selfie sticks on certain attractions, according to CNN.

Selfie sticks have not been banned from the theme parks. They can be used in and around the park, but most be stored on rides, a Disney spokesperson told CNN.com last month.

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New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

DisneyParks Blog - There’s no better place in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see and be seen than The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. Especially with the addition of small plates and beverages with the newly renovated outdoor bar.

New small plates include grilled Bloody Mary-marinated shrimp and chorizo and heirloom tomatoes on toasted ciabatta with garlic herb butter and a new seasonal soup — Zellwood Corn Bisque, served with a corn and lobster fritter and Ancho chili oil. Or share the Crispy Bites, featuring parmesan and goat cheese risotto sticks with a peach-habanero chili sauce, Brie with a sweet onion and orange jam, and affiné blue and mushroom arancini with a fig and balsamic dip. These new tastes join favorites like The Famous Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad, Derby Sliders, and Artisanal Cheeses and Charcuterie Board.

New additions to the drink menu include a Mint Julep made with premium reserve bourbon; the new Bloody Mary turns up the heat with pepper-infused vodka and a garnish of olives, spicy pickles, and pickled green beans; a Champagne Cocktail with sweet and floral elderflower liqueur and Fairytale by Iron Horse Celebration Cuvee (exclusive to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts); Sangria; and, my favorite, the Grapefruit Cake Martini — a delicious twist on the classic dessert.

Stop by The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Hollywood and leave feeling like a star!

 First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge First Look: New Menu Items at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

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Learn to Draw Anger from Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

DisneyParks Blog - The new Disney•Pixar film “Inside Out” just hit theaters a few days ago, and guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios area already having fun learning how to draw the film’s colorful cast of characters at the Animation Academy.

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In case you haven’t seen it yet, “Inside Out” takes a look at the life of a girl named Riley, who moves with her family from the Midwest to San Francisco. Her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – live in Headquarters, the control center of her mind, where they help guide her through her daily life, including the challenge of taking on a new school and friends.

 

Today we’re sharing a tutorial on how to draw Anger, a member of the team who is passionate, fiery and quick to react.

Want to learn how to draw another Disney character? Check out our full list of tutorials below.

  • Anna from ‘Frozen’
  • Baymax from ‘Big Hero 6’
  • Buzz Lightyear from ‘Toy Story’
  • Donald Duck
  • Dopey from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’
  • Flynn from ‘Tangled’
  • Fred from ‘Big Hero 6′
  • Genie from ‘Aladdin’
  • Goofy
  • Grumpy from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’
  • Hiro from ‘Big Hero 6’
  • Joy from ‘Inside Out’
 
  • Jack Skellington from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
  • Olaf from ‘Frozen’
  • Olaf from ‘Frozen’ Special Edition
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
  • Pascal from ‘Rapunzel
  • Pluto
  • Scrooge McDuck from ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’
  • Stitch from ‘Lilo and Stitch'
  • Sorcerer Mickey from ‘Fantasia’
  • Tinker Bell from ‘Peter Pan’
  • Winnie the Pooh

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Wednesday June 24, 2015

New Chef, New Menu Items for Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
TV Review: ‘Teen Beach 2′ After his Club 33 membership is revoked, Lake Forest man sues Disney
DraftKings Won’t Raise $250 Million From Disney, but Will Still Get ESPN Ad Deal
Disney to produce adventure film about Charles Darwin

New Chef, New Menu Items for Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

DisneyParks Blog - Disney’s Wilderness Lodge takes guests on a journey to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with design inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges. And Artist Point carries that theme into the dining room with dramatic murals, timbered columns and pretty views of Bay Lake and Silver Creek Falls.

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So, of course, the cuisine helps tell the story, and Chef Michael Gonsalves, new at the helm in the Artist Point kitchen, is having fun with a menu that is focused on the America’s Pacific Northwest. “We are looking to convey the wonders of nature through food,” says Chef Michael.

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Regional dishes such as Dungeness crab cakes, steamed mussels, Cedar plank salmon and wild-caught prawns and halibut are on the menu, but Chef Michael is having fun with new tastes, too. A dashi-braised short rib starter is served with kombu turnip pickles, daikon and wild greens. Charred field asparagus with Berkshire prosciutto, mustard vinaigrette, and foraged greens also graces the menu. And he showcases produce from the “Land” at Epcot as well with offerings such as the “Land” Greens Salad featuring Masumoto Peaches, and Seed Granola.

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Favorites such as the smokey portobello bisque with crispy shiitakes stays on the menu, as well as the buffalo strip steak from North Fork Canada. For summer, Chef Michael is adding a new cheese and house-made charcuterie boards.

“We’ll be offering Pacific Northwest cheeses with house-made seed lavosh and crostini,” says Chef Michael. “And the house-made charcuterie will be ‘nose-to-tail,’ using the whole hog.” The restaurant’s beef, bison, halibut and salmon all are sourced from the Pacific Northwest too.

Most popular dish? The Cedar plank salmon, says Chef Michael, with his new rendition with local potatoes, baby fennel, Florida citrus and ver jus.

Every dish on the menu gets a wine pairing from sommelier Alvin Burrill, with each selection from Washington or Oregon. But Alvin also might recommend a Pacific Northwest ale if you ask, like the handcrafted Rogue Ales made in partnership with Voodoo Donuts (strange but true).

Looking ahead, Chef Michael says they are working on a terrace dining experience with a communal chef’s table – stay tuned for details!

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TV Review: ‘Teen Beach 2′

Variety - Two years have passed since “Teen Beach Movie,” but just three months of time onscreen. And that offers about as much as anyone needs to know about the sequel, “Teen Beach 2,” which clearly feels no incentive to tamper with success. The only wrinkle, such as it is, involves reversing the first movie’s central conceit, bringing characters from a ’60s beach movie into the present-day real world, instead of vice versa. But all that – and the other plot threads stitched together from various sources – is a pretty thin excuse to reunite the gang to dance and sing again.

To its credit, Disney Channel’s commitment to live-action musicals introduces its audience to a genre that doesn’t gain much exposure elsewhere on TV, so the second-guessing should be kept to a minimum. That said, given that some parents will doubtless be lulled into sitting through these exercises with their kids, it behooves them to make the between-the-music sequences as painless as possible.

That objective isn’t helped by letting the movie run 104 minutes, which results in additional clunky dialogue and exposition to connect the musical numbers generated by a small army of songwriters and producers, and choreographed by Christopher Scott and director Jeffrey Hornaday. While a few of those performances stand out – including a clever one about how much better it is to be in the movies – there’s a semi-numbing sameness to the pop hooks and vocals.

As for the plot, well, beyond the obvious “The Purple Rose of Cairo” riffs (again), “Grease” is the word. Because while surfers Brady (Ross Lynch) and Mack (Maia Mitchell) were brought together by their adventure in the movie “Wet Side Story,” now that summer’s over, they find themselves mismatched now that they’re back in school – her an ambitious overachiever, him a slacker who misses a College Fair. “It’s almost like the school you wants nothing to do with me!” Brady pouts.

Fortunately (or not), fiction intrudes, with the two leads from the movie, Lela (Grace Phipps) and Tanner (Garrett Clayton), stumbling into Brady and Mack’s world. Although the two real kids fret about the possible consequences, the celluloid ones are so dazzled by modern gizmos (among them the smartphone and disembodied voice of Siri) that they’re in no hurry to retreat to their two-dimensional realm, even if it risks falling apart without them.

Everything else is really just the storytelling equivalent of pulling taffy, trying to create enough impediments to keep the narrative clunking along until the next spontaneous outbreak of song. Thankfully, there’s a great deal of talent on the screen, though the words generally sound far better when sung than spoken.

Ever since “High School Musical,” Disney has been enamored with mining this niche, and why not? Not only do the movies garner high ratings, they offer ancillary benefits (including the original music) to feed its merchandising pipeline, and a platform to launch new programs — in this case, a sitcom with its own time-travel twist, “Best Friends Whenever.”

With that in mind, another trip to the beach seems inevitable, although having now explored both sides of this plot, some new wrinkles are probably in order. Pirates? Or dinosaurs? After all, as long as you’re going back in time and pilfering from movies, why not pull out the big guns?

Movie; Disney Channel, Fri. June 26, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Puerto Rico by Rainforest Prods.

Crew

Executive producers, Michelle Manning, David Buelow; producer, Michael O. Gallant; director, Jeffrey Hornaday; writers, Matt Eddy, Bill Eddy; story by Dan Berendsen, Robert Horn; camera, Mark Irwin; production designer, Jennifer Dehghan; editor, David Finfer; choreography, Christopher Scott, Hornaday; music, David Lawrence; songwriters/producers, Mitch Allan, Dan Book, Nikki Leonti, Evan Bogart, Riker Lynch, Rocky Lynch, Ross Lynch,  Ellington Ratliff,  Jens Koerkemeier, Matthew Tishler, Amy Powers, Niclas Molinder, Joacim Persson, Charlie Mason, Johan Alkenas, Twin, Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, Chen Neeman, Faye Greenberg, Adam Schlesinger, Sam Hollander, Josh Edmondson, Charity Daw, S.A.M, Bobby Huff, John Feldmann; casting, Jason La Padura, Natalie Hart, Julie Gale. 104 MIN.

Cast

Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton, John DeLuca, Chrissie Fit, Jordan Fisher, Mollee Gray, Kent Boyd, William T. Loftis, Jessica Lee Keller, Piper Curda, Ross Butler, Raymond Cham Jr.

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The New York Times - I have been covering the immigration beat for The New York Times for nine years, so I sensed that my recent story about layoffs of technology employees at Walt Disney World would draw our readers’ interest. The employees had been replaced by temporary immigrants, mainly from India, brought in by an outsourcing company, and the laid-off workers had to train the new ones in order to receive a severance.

But the raw nerve this article touched surprised me. Millions of people read it, and more than 3,000 commented on the article and a related blog post.
The story started in March with a Senate hearing on the type of visas — known as H-1B — that were used for some of the foreign workers. Several witnesses mentioned the Disney layoffs, which had not been widely reported. Ronil Hira, a public policy professor at Howard University who has done careful research on temporary visas, provided a factual panorama of their uses and abuses.

The story took off after I was able to contact several former Disney employees who had been laid off or “forced into retirement,” as one put it. I flew to Orlando, and found it revealing to see Disney’s kingdom of fun through the eyes of Americans who had been expelled from it. Most had worked a decade or more with the company.

Disney had also instructed its many contractors in the area to not hire the workers that had been laid off for one year. There are few tech jobs nearby not connected to Disney.

Many of the workers said they felt they had to hide in their own hometown. Those I reached insisted on speaking anonymously and arranged to meet in out-of-the-way places. But they spoke powerfully about the humiliation they said they felt spending three months training replacements. They expressed no hard feelings toward the immigrants; they felt ill-treated by Disney.

Disney executives pointed to more than 30,000 jobs they said the company had created in the United States in the last decade– far more than the 250 technology layoffs.

Readers were very interested. According to the comments many middle-class Americans said the story captured an experience they have seen all too often: companies outsourcing their work, saying their employees’ skills were not up-to-date even after many years on a job. Our readers saw it as a story about Disney, an American company, making profits at the expense of Americans.

After the article ran, Disney provided another number in an email sent to people who wrote the company in protest. The message said the reorganization that led to the layoffs had produced a net gain of 70 technology jobs nationwide.

But there was one number Disney did not want to discuss. At Disney/ABC television, about 35 tech employees had been told in late May they would be laid-off and would have to train foreign replacements. Days after my story about the Orlando layoffs was published, the new layoffs were canceled. Again, several employees contacted me, but insisted on speaking anonymously. They were greatly relieved their livelihoods had been saved, at least for the moment. But Disney declined to acknowledge those events and wouldn’t return my phone calls or emails.

Going forward, I will be keeping an eye out to see if Disney takes other actions indicating a change of course with its tech workers, while looking deeper at other companies that have used H-1B and other temporary visas to displace Americans.

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After his Club 33 membership is revoked, Lake Forest man sues Disney

Orange County Register - A former member of Disneyland’s private Club 33 said his membership was revoked after a friend auctioned off a guest pass for a children’s charity.

But Disney officials say Joseph Cosgrove had misused his membership for years leading up to the latest incident.

Mark Corrinet, an attorney representing Cosgrove, 84, of Lake Forest, filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co. this week in Los Angeles Superior Court charging breach of contract and other allegations after Disney’s private club terminated his client’s membership after 47 years.

“Mr. Cosgrove has been a member for nearly five decades,” Corrinet said in an interview. “In fact, he’s one of the original members in Club 33, and he’s been a member of good standing the entire time.”

Disney said Cosgrove has only been a member since 1979. The club opened in 1967.

Club 33 is an exclusive members-only club in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and modeled after the VIP lounges that Walt Disney experienced at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Membership to the private club, is extremely limited, with people reportedly waiting as long as a decade to become a member and, if selected, paying a $25,000 initiation fee and $11,000-plus in annual dues for use of the restaurant and lounge and other benefits.

Walt Disney died before the club opened. Disney Co. officials first used the space to entertain VIPs, sponsors and business associates and later turned it into a private club with a paid membership.

Cosgrove is a long-time Disney fan whose home is adorned with souvenirs and memorabilia, and he authored the book, “Walt Dreamers Me.” Cosgrove took his wife, Janet, to the club on their first date.

Last year, Cosgrove gave a friend a guest-access pass to visit the club. The woman instead auctioned off the pass at a children’s charity unbeknownst to Cosgrove, according to the suit.

Members are not allowed to transfer Club 33 access via charity auctions, according to the suit. When Club 33 management learned of the incident, it revoked Cosgrove’s membership.

“Disney knew Joe did not sanction nor authorize it,” Corrinet said. “And without any hearing or allowances for him to defend himself, they (Disney officials) threw him out.”

Corrinet said the members’ guide states termination is the last step in resolving issues and membership will first be placed on hold “with the intention of resolving issues and infractions.”

However, Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the Cosgroves frequently misused their membership.

“Over the years, the Cosgroves repeatedly transferred and sold their membership privileges, which was a clear violation of membership,” Brown said in an emailed statement. “We, unfortunately, were left with no other choice, in order to preserve the integrity of membership.”

Corrinet said he’s reached out multiple times to Disney officials to resolve the matter but to no avail.

“Mr. Cosgrove is not trying to lash out at people, he just wants his membership reinstated and some compensation for the grief and costs that he is incurring to fight for his rights,” the attorney said.

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DraftKings Won’t Raise $250 Million From Disney, but Will Still Get ESPN Ad Deal

re/code - Fantasy sports site DraftKings, which had discussed raising money from Disney, is going to get its funding somewhere else instead.

But the two companies will have a relationship anyway: DraftKings will have exclusive rights to advertise fantasy sports on Disney’s ESPN properties starting in 2016.

Earlier reports said Disney and ESPN were planning on investing $250 million in DraftKings in a deal that would value the company at $900 million. The proposed pact also called for DraftKings to spend a reported $500 million on advertising with the sports giant over multiple years.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins says his ad deal with ESPN calls for a “deep integration” with the media company, which he says will give it an advantage against fantasy rival FanDuel. “ESPN is the strongest brand in sports,” he said. “This is something that will definitely catapult us into the leader position.”

Sources familiar with DraftKing’s plans say it is in advanced talks to raise a large round from other strategic investors.

We’ve asked ESPN for comment. Journalist James Andrew Miller, a longtime ESPN watcher, suggested via Twitter on Tuesday that the Disney investment deal was dead.

DraftKings, which allows players to bet on fantasy sports for a single game instead of a whole season, and collect real money if they win, is a booming business. In Q4 of last year it generated $17 million in revenue, up from $2.5 million a year earlier. But it also spends heavily on marketing, and in January Robins said his company was not profitable.

Last August, DraftKings raised $41 million in a round led by the Raine Group; it has raised a total of $75 million since 2012.

DraftKings spends some of that money competing fiercely with FanDuel; the two companies dominate the “daily fantasy” market and fight over exclusive deals to advertise with sports leagues, teams and on media properties.

FanDuel has raised a reported $86 million from backers including Comcast and its NBC sports group.

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Disney to produce adventure film about Charles Darwin

Relax News - The next big movie to come from Disney will turn British naturalist Charles Darwin into a swashbuckling, adventure-seeking film star.

According to Deadline, the adventure film will be scripted and directed by Stephen Gaghan ("Traffic").

Early reports indicate that the Disney version of Darwin will be significantly different from the film " Creation," starring Paul Bettany.

The 2009 movie centered on Darwin's home life as he finished "On the Origin of Species."

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Tuesday June 23, 2015
No News Updates Today

Monday June 22, 2015
Disney (DIS) Stock Up on 'Inside Out' Box Office Success
Disney World substation will provide new home for growing sheriff's office presence
Disney and deadmau5 have resolved their trademark dispute

Disney (DIS) Stock Up on 'Inside Out' Box Office Success

The Street - Shares of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Get Report) are up by 1.24% to $114.03 in mid-morning trading on Monday, as over the weekend "Inside Out" the latest animated film from Disney/Pixar enjoyed a $91.1 million domestic launch. This was the second-highest opening weekend in the studio's history, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In 2010, 'Toy Story 3' earned more with a $110.3 million opening weekend.

"Inside Out" beat expectations of $60 million and may be the first Pixar film not to debut at number one, the Times noted. Universal's (CMCSA) 'Jurassic World' is still dominating the box office.

Disney's strategy when it came to getting exposure for "Inside Out" included showing it at Cannes, the CinemaCon trade show and hosting other screening in order to generate an early buzz, the Times added.

"It all culminated in a mass critical reception that basically told consumers you'd be crazy not to see this movie," Dave Hollis, the head of distribution at Disney told the online publication.

"It helped create urgency for it, becoming a motion picture event, a cultural event," Hollis continued.

"Inside Out" centers on 11-year-old Riley and how the various and colorful emotions in her head help her to cope with a move from the Mid-west to San Francisco.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates DISNEY (WALT) CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate DISNEY (WALT) CO (DIS) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • DIS's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • DISNEY (WALT) CO has improved earnings per share by 13.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, DISNEY (WALT) CO increased its bottom line by earning $4.25 versus $3.38 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.07 versus $4.25).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Media industry average. The net income increased by 10.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $1,917.00 million to $2,108.00 million.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. In comparison to the other companies in the Media industry and the overall market, DISNEY (WALT) CO's return on equity significantly exceeds that of the industry average and is above that of the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $2,918.00 million or 15.47% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, DISNEY (WALT) CO has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 15.14%.

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Disney World substation will provide new home for growing sheriff's office presence                     

Orlando Sentinel - Orange County sheriff's deputies who serve Walt Disney World do more than just write traffic tickets and deal with unruly guests — they also respond to crimes ranging from car break-ins to robberies that are reported on resort property.

As the number of visitors to Disney has grown over the years – last year its theme parks alone drew an estimated 50 million visits the Orange County Sheriff's Office has taken on a more prominent role. Among its tasks: traffic enforcement and increased efforts patrolling parking lots to prevent the dozens of car burglaries among their tens of thousands of service calls.

 

"It's not a situation that we want, where we've got tourists consistently coming to the area and they leave dissatisfied because their car was broken into," said Capt. Jeff Eifler, commander of the Sheriff's Office sector that includes Disney.

Car burglaries have dropped from 221 in 2010 to 70 last year, according to sheriff's data. The focus on parking areas has also extended to Downtown Disney's new garages. Disney's current contract with the Sheriff's Office, which expires Sept. 30, was updated recently to add eight bike-patrol deputies. They patrol the new garage and will patrol in a second that's under construction.

Now, Disney is paying to build a new $2.5 million sheriff's substation that will open in October.

Currently the Sheriff's Office mostly works out of a fire station operated by Reedy Creek, a taxing district primarily funded by Disney. Reedy Creek is paying for and will own the new 6,300-square-foot sheriff's substation north of Disney's Saratoga Springs. Three detectives who work with Disney on ticket fraud investigations out of a nearby SunTrust building will move into the new facility as well.

There are now 36 deputies, 20 administrators and clerks, and seven detectives serving Disney. The cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, controlled by Disney, pay $6.9 million this year for the service.

"It's not exactly I would say law enforcement's No. 1 concern that crime is out of control here or anything," said Bill Warren, Reedy Creek's district administrator. "We just wanted to make sure we have appropriate coverage."

The Sheriff's Office says the contract covers all its costs of providing service. The amount of the contract, however, is $5.6 million less than the $12.5 million Disney would pay if it were charged the standard law-enforcement tax paid by other unincorporated Orange County property owners.

Because Disney lies within the borders of its own specially created cities, it escapes that tax. No other city contracts with Orange County for service any more in lieu of having its own police force. Belle Isle used to but now has its own department. Some other Central Florida cities do contract, including Minneola which pays Lake County $1.2 million annually for 12 employees and Deltona which pays Volusia County $9.9 million.

The difference in Disney's law-enforcement costs has drawn criticism over the years from some Orange County politicians, including former commissioner Linda Stewart.

"The cost of safety, particularly with the Sheriff's Office, it's not that cheap," Stewart said. "We all pay a certain rate, and I just think that rate should be across the board the same rate."

Disney points out it paid $101 million in Orange County taxes last year, even though it handles many of its own government services through the separately funded Reedy Creek district.

Orange County government, which funds the Sheriff's Office, does not approve the budget and staff does not review it, a county spokeswoman said.

Eifler said the Sheriff's Office carefully calculates the cost of service.

"We don't want the taxpayers of unincorporated Orange County paying for anything as it relates to the enhanced-services contract," Eifler said.

Orange County deputies make tens of thousands of service calls each year to the resort area, many of them routine checks. Orange County sheriff's data shows that last year there were 117 "part one" crimes — particularly serious ones such as robberies and car burglaries — on two zones covering Disney. Over the past five years that number has dropped annually, from 275 in 2010. Car burglaries made up the majority.

Meanwhile traffic stops at the resort dropped significantly. Orange County does not break them out for the Disney area. But stops for Sector 6, which until 2013 was almost all Disney property, dropped from 15,000 five years ago to 8,700 in 2012. It rose to 11,600 last year, after the sector expanded.

When Disney opened in 1971 it relied primarily on its own security force to make traffic stops and keep order.

The resort currently has more than 1,000 private security guards. They are the first line of defense throughout the theme parks, where sheriff's deputies respond to crimes but generally don't patrol.

In the early days, deputies had been discouraged from parking cars in highly visible areas or using emergency lights and sirens, according to the book "Married to the Mouse." That is not the case now, Eifler said.

The Sheriff's Office began providing service to Disney with an initial agreement in 1993, Warren said.

In 2005, the first new contract with the Orange County Sheriff's Office since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks went into effect. The number of sheriff's personnel doubled to 52 amid concerns not only about terrorism but speeding and traffic violations.

Throughout the years, the original attitude has "changed and kind of morphed into … 'We want you,'" Eifler said. "They understand that the visibility and the presence of law enforcement very often makes the guest feel safe."

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Disney and deadmau5 have resolved their trademark dispute

The Verge - After nine months of legal wrangling and the occasional Twitter sniping, deadmau5 and Disney are on good terms again. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the electronic music titan (real name Joel Zimmerman) and the entertainment giant have settled their dispute over the use of deadmau5's famous mouse head, a staple in record artwork and live performances that resembles Mickey Mouse's iconic silhouette. When deadmau5 attempted to trademark the logo in the US last September — he already holds the trademark in over 30 countries — Disney filed to block the application, claiming that deadmau5's design was "nearly identical in appearance, connotation, and overall commercial impression to Disney’s Mouse Ears Marks."

This prompted a major airing of grievances on deadmau5's part, both on Twitter and through the US Trademark Office. He filed a cease and desist regarding Disney's use of his hit "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" in a video remix featuring Mickey himself, just one part of an official rebuttal that stretched over thousands of pages. He also revealed that he had been approached by Disney about collaborating on a series of projects, including a reinterpretation of Fantasia for its 75th anniversary and a remix of the Star Wars theme song for the animated Disney XD series Star Wars Rebel. But Disney didn't budge, and insisted that its opposition to the trademark had less to do with deadmau5's costume than its potential use for selling a wide array of licensed merchandise.

The exact terms of the settlement remain unclear, though more details should be revealed when the resolution is officially registered with the trademark office.

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Sunday June 21, 2015
No News Updates Today

Saturday June 20, 2015
No News Updates Today

Friday June 19, 2015
No News Updates Today

Thursday June 18, 2015
No News Updates Today

Wednesday June 17, 2015
Starbucks Opens in Animal Kingdom
Look Ahead to New Merchandise Coming to Disney Parks Later in 2015
Five things to know about Disney's Frozen Summer Fun, 2015 edition
Celebrate the Emotions from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ with New Merchandise at Disney Parks

Starbucks Opens in Animal Kingdom

The final Starbucks in Walt Disney World Opened today at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The former location of Creature Comforts, a gift shop, closed last year to make room for the coffee companies sixth store at Disney World.

The location offers the full line of Starbucks coffees and pastries as well as Disney Cupcakes, soda, milk, water and fruit.

Baristas rejoice your only a skip and a hop away from Starbucks when your on vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Look Ahead to New Merchandise Coming to Disney Parks Later in 2015

DisneyParks Blog - As summer begins at Disney Parks, here is a sneak preview of items coming later this year. This is one of my favorite articles to write as I get to share some awesome things currently in development.

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Time For MagicSliders
One of the more popularly requested accessories for MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort is a watch. I’m happy to report there will be two MagicSlider timepieces coming this summer – a Minnie Mouse analog timepiece and one with a digital display.

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Disney Pins From Regions Beyond
Memento Mori, the Haunted Mansion-themed shop located in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom Park, inspired two open edition pins coming late summer. One pin resembles the brooch that female cast members wear in the location, while the other looks like a sign found outside the shop. You can see both of those items in this previous article.

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Cogsworth and Chef Figment
Cogsworth may be one of my favorite characters from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” I was happy to see there will be a medium-sized figurine coming this September. This figurine is the companion piece to the Lumiere figurine we released in 2013. The best part – Cogsworth’s face is a working clock!

Also arriving this fall is a new 12-inch Figment plush created especially for the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. My favorite festival of the year returns to Walt Disney World Resort from September 25 through November 16.

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Villainous T-Shirts
This fall, Chernabog from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” and Hades from Disney’s “Hercules” will be featured on new Disney Villain T-shirts. I love this artwork created by Disney Design Group artist Dave Keefer.

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Disney Theme Park Holiday Ornaments
This year, we will release ornaments featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in attire representing different Disney Theme Parks. It’s probably no surprise that I adore the Epcot ornament especially since Mickey and Minnie are wearing their spacesuits from the 1980s.

Look for these and other items coming to select merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort.

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Five things to know about Disney's Frozen Summer Fun, 2015 edition

Orlando Sentinel - Disney's Hollywood Studios again will celebrate all things Anna and Elsa with its Frozen Summer Fun promotion. Here are some things to know before you go, although there's no big rush: The activities run daily through Sept. 7.

1. Olaf was found his place in the spotlight. Using a "live" version of the character in his show and processional makes him, ironically, more animated. And he's also more engaging and interactive. And agile. And dang if his "In Summer" song isn't stuck in my head.

2. "Olaf's Summer Cool Down" lasts only 10 minutes, but that's a great length in the Central Florida heat. The show is also part dance party/beach party, but when "icy magic" is promised, the crowd cries YES.

"I think the idea of the show is to give Olaf as much interactive opportunity as possible," said show director James Silson. Thus: Singing, dancing, beach balls.

3. This year, the royal processional happens twice a day and has two show stops. A new separate, icy float is promised for Elsa.

Anna rides in a carriage upfront. Another good addition is the amplification of the characters, who can now speak to guests lining the street.
4. "For the First Time in Forever," the "Frozen" sing-along, closes at the Premier Theater on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it reopened at the revamped Hyperion Theater, former home of the American Idol Experience and a much more centralized location in the park. This means more seats, more special effects and more snow inside. The enhanced effects have been in the works for seven or eight months, said Michael Roddy, show producer. But it's all new equipment there.

"Everything is here is absolutely brand-new state of the art," he said. "This is a brand-new screen, brand new technology -- 2015."

5. Finally, a shout-out to cast members in the processional, wearing too many clothes and yet happily singing along. Even the folks on horse clean-up duty were all smiles. But I don't think I'd use that image on the next Disney employment drive.

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Celebrate the Emotions from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ with New Merchandise at Disney Parks

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DisneyParks Blog - Disney•Pixar’s newest original film “Inside Out” arrives in theaters on June 19. I’m looking forward to seeing it with my son who has been watching the trailers for months now. While my parents were visiting us, they bought him a few Disney Tsum Tsum featuring characters from this upcoming film. I recently visited Downtown Disney Marketplace to discover what other items were now at Disney Parks.

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The small “Inside Out” assortment includes home décor, apparel, plush and toys. I love the five plush inspired by the emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear.

I found the Disney Tsum Tsum my parents purchased at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace in Florida. They will also be offered at World of Disney in Downtown Disney District in California.

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Other items include a deluxe figurine playset, a coffee mug, and a new book titled “Sadly Ever After” by Elise Allen with illustrations by Dan Holland.

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I love the packaging for the open edition six-pin set. Disney pin collectors should also look for an open edition pin with Joy and Bing Bong and a limited edition opening day pin (the latter has an edition size of 3,000).

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Finally, the D-Tech on Demand boutique in the Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace will also offer six different “Inside Out” designs. You can create and customize a case for the following mobile phones: iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 6/6+, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy S5. These new designs will be introduced at the location by June 19.

Select items will be found in a variety of merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. You can find other items from “Inside Out” online

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Wednesday June 17, 2015
Zuri's Sweets Shop in Animal Kingdom Opens Today
In Turnabout, Disney Cancels Tech Worker Layoffs
‘Princess Diaries 3′ Is Not Currently in Development

Zuri's Sweets Shop in Animal Kingdom Opens Today

Disney News - The latest shop to open in the newly opened Harambe Market, Zuri's Sweets Shop, has opened to guests Today at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom.

Zuri's Sweets Shop offers a line of Wines, Coffees, Candy Apples, Flame Tree BBQ Sauces and a variety of confectionaries.

The opening of Zuri's Sweets Shop completes the construction to the new Harambe Market.

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In Turnabout, Disney Cancels Tech Worker Layoffs

New York Times - In late May, about 35 technology employees at Disney/ABC Television in New York and Burbank, Calif., received jarring news. Managers told them that they would all be laid off, and that during their final weeks they would have to train immigrants brought in by an outsourcing company to do their jobs.

The training began, but after a few days it was suspended with no explanation. In New York, the immigrants suddenly stopped coming to the offices. Then on June 11, managers summoned the Disney employees with different news: Their layoffs had been canceled.

“We were read a precisely worded statement,” said one of the employees, who was relieved but reluctant to be named because he remains at the company. “We were told our jobs were continuing and we should consider it as if nothing had happened until further notice.”

Although the number of layoffs planned was small, the cancellation, which was first reported by Computerworld, a website covering the technology business, set off a hopeful buzz among tech employees in Disney’s empire. It came in the midst of a furor over layoffs in January of 250 tech workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. People who lost jobs there said they had to sit with immigrants from India, some on temporary work visas known as H-1B, and teach them to perform their jobs as a condition for receiving severance.

But it remained unclear on Tuesday who had initiated the change of strategy at Disney/ABC or whether it was part of a larger change in direction, because Disney executives declined to discuss it.

Emails and calls over several days to Kevin Brockman, a senior spokesman for Disney/ABC Television Group, were not returned. Cognizant, the global outsourcing company based in New Jersey that was bringing immigrants to the television group, also did not respond to calls or emails.

About 15 of the television group’s tech employees were in New York and the rest were based in Burbank.

The layoffs at Walt Disney World and at other companies have added fuel to a debate about temporary visas, including H-1B’s, that outsourcing firms use to bring immigrants, mainly from India, for technology work. The visas are meant for foreigners with specialized skills to fill discrete positions when Americans with those skills are not available. In the applications large companies must file for the visas, they have to confirm that no American workers will be displaced.

The Labor Department said last week that it had opened an investigation into two outsourcing companies, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, for work they did for Southern California Edison, a power utility. It also referred complaints to the Justice Department for a separate inquiry. Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, has called for an investigation of the H-1B visa program.

Tech workers who lost jobs in Orlando said Cognizant was one of the firms importing Indian immigrants to replace them.

Current and former Disney tech workers have previously not spoken publicly about the layoffs. But on Saturday, one former Disney employee in Orlando, Keith Barrett, 57, posted a personal account on Google Plus. After working at Disney for more than 10 years, he wrote, he was forced in January to take a retirement that “was not planned and was seven years before we were financially ready.” He said his family was “dealing with medical challenges.”

His time at Disney was “filled with numerous awesome moments,” wrote Mr. Barrett, who runs a blog about information technology and was managing development projects when he was laid off.

The tech employees he knew who had been required to train foreign replacements had “routinely sacrificed personal time and freedoms to help make your experience what it was” in the theme parks, he wrote. Their skills were adequate for the broad reorganization of its technology operations Disney had announced, he said. “Any skill situation could have been addressed by repositioning and/or training existing staff,” Mr. Barrett wrote.

In New York and Burbank, the layoffs announced on May 28 would have affected employees in charge of developing and maintaining internal systems. Since the layoffs were rescinded, employees have not received any new information from managers, several of them said.

Disney executives have said the reorganization that led to the Orlando layoffs had resulted in an overall increase of 70 technology jobs and the rehiring of some people who were laid off. Kim Prunty, a Disney spokeswoman, said outside contractors “are required to comply with all applicable employment laws.”

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‘Princess Diaries 3′ Is Not Currently in Development

Variety - It looks like fans of Disney’s “Princess Diaries” series will have to wait a little longer for that third installment.

Following a week of rumors that another sequel was on the way, sources close to the situation have confirmed that Disney is not developing a third “Princess Diaries.”

Rumblings of a third pic began at the end of last week when the Tracking Board reported a sequel was in development and continued after “Princess Diaries” actress Heather Matarazzo tweeted that good news was on the way for fans of the franchise.

A source close to the project said a conversation had occurred about a possible sequel but nothing came from that meeting. As of now no screenwriter is attached and the film is not being developed by the studio. Sources close to Hathaway also confirmed that there is no script and that the actress is not attached to any sequel at this time.

That doesn’t mean a third installment will never happen, especially since the franchise still has a loyal fanbase and Hathaway has become even more of a star since “The Princess Diaries 2.” Until the studio is happy with a story that does the series justice, fans will have to wait a little longer for a threequel.

The original pic overperformed at the box office, bringing in $165 million worldwide on a $26 million dollar budget. The sequel brought in $95 million at the domestic box office.

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Tuesday June 16, 2015
No News Updates Today

Monday June 15, 2015

Frozen Summer Fun Is Set to Cool Down Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney has a secret army of mothers who flood the internet with Disney propaganda
Disney ABC Television Group Introduces Youth-Focused Service Initiative
Dreamfinder and Figment Will Return in New Disney Kingdoms Comic Series This Fall
Disney Pictures Will Make Sure that ‘Frozen 2’ Will Be Truly Amazing


Frozen Summer Fun Is Set to Cool Down Disney’s Hollywood Studios

DisneyParks Blog - There’s a chill in the air. Have you felt it? A little snow cloud is descending upon Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and soon there will be frozen fractals all around as we open up the gates to the 2015 edition of Frozen Summer Fun!

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This summer-long special event starts Wednesday, bringing with it a full day of “Frozen” fun from park open to park close. Here are the highlights of what’s new this year:

Frozen Royal Welcome – This procession of Arendelle’s finest happens twice each day, and this year Olaf is joining the fun. You’ll get to see Anna and Kristoff, of course, and Elsa makes an appearance on an all-new ice palace float!

Olaf’s Summer Cool Down – This new show on the event stage at the center of the park brings Olaf and some of his friends to have a little fun with everyone “In Summer.” And as temperatures heat up, Olaf happily shares a burst from his personal snow cloud to cool things off.

“Frozen Fever” – Head into the ABC Sound Studio to enjoy special screenings of the new animated short “Frozen Fever,” along with a peek behind the scenes at the making of the film.

For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration – This popular show moves into the beautiful Hyperion Theater at the heart of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where you’ll discover all-new in-theater effects and special appearances by Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.

“Frozen” Fireworks – Following the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party, Olaf returns to the event stage with Anna, Elsa and Kristoff for a grand finale to the day’s festivities, kicking off an awe-inspiring fireworks display set to the glorious music of “Frozen” and, of course, a flurry of snow!

Frozen Summer Fun begins June 17 and continues through September 7, 2015. Maybe it’s the party talking or the chocolate fondue, but I’m really looking forward to checking out all the new features of this year’s event! What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.

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Disney has a secret army of mothers who flood the internet with Disney propaganda

Business Insider - Wendy Wright is a home-schooling mother of two, a prolific blogger and a self-described "Disney Nut." Her cats are named Mickey and Minnie, and her blog is filled with advice for visiting Disneyland, tips for holding Disney-themed parties and reviews of Disney movies.

Wright's enthusiasm for all things Disney eventually drew the attention of the Walt Disney Co, which invited her to join a carefully vetted group of roughly 1,300 Disney Social Media Moms.

The group of mothers - and a few fathers - are part of a Disney effort to incorporate the enthusiasm and influence of parents into its marketing efforts.

Wright isn’t sure why she was picked, but guesses her online postings about Disney helped. "There's been a lot on social media about our trips to Disney," said Wright, who writes about technology, entertainment and other subjects from her home in Phoenix. "It's very obvious we are a Disney family."

Disney moms are not paid, but they receive perks from the company for their efforts, including - for some - deeply discounted, four-day family trips to Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, an event that is part vacation and part educational conference. 

Disney does not tell the mothers what to write or tweet about, and it doesn't require them to post. Still, this year’s social media moms event in May generated 28,500 tweets, 4,900 Instagram photos and 88 blog posts full of ride reviews and videos of kids meeting Disney characters. And the moms' postings are overwhelmingly positive.

The theory is that mothers with a large online presence have the ability to influence travel and entertainment planning of other mothers. "For a big chunk of our guests, it's the moms who are making [travel] decisions," said Tom Staggs, Disney's chief operating officer.

The mothers say they like having a connection to Disney - as well as the possibility of scoring a spot at the Social Media Moms Celebration, which was first held in 2010. Each year, the company's theme parks division e-mails invitations to 175 to 200 people.

This year, the moms made #DisneySMMC a trending Twitter topic on the day the invitations went out. "A very magical invite with pixie dust arrived!" Wright tweeted on March 21.

In the run-up to the celebration, the invitees posted on Pinterest the "Frozen"-inspired outfits and Mickey Mouse-adorned handbags they planned to bring to the Mother's Day weekend event.

Exactly how Disney chooses its social media moms is a mystery, stoking online speculation about the secret formula. One blog post that offered advice on how to get picked was shared 1,600 times.

Common tips include interacting with Disney's Twitter accounts and expressing interest in attending one of the smaller social media events Disney hosts in various cities.

Disney executives will only say they look for moms who fit its family-friendly brand, use multiple social media platforms and are active in their communities offline.

The moms include bloggers and book authors as well as radio, TV and YouTube personalities. They  tend to cover topics such as family life, parenting, cooking, travel and crafting in addition to their postings about Disney, and only a minority are superfans who write primarily about the company’s products and theme parks, social media moms said. This year's celebration attendees had a combined Twitter following of 5 million people, or about 27,000 each on average.   

To get on Disney's radar, Rachel Pitzel, a mother of two who lives in Playa Vista, California, filled out an online application for, and was accepted to, a social media event the company held in Scottsdale, Arizona last June.

This year, she was thrilled to receive an invitation to the celebration in Orlando, Florida. "You feel like a kid again," said Pitzel, CEO of Club MomMe, a social and educational group for parents.

But the invitation doesn't come free. Attendees get deep discounts, but they nevertheless pay for their packages, which include three nights at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, theme park tickets, fast passes to skip lines and a beach-themed party. Families also pay for their own transportation.

At the day-long conference, the moms attend motivational sessions and receive social media tips and Disney updates. This year, they learned how to use Pinterest data, heard from 11-year-old lemonade stand entrepreneur Vivienne Harr and listened to a Pixar producer talk about the Disney-owned animation studio.

Disney reminds attendees of government requirements that they disclose the benefits they received when writing about the event. The company declined to disclose how much it spends on the program.    

Disney was the first major company to tap the influence of moms across a wide spectrum of social media, but the approach is now being used to promote a range of products, including Hewlett-Packard printers and Cottonelle toilet paper.

HP hired 14 mom bloggers to post print-at-home craft and project ideas on a website called MyPrintly. Kimberly-Clark's Cottonelle brand paid a group of mom influencers to serve as roving reporters and share experiences at a New Kids on the Block concert it sponsored.

Overall, moms spend $3.2 trillion annually in the U.S. economy, said Maria Bailey, a consultant who advised Disney on its social media effort and runs BSM Media, a marketing firm that connects brands with moms.

"I have clients who call and say I want to do what Disney is doing," Bailey said. "Companies want to capture the mom market."

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Disney ABC Television Group Introduces Youth-Focused Service Initiative

Variety - Disney ABC Television Group launched its Summer of Creativity initiative on Monday — a movement to support and inspire socially-conscious youth.

In addition to programming relevant content and public service announcements, the media conglomerate is offering 100 $500 grants to support individual service projects.

“Across Disney, our concern for kids and families extends beyond their entertainment to the communities in which they live,” said David Ambroz, executive director of corporate citizenship and social responsibility at the Disney ABC Television Group. “Through our group’s powerful reach and impact, we can inspire and support individuals to create change in their lives and the world around them.”

Programming events associated with the campaign include a spotlight on “Good Morning America” in July for several exemplary non-profits, and a one-hour ABC special in August hosted by Selena Gomez.

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Dreamfinder and Figment Will Return in New Disney Kingdoms Comic Series This Fall

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DisneyParks Blog - As a long time fan of Figment, I’m thrilled to announce that Dreamfinder and Figment will return this fall in an all-new Disney Kingdoms comic series titled “FIGMENT 2.” This new series is a sequel to the fan-favorite, sell-out Figment miniseries based on the beloved Journey Into Imagination attraction in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.

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“Figment 2” will be written by Jim Zub and penciled by Ramon Bachs. The Disney Kingdoms team shared with me the cover artwork created by John Tyler Christopher. He also drew an incredible action figure variant cover for this first issue (I know I’m not the only one wishing those action figures were real!).

I recently caught up with Jim Zub, who wrote the first “Figment” mini-series, to learn more about what readers can expect.

Steven: What was your reaction to the fan response to the original Figment miniseries?

Jim: “Working with these beloved characters and having our new story be embraced by Disney fandom was an absolute thrill. Whenever you’re working with established material, you want to find a balance between giving people what they expect and adding something new and unexpected. I’m incredibly proud we were able to do just that in a way that respect the core themes that make Journey Into Imagination so special.”

The miniseries was an origin story for Dreamfinder and Figment. Where do you hope to take readers with this new adventure?
 

Jim: “Our new journey picks up right where the previous mini-series left off. Figment and Dreamfinder are now in the modern world and they’re going to discover that a lot of things have changed in their absence. The legacy of dreams and imagination they left behind more than a hundred years ago is greater than they ever expected, but they’re going to find it hard to live up to their own legend. Couple that with a young dreamer inspired by the Academy Scientifica-Lucidus and a dark threat from an unexpected source and we’ve got all the ingredients for high adventure.”

I recall hearing you rode the original EPCOT Center attraction with Dreamfinder. Do you have a favorite memory from that experience?
 

Jim: “I visited Walt Disney World Resort over 25 years ago, so my memories of the original Journey Into Imagination attraction aren’t razor sharp. Going through the reference material sent over from Walt Disney Imagineering helped remind me of the main visual elements. We wanted to bring those elements into our comic in unexpected ways. Some of it is through lines of dialogue or lyrics of music, but also specific visual motifs as well. With both stories, I’ve tried channeling the feelings of wonderment and exploration the attraction left me with.”

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If you missed the first miniseries, Disney Kingdoms recently released a hardbound book of all five-issues. I found my copy at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort.

Look for “FIGMENT 2” coming to Disney Parks this fall.

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Disney Pictures Will Make Sure that ‘Frozen 2’ Will Be Truly Amazing

Master Herald - With the resounding success of “Frozen” late in 2013 which eventually became the most successful animated film in history, any attempt to make a sequel out of it will surely be under extreme pressure to either match its level or better yet, surpass it.

But Disney Pictures knows that is easier said than done. It has attempted the same feat with some of its most successful animated films like “Fantasia,” “Rescuers Down Under,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Alladin,” among many others but it turns out that the sequels were just good enough for home videos and not for theatrical release, notes iDigital Times.

The pressure is also heavy on co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee to deliver something very good and call “Frozen 2” not just the sequel of the most successful animated film in history but the equally or better sequel of the once most successful animated film in history.

Apparently, Disney is taking its sweet time not to rush the film because they would not want to make a half-baked sequel at all, committing instead to make “Frozen 2” truly amazing.

With that being said, Disney actually relinquishes the pressure to its two directors for “Frozen 2,” the other one of whom (Jennifer Lee) shall also be writing the screenplay for the film.

Starts with the good ending

In a recent interview with Chris Buck, he said that the ending for “Frozen 2” has already been agreed upon, probably between him and Jennifer, and that they are now brainstorming on how to start it right and integrated the pieces and mesh it together to make an amazing another animated movie.

But the duo has plenty of time they need to come up with something great and amazing as reports have it that Disney would not be releasing “Frozen 2” until 2018.

As Chris Buck did not mention any specifics about the movie’s planned ending, describing it only as terrific, the pronouncement led to speculations about what would it be, mostly focusing on the possible love interest for Queen Elsa.

Many fans of “Frozen” are pushing Olaf to become the love interest of Queen Elsa since the snow character embodies true love and selflessness in the first film. But of course, Olaf’s character should be refreshed and modified, and that there should be a twist in his character if he is to become Queen Elsa’s love interest for the sequel.

There have also been previous reports that a reformed Prince Hans would also be back for “Frozen 2” to redeem himself for his villainous role in the first animated film and will eventually become Queen Elsa’s love interest.

Returning main characters

“Frozen 2” will see the return of the main characters of the first film including Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven.

The plot of the second movie could be similar as “Ozma of Oz” but fans are more excited on who would be the love interest of Queen Elsa since she did not have any at all during the first movie.

In an interview last week, Buck said that the important thing is that they know where they are going but admitted that they still have a lot of things to figure out.

The Oscar-winning animator, screenwriter, and director admits that it is really a challenge to further improve on perfection since “Frozen,” being the top-grossing animated film in history, is in itself a perfect movie.

He said that it’s really tough putting together a sequel for a very successful movie because of the pressure and weight of expectations that is given on him by the producers and most especially the fans.

Having had his fair share of film-making experience, Chris Buck truly understands the power of animation and how it captivates young audiences from all around the world.

Walt Disney officials are also hoping that the immense success of “Frozen” will trickle all the way to “Frozen 2” when it is released a few years down the road.

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Sunday June 14, 2015
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Saturday June 13, 2015
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Friday June 12, 2015
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Thursday June 11, 2015
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Wednesday June 10, 2015
New Details Emerge About ‘The Edison’ and ‘STK Orlando’ at Disney Springs
First Look at Disney Animation’s ‘Zootopia’
Marvel Unveils ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Licensees
Disney Cruise Line Sails Through the Norwegian Fjord that Inspired Frozen’s Arendelle

New Details Emerge About ‘The Edison’ and ‘STK Orlando’ at Disney Springs

DisneyParks Blog - A few weeks ago, several new retail and dining experiences were announced for Disney Springs. Among them: The Edison, a lavish “Industrial Gothic”-style restaurant, bar and nighttime destination that will feature exceptional classic American food, artisanal craft cocktails and unparalleled live entertainment.

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Similar to its sister location on the west coast, The Edison at Disney Springs will be dedicated to a resurgence of old-world style, sophistication and romance. Themed to a 1920s-period electric company, the space will recall an exuberant era of invention and imagination. With 35-foot ceilings and a range of themed areas to explore, The Edison will feature nightly entertainment including contortionists, palm readers, DJs and more.

Today, I’ve also got more details on STK Orlando – a new rendering and another fun bit of info: this location will be the only spot that offers rooftop dining, in a gorgeous lounge setting, at Disney Springs.

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Progress also continues on Morimoto Asia, the first pan-Asian restaurant from celebrity Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

STK Orlando and Morimoto Asia will debut later this year. The Edison will open in 2016.

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First Look at Disney Animation’s ‘Zootopia’

Variety - Disney Animation has finally released the first look of its upcoming film “Zootopia.”

This buddy-cop animated movie, which Disney-Pixar CCO John Lasseter described as “classically Disney” at the Cannes Film Festival last month, pairs a con-artist fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) with a bunny cop (Ginnifer Goodwin). The two animals team up to crack a missing mammal case.

The first image, debuted by USA Today, shows the sly fox tripping the self-righteous rabbit.

Disney had revealed only concept art for the film when it first announced the project at 2013’s D23 Expo.

 

“Zootopia” hits theaters on March 4, 2016.

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Marvel Unveils ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Licensees

Variety - Marvel has unveiled a dozen of the licensees for next year’s “Captain America: Civil War” in the wake of Marvel-Disney’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” grossing $1.35 billion at the worldwide box office.

Marvel gave retailers a first look Wednesday at Licensing Expo 2015 in Las Vegas, with categories including apparel, accessories, footwear, core toys, sporting goods, consumer electronics, seasonal, costumes, party goods, stationery, food, home furnishings and collectibles.

Hasbro, Lego, Funko, Hot Wheels, Rubies, Mad Engine, C-Life, Jay Franco, Global Brand Group, Kellogg’s, Hallmark and American Greetings have signed on. The show will exhibit finished art and initial renditions of products, which will began landing on store shelves about eight weeks prior to the May 6 opening.

Paul Gitter, senior VP of licensing for Marvel at Disney Consumer Products, told Variety that the overall campaign will build on the success of licensed products for “Age of Ultron.”

“We’ll see an extension mixing in new characters with new skills,” he added. “There will also be a big focus on adult female apparel.”

“Captain America: Civil War” opens May 6 with Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America along with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily Vancamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl.

The campaign will feature a celebration of Captain America’s 75th anniversary that will be limited to higher-end retailers. There will also be focus on newer characters War Machine, Falcon, Vision, Black Widow and Black Panther; and an expansion into healthy living and travel.

“The Avengers team is both aspirational and hugely merchandisable, made up of multiple, unique heroes coming together with amazing skills, cool vehicles and a high tech headquarters,” Gitter said. “‘Captain America: Civil War’ not only gives us new storytelling for our favorite superheroes, but also introduces new ones allowing us to expand product lines for kids and fans.”

The storyline in “Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers. The film is directed by the brother team of Anthony and Joe Russo from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

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Disney Cruise Line Sails Through the Norwegian Fjord that Inspired Frozen’s Arendelle

DisneyParks Blog - Today the Disney Magic sailed through Norway’s breathtaking fjord that inspired Arendelle in “Frozen,” arriving to the charming village of Geiranger. 

 GEIRANGER, Norway (June 10, 2015) – Today, the Disney Magic arrived in Geiranger, Norway, for the first time in forever, sailing into the majestic fjord that inspired the fairytale kingdom of Arendelle in the animated hit “Frozen.” The Disney Magic called on Geiranger as part of the inaugural Norwegian Fjords itinerary that kicks off the 2015 European season. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

After thrilling Port Adventures in Geiranger, like kayaking through the fjord, hiking to waterfalls and flightseeing over mountains, Disney Magic cruisers will be gearing up for our special day of “Frozen” fun tomorrow. In this video, Cruise Director Brent tells you more about the exciting activities taking place this week with your friends Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf!

 

If you haven’t been following Brent’s voyage report, take a look back at his posts this week, and stay tuned for more!

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Tuesday June 9, 2015
First Look: ‘Frozen Ever After’ New Attraction Coming to Epcot
Mickey, Cinderella and Goofy take on Disney World cone of silence

First Look: ‘Frozen Ever After’ New Attraction Coming to Epcot

DisneyParks Blog - The story of “Frozen” has swept the hearts of people around the world, and we have been busy bringing it to life in our parks — from royal greetings with Anna and Elsa to sing-alongs to special screenings of the animated short “Frozen Fever.”

We first told you about our plans for a “Frozen” attraction in Epcot last fall and today, we’re thrilled to share a first look at what’s coming when it opens in 2016.

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“Frozen Ever After,” is an adventure fit for the entire family that will take guests through the kingdom of Arendelle. The fantastic Disney storytelling combined with new technology and favorite moments and music from the film will make guests feel like they stepped into the magical world of “Frozen.”

Guests will be transported to the Winter in Summer Celebration where Queen Elsa embraces her magical powers and creates a winter-in-summer day for the entire kingdom. They will also visit Elsa’s Ice Palace and the ice-blue world of the North Mountain along with other locations before returning to the Bay of Arendelle. Of course, favorite “Frozen” characters, including the Snowgies from the animated short “Frozen Fever,” will be part of this new attraction, along with the spectacular sights inspired by the film.

The Norway Pavilion’s exterior will be expanded with many unique Norwegian architectural features and the interior design of the “Royal Sommerhus” will reflect the cultural arts and crafts of Norway, providing a charming setting for guests to meet Elsa and Anna.

We’ll have more updates to share in the future, so keep checking for details right here.

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Mickey, Cinderella and Goofy take on Disney World cone of silence

Washington Post - At Disney World, the men and women who portray Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Goofy have something in common with those who labor in the CIA’s clandestine service: They can’t disclose their identities.

Then they take off the costume, clock out, and —

Nope. It’s a secret. One so classified that performers at Walt Disney World are now required to sign a document agreeing not to disclose what characters they play, so as to maintain the magic of the Disney experience. Jack Sparrow can’t ask the women he flirts with out on a date. Tweedle Dee can’t have a LinkedIn account or post photos of himself on Twitter. Goofy is vague about his job on his résumé. When Cinderella’s husband asks her about work, she mumbles something along the lines of “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” Mickey is basically a big-eared, floppy footed secret agent, minus the ear piece and the invisible ink.

And the union that represents them, Teamsters Local 385, isn’t happy about it. The new confidentiality agreement formalizes a longtime tradition of keeping quiet about performers’ identities. But Donna-Lynne Dalton, recording secretary and business agent for the union and a former character herself, says the policy takes things too far.

“They don’t work for the CIA,”

On Friday, the union filed a complaint about the policy with the National Labor Relations Board office in Tampa. The union has also filed a grievance with Disney’s labor relations department, according to Reuters.

Dalton said that the formal agreement was never negotiated as part of the characters’ contract last year. Mike Stapleton, the Teamsters’ president, added that it unfairly restricts their freedom of speech.

“Suddenly the company wants to pretend there aren’t people behind those costumes and the Constitution doesn’t extend to the theme park,” he told the Associated Press.

Besides, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse have careers to think about, and the new agreement means they can’t post their résumés online.

Dalton told the AP that 1,200 character actors across the park are covered by the policy. The park makes a distinction between “fur characters” like Donald and Mickey, who wear costumes that totally conceal their faces,  and “face” characters — pirates, princesses and others — who don’t wear masks. But both are forbidden to reveal their identities. Dave Gardetta, a former Jack Sparrow at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (which has similar policies but is not a subject of the NLRB complaint), wrote in an essay for Los Angeles Magazine that he was fired for giving his real name during an in-costume interview he did while not at work.

So far, none of the Disney World character actors have faced disciplinary action, Dalton said, but many are still worried.

“The performers are very concerned because you can’t un-tell somebody something,” she said. “They have family and friends that already know this and have pictures of themselves in their performing roles. It’s out there.”

Disney said that the cone of silence around characters’ out-of-costume identities is part of the park’s charm. Performers must act as though they’ve just stepped out of the movies they’re famous for — Snow White is baffled by iPads, “fur” characters are never spotted halfway in costume. Gardetta, the ex-Jack Sparrow, wrote that he was instructed to never admit to anyone that he played the character. “Jack Sparrow and I are just friends,” he’d demur instead.

“We’re proud of the role characters play in guest experience,” spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler told the AP. “This is in line with our longstanding expectation for cast members to uphold character integrity.”

Lee Cockerell, a now-retired former executive vice president of Disney World operations, said that concealing their Disney identities is “kind of one of these professional things that people do.”

“From Disney’s point of view, fantasy’s real,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “You don’t want to start disappointing kids and having this out there.”

But Dalton said that restricting actors’ ability to talk about their work out of costume is a matter of fairness, not fantasy.

“I believe in character integrity and not destroying the magic, but these are performers,” Dalton told the AP. “A performer who plays Santa Claus and wants work, he goes out there and says, ‘I played Santa Claus.'”

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Monday June 8, 2015
'Frozen Fever' Animated Short to be shown at Disney's Hollywood Studios during 'Frozen Summer Fun'

'Frozen Fever' Animated Short to be shown at Disney's Hollywood Studios during 'Frozen Summer Fun'

Disney News - The animated short 'Frozen Fever' will play at the ABC Sound Studio starting June 17th through September 7th. the short will play starting at 10am twice every hour through closing as part of 'Frozen Summer Fun Live at Disney's Hollywood Studios' at Walt Disney World.

Below is the 'Frozen Fever' Trailer.

 

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Sunday June 7, 2015
No News Updates Today