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Sunday September 14, 2014
Join Us on Twitter from Magic Kingdom for the MNSSHP
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Saturday September 13, 2014
Join Us on Twitter You'll Never Know where we'll be at
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Friday September 12, 2014
Join Us on Twitter from Rix Lounge at the Cava de Tequila Patron Party
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Thursday September 11, 2014
NEVER FORGET
Yondu & Falcon Head to "Disney Infinity 2.0"
Last hurrahs for Epcot's Off Kilter, other Disney acts
Maker Studios viewership jumps after Disney purchase

Yondu & Falcon Head to "Disney Infinity 2.0"

CBR - Disney Interactive has release official photos of Falcon and Yondu in action in "Disney Infinity 2.0," confirming that the design of the Falcon takes its cues from the comics, rather than "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." While no further information was available about when the two figures might be available, Disney did provide two character descriptions for the figures and their relevant power discs.

Yondu: From deepest space comes Yondu, leader of the outlaw band known as the Ravagers. Whether he’s trying to outwit the Guardians of the Galaxy or face off against a squadron of Sakaarans, Yondu will do anything to come out on top. With his whistle-powered flying arrow and devastating combat skills, Yondu is truly a force to be reckoned with. He will be playable in both the Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set and Toy Box 2.0. Yondu will also be making an appearance in the Marvel Team-Up: Yondu Power Disc. When players place the Power Disc on the Disney Infinity base, they can fight alongside the powerful, arrow-shooting ally, and send enemies running for their lives.

Falcon: Pararescue veteran Sam Wilson, codename Falcon, soars into Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes. As Captain America’s closest ally, Falcon’s an indispensible addition to the Marvel’s Avengers Play Set and Toy Box 2.0. With his EXO-7 wing pack and Hardlight Feathers, evil doesn’t stand a chance against his aerial assaults. Other characters can also fly like Falcon when players use the Falcon’s Wings Power Disc.

According to Variety, "Disney Infinity 2.0" has already broken pre-sale records for Disney Interactive, and it's due to one somewhat unsurprising source: "Guardians of the Galaxy." The Rocket Raccoon figure is selling twice as much as the "Frozen" Elsa figure (Venom is #2, Groot is #3.) -- and the figures for "Disney Infinity 2.0" aren't even publicly available until the base game launches September 23.

Given the success of its Marvel figures, it's understandable that Disney is expanding its reach to two more new figures from the Marvel Universe: "Guardians of the Galaxy's" Yondu and the Falcon -- which Variety states is the version from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" played by Anthony Mackie. While Variety revealed a character design for Yondu, there were no images released for Falcon's design.

"Disney Infinity 2.0" is set to add the Marvel Universe to the popular toys-to-life video game, giving players the opportunity to explore Marvel worlds and bring together characters from both Marvel and Disney franchises in the series' Toy Box mode. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man are currently slated for toy releases, as well as Disney's version of "Big Hero 6." Check out CBR's hands-on experience at Comic-Con International 2014, and stay tuned for more information as "Disney Infinity 2.0" heads toward its September 23 release.


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Orlando Sentinel - Walt Disney World says it's time to refresh the live-entertainment acts around Epcot's World Showcase, and that means four acts will be winding up their gigs late this month. Spirit of America, Off Kilter and the World Showcase Players bow out Sept. 27; Mo' Rockin wraps on Sept. 25.

Here's a quick guide to their performances. Each group is on stage several times a day; however, they also have days off. To double-check their schedules, go to Disneyworld.com, click on "Parks & Tickets," select Epcot, then click on "Entertainment" and find the act in question. Schedules there are arranged by date.

Disney says new entertainment is on the way, including a lumberjack show. We won't judge yet, but we will offer up already-available alternatives.
 

Spirit of America

Where: American Adventure

What Disney says it is: Fife and drum corps

What to expect: The group has two drummers, two fife players and one flag bearer/speaker in Colonial garb, right up to the three-cornered hat. The playlist is primarily Americana.

What you'll like: You'll feel a surge of patriotism even before the first spoken words, "Welcome to America" — and perhaps some nostalgia. When was the last time you were asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance?

What you'll dislike: A lot of Americans mess up the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."

What about an option?: The Voices of Liberty, an a cappella group, specializes in patriotic fare mere steps away from where Spirit of America has been marching.

Off Kilter

Where: Canada

What Disney says it is: Canadian and Celtic rock

What to expect: Five-piece band — with red kilts, bagpipes and a sense of humor — that inspires toe-tapping and sing-alongs.

What you'll like: Off Kilter crowds really get into music and the atmosphere. Among the favorites are "Whiskey in the Jar" and "Run, Run Away," which is still caught in my head. There are also twisted up-tempo versions of "Amazing Grace" and "Danny Boy," which are, appropriately, a little off-kilter but entertaining.

What you'll dislike: The audience can get oversized and make the walkway between the stage and lagoon a bit slow-going.

What about an option?: Nearby is the British Revolution group at United Kingdom pavilion.

Mo' Rockin

Where: Morocco

What Disney says it is: Arabic fusion rock

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Reuters - Monthly viewership of videos from Maker Studios more than doubled to 9 billion after Walt Disney Co purchased the multichannel network in May, Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said on Wednesday.

Viewership for Maker, one of the biggest networks on Google Inc's YouTube, stood at 4 billion per month before Disney acquired Maker in a deal valued at up to $950 million, Rasulo said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference.

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Wednesday September 10, 2014
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort Returns November 13 through January 6, 2015
Disney World on board with Apple Pay; Mickey Mouse will be Apple Watch option
So long Phone Chargers
Magical Makeover Drives Disney Store Revenue To $760 Million In The UK
‘Walt Before Mickey’ Shows Down-On-His-Luck Disney
‘Mahaloween Luau’ Coming to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort Returns November 13 through January 6, 2015

DisneyParks Blog - We may be just starting to carve up pumpkins, but I’ve got some important holiday news to share with you today! Holidays at the Disneyland Resort is returning November 13 and will continue through January 6, 2015.

The Happiest Place on Earth will get merrier once again with the following favorites:

Disney California Adventure Park

  • “World of Color – Winter Dreams”
  • Disney ˇViva Navidad! (featuring Three Kings Day, January 2-6, 2015)

Disneyland Park

  • “A Christmas Fantasy” parade
  • “it’s a small world” Holiday
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
  • “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular

Downtown Disney District

  • Downtown Disney Winter Village
  • Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink

We’ll have more to share about Holidays at the Disneyland Resort soon

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Disney World on board with Apple Pay; Mickey Mouse will be Apple Watch option

Orlando Sentinel - Parts of Tuesday's much-anticipated Apple announcements hit home for Central Floridians. The company's new Apple Pay -- a system that allows purchases via the new upsized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus -- will work at Walt Disney World right off the bat when it launches in October. Apple Pay also will work with the upcoming Apple Watch that was introduced Tuesday afternoon.

 "Apple Pay makes shopping fast and easy for guests and simplifies the check-out process for our cast members," a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson said. "Our guests are going to love the convenience of Apple Pay, which will bring an easy, secure and private way to make purchases at Disney Store and Walt Disney World Resort.”

Payment will be done with a single step, Apple said. Disney World has dabbled in alternative payments. Its MyMagic+ program, launched this year, allows people staying in Walt Disney World hotels to use MagicBands to charge food and souvenirs to their room accounts during their visits. Other visitors, including annual passholders, not staying in Disney hotel currently cannot pay using their MagicBands.

"Disney is adding Apple Pay to all of their Disney stores and Disney World in time for Christmas," said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

Apple Pay will support credit and debit cards from American Express, MasterCard and Visa, issued by banksrepresenting 83 percent of credit card purchase volume in the United States. In addition to Disney, retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy's, McDonalds, Walgreens, Subway and Whole Food Markets will support Apple Pay.

"When you’re using Apple Pay in a store, restaurant or other merchant, cashiers will no longer see your name, credit card number or security code, helping to reduce the potential for fraud,” Cue said.

Meanwhile, a familiar face will be one of the options for the face of the new Apple Watch. The old-school Mickey Mouse watch will be reinterpreted for the new technology. The iconic character, complete with arms as hands, will be one of 18 options that Apple Watch wearers can switch between. The Mickey version was featured prominently during the Apple Watch announcement.

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So long Phone Chargers

Disney News - The last day for the Free Cell Phone Locker Chargers in the Tomorrowland kiosk at the Space Mountain gift shop and Cosmic Ray's is September 12th.

It is unknown if these will return and if they do will be free of charge or not, but since the entire Resort is dependent on cell phone MM+ App it would be beneficial for Disney to have more charging stations.

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Magical Makeover Drives Disney Store Revenue To $760 Million In The UK

Forbes - A radical redesign of the Walt Disney Company’s Disney Stores in 2010 is paying off according to new research. It reveals that in the four years since the overhaul the Disney Stores in the United Kingdom alone have made $761.6 million in revenue which peaked at $200.4 million in 2012.

The first Disney Store opened in California in 1987 and three years later it entered the UK market with a flagship on London’s Regent Street. Its network has since grown to more than 40 outlets in the UK and over the past few years they have taken on a new look.

California was home to the first store with the new design which was led by the late Apple executive and Disney board member Steve Jobs. He was the brainchild behind the successful Apple Store concept but the design for Disney didn’t follow its minimalism. Instead, Disneyland itself was the model for the new format.

The result includes features which would look more at home in a theme park than a retail outlet. Touch screens allow customers to select their own Disney music and film clips to watch on a huge screen in an activity area whilst a magic mirror uses clever trickery to make it seem like Disney’s princesses are speaking to the kids who stand in front of it.

Scenes from Disney movies are projected on to transparent trees scattered around the store and at the end of the day they show a digital display of fireworks just as you would get in one of Disney’s theme parks. There is even a store opening ceremony every day where the first child waiting outside is given an over-sized key to insert into a fake lock on the door of the shop.

The final touch is that the new outlets drop the word ‘Store’ from their name and are simply known as ‘Disney’. This appears to be a neat psychological ploy to try and make visitors forget they are entering a shop and that suspension of disbelief continues inside with the new format in which the sale of products sometimes almost seems like an afterthought. This too is Disney’s desired effect as its aim is to get visitors into the same relaxed state as they are in its theme parks so they will think nothing of making a purchase, especially when their kids are having such fun.

Completing the picture, the flagship store in London even incorporates into its format a huge façade of the fairytale castle which is found at the center of Disney theme parks. It all comes at a cost.

Disney has invested a reported $480 million in the redesign globally and began introducing it to the UK in 2010/11. It is on a roll at the moment but Disney’s British invasion hasn’t always been the stuff of fairytales.

Although the Disney Store’s revenue in the UK has been steadily climbing, surprisingly, it has only finished in the black three times over the past decade and once since 2010. This came in the year to 28 September 2013 when it made an after-tax profit of $1.5 million on revenue of $197.6 million. In 2012 its bottom line was a net loss of $35,651 and the previous year it was even higher at $3.7 million. In the past four years alone it has made combined net losses of $3.3 million and the total comes to a whopping $64.7 million over the past decade. The cost of running lavish stores squeezes margins but Disney has begun to wave its magic wand and do something about that.

Graham Burridge, managing director of Disney Store Europe, says that his team members “constantly evaluate our Disney Store portfolio to ensure we are in the right locations and are able to provide magical experiences for our guests. This has led to some recent Store closures in 2013 in locations that did not meet this criteria.”

Disney reportedly closed 10 permanent and four temporary standalone stores in the year but opened a concession in the famous London department store Harrods in November 2013. Mr Burridge adds that “sales decreased slightly year over year from 2012 due to a reduction in store portfolio offset to some degree by continued growth in online business.”

To cope with the increase in online trading Disney took on 16 additional distribution staff whilst the number of full-time retail employees fell by 19. Overall, last year staff numbers were down slightly to 1506 with their total pay stable at $44.9 million.

Although there were store closures in 2013 Disney still invested in its existing outlets and spent $2.4 million on equipment, furniture, fittings and construction including development of the concession in Harrods. During the year it burned through $8.4 million of its cash in the bank leaving it with a total of $5.1 million.

The UK division is run on a day-to-day basis by Mike Stagg, vice president and general manager of retail for the UK and Ireland at The Walt Disney Company. He previously worked at Coca-Cola and consumer goods company Unilever before joining Disney in 2008.

The income from his division comprises around 15% of Disney’s total retail revenue of $1.3 billion which comes from 348 stores worldwide. It may sound like a lot but in fact it is a tiny portion of the company’s $45 billion in annual revenue. The upward trend in the UK is reflected in other regions as Disney’s retail revenue increased by 9% last year with the Disney Stores delivering their best performance to date. It was driven partly by higher store sales growth in North America, Japan and Europe and this is is on track to continue.

In 2014 Disney has begun to market merchandise themed to Star Wars characters following its $4 billion acquisition of the brand’s parent company Lucasfilm in 2012. In addition, trading in the UK has reportedly been boosted in part because of the “phenomenal” popularity of Disney’s blockbuster movie Frozen which was released in November last year. For the Disney Store, it is a tale which really does have a happy ending.

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‘Walt Before Mickey’ Shows Down-On-His-Luck Disney

Deadline Hollywood - Before he created Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney was an animator and businessman who spent a decade shrugging off failure in order to build the studio that would turn him into an icon. The indie period drama Walt Before Mickey chronicles nine years worth of these early struggles, with American Pie‘s Thomas Ian Nicholas playing the young and ambitious Disney and Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder as his brother Roy. Check out the trailer exclusively on Deadline.

 

Disney fans got a peek at the 1960s-era Walt in last year’s Saving Mr. Banks, but Walt Before Mickey offers up the pre-Depression Era “missing decade” during which he launched four studios and moved from Missouri to California, with varying degrees of success. Jodie Sweetin (Full House) and David Henrie (Wizards Of Waverly Place) also star for first-time feature helmer Khoa Le, who directs a script by Arthur L. Bernstein and Armando Gutierrez.

Pic is based on the 2011 nonfiction tome Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years, 1919-1928 by Timothy S. Susanin with a foreword by Diane Disney Miller. The film from Conglomerate Media, Jeff Rice Films, Bon Aire Productions and Kvibe Productions is executive produced by Gutierrez, Jeff Rice, and Arthur Bernstein. Filmmakers have yet to lock distribution, but I hear a deal is near and a potential fall release being eyed.

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‘Mahaloween Luau’ Coming to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel

DisneyParks Blog - It’s one day only, and guaranteed to put you in the spirit of Halloween Time – Trader Sam’s “Mahaloween Luau,” with seatings starting at 3 p.m., September 29.

Just 100 guests per seating will have the pleasure of this kooky seasonal party that includes beverages and eats, live music and insider info with Imagineers and Disney cast members. Guests attending “Mahaloween Luau” will receive a special edition glass available only at the event. Collectors take note, the second edition of the Zombie souvenir glass will also be available for purchase at the event, before it is available to the public the next day.

“Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, praise or regards, and this “Mahaloween Luau” gives fans of the Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar trademark humor an insider’s hour of fun at the legendary watering hole.

Choose your hour: 3-4 p.m., 4:30-5:30 p.m., 6-7 p.m. or 7:30-8:30 p.m. The fun starts on the patio with appetizers and two drink tickets (beer, wine, Zombie Drink or Polynesian Punch). Move inside for live entertainment and a Disney tiki presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering. You’ll also have a chance to meet some of Disney’s concept artists and other special guests.

When the party ends, you’ll get a Jungle River Cruise Expedition Bag that includes a Trader Sam panama hat, a boxed special-edition “Mahaloween Luau” glass (with a dated stamp), a Trader Sam print on canvas, and a coupon good for 20 percent off at the adjacent Tangaroa Terrace. Guests also can purchase up to two additional second-edition Zombie souvenir glasses.

Cost is $125 per person, including tax and tip. To reserve your spot, call 714-781-DINE – reservations open tomorrow!

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Tuesday September 9, 2014
No News Updates Today

Monday September 8, 2014
Halloween Carnival Returns to Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree at Disneyland Park
Disney Releases New Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) Trailer
3 Reasons Disney Can't Wait for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD to Return

Halloween Carnival Returns to Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree at Disneyland Park

DisneyParks Blog - When Halloween Time returns to Disneyland Resort this Friday, there’s going to be something new at the Halloween Carnival over at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Frontierland.

This season, the “Mystic Magic Show” will appear on the Jamboree stage to amaze you with feats of illusion and sleight-of-hand. You’ll be delighted by the juggling antics of Zester the Jester and astounded by incredible illusions and surprises from the carnival’s Master Magician. You may even get a glimpse of your future courtesy of Madame Beauchance, a comical gypsy fortune teller.

All around the Halloween Carnival you’ll find fun for the whole family, with favorite Disney characters in Halloween costumes, Mickey’s Mask-Parade, amazing pumpkin carving demonstrations, carnival-style games and activities, Halloween merchandise, and yummy treats! And don’t forget the astounding “Conjure A Villain” sideshow tent. Dare to venture inside, and you may be asked to help cast a magic spell, summoning a Disney Villain from his or her realm to meet your group before returning them to worlds beyond.

The Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree sounds like a real scream! The fun starts September 12 and continues through October 31.

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Disney Releases New Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) Trailer

Bam Smack Pow - To promote their new Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) release, Disney has debuted a new trailer showing the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy in their full digital glory.

 

From Disney Infinity’s official description:

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) just got super powered! Conquer a game universe where you have the freedom and endless opportunity to create stories and action adventures featuring the all-new Marvel Super Heroes. The Video Game Starter Pack now features a newly enhanced Toy Box, The Avengers Play Set, and Toy Box Game Discs!

The Collector’s Editions for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 are already available for pre-order and come with a slew of awesome goodies:

The limited edition offering will include the Disney Infinity Starter Pack for either PlayStation®4 or PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, along with all six Avengers Play Set figures – Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America and Hulk.

Fans who purchase the Collector’s Edition will get the Hulk figure 30 days before it will be available at retailers everywhere.

The Collector’s Edition will also come with a large, light-up diorama display featuring the giant Frost Beast boss from The Avengers Play Set. The base of this unique diorama features pedestals for collectors to display each of their six Avengers figures, along with a seventh pedestal for a soon to be announced character. The Collector’s Edition will retail for $179.99.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) will be available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC and iOS tablets and smart phones on September 23, 2014.

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3 Reasons Disney Can't Wait for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD to Return

Motley Fool - It's almost that time again, superhero fans! Season 2 of Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D kicks off Sept. 23 on ABC, and I know I'm not the only one excited to see what's in store for Coulson and his team.

In fact, you can bet Disney can't wait for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to return, either. Here are three of the biggest reasons why:

Season 1 ratings were actually really good
Believe it or not, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's first-season ratings weren't as dismal as many headlines implied.

To the contrary, based on its average 4.0 Live + 7-day rating -- which notably includes delayed DVR viewership -- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D ended its freshman season as Tuesday's No. 1 scripted show with adults 18-49. For perspective, that beat even the 3.9 Live + 7-day rating achieved by CBS' (NYSE: CBS  ) perennial Tuesday juggernaut, NCIS

At the same time, many industry pundits tend to focus on valuable Live + Same-Day ratings. On that basis, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D looked admittedly less impressive as it only beat NCIS a handful of times throughout the season.

But even then, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's Live + SD ratings practically made it a dream candidate for advertisers looking to target specific consumers on ABC. It still managed, for example, to finish as the No. 1 scripted series in its slot with Men 18-34 for all of its 22 first-run airings. In addition, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended the season as Tuesday's No. 1 show across all key men's demographics. 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promotes (and benefits from) the Marvel cinematic universe
Better yet, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also boasts less tangible benefits in fostering public interest for Disney's growing Marvel cinematic universe. As a result, you can be sure Disney doesn't mind how you watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D -- just as long as you're still watching.

And that goes both ways: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D itself enjoyed solid ratings bumps from two direct crossovers with Thor: The Dark World, and the series' entire direction was significantly altered as a result of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

We can also expect more going forward: Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron is slated for release on May 1, 2015, which is less than two weeks before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's likely mid-May season 2 finale. They'd be crazy, then, not to take advantage with another well-timed crossover.

If one thing is sure, it's that this kind of creative collaboration between Marvel Studios and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D builds a more seamless entertainment ecosystem for Disney's Marvel brand.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. serves as a launching pad for other properties
Along a similar vein, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D can also act as both a launching point and rough template for future Marvel properties.

Consider last season's introduction of Adrian Pasdar as Colonel Glenn Talbot, for instance, who is best known in the comics for his relentless pursuits of Hulk. Though it may take time to come to fruition, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this was Marvel's way of using Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to plant the seeds for a new solo Hulk film down the road. 

Marvel's upcoming Agent Carter TV series serves as another great example. Though the show's namesake character technically got her start in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, ABC will be able to learn from Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D's successes and failures to help maximize Agent Carter's chances of succeeding on the small screen. That's also not to mention Agent Carter is slated to debut during the same time slot during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's mid-season break next year, so should be able to piggyback on a fan base accustomed to seeking Marvel material during that hour.

I'll be sure to keep tabs on whether Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues building that fan base as season two progresses. But in the end, given the three huge benefits it offers to both Disney and ABC, I have every reason to believe Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can thrive for years to come.

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Sunday September 7, 2014
No News Updates Today

Saturday September 6, 2014
No News Updates Today

Friday September 5, 2014
No News Updates Today

Thursday September 4, 2014
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Celebrates 40 Years of Food, Fun at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Off Kilter fans hope Disney changes mind about Epcot changes
Disney’s Night of Joy 2014 Update: Event ‘Sold Out’, To Be Webcast Live
Disney Channel Top-Rated Network Among Kids for Third Straight Summer
Disney and Marvel Kids Sunglasses Recalled Due to Lead Paint

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Celebrates 40 Years of Food, Fun at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

DisneyParks Blog - September 5 marks the official 40th birthday of one of the longest-running dinner shows in American history – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We say “official” because the show got its start that summer (on June 30) as part of the Disney World Fine Arts College Workshop program, with six young actors playing the roles, says Forrest Bahruth, the original choreographer who still creates fantastic shows for Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment.

“Hoop-Dee-Doo was upbeat, and guests came for the corny jokes, good food and lots of fun,” said Forrest Bahruth, show director, Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment and the original choreographer for the dinner show. “Forty years later, the heart is still in it, the energy is still there.”

Of course we think the endless buckets of fried chicken and ribs play a starring role, too. The menu has only had one major change since its debut – the apple pie for dessert was changed to strawberry shortcake way back in 1979. Today, servers (who are part of the high-energy show) dish up about 900 pounds of fried chicken every night, and cooks spend about six hours each day just breading the chicken. Add 400 pounds of pork ribs, slow cooked starting at 11 a.m. daily on a big outdoor smoker.

For sides, there are 120 pounds of corn, 400 pounds of potatoes to be mashed and 30 gallons of baked beans. It takes 15 gallons of strawberries and 12 gallons of whipped cream to make dessert.

Add beer, wine, sangria and soft drinks, and you got a formula for fun – a show that has presented about 37,000 performances before more than 10.5 million guests. And like the food, the show, while fine-tuned, hasn’t changed much, says show director Tom Vazzana.

“Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue exemplifies everything that Disney stands for,” says Vazzana. “It’s interactive fun for families and stellar entertainment – six performers put on a show that’s 90 minutes of pure enjoyment.”

Performers sing, dance and act their way through the timeless classic. “I love to go and hear kids squeal with delight at Six Bits, but also hear strong American ballads,” says Vazzana. “Families tell me it’s the first time they’ve seen a Broadway-style show – it’s obtainable and accessible, quintessential Disney.”

Hoop-Dee-Doo presents three shows nightly, seven days a week, at 4 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or book online.

Looking Back

In true Disney fashion, Walt Disney Imagineers designed Pioneer Hall in authentic Wild West style with 1,283 hand-fitted pine logs from Montana and 70 tons of stones from North Carolina to recreate a look from the late 1800s. The building opened April 1, 1974.

Themed entertainment is always part of the Disney story. While Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was being written and cast, a group of country-Western musicians called The Star-Spangled Washboard Band opened in Pioneer Hall, according to an historical timeline by Larry Billman, author/writer and Disney entertainment consultant, who was the author and writer of the original show.

Bob Jani, the director of entertainment for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, saw the potential for a “dinner theater show” and hired Billman. After multiple rewrites (the first version was called “We’re With You, Mother McCree!”), Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was born.

Students from the 11-week college workshop auditioned for the three female and three male character performers in Hoop-Dee-Doo: Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew (comic relief), Jim Handy and Flora Long (the singers), and Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune (the dancers).

Fun Facts

  • Today, one member of the original cast from the college program still works for Disney – Marilyn Kay Magness, who played the part of Dolly Drew. She’s executive creative director, Disney Parks, Creative Entertainment.

     

  • An early draft of the show was titled The Whoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, which was revised to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

     

  • Principal songwriter was Tom Adair, who also wrote words for the score for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and the “Mickey Mouse Club.”

     

  • In 1979 the song “Apple Pie Hoedown” was replaced with “Strawberry Short Cake Walk” when shortcake replaced apple pie on the menu.

     

  • The writers added a nod to Disney legacy with “The Legend of Davy Crockett” skit, complete with a coonskin cap and bear puns.

     

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was part of the opening entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, with Larry Billman and Forrest Bahruth directing and staging the new version. The show played there until 1995.

 

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Off Kilter fans hope Disney changes mind about Epcot changes

Orlando Sentinel - Changes in Epcot’s entertainment lineup around World Showcase are happening this month, and that’s making some Disney World fans – particularly devotees of the Off Kilter band – unhappy.

The group, some of whom sport kilts while playing, perform on a stage in the Canada pavilion of the theme park. Their sound is described as “celtic rock.”

“When I see Off Kilter, it takes a hammer and chisel to get rid of my smile,” says Tony Coppola, of Salem, N.H.  “That’s how much those guys mean to us in the park. They are Epcot, in my opinion.”

After the changes were made public, Coppola started a Facebook page called “Save Off Kilter.” In less than a week, it gathered more than 2,000 followers.

“We’re just trying to get the word out about what Disney is doing. We’re trying to get them to reverse their decision,” Coppola says.

Last week, Disney said the runs of Off Kilter, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Mo’Rockin’, and World Showcase Players would end in September. The Mo'Rockin' group performs in Morocco. World Showcase Players are a troupe currently working the streets of United Kingdom, and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps marches into concert formation at the American Adventure attraction.

Disney constantly reviews its entertainment offerings in all four of its Disney World theme parks, the company says.

"As part of ongoing efforts to provide fresh entertainment experiences for our guests, we look forward to introducing several new and enhanced acts that will contribute to the rich mix of entertainment at Epcot," Disney said in its official statement last week. Among the incoming options are a lumberjack-based thrill show in Canada; Sbandieratori Flags in Italy; B’net Houariyat, a musical/dance act in Morocco; and Scottish Musical Trio, a Celtic musical group in United Kingdom. 

Off Kilter fan Linda Henley, of Talbott, Tenn., says the group’s music appeals to all ages.

“Little children get up and dance in front of the stage from just pure joy. Older people get up,” she says. “It’ s just amazing the way they bring people together.”

 Henley says she visits Disney World two or three times a year and plans park time around the group’s schedule. Off Kilter plays three or four sets, five days a week.  Henley lauds their range.

 “They play songs that will produce laughter. They’ll make you think. And they’ll also make you have poignancy, depending on the song they play,” she says.  The playlist ranges from “Whiskey in the Jar” to “Amazing Grace.”

Fans far from Central Florida complain that there wasn’t much notice that the end was near.

 “If you wanted to save money and then make some money at the end, they should have announced that they were letting them go six, eight months ago,” Coppolla says.

 Jess Brozena, of Franklin, N.J.,  visited Disney World in August but plans to fly to Florida for the band’s final day at Epcot, set for Sept. 27.

“I don’t understand …. if something is not broken, why are you trying to fix it?,” Brozena says. “If there’s nothing wrong with their acts, and they’re still drawing people to your parks, why are you getting rid of them?”

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Disney’s Night of Joy 2014 Update: Event ‘Sold Out’, To Be Webcast Live

DisneyParks Blog - We’re excited to let you know that Disney’s Night of Joy 2014 is officially “Sold Out” for both nights, Friday night (September 5) and Saturday (September 6). But if you didn’t get a ticket, you can still be a part of the action.

Blue Scout Media will be webcasting the event live from Magic Kingdom Park both nights. 

The link is http://stagehop.com/nightofjoy. Check out artist performances including acts like Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Skillet and Matthew West who are performing under the glow of Cinderella Castle.

Feel free to let your friends know, using #DisneyNOJ

Have a great weekend and enjoy the show – whether you’re here at Magic Kingdom Park with us or watching us online.

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Disney Channel Top-Rated Network Among Kids for Third Straight Summer

Variety - Disney Channel, boosted by a pair of original movies and popular new comedy series “Girl Meets World,” has emerged as television’s most popular total-day network among kids — as well as cable’s most popular overall — for a third straight summer.

According to Nielsen estimates, “Girl Meets World” and “Sofia the First” stood as TV’s top two series among kids 2-11 (both with 2.1 million in the age group), and Disney Channel had the summer’s six highest-rated telecasts in the demo. In addition to “Girl” and “Sofia,” the top spots in the rankings include original movies “Zapped” from late June (3.95 million kids 2-11) and last month’s “How to Build a Better Boy” (3.13 million kids 2-11).

For the summer, Disney Channel edged out Nickelodeon in the kids 2-11 demo (822,000 vs. 804,000) while winning by larger margins in kids 6-11 (592,000 vs. 453,000) and tweens 9-14 (509,000 vs. 323,000). It was the network’s sixth straight No. 1 finish in kids 6-11 and ninth straight in tweens.

“Zapped” was also summer’s No. 1 telecast among kids 6-11 (3.15 million) and tweens 9-14 (2.87 million), and it is the calendar-year leader in these categories as well as kids 2-11. Among total viewers, “Zapped” led all cable movies for the summer with 5.78 million.

Airing on Friday, “Girl Meets World” was the summer’s No. 2 new series in total viewers (4.5 million, a bit behind TNT’s “The Last Ship”) and No. 1 in persons 12-34 (1.71 million), according to Nielsen estimates from May 26-Aug. 31. It also finished on top among all televisoin series in kids 6-11 (1.61 million) and tweens 9-14 (1.52 million).

In primetime for summer, Disney Channel finished No. 3 in total viewers (behind TNT and USA) and Nickelodeon was sixth.

The 24-hour Disney Junior channel was summer’s No. 1 preschool-dedicated TV network for a second straight year in total viewers (498,000), rising vs. last year to open up some distance on Nick Jr. (301,000) and nearly tripling Sprout (133,000). Disney Junior was also tops among these networks in kids 2-5 (238,000), girls 2-5 (117,000) and boys 2-5 (121,000).

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Disney and Marvel Kids Sunglasses Recalled Due to Lead Paint

Daily Finance - At least 20 styles of Disney (DIS) and Marvel branded kids' sunglasses were recalled because they were made with lead paint, in violation of federal law, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday. In addition, some sunglasses sold under the Sears (SHLD) and Kmart brand are being recalled.

Among the styles being recalled are those with Disney's Doc McStuffins, characters from the "Cars" movies, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and the Mickey Mouse Club. Marvel's Spider-Man sunglasses were also recalled.

Consumers are asked to take the recalled sunglasses away from children and contact the distributor to either get a refund or a free replacement sent to you. 

More than 200,000 of the sunglasses were sold at CVS (CVS), Walgreens (WAG), Rite-Aid (RAD), Kmart, Bon Ton (BONT) and other stores between December 2013 and March 2014. They were priced at between $7 and $13.

The sunglasses were imported from China by the Rhode Island company FGX International. You can contact FGX at (877) 277-0104 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Federal standards regarding lead in paints for products intended for children 12 and under have been tightened in recent years to allow virtually no lead at all -- only 0.01 percent, or 100 parts per million. Lead paint can be dangerous, particularly to young children who tend to put things in their mouths. Ingested lead has been connected to a variety of health problems in children, including neurological issues.

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Wednesday September 3, 2014
Disney: Friday's session of Night of Joy sold out
No Tricks, Just Treats at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort
Line-Up for 2014 Candlelight Processional at Epcot
Disney Reveals Next Three Animated Shorts
Disney Fights DJ over Ears logo

Disney: Friday's session of Night of Joy sold out

Orlando Sentinel - The first evening of this year's Night of Joy event at Magic Kingdom has sold out, a Disney spokesman says. The Christian-music festival will be held Friday and Saturday nights after regular theme-park hours.

A limited number of tickets remain for Saturday's session. Advance tickets are $59.

Friday’s acts include Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, For King & Country, Mandisa, Building 429, Matt Maher and The Neverclaim. Saturday performers include Skillet, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Britt Nicole, Colton Dixon, Rhett Walker, We As Human and 1 Girl Nation

The event has been held annually at Magic Kingdom since 1983 with a two-year detour at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

For tickets or more information, call 407-939-7679 or go to NightofJoy.com

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No Tricks, Just Treats at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort

DisneyParks Blog - Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, especially with all the festivities at Walt Disney World Resort. I recently had the chance to check out some of the spooky sweets that the team at Magic Kingdom Park have conjured up for this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Don’t worry–there are no tricks, just plenty of delectable treats in store for our guests.

If you’re planning to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, be sure to check out the spook-tacular offerings specially created for the season. Stop by the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor for a creepy Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich. Ghouls of all ages will love choosing their favorite flavor of ice cream and sandwiching it between two freshly baked sugar cookies. Next door at Main Street Bakery, you’ll find the simply yummy Mummy and Candy Corn Cupcakes. If you’re looking for a more ghoulish delight, stop by Gaston’s Tavern for a Ghost Cupcake.

For the serious sweet tooth, I suggest checking out the Candy Corn Cotton Candy found on carts throughout the park. In addition, Storybook Treats in Fantasyland will be serving up Candy Corn Soft Serve. Take one bite into the cone and you’ll know this isn’t a trick—the cone is filled with candy corn. Yum!

I’ve always believed that breakfast food is meant to be enjoyed at any time of day. The Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae from Sleepy Hollow is a festive way to indulge during the party. The hot waffle is topped with soft serve, cinnamon sugar and spooky sprinkles. It tastes so wickedly wonderful, you might just lose your head over it.

Ghoulish gulps will also be materializing for the party. Kick back with some Pumpkin Spice Bubble Tea at The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland or prepare to pucker with Buggy Brew from Friar’s Nook. My favorite? The Wormy Apple Slush from Gaston’s Tavern, complete with real (gummy) worms.

These treats are only available at Mickey’s Not-So Scary Halloween Party, taking place on select nights from September through October. 

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Line-Up for 2014 Candlelight Processional at Epcot 

Below are the entertainers for the 2014 Candlelight Processional at Epcot.

Entertainers Subject to Change Without Notice:

Nov 28 to Nov 29: Jodi Benson
Nov 30 to Dec 2: Neil Patrick Harris
Dec 3 to Dec 4: - TBD
Dec 5 to Dec 6: Whoopi Goldberg
Dec 7 to Dec 8: - TBD
Dec 9 to Dec 11: - TBD
Dec 12 to Dec 14: - TBD
Dec 15 to Dec 17: Sharon Stone
Dec 18 to Dec 20: 
Ana Gasteyer
Dec 21 to Dec 23: 
Marlee Matlin
Dec 24 to Dec 25: Isabella Rossellini
Dec 26 to Dec 27: Blair Underwood
Dec 28 to Dec 30: 
Steven Curtis Chapman

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Disney Reveals Next Three Animated Shorts

Variety - The next three animated shorts from Disney will star the characters of “Frozen,” a puppy and singing volcano.

“Frozen Fever,” announced Tuesday in a special on ABC about the making of the blockbuster toon, will revolve around Anna’s birthday and the complications that ensue when Elsa’s icy powers get in the way of throwing a celebration. The short, which will reunite “Frozen” directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, as well as songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, will debut in Spring 2015.

Next summer, Pixar Animation Studios’ “Lava,” directed by James Ford Murphy, will feature a Hawaiian volcano named Uku who sings a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and is looking for love. Singer Kuana Torres Kahele provides the volcano’s voice, whose look was inspired in part by Jackie Gleeson, Murphy has said. The short will be attached to Pixar’s “Inside Out,” on June 19, 2015.

Meanwhile, “Feast” will focus on a Boston terrier puppy named Winston and his relationship with his owner over 12 years as the two discreetly share meals under the table. The short, directed by Patrick Osborne (“Paperman”), will play in front of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Big Hero 6,” out Nov. 7.

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Disney Fights DJ over Ears logo

TMZ - Deadmau5 is now in a legal brawl with Disney over whether his famous headgear is too similar to its logo  -- but the DJ says the Mouse House hasn't made a squeak about this for a decade.

In documents filed Tuesday ... Disney claims Deadmau5's logo is too similar to their famous Mickey ears, and they're trying to block him from getting a trademark in the U.S.

Of course, Deadmau5 has been wearing his mouse head costume for 10 years now -- and his attorney Dina LaPolt tells TMZ he already has a trademark for it in 30 other countries ... including Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.K.

Deadmau5 applied through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year. 

In the docs, Disney states its ears have been a thing for more than 60 years, and says granting Deadmau5 the trademark would damage its business in the U.S. and around the world. 

But Deadmau5 doesn't seem bothered by Disney's filing ... telling us he won't be bullied, and is prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property.

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Tuesday September 2, 2014
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Is on His Way to Disney California Adventure
Season 2 Preview of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Disney World Is Opening a Starbucks 'Trolley Car Café'
Details Materialize About New Haunted Mansion-Themed Shop Coming to Magic Kingdom Park This Fall
‘The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic’
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Celebrates 35 Years at Disneyland
Oz Grants Disney Transfer Of Tax Incentive To Lure ‘Pirates 5′ Down Under
The Edgy Cameo Disney Refused To Let Stan Lee Film
Re-starting Star Wars: How Disney brought new hope to the saga
Iron Man 4 movie rumors: Will Marvel and Disney sign up Robert Downey, Jr.?
Disney Out of Blockbusters for 2014
New Merchandise Coming to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Is on His Way to Disney California Adventure

DisneyParks Blog - Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of Walt Disney’s earliest cartoon stars, has had a presence at Disney California Adventure park for the past couple of years, from those delightful rabbit ear hats to the Oswald ice cream sundaes at Clarabelle’s. Now, Oswald himself is set to come home to Disneyland Resort!

Oswald made his film debut September 5, 1927, in the cartoon short “Trolley Troubles.” Walt Disney went on to produce 26 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts, before losing the rights to the character in 1928. It was that experience that inspired the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the rest as they say, is history. Oswald finally returned to the Disney family in 2006 and made his first Disney Parks appearance earlier this year at Tokyo DisneySea.

Later this month, you’ll finally be able to meet Oswald on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park. Just look for the lucky little rabbit strolling along the sunny side of the street, starting September 14!

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Season 2 Preview of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel - New Twists, New Turns, Who do you Trust? Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Returns Tuesday, September 23, 9:00pm Catch the teaser below.

 

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Disney World Is Opening a Starbucks 'Trolley Car Café'

Yahoo - Mega coffee chain Starbucks is opening in Disney's Hollywood Studios next year with an unusual concept. According the Disney Parks Blog, the store will be called the Trolley Car Café and as such it will be "themed to a classic trolley car station along Hollywood Boulevard." The Trolley Car Café will serve both Disney pastries and Starbucks La Boulange products.

This will be the third "in-park Disney operated" Starbucks location at Walt Disney World. Starbucks also operates locations. The first Starbucks-owned and operated location opened earlier this Summer and is chock full of buzzy design details like a living moss wall and touchscreens. The Trolley Car Café is slated for a February 2015 opening.

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Details Materialize About New Haunted Mansion-Themed Shop Coming to Magic Kingdom Park This Fall

DisneyParks Blog - A few weeks ago, I announced that a new Haunted Mansion-themed merchandise shop is coming to Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort this fall. This destination will carry an incredible assortment of Haunted Mansion Authentic merchandise created especially for Disney Parks (you can see some of those items in this video article. As friendly spirits continue preparing the shop to open in the fall, I caught up with my Walt Disney Imagineering partners who shared some additional details about what guests can expect.

The image shown above is part of the art for the yet-to-be-named location. Look carefully as you may see a familiar looking face in the artwork that is related to the shop’s storyline:

“Rumors have been whispered for years about the little shop that once was the abode of Madame Leota. While she disappeared many years ago, it has been said her visage appears now and then and her voice, carried on the breeze, is sometimes heard, humming a mournful tune.”

When asked about the cast members who will work at this shop, I was told:

“The shop staff is a friendly, if somewhat quiet, group. They go about their duties with a calm and reverent manner but with a knowing glint to their eyes. They are well aware that the locals view the shop with a sense of mystery but come in anyway, hoping to find the perfect memento or to possibly learn about their future or past.”

Speaking of mementos, I thought you may like to see some additional Haunted Mansion Authentic products coming to this location.

I invite you to “hurry back” here in the coming weeks for more details about this new location.

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‘The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic’

Variety - What could easily play like another synergistic infomercial or glorified electronic press kit somehow trumps that with “The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic,” an ABC special touting its parent company’s valentine to warm the hearts of shareholders. Perhaps that’s because “Frozen” qualifies as a legitimate cultural phenomenon, plus the recollections of those involved – and how the film found its voice – are personal and enlightening enough to overcome the obvious fluff factor. Parents, in particular, should let their kids see the hard work underlying such an enterprise, since nothing here will spoil the magic.

For those unfamiliar with how labor-intensive the genre is, it’s stated right off the bat that the movie – now the highest-grossing animated film of all time – employed 600 people for 2 ˝ years. More notable, though, are the contortions through which the story went before the signature song, “Let It Go,” “fundamentally changed the entire movie,” as Pixar/Disney animation mastermind John Lasseter put it, giving purpose and direction to the character of Elsa through that near-unavoidable anthem.

Narrated by Josh Gad, alter ego of the snowman Olaf, the special not surprisingly spends a fair amount of time with the stars, including Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell. But the producers (from an offshoot of ABC News, naturally) also have considerable access not just to the animators but all kinds of amusing details, including video of the artists frolicking in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in order to get the feel of animating snow; or how they used their own kids as inspiration for scenes involving the young princesses Elsa and Anna. There are other intriguing tidbits, like the fact “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” arguably the second-best song, nearly didn’t make it into the movie until a so-so test screening and several employees lobbied to reinstate it; or that animator Hyrum Osmond worked a small homage to his uncle, Donny, into one of the numbers.

Despite the concern that seeing the ice palace in unfinished form might demystify it, the effect even for small fry should rather be the opposite – heightening appreciation for the meticulous attention to detail that realized those soaring images. The same goes for heart-warming stuff about the movie’s global reach and its undeniably powerful hold over little girls, something co-director Jennifer Lee wryly notes will likely have to wait until those kids have grown up in order to fully comprehend why.

All of the major media conglomerates are periodically guilty of synergistic sins, and Disney — cross-collateralizing its parks, networks and merchandising apparatus — almost certainly indulges those impulses more than most. But even if “The Story of Frozen” (which includes plugs for future incarnations, among them an arc on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” along with teasing the upcoming movie “Big Hero 6”) helps with marketing and sells a few more DVDs, there’s enough justification to celebrate a title that truly earned the over-used designation “classic” to soothe a cynical brain – or maybe, melt a frozen heart.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Celebrates 35 Years at Disneyland

DisneyParks Blog - “This here is the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Guests first heard that warning on September 2, 1979, when Big Thunder Mountain Railroad debuted in Frontierland at Disneyland park. Since then, the popular runaway mine train as taken more than 225 million guests on a wild ride through 19th century gold-mining territory. The mountain was inspired by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and objects found inside are actual artifacts from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming. The opening also marked the third peak in the Disneyland park mountain range. (Matterhorn Bobsleds and Space Mountain were the first two.)

Last March, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad re-opened after an extended refurbishment with new track and an enhanced audio system. Come check it out! For now, take a trip back to 1979 and watch as Mickey Mouse turns the key and boards the runaway mine train with some of his Disney friends.

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Oz Grants Disney Transfer Of Tax Incentive To Lure ‘Pirates 5′ Down Under

Deadline Hollywood - Update: The Australian government has approved the reassignment of a A$21.6M ($20.2M) tax incentive for Disney to bring the shoot for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Down Under. In 2013, those same funds had been earmarked for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo, but the studio is understood to have asked for a transfer with that project now in stasis. According to local trade If.com, a spokesman for Oz Arts Minister George Brandis said, “The government is pleased to agree to Disney’s request to enable earlier funding to be repurposed for the production of Pirates Of The Caribbean 5.” However, “Any decision to film productions in Australia… is a commercial matter for Disney.” The incentive is said to fall a bit short of an extra boost Disney was seeking and could mean that regional agencies would be relied upon to make up the difference. I had previously been cautioned that Disney was mulling other locations, and If today suggests one possibility could be Mexico. Should Pirates end up in Oz, The Queensland Times says special tanks at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast would be employed. Australia has been pushing for legislation to make it a more competitive destination for foreign productions with calls to raise the standard tax rebate from 16.5% to 30%, something that’s been slow in coming
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Previous: While Hollywood has been fighting to get new tax incentives cleared by Sacramento that would help stem runaway production, Australia has faced its own battle to push for legislation that would allow it to be more competitive as a location destination. In recent years, the strong Oz dollar has hampered Australia’s ability to attract large-scale foreign films, but one mega-production may soon be setting sail for the Gold Coast.

Disney is understood to be considering an early 2015 shoot for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in Australia. I hear Oz is just one location being mulled, but if the movie were to set up shop Down Under, it could do so under potentially lucrative circumstances. Last year, in the largest inducement it’s ever offered to a Hollywood production, the Oz government confirmed it would give Disney a one-off payment of A$21.6M (US$20.14M) to shoot 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo in Australia. However, with the status of that film unclear, it’s understood that discussions are underway to transfer the incentive to Pirates 5. The original amount offered to 20,000 Leagues was in addition to the standard 16.5% tax rebate on local spend by foreign productions in Australia, and effectively raised the rebate to 30% — a figure the local industry has long lobbied for as the standard.
With California’s Senate Appropriations committee last week passing an expansion of the state’s $100M Film and TV Tax Credit Program to $400M, and with other increasingly attractive offers in the UK and elsewhere, it would seem appropriate that Australia be more vigilant than ever.

The Oz government, which in May announced A$38M in cuts to Screen Australia over four years, has been slow on the uptake of an across the board 30% incentive. But if it were to pony up to bring the Joachim Rřnning and Espen Sandberg-helmed Pirates Down Under, it would not be without precedent. The payment would be similar to the A$12.8M granted by the federal government which persuaded Fox to shoot The Wolverine in Sydney in 2012. The last Pirates movie, On Stranger Tides, partially shot at Pinewood in the UK where Disney has made many of its recent films, but I hear it’s looking likely this one could go to Oz. A move would be a boon for the local production sector whose big 2014 shoots included Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Dwayne Johnson disaster pic, San Andreas — which ostensibly takes place in California.

Oz’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance union says it has met with Disney to discuss “a big-budget feature proposed to shoot in Australia at the start of 2015.” It also says it understands the federal government has agreed to allow the additional funding incentive originally reserved for 20,000 Leagues to be reallocated to this new production.

MEAA Director Malcolm Tulloch wrote to Arts Minister George Brandis on Friday to express the group’s support for an overall increase in the incentive for foreign productions. He noted in his letter that “Australian film talent is now being lost to the UK, the U.S. and Asia. Australia’s film industry is at the crossroads and in danger of losing its world standing unless it introduces competitive location incentives. The previous Federal Government committed additional support to The Wolverine in 2012, lifting the total taxpayer contribution for that movie to $25M. This small investment resulted in over $80M of foreign investment in Australia and created more than 2,000 jobs.”

MEAA says it’s aware that there have been “a significant number of productions” that have applied for a one-time increase to the rebate. “None of these productions have however come to fruition. As a result of uncertainty in this area Australia is now being overlooked by international feature film producers,” Tulloch contends. Further, he says, “We are aware that your department has been or will be approached to make a one off 30% Location Offset for a planned Disney production for this year. The production is mooted to be the biggest international feature film to be made in this country. We are currently negotiating industrial agreements that give the production certainty regarding its production labour costs. We would encourage the Federal Government and your department to work constructively with the film’s producers to ensure that this production is filmed in Australia.”

All this is happening while nearby New Zealand last year upped its production tax incentives in tandem with James Cameron agreeing to shoot his three Avatar sequels in the territory. Cameron pledged to spend at least NZ$500M over the next three installments of Avatar and that about 90% of the crew would be local. Overall, the Kiwi government at the time hiked the rebate from 15% to 20% for international film and television productions with a further 5% available for international productions that deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand.

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The Edgy Cameo Disney Refused To Let Stan Lee Film

Cinema Blend - James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy is Marvel's weirdest, most outrageous film yet. It is also the first film of their's that has really pushed the edges of what can and cannot be gotten away with in terms of a Marvel/Disney films' sense of humor. Take the now infamous "Jackson Pollock"/Blacklight line that Chris Pratt has on board his ship, The Milano. Not even James Gunn could believe he got away with including those lines in the finished film. It is, indeed, a line that one wouldn't expect a Disney movie to contain, which makes the moment all the more funnier. However, there were still moments that had to be cut by the studio's mandate.

Collider grabbed a moment with both James and his brother Sean Gunn at Dragon Con this weekend, and one of the moments that they had to alter was the appearance of intergalactic ladies man and generalissimo supreme, Stan Lee himself. Reports the site,

"One of the losing battles regarded Stan Lee’s original cameo in the film.  Originally, Gunn had planned to have Lee in one of the Collector’s exhibits.  Groot would then look at the exhibit aghast, to which Lee would flick off the large tree creature."

Normally this would seem like a typical Disney move, but this is the same movie that saw Chris Pratt get away with flipping off the Nova Corps in a line up of hardened criminals. So what makes his hand gesture different than that of Stan Lee's? Quite simply, it's the fact that Stan Lee is an actual person and not a fictional character. In fact, you could say that Stan Lee is the face of Marvel, as he's cameo-ed in almost every Marvel picture since X-Men.

Star-Lord flipping off the camera is understandable, because at that point in the film he's an outlaw we're not completely siding with. Stan Lee, on the other hand, is a real life figure that transcends the roles he's given, and if kids see Stan Lee flip the bird after starring in high profile/mostly funny cameos, they might expect that behavior to carry over into future cameos. Also, kids might be more susceptible to learning the ways of the middle digit if they see it elicit laughs twice in the same "family friendly" picture.

While Disney has indeed gotten a little more progressive with what they let into a Marvel movie, they're naturally going to draw the line somewhere. If drawing the line involves including rude gestures in more fitting contexts and without positively reinforced repetition, then frankly that's still a win. Never fear, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will probably find ways to push the envelope in more fun and raunchy ways that Guardians Of The Galaxy didn't even think of.

Guardians Of The Galaxy is currently in theaters (and still the reigning champ,) with Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 penciled in for a July 28, 2017 release date. 

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Re-starting Star Wars: How Disney brought new hope to the saga

Orlando Business Journal - As Disney's fourth quarter comes to a close, all seems well in a galaxy far, far away.

Harrison Ford (aka Han Solo) is finally back on the Episode VII set and filming is on schedule for the Dec. 18, 2015, release date. Social media is swelling with free advertising in the form of potential plot spoilers. And with the holiday shopping season not far off, new lines of Star Wars merchandise are already hitting retail shelves.

But in reality, all the familiar faces and childhood icons are sort-of a distraction from the clean slate start to Disney's long-term Star Wars plan.

The headline that is Episode VII is mostly based around the inclusion of the Star Wars Fab Four: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca. But the future of Star Wars was set in motion when Disney revealed that the stories and characters developed after Return of the Jedi in the Star Wars Expanded Universe would not be canon to the next three episodes. And while decisions to stop production on Star Wars gaming titles and cancel the planned Star Wars Detours comedy series were not popular with fans, the end result was open territory. In other words, it's all going to be new to everyone.

If the idea of uncharted territory raises concerns, fear not. Look at Disney's success in the Marvel Universe as a pre-curser. There is no Marvel film that does not share some common thread as the future of the movie franchise has been mapped out to the year 2021. Even Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series is an integral part of the saga. And while overlapping story arcs and character reinventions are nothing new to the comic book industry, Disney is raising the art of episodic storytelling to new a new level in movie theaters. Now just imagine that kind of story treatment with original characters and limitless possibilities. That is what Disney's Star Wars is all about.

As with Marvel, Disney needs to respect the history of the Star Wars franchise — even the prequels. But the ability to develop new material without obligation to existing storylines or a pre-determined ending has the potential for the kind of mass appeal the franchise has not enjoyed since the 1977 debut of the first Star Wars film.

And don't forget the stand alone films and television show.

If rumors are correct, the additional Star Wars films would center on the history of characters like Han Solo and Boba Fett(cue the fanboy happy dance). These films would not only give fans untold stories of favorite characters, they could follow Disney's Marvel mentality and provide tie-in material for the new trilogy. Even the highly anticipated Star Wars: Rebels animated series, which takes place many years before Luke Skywalker's adventures, will have a stake the new stories. A league of villains based on a race of Expanded Universe characters known as Sith Inquisitors are said to inhabit both the Rebels and Episode VII stories. After all, it is a saga. Every timeline has something in common. And as books and games are developed, there is even more opportunity to bind every story arc of the Star Wars saga together.

Yes, there will be merchandise and theme park environments and enough revenue to make Disney investors party like Ewoks. But it's all a byproduct of the story that is being played out right now. The stage is set and the players are in place. All that's left is to wait for curtain call. Sixteen months and counting. 

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Iron Man 4 movie rumors: Will Marvel and Disney sign up Robert Downey, Jr.?

CT - Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have already welded together the character of Tony Stark and actor Robert Downey, Jr. and it seems that it will not be easy for many to see another actor putting on the iron suit. But while followers of the franchise are eagerly waiting for a sequel to Iron Man 3, Iron Man 4 plot rumors will just be rumors until Marvel and Disney sign up RDJ.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly last July, RDJ said, "It's down to Kevin [Feige, the president of Marvel Studios] and Ike [Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that's on us to agree or disagree. When things are going great, there's a lot of agreement."

RDJ doesn't seem to have qualms playing another Iron Man movie though. As early as last year, he already told Screen Rant, "Iron Man 3 was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all of my uncomfortable moments in the past with playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. And then we shot the movie and I still feel there's a couple other things we've gotta do."

At any rate, Marvel had already announced in July that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will expand until 2019. The company already pegged dates on when they will release upcoming superhero movies, although they're pretty tight-lipped about details.

After the showing of the Guardians of the Galaxy last August 1, the next one will be Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will be shown on May 1, 2015. Two and a half months later, on July 17, 2015, it will be Ant-Man; then Captain America 3 will roll out in theaters on May 6, 2016. Marvel fans will then welcome Doctor Strange on July 8, 2016.

The sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy will be shown on July 28, 2017. Marvel has also marked Nov. 3, 2017; May 4, July 6 and Nov. 2, 2018, and May 3, 2019.

Fans can speculate on which movies would fill out the remaining dates. Variety mentions possibilities, including Avengers 3, Thor 3, and standalone films for Black Widow and Black Panther. Followers can only hope that one of those blank dates is reserved for the fourth installment of the Iron Man franchise.

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Disney Out of Blockbusters for 2014

Yahoo Finance - The summer movie season ended on Labor Day, and we’ve now entered the fall season, which runs through the Thursday November 6. The summer champion was crowned over the final weekend: “Guardians of the Galaxy” from Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS) Buena Vista Studio posted has more than $280 million in U.S. ticket sales since its release on August 1.

The better news for Disney is that “Guardians” displaced the previous 2014 leader “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” also from Buena Vista. With “Guardians” as the box office sales leader for the year to date and “Captain America” in second with almost $260 million, Disney is having a very good year indeed -- and that’s before you add in the year’s fifth highest grossing film, “Maleficent,” also from Buena Vista, which has done nearly $240 million in ticket sales so far this year.

Disney’s share price has risen about 18% so far in 2014 and rose nearly 5.3% in August alone. The consensus target price on the stock is around $93.80 and the stock closed at $90.23 last Friday, within a buck of its all-time high of $91.14. The 52-week low is $60.52 and that was set almost exactly a year ago. The annual low will rise above $65 by mid-September and reach $70 by mid-November.

The next movie the company has on its release schedule is due October 10, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner. The PG-rated film is not likely to threaten the top of the box office rankings. An animated feature, “Big Hero 6,” is due on November 7, followed by a musical, “Into the Woods,” starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Johnny Depp on Christmas Eve.

There doesn’t look to be anything there that can lift the stock’s high to match the $15 per share rise in the annual low. The high price target among 28 analysts covering the stock is $108 a share, which is about the level the stock would have to rise to in order to match its rate.

Disney’s studio entertainment division posted revenues of $1.8 billion in the third fiscal quarter, about 14% of the company’s total revenues. Operating income of $411 million represented about 11% of the company’s total. For Disney, the big money is in its media networks division with ABC, ESPN and its eponymous cable channels. Networks generated 44% of revenue and nearly 60% of operating profit in the second quarter.

It is probably a good thing that Disney doesn’t depend on movies, even the blockbusters. Ticket sales for the summer season were down nearly 22%, according to Box Office Mojo, to a total of $3.8 billion. For the year so far, 2014 is the worst for U.S. ticket sales since 1997. Even the scheduled November 21 release of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF) may not be enough to push ticket sales above last year’s level.

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New Merchandise Coming to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom

DisneyParks Blog - Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party returned to Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort on September 1, 2014. This fun Halloween-themed event runs select nights from 7:00 p.m. to midnight through October 31. I’ve attended the event a few times during my time with Disney. It’s fantastic! I love that so many guests dress in costume and the entertainment is outstanding (okay, I’m also a big fan of the candy). This year, guests should look for some commemorative items created especially for this event, including apparel, pins, and, for the first time, a limited-edition graphic MagicBand.

Presented in a decorative box, the limited-edition graphic MagicBand will include the event logo. It will have an edition size of 5,000 and will retail for $29.95 (plus tax). Guests must present one of the following for the MagicBand to be linked to at the time of purchase: valid theme park admission, Memory Maker card or an active MagicBand.

Guests attending the event will also find a few apparel items for adults and kids, including both long and short sleeved options plus a ladies’ cut T-shirt. A slightly altered event logo was used for the limited-release pin.

Speaking of pins, guests should look for a couple of different things, including individual limited-edition pins (Chip ‘n’ Dale with Clarice is my favorite), a boxed set, a framed set, and a limited-release mystery pin set.

One final item wasn’t created specifically for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party but I thought it was perfectly themed for the event. It’s a limited release, graphic MagicBand that contains the infamous wallpaper from the Haunted Mansion attraction (retail is $24.95 plus tax). This item will also have to be linked at the time of purchase just like the aforementioned limited-edition graphic MagicBand.

Please visit the following Magic Kingdom Park locations to find these products:

  • Emporium – Main Street, U.S.A. (pins, apparel and MagicBands)
  • Frontier Trading Post – Frontierland (pins and MagicBands)
  • Mickey’s Star Traders – Tomorrowland (pins and apparel)

Please note the Haunted Mansion-themed graphic MagicBand will only be sold at Magic Kingdom Park at this time. Guests do not have to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in order to purchase it.

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