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Friday, May 29, 2009

Toy Story 3 teaser now available on Apple.com


Check out the Toy Story 3 teaser trailer that was just released on Apple.com/trailers!

There isn't any plot information in this teaser, but it's still nice to see something from the Toy Story world.

New American Idol, Kris Allen, celebrates his win at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Dreams keep coming true for new “American Idol” Kris Allen.

Last week, the 23-year-old singer from Conway, Ark., became the newest “American Idol” by garnering the most fan votes in the television series’ thrilling Season Eight finale. Moments after his victory, Allen did what dozens of sports celebrities and heroes have done for more than two decades: He looked into a television camera and shouted, “I’m going to Disney World!”

This week, America’s newest star lived out his post-finale show pronouncement when he basked in the glow of a victory parade and gala celebration at “The American Idol Experience,” the new Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park attraction based on the “American Idol” television show.

Celebrating with Allen Friday at Walt Disney World was his new bride, Katy. The longtime sweethearts were married eight months ago.

Thousands of fans turned out May 29 for Allen’s day in the Disney sun, which included a party-filled procession through the theme park and a chance for fans to see the newest “American Idol” amidst the celebratory setting.

In the iconic commercial shot on the Nokia Theater stage in Los Angeles following the May 20 season finale show, Allen not only shouts the famous “I’m Going to Disney World!” line, but his voice also is featured throughout the ad as he performs the famous song, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” And with the same immediacy that has made the Disney spot one of the most beloved commercials of all-time, the newest “I’m Going to Disney World!” commercial debuted on television within hours of the “American Idol” finale.

By starring in the Disney commercial, Allen joins a line-up of superstar professional athletes and heroes who have shouted the famous “I’m Going to Disney World” line. He is the second singer ever to star in the Disney commercial in its 23-year history (2008 “American Idol” champion, David Cook, was the first).

Fittingly, Allen made his visit to Walt Disney World as Disney Parks asks guests “What Will You Celebrate?”

Allen’s victory on “American Idol” took the country by storm and highlighted Season Eight of the show.His journey on “Idol” began when he and his brother drove more than eight hours from Arkansas to Louisville, Ky., and then waited another 14 hours to audition. All of Allen’s long hours and hard work were rewarded May 20 in the star-studded season finale when he was crowned the newest “American Idol.”“

The American Idol Experience” at Walt Disney World Resort – which had a February 2009 grand opening – is the first major theme park attraction in the world based on the popular television series. Walt Disney Imagineering developed the interactive attraction in conjunction with FremantleMedia Enterprises and 19 TV Ltd.

“The American Idol Experience” lets Disney guests experience the glitz and glamour of the “American Idol” television show, whether they are auditioning for a Disney producer, performing on-stage in front of a packed theater or voting for their favorite singer from their audience seats. Attraction performers who receive the most audience votes in the preliminary shows return to star in that evening’s grand finale show. In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getting guest in the finale show receives “The American Idol Experience” Dream Ticket – which allows an eligible holder to schedule a front-of-the-line audition at a future regional audition for the “American Idol” television show.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Dealing with dirty laundry

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

Well it's time I aired out some dirty laundry here on the DisneyDaddy blog - sort of.

It's not something we like to talk about, but we all have to deal with it on any trip: dirty laundry.

Whether your driving or flying to Walt Disney World, you have to take clothes with you (unless you plan on buying them at the parks). As your trip progresses, those clothes will get dirty, especially in the hot and sweaty summer months.

So what's the best way to deal with all this mess? Here are two ideas.

If you're flying:
Try to put a smaller suitcase inside a larger, empty one. This way you won't get hit with another baggage fee for an empty suitcase. Once you get to WDW, unpack the smaller suitcase and put all the clothes into the large one. As your clothes become dirty, put them in the smaller suitcase. Yes, there will be one more bag to check in, but this extra bag also gives you room to pack all those souvenirs you will probably purchase while at WDW. Best of all, when you get back home, all the dirty clothes are in one place, so you know what to wash.

If you're driving:
You could do the same as the tip mentioned above, but I've found a method that I think works better. Pack a large tupperware with all the drinks/food that you'll likely have in the room. Once you're in your resort room, unpack all the food. The tupperware is now your dirty clothes hamper. You will likely go through all the food/drinks, so there will be little to bring back. Also, the room made available by clothes no longer in your suitcase can serve as space to pack the aforementioned souvenirs.

I've tried this both ways and they work pretty well (though I last used the extra suitcase trick back before there were all these baggage fees). Give it a shot, I think you'll appreciate how this makes life in the resort room a little easier - especially for those families with kids.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kingdom Keepers update: Third installment set for release Sept. 15

The much-awaited third installment in Ridley Pearson's Kingdom Keepers series is anticipated to hit bookshelves in either September (according to Amazon.com), October (according to Barnes & Noble.com) or April 2010 (according to some posts on some Disney forum sites). Original reports indicated the book, "Disney in Shadow," would be coming out in August. One possible reason for the delay could be due to the book's huge size - nearly 550 pages, according to Ridley Pearson's blog.

In some earlier blog posts, Pearson indicated there would be five books in the Kingdom Keepers series. "Disney in Shadow" is expected to pick up where the second book, "Disney at Dusk," left off with the escape of one of Disney's most powerful villans, Chernabog. According to another post on Pearson's blog, much of "Shadow" will take place in Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remembering Wayne Allwine (1947-2009)

It is a sad time for Disney fans. The news came this week that Wayne Allwine, long-time voice of Mickey Mouse and Disney Legend, passed away May 18 due to complications with diabetes. Allwine apparently had been ill for some time and was in need of a kidney transplant.

Allwine is survived by Russi Taylor, who provides the voice of Minnie Mouse. The two were inducted as Disney Legends just last year. The couple have three children.

Allwine had been providing the voice for Disney's signature character, Mickey Mouse, since 1977 and was only the third person in Disney history to perform the voice of Mickey. The first voice of Mickey Mouse was, of course, Walt Disney himself.

I join many other Disney fans in extending my heartfelt sympathies to Wayne's family. While Mickey will continue, Allwine's passing marks another key change in history of Mickey Mouse. Allwine was a great Mickey and he will always be remembered for bringing joy and happiness to the world.

You can learn more about Allwine from the Disney Legends Web site.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Speeding up the process of sending mail from Walt Disney World

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

One of the ways Disney fans help to share the Disney magic is by sending postcards and other letters to friends and family while visiting Walt Disney World. This is especially true of children sending postcards to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, pen pans, etc. - you get the idea.

The one problem with all these postcards is the time it takes to get them addressed. You have to bring down an address book and then spend all that time filling in addresses.

Here's where today's tip (courtesy of my wife, call her the DisneyMommy) comes in. Before your trip, go get a packet of printable mailing labels and pre-print all the addresses. Most word-processing programs (like Microsoft Word) can guide you through how to make labels. Best of all, once you have the labels ready to go, all you have to do is bring that sheet (or sheets) of labels and just peel and stick to your postcard.

Bingo! No more having to remember addresses, no more having to hand-write addresses on each postcard. Just write a note, slap on an address label and a stamp and you're good to go!

We've been using this tip for the past several trips and it has been real time (and hand!) saver.

Best of all, this tip also works for any vacation destination (though why would anyone what to go anywhere but Disney!). Just save the file and print the list when you need it.

Disney to build resort hotel outside Washington D.C.

The Peterson Companies announced today the sale of land at its National Harbor development near Washington, DC (see above) to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney is considering using the 15-acre site overlooking the Potomac River in National Harbor, MD as the location for a resort hotel for families and others visiting the National Capital Region.

"We're thrilled Disney has decided to invest in National Harbor," said Milton V. Peterson, chairman of the Peterson Companies. "Disney is the top family entertainment company in the world, and its purchase is a great vote of confidence in the future of National Harbor and the Washington area as a top family tourism destination."

The new resort hotel would be one of Disney's stand-alone resort hotels separate from the Disney theme parks. This new resort hotel, like the project under construction in Hawaii, will be in a prime geographic location and will provide guests with the same comfort, fun and amenities for which Disney is famous.

"As we began identifying possible locations to grow our business, the Washington, DC area immediately jumped to the top of the list," said Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "National Harbor offers an array of entertaining activities for regional visitors, but it is also a family-friendly base camp, from which visitors from around the world can explore the stirring sights and inspirational stories of our nation's capital. We believe National Harbor has the unique opportunity to offer a new level of family-friendly hospitality."

Disney purchased the Maryland property from the Peterson Companies for $11 million.

About National Harbor:
Rising from the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George's County, MD., National Harbor is a new 300-acre destination waterfront resort. With six hotels and 3,000 rooms, National Harbor features the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

Many attributes include the tree-lined avenue American Way, public art including "The Awakening" sculpture by Seward Johnson, shops and offices, numerous high rise residences and the largest marina on the Potomac River. It is also the future home for the new Cesar Pelli-designed National Children's Museum.

The master developer for National Harbor is The Peterson Companies, one of the largest privately owned development companies in the greater Washington area specializing in large mixed use developments.

Click here for additional coverage from the Washington Post.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Restaurant Review: Tony's Town Square Restaurant

It's been a while since I gave you another restaurant review, so I thought I'd share my thoughts about Tony's Town Square Restaurant located in the Exposition Hall on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom.

Tony's is located right next to the main PhotoPass station in the Exposition hall and (as the name suggests) is themed after the Disney film, Lady and the Tramp. There is a nice fountain in the center of the restaurant depicting Lady and the Tramp (see above). This is a participating Disney Dining Plan restaurant, requiring one table service credit per person. My family and I were using the dining plan for this meal.

Just like the restaurant in the movie, Tony's Town Square features Italian cuisine. This is not a character dining experience, nor is it a buffet. Guests order plated meals off a menu. I happened to order the chicken parmigiana, which is one of my favorite Italian dishes. My wife had the grilled salmon while the kids had cheese pita pizza and spaghetti and meatballs.

The atmosphere is a bit dark. The lighting was mean to evoke more of a candlelight affair, but I felt the lighting could be a bit brighter. The photo above was taken with a longer exposure to allow more light, so don't be fooled by the photo. For adults, this darker atmosphere could create a more romantic experience, so I image it depends on your preferences. I wouldn't recommend against dining at Tony's just because of the lighting.

This hidden Mickey made of bread sits towards the back of the restaurant.


OK, now for the food.

In short it was good. It wasn't the best Italian I've ever had, but it was quite tasty, hot and well prepared. Best of all, the portions were quite large, if not huge. I can handle a large plate and I had a hard time finishing a large breaded chicken breast and the big side of pasta and sauce I was served. My wife couldn't finish the salmon and the kids' meals were plenty. For dessert, my wife got the tiramisu while I had the chef's signature cheesecake. The tiramisu was light and well-portioned. My cheesecake was very rich and also well-portioned. This wasn't your basic run of the mill cheesecake

The service was up to the usual Disney standard, which meant outstanding. Our server was very pleasant and frequently checked on us to see if we needed anything.

All-in-all, I'd recommend Tony's to guests at the Magic Kingdom who feel like some Italian food for lunch or dinner. It's not at the top of my list for restaurants at the Magic Kingdom, but it's a restaurant you can expect good food (and a lot of it) and good service. As for price... well if you're on the Disney Dining Plan, price is irrelevant. If not, you can expect prices to be a bit high (you are eating inside a Disney park after all), but they're not insane. My chicken parmigiana was about $17.00.

(insert bad Italian accent here) So if you're-a a-lookin' for some-a good Italiano food-a, give a-Tony's a try. You'll-a be happy with-a your meal-a.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Didn't I say D23 would be worth it? Now see what D23'ers can do!

When Disney first announced D23, the Official Community for Disney fans, many scoffed and huffed that D23 wouldn't be worth the $75 membership fee. It was said then, there would be more to come with a D23 membership than just the magazines, litho, D23 Expo and access to exclusive merchandise.

Now comes the proof.

The D23 Web site has announced a series of D23 Member-only events going on this summer.

A free exclusive screening of UP at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood on May 28 and pin trading event.

Special seating for the final Flower Power Concert series at Epcot on May 31, featuring Tony Orlando. Afterwards, D23 members can attend a free Illuminations dessert party.

Special access to the 1,000th performance of Mary Poppins on Broadway on June 24 (ticket required). A similar package is offered for Mary Poppins in Chicago on the same night.

Special access to a performance of The Lion King at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (ticket required).

FREE (yes, I said FREE) tours of the Disney Studios and the Disney Archives (this is HUGE!!) on June 27 and August 15.

Free screening of the recently restored "Disneyland U.S.A." and panel discussion with Tony Baxter, Dave Smith and Ed Hobelman on July 17, the 54th birthday of Disneyland.

Exclusive preview access to the new Walt Disney Family Museum in September. The museum won't open until October, but D23 members will get a free preview tour!

I'm sure there's more to come for D23 members. Now what do you think? Is D23 worth it?

You bet!

I'm 23 - are you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Hidden Mickeys

This side-profile hidden Mickey is located in the Swiss Family Treehouse (look on the big limb to the left of the door)

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday... well, alright it's more like tip Wednesday. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway -- on to this week's tip.

Throughout Walt Disney World (and the other Disney parks and even Disney films) are thousands of "hidden Mickeys." These usually take the form of a classic three-circle Mickey head (the classic Disney icon) or a side profile of Mickey's head (see above photo). What makes hidden Mickey's so much fun is the fact that they are, well, hidden. Think of these as "Where's Waldo?" - Disney style.

The search for hidden Mickeys is one of the great things that big Disney fans can always do while at Walt Disney World. That's because hidden Mickeys come and go as many hidden Mickeys (or HM's) are created by cast members.

Now for the tip: get your kids into finding HM's. Why? Because it's a great way to help make those huge summer lines appear to go a little faster. It will also help kids explore and take in more of those little details the Imagineers work so hard to add.

Speaking of Imagineers, I learned something very interesting last December when I had lunch with Magic Kingdom Art Director Alex Caruthers. Caruthers has worked on several refurbs of major Magic Kingdom attractions including the Haunted Mansion and, I believe, is working on the current refurb of Space Mountain. I'll have to do another post sometime on my lunch with Mr. Caruthers - it was a wonderful experience.

This hidden Mickey is located on the ground near the entrance to the Haunted Mansion

Anyway, I asked him if hidden Mickey's were intentionally planned during the design of an attraction. Surprisingly, the answer was no. When Imagineers get together to Blue Sky a particular attraction, they don't consciously say, "OK, where will the hidden Mickey(s) go?" HM's, rather, just start popping up here and there. They're created in a very spontaneous manner. As an artist is working on a particular piece they may just decide to slip in a hidden Mickey. Obviously they are planned in some form as the artist makes a conscious decision to include an HM and the art directors and other folks approve them.
Just like pressed pennies, the hunt for HM's can make the parks a lot more fun, especially on days when the major attractions are packed. Best of all, you just might find an HM no one has ever seen before. As I said earlier, new HM's pop up all the time. If you do find a new HM, you can even sent it to the accepted master archivist of Hidden Mickeys, Dr. Steven Barrett.

Dr. Barrett's Web site, HiddenMickeysGuide.com, is generally accepted as the repository for all HM's at the parks, in the movies, in the resorts, pretty much everywhere. Best of all, he accepts sumbissions for new hidden Mickeys. He usually tries to verify them so don't think your new HM will show up on his site quickly. He also has a book that is easy to carry in the parks listing the location of verified hidden Mickeys.
The next time you're at Walt Disney World -- look around, look up, look down, you never know when you might see Mickey -- he's all over the place!

Joan Lunden, Brad Garrett join Disney World Moms Panel

From CNBC.com:

Want the "celebrity scoop" on visiting Walt Disney World? Look no further. Families can now access park tips from celebrity moms and dads via the Walt Disney World Moms Panel site, www.disneyworldmoms.com. Disney Parks welcomes television personality Joan Lunden and actor/comedian Brad Garrett, as they go on camera to share vacation advice based on their family travel experiences. Lunden and Garrett are just another two parents, like the real parents on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, who have mastered the art of planning a Disney vacation.

"We are thrilled that celebrity parents and our very own Moms Panelists are excited to share their personal planning strategies with other families," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "The new videos and fresh ideas add another component to the question/answer format, further proving the Moms Panel as a great planning resource for guests." "Honorary" Members of the Panel -- Star of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Til Death," comedian Brad Garrett, hams it up to the camera while giving moms and dads some unique and interesting travel tips.

Joan Lunden -- Television journalist, author, motivational speaker, blogger and mom to seven (including two sets of twins!) describes her many memories at Disney Parks and gives her own tips for keeping travel stress to a minimum.

Earlier this year, Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett welcomed the 2009 Moms Panel to the site with her own Disney vacation secrets.

Additionally, the Moms Panelists have joined the spotlight to provide helpful videos on ways to "Celebrate You!" an exploration adventure in "Kim Possible, The Adventure" design T-shirts at a new Downtown Disney store and kids discover nature at "Kids' Discovery Club." Moms Panel Very Own Videos "Celebrate You!" -- Walt Disney World Moms Panelists Margaret Fries, Karen Prince and Jennifer Wilkes take you through private birthday parties, Walt Disney World style! "Kim Possible, The Adventure" -- Panelist Joanne McCabe and her daughter become special agents and battle dastardly villains around Epcot with the "Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure," Walt Disney World's new interactive game.

"Hanes Design-A-Tee" -- Margaret Fries, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist and two of her sons take a break from the theme parks and design their own shirts at this Downtown Disney store.
"Kids' Discovery Club" -- Join Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Heather Roberts Nault and her children as they play and learn about nature at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Offering up family traditions and one-of-a-kind vacation advice, the "How-to" videos will continue to grow as new celebrities visit the Parks and panelists continue to share their secrets.

To view the celebrity videos and pose questions to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, visit www.disneyworldmoms.com.

Parks merchandise finally comes to DisneyStore.com

For years, fans of the Disney parks have wanted the ability to purchase park-related merchandise either in the Disney Stores or online at disneystore.com. Today, Disney finally launched the new Disney Parks section of disneystore.com.

Fans can purchase autograph books ahead of time, personalized Mickey ears and even big figs and Olszewski figurines of Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle. These are beautiful!

There are still plenty of in-park exclusive items, including the different music CD's, but this new offering is a good start in making park-related merchandise available to fans who can't make it to the parks.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Disney releases full trailer for "The Princess and the Frog"

The trailer many Disney fans have been waiting for finally has arrived!

The full trailer for The Princess and the Frog, Disney's return to 2-D animation is now available.

Check it out at http://www.apple.com/trailers/disney/princessandthefrog/.

It looks incredible!!!

DisneyDaddy returns to WDW Radio Show

I, once again, had the distinct honor of joining Lou Mongello on the WDW Radio Show this week. We discussed character dining and the best ways to meet characters for photos and autographs. This segment is based on a Tip Tuesday post from March 24.

My thanks to Lou for having me on the show once again!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best (and Worst) Disney Moms

On this Mother's Day, I thought I'd take a few moments to recognize some of the best (and worst) moms (or mother-like characters) in the Disney genre.

First will be Sarabi, Simba's mother in The Lion King. She was a loving and caring mother who allowed her son to stretch his boundaries while maintaining some security. Even after Mufasa's death (and Simba's supposed death), she still did her part to help and support the other lions.

Also, there's Helen Parr from The Incredibles. Helen is a more modern-oriented mother who has to deal with a family that's falling apart. She is the glue for a family that his struggling to fit in, even though they don't fit in (they're supers).

Next up is Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. The quintessential patient and doting mother, Perdita is always acting in the best interests of her pups (all 101 of them!). Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast is a similar kind of mother figure. She all but adopts Belle while she is in the Beast's castle.

Mrs. Darling, from Peter Pan, is much like Perdita and Mrs. Potts. She is never seen becoming cross or otherwise angry with the children, even in the face of some obvious mischief.

Then there's Jumbo, mother of Dumbo from the film of the same name. She is one of several Disney mother characters who sacrifice themselves to make sure their children survive. The same is true of Bambi's mother. While we, the audience, don't get to know these characters well, we grieve for them because of the heartache and loneliness their children feel.

Then there are some characters who may not be biological mothers, but act in a maternal nature. The most "motherly" of these has to be Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way, from the film of the same name. Firm, yet loving, she helps the Banks children (and their parents) come to know each other again and learn to be a loving family.

Also there's the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. She comes in to become the mother Cinderella never really had. While she doesn't spend a great deal of time with Cinderella, she serves as a source of wisdom and reassurance, just when Cinderella needs it.

And there's Flora, Fauna and Merriweather from Sleeping Beauty. These three adopt Aurora and serve as foster mothers to help Aurora meet her destiny.


Now we turn to the worst mother in the Disney genre. Really there's only one that's worth mentioning and that's Lady Tremaine, from Cinderella. She is Cinderellas step-mother, and it's probably thanks to her that stepmothers have a bad rap. Lady Tremaine is as calculating and evil a character as Maleficent (who is one of the most evil characters Disney ever came up with).

Know of some other good (or bad) mothers worth mentioning? Post a comment!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stitch's Supersonic Celebration opens in Tomorrowland

He’s been called the “Guru of Gross-Out” and “the Maker of Mischief.” Now Stitch stars in his very own live show, “Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration,” an out-of-this-world spectacle that combines comedic quips and musical madness for Walt Disney World guests.

The all-new show at Magic Kingdom stars the cosmic cut-up from Walt Disney Pictures’ “Lilo & Stitch” as he invades a zany interactive experience at the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. Guests join in a Galaxy Day celebration when the outdoor stage comes alive with high-energy music, dazzling dance moves and real-time animation.

The 25-minute show features the same cutting-edge technology used in “Turtle Talk With Crush” and “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor,” letting guests interact with an animated Stitch in one-on-one encounters. The fuzzy, loveable alien officially known as “Experiment 626” spots specific guests in the audience, asks questions and entertains them in a playful and personalized way.

Whether Stitch takes digital snapshots of audience members or comments on clothing they’re wearing, the show is different every time. He engages audience members of all ages, making them the “stars” of the intergalactic interlude.

In the show, guests follow Stitch as he pilots a “borrowed” space cruiser. Stitch joins a cast of cosmic characters – including party host Tip Trendo, space diva dancers and two malfunctioning, breakdancing robots – on his celebratory journey to planet Earth.

“ ‘Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration’ immerses Tomorrowland guests into Stitch’s whimsical world using real-time animation technology,” said Kristine Bunnell, show producer for Walt Disney World Entertainment. “And during this year’s ‘What Will You Celebrate?’ our show gives guests another reason to party.” “Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration” is scheduled six times daily.

Star Tours 2.0 finally in the works?

According to a post over at SlashFilm.com, LucasFilm currently is shooting scenes for the ever-so-long awaited update to Star Tours at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Supposedly Anthonly Daniels (C-3PO) will be shooting later this week. Assuming this is true, I'm glad to hear that Daniels will again lend his voice to the update to Star Tours. Apparently this new film (again according to the SlashFilm post) will feature Boba Fett, which leads me to think that the new film will still be based on the classic series (Episodes 4-6) as opposed to the prequels (though the article does mention that some prequel characters will be seen). Jawas and a Tusken Raider were apparently seen on set as well, which could mean a trip to Tattooine is in the works. Supposedly in the new ride, we will be chased by Boba Fett.

If this is the case, I wonder if there will be changes to the queue as well, since it talks more about the Endor Express than flights to Tattooine.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Innoventions

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I'm returning to Epcot for another tip. All too often guests visiting Epcot enter the park in the morning, glance up at Spaceship Earth as they hustle underneath, and perhaps take slight notice of either Innoventions East or West as they rush to either Soarin' or Test Track. Throughout the day, Innoventions serves as a cut-thru or a place to seek shelter during those famous Florida storms (which, I agree is a good place to go in the rain).

So here's the tip -- don't skip Innoventions -- you might be surprised at what you can find, and keep there.


But Innoventions (East and West) are separate attractions, dare I say, pavilions in their own rights. Each side has several exhibits featuring some very interesting (and sometimes competitive) topics.

For instance, did you know that, at one time, you could build your own virtual robot and then race it against other guests at the Fantastic Plastics Works exhibit in Innoventions East? This race was very physical (I was huffing and puffing after running it with my son - we ended up winning, but it was quite a challenge). Afterward, you got to build your own plastic robot that you could take with you -- free. Sadly, this exhibit was replaced in 2008.
What came in it's place, however, was every bit as amazing, though possibly a little scarier for small children. Storm Struck simulates what's it's like to be inside a house during a hurricane in Florida. For those of you in the Midwest - you could equate this to being inside a house during a tornado. Kids get to build their own storm safety kit. This is a thrilling attraction and it's not to be missed.

While you're in Innoventions East, be sure to visit the "Don't Waste It" exhibit. I know, I know, it's all about recycling and trash, and that's doesn't seem like it's very interesting, but give this a try, you'll be pleasantly surprised. With the heavy emphasis on "green living" these days, it's very interesting to find out just how much recycling is taking place, even if you don't recycle.

Over in Innoventions West is another very neat exhibit, again demonstrating technology that pre-dated the Wii. The "Where's the Fire" exhibit allows parents and children to go into a virtual house to help identify potential fire hazards and put them out. This is a team-based exhibit with two teams competing against each other. The neat thing here is the interactive nature of the exhibit, similar to Toy Story Mania. As the guest interacts with these huge screens, the images and action change in real time. The lesson is an important one as well.

You Segway fans (or wannabe fans) can take a short spin at Segway Central. Here you'll learn more about the Segway and have the chance for a short (1-2 minutes) ride. This is one exhibit that gets popular, so you might see some lines (but nothing like the standby line over at Soarin'). Also check out the SlapStick Studios. Here (like over in Innoventions East) you can solve problems and take home your own Velcro frog.
Coming late this year to Innoventions West is a new exhibit by Raytheon that is similar to Cyberspace Mountain at DisneyQuest. See more on this from an Orlando Attractions Magazine blog post.
Here's one more tip for you. You can see a preview of all the exhibits in Innoventions, East and West, by visiting the Innoventions special Web site at http://innoventions.disney.com. There you can see a few videos, see some photos from exhibits and download maps of Innoventions East and West.
The next time you're racing to get that FastPass and then wondering what to do next - head over to Innoventions. It's what Epcot was originally all about -- learning and exploration.

As expected, Disney reports a loss for the 2nd quarter

Just as many had anticipated, the Walt Disney company reported very poor financial performance for the 2nd quarter of this year (Jan-March, 2009). Profits fell by more than 45% as compared to this time a year ago. Performance at the theme parks were especially poor, with profits falling more than 50% as compared to this time last year.

Disney cited several factors to explain the poor performance, especially in the parks. One major reason was the fact that the Easter/Spring Break season was in April (which is in the 3rd quarter) as opposed to March. Also, Disney did offer major discounts to encourage park attendance.

Read Disney's official earnings release here: http://corporate.disney.go.com/investors/quarterly_earnings/2009_q2.pdf

Monday, May 4, 2009

2010 Half Marathon is full

If you were still thinking about running in the 2010 Walt Disney World half-marathon, your luck has run out. The half-marathon is officially full. This year's half-marathon will have more runners than before, so expect a big crowd at Epcot early on the morning of January 9, 2010.

I will be there running, so I hope to see you as well!

Disney offers new medal for multi-race finishers

Disney Sports is creating a one-of-a-kind bonus medal for runners who complete the Fall Race Challenge, competing in two of Disney’s three fall endurance events at Walt Disney World Resort. Runners that record an official time for Disney’s Race for the Taste 10K and either the Expedition Everest Challenge presented by Champion or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K will receive the bonus medal in addition to individual race medals – a total of three race medals for running two races. Registration for all three fall events is now open.

“Disney is dedicated to providing guests with new, interactive features to make their race experience more fun, more exciting and more memorable,” says Disney Endurance Series Director Kathleen Duran. “We are always looking for new ways to differentiate our Disney events by creating unique, immersive experiences.”

Disney’s fall lineup includes expanded race options. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13k event will feature a 5k and an exclusive post-race party. Disney’s Race for the Taste 10k event will include a new 3k race designed for casual runners and those looking to compete in their first endurance event.

The Disney Endurance Series fall lineup includes:

Expedition Everest Challenge presented by Champion (Sept. 26, 2009): This second-year event is the first urban adventure race in Disney’s Endurance Series. The two-person team competition features a 5k, scavenger hunt and an obstacle course designed to challenge runners physically and mentally. There is an exclusive post-race party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the finishers. A portion of all entry fees will benefit the Himalayan Youth Foundation and Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Disney’s Race for the Taste 10K (Oct. 11, 2009): This race takes runners through Disney’s Hollywood Studios and around the 11 pavilions of Epcot World Showcase. Guests have access to a post-race picnic that includes food samples from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, live Disney entertainment, music, games and face painters.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K (Oct. 24, 2009): This road race returns for its third year and the journey includes a haunting course through the vacant streets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The event includes an exclusive post-race party with family and friends.

To register for these and more Disney Endurance Series events including the Walt Disney World Marathon (Jan. 7-10, 2010), visit disneyenduranceseries.com.

Disney's 2nd quarter earnings expected to be poor

According to a CNBC report, Disney is expected to report another loss when it announces earnings for the second quarter of the year. Already, some stock analysts are advising investors sell Disney stock, which closed today at more than $22 a share (up from about $15 a share just two months ago).

I know what the media stock analysts say, but I think it's a good idea to hold onto Disney stock (I don't own any Disney stock, nor am I some sort of financial expert, so this is just my .02 worth). Yes, the second quarter earnings are still going to show a loss, that shouldn't surprise anyone. Yes, the stock price will probably fall. But to go and sell now is to over-react the same way the mainstream media is over-reacting to the current swine flu issue. Stick it out. Call me an optimist, but I think six months to a year from now, Disney stock will be higher than it is now.

Why am I so optimistic? Think about the lineup of films in the next year or so: UP, Toy Story 1&2 in 3D, Toy Story 3, The Frog and the Princess, A Christmas Carol and more. I agree, the parks have had to offer incentives to boost attendance (and it's worked, based on recent reports of packed parks in the past month), but those who aren't (or can't) planning major trips may find themselves in a movie theater. With the summer school vacation coming, you can bet kids are waiting to see the next Disney movie.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Deal over expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland could happen soon

CNBC is reporting that Disney and the Chinese Government may have made some significant progress involving a deal to build a major expansion at Hong Kong Disneyland. According to the report, the Chinese government is "happy with the progress achieved at the negotiations regarding Hong Kong Disneyland's expansion plans," said a spokesperson.

Disney and the Chinese have been in extended talks over the $387 million dollar plan to expand the park, which opened in 2005. A few weeks ago, when it appeared talks were stalling, Disney ordered Imagineering to stop working on expansion plans for Hong Kong Disneyland.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy anniversary Hollywood Studios!

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Disney's Hollywood Studios (originally known as the Disney-MGM Studios). From it's beginnings as a working studio to a theme park celebrating all we love about Hollywood, the Studios have grown and changed through the years.

So to all the Imagineers who helped make this piece of Disney magic come true, we say Thank You!

Let's hope the next 20 years are equally as wonderful and fun!

For more on some of the celebrations taking place today, be sure to follow WDWCelebrations on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wdwcelebrations.