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Monday, August 31, 2009

Top 10 Disney/Marvel crossovers

With the news today that Disney is purchasing Marvel (and its 5,000+) characters, I figured it would be fun to imagine some of the possible (well, maybe not-so-possible) crossover combinations.

And here we go...

10. Stitch joins the X-Men (Disney puts Stitch in everything else, why not the X-Men?)

9. The Fantastic Four and The Incredibles will work together (and realize they've all got the same powers!)

8. Monsters Inc. 2 will be a more extreme story with the Hulk, Wolverine, and Dr. Doom joining the scare floor.

7. Spiderman 4 will have Mickey Mouse playing the part of the Web-head.

6. Rapunzel will now be played by Mr. Fantastic in drag. No need for special effects now.

5. Mini-Mouse takes on a whole new meaning.

4. An Ape-Man attraction will show up at Animal Kingdom (along with any other Marvel characters even remotely related to animals)

3. The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure will be replaced by the Avengers Race to Save the World (or something like that). Of course, Kim Possible will join the Avengers, though Ron Stoppable doesn't make the cut.

2. Fantasmic! will be changed to Magical Marvel!

1. Much like the infamous hidden Mickey, we now get to look for hidden Stans (as in Stan Lee) in every Disney/Marvel movie and the parks. He makes a cameo in all the Marvel movies, so why not slip in an animated Stan Lee in some Disney films?


What crossover do you see? Post a comment!!

Universal spokesperson says Disney/Marvel deal won't impact park

More from today's stunning news that Disney is purchasing Marvel:

Questions quickly arose over the future of Marvel-themed attractions located at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

Here's what a Universal spokesperson said to the Orlando Sentinel:
"Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal's Islands of Adventure and the Marvel characters are a beloved and important part of the Universal Orlando experience. They will remain so," said Tom Schroder, a Universal spokesman. "Our guests are going to get to meet Spider-Man and all our other Marvel characters. We believe our agreement with Marvel stands and that the Disney/Marvel deal will have no impact on our guest experience."

Disney CEO Bob Iger said the following on CNBC today:
"Marvel characters have already proven to be strong in terms of theme park attraction and we believe there are a lot of opportunities around the world, not in every one of our parks because there are some existing agreements that we obviously have to honor, but in a number of places for us to use the Marvel characters to basically help us grow our theme park business and better entertain people."

My take:
While it appears Spiderman, the Hulk, the X-Men and Doctor Doom won't be coming to Walt Disney World (Universal apparently has the east coast rights for as long as the attractions are operating), you can bet that no new characters will be coming to Universal. I wouldn't be surprised if a team of Disney lawyers also will be looking to find some holes in the deal. In the meantime -- it appears the doors are wide open for Spiderman and the rest of the Marvel cast to swing their way into any other Disney park, for instance, Disney's California Adventure. This also may be the concept Disney's been looking for to finally build the third California-based park.

This is all just guesswork right now. One thing's for sure, Disney is looking to the future and they've just grabbed one of the two major players in the superhero genre. I wonder what DC Comics thinks about this? Of course, DC Comics and Warner Bros. teamed up years ago.

Mickey and Spiderman to become corporate cousins

You read that right! Believe it or not, Mickey Mouse will soon be related to Spiderman, the X-Men and the Hulk.

Today, Disney announced they are purchasing the Marvel Entertainment Co. for four-billion dollars. Below is a news release from Disney:


Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.

Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

"This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories," said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney."

"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation," Iger said.

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel's Chief Executive Officer. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world."

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney's global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel's properties.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Marvel have each approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, effectiveness of a registration statement with respect to Disney shares issued in the transaction and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Marvel shareholders. Marvel was advised on the transaction by BofA Merrill Lynch.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stitch returning to Tomorrowland stage?

Dewayne Bevil over at the Orlando Sentinel's Theme Park Rangers is reporting that Stitch may be making a return to the currently deserted stage in Tomorrowland. Word is that Disney is developing a "Totally Tomorrowland Christmas" stage show that will feature the well-known little blue alien.

So far, Disney has not announced anything about this new show.

If this is true, it would be nice for something to go on that unused stage, even if it is temporary. While Stitch's Supersonic Celebration was a disaster, I hate to see good space go unused.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lasseter talks Toys


Just as the classic Toy Story film franchise returns with the re-release of the first two movies in 3D this October, John Lasseter is taking fans behind-the-scenes in a new, exclusive seven-part YouTube video series (www.YouTube.com/disneyliving), where he introduces the new Toy Story Definitive toy line, the most film-accurate replicas yet. Each video offers a different part of the story from Lasseter’s own words to a profile on each character - including Sheriff Woody, Rex, Space Aliens, RC Remote Control Car and Buzz Lightyear - along with never-before known facts and more.

From the stitching and facial expressions to the original packaging from the movie, Lasseter explains why this new Definitive toy line is a collector’s dream. The highly detailed replicas from Thinkway Toys and Disney Consumer Products are fully articulated and come with many features such as sound effects and even include a Certificate of Authenticity. (Now available at mass retailers, Disney Stores and www.DisneyStores.com.)

Look for additional videos here on DisneyDaddy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Getting the most of out FastPass

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

I thought I'd continue on the topic of FastPasses with another tip about how to get the most out of a FastPass.

As you know, a FastPass ticket gives you a time window in which to return and ride a particular attraction. The FastPass system has a pre-set number of tickets to give in each five-minute increment. When the allotment for the day runs out, FastPasses are no longer offered.

So here's a question for you: If you arrive at your attraction BEFORE your time window opens up, will you be allowed to enter the attraction? The answer is NO. The cast member will kindly ask you to wait until the beginning time (circled in green in the example) comes up.

OK, here's another question for you: If you arrive at your attraction AFTER your time window has passed, will you be allowed to enter the attraction? The answer is YES! Most cast members will allow guests with FastPasses that were for an earlier time in the day to enter the attraction.

A final question for you: If you arrive at an attraction with a FastPass from a previous DAY, will the cast member let you in? The answer is NO. In the past, the answer might have been yes, depending on the cast member, but Disney has recently cracked down on the use of old FastPasses, so you're not going to be able to get away with using a FastPass from a previous day anymore.

So this week's tip is pretty simple. Don't feel like you have to rush to make a FastPass window before it "closes," because the window doesn't really close. Just forget about the later time listed. You have until the end of the day to use that FastPass. Just keep in mind that after the park closes, that FastPass becomes a souvenir (which isn't a bad idea if you want to keep a FastPass from your favorite attraction - it can make for a neat keepsake!).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some new Disney blogs out there...

I've always been a big supporter of anyone and everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts and experiences with others when it comes to Disney.

With this in mind, I'd like to call you attention to a few new Disney blogs that have surfaced in the last month.

The W.E.D. Page: This is by Tony Caggiano. It focuses on the Disney of the past and helps us all remember the Disney that was to appreciate the Disney that is and the Disney that will be. I had the priveledge of meeting Tony at MagicMeets this year. He is a true Disney fan and I look forward to many great posts from Tony.

In Disney Style: This is by Mary Jo Collins. This blog focuses on how you can bring a bit of Disney style to your everyday life. This blog also will have information on some of Disney's marathons and other running activities. I've known Mary Jo through Facebook for quite a while and I'm sure will have some outstanding content for you.

I hope you will take a few moments to check out these new blogs. I'm already a follower of both.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Restaurant Review: Chef Mickey's

It's time for another restaurant review.

This restaurant needs no introduction. It's run by the head cheese himself - Mickey Mouse!

It just so happens that this restaurant also is the most popular character-dining location in all of Walt Disney World, and for good reason.

Of course I'm talking about Chef Mickey's!

As character dining goes, it really doesn't get any better than Chef Mickey's, located at Disney's Contemporary Resort. In one meal, guests will meet the entire Disney Fab 5: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

In recent months, Chef Mickey's has received a decent expansion, taking over a portion of space that was the Concourse Steakhouse, which has allowed for a little bit more seating, but also a better queue area for the pre-meal photo opportunity.

Chef Mickey's is a Disney Dining Plan (DDP) participant, requiring one table service credit per guest. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a buffet format. Parents: this is one meal even the most picky of eaters will find something they will like. The entrees are creative and quite good. I personally prefer lunch/dinner to breakfast, simply because the dinner menu offers more variety as compared to breakfast. Just about every breakfast opportunity at WDW offers eggs, sausage and bacon.

What sets Chef Mickey's apart is the atmosphere. This is a place where even the oldest guest can be a kid again (or finally act like the kid they really are - that would be me!). The characters spend plenty of time at each table and the wait staff helps to make your experience magical. Oh, and talk about celebrations - the folks at Chef Mickey's will find ANY reason to celebrate! My son graduated from 5th grade this summer. The server saw his "I'm Celebrating" button and the next thing we know it's party time!

Chef Mickeys group photo

Before being seated, guests have the opportunity to have a photo opp at a big hidden-mickey themed plate. I have several of these photos. The location for this photo opp changes from time to time and (as you can see) will reflect different holiday seasons (when appropriate). The photos are nice to get if you like family photos. This is the one PhotoPass-like opportunity at Chef Mickey's. Otherwise, you're on your own for character photos.

We don't always purchase the photo - it is optional and runs somewhere around $30 or so for an 8x10 and a pair of 5x7's. The other benefit is that the photo does include a photopass code on the corner, so you can add this shot to your photopass CD and get the digital version as well.

Chef Mickey's is a must-do for everyone who visits Walt Disney World. As for my family, Chef Mickey's has become our most favorite place to eat. In fact this November, we will have Thanksgiving dinner at Chef Mickey's, of all places. We enjoy the fun, the friends, the food and the family time.

What could be better?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Disney to return to 180-day ADR window in October

If you have an upcoming Disney trip and are considering making Advanced Dining Reservations (or ADR's), listen up! Currently ADR's can be made 90 days in advance. However, starting October 27, Disney has decided to again extend that booking window to 180 days. Disney made the switch from 180-days down to 90 days last year and now apparently has decided to switch back.

So far, there's no official word as to why Disney decided to return to the 180-day window.

What this means for anyone with travel dates this winter and spring is that October 27 will become a very busy day. An entire 90 days worth of bookings will open up on a single day. Be prepared for the WDW Dining line (407-WDW-DINE) to be very busy and for the new online booking pages to be overwhelmed, especially with Disney's latest offer to extend free dining until December.

It will be more important than ever to be ready at 7 a.m. on October 27th. If, by chance, the 90-day window for your upcoming trip opens up BEFORE October 27, I highly recommend making your ADR's before the hoard starts booking on the 27th.

As more information comes in about this topic, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Faster FastPass

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

By now, you all are quite familiar with how Disney's FastPass system works. You insert your park ticket and out pops a small pass with a return time. You come back at the return time and get to take a special entrance where you have little or no wait. The intent is that guests will spend less time standing in line. That may work in theory, but in practice, things are a bit different.

Don't get me wrong, I love FastPass. It's probably one of Disney's best ideas. However, there is such a thing as becoming a victim of your success and FastPass, at times, becomes a victim to it's popularity.

How many times have you tried to get a FastPass only to arrive at the FastPass machines to find a huge line that appears to be every bit as long as the standby line? It happens, especially at some of the biggest attractions such as Toy Story Mania and Soarin'. Having spent quite a while in huge, sometimes unorganized FastPass queues, I think I've discovered a major bottleneck - the machines themselves.

I can't tell you how many times I've been standing in line behind a guest who inserts their ticket, Key to the World card, annual pass, whatever, only to have it come right back out and not give a FastPass. The guest tries again and again until a castmember notices the problem and lends some assistance. All this time, people are queuing up behind and the line gets longer and longer.

Here's where the tip comes in: most guests insert their ticket with the magnetic stripe down. I've found that most problems happen when the machine tries to read the cards with the stripe down.

Instead, turn the ticket over and insert it with the magnetic stripe UP into the FastPass machine. Bingo! Out will come a FastPass. I've tried this several times and every time I turn my AP over, I never have a problem getting FastPasses. The end result is my passes come out faster and I can get out of the way so the next person can get their FastPasses.

Try this the next time you're getting a FastPass -- it really works!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cat Cora's Kouzzina opens August 15

The newest restaurant to come to Walt Disney World will open August 15.

Kouzzina (which is Greek for "kitchen" - very appropriate) will feature different Greek and Mediterranean dishes. The new restaurant takes the place where Spoodles was located at the Boardwalk Resort.

Created by Iron Chef Cat Cora (the only female Iron Chef), Kouzzina will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.

You can check out more about Kouzzina on the Walt Disney World Web site, including menus.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Making your way around the World

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

One of the best things about visiting Walt Disney World is the fact that there's so much to do in many different places. A challenge created by this plethora of activities is how to get to where you want to go. Disney has a great, free transportation system for on-property guests. This system is made up of buses, boats and even the monorail.

There is a bit of an art to finding the best and fastest way to go from here to there and which option you choose may depend on where you currently are, where you're going and how quickly you have to get there.

Like so many other things at Walt Disney World, getting around in the World takes a little bit of planning to avoid potential problems.

Let's look at one possible scenario. It is 7 a.m. and you're staying at one of the Epcot area deluxe resorts. You have an 8:30 a.m. ADR at Chef Mickey's (located at the Contemporary Resort). You don't have a car and have to rely on Disney transportation - what do you do? Epcot opens has early Magic Hours, so it opens at 8 a.m., but the Magic Kingdom opens at 9 a.m.

You have a couple of options. First, you can wait for a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then either walk to the Contemporary or take the resort monorail. Second, you can walk through Epcot and then take the Epcot monorail and transfer to the resort monorail loop.

You have 90 minutes and the clock is ticking.

Let's look at each option.

1. Bus to the Magic Kingdom and then get to the Contemporary:
This option has some potential pitfalls. First, standard bus service to the Magic Kingdom doesn't begin until one hour before park opening (8 a.m., in this scenario) and usually arrive about every 20 minutes. This means you would only have 30 minutes to get from your resort to the Magic Kingdom and then hustle to the Contemporary. That's pretty tight and depends greatly on a bus arriving in a timely manner.

All is not lost, however. Disney does run "character breakfast" buses to the Magic Kingdom starting at 7 a.m. that run every 15 minutes. You will want to verify with the driver that the bus is going to the Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary (these buses can take you directly to another resort). You can catch this bus with plenty of time to spare to make your ADR. You will have to get to the bus stop no later than 7:30 a.m. to make sure you have enough time to get to Chef Mickey's.

2. Go through Epcot to the monorail station and take the resort loop:
This option is good if you're unsure about the bus service. The downside to this option is that you will have to be at Epcot's International Gateway by 7:45 a.m. to get into the park as soon as possible. Once you make it through the bag check and turnstiles, you'll have to hustle through half of World Showcase, through Future World and to the monorail station.

Once you catch the Epcot monorail (which probably will be pretty empty), you will still have to
transfer to the resort monorail loop with stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom before your stop at the Contemporary. It's probably a little tight to do all that in 30 minutes. I've pulled this off before, but I had to hustle.

All in all, I'd suggest option 1. You have to make sure you're at the bus stop with plenty of time to spare.
This gets to the heart of this week's tip: Lead time.

No matter where you're trying to go, you have to allow plenty of time to get there. Doing so means you have enough time should a bus run late, or be delayed loading/unloading several handicapped guests or whatever. A good rule of thumb is one hour. If you have to be somewhere, you should allow one hour to get there.
This being said, you do have some other, more "creative" options to get around the World.
A few did you knows:
  • Did you know you can walk between Epcot and the Studios? Walking briskly, you can get from one park to another in about 15-20 minutes (I've done it).

  • Did you know you can walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom? After that great breakfast at Chef Mickey's, it's far faster to simply walk to the Magic Kingdom entrance than take the monorail all the way around the Seven Seas Lagoon to reach the Magic Kingdom. It takes 5-10 minutes at the most.

  • Did you know that it can be faster to take a launch to the Grand Floridian than to take the resort monorail (after standing in line)? If you time it right, you can catch a launch and get to the Grand Floridian by the time the monorail is at the TTC.

  • Did you know that the Friendship boats have three stops between Epcot and the Studios? From Epcot to the Studios, these boats stop at (in order): The Boardwalk, The Yacht/Beach Club and the Swan/Dolphin. Depending on where you're going, you might be better to get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way.

  • Did you know that no WDW transportation goes directly to the two miniature golf courses? This doesn't mean you're out of luck. If you want to go to Fantasia Gardens, simply take a bus to the Swan/Dolphin. If you want to go to Winter Summerland, take a bus to Blizzard Beach.
The next time you head to Walt Disney World, take a moment to make sure you know how you're going to get where you want to go. If all else fails, you can always rent a taxi. You'll pay for it, but sometimes it's the best option.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Update: Living with the Land Refurb "technical in nature"


A Disney spokesperson has confirmed that the Behind the Seeds Tour will not be impacted, nor will food production as a result of an ongoing refurbishment of Living With the Land at Epcot. The refurb "is of a technical nature, not an upgrading of the show," says the spokesperson.

This may dispute rumors that the attraction was to get larger boats. I've also heard reports that Imagineering was going to update the films running in the barn show scene.

If this refurb is indeed "technical" in nature, then I wonder if there was some sort of malfunction that is going to take some time to repair.

For more about this refurbishment, see my original post.

MagicMeets - Day 2


What an incredible day today (well, now yesterday) was. I attended my first MagicMeets event in Camp Hill, PA. Many of my Disney friends were there including Justin Machoney, Lou Mongello, Tony Caggiano and many, many more. It was so nice to finally meet some of these online friends in person and that alone was worth the trip.

But wait, there's more.

Justin, of course as you no doubt recall, recently ended his time as Disney first (and still only) Chief Magic Official. He gave a moving presentation about how you can make your (and other's) dreams come true. It's all about being "incredible!" If you ever get the chance to hear Justin speak, I highly recommend it. He is quite a motivational speaker. Who knows, maybe this is Justin's new calling.

But wait, there's more.

Following Justin's talk, I attended a breakout session with Deb Wills (of AllEars.net) and Beci Mahnken (of MEI/MouseFan Travel). The two gave a great talk about Adventures By Disney that just about has me hooked to go on an ABD trip to Europe.

But wait, there's more.

During Lunch, the Dream Team Auction was beginning to wrap up. This auction featured 100 items (including two panoramic prints I donated). I managed to be the high bidder for two fun items. What was EVEN BETTER was that my prints raised more than $600 for the Dream Team. I was (and still am) totally astounded by the overwhelming amount my prints went for. I really didn't think they would raise more than about $100 a piece. Instead, they went for about three times that amount.

I am truly humbled, honored and privileged to have played a small part in making magic happen for kids in need and I thank Lou Mongello and Pat Whitson for the opportunity to be a part of the Dream Team.

But wait, there's more.

In the second breakout session, I attended a great talk by Tim Devine (of the MagicInPixels.com). Tim had some great tips and reminders about what makes good photography and what makes great photography. It's always good to hear how some of the real pros like Tim take shots.

But wait, there's more.

After the second breakout session, we all had some trivia fun with Lou Mongello, and then it was time for the main event -- the announcement of how much was raised for the Dream Team overall.

Thanks to a very generous Tony Caggiano (of the WED page blog), the 2009 MagicMeets event raised a whopping $26,235 for the Dream Team to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. This is an incredible amount and there wasn't a dry eye in the room (myself included) when the final total was announced (see photo above).

I want to thank everyone to attended MagicMeets -- it was a thrill to meet many of you, I hope to meet you again in the future and I hope to meet other fans in other events (sadly, I can't make it to the D23 Expo).

MagicMeets 2009 was a blast and I'm very glad I was here to be a part of it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

MagicMeets - Day 1


Hello all from Day one of Magic Meets!

I was helping out the folks here with Minnie's Mart -- a shopping area where some great savings were available on donated Disney items, from pins to lithographs and all kinds of items. The final figure isn't in yet, but I think we raised quite a bit for the Dream Team! If you had a chance to check out Minnie's Mart, you got some outstanding deals -- all for a good cause.

In the meantime, some early attendees had all kinds of fun inside the main ballroom. It was the annual Meet Before the Magic and all I can say was there was a lot of cheering for the different giveaways.

Following the Meet Before the Magic was celebrity MagicTunes, featuring Lou Mongello, Justin Machoney, Deb Wills and a contestant from the audience. The event was a lot of fun, with each contestant trying to identify different Disney songs. In the end, the event raised $500 for the Dream Team and Deb's Cancer Walk. That' doesn't include an additional donation when Lou Mongello agreed to again moonwalk for the cheering crowd (see photo above). Lou will do just about anything to raise money for the Dream Team.

The fun (and fundraising) didn't stop there -- karaoke night at a local restaurant. This event brought in an additional $600, split between Lou and Deb's charities.

This was just the preshow! The main event starts in nine hours (9 a.m. Saturday)!

Look for more updates in a few hours!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pearson releases draft cover art for Kingdom Keepers 3

Kingdom Keepers 3 draft cover

Author Ridley Pearson released the draft cover for Kingdom Keepers 3, Disney in Shadow, on his blog today. No surprise, the cover features Epcot. In previous posts, Pearson indicated KK3 would take place "primarily in Epcot and Hollywood Studios." According to Amazon.com, KK3 is set for release in late April, 2010, though this could change (at one point, the book was supposed to come out this month).

If this cover is any indication, it appears our favorite DHI's are in for even more trouble, this time in Epcot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Living with the Land closes unexpectedly for a significant refurb

The Orlando Business Journal is reporting that the Living with the Land attraction in Epcot closed unexpectedly today to begin a lengthly refurbishment project. According to a statement from Disney, the attraction will re-open sometime this fall.

According to Disney's own operational updates page, the attraction is scheduled to be down through Halloween.

There are rumors that one possible reason for the refurbishment is so Disney can add larger boats to the attraction. Doing so would require the waterway through the greenhouses to be altered to accomodate the larger boats.

The larger question is why this refurbishment is needed. Based on my experiences, Living with the Land isn't so heavily visited that the larger boats would be needed to increase guest throughput. I can't recall seeing more than a 30 minute wait time, even during the most crowded of days.

The rapid and unexpected nature of this attraction also leads me to think that perhaps there was some sigificant malfunction that would take quite a while to repair and, at the same time, required a rapid closure.

That is, unless it's the Overtakers and then we're all in trouble! Have no idea what I'm talking about? Read the Kingdom Keepers series.

As for the Behind the Seeds tour, I am hearing that it will not be affected (see the comments), though I've got a question into Disney to confirm this.

Swan & Dolphin offer special Labor Day rate

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is rewarding laborers across the country with an affordable getaway to one of the world's favorite family destinations. In tribute to the U.S. workforce this Labor Day, and in honor of the ninth month in 2009, they are offering a $99 per night rate September 1, 2009 through September 9, 2009 (09/09/09).

To honor their own loyal laborers, they are also awarding complimentary stays and dinners for nine lucky cast members and their families. All cast members who have worked at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for at least one year will be eligible to enter a Labor Day raffle.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort offers the ideal escape from the day-to-day stresses of work. The resort is conveniently located within walking distance to Epcot(R) and Disney's Hollywood Studios((TM)), and is nearby Disney's Animal Kingdom(R) Theme Park and Magic Kingdom(R) Park.

Visitors can indulge in meals at the resort's 17 restaurants and lounges, including Todd English's bluezoo and Shula's Steak House; be pampered at the luxurious Mandara Spa; stay active with nearby championship golf, tennis and mini golf and enjoy special Disney benefits which include complimentary transportation to Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Attractions and early or extended park hours with the Extra Magic Hours benefit.

Guests can reserve the "$99 in 09" Labor Day deal by calling 1-800-227-1500.

Offer is valid Sept. 1 - 9, 2009; requires a minimum three-night stay and is subject to rate plan availability.

Tip Tuesday: Dealing with TSA

In light of a recent news article about a boy who had some of his Walt Disney World souvenirs confiscated by TSA at the airport, I figured it was a good time for some tips about getting through the airport with all your Walt Disney World shopping.

Imagine this: You're at your favorite park shop and you find that wonderful big snow globe you've been looking for for months. You buy it in an instant. Now you have a problem, and might not even know it.

What's the problem? You flew to Walt Disney World and you're flying home. This means you have to go through the TSA security checkpoint at whichever airport you're flying out of. You don't want to put this very fragile item in your checked luggage for fear it will be broken (which is quite possible). So the best answer is to put the snow globe in your carry-on bag, right? Afraid not. TSA will only allow three ounces of fluid to be in a carry on bag (see this link for more details). Three ounces isn't much at all, and that snow globe has way more than three ounces. TSA won't play around. They will not allow you to put the snow globe in your luggage, since it's already been checked. Now you are out of luck.

So what do you do? Well the best thing to do is to plan ahead to get larger, fragile, TSA-unfriendly items hope. The best thing to do is ship it. Every Disney store offers shipping options. In this day of baggage fees and carry-on bag limitations, it might be better and easier to ship it anyway.

I did this during Star Wars Weekends 2007 when I purchased a Minnie big fig. The box was huge. I shipped it home for about $25 and didn't have to worry about getting it on the plane or having it damaged as checked baggage. It arrived about 2 days after I got back home.

Now, snow globes aren't the only problem you can face at the TSA security desk. In the article mentioned above, a boy wanted to bring his toy gun purchased in Frontierland onto the place. While I understand how some might think TSA should allow this to pass, their rules are ironclad (see here for more about restricted items). The good news is that you don't have to ship these items, just put them in a checked bag and you're good to go.

Dealing with airport security can be fairly painless, if you do a bit of planning and think. If you think it might be prohibited, it probably is. Either check it or ship it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cost of magic increases

In what should be no surprise to anyone, Disney has again increased the price of a one-day base ticket from $75 to $79. The cost of a child's ticket has risen to $69 for a one-day ticket. Park hopper add-on has risen to $52 a day.

Check out official prices here.