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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Imagineering History: Haunted Mansion

Just want to note an excellent article over at Long-Forgotten that gives some nice insight into the thinking behind some of design decisions on Haunted Mansion.  This is definitely a must-read.  I wish I had thought of this first- this would have been a great article for WDWNT: The Magazine.

http://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2011/03/famous-ghosts-and-ghosts-trying-to-make.html

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

List Mania: Disney Movies That Should Be Attractions

Recently, the WDW News Today Podcast covered their top 10 Disney movies that should have attractions, but don’t.  Here at AI, we love lists, love stealing ideas, and we love offering our unqualified opinion, so here’s our list.

First, a couple of ground rules I set for myself…

A) The movie must be one that I consider a “classic” Disney film.  By this I mean that 20 years from now it will still be remembered (and knowing Disney, still being re-issued for purchase).  Prince of Persia might make a good attraction, but I doubt we’ll be talking about it in 20 years (at least not in the good way).  Call me cynical if you want.

B) This list only applies to Walt Disney World.  The movie might have an attraction in Disneyland, but for the purposes of this list, it does not exist.  I did not include movies that already have attractions, even if I believe they deserve much better attractions (ie. Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King, etc.).  I lumped stage shows in as existing attractions, but not character meet-and-greets.

C) I must have a specific type of attraction in mind.  I can’t say that Hannah Montana: The Movie would make a great attraction without stating what kind of attraction it should be.  Actually, come to think of it, there is no way I can ever say that Hannah Montana: The Movie would make a great attraction.  Let’s just all agree to block that movie from our collective memories and move on.

Now, on to the list:

10. Sleeping Beauty (1959) – The last of the old-style animation classics, this movie is filled with artistic set pieces, memorable characters, and action that could easily translate into the classic dark ride format.  In fact, this is probably more easily turned into an attraction than Snow White, suffering only in release chronology.

9.  Super Mario Bros. (1993) – Reviewing the Disney film library, I was surprised to see this movie listed.  I certainly don’t consider this movie a classic in any way.  In fact, like most people, this is one of the few blights on the Brothers Mario record.  However, the concept of turning Nintendo properties into attractions is very, well, attractive.  I’m sure there are all kinds of legal roadblocks to doing this, but I see this as the next big wave of attraction tie-ins.

8.  Mary Poppins (1964) – Certainly the most famous of Disney’s live action movies, this movie gives us a variety of locales and the kind of episodic story that fits perfectly into the dark ride format.  The movie that basically built a good portion of Disneyland certainly deserves a larger park presence than much more forgettable fare (I’m looking at you, Chronicles of Narnia).

7.  Pinocchio (1940) – The movie that gave us Jiminy Cricket, Monstro, Pleasure Island, and donkey boys needs to have a Fantasyland dark ride.

6.  WALL-E (2008) – A dystopian landscape, space travel, mass manipulation, robot love… how does this movie not have a coaster already.  In all seriousness, I could see this as a high-speed coaster or EMV attraction recreating some of the more memorable scenes.  Plus, it would be a chance to include Michael Crawford singing Put On Your Sunday Clothes in the attraction, and that’s always fun.  (Uh oh, I think I just let my Broadway fandom leak into this blog.  Please ignore…)

5.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) – Disney’s classic action movie still holds up today.  I’m sure someone at WDI could come up with something using this movie as an attraction.

4.  The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) – I’m already breaking my “classic movie” rule here, but I would love to see Kuzcotopia as a water ride, or even Yzma’s secret lab entrance as a coaster.  Many possibilities here, and surprisingly, the movie still holds up to viewings now.

3.  The Incredibles (2004) – This movie provides great characters, exciting action, and enough fantastic settings to fill 10 Little Mermaid show buildings.  However, I think that this movie would do even better as a thrill attraction.  The music alone makes me want to go fast.  In fact, I think some consideration should be given to re-theming Rock-N-Roller Coaster as the… (building suspense)… Incredicoaster!  Thank you, thank you very much.

2.  Up (2009) – This movie already has an attraction built in basically.  How easy would it be to take the Peter Pan ride system and create an Up dark ride.  Just replace the pirate ship with a blimp, and you’re already half way there.

1.  Tron (1982) – Even without the new movie coming out soon, this movie could easily support several different types of attractions: dark ride, coaster, simulator, EMV, 4D movie, whatever.  Unless they called it Tron’s Great Escape, how could this possibly fail?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

List Mania: Favorite Original Attraction Characters

A few weeks ago, the WDW News Today Podcast covered their top 10 original Disney attraction characters.  Here at AI, we love lists, love stealing ideas, and we love offering our unqualified opinion, so here’s our list:

10. Buddy Boil, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: I consider him the funniest of the reoccurring characters in laugh floor.  Certainly better than that free-loading, joke-stealing nephew, Marty Wazowski.

9. Captain Rex, Star Tours: Another in the long line of high-pitched, incompetent, but very fortunate George Lucas characters (see Jar-Jar Binks, Luke Skywalker).  However, at least Rex isn’t whiny and depressing.  By the end of the attraction, we’re actually rooting for him, even if secretly praying that we never get him as our pilot again.

8. Bill, Test Track: Played by the great John Michael Higgins, Bill gets a spot on this list even if he just stood there during the pre-show.  Bill does more than that though, combining the perfect mix of mid-western charm with psychopathic torture desires.  After all, it’s Bill that sends his guests into the acid spray and the crash test.  At least he does it with a smile though.

7. The Explorers Getting the Point, Jungle Cruise: The ultimate tragi-comedy situation.  Innocent explorers get chased up a pole by a rabid rhino, and what do we do?  Make bad puns and laugh.  Not humanities best moment…

6. Dr. Marsh, Dinosaur: While she’s trying to run a legitimate scientific time-travel museum, she has to deal with hot-shots like Dr. Seeker hijacking time rovers to bring back dinosaurs.  I know funds are probably tight, but perhaps she should use some of the donor money to build a time rover security system that requires more than a few keystrokes to overcome instead of, I don’t know, having ketchup, mustard, and mayo flowing to all parts of the building.  I mean, I like ketchup as much as anyone, but I don’t need multiple ketchup faucets in my place of work.

5. Little Girl, Tower of Terror: Little kids make every situation more creepy, and this is no exception.  Between her repetitive song, the classic Mickey Mouse doll, and her unnaturally calm demeanor, this girl frightens me by herself, even if I met her on the playground instead of inside the twilight zone.

4. Carlos, Pirates of the Caribbean: Why is it that he refuses to give up his information?  And for that matter, what dark secrets does he hold that requires the pirate version of water-boarding to extract?  Is he only hiding the location of Captain Jack Sparrow?  If so, then what leverage does Captain Jack have over him that would cause him to take repeated dunks in the well instead of divulging the Captains whereabouts?  So many questions surround this guy.  Don’t be chicken, Carlos.

3. The Mother, Carousel of Progress: Let’s face it, the father in Carousel of Progress is a bit of a loafer.  It’s the mother that’s always doing the work while the father sits around being amazed by new technology.  Even in the final scene when he’s “cooking” a turkey, mother has to program the oven to accept voice instructions because I guess pressing the temperature buttons is too much effort for him.  Even when he cuts the electricity in the entire neighborhood, it’s the son that’s forced to fix it.  Hey buddy, get up and do something.  Even elderly Ben Franklin does more.

2. Figment, Journey Into Your Imagination: Every time I ride through this attraction, I’m saddened by how they have taken a classic and well-beloved character and turned him into parody of himself and a low-grade one at that.  Figment? No, Figment’s still OK, I’m talking about Eric Idle <hey-o>.  Don’t tell anyone (especially not AI Marci), but I find the current incarnation of Figment to be a bit annoying.  However, he’s still a better character than that second pig on Thunder Mountain, so he makes the list.  I hate that pig so much…

1. The Sad Clown, It’s A Small World: He fought the system for years, but eventually lost out to the winds of conformity.  The one character in the entire attraction willing to show his true emotions, he provided a beacon of dissent.  Who knows what horrors he went through that eventually turned that frown upside down.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Wants To Be A Podcaster? We Do!

Dave and I love listening to Disney podcasts. We listen to a number of different ones and have always wanted to be involved in one of our own. However, due to time constraints (and some technical ineptitude) we have yet to create something specifically for Armchair Imagineers. Imagine our surprise and delight when one of our favorite podcasts announced a search for two new contributors!! The WDW News Today Podcast invited their listeners to join the newest game show to hit your earbuds. Ten finalists were chosen to participate in the game show that will last from October 11th to December 13th. Dave and I were so excited to both be chosen as candidates!! The first podcast aired last week and introduced you to each of the finalists (listen HERE). This week, Round 1 has begun! The podcast includes two segments that we were able to participate in. Dave and four others joined Tom Corless for ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ of the Dinosaur attraction while the rest of us talked about the News and Rumor report for WDW. We had a great time taping the podcast and can only continue with your help! The voting is now OPEN for Round 1, and will close on October 28th. The podcast can be found at www.wdwnewstoday.com, or on iTunes for download. Dave and I would greatly appreciate all of your support because, let’s face it… we don’t want to be the first ones voted off. Each week after the podcast airs the voting will open and remain so until the end of the week. Then the votes will be tallied and the two finalists with the least number of votes will be eliminated. In the end, only two will remain and go on to be the newest co-stars of the WDW News Today Podcast! Each and every vote is important, so follow the link below and cast yours now! You can vote once per browser, so I used Firefox to vote for myself and IE to vote for Dave. We welcome any comments you may have on our performances… we want to be our best! Thanks so much everybody!

VOTE HERE!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Swan and Dolphin First Annual Food & Wine Classic

Last Friday, October 8th, Dave and I headed to the Walt Disney World Resort for our FIRST EVER weekend away without the kids. (GASP) I felt a huge mix of emotions including guilt for not bringing my children to their favorite place, but I was also overwhelmingly excited!! After reading about the Food & Wine Classic I had been looking forward to it for weeks, and now we were on our way. We had decided to book the special $169/night package at the Dolphin which included one seminar each night as well as unlimited access to the food and drinks. This was also to be our first stay at the Dolphin Resort and I really thought it was a beautiful place. Friday we attended the Wine Blending Seminar hosted by Tony Porcellini, the Director of Food and Beverage at the resort. Tony was excited to talk about the wines and his presentation was fun and engaging. On Saturday we had the pleasure of tasting different varieties of Riesling at the Riesling Rendezvous with Luciano Sperduto, the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage. Luciano was also a lot of fun to watch and you can tell that he really knows his stuff. Now, I know next to nothing about wine, but I have to tell you that I really enjoyed both of the seminars. Many interesting facts about making the wines including grape ripeness, climate, and geography were discussed. I thought it was so helpful when they talked about our palates, what to look for when tasting the wines and what the flavors meant. It was accessible to those of us who really knew very little about wine and I had a great time. One of the highlights of the seminars was the delicious cheeses that were served in addition to five different types of wine. (Boy, do I LOVE triple cream!) I was very grateful to the empty seat next to me for providing an additional plate of cheese for my enjoyment…I mean, why let it go to waste, right? J Dave and I really enjoyed ourselves at the seminars, but the REAL treat was waiting for us out on the Causeway.

 

For a first year event, the Food & Wine Classic was done extremely well. The way that the food booths, beverage stations and tables were set up really allowed for a constant flow of traffic so I never felt crowded. I also thought it was a great idea to have actual tables and chairs set up towards the back on the Swan side for those of us that wanted to sit down and enjoy our food. The live bands were featured under the huge fountain outside of the Dolphin which I thought was a particularly nice touch. The only thing I didn’t like about the music was that it seemed extremely loud at times, but on Saturday night the tables in front of the speakers had been moved to the side, so no matter where you stood it wasn’t blasting your ear off which was a definite improvement. In regards to the food served, most of it was EXCELLENT. The stations featured small dishes from some of the restaurants at the Swan & Dolphin. My favorite (VERY surprisingly) was the Dragon Roll from Kimonos. I say surprisingly because under normal circumstances I do NOT like sushi at all, but this was absolutely delicious. I thought the items from Bluezoo were imaginative though not very practical… I did enjoy the Buffalo Chicken on the Blue Cheese Pipette, but the deconstructed Shrimp Cocktail in the tube didn’t work for either of us. We tried a couple of times to eat it the right way and each time I ended up with a mouth full of lettuce and no shrimp. I was most looking forward to the ‘choose your own filet’ station at Shula’s, where a nice size portion of filet mignon was cooked to order. Both Dave and I wanted our filets cooked medium but ended up with well done which was disappointing. In addition to the food booths there were a TON of beverage stations. They served all kinds of wines and mixed drinks at the Classic. My favorite drink was the Sangria with dried fruit and liquid nitrogen which made the glass smoke. It was so cool!! The best thing about that drink was that it didn’t taste too strong… I like fruitier, sweeter drinks and this was right up my alley. Something else I really appreciated was that the staff was very friendly and went out of their way to accommodate the guests. For instance, after drinking all of that wine I needed to have some water and when I couldn’t find any, the guy making the spiked lemonades offered to fill up my glass with the water he was using to make his drinks. He also made me a non alcoholic lemonade which was great. My suggestion for next year would be to have less drink stations and more food booths. There were probably twice as many drinks (at least) as there was to eat and barely (if any) non alcoholic drink choices. I think it’s important to offer something non alcoholic… at the very least, water for those of us who need a break from the alcohol or even for those who are under 21. I also didn’t notice them asking for any kind of identification from anyone even though there were younger adults there and even young children. Dave and I really enjoyed this event, I think it was a great success and I can’t wait to see what they do to make it even better next year!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Disney Guests Share Memories for 2011 Marketing Campaign

Last week when Disney boasted yet another ‘huge announcement’ I was a little skeptical. The BIG and HUGE usually turns out to be a ‘that’s it?’ moment, and this was no different… at first. On Thursday, September 23rd via a live broadcast on the Disney Parks Blog (which I could not get to, BTW), the new marketing campaign for 2011 was revealed. “Let the Memories Begin” will feature the photos and home videos of real Disney guests from around the world in television, print and online ads. At first, I thought this was just another ploy by the Disney Company to cut costs…not having to pay actors or writers for actual content. However, after viewing the online video clips put together for the campaign of real guests making real memories I completely changed my mind. Disney is ALL about the memories and honestly, I’d much rather see a real person being genuinely surprised, happy and excited about Disney than an actor being paid to portray those emotions. I’ve seen the videos several times and I cry every single time I watch them. Bravo Disney!! I love the new campaign for 2011 and I’m looking forward to seeing what guests from around the world will allow us to share with them.

And it doesn’t end there…

At WDW guests who use Disney’s Photopass during the day will be featured in a nighttime spectacular when their photos are projected onto Cinderella’s Castle. In Disneyland the same will be done on the “It’s a Small World” attraction. An estimated 500 photos per location will be used in this new Disney experience. The Disney Parks Blog describes it as using “…the latest in high-intensity projection technology to create vivid visuals that seem to defy the architecture of the building. A new song commissioned for the show will provide an emotional context for these images of the Disney guest experience. “

If you would like to submit a photo, video or story for Disney to use in the new marketing campaign, visit “Let the Memories Begin” on the Disney Parks website.

I have already submitted a few of my own memories and look forward to seeing the cherished moments of others. The ability to enjoy authentic, genuine material such as this really brings out the true magic of Disney.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet “Duffy” – Mickey’s Personal Teddy Bear

The Disney Parks Blog introduces us to Mickey’s Teddy Bear “Duffy” with this story...  "awhile ago, Mickey was about to set sail on an adventure to visit friends around the world. Minnie made a special gift to keep Mickey company and she presented it to Mickey in a duffle bag. Mickey, delighted with his gift, pulled out the gift, a very special bear, and named him Duffy. Mickey and Duffy embarked on many special voyages and Duffy got to meet all of Mickey’s friends. Each time they returned home, Mickey and Duffy would share their stories and photos with Minnie."

  duffy
The Walt Disney Company has decided that Duffy will find a new home in Epcot after a huge success in Tokyo DisneySea. In October Duffy will debut with his own Meet & Greet as well as a full line of costumes and other souvenirs. I am very annoyed about this. For a huge Disney fan who has been coming to the parks for over 20 years, I have never heard of Duffy. Apparently, he's big enough to warrant this kind of reception from  Disney and even has Duffy inspired snacks for goodness sake!!! Am I really expected to want a Duffy shaped popcorn bucket or rice krispie treat when I have no clue who he is? They've even replaced the Kidcot masks with an exclusive Duffy that kids can color and get stamped in each country. Why am I so upset, you may ask? Well, first of all, it feels very manufactured. I feel like Duffy is being stuffed down my throat. Also, if Disney has the kind of time, money and imagination that goes into creating these things, why not use it to promote Figment? That move I would completely understand and applaud considering that he is actually relevant to the park, and yet he's shoved away into a corner of the Imagination pavilion. This is already painful and I haven't even seen the thing yet. What bothers me the most is that I'm 99% sure we'll be coming home with two of them after the kids are bombarded by Duffy menus, candy, plush and living characters. (I just vomited in my mouth)

Duffy from the Duffle bag... very original. All I can think of is Duff Beer...


To read more about the launch of Duffy visit the Disney Parks Blog.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Resort News: Bay Lake Tower Studios to be Redesigned

We’re probably late to this discussion, but from the latest Disney Files magazine, we learned that the studio accommodations are going to be redesigned slightly.  “Member feedback has inspired a variety of enhancements…” including moving one of the sinks into the bathroom, a lock for the bathroom door, and a full length mirror. 

What I don’t understand is why didn’t they get that member feedback before building?  These are fairly obvious items that anyone could have identified from the blueprints.  These were major design flaws in the studio rooms and it’s sad that it took this long and will require this much money to fix.  Disney- how about next time you ask for member feedback before finalizing the design?  Now if they could only add an additional 75 sq. ft.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Disney Area Restaurant $25 Gift Certificates for Only $3 Now Through Labor Day

If you're like me, (and I'm guessing you are) then you love to eat in Disney as much as I do. I saw this awesome deal this morning and had to share it with everyone. Restaurant.com is having a sale now through Labor Day that offers $25 gift certificates at 70% Off!! The best part is, if you type in the zip code for the WDW area you'll see a bunch of different options right on Disney property! I found all of the restaurants at the Swan & Dolphin including Shula's, Bluezoo, Kimonos, Il Mulino and Garden Grove. They also have House of Blues located in Downtown Disney along with lots of other choices on International Drive. It's important to note that these restaurants do NOT participate in the Disney Dining plan, so if you choose to come to one of these you would have to pay out of pocket. Also, when using a gift certificate you can only use one per visit and each restaurant has it's own requirement. For instance, at Shula's there is a minimum purchase of 2 entrees in order to use the certificate. Basically, it's still a great deal even when you read the fine print!! Here's how to get one:

Go to: http://www.restaurant.com

In the Zip Code field type in: 32830

Scroll down and find the restaurants you're interested in and add the certificates to your shopping cart. Once you're ready to check out, enter the code SAVORY and 70% of your total will be deducted.

This sale ends on Labor Day so be sure to take advantage of it now! When you're finished with the checkout process restaurant.com will email you a link to print out your certificates. The best thing is, you can always go back to restaurant.com and log in to see what certificates you still have and which ones have already been used. You can also print them out again if you need to.

Hope this helps everyone!! I can't wait to go and try some new restaurants!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bad Ideas: 50’s Prime Teppan Edo

We here at AI have more than our share of bad ideas.  So now, we’re going to share some of those with you (probably a bad idea itself).  Disney- I implore you to please ignore these.  Our bad ideas only cause us humiliation; your bad ideas cause California Adventure.

While eating at Teppan Edo recently, I noticed that the staff always made a point when leaving of turning around and bowing to the room.  I assumed that this was a point of etiquette in Japanese society.  As an open-minded world citizen, I did what anyone would have done in that situation- I pointed and laughed.  No, wait, that’s not right.  That was just in my head momentarily.  What actually happened is that I begin thinking about all those cultural etiquette things that I’m probably missing and most likely completely offending those from the country in question.  So that got my mind rolling, and I came up with this bad idea…

Combine the atmosphere of 50’s Prime Time with the cultural unknown’s of Teppan Edo (or any unfamiliar country).  Basically, it would be an entire meal of having all your dining faux pas pointed out to the room when you’re never really sure what etiquette should dictate.  An hour of walking on eggshells, never knowing what innocent gesture or act will lead to having to get up and sing “I’m a Little Teapot” to strangers.

How could it miss?

List Mania: Favorite Table Service Restaurants in WDW

This week, the WDW News Today Podcast covered their top 10 table service restaurants in WDW.  Here at AI, we love lists, love stealing ideas, and we love offering our unqualified opinion, so here’s our list:

10. Kona Cafe – Inexplicably, this has become a must-do on our trips, usually for a pre-Magic Kingdom breakfast.  Favorite items include the macadamia nut pancakes and their version of eggs Benedict.  Lunch and dinner are also surprisingly good.

9. The Plaza Restaurant – This was the first restaurant I ever ate at in WDW, so there is definitely some nostalgia in play.  Even so, this is a relaxing eatery that offers a nice respite from the crazy crowds of the Magic Kingdom.  Besides, food always tastes better in the Magic Kingdom for some reason.

8. Boma – The only buffet on this list.  It offers unique fare at a high quality that makes this my favorite buffet on property.  Now if we could only get that monorail spur over to AKL…

7. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – Food: Average; Atmosphere: Spectacular.  In recent trips, we have taken to only ordering appetizers or dessert here, but the amazing theming and completely immersive experience more than make up for the mediocre food.  However, would it kill them to update the movie loop every once in a while?

6. Yak and Yeti – I’m as surprised as anyone that this makes the list.  However, I have a soft spot for Asian inspired food, and this is my favorite place to get it in WDW.  It started out a little rough, but has steadily been improving, thus working its way up my list.

5. Hollywood Brown Derby – I think this is one of those love it or hate it places, and I love it.  The prices may be somewhat high, but everything on that menu is good and prepared well.

4. Chefs de France – Somehow, they got the French serving staff at this restaurant to be almost friendly.  Cheap joke on French people aside, this restaurant offers excellent French food and a much lower price point than it’s more refined cousin upstairs.

3. Victoria & Albert’s – In my mind, the most elegant meal I have been served anywhere, anytime.  If it wasn’t such a hit to the budget, I would definitely eat here every trip.  Saving up for the chef’s table experience someday…

2. Jiko – African-inspired gourmet food in an elegant setting makes this one stand out.  The menu is crammed with exotic items, but my favorite item continues to be the macaroni and cheese.  If this place had a better view, it might crack the top spot.  But it doesn’t, so #1 goes to…

1. California Grill – The ultimate restaurant at WDW for me.  Great menu, great atmosphere, spectacular view.  I absolutely have to eat here every trip.

So there you go.  No Le Cellier (over-rated, yeah you heard me), no San Angel Inn (eh), no Liberty Tree Tavern (bleh), and no Cinderella’s Royal Table (bleh and overpriced).  Thoughts?

Armchair Imagineers to be Guests on Live Late Night Show!

For those of you who like to talk about (and listen to) Disney related things... this is definitely for you! AI Dave and I have been invited to appear as guests on a live broadcast online on August 4, 2010 at 11:00pm. The show is called 'See Ya Real Late' and is hosted by Tom Corless who also hosts the WDW News Today podcast. I invite anyone and everyone to come and listen as we chat with Tom about our Disney experiences.

Just visit http://www.wdwntunes.com at 11:00pm on Wednesday August 4th to listen in!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Main Street Electrical Parade Run Extended

Yay! When I first heard about Summer Nighttastic I was disappointed that we would miss it, even though I absolutely LOVE Wishes and Spectromagic I thought the new offerings would be a nice change for one trip. Today, I got my wish! (Well, one of them at least) ;-) The Disney Parks Blog announced that the Main Street Electrical Parade will be extending its run past the original August 14th closing date! I’m very excited to see MSEP this fall when we travel to WDW for Food & Wine. I’m really hoping that Disney will also extend the Summer Nighttastic Fireworks Spectacular. I’ve heard that fireworks show is one of the best Disney has ever done and I would love to see it. Can’t wait for October!!

If you’d like to read more information regarding the extension of the MSEP you can check out the official Disney Parks Blog HERE.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Interesting Idea…

AI Dave and I were discussing the differences between Disney and other theme parks this afternoon when I had an interesting idea. We visited Sesame Place this past weekend with our two young children and, while Disney is superior in every way, Sesame does offer a great perk to Annual Passholders. About 15 minutes before the parade begins, you can enter a private backstage area where the Team Members are getting the floats ready. Passholders are then able to have an exclusive meet and greet with a TON of Sesame Street characters. Our kids were ecstatic when Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, The Count, Tellie, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Rosita and Super Grover came out to see them and a handful of other children. Even though there really is no comparison IMO between Disney and SP, I have to say their character interaction is great. While we were backstage and saw Sesame getting ready for their parade, I was thinking about how incredibly awesome it would be for Disney to do a backstage tour of their parades. We could start where it all begins…casting. A tour of the area cast members first have to audition for their perspective roles. Then we could move on to where they rehearse, then finally to the park where the floats are kept. I would LOVE to know the details about how they get the floats ready and how much time it actually takes from start to finish. To save the best for last, guests on tour would be escorted to a special viewing area for the parade. I think this is an excellent idea for a new backstage tour and I would gladly shell out the $$ to see it.

Are there any new tour ideas that you’d like to see at Disney? Let us know!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Podcast Reviews!

Hello! I will be critiquing this week’s podcasts tonight as AI Dave is busy playing FIFA. As I’m sure you can tell, Dave and I have very different styles of writing and opinions. He is very succinct and doesn’t like to embellish a story at all. I, on the other hand, love to embellish and fluff up my writing. He says I provide TMI and to that I say…there is no such thing. :-)  Of course, in the interest of getting to bed before 2am tonight I will trim this down a bit. So, on to the reviews…

I listen to three podcasts each week. The DIS Unplugged, The WDW Radio Show and WDW News Today. I’ve listened to one or two others but end up turning them off within the first five minutes for various reasons.

1. The DIS Unplugged’s ‘Not Disney’ Show about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hi Pete! I love your show. Each and every week I wait anxiously for my DIS podcasts and this one was no exception. Even though I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies, read any of the books or even visited Universal since the late 1980’s, this show was very interesting to me. I feel the podcast team did an excellent job dishing the details about the WWoHP. From the beginning to the very end I felt as if I was there with them. I tasted Butter Beer, had breakfast at the Three Broomsticks and felt sorry for the poor guy pulled out of line to be squished into the Forbidden Journey test vehicle. The best part, as always, was Pete’s rant about the ‘knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing morons’ that manage Universal. Yes! I had to listen to that more than once. Of course, I never would have paid $1800 for 3 days at Universal, I don’t care what they’re selling. All in all, I really liked this non Disney episode of the DIS Unplugged, and although there will be no discussion show this week (get well soon!), I really look forward to what you have in store for us next time. Grade: A

2. The WDW Radio Show Episode # 172: This week, Lou Mongello and guests brought us the details of what will be included during Summer Nightastic as well as an exclusive interview with Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ashoka Tano in the Clone Wars animated TV Series. I have to applaud Lou for his in depth discussion of the Main Street Electrical Parade. I haven’t seen it in years and listening to the podcast really brought it back to life for me. The additional behind the scenes video was awesome. I especially loved the opening when Lou was revealed from inside one of the floats as the driver. Yes! As for the interview with Ashley Eckstein…eh…although I consider myself to be a Star Wars fan, I have not seen the Clone Wars TV show so I found this to be a little boring. I think if you are an extremely dedicated fan who would line up outside of DHS early in the morning for Star Wars weekends you’d probably love it. I, on the other hand, would be out of my mind to go there in the blazing heat with wall to wall people just for Star Wars. Yes, I love it…but not that much. Grade: B-

3. WDW News Today Podcast #146: Tom Corless begins with the News and Rumor Report and moves on to what could have been an awesome show about VMK – Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom. I loved VMK. I played it daily when it was up and running (only during my breaks at work, of course), and really miss it. As mentioned in the podcast it WAS like living in the theme park and I wish it hadn’t been shut down. I feel that the discussion could have been more informative than what it was.  I kept waiting for Tom and his guests to discuss some of the incredibly awesome features of the game like the Ride-A-Thons and Room Competitions. There were SO many awesome things going on, most of which were glazed over in this podcast. As Tom himself said the hour long show was mostly focused on ways to cheat. I also don’t think VMK was a waste of time at all. It brought me back to the parks even for just a few minutes each day. Now Farmville on the other hand… Grade: C

Well, that’s going to do it for this week’s podcast reviews. Stay tuned for more unqualified opinions from AI Dave and I here at Armchair Imagineers.