Universal on Attack

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Universal continues to improve its offerings for guests and thereby also encroaching Walt Disney World in what it believed in the past was its very own territory … now they just added a cruise experience! But let’s not get into this story head over heels. So from the start…

Andy already made several posts in the recent months regarding the slow or even non-existing reaction of Walt Disney World to the additions that the Universal Resort as well as the SeaWorld Resort have been premiering in the last year (in particular the outstanding “Simpson – The Ride” at Universal and SeaWorld’s new water park) and are about to premiere this year (in particular the flying coaster “Manta” at SeaWorld as well as the new coaster at Universal Studios), not to mention the upcoming Harry Potter land at Islands of Adventure in 2010 as well as numerous small but guest friendly concepts such as the free option for guests staying at the official Universasl Hotels to use their room key as unlimited “Universal Express” pass to bypass queues at the major attractions or the all “all you can eat” options valid for a full day Universal or SeaWorld. Now the pressure keeps mounting as Universal decided to go head to head with WDW in one more area: cruises! (more…)

Back To The Future (Again!)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

And so the work begins again. After a near-18 month break from the Paris version of The Mouse, we were back in Marne La Vallee recently to start the process of updating the Brit Guide to Disneyland Paris for 2010.

dlp-re-sized1It’s probably not a moment too soon, as well. With Mickey’s Magical Party about to start – the latest in the seemingly never-ending array of marketing promotions geared around making the resort somehow ‘new’ or ‘relevant’ – it is highly appropriate to look at just what lies in store in the world’s second-largest Disney resort.
With it not being as familiar to us as Walt Disney World in Orlando, it is a valuable exercise to evaluate it in ‘big picture’ terms. In many ways, it is the same – but not the same.

Disney with a French accent has always been an unusual proposition and, even 17 years later, there are still things that just don’t ‘translate’ from the American to the European. Standards of cleanliness are one of them. Which is not to say ‘EuroDisney’ is dirty (although Susan would raise a big question mark to that statement over the ladies toilets in the Hotel Santa Fe!), just that there is not the same sense of scrupulous attention to detail around the parks, restaurants and hotels.

Then there is the fact the Disneyland Park bears a lot of similarities to Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, but many of those similarities are largely superficial. Yes, the ‘lands’ are basically the same, but it is easy to take a wrong turn in DLP on the assumption it is the same as in the Sunshine State.

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The Muppets & more from Jim Henson in Florida

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Are you a fan of the Muppets and the genius behind them, Jim Henson? In that case you sure know that you can enjoy Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (in Walt Disney World) and at Disney’s California Adventure (in Disneyland Resort Anaheim). But for a limited time – to be exact: till May 3, 2009 – there is more from the Muppets and Jim Henson to discover in Florida as the traveling exhibit Jim Henson’s Fantastic World stops at the Orange County Regional History Center just a short drive from Walt Disney World!

What can you expect from the exhibit? Over 100 works of art, photographs, documents, puppets, movie props, and other 3-D objects, as well as original video productions, illustrating Jim Henson the artist, his work from early high school creations to his worldwide loved tv- and movie characters and the creative process behind these. Included are such rare items as one of the Kermit puppets Jim Hensons puppeteered himself and numerous sketches by Jim Henson for such all-time favorite characters as the Big Bird…

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No Pirates at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in 2009

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFL franchise located a short drive from Walt Disney World in Tampa Bay, FL, used to hold its annual training camp for the past 7 years at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, with team and players staying at the luxurious Celebration Hotel at Celebration, FL – the Disney imagineered community. However, this summer, the Bucs will hold their training camp under their new management and head coach directly in Tampa Bay on their own training facilities which opened in 2006 and are widely heralded as one of the most state-of-the-art in all of the NFL.

While this will free rooms at the Celebration Hotel for the summer season (a highly recommended location for guests looking for a luxurious, non-Disney-fied hotel with top-notch service whi can provide their own independent transportation and do not need to or want to stay right next to the theme parks), the decision certainly will have a negative impact on the bottom line of Walt Disney World as well. Not only will WDW loose out on any payments from the team for the training facilities at Disney’s Wide World of Sports but also on related revenue. Afterall the Bucs always attracted hundreds of fans watching the training work-outs and sparrings on property of Disney’s Wide World of Sports, who then spent considerable amounts of money. With the departure of the Bucs WDW lost one of its main professional sports related offerings. Not good news for WDW in the current economic climate, especially since the training camp did not only attract regular guests of WDW (already on property) to the Wide World of Sport’s complex that most guests do neither know about nor visit, but also attract local fans of the team to visit WDW in the first place.

Considering that the Bucs still need to come up with a concept how to seat fans during the work-outs at their own training facility and how to deal with the crowds in the first place (something that was always taken care of by the cast members of Disney’s Wide World of Sports) fans and WDW may hope that the Bucs will return to the state-of-the-art facilities of WDW in the next year.

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Andy, since you asked about The Hidden Magic, it got me thinking. And it occurred to me there is a similarity in what you do here on the blog and what I’ve done in the book.

The Mousekingdom Blog presents the magic ‘as seen from different points of view’. The magic can also be seen from a different perspective, and that’s exactly what The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World (due out in June 2009) is all about: finding the wonderful hidden gems the Imagineers have scattered throughout the parks, hearing the back stories and the imaginative thought process as described by the people who helped create the parks and attractions, and, most importantly, opening your eyes to the World as you have never seen it before.

So much of the inspired genius that went into each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks goes unnoticed by most guests as they rush from attraction to attraction. But when guests slow down and let the magic catch up with them, they’ll see a world of imagination that brings the ‘real’ story into full and vibrant light.

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The Dawn Treader meets Wall-E

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

We are still waiting for the May 16 opening of the second installment of the “Narnia”-series, titled “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (or even longer for some of us here in Eruope, where at least in Germany the movie won’t open till July!) … but the powers at Disney and Walden (the partner of Disney for this franchise) already proof all the gloom sayers on the internet wrong by announcing, that Disney and Walden are NOT abandoning the franchise!!

While some popular sites already declared the series dead or nearly dead unless the second movie did outstanding business the partners used the Comic Con in New York to announce that filming for the third movie in the series will commence as early as October of this year!

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The Muppets visit the Future … at EPCOT

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Remember those stories from earlier this year, when Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker roamed Disney’s California Adventure on board of their “Muppet Mobile Lab” christened rolling rocket-ship? Remember the numerous reports on how stunning the experience was for guests who were able to interact with the two characters from the beloved Muppets? Still annoyed you might have missed them? Well, here comes your second chance to see the latest effort from Imagineering’s “Living Creature Initiative”.

As the Orlando Sentinel reports today the “Muppet Mobile Lab” has arrived at EPCOT in Walt Disney World for several weeks of testing. The two muppet characters arrive from backstage in their rocket ship style vehicle in EPCOT’s Future World where they roll into the park, along the way interacting with guests before stopping for a 12-minute “show” – partially scripted, partially improvisational – in the vincinity of Mission: Space.

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The Wand GOES

Friday, July 6th, 2007

day1epcotwand.jpgMany a thousand young and old near and far would love to have their own magic wand – but there is one magic wand that has been the lightning rod for criticism for years: the magic wand towering over EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth, held high by a disembodied hand of Mickey as sorcerer’s apprentice. But Epcot Vice President Jim MacPhee on Thursday finally announced officially that the wand will be taken down during the 5 month long closure of the Spaceship Earth attraction starting on Monday, during which the ride will see an extensive rehab and upgrade paid for by the attraction’s new sponsor Siemens. (more…)

Selling themselves short?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

mariachi-cobre.JPG

It is not often you think Disney are selling themselves short, but a recent tour of their Orlando parks leaves us thinking they ought to do more to promote some of their live entertainment.

Entering the Animal Kingdom last week, we picked up the usual park map and entertainment Times Guide, and headed out into the park.

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It’s Late, It’s Late,… – IMPORTANT TRAVEL ADVISORY!

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Traveling from Europe to the US for, say, a short visit to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Anaheim?? Or maybe traveling from the US to Europe to pay visit to Disneyland Resort Paris?? Then you better pay extra attention to the time! For years travelers between these two continents have gotten used to both, the countries of the European Union and the United States of America (as well as the majority of Canada), observing Daylight Saving Time (aka summer time) for nearly the same part of the year. But thanks to the US Energy Policy Act of 2005 this has now changed.

As of this year the US (and most of Canada) observe Daylight Saving Time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. In other words: since yesterday the clocks in both Disney resorts in the US have moved one additional hour ahead. At the same time the countries of the European Union (and thus Disney’s European Magic Kingdom) continue to observe Daylight Saving Time “only” from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. In other words right now we are still on “standard” / “winter” time here in Europe for another two weeks!!

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Are YOU the next Jack Sparrow?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

DisneyAuditions.comSo you are not only looking for one day as a cast member but want to work full time? You are a dancer, singer, actor/actress, musician, stunt artist, acrobat or in any other form predestined to be part of the world of Entertainment?In this case there is a special website just for you: DisneyAuditions.com! It is operated by Walt Disney Entertainment who are responsible for the entertainment offerings on the Disney Cruise Line as well as at four Disney resorts around the globe: Disneyland Anaheim, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland – just not Disneyland Resort Paris, which runs its own entertainment division with their own casting procedure. On DisneyAuditions.com Walt Disney Entertainment keeps interested entertainment professionals informed about its global auditions, which are not only held on-site at the four resorts but wherever a larger number of professionals can be found. Frequent stops on the worldwide audtion tours include Australia, London (UK) as well as Hamburg and Düsseldorf (both in Germany).

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Let’s Go for a Swim

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Blizzard BeachWhenever I am able to visit Walt Disney World I set at least half a day aside for each of the two water parks Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Not only do I love to ride a good water slide (whether a speed slide or a pure fun tube slide), but it is also a perfect way to relax in a great themed environment. The only downside to riding a slide: you need to get up to the top of the slide in the first place. Sure the mountains at the center of Disney’s two water parks are greatly themed and walking up there is an experience in itself. Also it is fund to ride the cable car lift up to the top in Blizzard Beach. But still more often than not one just has to climb up the hillside, sometimes even with the tube in hand.

But now I found a great new idea thanks to the German theme and amusement park fans over at Freizeitparkweb … at the Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai guests can float around a lazy river in their tubes and then choose one of three “slides” going UP the central hill. Guets are pushed the slide up the hill thanks to water pressure / canons similar to the system used in the new slide in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. Just that here the slide goes upward all the time!! The three slides going up the hill meet at the top where guests can choose among several slides to get down the hill again. There is even a link posted on Freizeitparkweb to a video showing guests being pushed up the hill!! Now wouldn’t that be a cool addition to the Disney water parks??

Are you ready for the SUPERBOWL?

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Tonight another exciting season of american football in the NFL will come to an end, as the world champion is determined by way of the SUPERBOWL XLI in Miami, Florida. Ok – is this blog now sponsored by the NFL? No, in fact the Superbowl attraction millions around the globe on tv and regularly raking up the highest viewer numbers of any shows on tv really wouldn’t need any promotion from this blog. So, why are we suddenly posting about an american football game? Well, I could just say that I am looking forward to seeing the game – which would be true but is not really enough reason to post here. No, the real reason is … there is a connection between the Superbowl and Disney that is often forgotten and which I therefore would like to point out again. And no, I am not talking about ESPN or ABC here. We are talking show here!

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WDW being short-changed?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

toy-story-resized.jpgWell, another major press event has come and gone at Walt Disney World and, after all the hype and hoopla (notably over the David Beckham/Beyonce/Scarlet Johansson ad campaign), all we are left to look forward to for the next 18 months is one ride – Toy Story Mania.

While DLP and HKDL seem to be getting the lion’s share of new investment through 2008, WDW looks like it is being somewhat short-changed in the great Disney empire, expected to grow their business with the Year of a Million Dreams, a lot of froth over the new Cinderella Suite and the arrival “sometime in 2008″ of the new Toy Story ride (simultaneously in Orlando and Anaheim).

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More Good News!

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Finding Nemo - The MusicalIt seems there is a Midas Touch effect going for Disney right now, with the opening of their second major new attraction in Walt Disney World in recent weeks. Following on from movie success, financial success and widespread critical acclaim, the company is definitely on a roll from what we have seen. Having been seriously impressed by the new The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride at Epcot, Finding Nemo – The Musical has now opened at the Animal Kingdom, replacing the excellent Tarzan Rocks show, which we thought would be a tough act to follow. It needed to be something much bigger and more eye-catching, and it is. In spades.

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