Monday, February 28, 2011
We've talked before about the retheming of Disney California Adventure, but I thought this time we'd explain it with a visual representation...
While I've talked quite a bit in the past about the new perspective on focusing on the park's representation of the Golden State. That view of California from the perspective of how Walt saw it. Basically, a representation of all the periods in which Disney lived in this state. So the experience is a Disney Experience, in whatever attraction is put in, and the various areas/lands will be made up of seeing a place from the perspective of the time he was here. These are my words, but the Imagineer's intent, just so you know.
The park is divided into the sections of Walt's life from his first entering in the Twenties, to his passing in the Sixties:
Paradise Pier - (1920's) An idealized seaside pier and harbor representing a walk by the shore during the early part of the twentieth Century, just as Walt Disney arrived in the state to realize his dreams. Set during the Post-Victorian/Edwardian Era representing a simpler, but vibrant life for those walking along the golden beaches of the growing and prosperous West Coast.
Buena Vista Street - (1930's) Set during the rising days of Walt's studio and the establishing of it as a major player in Hollywood, the Spanish Revival style will evoke much of what it was like to walk down the sidewalk of Los Angeles during that period.
Hollywood Land - (1940's) Imagined as the way it was viewed during the Golden Era of Hollywood. The Art Deco and movie studio influences are supposed to give you the feeling of being in a nostalgic interpretation of what Tinsel Town was like during this period.
Golden State - (1950's) A representation of the national parks that you would find in the state, like Yosemite or Redwood National Park. Drawing on inspiration from the Real Life series, this area with its woodsy feel and Arts & Crafts architecture invoke a rustic view of what it was like to see rural mid to northern California.
Cars Land - (1960's) Driving down Route 66 in its prime, seeing what it was like to travel through the open desert going down the "Mother Road" as an entryway into California. The end of the American way of life before the highways took over and pushed you past the lands, not through them. And as the sun set on this special time, it also quietly represents the passing of the company's creator.
And as far as A Bug's Land goes, well that happens to be a bridge land set between two others. It represents the lands and valleys that occupy the state, feed our nation and the world, but it doesn't represent a time period. But everything else has it, or will eventually have its own time and feel.
So think of this as a new beginning, not a middle and certainly not an end...
Saturday, February 26, 2011
A smidun' of honey would be nice...
Whew, it's good to be back...
I'm sure you saw this yesterday, but I thought I'd post it just the same. Here is the one sheet for the new "Winnie the Pooh" film. I really like it, since I prefer simple and classy designs. It's reflective of that style.
Here's looking forward to the Mouse's next hand drawn film...
Monday, February 21, 2011
I'll be away for a few days, guys...
Blogging will hopefully continue near the end of the week when I get back from a secret mission (re: vacation) to an undisclosed island/continent (re: retreat). I have some business to attend to but everything should be crackling from Blue Sky Headquarters by Monday/Tuesday.
Until then, enjoy your week...
Friday, February 18, 2011
For those of you that weren't able to attend the Walt Disney Company's 2011 Investor Conference, I have a gift...
For those that are curious and those that like to read. For your perusal, here in full is Tom Staggs' speech to investors earlier yesterday:
I was reflecting, actually when I was, when I knew I was coming here, that one of thing things that I really liked about my old job was that all of you when you had issues you wanted to discuss, would call and talk about them. So shouldn’t there be a few more billion that you’re putting into share purchase or, you know, digital media that ultimately good or bad for the business. The answer is still good, by the way. And now I’m glad to see that that hasn’t changed. I got two questions last night about what time the gym opens, and another person wanted to know if I could give them FASTPASS assets, access for their kids. So, it’s good to know you still come to me for the big stuff.
It has been a fantastic year. It was weird to go sort of cold turkey, though on the regular cadence of investor meetings and quarterly conference calls. As you’d imagine, I’ve listened in to a number of the calls, and I can tell you this… I haven’t missed me a bit. In all seriousness, Jay has done a great job, as you’ve seen firsthand, of jumping into the role. And I’ve had a bit of jumping in to do myself as I’ve tried to travel through all of our locations and immerse myself as much as possible into the world of Disney Parks And Resorts.
Now, this day and age, there’s always someone around with a video camera, which allowed us to pull together a few clips to show you a little bit about what my last year has been about. Take a look.
So right after we shot that video, Gary Marsh marched me straight over to Bob Cavallo’s office at Hollywood Records. That meeting didn’t go so well. Really, though, it has been a really fun and fascinating year, and fulfilling as well. And it’s a great time to be in this job. As a number of you have pointed out, the parks are really well-positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery, which should help fuel strong growth for the segment over the next couple of years.
We will capitalize on that economic recovery as it solidifies, but at the same time, we have a significant number of long term initiatives underway in our business, and that’s really what I want to talk to you
So now having spent considerable time with you over the years, I know that when I say “initiatives” in the parks business, your thoughts immediately turn to capital requirements. And, to be sure, we are putting substantial capital to work – especially this year and in 2012. But let me say up front that I am very confident in our ability to create value with these investments.
Our principal financial objectives, for Parks and Resorts, are to deliver attractive double-digit returns on investment capital along with continued profit growth over the long term. As we look out over the next decade, we fully expect to deliver on those objectives. That confidence is bolstered by our tremendous competitive strengths and sources of differentiation in this business.
At Disney Parks, we are known for the iconic assets that we build -- our castles, hotels, cruise ships… but at the end of the day, these aren’t our core products. We aren’t in the attraction business, the hotel business, the cruise ship business… we are in the guest experience business. The great shared memories that guests cherish and create every day at our parks help keep people coming back year after year. Understanding that is essential to understanding how Disney’s unique assets and competitive strengths set Parks and Resorts apart. So let me briefly touch on four of these key strengths.
The first is, of course, the Disney brand. In the Family Travel and Leisure business, the Disney name truly stands apart. It’s uniquely powerful, is synonymous with quality, it evokes trust and it generates loyalty. It allows us to establish a connection with our consumers unlike any other company. We have the extraordinary benefit of having customers who actively seek a relationship with us, a relationship that is based on emotion and trust. And we understand that we must be relentlessly consumer-focused to sustain and grow those relationships. Our second major differentiator is the incredible wealth of fantastic intellectual property and creative talents available to us. At Parks and Resorts, we bring the company’s creative content to life in an immersive and tangible way. Many of our properties are evergreen, as Jay pointed out. They provide an ongoing source of strength and relevance for us. At the same time, the constant flow of stories, characters and music generated across the Disney company allows us to infuse our parks, resorts, cruise ships, etc. with vibrant new content on an ongoing basis.
The third competitive strength I want to touch on is our long-standing focus on leveraging technology and innovation throughout our business. While it may be chic to talk about innovation these days, it’s been a key focus at Disney since Walt famously said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Trust me, if you spend time with our Imagineers, you’ll see that the drive for innovation is still inherent in everything that we do. And it’s inspiring because our opportunities to leverage technology and innovation are greater now than they’ve ever been.
The fourth strength I’ll highlight is one that I’m not sure we talk about enough, and that is our incomparable cast. It might surprise you, but in our research, people cite interactions they have with our cast as the single biggest factor in their satisfaction and intent to return. The excellence of our cast members is borne out of a deeply-rooted cultural commitment to quality and service that has been part of the organization for over half a century. What I’ve really come to appreciate this past year is that our cast’s commitment to guest experience is holistic – from designing our parks, attractions and resorts, to creating our entertainment offerings, and even down to the food that we serve - we want to wow our guests with every interaction.
Maintaining this culture of excellence across all the various disciplines required in our business is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for others to replicate. The guest service orientation of our business does require a significant labor commitment, and operating labor comprises about a third of the segment’s cost base. But when so many of our guests single out interaction with our cast as the most important part of their visit, we know this continued investment is worth it.
So capitalizing and building on the key sets of competitive advantage that I’ve just listed is central to our investment decisions, and it’s an essential part of the initiatives we now have underway. Our current initiatives fall into three areas: Growing our established assets; Building out our new businesses; And expanding in geographic markets.
So looking first at our established assets, here at the Disneyland Resort we’re well under way with our expansion of Disney’s California Adventure. Since its inception, Disney’s California Adventure has featured some of Disneyland’s most popular attractions… But from the standpoint of delivering on the fundamental Disney differentiation and immersive storytelling, we missed the mark. So now, we are bringing more beloved characters, more atmosphere and more Disney DNA into it.
Last night you all saw World of Color, which opened just last summer. I hope you really enjoyed it. But I hope you also noticed that it’s not only astounding on a creative and technical level… it’s also firmly anchored by classic Disney characters, stories and music that people love. It’s been a huge hit with guests, and so far it’s been seen by over two million people. Since opening World of Color, through the end of our first quarter, attendance is up nearly 20% at Disney’s California Adventure. And that increase gives us even greater confidence in our ability to grow our attendance and better distribute it between the two parks.
This spring, we’ll open Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and construction has already begun on Buena Vista Street, the re-imagined entry to the park that will transport guests into a romantic, idealized Hollywood of the 1920’s. In the summer we’ll open, of 2012, sorry, summer of 2012, we’ll open CARS LAND - a new 12-acre land that will transport guests to Radiator Springs and immerse them in the world of CARS.
Later this afternoon, Bob Weis, our lead Imagineer on this expansion, will give you a deeper look at our plans, and I think you’ll see that we’re transforming DCA into a park that is truly differentiated and truly Disney.
Meanwhile, we’re also investing for growth at Walt Disney World… which is, of course, our biggest and most profitable asset. For most of our guests, the centerpiece of a Walt Disney World vacation is a visit to the Magic Kingdom. And the most popular land in the Magic Kingdom is Fantasyland, with its iconic characters and popular characters. But Fantasyland has seen relatively little expansion since the park opened in 1971. Consequently, it can be extremely congested and difficult to
navigate on busier days. That decreases the number of experiences guests can enjoy, which in turn directly impacts guest satisfaction. With this in mind, we are well into the expansion that is the largest in the Magic Kingdom’s history, and it will double the size of Fantasyland once complete. By expanding the offerings of our most popular land, we have a real opportunity to drive guest satisfaction even higher.
And we know that when we increase guest satisfaction, guests spend more time and more of their vacation dollars with us… and intent to return and positive word of mouth increase as well. We also have an opportunity to better utilize some of our most beloved stories and characters in new attractions, dining experiences and immersive environments to create a differentiated experience that no one else can match, like Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid, which will take guests into the world of Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder and all their friends.
Not far from Ariel’s new home, guests will be able to relive their favorite moments from Beauty and the Beast in Belle’s Village and Beast’s Castle. One of the most popular attractions of the Magic Kingdom, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, will double in guest capacity, and will also feature a circus-themed interactive queue that will delight guests of all ages as they enter the Big Top.
Finally, we’re adding an innovative new mine coaster based on one of our most iconic and enduring films, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This attraction will feature a new ride vehicle that we patented, which twists and turns on its track… adding atmosphere, kinetics and adventure to Fantasyland.
We have additional opportunities at our resorts as well. In 2013, we’ll open our new Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World. This new property celebrates some of our most popular animated stories, including The Little Mermaid, Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. The resort will have nearly 2,000 rooms, including 1,200 family suites, giving us significant boost in our attractive value-priced room inventory. Now our value resorts, and especially our family suites, play an important part in providing our guests with a broad range of hotel and pricing options. They’ve been extremely successful and have generated some of the highest occupancy rates on our property.
We believe these initiatives in Florida and California will allow us to deliver attendance growth that outpaces population growth by several percentage points. By delivering better value, we also feel we can generate real increases in per capita spending. For example, we’re already seeing a pricing benefit from World of Color. While previously, crossing between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure was essentially free for people on a two-day passes, there is now a $10 premium to park hop.
In addition to focusing on expanding and enhancing our physical assets, we’re also spending considerable time and energy to fundamentally change the way our guests experience our properties. As we’ve discussed in the past, consumers are changing: they have increasing access to information, an increasing array of choices, and an increasing desire and expectation for recognition and personalization and recognition. So we need to transform the guest experience to reflect that.
We know that our guests love creating great Disney memories with their friends and their families. We also know that they don't exactly relish waiting in line, checking at the resort, worrying about missing their favorite attractions or feeling uncertain how to best navigate and access our properties. In the coming years, we’ll introduce a broad, integrated set of systems and tools that will help us create a more seamless, personalized experience, and help guests to get more out of their visit with us. That’s our ultimate goal – to welcome more and more people, while making their experience more satisfying, more personal and more immersive.
We’ve launched a number of initiatives over the years, including FASTPASS and Magical Express, and they’ve been incredibly popular with our guests. But we plan to take these kinds of enhancements even further. Giving our guests faster and better access to the fun is the centerpieces of our investment in technology. As a result, we are currently developing an innovative system that will, in essence, create a version of FASTPASS for their entire Disney vacations. Now we define the guest experience as beginning from the time a potential guest sits down at a computer or picks up a phone to make a reservation. Our new tools will help them better understand all that we have to offer and better plan their time with us. They’ll be able to create a personalized itinerary that gives them the exact Disney vacation they want.
Guests will be able to reserve times for their favorite attractions and character interactions… secure seats at our shows and spectaculars… make dining reservations… and pre-book many other favorite guest experiences – all before even leaving their house. We also plan to simplify the check-in process so that guests will arrive at the resort with room key in hand. They will be able to go straight to their room or a theme park – again, allowing them to get to the fun faster.
We are also creating innovative new ways to pull guests into our stories. A picture with a Disney princess is a quintessential part of a Disney experience for many of our guests. So, in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, our Disney princesses will soon have dedicated homes complete with Disney magic. And the tools that we’re creating will allow them to greet and interact with our guests in an immersive and highly personalized way.
We are rethinking the queue lines at many of our attractions, and are enhancing them in ways that make them part of the show, essentially creating a new “Scene One” for the attractions, if you will. For example, the Winnie the Pooh attraction in Florida we just opened has a new hands-on area where our younger guests can explore and play in the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s been so successful that we’ve heard kids asking their parents NOT to use FASTPASS in order to enjoy the new first scene that much longer. You know we are doing something right if kids are asking to wait in line.
We’re also developing the means to better assess and manage guest traffic throughout our theme parks so that we can use entertainment experiences, characters, and other forms of Disney magic to help improve the flow of guests during peak periods… and drive increased utilization as a result for our parks. Through this work, we will put better information into the hands of our cast, so they can deliver even better and more personalized service for our guests. Now, it will be some time before we roll out the bulk of these initiatives, but we are well into development, and in fact have a number of patents pending on our approach. So it’s too early for me to say much more than that… but our vision here is clear, and we see a real opportunity to further enhance and differentiate the Disney vacation experience.
We’re excited about our growth prospects at our existing sites, but at the same time, we have a real potential at our new and expanding businesses, with the most important of these being Disney Cruise Line. Cruise is a great example of Disney’s competitive strengths giving us the opportunity to successfully enter a new area of the vacation industry. In so doing, we created the blueprint for family cruising. In fact, over a third of our passengers say they would not have chosen a cruise vacation if it hadn’t been for Disney. From stem to stern, our ships have been designed to deliver a great Disney cruise vacation for every member of the family.
We’ve carved out a very attractive niche in this business, generated strong returns, and created a new avenue for growth. But the most gratifying aspect is the response of our guests. Virtually everyone who sails with us says they will recommend the product to others. And over 80 percent say they will come back to cruise with us again within five years.
I was just on the maiden voyage of our new ship, and I met a couple who was on their 80th Disney cruise. No, not 8th, not 18th – 80th! Their 80th Disney cruise. I love them.
At the breakout session later, Bruce Vaughn, head of creative for Walt Disney Imagineering, is going to give you an overview of our two new ships - the just-launched Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, which arrives next spring. I think you’ll be impressed with how beautiful these new ships are and how innovative we’ve been in their design and development. There’s literally a surprise around every corner – from the magic artwork to the virtual portholes.
Expanding in cruise allows us to take more guests to more parts of the world and test new markets, as well. We have repositioned the Disney Wonder to the West Coast, which will allow us to take, to sail to Mexican destinations, and for the first time ever… to Alaska this summer. Now while we’ve incurred significant costs to launch the Disney Dream this quarter, we expect our new ship to start contributing nicely to our profits beginning in Q3. Our cruise business has generated double-digit returns, and we anticipate having a similar return for the business after the two new cruiseships come fully online. Given our capacity increase, I am particularly pleased that our booked occupancy across the fleet is 12 percentage points above where it was at this time last year.
Now just as we were able to create a unique Disney vacation experience with Disney Cruise Line, our aim is to do the same in Hawaii with Aulani… our first stand-alone family destination resort, which is scheduled to open in late August. We are creating a stunning vacation destination in one of the most beautiful places on earth that will allow us to deliver an incredible Disney experience that captures the very best of Hawaii. The project will feature 359 hotel rooms and 481 of our popular Disney Vacation Club villas. Like our cruise vacations, Aulani will offer something for everyone. It will feature: a family friendly lagoon; a pool and water play area that literally needs to be seen to be believed; dedicated clubs and activities for kids and teens; an 18,000 square foot spa; and access to special Disney-created guided tours and adventures on Oahu.
We know the Disney Parks brand is already powerful in Japan, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the interest in Aulani and Disney Vacation Club in the Japanese market. As such, we fully expect this to be both a domestic and international tourist destination.
The experiences we create translate extremely well across geographic and cultural boundaries. And in the longer term, we expect expansion outside the United States to be our most important growth opportunity. And in building great guest experiences and destinations and around the world, we also are laying important foundations for the Disney brand. As you know, our current principal focus in new markets is China, and we think our timing here is right. Roughly 30 million Chinese enter the middle class each year, which will lead to significant growth in leisure travel. In fact, spending on domestic leisure travel in China is expected to more than double to over $200 billion by 2015.
Our first entry into China is, of course, Hong Kong Disneyland, where we are celebrating our 5th anniversary. Last year, Hong Kong generated record attendance, hotel occupancy and guest spending… and that momentum has continued this year. We opened Hong Kong with an eye towards expansion, so I’m pleased to say that construction is currently underway in Hong Kong on three themed lands: Toy Story Land opens this fall and will take guests into the world of Buzz, Woody and all the toys from Andy’s room. We opened a similar version in Paris last summer and it’s been a huge hit with guests there. In 2012, we’ll open Grizzly Gulch, Hong Kong’s take on Frontierland, but this time we have an Old West mining town built on erupting hot springs. Mystic Point, opening in 2013, is reminiscent of the Haunted Mansion and features a Disney take on a widely-known Chinese character called the Monkey King.
With the addition of these three new lands, we expect the upward momentum we’re seeing at Hong Kong resort to continue. Bear in mind that more than 40% of visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland come from Mainland China. Given that our penetration rate in Southern China is currently just 1% per year, we certainly have room to grow.
As we announced this fall, we’ve signed an agreement with the Shanghai government to build a new theme park there, and are awaiting final approval from the central government in Beijing. Again, we think there is huge potential for a Disney property in Shanghai, and I couldn’t be more excited about our prospects there.
We are well into our blue sky development, and once Shanghai opens in about five years, we know we will have a park that is distinctly Disney, yet authentically Chinese.
Taken as a whole, we believe China is the most exciting opportunity we’ve had since Walt first bought land in Florida in 1964. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is a dynamic business - one that will continue to be enjoyed by guest around the world for generations. It’s a business with high barriers to entry and sustainable competitive advantage that provides attractive opportunities for us to profitably invest our capital.
The current investments we’re making in our existing assets, new businesses and new geographic markets leverage and expand our competitive advantages, and they enhance our growth prospects over the near, medium and longer term. They are right for our brand and for our business, and they will help us create value for our shareholders for many, many years to come.
Thanks very much, great to see you all again.
I can't tell you how much I respect Staggs, and what a great improvement he is over Jay Rasulo. In fact, most of the management in charge right now is the best they've had in decades. The only caveat are some of the questionable management at Walt Disney World. The jury is still out with a few of them.
But Tom gives me the feeling that there could be a great big, beautiful tomorrow...
So Tom Staggs gave us a peek at what Shanghai Disneyland will look like yesterday...
At a Walt Disney Company Investor's Conference yesterday, he released the first piece official artwork of the next Magic Kingdom styled park/resort. And the Net seems to be abuzz about it. Disney and More has a post talking about something Alain and I have had conversations about over the past few months.
It will be a very different kind of a Disney Park, breaking the mold that we are used to when entering that fabled Main Street. In fact, I've stated from my contacts, there won't be a traditional Main Street like what we're used to. Alain, has gone further and states that there won't even be a Main Street. The front entrance will be a very different experience when walking into this new, magical place.
But as you see in the artwork, it's very hard to make out details. Mainly that is by design. Disney has been burned before by cheap knockoffs of things that cost great resources to design and create. So when they make that official announcement during the groundbreaking in a few months, don't expect to see a great deal of detail. The Mouse doesn't want to release a lot of artwork to only have it have a carbon copy out before their park even opens.
Now back to that park. It certainly looks like a beautiful and unusual place, doesn't it? And that castle in the background doesn't look like any we've seen before. As well, as that, there is an extremely large amount of water around and within the park. And there's a large mountain over to the right that could be an Expedition Everest, re envisioned Matterhorn or as Alain says, a version of that elaborate Pirates of the Caribbean that Hong Kong Disneyland was supposed to get. Perhaps even some of the attractions from Tokyo DisneySEA will make it over in some form.
I know a lot of people bemoan Disney Suits for not thinking out of the box and continually copying the original style that Walt created, so in this instance you might get your way with a park that looks nothing like what you expect when you go into something called Disneyland.
Star Tours premieres this summer and the merchandise from it is starting to appear...
All, or many of the characters that appear in the new 3D version are now available in toy form. From Darth Vader, Boba Fett to the newly created Skytroopers. Get out your wallets now.
Coming soon to an exiting display near you...
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Marvel Studios is closing in on a deal with Shane Black...
YES!!! Well, maybe yes. As of now, it's confirming a deal for directing the film, but my hope is that he actually winds up writing and directing it the same way that Joss Whedon is doing with "Avengers." That would get me tremendously excited about the project as Black is pitch perfect for the writing of Tony Stark/Iron Man. It'd be a match made in heaven reteaming him with Downey again. I'd almost want to see this than the Avengers film.
I can imagine the action scenes with his dialog. I would see this as a restart of the series as I think his participation would bring the franchise up to the next level. I can only dream that when it hits the trades it says: "to be written and directed by." One question is did he go into the meetings with the Marvel Suits with his own take on the character or do they already have an idea as to who/what they want and wish him to configure the story according to their desires.
It's not a done deal, but this is like a blessing sent down from the geek gods...
So DisneyToons Studios (or whatever it'll be called) has announced the "Planes" synopsis...
It seems that Disney is trying to animate every mechanical vehicle than has been conceived. Can "Trains" really be that far behind? Scratch that. Forget you ever heard me say that. Hmmm.
Here is the official press release for the Blu-ray/DVD that will arrive in Spring, 2013:
We can expect a teaser pic soon I guess. So at least now boys will have something to watch along with the girl's and their Tinker Bell series...
PLANES will introduce an entirely original and hilarious crew of daredevils from every corner of the globe and draws inspiration from the immensely popular Disney/Pixar’s CARS world.
“We had such a great time exploring the world of ‘Cars’ over the course of two films, so it seemed only natural for us to see where our imaginations would take us in a film where planes were the main characters. By expanding the Cars world, ‘Planes’ gave us a whole new set of fun-filled situations and a great opportunity to introduce some fantastic new characters,” commented John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
“The team at DisneyToon Studios has done such an amazing job creating a heartfelt story filled with great comedy, adventure, and emotion. I know audiences are going to love taking off into the wild blue yonder with these daredevil characters, as they experience a whole new kind of animated adventure.”
PLANES takes off with an international cast of the fastest air racers around, in a comedy packed with action and adventure starring Dusty, a small town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race … despite his fear of heights. With the help and support of a fleet of new and hilarious characters, Dusty wings his way into the biggest challenge of his life.
Fasten your seatbelts as more information on PLANES will be arriving shortly.
Deadline Hollywood has an interview with Walt Disney Pictures' Head Suit...
Rich Ross has a very interesting interview that has equal parts of agreement/disagreement about the state of film in general and the Mouse in specific.
An interesting read...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
One of the things that's great about DisneySEA are the attraction posters...
I was planning a post like this one, but my friend Alain from Disney and More beat me to it. The attraction posters at Tokyo's second gate are fantastic. One of the few frustrating things at Tokyo DisneySEA that is hard to accept, is actually a cultural one.
Experiencing this park can be a mind numbing and wonderful experience. But if you're not Japanese, you'll have a hard time finding certain items that we take for advantage. If you try to find a baseball cap, a T-Shirt or say, a nice poster it's almost impossible to find. The things that I enjoy here at Disneyland or in most parks are not prized as much by Japanese. I struggled for days to try and find anything remotely like the shirts I have of attractions or just the park in general when I was there last time. There are plenty of souvenirs to buy, but these specific type of mementos were nowhere to be found.
Remember those three new posters for Disney California Adventure (which you'll be able to buy, btw)? The ones that reflect the old style of Disneyland attractions (which along with a few more will likely go on display under the Hyperion Bridge)? Well, like everything else, Tokyo DisneySEA has some amazing attraction posters to go with their amazing attractions.
But no posters.
None of these are for sale. Well, if you want to see them then head over to D and M and take a look at the lovely beauty that I'd love to have in a frame.
Hopefully the Oriental Land Company is reading this post...
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sorry for the lateness in the news guys...
Spent this lovely weekend in San Diego, flipped on my Mac to find this. So Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures has come out with the official title of "Spider-Man 4" and it's a shocker.
"The Amazing Spider-Man"
That is brilliant. Really, it is. Although I thought since this is based on "Ultimate Spider-Man," that they might call it that. I'm very happy it doesn't have a number behind it. I've always considered having just a number to be boring and unimaginative. Did the sequel to "Iron Man" have to be "Iron Man 2" instead of something like "Invincible Iron Man" possibly?
Ironically, DC lately has done a much better job than Marvel with titles. "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight," and the upcoming "Superman: Man of Steel." Although I'd leave off the Superman and just call it Man of Steel.
I guess it makes since though, considering if they had called it "Spidey 4" then people would have wondered why we were rehashing the origin again. This gives them an excuse to go back and hit the reboot button.
Now we can look forward to the sequel "Spectacular Spider-Man" and then "Ultimate Spider-Man" I guess...
Today is Valentine's Day...
To all the lovers out there, be it Disney Lovers or lovers in general, go out and enjoy this special day. Live life for what great opportunities it has to offer you. Take that better-half out to a nice evening and celebrate being with and in love with them.
And don't forget those flowers...
Friday, February 11, 2011
As of the end of this week, Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Winnie the Pooh" is complete...
The new film featuring a collection of stories based on A.A. Milne's unfilmed tales in his classic books, is complete. Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall have complete an innocent tale of warmth and goodness which families and fans can look forward to as a fine addition to the original "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh."
Several Disney fans have complained about putting it up against "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2," which comes out on the same day. Believe it or not, there is a world out there that actually doesn't like the teen wizard, and that is the reason for the counter programming decision. Families with young children are likely not to take them to what will be the most dark and violent of the franchise. This will offer them an opportunity to still have a night out at the movies.
And don't worry, the Mouse isn't expecting this film to come in number one. It's not under any illusions that Pooh will come out the box office winner on that weekend. But as I've said before, it doesn't have to. The film cost well under forty million dollars and won't need to go that far before breaking even. It can have a moderately good weekend at theaters and by the second weekend will be profitable. That's something rarely seen in today's cycle of blockbuster mentality.
And who knows, should the film over perform, there might be a desire to enhance the attraction at Disneyland with a few animatronic characters and other enhancements, making this attraction a little bit closer to the amazing version of it in Tokyo Disneyland, "Pooh's Hunny Hunt." Dreams sometimes do come true if you wish hard enough.
And spend enough on the box office tickets, of course...
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The teaser trailer for Fox's "X-Men: First Class" film is out...
Looks pretty good for a taste of the flavor you'll get watching the beginning of the mutant saga. I can't wait to see an actual trailer with more footage and more fleshing out of the story. I know that many of the special effects for this aren't done, so you haven't seen the best of what it has to offer. But it's a fine start.
A first class teaser...
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Now this is the kind of rumor that makes a fanboy feel like he's died and gone to Comic-Con...
The Hollywood Reporter is saying that among the short list of directors to take the place of Jon Favreau is Shane Black. Not only to direct the film, but possibly write it as well. The writer-director is said to be meeting with Marvel and is on the short list of people that are being considered for the job. PLEASE, please, please let this happen, Black is one of a few people that would be perfect for this deal. His ability to write smart, funny scripts filled with action would make him an ideal choice to helm the third adventure of Shellhead. It would also reunite Black with Robert Downey Jr., with whom he worked on the wonderfully fun, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang." That film was one of the early works that got Downey back on track after his rehab and let the actor shine in his performance. If Marvel Suits like Kevin Feige are smart, they will lock this deal asap because it's simply too good to be actually be true.
Almost as if it were a tale straight out of a comic book...
The teaser poster for "X-Men: First Class" is out...
And it's decidedly minimalistic. I know some people will find this as a negative, but I don't. It's simply meant to give you an idea of what is to come. Seeing Professor Xavier's seal from his School for Gifted Youngsters is fine for now, because it's really a logo more than a poster. The next poster should show the characters; hopefully in action and not just a static scene.
I've read a lot of negative comments about this film, but I have faith in Matthew Vaughn, he's made three very interesting films so far. And I get the sense that he understands comics and how to adapt them far better than most who have tried. A retro-60's superhero film is a dream that I thought would/could never happen. Hopefully, it will live up to the expectations.
Now, about that trailer...
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
DCA isn't the only one celebrating a birthday today...
One hundred and eighty-three years ago, the creator of worlds, dreamer and visionary, French writer Jules Verne, the original "Steampunk" author and inspiration for many Disney films was born in Nantes, France.
His own birth will help create the birth of modern science fiction...
Can you believe it's been a decade since the debut of Eisner's Folly? We're in the middle of a massive construction project that I've called an Extreme Expansion since it was first rumored about a few years ago.
But what we have now is the evidence of that progress. Walls, walls and more walls. Walls all over the park and it still pulls in a great deal of guest. In fact, it pulls in about 20%-25% more guests than it did this time last year. Mostly because of World of Color, but also because over the last few years attractions like Midway Mania have helped out helping to define this park as a Disney park. Something that couldn't be said of this place when it opened back in 2001.
There will a celebration this year, but nothing on a grand scale, and certainly not as big as the one for the opening of this park back a decade ago. Although there is far more to celebrate today than back then. Families and fans coming through the turnstiles after next summer will get a much more accurate feeling that they're in a Disney park than those that entered on that first day back at the beginning of the new century. It won't be finished, to paraphrase Walt, DCA will never be finished, but it'll always be growing and improving. But those young tykes walking through Buena Vista Street to Cars Land and the slowly, evolving Victorianization of Paradise Pier to see The Little Mermaid won't realize what a different park it is they're stepping in.
That's a good thing. We don't need anymore bad memories. Let those be ground up like the bathroom tiles that adorned the former front entrance. There is a bright future ahead for this park and the entire Disneyland Resort. This doesn't even include all the news that will hit next year about the original Disneyland, the Downtown Disney shopping district or the Disney hotels. Finally, the Disneyland resort will be a Resort. A decade ago, that was mainly in name only, but as of 2012 it will be. And the future additions to the resort will only solidify that. Again, a bright future.
One filled with praise and promise and prospect for a better tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Disney(-'s) California Adventure, I hardly knew you...
Monday, February 7, 2011
I love serials, I love old adventure films, and I love DC Comics...
So when Disney animator Robb Pratt created his own little short featuring a retro-50's Man of Steel, I had to check it out. It's a fun little piece that's only about a minute long, but filled with geeky, pulp love. I know exactly where Pratt is coming from with this short. This has the same look and feel that I'd want for an Indiana Jones animated series. Call up Lucas and have him get Paul Dini to work with Pratt on a series. It'd be awesome!
Hat Tip to /Film.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
So the teaser trailer for Marvel Studios' "Captain America: The First Avenger" premiered during the Super Bowl...
Wow. Now that was cool. Like literally walking into a comic book. A really good one. This trailer had everything that was needed to appease the fans and entice the audience that would go for this kind of film, but doesn't know the character.
Joe Johnston may just have his best film ready to open on July 22...
Saturday, February 5, 2011
So the Mouse has finally released another image of the Tokyo version of "Fantasmic!" that will debut in Tokyo DisneySEA in April...
Over at D23, this weeks commentary by the Disney Geek has a peek at the art (go to the 6:40 mark). This illustration helps to understand Steven Davison's comments about Maleficent having wings made of water. You can also see the Sorcerer's Hat which will be filled with LED lights and will rise from a collapsible float. It's going to be interesting to see how this 360 degree in-the-round version will play and compare next to the original in Disneyland and the deplorably, sad clone down in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Only a few more months before we find out...
Friday, February 4, 2011
The teaser poster for Marvel Studios' "Captain America: The First Politically Correct One" is out...
And I like it. Although I'd prefer to see him with his mask on. Looking forward to this one.
The "A" doesn't stand for Avenger and Marvel knows it...
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I want this SteelBook...
And I may even purchase that Ultimate Tron Experience. Maybe that's what the Mouse has been wanting all along?
Now if I could just build me an IMAX theater in my back yard to show it in...
There's a great new interview by Daniel Zalewski with Guillermo del Toro over at the New Yorker magazine that is really interesting...
I really like the way Zalewski writes, almost creating a narrative story out of a simple interview. Guillermo sheds light on several of his upcoming ("At the Mountains of Madness," "The Haunted Mansion") as well as aborted projects ("The Hobbit") and provides an in depth look into the mind of one of the most interesting film makers working today. If you're a pop culture geek, a comic book lover or a Disney fan, there's something in there for everyone.
Take a look and be in the know before everyone else is...
It's almost the anniversary of Michael Eisner's retraction from creativity...
That's right, DCA turns ten next week and I think it's time for a little perspective. It's important to take a look at what has been built since that fateful error, um, I mean era. And important to look at what the Walt Disney Company has done in response to the reaction to those projects. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be. Even in the Disney world. But we as fans and guests always expect Disney, particularly the creative side (mainly WDAS and WDI), to strive towards it. I don't expect everything to be exactly what I want, but I do expect high standards when I look at something the Mouse creates.
So let's examine the past while focusing on the present and future. When Eisner and his Burbank cohorts started coming up with ideas for turning the Disney park into the Disneyland Resort, the sky was the limit. And the result of that wide eyed search for profits meant that Imagineers could dream to their hearts desire. Word has it when the Imagineers asked Michael what he was looking for, he responded with: "Amaze Me." And amaze they did. The results of this was the wonderful (but cloned) WestCOT park and the off shoot of capitalistic competition known as Port Disney. We all know that park featured the seed known as DisneySea that became the flower that is Tokyo DisneySEA. These were massive projects with levels of detail unseen in even Disney's park history, with the exception of EPCOT. And even that project only took into account the park and not building an entire resort around it. It was to be an unprecedented move of artistic creation and an example of what could be accomplished as a merging of entertainment and business.
And then Euro Disneyland opened...
And all that came after would be lacking, to put it mildly. Gone was the first version of WestCOT, with a smaller less expensive WestCOT 2.0 that lost a bit of the charm and grandiose of the original. Then Port Disney was canceled, after which we got an even more scaled back West COT 3.0 which shortly got the axe itself. Then it was back to the drawing board which led to that dreaded Aspen retreat that led to He Who Should Not Be Named coming up with a park in California about California. This was misguided and with a room filled with Yes Men and soulless bean counter, there was no countering voice to say: "No. This is wrong. Stop. Rethink. Redo." It just didn't happen. To make matters worse, even after the bad reception and confused response of the public to this announcement, the powers-that-be felt they had such a sure fire hit that they didn't believe they would have to ensure that it was very themed. It could be as average as any other park, but the Disney name would make them come in droves. So they cut the budget for it. By a third.
And now we have to live with the results. And now we make lemonade from lemons.
For the longest time the Suits and soulless bean counters tried to explain the reaction to the opening away with every excuse possible. It was rainy. Summer will be better. 911 kept it from succeeding, ect. and on and on. The truth which they knew, they didn't dare say. They screwed up. The problem was that by this time, there were already two parks in construction under this model. Walt Disney Studios in Paris and Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The park in Paris was being built simply to secure the land, which would be lost if a park wasn't created by a certain date. The park in Florida was simply an addition to expand the opportunities in that golden island of Disney just below Orlando. The flaw in that park, wasn't its design, it was in its implementation and by that I mean, what it left out: Beastley Kingdomme. While Paris is a park that still needs drastic work, Animal Kingdom is a park that is like a great stool, but missing one of its powerful legs.
By the time the mistake was realized a third park was planned under this model, Hong Kong Disneyland. To be fair, this park, like DAK, was designed quite well, but also like DAK, was underbuilt. Eisner had got out of the problem of theming, but had refused to address the problem of scale. He gave both park's guest a great meal, but didn't give them a proper portion to eat.
Much has happened since then. First, many of the Suits that were in power then are no longer there; either having quit or fired over the past decade (Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler aren't the only ones with blood on their hands). Second, the current members of Disney's Board as well as many, but not all, of the executives are of the opinion that the project was a failure and the park was a disappointment. This is something that you couldn't get anyone in the Team Disney Building to mention the first couple of years after California Adventure opened up. Thirdly, the rise of the Internet has changed how we deal with the parks and how information is given/gotten. We see this with all the information about Tokyo DisneySEA that wasn't available in such great quantity while that gate was being built. Access to information is a powerful thing. Lastly, the competition has gotten better. Part of this is the fact that many of the companies that do contract work now are headed by former Imagineers and thus the quality of their projects are greatly higher quality than in the late 80's/early 90's. The chief among these is the new Harry Potter attractions in IOA that have Disney Suits looking over their shoulders. That, as I've always said, is a good thing. Competition is great. It brings out better work and the consumer/guest will be the one to benefit.
So as we look forward to Shanghai and the next Magic Kingdom styled park, or a second or third or fifth gate at some other resort, we know that Disney will not be able to get away with the creation of another DCA. Will the next park be perfect? Doubtful, but it won't/shouldn't have the faults that DCA or WDS has. The heads of the Walt Disney Company aren't perfect and sometimes make decisions that fans might hate, but they know that the parks created after the last decade can't rely on coasting by with the Disney name on them. They have to actually have the Disney quality that we've come to expect; that those former Disney Suits had somehow forgotten, or never really knew. The next collection of parks shouldn't be hampered by the restrictions placed on Barry Braverman when he was put in charge of Disneyland's Second Gate. Instead they'll be burdened by the knowledge that fans know what they're capable of with DisneySEA. It's amazing that during this period the parks produced both the worst and best examples of what a park bearing the Disney name could be. The current crop in Burbank know that there is no fooling us with a simple moniker above the title.
And that is a positive, unintended consequence to a dark decade of the Mouse forgetting where it came from, but more importantly where it's going...
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
There hasn't been a lot of new information about Walt Disney Pictures':"John Carter of Mars" lately...
But the MTV Movie Blog has an interview with director Andrew Stanton where he sheds a little light on the process and makes you wonder when we're going to see that first teaser for the film. My bet is sometime in the fall, close to Thanksgiving we'll get a teaser of it with some form of a trailer released near Christmas.
Barsoom is a world I've wanted to see since I was a child so I guess I can wait another year...