"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Friday, September 30, 2016

29 Days: Bringing Dead Men To Life

A rumor shared by the WDW News Today suggests the revamped Fantasmic show in Disneyland will replace the Peter Pan segment with Pirates of the Caribbean.

That's cool and all, but get this. They plan to use "projection mapping" technology, the same technique used on Cinderella Castle during Wishes and the Chinese Theatre during the Galactic Spectacular, to transform the sailing ship Columbia on the Rivers of America into the Black Pearl. The projections would be able to follow the ship as she moves during the show. Cool, huh?

Ok, but that's not the coolest part. The same technology is going to be used, according to this rumor, to change actors from living pirates to skeleton pirates and back again. Apparently they can install an RFID chip, like in your MagicBand, in a costume and them program the projector to follow the chip and change the actor's appearance back and forth according to timing and location on the set. He steps into "moonlight" and, BAM, skeleton. He steps out and BAM, back to flesh and blood. Just like in the movie.

This would be incredible, but, given pieces of this technology are already in operation, it is something I think Imagineering can make happen. They would really "just" be stitching together existing tech. But man oh man would I love to see it in action!

30 Days: Avatar Land Lands in the "Official Guide"

Looks like Disney is feeling pretty good about getting Pandora--The World of Avatar open next year. The Birnbaum Official Guide, which is produced with the cooperation and under the guidance of the Walt Disney Company, has included descriptions of Avatarland's two attractions in the 2017 book.The new section of Animal Kingdom, under construction for what seems like forever, is said to be scheduled to open "by mid- to late 2017," though the usual caveats about the unpredictability of construction timelines is also included.

I'll include the photo of the Official Guide's page copied from the Laughing Place blog, because who ever heard of copyright, right? Anyhow, you can read all about the two new attractions there. They sound fun and the entire new "land" sounds like it will be a visual masterpiece, especially at night.

I'm no fan of the Avatar movie, but I'm very much looking forward to this!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

32 Days: We Done Been MouseRanted!

It's been eye-opening seeing the vast world that is Disney podcasting. I knew it existed before, but largely because I couldn't figure out how to play my phone through the car radio (yeah, I know, #oldguyproblems), I had never listened to one. Then I was invited to join a podcast and ended up volunteering to produce what is now the three-episode-old MouseLife Podcast. I figured I had better study up, so I noodled out the phone-to-car radio thing and have been listening to a bunch of my fellow Disney podcasters the last few weeks. Some are very professional, some not so much; some I've learned a lot from and some aren't my cup of tea. There are probably hundreds of these things out there, something that surprised me, but it's a labor of love for the people who produce and participate in them, so the fact that so many exist makes me happy.

Thing is, that apparently doesn't make everyone happy. In any gathering of people, either real or virtual, there are the drama queens (male and female, not being sexist here) who revel in rivalry and criticism and basic middle-schoolness. Seems ol' Barry who brought us together got on the wrong side of one of these people, and he stumbled upon MouseLife and tore it apart on his show, Mouse Rants.

Look, I'm not offended or hurt or angry. I'm thoroughly amused. The whole thing is funny, if in a bit of a sad way. Leaving aside the whole Jerry-Barry (Jerry is the MouseRanter) issue and looking at the criticisms of our podcast (and others, part of the shtick of the show is trashing other shows), they largely boil down to a lack of originality. My man even points out that MouseLife is a pretty generic name. Yes, the guy who named a show based on ranting about Disney "Mouse Rants" said that.

And that's the funny part. We're being called out for lack of originality by a guy trying very hard to be the Disney Podcast version of Howard Stern. If you are at all familiar with Howard's show, you'll get it immediately. DisHoward even has a female sidekick who behaves exactly like the Howard Stern Show's Robyn. As DisHoward screams and drops forced F-bombs (because saying "fuck" on a podcast is all edgy and whatnot, don'tcha know) DisRobyn provides the laugh track and agrees with DisHoward and basically just kisses his butt, much like the real pair operated. It's hilarious, at least for a few minutes, or long as you can pretend it's intentional parody.

The part that made me a little sad was noticing that DisHoward almost always refers to podcasting as "radio." It's a bit cute, but I have to wonder if radio wasn't DisHoward's dream and this is as close as he could get to it. More power to him in the sense that a podcast is a spoken audio medium and maybe it makes him feel better about not being a DJ, but I suspect that's where some of his anger comes from---frustration at not being a real radio personality. And that's sad.

So I guess that's our official welcome into the wider social sphere of Disney Podcasters. DisHoward and DisRobyn did play a bit of our show on theirs, and they have quite a few listeners, so that's not all bad. And he gave out our iTunes address! Say what you want, DisHoward, just spell our name right ;-)

33 Days: Disney Eyeing Twitter Acquisition

This just struck me as interesting given how much time I personally spend on DisTwitter now. Wouldn't it be funny if they actually owned Twitter?

The Walt Disney Company is among several looking to acquire Twitter. Microsoft is also apparently interested. Twitter has a market value of $16 billion, so it would be a deal nearly on a scale of the purchase of ABC. That's a lot of dough, even for Disney.

Disney is looking to shore up distribution outlets in a world where more and more people are "cutting the cord" with cable, and Twitter is trying to position itself as a content provider as well as social media outlet, so maybe there are some synergies (OOO, I used a fancy business word).

But I also read that a Twitter bosrd member is also on the Disneyboard, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that this is a trial balloon meant to increase interest in and inflate the price of Twitter. We'll just have to see, I guess.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

34 Days: Non-Magical Day on Disney Roads

Photo Credit: WDW Today
An SUV crashed into a support and brought a big sign down across World Drive a few days ago. It snarled traffic quite a bit, apparently, and I'm hoping everyone involved is ok.

But it also made me think about how happy I am to let the driving to Disney when I'm inside "the bubble" of Walt Disney World.

I drive a lot for work, sometimes as much as close to 1,000 miles in a five-day week. I don't dislike driving, but being able to put the car keys away for an entire week is pretty magical for me. I don't mind waiting in a bus line at the beginning or end of a day one tiny bit. I figure you'd spend that time trudging out to find your car in the acres of parking lot anyhow, and then have to drive it back to your resort and find a place to park there. No thanks.

Not only do I not mind taking Disney Transportation, I truly enjoy it. I love all the variety, from buses (both regular and the newer, super-cool bendy ones) to monorails to boats, I love them all! We've actually taken a bus to Hollywood Studios just so we could take the boat from there to Epcot's World Showcase gate because we'd not experienced that particular boat ride before. And it was a good choice, as our boat had a broken horn so the captain and mate had to use one of those canned air horns like you see (and hear) at football games. They were having a blast tooting it at the other boats, and the other boats knew ours had no horn so were mocking us on the way by. It was great fun :-)

Anyhow, that's just one more escape for me on a  Disney trip. Mickey is welcome to take the wheel.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

35 Days: Jeffrey's Epic Stunt Spectacular

Being a part of the "show" at Disney World can be pretty special. We got talking last night with the MouseLife crew on Twitter about being That Guy and The Churro Guy in Monsters Inc, and I mentioned that'd been a part of the special effects show that used to precede the now closed Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios. This morning, coincidentally, the photos from that experience showed up on my Facebook memories!

That was a really cool experience. We happened to be at the front of the line for the next group to enter the show, and when they asked for volunteers, Lisa goaded me into raising my hand and I was picked. I and four other guys were taken into the show area and given rain gear. We were each given a role to play in the show, a WW2 PT boat being attacked scene, and I got the role of telephone guy in an office that gets swamped by a huge wave coming in the window.

I had an absolute ball. I had a line, if I remember correctly, and got a good crowd reaction to being deluged. The cast members running the show were great and made us all comfortable and feel like we were special for being in the show. It put a little extra magic into an already wonderful Disney Day!