September 29, 2006
Disney primed audiences for next week's release of The Little Mermaid Two-Disc Special Edition by hosting a limited two-week engagement at the El Capitan Theater in Burbank, which wrapped last Sunday.
Beauty and the Beast producer, Dan Hahn moderated a panel on opening night. On the stage were composer Alan Menken, co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements, Jodi Benson, Ariel's supervising animator Glen Keane and Sherri Stoner, who modeled for Ariel's movements.
Musker and Clements discussed the origins of the Hans Christian Andersen's story and that the mermaid dies in the original. Menken commented on the music and Keane provided insight into the evolution of Ariel's look. The paid homage to the late Howard Ashman, who produced the film and co-wrote the songs. The DVD comes out this Tuesday.
September 29, 2006
From The Associated Press: Walt Disney World plans to cut 125 cleaning jobs and outsource them to contractors, but union officials said they were not aware of the change. Affected workers will be offered other jobs at comparable pay and hours, company spokeswoman Jacquee Polak said. The jobs include kitchen cleaning, carpet cleaning, roadway cleaning and deep cleaning work.
"We're continuing to look for new ways to streamline the operation and looking for more ways to be effective and efficient in running our business, and at the same time maintaining the high standards we have set for guest services and general operations," Polak said. Most of the positions being cut have a base starting pay of $6.90 an hour, Disney's minimum wage. Many are on the overnight shift and include a $1-per-hour incentive pay.
Disney has not yet picked the contractor that will fill the jobs, Polak said. Officials with UNITE HERE! Local 362 said they have not been approached about the change and call it outrageous. "This issue of the erosion of decent, benefits-paying jobs is very serious for us," said Morty Miller, union president.
September 28, 2006
This week analysts at Hilliard Lyons downgraded Walt Disney from "buy" to "long term buy." The target price is set to $38. Meanwhile, In a research note published Thursday, analysts at Credit Suisse maintain their "outperform" rating on Walt Disney Company. Their target price is set to $41.
From Reuters: Walt Disney Company's ESPN cable sports channel said Thursday it will shut down its Mobile ESPN wireless telephone business operations later this year and aims to license the brand to existing mobile providers. Owners of Mobile ESPN phones will receive a full refund when they settle their final Mobile ESPN bill.
September 27, 2006:
From Playbill: The cast and crew of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, along with other Broadway stars, came out to celebrate Broadway's new Gaston, Donny Osmond. Osmond is scheduled to play a nine-week engagement as Gaston in the long-running Disney musical at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
Beauty marks the first time Osmond has appeared on Broadway since his 1982 Main Stem debut in Little Johnny Jones. "I opened and closed [Little Johnny Jones] in one night," Osmond said in a recent statement, "and I remember thinking, 'One of these days, I'm going to do it right.' Now almost 25 years later I have the chance - I couldn't do it any more right than joining such an iconic show as Beauty. I can't wait to get started!"
Disney Theatricals producer Thomas Schumacher added, "I have known Donny for almost a decade and had a great time working with him. He's a brilliant performer and a great guy. We are all thrilled he's joining our production."
Donny toured for years performing the lead in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. You'll find a beautifully filmed adaptation of that show on DVD at Amazon.com. Donny was also the singing voice of Shang in the Disney film, Mulan and with his brothers, a frequent guest on The Wonderful World of Disney…you know…THAT 70s show. Please insert groan here.
September 25, 2006:
From SKNVIBES.com: The cruise ship "Disney Wonder" made its inaugural visit to St. Kitts and Nevis on Sunday (September 24). The 2,600 passenger capacity vessel will berth at Port Zante its fifth stop on an eleven night South Caribbean cruise. The passengers will disembark to the pulsating rhythms of steel pan as they explore the cultural and natural offerings at the center of the tourism product. Meanwhile, onboard the ship, the Captain and crew will be welcomed by tourism officials and industry stakeholders at a brief plaque exchange ceremony.
September 23, 2006:
From the Orange County Register: The Disneyland Resort on Thursday unveiled specifics of its "HalloweenTime" seasonal event, billed as the "biggest and best Halloween event ever celebrated" at the resort in its 51 years. The event, which starts Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 31. It aims to attract Southern California families with children ages 3 to 11 who are looking for a not-too-scary outing during the month leading up to Halloween.
Guests approaching Disneyland during the event will notice grinning jack-o-lanterns depicting Mickey Mouse and other characters atop the main entrance. Inside the park, the "Mickey Planter" below Main Street Train Station will be transformed into a canvas of pumpkins and a masked Mickey face.
Main Street USA will be decked out with bunting, pumpkins in windows and lamppost decorations. Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland will offer cookie decorating, storytelling and a visit with animals dubbed a "Petting Boo."
Across the way at Disney's California Adventure, the 11-foot-tall "CALIFORNIA" entranceway letters will seemingly be made of giant pieces of candy corn. Inside the park, Disney villain characters including Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook and the Queen of Hearts will roam the Hollywood Pictures Backlot and appear at "a special spooky awards ceremony" at Golden Dreams Theatre, renamed "Golden Screams" for the event.
September 20, 2006:
From Reuters: The Walt Disney Co. said on Tuesday its holiday products would include a personal digital media player for kids called the Mix Max as a follow up to its successful MP3 player. Log into mouselounge.com for a picture of the new device.
The Mix Max player plays full-length Disney movies on plug-and-play memory cards.
Disney's low-cost MP3 player for kids, called the Mix Stick, debuted in late 2005 and sold out before the end of the holiday season.
September 18, 2006:
From Buena Vista Entertainment: Walt Disney Entertainment is gearing up for the holiday season with a variety of DVD releases:
- Disney/Pixar's Cars arrives on November 7th with a price tag of $29.99.
- The Little Mermaid returns in a Special Edition on October 3rd. The release will retail for $29.99.
- Disney's The Fox and the Hound 2 will be released on December 12th for $29.99.
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales is being released November 14th with an SRP of $19.99.
- Walt Disney Treasures: Wave IV, featuring "The Complete Pluto Volume 2," "More Silly Symphonies," "Your Host, Walt Disney," and "The Mickey Mouse Club featuring The Hardy Boys," will be released December 5th. The package will be available for $32.99.
- Disney DVD Game World is an interactive DVD board game featuring Disney's most popular characters. The game will come in two versions, Disney Princess Edition and Disney Dogs Edition, and will go on sale December 5th. The price tag for both are $29.99.
- The 3 Wise Men celebrates the legendary travelers who crossed the desert to meet the baby Jesus. This new feature will cost $19.99 and will be released November 1st.
September 18, 2006:
From the Hollywood Reporter: Thanks to a record-setting opening in Italy, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" returned to the No. 1 spot at the international box office on Sunday, a week after "Cars" ended its nine-week reign.
An estimated weekend haul of $16.5 million from 42 territories drove Disney's swashbuckler to $612.5 million overseas. According to Disney, "Dead Man's Chest" by this weekend should surpass 2002's "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," which stands at No. 4 on the international charts with a gross of $614.7 million.
It was the sensational bow in Italy that powered last weekend. "Dead Man's Chest" made off with a mighty $12.8 million, an industry record. Elsewhere, Disney's "Cars" was second for the weekend with $6.6 million from 27 territories. Its international total stands at $191.6 million. Disney forecast it would reach $200 million by next weekend, which would make "Cars" the seventh title to cross that threshold this year. "Cars" opened at No. 1 in both Greece and Turkey.
September 15, 2006:
From The Orange County Register: Effective Friday September 15 the Disneyland Resort has increased its single-day admission price by $4, from $59 to $63 for adults, and from $49 to $53 for children (ages 3-9). The previous increase was on Jan. 3, 2006.
"We offer a great value for guests who experience our world-class entertainment, enjoying a full day of fun including rides, parades and other spectaculars," the company said. "Many local guests buy annual passes, which are very popular and pay for themselves after just a few visits."
September 13, 2006: From the Orlando Sentinel: Orlando's Walt Disney World has replaced Illinois Avenue on the new Monopoly: Here & Now edition, the makers of the game board announced Tuesday. At $2.4 million for the Disney property, Orlando beat out other large American cities such as Phoenix and Honolulu, whose landmarks will cost $2.2 million each.
New York City's Times Square took the top spot, replacing Atlantic City's Boardwalk, and will cost $4 million. Hasbro, maker of Monopoly, let people vote online in the Spring for the top landmark to represent each city and where the property would be located -- highest to lowest rent. The city with the most votes took the coveted priciest spot. The Here & Now edition also features new game pieces such as a laptop, McDonald's French fries and tennis shoes.
September 11, 2006:
From Reuters U.K. - "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", Hollywood's newest billion-dollar baby, ended its nine-week run atop the foreign box office last Sunday, replaced by another Disney smash, "Cars."
The animated film earned $9 million from 34 territories, lifting its overseas total to $183.3 million. "Dead Man's Chest" followed with $7.7 million from 47 territories.
With a foreign total of $592 million and North American sales of $416.6 million, the seafaring sequel joined "Titanic" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" to become the third movie to score $1 billion in global ticket sales. Disney's worldwide president of theatrical distribution, Mark Zoradi, says It opens this week in its last major market, Italy, which could return the film to No. 1.
September 10, 2006: August 31st, Disneyland was visited by a nine-month-old beagle from Ontario, California named Nutmeg. Rather than relegated to the kennel, she was granted admission to the park along with her family because of a near perfect Mickey spot on her head. She was allowed to tour the park, and was even grand marshal for Disney's Parade of Dreams. Disney park veterans may recall a pair of similar quirk in Mickey Moo, a bovine who resided in Big Thunder Ranch from 1988 until her death in 1993.
September 8, 2006: If you wondered whether iPods were just for adults, look no further for proof of the reverse. Disney is showing off new iPod cases, and your kids' favorite Disney characters are the stars of the show.
The skins come in two fabrics, silicone and PVC. The PVC are definitely the more colorful ones, but the silicone have their merits as well. If you're looking for Mickey or Minnie Mouse, you'll want the silicone case. Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore appear on both silicone and PVC skins. Piglet and Tigger are exclusive to the PVC.
The skins have designs on both sides and have openings for headphones and docking, of course. One thing you'll find on these skins that isn't a component of some others is a transparent protector for the LCD. We should mention that you'll need a nano in order to use these skins properly. So far, Disney hasn't released products for other iPod models. Nor is the pricing for these skins readily available, although it probably won't set you back too much unless you buy one of each.
September 7, 2006: The Walt Disney Co.'s consumer products division is rolling out a new line of digital cameras and camcorders aimed at teens and "tweens."
The Disney Pix cameras will have a variety of styles based on various Disney movies, including "High School Musical," "Cars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." The cameras will start at $19.99, and all include the Disney Pix software package, which will allow users to customize their photos with Disney characters, stamps, frames and more. A video editing version is also available. Burbank's Disney is producing the cameras with partner Digital Blue of Macon, Ga., which makes technological products, such as cameras, that emphasize education.
September 5, 2006: The movie business is about to change: Apple Computer Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are in the final stages of building online services that allow easy, legal access to potentially thousands of movies on demand. Apple, which invigorated online music with iTunes, is expected to reveal plans next week to offer downloadable movies from Disney. Amazon has agreements with at least three of the other major studios to offer movies at its online store and is expected to be announced as early as Thursday.
Apple and Amazon declined to comment as late as Tuesday but their plans were confirmed by several people familiar with them. Details such as pricing and title lineups were unclear Tuesday, as was information about how the rival services will work. But, the entry of Apple and Amazon is particularly significant because they are adept at making the masses comfortable with large-scale technological shifts.
September 4, 2006:
The new Tomorrowland store in Disneyland currently being built in the old Radio Disney booth will be called "Tomorrow Landing." In addition to the inventory of hats and embroidery that it will inherit from Hatmosphere, the location will take advantage of its proximity to the new Jedi Training Academy stage show coming to the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage. Wadly, when it opens, the embroidery will be done by machine.
By the end of the year the Hatmosphere name will disappear from Disneyland altogether. Its current location will be replaced by the Autopia Winner's Circle store, which is itself being displaced by the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction. Once the new Tomorrow Landing store opens it will get some company in the form of another face-painting kiosk, similar to that in Fantasyland. The focus howeve,will be Star Wars-themed designs. The area around the store is also expected to get a new fruit cart sometime in fiscal 2007.