News Archive July 2005
Investigators examine scenarios that could have
led to the crash of a California Adventure roller coaster. At
least 15 suffered minor injuries.
State officials were investigating Saturday
whether mechanical or human error caused the first major ride
accident at Disney's California Adventure, in which at least
15 park visitors suffered minor injuries the day before.
The California Screamin' roller coaster will remain closed for
several days while investigators look at the ride's dispatch
coordination to determine whether a computer failed or a
person caused the accident, said Len Welsh, acting chief of
the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
"The timing was part of [the
accident]," he said. "We won't reopen the ride until
we understand what caused it, to make sure it is safe."
Welsh could not say how long the investigation would take.
The accident occurred shortly after 6:30 p.m. on the coaster,
which propels riders through a silhouette of Mickey Mouse's
head. The trains, each carrying 24 passengers, were about to
reach the end of the ride. The first train stopped, but the
second hit it, said John J. Nicoletti, a spokesman for the
city of Anaheim.
By 11 p.m., all of the injured had been treated and released
from hospitals, he said. He said that 39 of the 48 riders
walked off the ride. One was taken out on a board, put on a
lift operated by the Anaheim Fire Department and transported
over a wall. Eight others were removed by ladder.
California Screamin', which opened in 2001, was billed by
Disney as evoking "the great thrills of wooden roller
coasters from days gone by." It catapults riders to 55
mph in less than 5 seconds and has a 108-foot drop.
Sandor Kernacs, president of Intamin AG, the ride's
Switzerland-based manufacturer, declined to comment Saturday.
There have been three fatalities on Intamin rides in other
parks in recent years, but they were related to passenger
In March 2004, a jury ruled against a Milwaukee doctor who
alleged he suffered whiplash on the California Screamin' ride.
A 22-year-old man was killed in the 2003 derailment of
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster; it
was built by another manufacturer.
Friday's accident comes a month after the California Supreme
Court toughened safety classifications for roller coasters.
Operators of roller coasters and similar attractions must
ensure the same level of safety as those who run buses, trains
and other means of public transportation, the court ruled. The
court majority wrote that theme park operators must use
"the utmost care and diligence" for the safety of
riders rather than mere "reasonable care." Most
states require operators of amusement rides to use only
The ruling could make it easier for those injured on rides to
win lawsuits against amusement parks, legal experts say, but
it could also lead to the removal or modification of thrill
Taking his fourth Disney trip in two years, Kevin Bromagen,
38, an insurance claims adjustor from Lincoln, Neb., and
daughter Taylor, 6, were aboard the front train at the time of
"We were stopped for about 60 seconds. We had never
stopped that long," Bromagen said. "I could hear the
other car coming. We couldn't do anything but get ready to be
hit. We couldn't move and we couldn't see it coming."
Then, he said, he "heard a tremendous smack and then
people screaming," including Taylor. The two chose not to
be treated at a hospital, he said.
Bromagen said Saturday afternoon in a telephone interview
after returning to Lincoln that he had had a headache since
the accident. Taylor woke up three times Friday night
screaming "Get me off this ride," he said.
Bromagen said park staff gave him $30 worth of food and
front-row seats at a show, but that compensation wasn't
"I'm not sure I'll be rushing back," he said.
Operator or computer is to
blame for crash, state OSHA official says.
State inspectors on Monday
will continue their investigation into whether computer
problems or an operator slip-up prompted a Disney's California
Adventure roller-coaster crash, which sent 15 people to the
All injured passengers, who had minor
injuries, were released from area hospitals by late Friday
night, just hours after the 6:40 p.m. collision on the
California Screamin' ride at the theme park, officials said
The ride will remain closed during the state
investigation, which officials said could take several days.
The park was open on Saturday.
State Department of Occupational Safety and
Health inspectors responded within about two hours of Friday's
crash, then returned at 8 a.m. Saturday for about seven hours.
Investigators are trying to figure out why one ride car
smashed into another car as 48 passengers were concluding the
Len Welsh, the department's acting chief,
said a "coordination" problem occurred with the
arrival times of the two coaster cars. The operator or
computer is likely to blame for the crash, Welsh said.
Other ride experts agreed.
In six or so similar cases, an operator was
responsible for coaster collisions, said Ed Pribonic, a
private ride consultant based in Seal Beach. Unless the ride's
computer program was recently changed or a sensor broke down,
he said, human error is probably to blame.
"It's highly unlikely that any error
would spontaneously occur. That's almost an
impossibility," Pribonic said.
Welsh said his agency has received more
reports about California Screamin' than many rides, including
some in the past two weeks. But the complaints have been about
other problems, such as neck or shoulder injuries.
Between 2001 and 2003, the department logged
59 reports, of which 27 were investigated. In many cases,
riders complained of neck, back and head pain. More recent
numbers were unavailable Saturday.
"It's a big ride and a popular
ride," Welsh said. "I think we have more reports on
that one than most."
On Friday, 13-year-old Scott Moran of
Orlando, Fla., was waiting at the front of the single
passenger line when he noticed something was wrong with
California Screamin'. After ride operators told passengers to
sit back and put their arms up to be strapped in, they
immediately told people to get out.
"When they cleared the lines that fast,
you know something is wrong," said Lynn Moran, Scott's
16-year-old sister, who rode the coaster twice that day.
"We were so close. We were almost
there. The staff was panicking."
Later that night and Saturday morning, no
signs of the crash were visible.
Entrances to the ride were blocked with
blue, gold and red signs. Employees turned away guests
inquiring about the ride Saturday.
In Disneyland Resort hotels, there was idle
chat about the accident. Some guests said no one would tell
them what was going on. Guests saw helicopters buzzing, but
they didn't know the reason until they left. Cafe waitresses
and custodians told guests about the closed ride, but said
they didn't know why the crash happened.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov ordered
his ministry Sunday to sever all contacts with the American
Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in protest over the
broadcasting network's airing of an interview with Chechen
rebel leader Shamil Basayev.
e ordered the chief of the Defense Ministry's press service
today to cut all contacts between Defense Ministry servicemen
and the ABC," Ivanov told reporters in the Far Eastern
city of Vladivostok, the Interfax news agency reported.
Ivanov declared the ABC "persona non
grata" for the Defense Ministry, saying his ministry will
continue to be open with the press but the ABC will be denied
access to the ministry and no interviews will be granted to
"If I have to express my feelings over
that (ABC's interview with Basayev), I would put it in just
one word -- indignation," the Russian defense minister
Prior to the Defense Ministry's move to oust
the ABC, the Foreign Ministry had summoned the US Embassy's
charge d'affaires, Daniel Russell, to express strong
indignation over the interview.
Basayev, the most wanted man in Russia after
another Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov was killed in
March, is believed to have been behind the Beslan school siege
last year, which killed more than 330 people, and a number of
other terrorist attacks in the country.
bullish on Disney as tensions ease
Q. I have owned shares of The Walt Disney Co. the past dozen
years. This company gives me a headache. What are future
C.G., via the Internet
A. The 50th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland has been
a time of healing. Besides President Robert Iger succeeding
controversial Michael Eisner as chief executive in September,
a truce has been reached with dissident former board members
Roy Disney and Stanley Gold.
The two dropped a Delaware lawsuit filed this year that
challenged the naming of Iger as CEO, and they promised to
back his leadership. These longtime Eisner critics pledged not
to run rival director candidates or submit shareholder
resolutions for five years.
Resolving that ticklish situation and trying to improve
strained relations with partner Pixar Animation Studios, whose
affiliation with Disney ends next year, have been Iger's
priorities. The company reconfigured its strategy unit, adding
an Internet consultant and the former president of TiVo Inc.,
and recently introduced Disney Mobile cell phone service.
The recent buzz about Disney stock involves speculation
regarding a possible sale of its 71 ABC Radio stations, valued
at $3 billion. One move being considered would provide cash
for Disney and a tax-free spinoff to Disney shareholders after
merging ABC Radio with another firm.
"We're always open to the possibility of buying or
selling assets with an eye to improving shareholder
value," Iger said.
Positives include strong showings by ABC Television shows such
as the Emmy-nominated "Desperate Housewives" and
"Lost" and solid theme-park bookings, though there
is concern that industrywide DVD sales are on a downswing.
Shares of Disney (DIS) are down 8 percent this year after
gaining 19 percent last year and 43 percent in 2003.
The consensus analyst recommendation for Disney shares, aided
by positive signs under new leadership, is a "buy,"
according to Thomson Financial. That consists of six
"strong buys," seven "buys" and 10
Although Disney's Hong Kong theme park is scheduled to open in
September, a second Chinese park in Shanghai is considered
unlikely before 2010. Meanwhile, the company ended its
relationship with successful filmmakers Bob and Harvey
Weinstein, paying them a substantial sum and keeping the
Miramax Films name.
Earnings are expected to rise 23 percent this calendar year,
versus the 188 percent forecast for the diversified
entertainment industry, according to Thomson. Next year's
expected 14 percent increase compares to 28 percent projected
industrywide. The company's expected five-year annualized
return of 12 percent is the same as that forecast for its
Q. What do you think of the T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation
Fund, which has been recommended to me?
R.V., via the Internet
A. This fund has a strong long-term track record and is
keeping 22 percent of assets in cash as careful manager
Stephen Boesel contemplates his next move.
It invests primarily in stocks, but also owns convertible
securities and bonds.
The $6.3 billion T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation Fund (PRWCX)
has posted a total return of 17 percent over the past 12
months to rank in the top 12 percent of moderate allocation
funds, according to Morningstar Inc. The fund's three-year
annualized return of 17.8 percent places it in the top 3
percent of its peers, and it has easily outperformed the
Standard & Poor's 500 over the past five years.
"Some of the fund's good performance owes to the fact it
used to have more of an emphasis on the mid-cap stocks that
have had a strong run," said Greg Carlson, an analyst
with Morningstar in Chicago. "However, it is gradually
moving up to large-cap stocks in the belief that's where value
Although this low-risk fund's emphasis on value
investing--cheap stocks unduly punished by the market--will be
a drag on performance when growth stocks return to favor, it
is a good long-term investment, Carlson said. It fits well in
a portfolio that already holds growth investments.
Eighteen percent of its stock portfolio is in financial
services and 16 percent in industrial materials. Other
significant concentrations are health care and energy. Top
holdings are Microsoft, Newmont Mining, Marsh & McLennan
Cos., Amerada Hess, Wyeth, Time Warner, Nucor, Potash Corp. of
Saskatchewan, American International Group and First Data.
This "no-load" (no sales charge) fund requires a
$2,500 minimum investment and has a low annual expense ratio
of 0.78 percent.
Q. How long is it necessary to keep various financial and
A. From a tax perspective, keep everything pertaining to your
tax returns for at least three years from the time you file
them. You could be examined any time during that period and
would need to prove information on your return.
But since there's a six-year statute of limitations on
"substantial omission of income," it's best to keep
your tax returns and supporting records at least six years.
After that, there's no reason to keep all supporting
"In regard to brokerage statements that show the purchase
of a stock years ago, keep them as long as you still own the
stock and for at least three years after you sell it,"
said Martin Nissenbaum, national director of personal income
tax planning with Ernst & Young in New York. "You
must be able to prove what your cost basis was so you can
calculate your gain or loss when you sell the stock."
You may wish to keep records of your financial situation
beyond those time periods in order to reference them in the
future, Nissenbaum added. That can probably best be done using
financial software rather than keeping all underlying
Defense Ministry denies accreditation to ABC
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said
the American television channel ABC will be denied access to
the Russian Defense Ministry's structures following its
broadcast of an interview with international terrorist Shamil
Basayev on American television.
"I've ordered the chief of the Defense
Ministry's press service today to cut short all contacts
between Defense Ministry servicemen and ABC," Ivanov told
journalists in Vladivostok on Sunday.
"We'll continue to deal with the press
openly. But this channel will be denied access to the Defense
Ministry and no interviews will be granted to it. It will be
'persona non grata' for the Defense Ministry and will be
neglected," the Russian defense minister said.
"The word 'indignation' best conveys
our emotions and reaction," Ivanov said.
Earlier reports said that the Russian
Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the U.S. Embassy's charge
d'affaires Daniel Russell to protest ABC's broadcast of an
interview with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.
are Goofy over Disney
In a publicity stunt to hype the 50th
anniversary of Disneyland, the people who run the famous theme
park bankrolled a survey of people in all 50 states to find
out what they love most about Disneyland and Walt Disney World
in Orlando, Fla.
Of course, we just couldn't ignore the fascinating information
Mickey gathered about Hoosiers. Such as:
• Goofy is the favorite Disney character.
• Twenty-eight percent of Hoosiers responded, apparently
with a straight face, they wish upon a star to spend a day
with Mickey Mouse.
• Our dream job at a Disney park is to be a tour guide.
• Our favorite ride (64 percent) is Space Mountain, followed
by Pirates of the Caribbean (55 percent).
• Nearly three out of four Hoosiers can sing at least one
chorus of the odious, mind-numbing song "It's a Small
World (After All)."
On the Record Ends National Tour July 31
The new Disney musical On the Record, which
features songs from both classic Disney films and Disney's
Broadway outings, plays its final performance July 31 at the
Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
On the Record kicked off its national
tour Nov. 9, 2004, in Cleveland. Emily Skinner, who began the
tour, was eventually succeeded by Kaitlin Hopkins. The final
cast also includes Brian Sutherland, Ashley Brown and Andrew
Samonsky with Leo Ash Evens, Meredith Inglesby, Keewa Nurullah
and Ian Rhodes.
The musical played 285 performances during
its 36-week tour, which traveled across the country to 24
cities. Over 350,000 people saw the musical, which "is
the story of a recording session that changed the lives of a
young unknown who is about to get her big break, a pop diva
who is about to meet her match, and a matinee idol who is
about to meet the 'new kid' who could take his place."
Sources close to the work when it was in
development said that an early goal was to create real
characters and tension within the studio recording concept of
the show, but it was eventually watered down into a more
general revue entertainment.
According to a production spokesperson,
there are no immediate plans for a future Equity, non-Equity
or licensing life for On the Record.
Directed and choreographed by Robert
Longbottom, the musical's creative team comprises Natasha Katz
(lighting), Robert Brill (scenery), Gregg Barnes (costumes),
David Chase (musical supervision and arrangements), Chad
Beguelin (scenarist) and Acme Sound Partners (sound design).
A two-CD recording of the musical was
makes family magic from swamp
"If you believe THAT, I've got a piece
of swampland I could sell you..."
That old saying typically rolls off the tongue right after an
exaggeration or complete fabrication, to warn gullible
listeners against putting too much stock in the previous
statement. But if someone made an offer like that to Walt
Disney in the early 1960s, he must have taken it to heart.
Today, that "swampland" in Orlando is some of the
most valuable real estate in the country, thanks to the
presence of Mickey Mouse and his friends.
Until Orlando became an official city in 1857, it was home to
bands of Seminole Indians. Legend has it the city was named
after an army man named Orlando Reeves, who was killed by an
arrow during the Seminole Wars. The city thrived for a while
on cotton production, and after the Civil War, embraced the
cattle business. Near the turn of the century, citrus fruit
provided the main economic thrust until Disney converted about
28,000 acres of swampland into Walt Disney World. The theme
park opened in 1971, and has expanded several times since
Orlando has evolved into a major tourist attraction, with
Disney World being just the tip of the iceberg. Actually,
Disney World is comprised of four separate theme parks -Magic
Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney MGM-Studios and Animal Kingdom -
plus a few water attractions. Not too far away is Universal
Studios and its sister park, Islands of Adventure. And just
slightly farther afield are sandy beaches, sporting
attractions, Cape Kennedy and more.
When I was a kid, a trip to Orlando was the stuff of dreams.
Very few families could afford such an excursion, and if they
did, they let it be known they had saved their pennies for
years. Unfortunately, that's probably still true today. If you
want to really do it right, you can't plan a trip to Florida
on a shoestring budget, unless you happen to win the trip, or
if you're like me, and have a relative living in that area who
doesn't mind your camping out for a few days. Still, you can
get good deals if you look for them, because prices in Orlando
run the gamut from reasonable to outrageous. It depends on
what you want to do, and what you're willing to settle for.
A family trip to Florida, no matter how you get there, will
require more than just a weekend or so. Set aside a minimum of
five to seven days, and that's if you're flying. If you're
going by train or car, you'll need closer to two weeks to take
in a good sampling of what the state has to offer. And if
you'd like to venture down to Miami or the Keys, you'll have
to fly, and mark off two weeks on your calendar. (Some of you
may be frustrated that I waited until so close to the end of
summer to publish this particular guide, but you can always
save it for future reference. Besides, unlike Oklahoma,
Florida is open year-round - you can plan a Thanksgiving or
Christmas excursion and still do most of the neat things you'd
do during the summer months.) My advice is to avoid driving
your car; instead, rent one after you get there. Gasoline
prices are outrageous, with no end in sight. Besides, it's 18
to 19 hours from Tahlequah to Orlando by car, so you can't
drive straight through unless you want to be so tired so won't
enjoy yourself once you get there.
If you can spare the two or three days the drive will require,
try taking the train instead. You can drive to Oklahoma City
at grab the 8:25 a.m. Heartland Flyer any day of the week to
Fort Worth, then take the 4 p.m. Texas Eagle to San Antonio.
You can linger in San Antonio for a day or two, then take the
Sunset Limited all the way to Orlando. (I recommend lingering,
and depending on when you leave Oklahoma, you might have to
anyway, since the Sunset Limited only passes through San
Antonio three days a week.) This is what we did last March
when we went to visit my sister and her family. An Amtrak
adult coach ticket from OKC to Orlando is just under $150
($134 if you're Triple A); children 15 and under are half
price. You can also opt for a private room, but I'd only do
that on the San Antonio-to-Orlando leg. This particular train
has two room options: the standard, which will set you back
another $300 , and the deluxe, which has its own toilet and
shower and costs $635. If that seems pricey, remember you
don't have to get hotel rooms on the way, and all your meals
come with the room. My husband and I sprang for the deluxe
bedroom for ourselves and got a standard room for our teenage
son. However, we found out that - at least on the Sunset
Limited - the deluxe bedrooms will accommodate three people,
even when the third person is as big as our son. Although not
always the case on Amtrak trains, my husband and I easily fit
on the bottom bunk (and we're not small), and my son could
have slept on the top rack. There are several advantages to
taking the train, which I've detailed before - rest and
relaxation, beautiful scenery and good food among them. You
don't have to worry about getting lost or having your car
break down. And if you have kids, they can have the run of the
train, to the extent that you may never see them. Finally, the
seats are roomy and much more comfortable (even for sleeping)
than on a plane. With the Sunset Limited, there was the
unexpected bonus of a several-hours' layover in New Orleans,
so we took our son down Bourbon Street and enjoyed some
excellent Cajun food. The train station is within walking
distance of the French Quarter.
If you plan to fly to Florida and can take off practically on
a moment's notice - or at least with two weeks' notice - you
might find a good deal with American Airlines. AA offers some
good "last-minute" fares, but you're taking a gamble
on not making your trip. The best bet is probably to go to a
Web site like cheaptickets.com or expedia.com, find out which
airline is offering the best fares during your travel time,
and then go to the airline's own Web site and buy your
tickets. During August 2005, you can find standard round-trip
tickets for about $550 apiece online with AA. Southwest
Airlines tickets, on the other hand, range from about $250 on
up to $575, but it depends on when you book, what deal you
choose, and what time of the day you travel. The cheapest
tickets with Southwest are snapped up quickly, and they are
also non-refundable, so booking early is advisable.
Where you stay in Orlando depends largely on what you want to
spend. A quick perusal of hotels.com reveals a selection of
rooms starting at around $59 and on up into the $600-a-night
range. Beware of tourist traps, and always remember if
something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consider
booking a room close to the attractions you'll be visiting.
Embassy Suites is considered an excellent buy for families,
because there are always two rooms and breakfast comes with
the room. Orlando boasts three or so Embassy Suites
properties, ranging from $99 to $140 a night, depending on
when you stay. Another good deal is usually Hampton Inn, also
part of the Hilton group but a bit simpler; breakfast is free
there, too, and Orlando has several of these ranging from $79
to $119 a night. My advice is to stay with a chain you know
(and can book directly online from the hotel's own Web site)
or book at a hotel a friend has recommended. Despite Orlando's
reputation as a family place, there are still plenty of
fleabags masquerading as decent hotels. Another option is to
stay at the hotels owned by the theme parks you'll be
visiting; more on that later.
If this will be your first time to Orlando
(especially if you might not get to go again for several
years, if ever), set aside at least three days for Disney
World. That should get you through the two must-see parks -
Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center - and let you choose between
MGM and Animal Kingdom for the third day. You'll also want a
couple of days at Universal Studios and its sister park,
Islands of Adventure. Folks who have never been to a Disney or
Universal park but are more accustomed to standing in line
somewhere for thrill rides, sun beating down mercilessly, are
in for a treat. Many of the "attractions" here are
thrilling, too, but they share another feature most scream
parks do not have: The "show" extends to the line
for the actual "ride" as well. In fact, most lines
are indoors. You'll be treated to special scenery and props,
music, character dialogue, short movies on overhead monitors
and entire "story" for the attraction you're
entering as you move along. Even the "cast members"
(the folks who work in the park) are dressed for the occasion.
Ticket prices at Disney World can get complicated. Usually
they are purchased by the day, but the longer you stay, the
cheaper each day's ticket will be. For instance, an adult
ticket for one day is $59.75, while for three days, it's $171;
for kids ages 3-9, it's $48 and $137, respectively. The catch
is that you can only get into one park per day. If you want to
move around among parks, you might consider buying a
"park hopper" ticket, which costs more: for adults,
$94.75 for one day and $206 for three; for kids, $83 for one
day and $172 for three. I don't recommend that, though, unless
you have only one or two days to spend at Disney World. I
consider the park hopper to be for folks who have been there
before and want to pass through on another trip and hit the
best attractions in each park.
Some people say you get a good deal on tickets if you stay in
a Disney Resort, but I don't necessarily find that to be true.
However, you do get early entrance to the parks and you can
stay up to three hours after closing in at least one park.
Disney World boasts several good places to lodge, and they're
super-convenient, with regular shuttles or monorails running
to and from the parks (you've probably seen the monorail
passing right through the Contemporary resort on the old
"Wonderful World of Disney" clips). All these
properties are nice, with unique themes to suit every taste,
and some are quite elegant. Prices range from $77 a night up
to about $400 for single rooms, and suites - which are
packaged with an array of services - can run as high as $2,000
a night! You can book these hotels online when you order your
tickets, but bear in mind the rooms fill up fast, so plan to
book in advance. We stayed a night at the Wilderness Lodge,
and it was a real treat. This rustic resort is like a gigantic
log cabin, open in the center, with balconies on every floor.
Magic Kingdom is the "flagship" park of Disney
World, complete with Cinderella's castle and just about
everything else you'd find at the original Disneyland in
Anaheim - everything, that is, except the signature Matterhorn
roller coaster, which is exclusive to the California park.
(Inexplicably, Disney World also eliminated a couple of
popular attractions from its repertoire: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- much to the horror of my husband, who grew up 13 miles from
Disneyland and still calls this his favorite ride - and Alien
Encounter, which has, unfortunately, been turned into a show
featuring a character called "Stitch.") If you have
kids, Magic Kingdom will be your first stop. I've always said
every child deserves at least one trip to Disneyland if
possible, and Magic Kingdom is basically the same thing.
Younger kids will delight in attractions like Peter Pan's
Flight, It's a Small World After All, and Snow White.
Favorites for older kids and adults are Space Mountain, Big
Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. People of all ages love
Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, both of which
have been made into movies.
Epcot Center is also a special place adults and older children
will like more than the kiddie set. It was Walt Disney's
vision for a futuristic world, which he called an Experimental
Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. It actually has two
parts: Near the front of the park are the
"pavilions," with a number of educational
attractions, and in the back are what might be described as
"embassies" for countries all over the world -
France, Norway, Great Britain, Italy, and more. Each
"country" features its own ethnic restaurants and
shops, and a few rides, staffed by people from those countries
who speak the languages. Epcot has gone through some changes,
so if you haven't been in years, it's worth another look. It
features three exceptionally thrilling rides. The first is a
"test track" where six people get in a car and ride
as it simulates an actual test track, which includes crashing
into a wall, veering over a series of bumps, and at the end,
what seems like an extreme acceleration on a tilted track
(it's only about 65 mph, but it feels faster). There's also
"Mission: Space," a simulator ride that gives the
sensation of taking off in a rocket and landing on Mars. Each
of the four "crew members" in your cabin is assigned
a role by the narrator (Gary Sinise, who was in the movie
"Mission to Mars") and given distinct duties that
require you to push a couple of buttons.
The third "must-see" attraction at Epcot gets a
paragraph to itself, because it's worth any wait in line you
might have to endure. "Soarin'" is identical to
"Soarin' Over California," which opened a few years
ago to rave reviews in Anaheim Disneyland's sister park,
California Adventure. (We were in Orlando in March, and "Soarin'"
wasn't supposed to open to the public until May. But on the
day we visited Epcot, my husband happened to notice a short
line tucked discretely behind a featureless building. He asked
cast members what was going on, and they explained they were
letting a limited number of park guests onto the ride for a
"test." It was strictly word-of-mouth; no
announcements or advertising. Because we had ridden the
California version, my husband had no attention of passing up
this opportunity, so he ran back and got the rest of our
group, and told several other people about it.) "Soarin'"
guests enter a huge, dark auditorium where rows of metal seats
are suspended, sort of like hangars in a dry cleaner. Once
you're strapped in, your "row" lifts up several feet
into the air. The row in front of you lifts higher, so you
can't see the people in front of you (in Florida the bugs
weren't worked out, so we actually saw a few dangling feet).
You are then thrust forward into a giant spherical projection
screen, similar to an Imax configuration but more radical; the
only thing you can see is the screen. What happens next is
basically a simulation of flying - or more accurately,
hang-gliding, in a feast of sensory perceptions like you've
never encountered. You feel and hear the wind rushing past
your face. You "soar" over some of the most famous
places in California: down a snowy ski slope, where you smell
pine needles; through an orange grove, where you pick up the
distinct perfume of oranges; and over Pebble Beach, smelling
of freshly cut grass, and where a golf ball comes at you so
realistically you actually duck. You swoop over the redwood
forests, over the Sierra Nevadas, and down to the beach and
over the water at Monterey Bay, where you smell and feel the
salt water as it sprays your face. This incredible experience
is almost worth the trip in itself.
MGM Studios is similar to Universal Studios, and both allow
you a behind-the-scenes peek at movie-making. Two fairly new
attractions are real doozies: The Twilight Zone Tower of
Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. As
you wait for the coaster, you watch a video of Aerosmith
that's almost interactive as it seems to place you in the same
room with Steven Tyler and the gang. Your
"limousine" will whisk you away to a concert,
through the curvy Hollywood hills at night - in other words,
it's an indoor coaster, somewhat like Disney's Space Mountain
but with a rock 'n' roll theme. The Tower of Terror is
probably the best attraction in the park, though. From the
outside, it looks like an old 13-story luxury hotel from an
earlier era - one that has obviously suffered a fiery disaster
and is now derelict. The "scenery" includes lawns
overgrown with weeds, broken statues, cracked masonry, and
signs pointing to empty pools and once-lush gardens that have
now gone to seed. As you enter the hotel (where posh furniture
and chandeliers are layered in dust, and the luggage of
ancient guests is scattered about as if suddenly abandoned),
you'll get the story: A group of guests entered an elevator
many years ago and were plunged into the Twilight Zone. Of
course, you're about to follow them - down into the dank, dark
basement, where you board (with a large group of fellow
passengers) a creaky freight elevator that looks like a cage.
This "elevator" moves you forward into what seems to
be dark space, where you're surrounded by stars and flashes
from episodes of "The Twilight Zone," including the
famously askew window pane. Then, suddenly, you drop - and I
mean, you DROP! (I had to grab my purse because I dropped
faster than IT did.) Apparently you lift back up several times
and drop again, and for a couple of these "trips," a
door flies open to reveal the outside of the building and the
rest of the park, and you seem to thrust forward and out
before you plunge yet again.
Because of where our relatives happen to live, my family has
been to some of the top theme parks in the country (including
Cedar Point, considered by most roller coaster aficionados to
be the best). But Universal's Islands of Adventure is still my
favorite. This well-ordered park is not so big that it's
intimidating, yet it's got a good selection of thrill rides.
Universal Studios is right next door, and unlike Disney World,
you can move with ease from one park to the other. At either
Islands or Universal, you'll pay $59.75 for an adult ticket
and $48 for a kid for a day, but I recommend the two-day,
two-park option, which is $99.95 for anyone. The parks are
quite different, and depending on the time of day and whether
it's raining (count on it raining at least a couple of times
while you're in Florida), you'll want to move back and forth
between parks. There's also a place called "City
Walk" outside the parks, where you'll find a host of
well-known restaurants, like Emeril's and Jimmy Buffett's
Margaritaville, plus shops, movie theaters and dance clubs.
This is a fun night spot for adults and older children.
Universal has three resorts, and the price range isn't quite
as wide as Disney's. We stayed at the most expensive,
Portofino Bay, mainly because everywhere else was booked
solid. Right now you can get a room there for about $250 a
night (yes, you pay for the convenience of being able to take
a boat from your room right to the park entrance). The best
part about booking one of these resorts is that you get to
bypass the lines at all the best attractions. This almost
makes it worth the extra money! Portofino is a very elegant
hotel, too, designed to resemble Venice (and if you've ever
been to Venice, you'll take any reminder you can get of what
that was like!).
Islands of Adventure is separated into several sections
according to theme, starting with a Marvel Comics area that
features one of the five best roller coasters in the country.
The Incredible Hulk coaster starts by moving up a steep hill
like most coasters (albeit in a green tube), but then suddenly
shoots you up and out, where you go through and immediate
twisting coil and into a loop. This coaster's configuration,
couple with the initial blast forward, makes it one of a kind.
Also in the Marvel area is the Spiderman attraction, which
takes you through a "real" newsroom that has been
oddly deserted (not that I need any more exposure to that sort
of thing). You get a pair of 3-D glasses and board a car,
which takes you on a track that melds an actual ride with a
virtual reality experience featuring all the well-known
characters. Another of the country's five best coasters - not
just because of its configuration, but also because of the
fascinating "pre-show" and ambiance - is Dueling
Dragons. In fact, there are two separate, completely different
inverted coasters in the Lost Continent part of the park, and
just before boarding, riders are implored to "choose thy
fate" - either the blue or the red dragon. Next door at
Universal, you'll be treated to all the usual movie sets, from
"Earthquake" to "Jaws," and even a lot for
"Twister." My husband and son especially like
"Men in Black," which has all the expected
characters (including a virtual Will Smith), and allows riders
to score points by shooting aliens. Too bad you don't get a
prize at the end for high score!
One train rear-ends another toward the end of
the ride. No serious injuries are reported in what officials
call a 'fender-bender.'
Fifteen people suffered minor injuries Friday
evening when a roller-coaster train rear-ended a second train
that was stopped on the tracks at Disney's California
Adventure, marking the first significant accident at the
Anaheim theme park.
The crash occurred about 6:39 p.m. on the California Screamin'
ride, a popular roller coaster designed to propel riders
through a silhouette of Mickey Mouse's head. The trains, each
carrying 24 passengers, were about to reach the end of the
ride, at a point where both vehicles were supposed to stop.
The train in the front stopped, but the rear
train hit the first vehicle, said John Nicoletti, a spokesman
for the city of Anaheim. Officials said they didn't know why
the rear train malfunctioned, but investigators from Cal/OSHA
were examining the incident.
Nicoletti said the impact of the crash appeared to be minor.
None of the 15 people taken to the hospital — 13 adults and
two minors — appeared to have serious injuries, he said.
"There was not a great amount of damage to the cars. It
was like a fender-bender," he said. "It does not
appear that the ride was going very fast."
The accident occurred at the height of the summer tourist
season and as California Adventure's sister park, Disneyland,
is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
About 100 firefighters from Anaheim and surrounding cities
descended on the theme park, along with 18 ambulances. Most of
the passengers were able to get out of their trains and walk
to safety on their own using the roller coaster's catwalk.
Eight passengers were on a higher point on the ride, with
their car leaning at a 45-degree angle, and could not get to
the catwalks, so firefighters helped them descend 15 feet to
the ground using ladders.
Some of the riders complained of neck and back pain, said
Michael Simpson, dispatcher for Metronet, which covers the
Anaheim Fire Department. Paramedics placed a neck brace on a
rider and laid a second rider on a back brace, Nicoletti said.
California Screamin' was billed by Disney as evoking "the
great thrills of wooden roller coasters from days gone
by." It catapults riders from 0 to 55 mph in less than 5
seconds and has a 108-foot drop.
A Milwaukee surgeon sued Disney, saying he suffered whiplash
and an ongoing neurological disorder while riding California
Screamin' in 2001. The doctor contended that a
shoulder-harness restraint failed because it was not properly
lubricated by Disney mechanics. But an Orange County Superior
Court jury last year sided with Disney, which said its
maintenance procedures for California Screamin' were safe and
California Adventure is next to Disneyland, which has seen
several high-profile accidents in the last few years.
In 2003, a 22-year-old man was killed by the derailment of the
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster at Disneyland.
The state blamed the accident on faulty maintenance.
The Big Thunder Mountain crash was the third major accident at
Disneyland in the last six years in which ride maintenance has
been an issue. A park visitor was killed in 1998 when he was
hit by an iron cleat that a taut rope tore from the Columbia
sailing ship. Two years later, nine passengers were injured on
Space Mountain when a bolt broke on a wheel assembly.
In Southern California last year, 350 accidents at amusement
parks were reported to the state, but none resulted in serious
injury or death. But at Disney World in Florida earlier this
summer, a 4-year-old boy died on a spaceship ride.
Friday's accident did not appear to affect the rest of
Disneyland or California Adventure. At 8 p.m., there was a
long line to get in the park. Many visitors were unaware of
the accident, although they did notice news helicopters
hovering overhead. Security officials roped off the area near
"We noticed the train wasn't running," said Michael
Madrid, 38, who was visiting from Silver City, N.M., with his
wife and 11-year-old son. "We didn't hear anything. We
thought it was stuck up there."
The accident comes a month after the California Supreme Court
toughened safety classifications for roller coasters in the
The court ruled that operators of roller coasters and similar
attractions have the same duty to ensure safety as those who
run buses, trains and other means of public transportation.
The court majority ruled that theme park operators must use
"the utmost care and diligence" for the safety of
riders rather than mere "reasonable care." Most
states require operators of amusement rides to use only
The ruling is expected to make it easier for people who are
injured on rides to prevail in lawsuits against amusement
parks, though some theme park industry experts said it could
prompt some operators to modify or remove some thrill rides.
says he knew he was about to be hit as other train approached.
They thought it was odd when their roller
coaster car came to a halt about 30 feet from the docking
But when they heard the rumble of an
onrushing coaster behind them, panic set in.
"You could hear the coaster coming
before it hit you," said Kevin Bromagen, 38, of Lincoln,
Neb., who was at Disney's California Adventure with his
daughter, Taylor. "The car came and smacked me in the
back at full speed."
Bromagen and Taylor were walking around the
park Friday night, recovering from headaches and stiff necks
after the collision of two cars on the California Screamin'
roller coaster sent 15 other passengers to hospitals for
treatment of minor injuries and shook up dozens more.
"We're still defusing the
adrenaline," Bromagen said.
The accident, involving two cars carrying a
total of 48 people, was the first such mishap on the
California Screamin' attraction, a mile-long roller coaster
featuring 108-foot drops and a loop-de-loop around a giant
silhouette of Mickey Mouse.
The accident occurred about 6:40 p.m. when a
red car rear-ended a purple one at the final helix that
completes the 6,000-foot ride.
"A lot of children were yelling and
screaming," Bromagen said. "They carted a lot of
people off to the hospital."
Anaheim police officers sealed off the area
while a chain of 18 ambulances waited in line for victims on
an access road adjacent to the track.
About 100 firefighters and emergency
personnel and about 14 fire engines flooded the scene,
including two Bronto-Lift and Sky-Lift mechanized cranes that
were used for observation and to lift passengers over a wall.
Most passengers were able to evacuate on
foot using the catwalk that abuts the tracks. About eight
passengers in the back car had to be helped out because the
incline was too steep to exit alone.
One passenger had to be taken out on a
plank, Anaheim city spokesman John Nicoletti said.
There was no word from investigators as to
the cause of the crash. However, some passengers reported that
the purple coaster stopped about 20 to 30 feet from the
docking station because an empty car was blocking the tracks.
Passengers including Bromagen reported that
while the purple car sat waiting for the car in front of it to
move, the red coaster came racing down the tracks and
rear-ended the second car at what one passenger described as
speeds approaching 35 mph.
Nicoletti said that "based on injuries,
(the red car) was not very fast" and the damage to the
two cars was minimal.
"It looks like a fender bender,"
Park officials declined to speculate on the
cause, saying only that California Department of Occupational
Safety and Health investigators had been called to the scene.
In accidents at the adjacent Disneyland in
which trains of cars have collided, such as on the Big Thunder
Mountain Railroad a year ago, computerized systems failed to
stop the incoming vehicle.
This was the first significant accident at
Disney's California Adventure since it opened in early 2001.
However, state records found that passengers
on California Screamin' - the park's only major roller coaster
- reported about 35 minor incidents in the ride's first two
years of operation. Injury reports included complaints of
nausea, dizziness, neck and back pain, as well as one case of
a dislocated shoulder and lacerations.
A problem with the ride's passenger
restraint system linked to several of the injuries was
corrected in 2001.
The roller coaster begins with a fast launch
over a man-made lagoon and features drops of more than 100
feet as well as twisting loops around a giant Mickey Mouse
At least 12 injury accidents, including two
deaths, have occurred at the adjacent Disneyland since 1998, a
period in which the parks have hosted millions of visitors.
Disney's California Adventure officials
canceled the Electric Parade after the accident, but all other
rides were kept running and fireworks lit the sky later in the
Rescue workers reported little panic among
the clusters of Disney employees and visitors standing near
the coaster after the accident.
Mark Duffy, 51, of Laguna Beach said he saw
worried parents arguing with Disney officials for access to
the site so they could find children who were on the ride.
"One man was saying: 'My daughter is on
there. She's hurt and I need to get over there."
people taken to hospitals in Disney-park accident
Fifteen people were taken to hospitals tonight after two
trains on the California Screamin' roller coaster at Disney's
California Adventure park collided, authorities said.
At least 48 people were on the two trains
when they collided at 6:39 p.m., Anaheim city spokesman John
Nicoletti said. Neither train derailed and most people were
able to get off on an adjoining catwalk, but eight people had
to be rescued with cranes and a skylift, he said.
Of the 15 people taken to the hospital, 13
were adults, Nicoletti said.
There were as many as 100 firefighters and
emergency officials on the scene and 18 ambulances, Nicoletti
About 60 of the firefighters were from the
Anaheim Fire Department, while the Garden Grove Fire
Department and Orange County Fire Authority also sent
personnel, he said. State authorities also were called.
Most of the ambulances were not needed and
most of the injuries were minor, Nicoletti said.
Both trains were headed in the same
direction, with one apparently rear-ending the other.
"Based on the injuries, we believe the
accident did not happen at a high rate of speed,"
Nicoletti said. "All injuries are minor."
City and Disneyland authorities sought to
minimize what was happening in an attempt not to upset the
large number of people attending the park.
Rob Doughty of Disneyland said there was no
estimating how long the ride would be closed. The state's
Division of Occupational Safety and Health will conduct an
investigation and clear the ride to be reopened once it
determines it is safe to do so, he said.
wine offerings at Disney World
What happens when a couple of wine-lovers
spend a week at Disney World with the kids? Well, we got to
experience some magic, but we also suffered a twist that made
Space Mountain look tame.
We first visited Disney World in 1974. It
was our first overnight trip as a couple and we stayed at the
nearly new Contemporary Resort. It was so much fun that we
wished we had rented a couple of kids. Now that we have our
own, we've returned with them every year since 1994. (We know
that's extravagant, but it's the least we can do, the kids
tell us.) So while it's just about impossible to know
everything about wine at Disney World -- it's far too large
and varied -- we do have a fairly extensive background. And
it's certainly fair to take Disney World's wine seriously
because Disney itself does: The company says it employs more
sommeliers than any other company in the country, more than
350 at Disney World alone.
Of course, we arrived in our room with our
own wine, purchased at a store we discovered when we got lost
on our way from the airport. As we've written before, always
take your first bottle in your carry-on, since you never know
what will happen to your bags. Indeed, it took more than a
half hour for ours to follow us to our room, and by that time
we were already on the balcony with glasses of Oregon Pinot
Gris, watching a family of ducks -- real ducks -- flit about.
While a few bottles of wine are available at the stores in
Disney World, it's better to stop at a wine shop on your way
to the Magic Kingdom, because the selection and prices are far
better even at the closest Publix supermarket. Many people
show up at Disney World with big boxes of Cheerios, crates of
diapers and cases of bottled water, juice and soft drinks. We
simply arrive with a different kind of provision.
Our first dinner, by family tradition, is
always the seafood buffet at Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach
Club. Every year, we hope the wine situation will improve at
this fun restaurant, and every year we are disappointed. The
restaurant is next door to a wine bar called Martha's
Vineyard, but the wine bar offers a small and tired selection
that seems unchanged year after year. In fact, this year we
gave up and had martinis. We rarely order real drinks, but
this was special: Our old friend Gene Miller of the Miami
Herald, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, died recently, and
in his obituary, which he wrote himself -- so Gene -- he said,
"In lieu of flowers, have a martini" and so we did.
The martinis, by the way, cost less than two glasses of wine,
which we know would make our thrifty friend smile.
At the restaurant, the wine list is so
limited and overpriced that we had beer. In the past, because
we enjoy the seafood so much, we've ordered Kenwood Sauvignon
Blanc, but it's painful to pay $35 for a bottle of wine that
costs $12 or less at stores. Still, when we returned, by
popular demand, to Cape May a few days later, we bit our
tongues and ordered it. The waitress returned to say they'd
run out of it. We had beer again. Perhaps Cape May has given
up on wine. We had to ask for a wine list because our table
didn't have one on it, and we didn't see any at nearby tables,
The great wine destination of Disney World
is the California Grill atop the Contemporary. It offers
almost 100 wines by the glass or bottle (a glass costs
one-quarter the price of a bottle) and another 100 only by the
bottle. While the lists have lost a few steps in the past few
years, they still offer some very interesting stuff. It's
especially fun -- as it is at all restaurants that offer many
wines by the glass -- to order a flight of similar wines. In
this case, we ordered three different Pinot Noirs. One of
them, Pessagno, from Monterey, which we hadn't seen before,
blew us away with its ripe earthiness (it was $12 a glass).
With John's short ribs, it was pretty well perfect, as was the
sunset. We immediately decided to return and share a whole
bottle -- with more short ribs.
We have said so often that interesting,
unusual wines are all around you if you look. At the German
part of Epcot, there's a wine bar that offers flights. Red
wines from Germany are so hard to find that we once went to
Germany to try them, but there was a flight right there: two
Spatburgunders (that's the German name for Pinot Noir) and one
Lemberger, from two different areas of Germany. Although, in
general, we'd say that people who work in wine bars should
know how to use a corkscrew, once the bottles were finally
opened -- having been passed to a third, more adept server --
this was a truly interesting experience. The wines were
light-bodied, as we had expected, and nicely fragrant. They
probably would have been yummy with those smoked, giant turkey
legs people were gnawing on throughout the parks.
Dinner that night, unfortunately, was pretty
much of a wine disaster -- at, of all places, Les Chefs de
France in Epcot. The wine list was so ordinary and so
astonishingly overpriced that we ordered a carafe of white
wine, which was so skunky and weird that we then ordered the
red, which was marginally better. (The small carafes were
$13.95 each.) Dottie's sole came undercooked and mushy and the
girls' macaroni and cheese servings were large enough to feed
a football team and utterly tasteless. Dottie turned away two
dirty wine glasses and finally accepted a third dirty glass
because the routine was getting pretty ridiculous. In general,
we would say that this is a restaurant to avoid.
On the other hand, the Coral Reef Restaurant
in Epcot is a surprising wine delight. The real attraction of
the restaurant is the view of the fish, sharks and scuba
divers in an aquarium that is, in effect, one of the
restaurant's walls. But the restaurant also offers an
unusually interesting wine list, with most of the 60 wines
also available by the glass. Savennieres, for instance, is a
very tasty white wine made from Chenin Blanc in the Loire
Valley of France that we rarely see on wine lists. And, you
know, it's a funny thing: Present an interesting list of wines
that aren't overpriced and people will buy them. At Cape May,
we rarely see a bottle of wine on the table. At the Coral
Reef, even at lunch, we were amazed at the number of tables at
which the adults were enjoying wine right next to the kids
having drinks with neon blue light-up ice cubes in them. The
restaurant even offered a Chablis, which would have been
wonderful with Cape May's seafood.
A must stop for wine lovers at Disney World
is Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge because of its extensive,
all-South African wine list. We went for John's 54th birthday.
(Disneyland's 50th birthday was officially observed on July
17, Zoe's 15th). Because most of the wines are available by
the glass, this is a rare opportunity to taste, say, three
kinds of Pinotage against each other. Pinotage is sort of the
national grape of South Africa, a cross between Pinot Noir and
Cinsaut. Amazingly, there was even a South African Zinfandel
on the list, but after a very hot, humid day in Florida, this
seemed overwhelming to us, so we tried three different kinds
of Steen, which is South Africa's name for Chenin Blanc. The
Raats "Un-oaked" was especially good. (Another place
that's often high on wine lovers' lists is Victoria &
Albert's at the Grand Floridian, but we didn't drop in this
While we usually don't stray from Disney
World when we visit, this time we decided to take a short
drive to a restaurant called Maison & Jardin that's
well-known among wine-lovers for its great list. One of the
benefits of the Internet is that you can peruse a gigantic
wine list before you get to a restaurant and put some fences
around it, and we spent some time doing that (to see the list,
go to www.maisonjardin.com). We dressed up, got in the car --
and found that Interstate 4 had been closed because of an
awful accident. After two hours in traffic, giving updates to
the restaurant's staff, we gave up and ate in our room with a
wine from our stash.
For our last night, we returned to the
California Grill for the Pessagno and short ribs. And they
were both gone. The short ribs weren't being served that
night, and the Pessagno was no longer on the by-the-glass
list. There was a more-expensive Pessagno Pinot Noir on the
reserve list, but spending $120 -- especially after an entire
week at Disney World -- was out of the question. We were
thrown for such a loop by this sad development that we barely
even noticed the wine we did have.
There's always next year.
is coming to town
Starting Monday, don't be surprised if
700-pound, six-foot tall statues of Mickey Mouse start
cropping up on city streets.
Fifteen of these statues are going on
display in New York ahead of a Sotheby's auction on Sept. 27
of 75 Mickey statues created to celebrate the Disney icon's
Each statue was sponsored by a celebrity --
among them Ben Affleck, Ellen Degeneres, Tony Hawk, Elton John
and Shaquille O'Neal -- and the finished product somehow
reflects their look and personality.
The Sotheby's auction, whose proceeds will
go to charities, is the final act of a nationwide tour during
which the Disney Co. displayed the statues in 14 cities.
Among the charities which will receive
proceeds from the auction are the Make-a-Wish Foundation of
America, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Children's
Miracle Network, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS
Foundation and the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.
to close area call center
A Walt Disney Co. telemarketing center in
Overland Park will close by February, eliminating about 250
Disney Direct Marketing’s Onstage
Teleservice operation, as it is known, takes orders for
Disney’s catalog merchandise and reservations for Walt
“Both of those businesses have had a
fairly dramatic shift from calls to online — both for
shoppers from our catalog and reservations to the theme
park,” said Disney spokesman Gary Foster, explaining the
decision to shut the operation.
The center, at 11200 W. 93rd St., employs
about 200 part-time and seasonal hourly workers and 50
full-time workers and managers. Foster said some would be
offered opportunities to work at other Disney call centers.
The rest will receive severance packages, he said.
The center opened in 1990 with fewer than
100 employees. At first, it handled direct marketing for a
variety of Disney products, including toys and clothing.
The operation is one of several call centers
in the Kansas City area that have closed recently or are
slated to be closed.
Last year, CitiMortgage closed its call
center in Overland Park, eliminating 123 jobs. Pegasus
Satellite Television, once a major seller of DirecTV services,
shed 304 jobs when it shut its call center in Lenexa about the
same time. And at least 150 of the 1,400 employees at
AT&T’s Lee’s Summit call center have been laid off in
the past year.
Foster denied rumors that Disney was
outsourcing the Overland Park call center’s jobs to India.
“That is not correct,” he said. “It
really is just because of the shift from calls to online.”
couple wins Disney redesign of room
Kim Elliott won’t have to tune into
reality TV this weekend — the drama will be taking place right
in her own home.
This Sunday, a team of designers from Disney will arrive at the
Safeway employee’s Cornwallis Crescent house and spend three
days transforming one of her bedrooms into a theme room modelled
after the animated movie The Incredibles.
Elliott won the grand prize, worth an estimated $10,000, by
using her Safeway Club Card when buying groceries. Ten Safeway
customers across Canada and the United States also won the
“Quite honestly, I
thought someone was pulling my leg,” Elliott said yesterday,
of the day she found out she’d won the prize. “I’m not
that lucky a person, usually.”
Elliott, who works at the chain’s 10th Street and Victoria
Avenue store, and her husband, Murray, are thrilled about the
prize, even though their two sons are aged 20 and 23 and the
theme room will probably have more appeal for children than
“We’ll just save some things for our grandkids someday,”
Jonny Kwan, the Disney “Imagineer” who designed the theme
room and will lead the makeover, described his plans for the
room as “really playful and fun.”
Kwan, reached on a cellphone in Burbank, Calif., yesterday,
said a few visits to Vancouver have been the extent of his
“This is going to be fun — an adventure for me.”
He added he has “no idea” what to expect from Manitoba and
darkened by 'Holes' in consent
It sounded like the
classic David-and-Goliath story.
Participants in the Young Actors Workshop in
Oakland had practiced all summer to perform "Holes,"
an adaptation of Louis Sachar's award-winning children's book.
But the Walt Disney Co., which co-produced the movie version
of "Holes," found out and claimed the theater group
had no legal permission to produce the play.
The curtain came down on the kids' show,
which was to run for four performances tonight through Sunday.
Parents of the 18 youths participating in
the summer theater program and their friends and family got
upset at the corporate giant Disney playing Scrooge.
The problem was, the story wasn't true.
Disney does not own the legal rights to live stage productions
of "Holes." What's more, the Young Actors Workshop
never obtained licensing permission to produce the play from
the person who does own those rights: Sachar.
"As far as I know, they have no rights
to it," said Sachar, an Austin, Texas, resident who was
visiting California this week. "It's not a happy thing. I
feel bad for the kids involved."
According to one parent who asked not to be
identified, the theater group's director, Susan Worthing, led
parents to believe she had obtained legal permission from the
author and his agent, Susan Schulman, but that Schulman's
office erred because Disney was the exclusive rights holder
for Sachar's book.
But that story apparently is full of holes,
too, said Schulman, a New York-based literary agent.
"Disney has nothing to do with
it," Schulman said. "Disney is the distributor of
the movie 'Holes,' but they don't hold live stage
Schulman said Young Actors Workshop never
contacted her office for licensing permission, and if they had
she would have told them that Walden Media, which co-produced
the movie version with Disney, currently has live stage
permission.Walden Media is staging a production of
"Holes" in San Francisco in October, Schulman said,
and that creates a freeze on any other licensing rights in the
Someone involved in the Walden Media
production saw a flier
for Young Actors Workshop's production and
contacted Schulman on July 15, concerned that their exclusive
rights were being violated. Schulman called Worthing and asked
for a copy of the contract.
"Upon inquiry, she realized she did not
have one," Schulman said. "When I spoke to her, she
said she thought someone else had done it."
Feeling badly for the theater group kids,
Schulman told Worthing to apply for permission and then went
to Walden Media to get approval for the children's group to
stage a limited performance of "Holes." Walden Media
said no, but Schulman persisted, and the company ultimately
agreed to allow the young actors to put on one free show
tonight for parents.
Worthing declined to comment, citing that
one of the conditions of her agreement with Schulman was not
to have any press on the production.
For authors such as Sachar, school
productions of their creative work can reap thousands in
income, Schulman said.
"From the author's point of view,"
she said, "this is a group that is trying to sneak a
production without paying copyrights."
A typical licensing agreement for a school
production would require a fee equal to 6 to 7 percent of the
potential gross ticket revenue. For the 250-seat Young Actors
Workshop theater, with ticket prices that had been set at $10
and $12, that's a gross of about $10,000 for the
four-performance run, Schulman calculated.
Schulman said that what rankled her most is
that Young Actors Workshop should be teaching its young actors
the business of theater — and to respect copyright law.
"Here's a person running a young actors
workshop, and one aspect of theater is honoring the
writer," Schulman said. "Creative people are not
paid that well."
Square Enix announced today that bilingual
Japanese vocalist Hikaru Utada will sing the Kingdom Hearts II
theme song, titled "Passion." For the original
Kingdom Hearts released in 2002, Utada sang the theme song
"Hikari" in two versions, one in English and one in
"When we were creating the original
game, there were a lot of factors that were influenced by
Utada-san's theme song. That influence will once again be felt
in [our development of] Kingdom Hearts II," commented
series director Tetsuya Nomura.
Utada's CD-single release of
"Passion" is scheduled for release by Toshiba EMI
for sometime this winter, which means that Kingdom Hearts II
should be coming out for the PlayStation 2 around the same
time. But with today's theme song announcement, Square Enix
has also rescheduled the game's release from "2005"
to "Winter," meaning that it might not hit stores
until next year. More concrete details on the game's release
date may be revealed at the Square Enix Party 2005 press
event, which takes place tomorrow.
Three new evening dining opportunities have been announced for
the 2005 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
On Sunday, October 30 the American Adventure
Pavilion will host a "Spirited Ball". Guests are
invited to indulge in a wonderfully eerie Halloween eve Masked
Ball - complete with a reception-style dinner, ghoulish
cocktails, and dancing. While costumes are not allowed, masks
will be provided to guests. Price is $145 per person plus tax,
On Thursday, November 3 World ShowPlace will
host "A Taste of Turkey: A Mediterranean Feast"
featuring acclaimed chefs from Turkey. The evening will feature
their tastes and traditions from the orient - a feast full of
Turkish delights, reminiscent of the days of the Ottoman Empire!
Price is $185 per person plus tax, gratuity included.
On Tuesday, November 8 the American Adventure
Pavilion will host "Brewers' Dinner", an elegant
dinner with the founder of Samuel Adams Beer. Jim Koch will take
guests through the history of beer in America and will offer
food and beer pairings. Explore the flavor and nuances of great
premium domestic beers from the Boston Beer Company, Brewers of
Samuel Adams. Price is $125 per person plus tax, gratuity
All dinners are from 6p - 9p and separate park
admission is not required.
For reservations call 407 WDW FEST
International Food and Wine Festival Unveils Lineup of Lunches,
Tastings, Dinners, Schools
Designed for guests who want to
uncork the secrets of fine wines, a lineup of special mealtimes,
tastings, schools and parties has been planned in conjunction
with the 10th annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
this Sept. 30 through Nov. 13.
Reservations for the special events, which have limited
availability and popular appeal, are now available at prices
ranging from $35 to $185 per person.
The schedule includes a new cooking school and a third wine
school, focusing on Spain. Some of the returning events include
vertical tastings, two dinner series, Lunch and Learn, and Party
for the Senses -- a well-named Saturday evening experience that
combines an array of special food, wine, music and
entertainment, including a sampling of Cirque du Soleil.
Reservations and additional information are available by calling
The special events are in addition to all of the festival fun
included with regular Epcot admission -- wine and beer seminars
and cooking demonstrations plus the Eat to the Beat concert
series featuring an eclectic musical lineup of classic rock,
oldies, jazz and funk
Epcot Wine Schools
10/15, 10/22, 10/23, 10/29, 10/30, 11/5, 11/12, 9:00a -
The Epcot Wine Schools consist of a day long wine education
program hosted by prestigious wine authority, continental
breakfast, a wine pairing luncheon, and a certificate of
completion for all attendees at the end of the day. $125 per
person plus tax, gratuity included. Park admission not required.
- Saturday, October 15 - Mastering Wine
presented by Karen MacNeil from the Culinary Institute of
Future World, Wonders Retreat in the Wonders of Life
- Saturday, October 22 - Advanced Aussie
presented by Matt Lane from Southcorp
Future World, Wonders Retreat in the Wonders of Life
- Sunday, October 23 - Advanced Aussie
presented by Matt Lane from Southcorp
Future World, Wonders Retreat in the Wonders of Life
- Saturday, October 29 - Italian Wine
presented by Sharron McCarthy from Castello Banfi
World Showcase, Italy Pavilion, L 'Originale Alfredo di Roma
- Sunday, October 30 - Italian Wine School
presented by Sharron McCarthy from Castello Banfi
World Showcase, Italy Pavilion, L 'Originale Alfredo di Roma
- Saturday, November 5 - Spain Wine School
presented by Doug Frost M.S, M.W.
Future World, Wonders Retreat in the Wonders of Life
- Saturday, November 12 - Advanced
Bordeaux Wine School U.S.A.
presented by Robin Kelley O'Connor
World Showcase, France Pavilion, Bistro de Paris
Vertical Wine Tastings
California Grill at Disney's
Saturdays throughout the Festival, 1:30p - 3:00p
The Vertical Wine Tasting provides a rare opportunity for wine
connoisseurs to taste 10 vintages from exceptional growers. A
leading authority in the wine world will moderate each tasting
of new or old world treasures. Price ranges from $95-150 per
person plus tax, gratuity included
- Saturday, Oct. 1
Flora Springs Trilogy Red Meritage, Napa Valley
Host: Andrea Robinson M.S.
- Saturday, Oct. 8
Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Host: Fred Dame M.S.
- Saturday, Oct. 15
Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia
Host: Matt Lane
- Saturday, Oct. 22
Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Host: Evan Goldstein M.S.
- Saturday, Oct. 29
Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion "Premier Grand Cru
Host: Hubert de Bouard
- Saturday, Nov. 5
Jean-Luc Columbo "Cornas" Vertical of a Single
Vineyard Rhone Syrah,
Hosts: J.L.Columbo and Doug Frost M.S., M.W.
- Saturday, Nov. 12
A. Ferreira Vintage Port, Portugal
Host: Bartholomew Broadbent
Food and Wine Pairings
Daily, Times Vary
These late afternoon sessions are a great opportunity to
discover a marriage of three wines with three tasting portions
of specific cuisines. A winemaker will moderate each session. $35
per person, plus tax, gratuity included. Park admission
Sake, Sushi, and Sashimi
Location - Mitsukoshi Restaurant, Japan Pavilion
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Location - Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco Pavilion
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
- Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
Featured wineries and menu selection will change daily
Location - Coral Reef, Living Seas Pavilion
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Featured wineries and menu selection will change weekly
9/30,10/7,10/14,10/21,10/28,11 /4,11 /11
Location - Le Cellier Steakhouse, Canada Pavilion
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Regional French Specialties
Location - Bistro de Paris, France Pavilion
Time: 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.
A selection of imported French cheeses and the finest
charcuteries, pates, rillettes, hams, and sausages will be
paired with the wine selection.
Regional Italian Specialties
Location - L'Originale Alfredo's di Roma, Italy Pavilion
Time: 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Signature Dinner Series
10/2, 10/9, 10/16, 10/23, 11/3, 11/6, 6:00p - 9:00p
This series of dinners showcase the cuisine of our Resort
Signature Restaurants. For all dinners, the hosting restaurant
will invite a guest chef to join the resident chef to prepare
a five-course meal. The wines of 2 or 3 wineries will be
presented by winery principals. $145 per person, plus tax,
gratuity included. Park admission not required.
- Sunday, Oct.2 - California
California Grill, Disney's Contemporary Resort
Winery: Flora Springs and Wattle Creek
Guest Chef:Cal Stamenov, Bernardus Lodge,Carmel Valley,
- Sunday, Oct. 9 - Flavors of Africa
Jiko -The Cooking Place, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Winery: Cape Classics
Guest Chef: Joseph Seeletso, Phakalane Resort, Botswana,
- Sunday, Oct. 16 - Aussie Capers
Citricos -The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Winery: Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Guest Chef: Andrew Ormsby,Tucker, Dallas,Texas
- Sunday, Oct. 16 - Tour de France
Bistro de Paris - Epcot, France Pavilion
Winery: Pierre Sparr, La Louviere
- Sunday, Oct 23 - Jewels of the Greek
Citricos - The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Guest Chef: Paul Delios, Meze Esetario, Boston,
- Thursday, Nov. 3 - India Inspirations
Jiko - The Cooking Place, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Winery:57 Main Street
Guest Chef: Floyd Cardozjabla, NYC
- Sunday, Nov. 6 - A Trapper's
Le Cellier Steakhouse - Epcot, Canada Pavilion
Winery: Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs
Guest Chef: Dan Atkinson, Salmon House on the Hill,
10/30, 11/3, 11/8, 6:00p - 9:00p
First time for the International Food and Wine, unique
dining adventures exclusive to Epcot during the festival! Price
varies from $125 - $185. Park admission not required.
- Sunday, Oct. 30 - Spirited
American Adventure Pavilion
The American Adventure Pavilion will be haunted by
history! Indulge in a wonderfully eerie Halloween eve
Masked Ball- complete with a reception-style
dinner,ghoulish cocktails,and dancing. Costumes will not
be allowed, however masks will be provided. Price- $145
per person plus tax, gratuity included
- Thursday, Nov. 3 - A Taste of Turkey:
A Mediterranean Feast
Acclaimed Chefs from Turkey bring their tastes and
traditions from the orient-a feast full of Turkish
delights, reminiscent of the days of the Ottoman Empire! Price-$185
per person plus tax, gratuity included
- Tuesday, Nov. 8 - Brewers' Dinner - An
Evening with Jim Koch
American Adventure Pavilion
Enjoy an elegant dinner with the founder of Samuel Adams
Beer. Jim Koch will take you through the history of beer
in America and surprise
you with great food and beer pairings. Explore the flavor
and nuances of great premium domestic beers from The
Boston Boer Company, Brewers of Samuel Adams. Price-
$125 per person plus tax, gratuity Included
Odyssey Adventures -- Lunch and Learn
Fridays and Saturdays throughout the Festival. 10:30a -
Observe a notable Chef prepare a three course lunch which
you will enjoy with a selection of wines presented by a wine
principal. Price is $75 per person, plus tax, gratuity
included. Park admission required.
- Friday, Sept. 30
Suvir Saran, Devi, NY Indian
- Saturday, Oct. 1
Michael Moore, Michael Moore Restaurant,London,
- Friday, Oct. 7
John Malik,33 Liberty, SC, American
- Saturday, Oct. 8
John Ash, Fetzer Vineyards, CA
- Friday, Oct. 14
Ming Tsai, Blue Ginger, MA, Asian
- Saturday, Oct. 15
KarlheinzHauser, SJIberg, Hamburg, Germany
- Friday, Oct. 21 TBD
- Saturday, Oct. 22
Andrew Sutton, Napa Rose,CA, American
- Friday, Oct. 28
Cat Cora, Iron Chef, American
- Saturday, Oct. 29
Dede Wilson, PBS, American
- Friday, Nov. 4
Chris Prosperi, Metro Bis,CT, French
Mas De la Dame
- Saturday, Nov. 5
Nina Simonds, Spoonful of Ginger,Cookbook author,
- Friday, Nov. 11
Ben & Karen Barker, Magnolia Grill, NC,Southern
- Saturday, Nov. 12
Sondra Bernstein, Girl and the Fig, Sonoma, Ca.,
Odyssey Adventures -- Sweet Sundays
Sunday throughout the Festival, 10:00a - 12:00p.
Pastry Chefs are showcased with a morning session
beginning with a light breakfast and sparkling refreshment
while viewing top pastry chefs in the country demonstrate
three mouth-watering treats and share tips of the trade along
the way. A sampling of the delectable trio will conclude the
event with a "sweet" sensation. Price is $55 per
person, plus tax, gratuity included. Park admission required.
- October 2
Julian Rose - Pastry Chef, Switzerland's Barry -
- October 9
Jacquy Pfeiffer - Pastry Chef, French Pastry School,
- October 16
Jean Claude Perrenou - Pastry Chef, Waldorf Astoria,
New York City
- October 23
Richard Ruskell - Pastry Chef, Montage, Laguna Beach
- October 30
Wayne Harley Brachman - Pastry Chef, Author,TV Food
Melting Pot, New York City
- November 6
Jeff Lehuede - Pastry Chef, The Four Seasons, Laguna
- November 13
Colette Peters - Pastry Chef, Author, Colette's Cakes,
Odyssey Adventures -- The Odyssey Cooking
Thursdays throughout the Festival, 10:00a - 1:30p.
The Odyssey Cooking School offers guests the opportunity
to participate in an interactive cooking learning experience.
A Walt Disney World chef will assist each class with a
visiting chef. Teams will come together to create a themed
meal, which will be sampled at the conclusion of the class and
paired with appropriate wines. Price is $100 per person,
plus tax, gratuity included. Park admission required.
- Thursday, Oct.6 - Mexican
Ximena Mariscal, Escuela de Cocina Mexico
- Thursday, Oct. 13 - Classic American
Ted Siegel, Institute of Culinary Education
- Thursday,Oct.20 - Italian
Giuliano Hazan, Cooking School,Tampa
- Thursday, Oct. 27 - Indian Treasures
Julie Sahni, Brooklyn, NY
- Thursday, Nov. 3 - Japanese
Chef Kanda, Mitsokoshi, Epcot
- Thursday, Nov. 10 - Mediterranean Treats
Einev Gefen, New York City
Exquisite Evenings at Epcot
Dinners are Fridays and select Thursdays of the Festival,
6:00p - 9:00p.
Considered the most prestigious dining experiences of the
Festival, a team of celebrity chefs and a host Walt Disney
World chef prepare a stellar 5-course meal. The Winery
principal will showcase wines from two to three different
vineyards. Price is $185 per person, plus tax, gratuity
include. Park admission NOT required.
- Friday, Sept. 30 Brilliant Bubbles
-1Oth Anniversary Champagne Dinner
Guest Chefs: Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora,
Susanna Foo, Chinese Cuisine, Philadelphia, PA
Wineries: Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Moet et Chandon
- Friday, Oct. 7 Sizzlin' South America
Guest Chefs: Roberto Trevino, Parrot Club, Puerto
Rico; Martin Rios, The Old House, Santa Fe, NM
Wineries: Casa Lapostolle & Concha yToro
- Thursday, Oct. 13 California Goldmine
Guest Chefs: Bradley Ogden, Lark Creek Inn,
California, Bart Hosmer and Carlos Sanchez, Parcel
Wineries: Fife Vineyards and Niebaum-Coppola
- Friday, Oct. 14 Amazing Australia
Guest Chefs: Andrew Ormsby - Tucker, Dallas,Texas,
Will Ford - 8 Mile Creek, New York City
Winery: Penfolds exclusive
- Thursday, Oct. 20 Pacific Northwest
Guest Chefs: Charles Ramseyer - Rays Boathouse,
Seattle, WA; John Howie - Seastar, Seattle, WA
Wineries: Ste. Michelle and WillaKenzie
- Friday, Oct. 21 A Taste of Italy
Guest Chef: TBD
Wineries: Antinori and Masi
- Thursday, Oct. 27 Tuscan Tales
Gust Chef: Roberto Donna, Galileo, Washington DC
Wineries: Castello Banfi and Castello di Querceto
- Friday, Oct. 28 French Fatale -
Guest Chefs: Dominique Bouchet, Dominique Bouchet
Restaurant, France; Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie
Gras, New York
Wineries: Chateau Angelus and Chateau Suduiraut
** This dinner will be held in the Wonders Retreat within
the Wonders of Life Pavilion.
- Friday, Nov. 4 Romancing the Rhone
Guest Chef: Michel Richard - Citronelle, Washington DC
Winery: Jean-Luc Columbo - exclusive
- Thursday, Nov. 10 Discover Portugal
Guest Chef: Santi Zabeleta,Taberna del Alabardero,
Washington DC; Manuel Azuedo, La Salette, Sonoma
Winery: Broadbent Selections
- Friday, Nov. 11 California Adventure
Guest Chef: Joachim Splichal, Patina, Ca.; Disneyland
chefs: Ralph Stuhlmeyer, Jorge Sotelo
Wineries: B.R. Cohn and Caymus Vineyards
Eat to the Beat Concert Series
Daily at 5:45p, 7:00p & 8:15p
- Kansas Sep30 - Oct 2
- Commodores Oct 3 - 6
- Edgar Winter Oct 7 - 9
- Kool & The Gang Oct 10 - 13
- The Gap Band Oct 14 - 16
- Arturo Sandoval and Nestor Torres Oct 17
- Starship featuring Mickey Thomas Oct 20 -
- The Beach Boys Oct 24 - 25
- FamilyStoneExperience Oct 26 - 28
- The Miracles Review with lead singer
Sydney Justin Oct 29 - 31
- Chubby Checker & The Wildcats Nov 1 -
- The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman
Nov 5 - 7
- Loverboy Nov 8 - 10
- Three Dog Night Nov 11 - 13
Party for the Senses
The World ShowPlace will host "Party for the
Senses", a showcase of the talents of 25 eminent chefs
and over 70 wines and beers. Wander from station to station to
discover TASTES and TEXTURES, imaginative decor, and the SIGHT
of Cirque du Soleil performers. In addition, guests receive
VIP seating for the 5:45p "Eat to the Beat" concert
$95 per person, plus tax, gratuity included. Park admission
Some of the top Christian Music artists performing at the 23rd
annual Night of Joy at Walt Disney World Resort Sept. 9-10
will debut live performances of music inspired by Walt Disney
Pictures and Walden Media's upcoming release, "The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The
EMI Music's Nashville-based EMI CMG will release two
"inspired by" soundtracks and has announced an
all-star lineup for the first release, an inspirational
soundtrack CD, Music Inspired By: The Chronicles of Narnia:
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, featuring recordings
from artists who combined have sold in excess of 23 million
Five-time Grammy Award Winner Steven Curtis Chapman leads the
pack with the project's debut single and video,
"Remembering You." He is joined at Night of Joy by
two of the other artists featured on the album, TobyMac and
Kutless. They're among the 21 acts performing at this year's
Night of Joy at Walt Disney World Resort.
Night of Joy is a special event held in Magic Kingdom after
regular theme park hours Sept. 9-10. A total of 21 acts will
present concerts at stages throughout the park:
Sept. 9 features: Steven Curtis Chapman, MercyMe, Casting
Crowns, Audio Adrenaline, Mark Schultz, Nicole C. Mullen, Big
Daddy Weave, Matthew West, Vicky Beeching and a contest winner
from the Gospel Music Association's Music in the Rockies
Sept. 10 features: newsboys, tobyMac, Donnie McClurkin, CeCe
Winans, Kutless, Tree63, Superchic[k], Further Seems Forever,
stellar kart, Kierra "KiKi" Sheard and a contest
winner from the Kellogg's Gospel Sing Off 2005.
Night of Joy begins at 7:30 p.m. (after regular park hours)
and continues until 12:30 a.m. Single-night tickets are $42.95
plus tax. Two-night tickets are $61.95 plus tax. (Guests can
save $5 on single-night tickets by purchasing them in advance
at Family Christian Stores and other select Christian
bookstores in Florida or by calling 407/W-DISNEY.)
Additional information is available by calling 407/W-DISNEY or
by going online to disneyworld.com/nightofjoy.
Prize money in excess of $100,000 will be on
the line, as well as one of the most coveted titles in water
The first U.S. Open was held at Okeeheelee
Park in West Palm Beach in 1987. The event, modeled after U.S.
Nationals for amateurs, was established to provide professional
water ski athletes a similarly prestigious event. The U.S. Open
quickly grew to be one of the largest cash-prize tournaments in
"I have been fortunate to win the U.S.
Open title 12 times, but now I can only imagine how prestigious
it is going to be for the 2005 winners to hold their trophies
high at Disney World," said Andy Maple, president of World
Male and female athletes will compete in a
three-event waterski championship, including slalom, jump and
shortboard disciplines. Slalom skiers will cross boat wakes at
speeds up to 65 mph, jump skiers will fly more than 220 feet in
the air, and shortboarders will perform multiple acrobatics.
WWSP, Disney Sports Attractions and
waterskiing Hall-of-Famer Sammy Duvall worked together to bring
this prestigious event to Disney.
"When we established Water Sports
operations here seven years ago, I always envisioned hosting
professional waterskiing events on one of the beautiful
waterways at Walt Disney World," said Duvall, who operates
the Sammy Duvall Water Sports Center at the Disney. "The
U.S. Open is the most recognized event in the sport of
waterskiing, so I am both excited and honored to be a part of
release flies high
"Sky High" (PG, 1 hour, 38 minutes)
A Disney comedy about the teenage children of
superheroes trying to discover their own "special
powers," "Sky High" proves an unexpected treat.
Kids 9 and older will enjoy it, though preteens will get more of
the gags. It features considerable comic book-style mayhem and
some bullying, though no one ever appears injured. Characters
get slammed through walls, burst into flame, fly, melt into
puddles, shape-shift into rock people or guinea pigs, and holler
with seismic volume. The villains can run with blurring speed,
stretch to impossible lengths and control technology, but are
not scary. The film also has mild sexual innuendo and toilet
Michael Angarano stars as Will Stronghold, son
of world-savers Captain Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie
Jetstream (Kelly Preston).
Muppets Get a Taste of the X Games
Muppet mayhem took over as Animal and Pepe the King Prawn
tag-teamed with world-renowned skateboarder Bucky Lasek during
his training for X Games 11 which will be held in Los Angeles,
As part of a special segment to air on All
Access, a one-hour action sports magazine show that airs on
ESPN2, the Muppets partner with X Games Skateboard Vert champion
Lasek as he prepares to win a third straight gold medal in this
year's competition. Pepe the King Prawn "snakes" the
interview by insisting that the only way to stiff the
competition and win a third straight gold medal is to learn how
to release his inner animal. To do this, Pepe enlists the help
of a special friend -- the Muppets very own Animal!
"Thanks to my new Muppet friends Animal
and Pepe," said Lasek, "I've found a fresh perspective
on the vert ramp which I hope will help bring me the gold
With some interesting coaching tips from Pepe
and Animal, Bucky is able to perform a huge trick: a frontside
heel flip gay twist. Pepe then makes his first-ever attempt to
drop into the vert ramp.
"The X Games are a blend of incredible
athleticism and energy and we are confident that Pepe and Animal
will skate into the hearts of X Game fans," said Chris
Curtin, general manager and executive vice president, The
Muppets Holding Company, LLC.
"We are excited about including the
Muppets in the X Games preview show on All Access," said
Melissa Gullotti, ESPN X Games spokesperson. "The
interaction between Bucky, our show host Sal Masekela and the
Muppets was great. We are confident that they will be
well-received by our viewers."
The X Games 11 Preview show on All Access will
air on ESPN2 on July 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET and August 2 at 3:00
For additional information on the X Games,
Lilo & Stitch 2
Remember Stitch, the lovable alien with a
destructive side on the hit Disney animated movie Lilo &
Stitch (2002)? The Oscar-nominated movie grossed over
US$145 million (RM551 million) at the US box-office, and spawned
a straight-to-video sequel, Stitch: The Movie a year
The original story revolves around an
out-of-control alien experiment called 626 who escapes from his
space prison and ends up on Earth - in Hawaii to be exact.
There, he befriends a little girl called Lilo, who thinks he is
a dog and adopts him as a pet, Stitch.
Stitch's destructive tendencies constantly get
both of them in trouble. Soon the aliens as well as local law
agencies are go all out to get him. But along the way, Stitch
learns to control his destructive tendencies and learns the true
meaning of 'ohana' or family in Hawaiian.
The newest instalment of the popular alien
cartoon is Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch,
which shows the events that take place between the original and Stitch:
In Lilo & Stitch 2, the rowdy
Stitch finally settles down with Lilo and his new family.
However, Stitch, the ultimate creation of Dr Jumba, has a glitch
after all, which reinstates his destructive programming. Now it
is up to Lilo and the rest of the family to set things right and
save Stitch from himself.
Lilo & Stitch 2 features new
songs - three original Elvis Presley titles and exclusive bonus
Fans can get their hands on the original VCDs
and DVDs of this cartoon series which will be released by
Berjaya HVN at the end of September 2005.
There are over 100 Disney titles currently
available on Berjaya HVN, including Lilo & Stitch, Stitch:
The Movie, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles,
Kim Possible: The Villain Files, Monsters Inc.,
Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Bambi, Princess
Stories and Everybody Loves Mickey.
In conjunction with the release of Lilo
& Stitch 2, readers stand a chance to win free tickets
to watch a special Lilo & Stitch 2 cinema
All you have to do is purchase an original
Disney cartoon VCD or DVD (released in July and August 2005, as
well as those from the back catalogue), complete the contest
form and send it to the address in the form.
The first 100 correct entries will win a set
of four tickets each for the special screening. The last date
for entries is Aug 27, 2005.
The winners will get to watch Lilo &
Stitch 2 at the DiGi IMAX Theatre in Berjaya Times Square.
The IMAX cinema boasts 555 seats and has a
screen that is 21m high and 29m wide. It is complemented by a
12,000 watt digital surround sound system that delivers six
channels of uncompressed sound.
columnist off the air after ABC/Disney is Intimidated by CAIR
Yesterday Michael Graham wrote in his column:
"I take no pleasure in saying it. It pains me to think it.
I could very well lose my job in talk radio over admitting it.
But it is the plain truth: Islam is a terror organization."
And then his fears came true. Hours after his column appeared
here, Graham, a mid-morning talker at WMAL in Washington, D.C.,
was suspended without pay pending an investigation.
Finds New Mystery Man
Is he a survivor or an Other?
The Lost legions are taking to the
message boards to weigh in on the latest addition to ABC's hit
supernatural sci-fi soap opera.
The network has announced that Adewale
Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a British actor whose stateside credits
include HBO's Oz and the hit films The Mummy Returns
and The Bourne Identity, will be playing the role of
Emeka, cryptically described as a "mysterious man" who
turns up on the island in the first episodes of the new season.
The arrival of Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who will be
seen in 50 Cent's big-screen debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
later this year, could make for a mini-Oz reunion--if, as
expected, Harold Perrineau's Michael survived last season's
When last we left the show, Jack, Locke, Kate
and Hurley had blasted open the mysterious hatch and found...a
long, dark passageway. Meanwhile, Michael, Walt, Jin and
Sawyer's boat ride was interrupted by the less than neighborly
"Others," a group of men who intercepted the raft,
kidnapped the seemingly clairvoyant Walt, shot Sawyer and blew
up the vessel. Michael was left treading water among the
wreckage as Jin dove in to try to save Sawyer.
The new season will also see Michelle
Rodriguez join the cast of castaways as a regular. In part one
of last season's finale, her character, Ana-Lucia Cortez, was
briefly shown in a flashback scene flirting with Matthew Fox's
Jack in a Sydney airport bar before the ill-fated Oceanic flight
815 boarded. She and Jack compared seat assignments (Jack was in
the middle of the plane, she was in the tail section) before she
got a cell phone call and left him hanging.
And back in her recurring flashback-only role
as Jack's wife will be Julie Bowen.
Lost was one of last season's biggest
hits, averaging nearly 16 million viewers and earning 12 Emmy
nominations, including one for Best Drama Series. Last weekend,
the series received the prize for Outstanding New Program and
Outstanding Drama from the Television Critics Association.
The first season of Lost will be
available on DVD on Sept. 6, ahead of the debut of the second
season, which will now air in the 9 p.m. slot on Wednesdays
beginning Sept. 21.
graduate to ranks of uninsured
A throbbing sinus headache and sore throat
persuaded Rachael Tulinski to skip work and stay home one
weekday morning. Her instincts told her the symptoms were worse
than those of a common cold, but Tulinski, 23, was hesitant to
go to the doctor.
A recent graduate of the University of Central Florida, Tulinski
had taken a job as a temp at Disney's facility asset management
division and did not have health insurance.
Like Tulinski, many freshly minted graduates forgo health
insurance -- often for several years after graduation -- and
hope for the best.
Students are often covered through their parents' employer
insurance plans or through a university insurance plan, such as
the one offered for UCF students by Chesapeake Life Insurance
Co. But upon graduation, most no longer qualify for either and
often decide to wait until they are covered by an employer.
When Tulinski's symptoms got worse, she drove herself to a
walk-in clinic, paying for everything out of pocket.
"It ended up costing me $150 for the office visit, and
because I had to miss four days of work, the entire episode
probably cost me $500," said Tulinski, who now receives
benefits as a full-time employee at Disney. "But I was
still very lucky that I didn't get really sick -- that would
have really drained my bank account."
She is not alone.
The U.S. Census found that almost 45 million Americans were
uninsured in 2003, the most recent year for comprehensive data.
But the problem hits young people the hardest: More than four of
10 adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured at least some time during
2003, according to a report by The Commonwealth Fund, a private
Without insurance, skipped visits to the doctor, unfilled
prescriptions and delayed diagnostic tests can become the norm.
Young people might feel fine and delay preventive-health tests,
but the costs come later, said Sara Collins, senior program
officer at The Commonwealth Fund.
During a lifetime, these missed medical visits add up. A 2003
study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
found that uninsured adults were 25 times more likely to die
prematurely than their insured counterparts.
Why do young people take the risk? Insurance is simply too
Monthly premiums for plans offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of Florida range from $50 to $160 per month for nonsmokers. For
recent graduates struggling to pay off student loans or subsist
while job-hunting, however, that can be too much. Researchers
have found that low-income young adults are the least likely to
fork over part of a paycheck for health insurance.
After finishing coursework at UCF in December 2003, Alex
Babcock, 26, spent the spring polishing his journalism
portfolio, interviewing for jobs and working at the student
paper. Dropped from the UCF health-care plan, Babcock went four
months without insurance before starting a full-time job.
"I was in the danger zone for a while," said Babcock,
now the managing editor of the Seminole Chronicle, a
paper he founded. But, he conceded, "I knew what I was
making working for the school paper, and I was more willing to
risk it than having to shell out that much money [for health
For the ones who do find a job right out of school, health
insurance might still be hard to come by. Start-ups or smaller
companies might find it too expensive to provide health
insurance for their employees, said Joel Miller, senior vice
president of operations at the National Coalition on Healthcare.
"Many small employers who may only have three to nine
workers just can't afford the premiums; otherwise, they would go
out of business," Miller said. "When the country had
more of a manufacturing base, people had a lot more
[health-insurance] coverage, but the country has moved to a more
service economy, and many start-ups can't afford
Joe Harless knows what that's like. Although he has a full-time
job, Harless, 24, has no health insurance. Harless works as a
staff writer and assistant editor at the Celebration
Independent, a seven-person operation that cannot afford to
pay for benefits for its employees, according to Alexander
Morton, publisher of the newspaper.
"I do try to stay as healthy as I can," said Harless,
who graduated from UCF in December 2003. "I worry about
what would happen if I had long-term problems. Thankfully, so
far, that hasn't been the case."
For graduates such as Harless who have a clean medical record
and no outstanding family history of chronic disease, purchasing
only catastrophic coverage -- a cheaper option -- might suffice,
said William Custer, associate professor of risk management and
insurance at Georgia State University's Robinson College of
Rather than requiring monthly dues, a catastrophic plan usually
requires an annual deductible, a one-time payment of $300 and a
deductible at each hospital visit.
Companies that consistently blow past analyst
targets are typically of the new-technology variety that Wall
Street fortunately misunderstands. However, sometimes analysts
can get tripped up with old technology, too.
Steiner Leisure is one of those seemingly
misunderstood old-school companies. This week, the company
earned $0.53 a share, a penny above the market's bottom-line
projections until just last week, when revenues rose by 18% to
hit $97.8 million. If it hadn't been for the average analyst
target climbing from $0.52 to $0.53 a share just a few days
earlier, it would have marked the 13th consecutive time that the
company had lapped analyst targets.
The company's name may convey images of some
high-tech consumer-gadgetry maker putting out the kind of gizmos
you'd see at Sharper Image, or perhaps of a maker of robotic
beds that would put Select Comfort to shame. But no, Steiner
Leisure isn't cutting-edge at all. Most of this company's
front-line battles are won with bare hands -- albeit often
coated in exotic massaging lotions.
That's because Steiner Leisure is a leader in
spa treatments. Its bread-and-butter business comes from running
the spas aboard 120 major cruise ships. If you've been on a
vessel owned by Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, or Disney, you
may very well be a pampered Steiner customer.
Steiner also runs dozens of spas for
resort-hotel chains, but its presence as the only real shipboard
spa operator is what's won the company its respectable growth
over the years.
Steiner works, and the company proved it
earlier this year, when Carnival's Princess line hired a star
manager to take two ships' spas in-house to see whether it could
cut out the middleman. It was a disaster. Princess went back to
Steiner and its well-trained hands to run the show on its entire
The method behind the Steiner madness is
pretty simple. The company has been able to ride the cruise
industry's revival and expand on it exponentially by cashing in
on a growing trend within the cruising population. Not only are
more folks taking cruises, but there are also more young
people cruising. And it doesn't hurt that more men are going in
for spa treatments, too.
That dynamic growth in an otherwise sleepy
sector made the company a good fit for our Rule Breakers
newsletter service. Since we recommended it in the November
issue, the stock has soared by nearly 60%. It has been one of
the many reasons why the newsletter has more than doubled the
market's return since last year's launch.
Then again, Steiner knows a lot about
Releases Emperor's New Groove Special Edition This Fall
Get into the groove with Walt Disney’s
hilarious animated feature film THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE,
available in a Special Edition. This fast-paced comedy about
finding the good in everyone features a distinctive musical beat
with lyrics and music by the world famous Grammy Award-winning
singer/songwriter, Sting. Included on the film’s sensational
soundtrack is the Academy Award nominated song “My Funny
Friend and Me” (nominated Best Original Song 2000), with
lyrics and music by Sting and music by David Hartley; the upbeat
“Perfect World” performed by legendary musical artist Tom
Jones, and a score by John Debney.
& Offspring Take Flight Risk
Walt Disney Pictures and Offspring Entertainment have bought
spec script Flight Risk from writer Kyle Long, reports Variety.
The action comedy is about a hapless young man who's hired by
a wealthy father to escort his unusually rebellious
11-year-old son across state lines to a school for troubled
Long recently finished Tommy's Kitchen for Michael Kuhn's
Qwerty Films; the script is a feature adaptation of
"Jamie's Kitchen," the Blighty reality show starring
chef Jamie Oliver.
Offspring is in production on Cheaper by the Dozen 2, directed
by Adam Shankman.
The Gridiron Classic isn't moving to Daytona
Beach, which leaves the college all-star game with one
life-saving option left -- Disney Sports.
Game organizer Florida Citrus Sports has a proposal before
Disney Sports executives that needs to be answered within
six weeks if the game is to survive.
Disney became the last-gasp hope for the
seven-year-old game after Daytona Beach passed on the chance
to host the game. City officials decided against fielding
the game at its Municipal Stadium when FCSports asked the
city for financial backing for 7,500 tickets.
"They like the game, like the concept," FCSports
Executive Director Tom Mickle said. "They didn't like
Daytona Beach City Manager James Chisholm did not return
phone messages at his office. Daytona Beach is in the final
stage of a hotly contested bidding war for the NASCAR Hall
of Fame, considered a priority.
The January all-star game is searching for a home field
following two years at a specially constructed stadium at
The Villages. Before that, five games were played at the
65,438-seat Florida Citrus Bowl.
If terms with Disney can't be worked out, the game likely
will disappear. FCSports has decided it won't return it to
the Citrus Bowl.
"It's not a major-stadium event," FCSports
Assistant Executive Director Steve Hogan said. "It's
perfect for a stadium that has 15,000 to 25,000 seats."
Mickle and Hogan are hopeful of a partnership with Disney,
which would host the game at its Wide World of Sports
Complex. The two already have a working relationship with
the Florida Classic. Disney is a sponsor for the
regular-season game at the Citrus Bowl between Florida
A&M and Bethune-Cookman College.
"There are a lot of discussions taking place, and there
are a number of different players in the mix," said
Reggie Williams, president of Disney Sports Attractions.
"We think this is an important opportunity to partner
with Florida Citrus Sports."
Hogan said FCSports would like to know before Sept. 1, the
start of football season, whether it will put on the game.
One necessary ingredient is a title sponsor now that The
Villages has withdrawn its interest, but FCSports has venue
as a priority.
At least one potential title sponsor has been identified.
The Walt Disney Co. has announced its new
ownership of Radio Disney WCOG AM 1320 (licensed in
Greensboro, NC) which serves The Triad area (previous owner
was Truth Broadcasting). This new ownership opens up
unlimited partnership opportunities with local businesses
targeting moms, kids and families in Greensboro, High Point
Under this new ownership, the profile and
visibility of Radio Disney AM 1320 will be elevated via
increased community involvement including local events and
sponsorship opportunities. A television and outdoor
advertising campaign will launch later this summer.
“Radio Disney AM 1320 will provide
Greensboro families with a spot on the radio dial that they
can truly enjoy together,” said WCOG Manager, Chris Nowak.
“Radio Disney is dedicated to connecting The Triad
community through great music, events and super prizing. Our
call volume from The Triad area has more than doubled
already and we expect this number to keep growing.”
“Radio Disney has proven to be an
effective and efficient advertising vehicle to reach kids
and families across the country,” said Drew Rashbaum,
Radio Disney Regional Director. “We expect The Triad
to be a terrific market for us. The WCOG staff is
already performing family themed events such as ‘Reading
Together with Radio Disney’ and ‘The Character Traits
Radio Disney covers 97% of the United
States via 50+ terrestrial stations that include 18 of the
top 20 DMAs; XM and Sirius satellite radio, digital cable
& satellite TV music provider, MUSIC CHOICE.
Created and produced by ABC Radio Networks, Radio Disney
reaches millions of kids, tweens and families through great
music, out-of-this-world prizing and brand extensions like
the best selling Radio Disney Jams CDs and a brand new
digital download page on Apple’s iTunes store.
Internationally, Radio Disney can be heard in Japan, the UK,
Poland, Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala, Uruguay, the
Dominican Republic and now, Ecuador. Radio Disney has
also won Radio Ink’s Reader’s Choice Award, the Silver
Angel Award for excellence in programming and the iParenting
Award for Media Excellence.
Conservative talk-show host Michael Graham was suspended
without pay today by ABC Disney after threats from the
Council for American-Islamic Relations over his on-air
comments regarding terrorism and Islam.
Despite repeated statements of support for Graham's
free-speech rights by management at 630 WMAL in Washington,
D.C. -- the ABC-owned radio station where Graham works
as mid-morning host -- he was summarily suspended
pending an "investigation."
"I honestly don't know what Disney is investigating me
for, unless it's for doing a compelling talk show that gets
people's attention," Graham said. "I thought that
was my job."
Graham has been harshly criticized by CAIR for public
comments linking the current theology and structure of Islam
to the repeated acts of terror in its name. CAIR sent mass
e-mails to its members urging them to contact ABC and demand
the company to punish Graham for his remarks.
The statements at the heart of the controversy reflect
Graham's opinion that, as he puts it, "Because of the
mix of Islamic theology that -- rightly or wrongly -- is
interpreted to promote violence, added to an organizational
structure that allows violent radicals to operate openly in
Islam's name with impunity, Islam has, sadly, become a
terrorist organization. It pains me to say it.
But the good news is it doesn't have to stay this way, if
the vast majority of Muslims who don't support terror will
step forward and re-claim their religion."
Ironically, CAIR announced today that a group of US Muslim
scholars were issuing a fatwa against terrorism. According
to Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR, the fatwa was issued in part due
to criticism from talk radio hosts like Michael Graham.
"Nearly four years after the World Trade Center fell,
CAIR is participating in a blanket denunciation of
terrorism, and my attitude is "better late than
never." If our conversation on 630 WMAL helped
CAIR finally take this long-needed step, then we've done
something good for the future of Islam," Graham said.
Graham acknowledged that his statement has upset some
people, but he refuses to recant. "Ahmed H. Al-Rahim,
an Iraqi-American who has taught Arabic and Islamic studies
at Harvard, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal earlier
this week about a prominent Egyptian moderate who criticized
the Islamists and their influence on all of Islam, and was
threatened with death. He recanted and promised to be silent
to save his life."
"But I'm an
American, and if fighting for free speech and for the truth
in the war on terrorism means getting fired by some
corporate suit at ABC Disney who can't stand up for free
speech -- so be it. But I will not recant," Graham
Toward the end of his life, Walt Disney
recalled the day he told his wife, Lillian, that he wanted to
create a theme park in the Southern California orange groves.
"My wife used to say, 'But why do you
want to build an amusement park? They're so dirty,'"
Disney recalled, according to company lore. "I told her
that was just the point. Mine wouldn't be."
Disneyland marked its 50th anniversary last
weekend as the happiest — and possibly cleanest — place on
Earth. Where else is Main Street steam-cleaned each night and
walkways hosed down even when it rains?
Disneyland's emphasis on cleanliness, a
revolutionary idea for amusement parks a half-century ago, has
become a model for many U.S. companies and public institutions
but also drawn its share of critics who condemn the park's
carefully controlled environment.
"The Disney focus on the 'guest
experience,' which includes cleanliness, has influenced
everyone from McDonald's to the Four Seasons," said
marketing expert Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Unlimited in New
When Disneyland opened, it was in stark
contrast to the dingy, surly staffed amusement parks of the
era — the declining remnants of "trolley parks"
created by trolley companies as a draw for weekend riders.
"In the postwar Eisenhower years, when
we were germphobic — the polio epidemic was just winding
down — and with fear of a nuclear attack, the promise of
'clean' in its largest and most amplified sense was deeply
appealing," Hanft said.
The park's well-scrubbed environment was
clearly a core part of Disney, and cleanliness became a
metaphor for the brand identity on many levels, he added.
"Walt created Disneyland as a safe
family destination, in contrast with the traveling roadside
attractions of the era, which were questionable on many
levels," Hanft said. "He knew 50 years ago that a
clean environment was a key to getting repeat visits."
An average of 36,500 visitors entered
Disneyland's turnstiles each day last year, according to the
trade publication Amusement Business.
Each created work for custodial guest
services manager Bob Scott and his crew. An energetic former
medical laboratory operations supervisor with an MBA, Scott
supervises the custodial staffers, who work from midnight
until the park opens at 8 a.m.
As stragglers make their way to the gates at
the end of the day, cleanup crews come in behind them. The din
of steam cleaners, pressure washers and vacuum cleaners
replaces the squeals of children, the music of stage shows and
the screams of thrill riders. The crews sweep and wash in
carefully orchestrated patterns that maximize efficiency while
staying out of view of departing patrons.
All the guests are gone by 1 a.m. Workers
hose concrete paths — even in the rain, Scott said — while
a window washer sprays cleaner and swirls his squeegee over a
window that already looks spotless. Main Street gets a
pressurized steam wash.
"We clean everything that guests see or
touch," Scott said.
Nearly 2,000 mechanics, custodians, and
groundskeepers toil under the moonlight, repairing, replacing
and sprucing up everything at the 85-acre Disneyland and its
55-acre neighbor, Disney's California Adventure.
The custodial staff uses 1,000 brooms each
year and goes through 3,000 mops and 500 dustpans. The park
stocks 26 million restroom hand towels annually, about two for
Disneyland uses a minimum of 5,000 gallons
of paint per year to keep attractions and buildings looking
The park's 200 horticulturalists start work
around 4 a.m. and examine every plant, shrub and tree in both
parks. "Anything that shows the slightest sign of fading
is replaced," Scott said during a recent midnight tour of
Disneyland. Last year, groundskeepers planted 1 million
annuals, an average of about
2,700 per day.
Each night, workers pluck trash, swab grime
and paint over scuffs on ride cars, which are all switched out
on a staggered schedule for refurbishing.
Disney has extended that single-minded focus
on maintaining a squeaky-clean home for Mickey Mouse across
its movie, TV and toy businesses.
Hanft points out that the term "Disneyfication"
has come to mean cleaned to the point of lifelessness, a
criticism that the company has endured for many years.
"Disney has so overcompensated on the
side of cleanliness that they present a world that is over orchestrated,
oversimplified, over scrubbed and hyper perfect," Hanft
said. "Their view of reality is largely white, blonde and
happy. It's sterilized perfection."
Irish hospitality and a bit of blarney will be
coming to Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort in the
form of Raglan Road, an authentic Irish pub and restaurant.
Scheduled to open in summer 2005, Raglan Road will feature the
very best of Irish food, flair, heritage and entertainment.
The Irish culture is known for its warmth, character and
hospitality, and the new Downtown Disney pub promises to
deliver an experience immersed in genuine Irish atmosphere --
from food and drink to music and entertainment.
Raglan Road will be warm and welcoming with one-of-a-kind
fixtures and furnishings -- all designed and built in Ireland
by Irish craftspeople. Additional décor items include Irish
antiques and bric-a-brac.
Traditional and contemporary Irish music, storytelling and
dance will help create a lively social ambience and the
friendly pub staff will bring Emerald Isle charm to Downtown
The restaurant's gastronomic delights will be the work of Chef
Kevin Dundon, one of Ireland's best-known chefs. He will
introduce a menu that blends traditional Irish fare and fresh
ingredients, all with a modern flair. Chef Dundon's credits
include cooking for celebrities and heads of state, overseeing
deluxe international hotel cuisine, opening a premiere hotel
and restaurant, and appearing in his own television series.
"We are thrilled to introduce an authentic Irish pub to
Downtown Disney," said Djuan Rivers, vice president of
Downtown Disney. "The superior level of quality, energy
and appeal that this new venue brings is a perfect compliment
to Downtown Disney's lineup of world-class retail, dining and
Raglan Road will be owned and operated by Great Irish Pubs
Florida, Inc., the Irish-owned company that previously created
Nine Fine Irishmen at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino
in Las Vegas.
"We are working extremely hard here in Ireland preparing
to deliver what we believe will be the very best expression of
Irish hospitality ever seen in the U.S.," said Paul
Nolan, one of the establishment's co-owners. "We are
extremely proud and excited to have the opportunity to bring a
real slice of Ireland to Downtown Disney."
Raglan Road will occupy the building that formerly housed The
Jazz Company. Pleasure Island club admission will not be
required for entrance to the pub.
Lucky will be leaving Animal Kingdom tomorrow with his
passport and heading off to be an opening day cast member at
Hong Kong Disneyland on September 12, 2005.
News has appointed a veteran British broadcast journalist as
its chief executive behind "Nightline," the news
show that faces changes later this year with anchorman Ted
James Goldston, who joined ABC News
in 2004, will replace Tom Bettag, who's departing with Koppel.
Goldston reportedly beat out a Washington-based producer, Sara
Just, who has been supervising some on-air prototypes of a new
"Nightline." She'll remain second in command.
ABC News is expected to revamp
"Nightline," which has lost viewership and influence
in recent years.
"It is a show with a rich and
vibrant heritage, and I'm very much looking forward to working
with everyone at `Nightline' to maintain and enhance its
reputation in the years ahead," Goldston said in a
Two days a week, when Koppel is off,
"Nightline" has been experimenting with a
multi-topic show, counter to its long tradition of usually
covering a single topic each night.
ABC has used several of its
correspondents as hosts on those nights, perhaps an on-screen
auditions: John Donvan, Chris Bury, George Stephanopoulos, Dan
Harris, Jake Tapper, Bob Woodruff, Chris Cuomo and Cynthia
Before joining ABC, Goldston was the
executive producer of Britain's most popular current affairs
program, "Tonight with Trevor McDonald," on ITV1. He
produced a series of documentaries, and presided over the
show's coverage of the Iraq war.
In his career, he's also produced the
BBC's "Newsnight," considered a descendent of
A day after producers
for and judges of the ABC summer hit "Dancing with the
Stars" defended "General Hosptial" star Kelly
Monaco's win amidst controversy, Stephen McPherson, the
network's entertainment president, announced that when the
show returns midseason it will be with an additional component
-- a results show.
Gone will be the convoluted process where
fans voting on the performance of the week before will be
combined with the judges' votes for the current week. Instead,
during each one-hour episode, the couples will compete with
two different dances. The judges will give their scores and
the phone lines will open.
Later that week, before the next competition
episode, a 30-minute results show will be aired, revealing
which couple received the lowest combined score and
eliminating them from the next round.
"We are so grateful for the fans' passion
for the show," McPherson says. "We heard their
frustrations loud and clear about the voting process, so we're
adding the results show, letting them have the fullest
Of course, none of this will keep daytime
fans from voting repeatedly for their favorite soap star
(should one be included)
Where: Walt Disney's
Wide World of Sports Complex, Lake Buena Vista. When: Friday
through Wednesday, Aug. 17. Two practices daily at 8:30 a.m.
and 2:45 p.m., through Aug. 10. Except Saturday, Aug. 6, no
afternoon practice. Following first preseason game Aug. 12 at
Tennessee, training camp resumes Sunday, Aug. 14, with
twice-daily workouts through Aug. 16 and concludes Wednesday,
Aug. 17, with an 8:30 a.m. session. Admission: All workouts
are free and open to the public.
As if trying to take down Survivor wasn't tough enough,
super-agent Sidney Bristow will have to carry out her mission
while in the family way.
Alias star Jennifer Garner's
pregnancy will be written into the upcoming season of the
Thursday night-bound spy series, an ABC executive said
"There are some very, very big
changes that take place very early on in the season,"
ABC Primetime Entertainment president Stephen McPherson told
a gathering of TV critics in Beverly Hills.
The biggest change: Bristow's expanding
waistline. On screen, the role of expectant father likely
will be played by Michael Vartan, Garner's real-life
ex-boyfriend and Bristow's on-again, off-again love
interest. Off screen, the role of expectant father is being
played by Ben Affleck, Garner's real-life husband as of
Production on the new season of Alias--its
fifth--is due to begin Friday. Garner is due to deliver her
and Affleck's coproduction as soon as November.
"We are going to embrace the fact
that she's pregnant," McPherson remarked.
That said, the network and producers are
also going to proceed with caution. The with-child Bristow,
seen parachuting in last May's season finale, will be
grounded. "Less bathing suits," "less
running," McPherson said, adding that the character
won't be put in "situations where she's endangering
herself and the baby."
And should the pregnant Bristow be viewed
as less desirable, at least by network execs, McPherson
promised new characters, including a younger female agent
who will serve as Bristow's protégée. "You'll be able
to get some of that sex appeal, if you will, in different
place," the exec said.
According to E! Online TV columnist
Kristin Veitch, the new sex appeal will be supplied by
Rachel Nichols, late of Fox's The Inside. Veitch is
also reporting that a "main, major, integral
character" will depart the series early in the season.
Long a cult and critical favorite, Alias
is coming off its most watched season ever. But insiders
have suspected that its fifth year would be its last.
Certainly, the move to Thursday nights at 8 p.m., opposite
CBS' Survivor, couldn't have inspired confidence.
From Joanie Loves Chachi to Fall Guy, ABC has
been sending veteran shows to die there for more than 20
years. The network's last scripted success in the 8 p.m.,
Thursday time slot: Mork & Mindy, back in 1978.
And when it hit, it was moved to Sundays. And when it was
ready to pass on, it was returned to, yes, Thursdays.
As a midseason launch of the 2004-05 TV
year, Alias aired in the Wednesday, 9-10 p.m. hour,
and benefited from its Lost lead in. But even then,
an average of 6 million viewers tuned out each week as
creator J.J. Abrams' castaway series ended, and Abrams' spy
While the baby-on-board story line might
sound like something destined to boost interest in the show,
history suggests otherwise. "Anytime you introduce a
baby--I don't care what the show is--the show is destined to
jump the shark," said Jon Hein, who knows such things.
He is the Jump the Shark author and Webmaster.
In Hein's parlance, jumping the shark is
the precise moment when a TV series runs its course. On his
site, JumpTheShark.com, babies have been blamed for
contributing to the artistic demises of Mad About You,
Murphy Brown, Family Ties and even The
Flintstones. At least those series, Hein said, are home
or work-based sitcoms, not globe-trotting, high-flying
action adventures, a la Alias.
"I don't know how they're going to
pull it off," Hein said of the show's addition plans.
"Unless the baby is either a super baby or the baby
from V, where you're not sure if it's an alien."
On the other hand, babies don't
necessarily kill ratings. Shows such as The Flintstones
and Family Ties ran for several seasons following
their blessed events.
As long as Syd steers clear of Cousin
Oliver, she just might make it.
Star Gets New 'Alias'
Rachel Nichols is moving from investigating serial killers for
the FBI to performing covert operations for the CIA.
Nichols, who currently stars in the FOX
series "The Inside," is joining ABC's
"Alias" for the coming season. She'll play a
character named Rachel Gibson, a technical analyst who works
for a black-ops division of the CIA.
Her casting should help take some of the
workload off series star Jennifer Garner, who's pregnant.
Garner's pregnancy -- she's expecting her first child with new
husband Ben Affleck -- will likely be written into the show,
but it also will likely mean a reduction in stunt work and
tight costumes for her.
ABC Entertainment chief Stephen McPherson told
TV critics earlier this week that Garner's Sydney Bristow
would be mentoring a new, younger agent this season that would
offer "sex appeal, if you will, in different
places." Nichols seems to fit that bill.
Nichols plays FBI Agent Rebecca Locke on
"The Inside," which likely won't be back after
scoring only meager ratings this summer. She's also appeared
in the remake of "The Amityville Horror" (with
former "Alias" regular Melissa George) and
"Dumb and Dumberer" and guest-starred on "Line
Filming has quietly
begun under a shroud of secrecy on ABC's ambitious miniseries
about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The project — which has never been
formally announced by ABC and will air no sooner than January
2006 — stars Harvey Keitel as John O'Neill, the FBI agent
who hunted Al Qaeda for years and was killed in the attacks
while working as head of security for the World Trade Center.
"We are trying to maintain as much
accuracy, integrity and be as sensitive as we can in
documenting an important series of historical events,"
producer Marc Platt told The Post.
The film focuses mostly on the events
leading up to the attacks, which don't appear on screen until
the very end, says Platt.
It is the first big Hollywood project to
deal with the attacks and is based on the best-selling
"9/11 Commission Report" with former N.J. Governor
and commission chairman Thomas Kean and other members of the
panel serving as consultants.
"For us, having talked to Thomas Kean
and the whole commission, we just felt it was a really
important thing to bring to air," ABC chief Stephen
McPherson told The Post yesterday at the TV critics press tour
Meanwhile, Keitel is just one of 180
characters in the project, says Platt.
"He [O'Neill] was an unbelievably
complex character. He really was a driven hero, and I don't
think a lot of people know what he was about," McPherson
says. "When you understand the journey he went through
over all those years, you understand who this person
At the moment, ABC officials are calling the
miniseries "Untitled Commission Report" and
producers refer to it as the "Untitled History
In a sad twist, the project began filming in
Toronto on July 7, the day of the London terrorist attacks.
Platt says some scenes will be filmed in New
York and Morocco. "That was simply because of production
logistics and costs," says Platt. "There was nothing
about us not wanting to be [filming] in New York City."
There are things that
you're not supposed to see down here. There's no reason for
you to witness how the sausage is made, nor how it gets
stuffed down our collective throats. At a certain point it all
gets tedious and nauseating -- sometimes dangerous or rude.
And when we celebrate it and dissect it, particularly later in
the Death March With Cocktails, there's a considerable amount
of fatigue, booze, bitterness and disillusionment involved.
You know when you're walking down the street
in the middle of the day to mail a letter or go to a CPA or
something, and out stumble two idiots from a bar, laughing
hysterically and falling down on the sidewalk in a clump?
That's us, 15 or so days into it.
There's a limit to kindness down here.
There's an end to the bull. At some point, an executive or a
publicist or the head of drama development is going to corner
you and say, "So, what did you think?" And the fact
is you've had this conversation before and you've lied. Or
maybe you hedged. But now, well, there are no more filters
left. So you say it -- out loud and proud: "It's
horrible. It absolutely gutted me."
Tact -- boy, there's a long-gone trait.
ABC's slot was near the end of the tour.
Most networks would rather not be in this part of the Death
March. We're cranky. We've been lied to. We've been
over-served. We're sick of one another, not to mention someone
at the network who's going to lie to us. But just to give you
a little insight into ABC, which has transformed itself (and
network television, in the process) -- it really wants to be
here. And why not? It's got a story to tell. And a good one --
proven hits including "Desperate Housewives,"
"Lost," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition." It even had a huge hit in the
summer called "Dancing With the Stars" (also known
as "that show with D-list celebrities who did some
ballroom dancing and that The Chronicle avoided like free
vials of the West Nile").
ABC is giddy. It thinks the Television
Critics Association press tour is fun. It wants four days
instead of two.
This is a big change. There was a time when
one of ABC's long line of embattled entertainment presidents
actually ran -- no, really, she ran -- down the corridor of a
hotel, with feisty New York reporters chasing her down. There
was a time when yours truly called for the beheading of not
one but two ABC executives. Boy, did that make for a cheery
reunion when we all met again.
There was a time, oh, five or so
entertainment presidents ago, when ABC actually had its act
together. But that middle part was a lot like Middle Earth in
"The Lord of the Rings": carnage everywhere. Now ABC
has pulled a lovely little Lazarus act and has good shows,
good management and good karma.
How weird now to experience ABC in what one
reporter called "a love fest. " Back then, a couple
of the since-deposed entertainment presidents actually low-fived
each other after successfully dodging repeated questions from
us. It was geeky, inappropriate and above all else, premature
jocularity, as Keith Olbermann used to say. They were excited
about rubbing their disdain in our faces. Ha. But they've all
been fired now.
The new regime at ABC? Good people. Nothing
much to get angry about. No need to chase them frantically
down halls. The mood here was good. Keen, really. There was
discussion about a group hug. We all formed a softball team.
We chanted "ABC!," the way they do "USA!"
at the Olympics.
OK, not really. But close. Other than people
going insane about "Dancing With the Stars,"
relatively new entertainment president Steve McPherson had a
pretty easy go of it. One year ago he came to us via satellite
during his honeymoon (this was after ABC fired pretty much
everybody else in the building), now he was in a chair talking
about building from strength (when not answering stupid,
stupid questions about "Dancing With the Stars,"
which is set to return sometime in midseason).
There was a time when we'd strangle ABC
executives with our bare hands if given a chance. Now we were
just using the room to recuperate from beating on NBC like a
cheap drum. Even Kevin Brockman, the head of all ABC
publicity, thanked us for the invite to our secretive and
super cool TCA Awards, where his network cleaned up for
"Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and
"Nightline." He'd never been to the event, he said,
laughing (because ABC never got anything other than a smack on
the head). But on Saturday, he had the biggest table and the
best seat. And, given that thing about killing ABC execs of
old, it was good to see him happy.
But enough about the past. Let's pretend, as
they say on the Death March With Cocktails, that we're
"going forward." Here then, is the ABC state-of-the-
Overview: You could make the argument that
coming off of two hits that changed the landscape of popular
television -- "Desperate Housewives" and
"Lost" -- ABC would be frantic to capitalize. Nope.
It was as if they took a huge hit off a bong load of
"cobweb" weed and had no cares in the world. Which
is fine. Even if their offices catch on fire next week, ABC is
Network leadership and tendencies: McPherson
has respect. Not just from the two hits but also from
consistently well-developed series in the ABC pipeline, which
he's had a guiding hand in.
What works for fall: Well, let's see. Geena
Davis as the first female president --
"Commander-in-Chief" -- is already better than
"The West Wing. " And there are some among our ranks
who consider "Invasion," one of those paranormal
shows, to have some merit. But, the fact is, midseason at ABC
is far better than fall.
What doesn't: The sitcoms
"Freddie" and "Hot Properties" are woeful.
The drama "Night Stalker" was a huge letdown, but
may get better.
What It Means For You: Not much. There's a
good fall lineup somewhere in this mess. But it's midseason
when ABC will shine. Until then, "Desperate" and
"Lost" are still alive. Just bide your time.
Extras: Moving "Lost" up an hour
to 9 p.m. Wednesdays creates one of the season's worst and
most complicated TiVo moments. "Lost" is a jewel,
but second place will be a gruesome pitch between CBS'
"Criminal Minds" and NBC's "E-Ring."
misses premiere in London
Lindsay Lohan did a U-turn and headed home, missing her own
premiere in London on Thursday, to fly back to her mother for
the start of her parents' divorce proceedings.
The teenager was meant to join her co-star Michael Keaton at
the premiere of the Disney film' Herbie: Fully Loaded,' about
the adventures of the Volkswagen "love bug" with a
mind of its own.
But the 19-year-old, who shot to fame in 1998 in the remake of
'The Parent Trap,' left London last night to join her mother
and siblings in New York.
Lohan visited Britain as part of a European tour promoting the
film, which would have travelled on to Germany tomorrow.
to exec produce ABC's 'Nightline'
Former BBC producer James Goldston has been
named executive producer of "Nightline" ahead of the
planned departure of Tom Bettag later this year. Goldston
joined ABC last year as senior producer of primetime specials
and investigative reports following a career in British
television. Most recently he was executive producer of ITV1's
"Tonight with Trevor McDonald" but has also been a
producer at "Newsnight," a BBC show that is a lot
like "Nightline." Thursday's announcement is aimed
at remaking "Nightline," which will lose not only
Bettag but host Ted Koppel by the end of the year.
"Nightline" recently marked its 25th anniversary but
ABC executives have been thinking of ways to gain more
viewers. Over the past year, ABC has done at least one unaired
pilot and recently began experimenting with multisegment shows
in the three nights that Koppel isn't on the air.
A 16-year-old diver nearly drowned after he
became entangled in a rope while doing underwater shore
restoration at a Walt Disney World hotel, authorities said.
Alan Kringel of Lake Park was in critical
condition early Thursday at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Kringel was working Tuesday on a barrier in
a lake behind the Walt Disney World Dolphin, according to an
Orange County Sheriff's Office report.
After Kringel's helmet surfaced, other
members of the Anchor Marine Environmental Services crew found
him tangled in a rope used for diving and pulled him into
their boat, the report said.
The teen wasn't breathing and had no pulse,
and he was flown by helicopter to the hospital, officials
Anchor Marine Environmental Services, a
Riviera Beach contractor, had been hired to perform shoreline
William Billard, the company's vice
president, said the federal Occupational Safety and Health
Administration was investigating.
Kringel was certified to scuba dive about
eight months ago, and he had been working for the company for
about six months, according to the sheriff's report.
Hotel spokeswoman Treva Marshall said
Kringel's age had not been disclosed before the shore
"Obviously, we were very surprised when
we found out the age of the young man," Marshall said.
Acting Financial Secretary Stephen Ip and
Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Frederick
Ma visited Hong Kong Disneyland today to inspect preparations
for the park's opening.
Disneyland Group Managing Director Don
Robinson briefed the officials, saying all necessary
arrangements are being made to ensure a smooth opening on
The group also saw the Penny's Bay Police
Post where a Joint Command Centre for the opening has been set
up to monitor crowd and traffic conditions and co-ordinate
contingency measures if necessary.
skaters confident about Beijing adventures
After the success of "The 100 Years of
Magic show" in China last year, Disney wants to test the
waters a little more this year.
For the first time ever, Disney On Ice
brings together three of its most popular animated hits—The
Jungle Book, Tarzan and The Lion King, which will be staged
from August 2nd to 7th at the Workers Gymnasium.
The director and leading actors from this
year's show "Jungle Adventures" met with Chinese
audience at a small-scale press conference in Beijing on
Director Melodee Clysdale says she combined
the three stories in one, using the story of Timon and Pumbaa.
They characters emerge at the beginning of
the show from the Jungle looking for a perfect place for their
The home they are looking for is a home with
no cares, no problems; a home without worries, a home with
They search through a series of jungles
looking for a home.
The story combines elements of the Jungle
Book, Tarzan and the Lion King in this show.
Leading actor Stephane Morel, who plays
Tarzan in the show, is a skater from the French National Team.
He is a former French Champion and began
skating when he was 19.
Asked why he chose to act Tarzan Stephane
"The reason we choose Tarzan and Jane
because we were physical capable. We were trained to learn
acrobatics. We are not afraid of heights and we want to learn
something new. We have very intense training of 8 hours a
The same question was put to Gene Siruno,
who plays Mowgli, a little boy and is raised up by a group of
Gene Siruno said he did not choose the role,
but the character chooses him.
"I think it's a nice way to stay young
and it is a nice way to stay happier."
At last, the director explained that the
settings for the show in Beijing are almost the same with in
Hangzhou and Shanghai last year except the sizes.
She promised that audiences will see an
innovative combination of world-class figure skating and
Scores as Disney wins too
It's no small potatoes! MyPreciousKid.com
won the "2005 Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award"
created by Jodie Lynn and stands right up there with one of
the major family fun players, Disney.com. Kay Green of Banks,
Oregon, founder of MyPreciousKid.com has created a Wearable ID
Safety Pack to keep kids safer at amusement parks and other
"This is amazing news and we are thrilled beyond words to
be an "Adding Wisdom Award" winner, just like
Disney.com. The best sites and products really are found on www.AddingWisdomAward.com
," says Kay Green, CEO/founder of www.MyPreciousKid.com
"MyPreciousKid.com is committed to helping families keep
their kids happy and safe while still being kids. Winning such
a comparable award for our Wearable ID Product gives a huge
boost to the company. We are honored to receive this
award," says Green.
Jodie Lynn, family columnist, CEO of www.ParentToParent.com
and author, Mommy-CEO says "I have worked with Kay of My
Precious Kid in previous years and have enjoyed getting to
know her and the importance of her ID items for kids. Her
passion for this heartfelt endeavor is incredible. In fact,
when a little girl was separated from her mom in one of the
largest malls in America last year, she was quickly reunited
when the security guard found one of Kay's ID bracelets on the
4-year-old. Need I say more?"
MyPreciousKid.com was founded by Kay Green in 2001 when she
needed an ID card for her newly adopted daughter and for her
home schooled children. Kay's own experience with her own
special needs child makes her mindful of the unique needs for
these incredible children. In the last 4 years Kay has created
16 products at the request of families concerned with keeping
their children safe. In the last two years she has added 34
products from the best child safe products on the market such
as a Child Locator, Shopping Cart Covers, Taggies, Allergy
Labels, and ID Bracelets. Kay Green and her husband, along
with their 4 children, live in rural Oregon.
MyPreciousKid.com offers free safety consultations to parents
who want to know the best safety products for their children.
Let Kay help you find the right safety solution for your
special child. Contact Kay at 503-324-7323.
About My Precious Kid
My Precious Kid is an Oregon based company providing Family
Safety Products in the USA, Canada and internationally.
The fun kicks off with the wacky but
classic crew in the House of Mouse at 8.30am
followed by Kim Possible (10am), Brandy & Mr
Whiskers (10.30am), Dave the Barbarian (11am)
and The Fox and the Hound (noon).
Also, discover the meaning of
brotherhood in Brother Bear at 7.30pm on the same
Venture into a perilous but touching
journey of courage, honour and self-discovery with young
warrior Kenai against the majestic splendour of the Great
Meanwhile, you can take part in the
Disney Channel Friendship Fiesta Contest and be in the
running to win two Disney Channel Hits CD for yourself and
your best pal.
All you have to do is send in a picture
of you and your best friend, complete with speech bubbles
for each of you. In 20 words, explain why one pair of
friends featured during the Sunday friendship programme
line-up has the best friendship ever.
Send your entry to Disney Channel
Friendship Fiesta Contest c/o Weber Shandwick Malaysia,
P.O. Box 10715, Pejabat Pos Besar, 50670 Kuala Lumpur.
You should include your name, IC and
telephone numbers, address, sex, age and e-mail address.
Closing date for entries is Aug 31.
McDonald's Corp. said Wednesday it has signed
a two-year, non-exclusive deal to promote DreamWorks Animation
SKG films beginning with the release of "Shrek 3" in
McDonald's previously said it wanted to try a
new approach to marketing partnerships when its exclusive
10-year deal with The Walt Disney Co. expires next year.
"Ten years is a very long time,"
said Larry Light, global chief marketing officer at McDonald's,
the world's largest fast food chain. "The world changes
more than once in 10 years. I don't anticipate that we'll be
making 10-year deals in the future with anybody."
The announcement was expected by Disney, which
has yet to say which fast food promotional partner it might work
with in the future.
After the deal with McDonald's expires,
"both companies will then have the flexibility to develop
projects on a non-exclusive basis," Disney said in a
Financial terms of the new agreement were not
released. It also ends DreamWorks' promotional arrangement with
The relationship between McDonald's and Disney
has been marked by several notable successes, including
"101 Dalmatians" and "Finding Nemo." But
there were also disappointments tied to Disney flops such as
"Atlantis: The Lost Empire" and "Treasure
The results were inconsistent in part because
promotions must be planned at least a year in advance - long
before it's known whether a film will succeed or fail.
The agreement will include promoting
DreamWorks films with toys in Happy Meals. But it will go beyond
typical marketing efforts to include pairing pitchman Ronald
McDonald with Shrek and other DreamWorks characters in ads.
It will be the first time McDonald's iconic
"chief happiness officer" has shared the spotlight
with non-McDonald's characters.
McDonald's said it was talking to Disney and
other firms about other possible marketing relationships but did
not say if it expects to promote Disney films after next year.
DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg
said he was not worried about McDonald's possibly working with
one of his competitors.
"We encourage them to," Katzenberg
said. "The stronger the brand is, the stronger their
relationship is with their consumer. It's good for both of
Analysts said the two-year deal makes better
sense for both parties than a longer-term agreement.
"You never know what market forces may be
at work on either the restaurant side or the film production
side," said David Miller, an analyst with Sander Morris
Miller said promotional deals with fast food
companies can help build advance awareness of movies, but no
amount of promotion can save a flop.
"The best publicity for movies is word of
mouth," he said. "It doesn't matter what kind of
little figurines you get in a Happy Meal. Ultimately the film
has to work."
Seeks 'Housewives' Viewers at Cleaners
ABC hopes to clean up in the ratings again
with an aggressive marketing campaign that revisits a
dry-cleaning promotion for the hit series "Desperate
Before the suburban satire debuted last year,
the network slapped an eye-catching phrase on dry cleaning bags:
"Everyone has a little dirty laundry."
This year, the bags will bear the slogan
"New season, new dirty laundry" and, in some cases, a
free "Desperate Housewives" shirt will be included,
ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said Tuesday.
"The marketing is a huge obsession of
mine and I think it's a huge obsession of the network,"
McPherson said in an appearance before the Television Critics
Association. "It's become an incredibly important part of
what we do and what our success is."
ABC ended a ratings slump last season, with
its viewership increasing by 12 percent overall and 17 percent
among the advertiser-favored age 18-to-49 demographic, according
to Nielsen Media Research.
"Desperate Housewives," which ended
the season as the fourth most-watched program, and another hit
newcomer, "Lost" (No. 14), were the engines that
helped drive the comeback. Both had received a big marketing
push from the network.
The news was gloomier for some of the
promotional have-nots. "Complete Savages," a sitcom
whose producers had lamented their relatively scanty marketing,
lagged in the ratings and wasn't renewed.
ABC again will pick and choose where to apply
its marketing might and how to best spotlight a series,
"I think you can expect more of the same,
to an extent," he said. "But we look at each of the
shows as a project unto itself. We come with fresh eyes and try
to attack it as if we've never done this before."
Asked for more details on the clothing
giveaway, McPherson declined to describe the kind of shirts, how
many would be distributed ("a fair amount," he said),
or in what areas of the country.
He was being close-mouthed, he said, because
marketing efforts have become so competitive in the wake of
ABC's success that "people are ripping the ideas off."
"Desperate Housewives" turned one
idea into an inside joke. In an example of art imitating life,
the "Desperate Housewives" episode that repeated
Sunday included a scene in which a character suggests using
dry-cleaning bags as part of an advertising campaign.
tests ordered on Disney fireworks
Hong Kong Disneyland faces one last
environmental challenge before Mickey, Goofy and Donald can
welcome the SAR and China to the Magic Kingdom in a burst of
pyrotechnics September 12.
The Environment Protection Department said
Wednesday it has ordered Disney to undertake an additional
monitoring program in August, following criticism over flaws in
its fireworks trial in May.
Disneyland's plans to stage pyrotechnic shows
each night in the skies above Penny's Bay have raised concerns
among residents at Discovery Bay and Peng Chau.
In a report submitted to the Advisory Council
on the Environment in 2000, Disney said fireworks would not
cause any significant environmental impact as confirmed by a
trial test it conducted in Orlando that year.
But the EPD asked the theme park to carry out
Disney held trial firework displays May 6 and
7 at the park's Penny's Bay location on Lantau, during which
five sampling locations were set up to monitor air quality with
respect to respirable suspended particulates, metals and other
harmful chemicals, including dioxins and sulfates.
The locations included three areas within the
theme park and two ``off-site'' areas on residential rooftops in
neighboring Peng Chau and Discovery Bay, both 2.7 kilometers
from the fireworks.
Although the Disney report insisted the
firework trial result showed that it had satisfied ``all
detection limits on all parameters,'' the ACE criticized it on
July 11, saying the trial fireworks displays on Lantau were
flawed as the data was based on only two days, when the ``winds
were mild,'' and also that one of the instruments used to test
suspended air particles failed on the trial day. In addition,
data collected on noise pollution had been interfered with by
ACE member Mei Ng criticized the Disney data,
saying it was ``very inconclusive,'' and said it should call off
the displays altogether.
In a statement released Wednesday, the
government said, ``Having considered the Advisory Council on the
Environment's concerns and views, the Environmental Protection
Department has required the Hong Kong international theme park
to enhance the monitoring program, particularly with regard to
the noise and respirable suspended particulates for firework
``The monitoring will be conducted in early
August with a view to submitting the results to the ACE for
consultation in mid-August.''
Meanwhile, Acting Financial Secretary Stephen
Ip, together with the Secretary for Financial Services and the
Treasury Frederick Ma and Acting Commissioner for Tourism Maisie
Cheng, paid a visit to the Disneyland site and the joint command
center at Penny's Bay Wednesday.
They were there to see for themselves the
preparation work for the opening of the theme park.
They were briefed by Hong Kong Disneyland
group managing director Don Robinson, who insisted that all
necessary arrangements were being made to ensure a smooth
opening September 12.
The group also inspected the Penny's Bay
Police Post where a joint command center for the opening of Hong
Kong Disneyland has been set up to monitor the crowds and
traffic in the area.
Paris rail problems
Monday, first day of a new week, early in the
morning, not a good day for the Horse-Drawn Streetcars in
Disneyland Resort Paris. During the first operating hours of the
day the Horse-Drawn Streetcars got a wrong turn when it passed
along Main Street U.S.A. After a loud metal squeak the Streetcar
came to a stop on the wrong side of the rails, just where they
split up into two ways, in the middle of Main Street. No
information is available at this time on how bad the damage is
but Cast Members did seem to determine some damage on the rails.
After the small accident Cast Members, with the help of the
horse, pulled the Streetcar back into the other direction.
Entertainment Lineup For Tom Joyner Family Reunion
With the addition of pop icon Lionel Richie,
urban soul songstress Jill Scott and R&B super-group New
Edition, The Tom Joyner Family Reunion at Walt Disney World
Resort has put together a dream lineup of hip-hop, R&B, pop
and Gospel music entertainment for Labor Day weekend.
Joining Richie, Scott and New Edition on the
marquee for the Sept. 1-4 event at Disney's Central Florida
vacation kingdom will be Grammy Award- winning performer
Ashanti, the legendary Shirley Caesar and the musical cast of
Scream Tour IV Festival. Hip-hop phenom Omarion and five more
Scream Tour heartthrobs -- Marques Houston, Bow Wow, Pretty
Ricky, Bobby Valentino and B5 -- will all be there.
But there's more: The weekend's entertainment
lineup also features Hammer, Morris Day and The Time, Dr. Bobby
Jones, Smokie Norful, Lil iRocc and C.O.C.O. Brown. Performances
are scheduled throughout the weekend, including the "Kodak
Presents The Tom Joyner Family Reunion at Disney-MGM Studios
Tom Joyner, host of the nation's No. 1
syndicated morning radio show, invites families from across the
country to join him and his radio "family" for an
unforgettable weekend filled with Disney theme park magic,
exclusive live concerts, comedy shows, seminars, the Family
Reunion Health Fair, the Southwest Airlines Sky Show and more.
"A trip to Walt Disney World Resort is
always an unforgettable event," said Xiomara Wiley,
director of multicultural marketing for Walt Disney World
Resort. "When you add the wonderful variety of
entertainment and activity of The Tom Joyner Family Reunion with
the exciting rides and shows in each of the four Walt Disney
World theme parks, it's a family experience that's sure to
create memories to last a lifetime."
In addition to being entertained exclusively
by these great musical artists and comedians and more to come,
guests to The Tom Joyner Family Reunion event also take part in
lively seminars and family-friendly workshops with Tom and the
Walt Disney World Resort is the perfect place
to host a family reunion, with something for guests of all ages
to enjoy...from thrilling new attractions such as "Lights,
Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" at Disney-MGM
Studios...to Soarin' at Epcot, an attraction where the dream of
free flight becomes a breathtaking reality...plus spectacular
fireworks, fantastic dining options and even spa treatments --
all of which make for a memorable experience. The Tom Joyner
Family Reunion weekend adds music, celebrity guests, educational
workshops and Tom's own special energy to the mix. Tom Joyner
will hold private parties at the theme parks and the host hotel
(Disney's Coronado Springs Resort), a silent auction, a Sunday
morning gospel worship extravaganza, family fitness workout
sessions with Donna Richardson, an art exhibit, Kids Night Out
For more information about the events and to
book specially priced packages, log onto http://www.blackamericaweb.com/
or call 1-888/TJ-FAMILY (888/853-2645) 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET
Monday-Friday, and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. A
family of four can purchase a package including hotel stay,
theme park tickets, admission to exclusive parties and other
special events, plus entrance to all of the seminars and
workshops, for as little as $160 per person, per day. (This
offer is based on a package for four people with a 4-day,
3-night stay at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.) Guests who
purchase a package can also take advantage of an innovative
service called Disney's Magical Express, which offers
complimentary airport shuttle and luggage delivery and -- on
participating airlines -- check-in at their hotel for domestic
The "Tom Joyner Morning Show" is
owned by REACH Media Inc., a Dallas-based media company founded
by Joyner in 2003. Helping Joyner keep America entertained and
informed each morning is the Tom Joyner morning crew: Sybil
Wilkes, Myra J., J. Anthony Brown and Ms. Dupree. Regular
segments on the show include "Thursday Morning Mom,"
"Real Fathers Real Men" and "Tips for the Single
Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista,
Fla., is a world-class entertainment and recreation center
featuring the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and
Disney's Animal Kingdom theme parks, two water adventure parks,
32 resort hotels (22 owned and operated by Walt Disney World);
99 holes of golf on six courses; full-service spas; Disney's
Wedding Pavilion; Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex; and
Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex.
For more information about Walt Disney World
Resort, guests may call 407/W-DISNEY or logon to http://disneyworld.com/
boy gets his Disney wish
He gave away
half his prize before he even received it - to a boy he had
He felt the boy needed it more.
Yesterday, Mr Yew Chia Ming, 21, Singapore
Polytechnic's top business student, received the Cathay Pacific
Entrepreneurship Award, comprising $1,000 cash and a return air
He was to have used the ticket to visit
Colombo to do tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka.
Instead, he gave the ticket to Rifa'i, a
9-year-old boy with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, a
It will be a ticket to Rifa'i's biggest dream.
He will be visiting Hong Kong Disneyland.
Mr Yew said: 'When I heard about him (about
two weeks ago), I thought about what would happen if I went on
the trip, and what would happen if I gave up the ticket.
'The choice was obvious - the trip would be
meaningful to me, but for him, it would make much more of a
difference in his life.'
So Mr Yew worked with Cathay Pacific to donate
the ticket to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the
wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, like Rifa'i.
Rifa'i is so weak he cannot stand and must use
a wheelchair. He suffers from a disease that wastes away his
But like many other children, he is not immune
to the magic of Disney.
MICKEY MOUSE FAN
The boy is quiet and shy, so his mum, Madam
Nooraini, 40, spoke to The New Paper on his behalf. She said:
'He always watches TV, and he likes the characters, especially
Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.'
Rifa'i chimed in: 'It's fun, great!'
From time to time, the boy would talk about
going to Disneyland. But his mum, a housewife, and his dad, Mr
Abdul Aziz, 40, a building technician, could not afford the trip
Now, thanks to Mr Yew's gift, and the support
of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rifa'i, his mum, dad, and two
younger siblings, look set to spend a week in Hong Kong's new
Disneyland in December.
Miss Olivia Wong, 38, Country Manager
(Singapore) for Cathay Pacific, said an economy return to Hong
Kong would cost over $500 (roughly as much as Mr Yew's Colombo
ticket would have) as it's the peak season.
Make-A-Wish will foot the bill for the rest of
the family out of donor contributions.
This will include four more plane tickets (at
a discounted rate from Cathay Pacific ), hotel rooms, allowances
and Disneyland tickets. The total cost is estimated to be about
$12,000 to $15,000.
Miss Haryati Mohamed, the foundation's
managing director, said they work with children aged 3 to 18,
who have a life-threatening condition.
She added: 'We want to bring these children
renewed strength, hope, and joy. We want to tell people that
'life-threatening' does not mean 'terminal'.
'The important part of a wish is that it is a
positive experience and is intended to help the child and family
forget about their situation for a short while and just enjoy
their time together.'
Miss Wong, from Cathay Pacific, heard about
Make-A-Wish from a friend. It was her idea to put Mr Yew in
touch with the foundation.
WHY THE AWARD
She said: 'The (Cathay Pacific
Entrepreneurship) award is given to a student who is doing well
academically, and also does social work.
'We wanted to give Chia Ming a chance to
demonstrate what the award is about - not just academic
performance, but also giving back to society.'
Mr Yew, a Malaysian, is currently pursuing a
commerce degree at the University of New South Wales. Yesterday,
at his polytechnic graduation ceremony, the Business IT graduate
met Rifa'i for the first time.
They chatted about Disneyland, and what the
boy planned to do there.
Mr Yew said: 'I've always heard about
organisations that fulfil wishes, but I've never had a chance to
do anything about it. So this is a really meaningful way for me
to end my three years in Singapore Poly.'
Airways Joins Disney's Magical Express Check-In Service
JetBlue Airways is the latest airline to join
Disney’s Magical Express Resort Airline Check-In service. This
new service helps remove the hassles and headaches of transfers
from the Walt Disney World Resort back to Orlando International
JetBlue Airways joins the following airlines
who participate in this exciting offering for your magical
- Delta Airlines (including Song)
- Continental Airlines
- American Airlines
- United Airlines (including Ted)
Coming to Disney DVD this October is Disney's timeless
classic, Tarzan. Wild with exotic adventure and laughs,
Disney’s TARZAN is a magnificent, animated adaptation of
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic story of the ape man. Raised
by a family of gorillas, including the loving Kala and the
wisecracking Terk, Tarzan develops all the instincts and
prowess of a jungle animal. But with the sudden appearance of
Tarzan’s own kind, including the beautiful Jane, two very
different worlds become one. Driven by five powerful songs
from pop superstar Phil Collins, including the Academy Award
winning “You’ll Be In My Heart” (Best Song, 1999),
Disney’s TARZAN delivers incredible adventure as well as
important reminders about acceptance and family.
Making advance dining reservations for your
next Walt Disney World vacation? Now it’s easier than
ever when you call (407) 939-3463 (407-WDW-DINE). That’s
because of a recent change that allows you to book advance
reservations for the first 10 days of your Walt Disney World
Previously, when calling 90 days in advance,
you could only book dining for the first day of your stay. Now
you can book up to 10 days worth of dining experiences at once
… without having to call back!
Advance reservations are strongly recommended
for Disney Dining and can be made up to 90 days before you
Polk County residents with disabilities have a
variety of employment opportunities, according to a survey
published recently in Careers & the disABLED magazine. The
Disney Co. ranked sixth among the top 50 U.S. companies with a
progressive environment for disabled people, according to a
survey of 1,000 magazine readers. Other companies with major
local presence offices on the list include Wal-Mart (8),
Verizon (12), Lockheed Martin (19), State Farm (35),
McDonald's (46) and Lowe's (47). The magazine circulates to
about 11,000 college guidance offices and business
Disney Insider - As it happens, some of the
makers of the best kids' music got their start working in the
grown-up world of alternative rock. According to John
Flansburgh, cofounder of alt-rock duo They Might Be Giants,
that's no accident. Together with partner John Linnell,
Flansburgh conceived the kid-friendly "Here Come the
ABCs," a catchy, comical romp through the alphabet that
comes in both CD and DVD formats. It is the premier offering
from Disney Sound, an offshoot of Walt Disney Records
specifically created for family-oriented projects.
"Our songs have often had a bit of humor
in the lyrics," notes Flansburgh. "Balancing those
ideas while creating a record that can hold the listener's
attention is probably the best training for someone who wants
to record songs for kids."
Like 2002's "No!," the group's first children's
album, "Here Come the ABCs" (which sports titles
like "Flying V," "I C U," and the
instantly memorable "E Eats Everything") pits bouncy
melodies against a hail of brassy guitars and sound effects,
resulting in a rare treat: a collection of clever songs that
make children happy without making adults cringe.
"We just figure that if we make it fun for
ourselves, it will work for kids, too," reasons
Flansburgh, whose band has penned the TV theme songs for
"Malcolm in the Middle" and "The Daily
Show." "Kids' recordings are often so streamlined
for acceptability's sake that they don't really work for
anybody, whereas real kids often like the pop songs they hear
on the radio more than any kids' records. We're just trying to
bridge that gap."
David Agnew, general manager of Buena Vista
Music Group and an ardent Giants fan, was executive producer
of the DVD. "It's nice to work with people who genuinely
like your music, and who give you a lot of creative
room," says Flansburgh. "It was very ambitious
making a full-length DVD, but John and I were really free to
do what we wanted."
Other possible Disney Sound projects include albums from the
likes of Devo, B-52's, and the Go-Gos. There might even be
another album from the Giants. "There's talk of us doing
a 'Here Come the 123s,'" adds Flansburgh, "but I'm
so terrible at math, I'm afraid I'll get something really
Hyperion, a global leader in Business
Performance Management (BPM) software, and IBM announced today
that the two companies will work together to deliver new
industry and technology solutions and services designed to
enhance value to CFO and CIO organizations. This relationship
will enable both companies to focus on joint solutions that
integrate Hyperion's financial applications and Business
Intelligence software with IBM's industry-leading
infrastructure software products and Business Consulting
Through the integrated partnership model
presented today, IBM will contribute an end-to-end world class
enterprise software infrastructure that leverages IBM's DB2
Information Management and WebSphere middleware technologies.
IBM will also provide a platform that encourages end-user
participation and supports collaborative innovation, modeling,
and integration of key business processes across
organizations. The second element of the model will be
provided by Hyperion, whose technology will deliver insight to
improve business performance across the enterprise. Hyperion
products will provide superior reporting flexibility for
internal controls and deliver transparency and greater
visibility into compliance risk exposures.
"Hyperion provides the front-end
Business Intelligence access and tools that leverage the power
of DB2 for warehouse systems and Business Intelligence
capabilities across the enterprise," said Karen Parish,
vice president, Business Intelligence Solutions for IBM
Software Group. "Working together, we will be able to
provide organizations with the deep visibility that provides
CFOs and CIOs with the information they need to optimize their
IBM Business Consulting Services (BCS) unit,
a global implementer of Hyperion solutions, will help clients
optimize business performance, enhance profit and create
growth by delivering comprehensive services and solutions. The
partnership will maximize the use of Hyperion solutions and
make it possible to more effectively deploy Business
Intelligence tools and solutions to the enterprise.
"By working more closely together,
Hyperion and IBM will offer clients flexible and more powerful
methods to optimize business performance," said Nancy
Thomas, partner in IBM's Business Consulting Services.
"Companies today need an integrated and expansive view of
all their business processes to address the increasing need
for compliance reporting and risk mitigation."
"With this collaborative model, IBM and
Hyperion have combined our depth of knowledge, experience and
technology to create integrated solutions for managing
business performance management and compliance issues,"
said John Kopcke, chief technology officer for Hyperion.
"Combining IBM's strength in key middleware technologies
with Hyperion's leadership in Business Intelligence tools and
financial applications will help our mutual customers achieve
greater visibility and superior performance."
banks on twists in returning hits for ratings
ABC, on track to post its first profit in
years, is counting on plot twists in "Lost" and
"Desperate Housewives" to keep viewers tuned in to
the two hits that have powered the network's rebound, ABC's
prime-time programming chief said on Tuesday.
The popular new castaway thriller
"Lost" will reveal a key secret to fans early this
fall, but the plot revelations on companion hit
"Desperate Housewives" will come more slowly, ABC
Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said.
Either way, McPherson said the twin pillars
of ABC's comeback in the ratings last season have helped
reinvigorate broadcast television, and he is confident both
shows will prove hard to copy by rivals.
"'Desperate' and 'Lost' are not shows
you can rip off," McPherson told TV critics gathered for
ABC's annual summer showcase for the upcoming season.
"You can do shows that are maybe influenced by those or
that appeal to the same audience, but I think it gets a little
risky when people are trying to imitate them."
The two series picked up a load of Emmy
Award nominations this month, and both garnered top prizes on
Saturday from the Television Critics Association.
The influence of both shows, especially
"Lost," is unmistakable this year as all the
networks, ABC included, prepare to launch new serialized
dramas built around high-concept, paranormal themes. And many
more are being pitched by producers for next season.
"'Lost' has really spurred this idea of
a big idea," McPherson said.
McPherson said that on this season's
premiere of "Lost" in September, viewers and the
show's cast of plane crash survivors will discover what lies
inside "the hatch" -- a mysterious portal on the
fictional island where they are marooned.
Near the end of the show's first season, the
castaways blew open the hatch to find a ladder leading down a
dark hole. "You will find out what's in the hatch, and
it's not something like, 'Oh, look, there's another
ladder,"' McPherson said.
However, viewers will have to wait a bit
longer to get answers to lingering questions on
"Desperate Housewives," the darkly comic tale of
suburban intrigue that ranked as TV's top-rated new show last
McPherson reasoned there were fewer loose
strands to tie up from last season's finale to
"Housewives" -- such as who fathered Eva Longoria's
baby -- than there were on "Lost."
The huge success of "Housewives,"
a show noted for its sexually charged story lines, emerges
amid a debate in U.S. political circles over the importance of
But McPherson said he saw little connection
between the nation's political mood and television.
"One's politics, and one's pure
fun," he said. "What people are going to watch on
television, what they're going to go see at the movies ... I
don't know that that really ties in necessarily directly to
Elsewhere on ABC's prime-time lineup,
returning espionage drama "Alias" will be undergo a
major overhaul to accommodate the real-life pregnancy of its
star, Jennifer Garner, newly married to film star Ben Affleck.
McPherson said producers and Garner decided
to "embrace" Garner's pregnancy, rather than try to
hide it or put the show on hiatus, by writing her impending
motherhood into the story.
Garner's participation in action sequences
will be toned down considerably, and the network hopes to
shift some of the show's "sex appeal" to a new
character -- a yet-to-be-cast secret agent who will be
introduced as Garner's protege.
ABC parent Walt Disney Co. expects to turn a
profit at ABC in the current fiscal year, which ends in
Carter: from Wonder Woman to Principal Powers
There's nothing like the memory of
"Wonder Woman's" tiara, bustier and knee-high red
boots to reduce a grown man to awkwardly embarrassing
behavior. Mike Mitchell admits to having a crush on Lynda
Carter, who he directed in the Disney family film "Sky
"There was a lot of hero worship going
on. I'm a big Wonder Woman fan. I think she has a restraining
order against me now 'cause I was directing her and stalking
her at the same time," he says. "In fact, if you see
her tell her I said, 'Hi' and 'Why hasn't she answered my
letters I'm sending her?'"
In Carter's first film role since 2001's
"Broken Lizard's Super Troopers," she plays
Principal Powers, the headmistress of a top-secret high school
for adolescent superheroes.
Writer Paul Hernandez reveals that the folks
at Disney who are friends with Carter were responsible for the
casting coup and enthuses, "You grew up watching her,
(someone) who was so strong and represented the girl side of
being tough, the first one of them (to do that)."
When Carter enters the interview room at the
Four Seasons Hotel, the tired journalists immediately perk up,
talking over each other in their excitement. Although the
actress takes the adulation in stride, she firmly credits the
iconic character, not herself, with the continued following.
"I figured this out very early on in
the Wonder Woman saga that she was striking a chord with
people," she says, looking elegant in a black turtleneck
and slacks, cream pinstriped blazer and jaunty pink sandals.
"And I love her too. I've never been afraid of embracing
her, and for some reason that surprises people."
Although it may seem odd to speak of Wonder
Woman as a real person, she also had a more personal impact on
Carter, beyond just launching her screen career.
"She really saved my life in so many
ways," reveals the actress. "I was happiest on the
set during that time in my life. I wasn't happy going home.
And so she really was a life saver."
"Sky High" centers on young Will
Stronghold (Michael Angarano), who's the offspring of the
world's most famed superheroes (Kurt Russell and Kelly
Preston). To his disappointment, Will doesn't seem to have any
powers, and is labeled a sidekick, doomed to take "hero
support" classes with his pals who are constantly picked
on by the more gifted kids.
Despite her iconic career and current
happiness, Carter sympathizes with the sidekicks, who are
relegated to second-class status at the school.
The former Miss USA recalls, "I was the
nerd. I was the big, tall girl (among) all the little shrimpy
boys. I only had three dates in high school, and it was the
same guy. He would ask me for every prom and that was the only
time he would ever ask me out."
Fast forward 30-odd years later, and it's
Carter's character who wields the power at Sky High and gives
a new meaning to the term "heavenly body."
"She is a comet. She chooses to also be
a principal of the high school," she explains. "When
she pulls herself out of this comet and into this principal
it's just like, 'Don't mess with me.' She's not going to take
any guff off of these little rat kids."
Imagine her surprise then, when she found
out that the dynamic character was initially conceived as a
frumpy old lady, complete with glasses, orthopedic shoes,
tweed suits and hair in a bun. Prior to the casting, Hernandez
admits that he envisioned quite a different actress for the
role. "In my head it was an older woman ... like Bea
Arthur or something."
After one look at the proposed wardrobe for
Principal Powers, Carter took matters into her own hands,
suggesting, "What do you think about the extreme
opposite? Stiletto heels, expensive great-looking suits that
are fit to perfection - a power suit. Let's just bomb her out.
Those kids are shaking in their boots when they see her
walking down the hallway."
After gaining the costume designer's
support, she won over Mitchell with her superhero debating
skills. "I said, 'She's the principal of this high
school. And, you cast me, not just somebody else - and she's a
comet, for God's sakes."
exec fires at attack of 'clones'
Copy ABC's hit series at your own peril.
That was the caveat issued Tuesday by
Stephen McPherson, president of entertainment at ABC, during
the network's opening session at the Television Critics Assn.
summer press tour.
Alluding to the handful of new sci-fi series
on the fall schedule, McPherson noted that the series that
helped rejuvenate ABC are unique.
"'Desperate Housewives' and 'Lost' are
not shows that you can rip off," he said. "I think
it would be a mistake to do those shows again."
With elements of fantasy in its story line,
"Lost" in particular has been cited as an influence
on first-year shows incorporating otherworldly occurrences
such as CBS' "Threshold" and NBC's
"Surface" (previously known as "Fathom").
McPherson credited "Lost" with helping broaden
"the palate of what's being pitched" with regard to
series ideas for ABC.
McPherson echoed his copycat concerns for
the unscripted realm, where he noted competitors are aping the
feel-good tone of its hit reality shows like "Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition." With even "American
Idol" now marketing itself in the mode of dream
fulfillment, McPherson wondered whether the saturation point
for kinder, gentler reality TV is near.
"At what point does that become
overkill because of the clones?" McPherson said.
Speaking to reporters after the session,
McPherson alluded to grievances he aired at last year's TCA
tour about allegations that Fox was copying ABC's reality-show
concepts. "I hope with (new network president) Peter
Liguori and Fox we're going to see a different approach,"
ABC's summer reality shows were a big
subject of discussion, particularly new hit "Dancing With
the Stars." Reporters grilled McPherson about how Kelly
Monaco, star of ABC's "General Hospital," managed to
win the contest.
"You can't underestimate the power of
the daytime audience, in terms of support," McPherson
said of Monaco's fan base. He noted that "Dancing"
is considering adding a separate episode devoted to results a
la "Idol" when the series returns midseason.
In a separate session devoted to
"Dancing," producers and judges denied Monaco's
affiliation to ABC influenced their vote. "Never once did
they (ABC) ever ask us about judging," said judge Len
Goodman. "I didn't even know that she was on ABC."
In addition, McPherson stood by another ABC
unscripted summer hit, "Brat Camp," when questioned
whether filming a therapeutic wilderness program for teenagers
amounted to exploitation. "We do in fact think they are
effective programs," he said.
ABC's success this summer also could impact
its scheduling strategy for midseason, particularly Mondays,
where the network had slated such new shows as "Emily's
Reasons Why Not" and "What About Brian" to
replace "Monday Night Football" in January.
"We now have a couple more assets
coming out of the summer, with alternative shows,"
McPherson said. "Those will play into how we move things
McPherson also reaffirmed his decision to
yank reality series "Welcome to the Neighborhood"
from the schedule just 10 days before it was scheduled to air
this month because of its potential violation of the Fair
The reversal came about, McPherson said,
because he had greenlighted the series on the basis of its
premiere only to find that later episodes were inconsistent
with the messages offered on tolerance. "The responsible
thing to do was not to air it," he said.
However, McPherson noted that ABC might edit
"Neighborhood" footage so that it would be suitable
for primetime. "We're still trying to figure out if
there's a way to air it in a different form," he said.
On the scripted side, McPherson indicated
that returning series "Alias" will figure out how to
write the real-life pregnancy of its star, Jennifer Garner,
into its story lines. "We're going to embrace the fact
that she's pregnant," said McPherson, who noted a new
character would be added to the series.
McPherson also dismissed concerns that J.J.
Abrams, executive producer of "Lost,"
"Alias" and "Brian," might be
overextending himself. Abrams is in Rome directing
"Mission: Impossible 3."
"We think he's surrounded himself with
the right players to get the shows done," McPherson said.
actress answer to criticized 'Dancing' outcome
Kelly Monaco knows there are television
viewers who aren't happy she won ABC TV's "Dancing With
the Stars" competition, but she isn't going to let it
"I do not hold anything personally. I'm
not going to go home and cry because someone did not like my
dancing," the actress from ABC's "General
Hospital" soap opera said Tuesday of a viewer backlash.
"I felt from the beginning this is fun
for me. ... If you don't like it, you don't like it. I
wouldn't be sitting here if the whole world hated what I
did," she told the Television Critics Association.
Monaco and the producers of the ABC series
were peppered with questions, with some reporters saying they
received complaints from viewers who were confused by the
voting process that relied on both the audience and judges.
Questions also were raised about possible
network favoritism for Monaco. The runner-up was John O'Hurley,
who played catalogue king J. Peterman on NBC's
Judge Len Goodman said the results weren't
influenced by the network.
"I never knew she was on ABC," he
said of Monaco.
Asked about reports that O'Hurley was upset
he didn't win, supervising producer Izzie Pick said only that
the actor was "obviously disappointed." Pick noted
how much time and effort O'Hurley and others put into training
Monaco received support from judge Carrie
Ann Inaba, who said she scored the actress' final dance a
"10" because "she did a great performance, she
showed us what she had."
O'Hurley, on the other hand, played it safe
with his routine, Inaba said.
The celebrity contest has found overwhelming
success in the United Kingdom, where it originated, as well as
in other countries including Australia, Poland and Denmark,
said Paul Telegdy, a BBC executive.
"It's a fun, satisfying show that
hasn't got a nasty bone in its body," he said.
"We're really enjoying the controversy but it baffles
The program proved to be an American hit as
well, ranking as the most popular summer series since the
first "Survivor" on CBS in 2000, according to
Nielsen Media Research.
It will be returning at midseason and
changes are under consideration, said Pick, who was vague on
Earlier Tuesday at the critics' meeting, ABC
Entertainment President Stephen McPherson was grilled about
Monaco's victory and viewer perceptions of possible ABC
"Do I understand it? I guess I
understand that people are going to have strong preferences. I
love that people are so wrapped up in the show," he said.
He suggested the possibility of a
"dance-off" between Monaco and O'Hurley. When a
reporter asked Monaco about it later, she replied: "Bring
it on. You want a dance-off, come on up here. I'll give you a
These teachers do not teach by the book.
One taught her students about her experience
of escaping the Cambodian minefields. Another brought in a
lion cub so her visually impaired pupils could feel the animal
through their other senses.
The teachers were among 45 people from
across the nation honored Tuesday night for finding creative
ways to inspire their charges.
Gathering at a Disneyland Hotel gala, each
won $10,000 or $5,000 for their schools. About 50,000 teachers
were nominated by their peers in May.
Only one teacher was named the 2005 Disney
Teacher of the Year and four others were named outstanding
teachers. They received an additional $15,000.
David Vixie, an eighth-grade humanities
teacher from Paradise, took the top award.
Carol Anne McGuire, a teacher of blind and
visually impaired pupils at Imperial Elementary School in
Anaheim Hills, was the only finalist from Orange County. She
recently was honored with two California State Media and
Multimedia Festival Awards during the Cal State Technology
Showcase for teaching her blind pupils how to make movies.
"The motto of my classroom is vision,
and it does not require sight," McGuire said during the
awards ceremony. "I still think that these kids have
taught me far more than I taught them."
Since 1989, the Walt Disney Co. has
contributed more than $25 million to teachers and schools. The
annual awards are part of DisneyHand, a worldwide outreach
Other teachers with Orange County ties have
been honored in the past:
Jason Unger, a graduate of Edison High
School of Huntington Beach, earned the Disney Teacher of the
Year Award in 2001. He was selected by the Teach for America
program to work at an inter-city school for two years and was
assigned to Dickinson Elementary School in Compton, where he
raised $35,000 to take his entire class to Washington, D.C.,
in June 2001.
Huong Tran Nguyen of Westminster and a Long
Beach Polytechnic High School teacher was selected by her
peers in 1994 as Walt Disney Co.'s most honored Teacher of the
Meg Elder was nominated in 2003. She started
Anaheim High School's dance program 16 years ago with only 15
students and the use of an empty classroom for one hour a day.
phones targeted at kids get angry reception
A group of child advocates, including the
singer Raffi, Harvard child psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint and
conservative political operative Phyllis Schlafly, sent
letters Tuesday asking both houses of Congress to investigate
the marketing and sale of mobile phones to children.
Protesting the new market niche of children
8-12 years old, the letter accused the telecommunications
industry of declaring "open season upon the children of
"The targeting of young children as the
next growth market for the telecom industry is one of the
worst ideas to appear in the American economy in a long
time," the letter states. "Despite the industry's
rhetoric, Disney and the telecommunications companies really
want to use children as conduits to their parents' wallets,
and marketers want another way to bypass parents and speak
directly to the nation's children" through telemarketing,
text message marketing and adver-games.
While kiddie cell phones are seen by some
consumers as potential safety devices that keep families
connected, the group wants Congress to investigate whether
adults other than parents could contact children by phone, and
whether individuals other than parents could track the
physical location of the child's phone. Their other concerns
included classroom disruptions, billing practices and health
concerns specific to children.
Firefly Mobile has signed up 100,000 users
under age 12 since March. Firefly phones connect with
parent-programmed phone numbers at the touch of one button.
The five-key pad includes "mom" and "dad"
icons. Walt Disney Co. and Sprint earlier this month announced
a deal to offer wireless service to 8- to 12-year-olds. Coming
soon: child-targeted phone service from Enfora for children as
young as 6, Global Positioning System through Wherify, a
Barbie brand mobile phone from Mattel and one from Hasbro
called "Chat Now."
The letter-writing campaign was organized by
Commercial Alert, a Portland, Ore.,-based nonprofit
organization. Letters were sent to members of the Senate and
House commerce committees.
Al Michaels will continue to call
play-by-play on Monday Night Football, when it shifts
from ABC to ESPN in the 2006 season, ESPN programming
executive Mark Shapiro announced Tuesday.
"He wasn't about to let Monday Night
Football get away," says Shapiro. "And we
weren't about to let him go."
Michaels will receive a new eight-year
contract as part of the arrangement.
NBC publicly had sought Michaels for its
Sunday night NFL game coverage, also starting in 2006, and NBC
Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol has suggested that Michaels was
being offered much more money to remain with Disney, which
owns ESPN and ABC. "I can't speak for him, but the only
issue was money," Ebersol said.
"To say that Michaels made the decision
based on perks or money you couldn't get elsewhere would be
spin from somebody finishing in second place," said
NBC hired John Madden last month to be its
game analyst for Sunday night games. Madden has another season
of Monday Night Football on ABC, whose current NFL deal
ends with the Super Bowl as ESPN inherits Monday games.
Bob Costas will host NBC's Sunday night NFL
studio show along with Cris Collinsworth.
Kong Disney to bring huge benefits
The opening of the highly-anticipated Hong
Kong Disneyland will foster the significant development of
tourist-related industries in the territory.
Lui Yui-dong, vice-chairman of K. Wah
International Holdings, said this yesterday at a public forum,
adding that the recent revaluation of the Chinese currency
will reinforce this positive momentum.
"After the Hong Kong Disneyland theme
park opens, there will be a notable resurgence of tourists in
the territory, benefiting many sectors including retail,
hotel, catering and travel industries," he told
In spite of an anticipated influx of
mainland and overseas tourists in the coming months, Lui said
the supply of hotel rooms in Hong Kong is sufficient to meet
the increased demand.
"The supply of hotel accommodation in
Hong Kong will be adequate to meet the needs of additional
tourists, and the prices might increase slightly in the latter
part of the year, as they have risen by about 10 per cent in
the first half of the year," he said.
But Lui said hotels under K. Wah
International will not raise hotel rental prices in the
"We will not raise accommodation
charges at this stage to keep prices attractive to
tourists," he said.
Government officials had stressed that Hong
Kong Disneyland's opening would be a "driving force for
tourism growth in Hong Kong".
They said that the whole economy will
continue to benefit tremendously from it.
The project has created 11,400 jobs during
its construction, while another 18,000 jobs are expected to be
created in phases by the park's opening.
In the first 40 years after its opening,
Hong Kong Disneyland is projected to bring about a huge
economic benefit of HK$148 billion to the territory as a
Girls of Summer have arrived
Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG), the
interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company,
announced today that Disney's Kim Possible 3: Team Possible
and Disney's That's So Raven 2: Supernatural Style are now
available at retail outlets nationwide. Exclusively for the
Game Boy® Advance, Kim Possible 3 and
That's So Raven 2 take players on interactive adventures with
their favorite stars of hit Disney Channel television shows
"Kim Possible" and "That's So Raven."
"Our Disney Channel handheld games are
some of the most successful franchises for tweens on the GBA,"
said Dana Long, director of kids marketing for Buena Vista
Games. "Just in time for summer, these games allow
players to take their favorite characters with them anywhere
they go for hours of game play fun."
Disney's Kim Possible 3: Team Possible
brings Kim Possible, everyone's favorite crime-fighting
cheerleader, back to the Game Boy Advance along with her
sidekick, Ron Stoppable. Players will have to master Kim's and
Ron's unique gadgets as the duo battles together to defeat
evil villains such as Monkey/Gorilla Fist; Señor
Senior, Jr.; Shego and the evil Dr. Drakken to save the world
from maniacal schemes. With expansive environments, unlockable
mini-games and both single- and multi-player modes, Disney's
Kim Possible 3: Team Possible immerses fans of the television
series into Kim's crime-fighting life in a new, action-packed
In Disney's That's So Raven 2: Supernatural
Style, Raven faces some wacky predicaments on her way to the
season's most important fashion show. Players must help Raven
make it in time to strut her stuff on the catwalk while
playing through hilarious escapades in six different
environments. From the mall to the zoo and even to a science
fiction convention, players will use Raven's psychic
premonitions and help from Chelsea, Devon, Eddie, Cory and Dad
to get Raven to the show on time in classic Raven style.
Developed by Artificial Mind and Movement
(A2M) and published by Disney Interactive, a publishing label
of Buena Vista Games, Disney's Kim Possible 3: Team Possible
and Disney's That's So Raven 2: Supernatural Style are rated
"E" for Everyone by the Entertainment Software
Rating Board (ESRB) and each carry a suggested retail price of
About Buena Vista Games
Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG) is the
interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company. BVG
publishes, markets and distributes a broad portfolio of
multi-platform video games and interactive entertainment
worldwide. The company also licenses properties and works
directly with third-party interactive game publishers to bring
products for all ages to market. For more information, please
log on to http://www.buenavistagames.com/.
Disney World safe?
Over the weekend, Disney's (NYSE: DIS)
flagship theme park resort in Florida was dealt another blow
when a medical report detailed the case of an April fatality
on the Dinosaur thrill ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The
ride was cleared in the mishap; the 30-year-old passenger had
an unfortunate medical history and was wearing a pacemaker.
But the press picked up on the story, adding to the bad
publicity Disney has garnered lately.
This is the kind of story that would
normally scoot below the radar. In fact, it almost did. If it
were not for the reports coming out of the Bureau of Fair
Rides and Exhibitions and the Orange County Medical Examiner's
Office, the media would have probably not even have known
that it happened.
But it did happen. And journalists love to
rubberneck when covering the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on
Grim, grinning media comes out to scandalize
For some recent guests at Disney's Florida parks, it has
been anything but that. Earlier this month, a teenaged girl
suffered a stroke after riding Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
and remains in critical condition. In an even more horrific
accident, a four-year-old boy died in June after riding
EPCOT's Mission: Space attraction. Tack on the case of a
77-year-old woman with medical complications who passed away
while riding the rather tame Pirates of the Caribbean ride at
Florida's Magic Kingdom back in February, and Disney seems
Is Disney too daring for your next family
vacation? Of course not. I've been to the Florida parks more
than a hundred times since the 1970s. Beyond once gashing a
thumbnail when I was 10 while going down a slide at the
now-defunct River Country water park, I can't say that I'm any
worse for the wear.
That certainly isn't meant to belittle the
fatalities or the families who have suffered. It's terrible.
It's incomprehensible. There's no doubt about that. However,
two of the three deaths were apparently the result of bad
timing as the guests came packing plenty of medical history
According to Amusement Business, Disney's
four Florida parks combined for 40.7 million guests in
attendance last year. The law of averages states that a few folks
will pass away while on vacation. I've been on cruise ships
where guests bid bon voyage and it never makes the printed
page. Disney, on any given day, is probably a much safer place
to be than, say, driving or walking around. The problem is
that the press couldn't care less about the guests who expire
while dozing in their guest rooms or on their way to catch a
plane to Orlando. It just doesn't make the headlines sing the
way an on-ride casualty does.
Stores Nationwide Gear up for Back-to-School
Disney Store Offers
One-Stop Shopping Experience for "Must-Have" Apparel
and School Supplies, Including Denim, Backpacks and Lunch
Kids can go back to school in authentic
Disney style - with everything from fleece ponchos and sateen
skorts for girls, to varsity jackets and wind pants for boys -
all in mix & match separates featuring the latest fabrics
and trend-setting designs from Disney Store. Available only at
Disney Store in malls and shopping centers nationwide, the
2005 back-to-school collection offers a variety of
character-themed, head-to-toe ensembles for kids sizes 2-12.
"Disney Store is the only place to get
authentic, high quality, character-themed Disney apparel and
supplies for back-to-school," said Mario Ciampi,
President of Disney Store. "Our goal is to offer families
a magical, fun, one-stop shopping experience, and our mix and
match separates make it easy. Kids can go back to school with
comfort and style, accompanied by their favorite Disney
Disney characters are especially comforting
to children starting a new school year - particularly those
beginning school for the first time. Over the years, parents
have come to trust the reliability and durability of Disney
Store apparel and accessories, and this year parents will
appreciate even more the quality and value of authentic Disney
Back-To-School Supplies And Accessories
Disney Store backpacks ($SRP 14.50) and
lunch totes ($SRP 9.50) feature characters from The
Incredibles and Power Rangers for boys and Disney Princesses
and JoJo's Circus for girls. Disney Store back-to-school
accessories are popular with kids because they're fun,
colorful and functional.
Back-To-School Fashions For Girls
For girls, Tinkerbell, Disney Princesses,
Minnie, Daisy and Pooh inspire ensembles of trend-setting
separates, including five-pocket, pre-washed jeans in
sapphire, topaz or sparkly denim ($SRP 18.50). Little
princesses can complete their outfits with sophisticated,
character-themed coordinates like rhinestone tees ($SRP
14.50), stretch jersey blouses with ruffles and bows ($SRP
12.50), sweet Mary Jane shoes ($SRP 14.50) or multi-colored
baseball caps ($SRP 7.50).
Back-To-School Fashions For Boys
For boys, coordinated ensembles and denim
staples inspired by Buzz Lightyear, Power Rangers, The
Incredibles, Nemo and Mickey make dressing for school fun. Mix
& match separates include five-pocket carpenter jeans in
Mainstreet (antique) and Frontier (dirty) washes ($SRP 18.50).
Paired with football jerseys ($SRP 14.50) or long-sleeved
rugby tees ($SRP 16.50), boys can go back to school in
colorful Disney style. The assortment also includes velcro
athletic shoes ($SRP 14.50), baseball caps ($SRP 7.50) and
outerwear ($SRP 19.50) to complete the look.
About Disney Store North America
Disney Store originated the themed retail
environment when it opened its first store in Glendale,
California in 1987. Disney Store currently operates over 300
locations in the United States and Canada that offer immediate
access to magical Disney products. Disney Store is operated by
a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Children's Place Retail
Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCE), a leading specialty retailer of
apparel and accessories for children.
Channel Worldwide Appoints New VP
Disney Channel Worldwide has promoted Sean
Cocchia to VP of business development.
In addition to overseeing the business
planning and development for Disney Channel Worldwide, Cocchia
will work with other departments and divisions across The Walt
Disney Company on the formulation of new opportunities and
growth strategies for the kids television business. He will
report to Rich Ross, the president of Disney Channel
"Sean's expertise and experience, as
well as his in-depth knowledge of the Disney organization,
make him the perfect person to lead our business development
efforts," said Ross. "He has done an exceptional job
over the past five years to extend our Disney Channel and
Jetix businesses by formulating and implementing a variety of
Cocchia joined The Walt Disney Company in
July 1998 as a senior analyst in the strategic planning
division. Most recently he served as executive director of
business management for Disney Channel U.S
Advocates Diss Disney’s MouseKaPhone
A long list of consumer and children’s
advocates, in a drive orchestrated by nonprofit Commercial
Alert, sent a warning to Congress that the targeting of
children as cellular consumers essentially declares “open
season” on the nation’s kids. In a letter to all members
of the Senate and the House, Commercial Alert urged
legislators to “pause, investigate and consider”
legislation to protect children from cellphone abuses.
Citing the recently announced deal between
the Walt Disney Company and Sprint to sell wireless service
under the Disney brand (TelecomWeb news break, July
7), Commercial Alert wrote, “If the Disney Corporation and
the others just wanted to give children a way to contact
parents in emergencies, that would be one thing. But despite
the industry’s rhetoric, Disney and the telecommunications
companies really want to use children as conduits to their
parents’ wallets. And marketers want another way to bypass
parents and speak directly to the nation’s children.”
In addition to citing Disney’s plan –
the MouseKaPhone, or whatever they’re going to call it –
Commercial Alert listed a string of other plans aimed at
signing up youthful cellphone users, from Mattel’s planned
Barbie Phones to Hasbro’s soon-to-be-launched “Chat
The letter goes on to warn of everything
from classrooms being disrupted by ringing cellphones to
sexual predators tracking down children via those phones.
One children’s service planned for launch this year, the
group notes, includes phones with built-in global
positioning system (GPS) circuitry. That’s supposed to
allow parents to track their kids. Commercial Alert is
looking for legislation to help ensure that service
providers make it impossible for unauthorized people to
likewise find those children.
The group also warns of advertising sent
via cellphones – by voice, text messaging or what
Commercial Alert called “adver-games.” “Children
already are bombarded with too much advertising. They
don’t need more advertising through their mobile
phones,” the group wrote.
“The move to put mobile phones into the
hands of children as young as six years old is not a
decision to take lightly,” the letter continues. “It
opens up a plethora of problems, not just for the children
with the phones but for schools, churches, families and
classmates as well.”
While Commercial Alert – an organization
whose avowed goals include an effort to “stop the
commercial assault that is corrupting our culture, health,
education and government” – is clear that it wrote the
letter, it says the signatories include a page-long list of
individuals heading what’s almost a “who’s who” of
consumer and child-rights advocacy groups as well as
individual signatories, starting with former FCC
Commissioner Nicholas Johnson, who served during the Johnson
and Nixon administrations.
teacher finalist for Disney's teacher of the year
A Boise teacher is visiting the happiest
place on earth this week as a finalist for Disney's teacher
of the year award.
Wanda Jennings teaches first grade at
Jefferson Elementary School and was chosen out of 50,000 to
be in the top 45 invited to Disneyland this week.
Tonight a special gala will be held where
the top five teachers will be announced.
This morning Mrs. Jennings paid a visit
via satellite to our morning show with Maggie and Ryan who
asked the most important question at Disneyland.
“Are you going on all of the rides?”
asked NewsChannel 7.
“I've been on a few,” said Jennings.
“Come on, you've got to tell us about
the rides,” inquired NewsChannel 7.
“Mostly they're keeping us busy with,
we're meeting all of the other people and we've got to hear
all the other teachers tell how they're good and what
things, creative things, they're doing in their classrooms.
So it's been a really awesome experience,” said Jennings.
Tonight Mrs. Jennings will find out if she
is one of four honorees chosen as outstanding teachers, or
even the one chosen as the 2005 Disney teacher of the year!
And already because she was chosen in the
top 45, Mrs. Jennings received $10,000, the trip to
Disneyland with her husband, $5,000 for Jefferson
Elementary, and a six-day professional development institute
with her principal.
Going To Disney World
This week's trip to Disney World for
Boilermakers Christy Riggle and Jill Sarbaugh will resemble
anything but a vacation.
Instead of visiting the Magic Kingdom or
traversing through EPCOT, the sophomore teammates will be
playing for the US Youth Soccer National Championship with
their U-19 Carmel (Ind.) United Commotion club team. The
championship tournament starts Wednesday at Disney's Wide
World of Sports Complex.
The Carmel United Commotion earned its spot
in the four-game, four-team tournament after defeating
Gladiator United (Nebraska), 1-0, and Sockers FC Chicago, 5-0,
during last week's Regional Championships in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Sarbaugh's goal in the 83rd minute against
Sockers FC Chicago was one of four goals scored by United
Commotion during the final 12 minutes of the match.
Despite the offensive fireworks against FC
Chicago, Sarbaugh maintains they're a well-balanced all-around
"I don't think we're stronger
offensively, than we are defensively," said Sarbaugh.
"We haven't scored a lot of goals, but there is
definitely enough talent on both sides of the field to help us
The Carmel franchise has reached the
national championships twice in the last two seasons,
finishing as the runner-up to an Arizona club in 2003. Riggle
believes the experience could give them the advantage.
"I think we have an advantage over the
other teams, because this is the second time we've been here
in three years," said Riggle. "We're all excited,
but we know what to expect, and we can calm down and just
Meeting the United Commotion in Orlando are
Colorado Rush Nike, Dallas Texans Red and Stars of
Massachusetts. The four teams play matches Wednesday through
Friday in a round-robin style tournament. Teams earn three
points for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a
loss. The two teams with the most points at the conclusion of
Friday's play will advance to play in the National
Championship on Sunday, July 31 at 12:15 p.m.
"The match against Colorado is going to be really
emotional, since they were the team we were going to play when
we had our accident," said Sarbaugh, referring to last
summer's crash that injured four teammates. "They're a
real good team, as is Dallas, who has a real physical prescene."
"We consider Colorado our sister
team," said Riggle. "They took good care of us after
the accident, provding cars and food while we were out
Carmel United first plays Dallas Wednesday
at 7 p.m., then battles Colorado Thursday at 11:30 a.m. and
finishes with Massachusetts for a 7:30 a.m. match on Friday.
"I see a lot of similarities between my
club team and the Boilermakers," said Riggle. "Both
teams are loaded with dedicated and passionate athletes, but
big difference is that I've been playing with the girls on
this club team for eight years, and the girls at Purdue for
only two. Once we have more experience playing with each other
at Purdue, our success rate will match my club's."
& Walt Disney launch Tee collection
Giordano International Limited is a leading international
apparel retailer has joined hand with Walt Disney Company to
unveil the first collection of apparel produced under a
region-wide product license agreement between the two
companies. The collaboration, which involves the design and
development of a new “Disney brought to you by Giordano”
Tee Collection, marks the first licensing agreement that
Giordano has entered into with another brand.
Pursuant to the agreement, Walt Disney has granted Giordano
the license to design, manufacture and market adult and
children’s T-shirts and sweatshirts featuring Disney
characters. This is a special license because it includes the
full range of Disney characters and covers the entire Asia
Pacific region. Detailed terms of the agreement are not
The “Disney brought to you by Giordano” Tee Collection
covers the entire portfolio of Disney characters including
Standard Characters like Mickey and Minnie, Winnie the Pooh,
Disney Princesses like Snow White and Cinderella, Classic
Characters like Bambi and Peter Pan, and Movie characters like
Finding Nemo and The Incredibles and comprises T-shirts and
sweatshirts for the whole family.
The collection has just been launched in Hong Kong, to be
followed by China next week. Taiwan and Southeast Asia will
follow in early August, then Korea and Australia in September.
In order to keep the program fresh and exciting for consumers,
Giordano will roll out new prints and designs every four
'Housewives' release season details
Viewer alert: Major revelations are coming
soon. Television's two most-talked-about series, ABC's Lost
and Desperate Housewives, quickly plan to answer questions
raised by their cliffhangers last season.Susan finds out the truth about Mike's
relationship to Zach.
On Desperate Housewives, the first episode will open by
showing what happens when plumber Mike (James Denton) goes
into the house where agitated teen Zach (Cody Kasch) is
holding Susan (Teri Hatcher) hostage, series creator Marc
Lost will plunge into the mysterious hatch in its first
episode, series co-creator Damon Lindelof says.
"You will see everything that's in there. What is in
there will change everything about how they live on the
island," Lindelof says. "We are erring on the side
of giving away too much as opposed to being too vague."
The producers are meeting the nation's TV critics to collect
awards. The Television Critics Association honors Desperate
Housewives as program of the year. Lost earns prizes as best
new program and top drama. Both series are likely to start
their second seasons in mid-September.
The hatch looms as the main topic on Lost, and producers plan
a bold revelation.
"I can guarantee you there will be people [viewers] who
do not like what they find in the hatch," Lindelof says.
"We found this door in the 10th episode of the show, and
13 episodes later they finally open it up. So what's inside
has to be something big."
Although the contents can be construed as science fiction,
Lindelof rules out a few possibilities.
"There aren't aliens in there," he says. "There
isn't a time-travel portal. They aren't going to find a ship
they blast off into space." The ill-fated voyage of the
raft forms another major plot. A band of vicious strangers set
the craft afire and seized the boy Walt (Malcolm David
Kelley). Three other castaways -- Michael (Harold Perrineau),
Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) -- were left
struggling for survival in the ocean.
"If they will reconvene with the main group becomes the
story fodder of the first seven or eight episodes,"
The show will continue to examine characters' lives through
flashbacks before the plane crash put them on a remote island.
Those plots will include more on the marriage of Jack (Matthew
Fox); the injury that put Locke (Terry O'Quinn) in a
wheelchair; the rock-star existence of Charlie (Dominic
Monaghan); the fugitive past of Kate (Evangeline Lilly); and
the lottery lifestyle of Hurley (Jorge Garcia).
Michelle Rodriguez joins the cast as a passenger who was in
the tail section and who survived elsewhere on the island. The
recurring numbers -- on the flight, hatch and lottery ticket
-- will become "the driving and fundamental plot point of
the second season," Lindelof says. Viewers will know how
the plane crashed by season two's end, he promises.
But Lindelof stresses the people are the main element.
"The island just serves as a conduit to tell character
stories," he says. "No one is really watching the
show for the answers to those mysteries. They're watching to
see: Will Kate and Jack hook up?"
Desperate Housewives creator Cherry clears up a lingering
mystery: Rex (Steven Culp), husband of Bree (Marcia Cross), is
"There was a scene in the finale which made it really,
really clear," he says. "Because we were long, I cut
it. I thought the phone call [from the doctor to Bree] did it.
I did not mean to confuse the fans in any way."
Alfre Woodard, who's a new regular, plays a housewife with a
dark secret. "Her character was a concert pianist,"
Cherry says. "She's going to be involved in something
pretty gothic on the show -- pretty dark and spooky."
Cherry previews what's ahead for the other wives:
Lynette (Felicity Huffman) joins the work
force in a surprising way. Joely Fisher will play one of her
Pregnant Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) has to
convince Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) that the baby is
his, and finds a way to do it.
Bree has a battle royale with her
mother-in-law (Shirley Knight) over Rex's funeral.
Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) will begin a
romantic relationship in the second episode that frustrates
Cherry dismissed speculation, fueled by a Vanity Fair
article, that the actresses are not getting along. He notes
that Huffman attends the critics' party, although she wasn't
a nominee for comedy achievement. Hatcher and Cross, who
were nominees, do not show up. They lose to Jon Stewart of
The Daily Show.
"Everyone's really lovely," Cherry says.
"We're people going, 'Glad we have a job.' With the
exception of Eva, most of us kind of had passed our prime a
little bit, in terms of how the industry can look at you. So
I think we're all grateful we caught the second wave. If
you're a comedy writer or an actress, when you hit 40, you
start to get nervous. We have a lot in common, those two
signs on as 'Housewives' regular
Richard Burgi ("Point Pleasant")
has signed on to become a series regular on the upcoming
season of "Desperate Housewives," Variety reports.
Burgi appeared in three episodes last
season as Teri Hatcher's philandering ex-husband Karl Mayer.
His character is set to shake things up on
Wisteria Lane when he becomes romantically involved with
Edie Britt, played by Nicollette Sheridan.
Burgi's film credits include Jim Carrey's
"Fun With Dick and Jane" and the Curtis
Hanson-directed "In Her Eyes."
Australia's film industry has been dealt a
blow with the decision by US entertainment giant Walt Disney
Co to close its animation production studio in Sydney.
The closure of DisneyToon Studios Australia
(DTSA) in mid-2006 will cost about 250 jobs, the company said.
"It is with regret that DisneyToon
Studios has decided to close their animation production
facility in Sydney in mid-2006," the company said in a
"This closure is a business decision
due in large part to the changing creative climate and
economic environment in which DisneyToon Studios requires more
flexibility to choose the most appropriate and efficient
The demise of the Australian studio follows
Disney's closure of other international facilities in recent
DisneyToon staff were told of the decision
yesterday when all employees were briefed by general manager
"They just told us they wanted to
finish up (films) Brother Bear and Cinderella III
and the studio would shut down after that project," said
a staff member who asked not to be named.
"They said primarily that they just
can't guarantee getting enough constant work coming through to
us here so that decision was made to close the studio.
"I think most people knew it was going
to happen. You hear a few rumours.
"We are not covered by a union at all.
They did hand us out some forms and are giving us a redundancy
payout, which I think is pretty standard."
The DTSA began operations in Australia in
1988, taking over the old Hanna Barbera studios in Sydney's St
Since then, the studio has grown rapidly and
moved to the city with offices in Castlereagh Street in
DTSA started working mostly on television
cartoons, such as Winnie the Pooh, Darkwing Duck, Goof
Troop, Aladdin, Timon and Pumbaa, and Duck Daze.
However, as technologies advanced and
Australian animation staff became more skilled, the studio
began working on higher profile projects.
Its first feature film was the 1994 sequel
to Aladdin, entitled The Return of Jafar,
released direct to DVD.
Other films included the sequel to The
Lion King, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, An Extremely Goofy
Movie and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure.
In 2002, the DTSA produced its first
theatrical release feature, Return to Neverland, the sequel to
the 1953 Disney classic Peter Pan.
That film grossed more than $100 million at
the worldwide box office.
In recent years, DisneyToon's US parent
company closed all its overseas operations bar Australia and a
small office in the Philippines.
In March last year, DisneyToon said
"virtually all" of Walt Disney Co's hand-drawn
animation was being produced in Sydney.
"The studio thought it was better to
boil it down to what the audience would accept and Sydney
being so good still remained," senior Disney animator
Andreas Deja said earlier this year.
This year, DisneyToon Studio has produced
animated movies Tarzan 2, Lilo and Stitch 2 and Bambi
"The many gifted and talented artists
on the Australian team have made a tremendous contribution to
Disney's animation endeavours," DisneyToon said in
Disney said it would continue to employ 270
Australians around the country in other divisions.
Carson woman took chance on Disney
A half century ago, 84-year-old Janice Ayres
of Carson City took a chance on a job with Disney Enterprises
as the first marketing director for an amusement park being
developed in Southern California.
As Disneyland celebrates its 50th
anniversary this year, Ayres said she didn’t understand then
how the Anaheim project would be a booming success. Ayres, who
worked for the company for five years beginning in late 1954,
also said she remembered Walt Disney’s unpretentious nature,
her dislike for rides and how the work environment became less
fun as the business grew.
“Overall, it was an experience I’ll
always treasure,” Ayres said. “Although I was skeptical in
the beginning, I was fortunate to be in on the ground floor
with something that made history.”
Ayres, executive director of the Nevada
Rural Counties Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and a
former Carson City supervisor, plans to discuss her
experiences next month at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
“I was looking for a marketing job and
decided to give it a try,” Ayres said of interviewing with
She and her husband owned the Chevrolet
dealership in Long Beach, and Ayres said she had done regional
marketing for the American Heart Association. With degrees in
business administration and mass communications from the
University of Southern California, she managed an interview.
“The personnel director told me Walt
Disney was a visionary. But I just couldn’t see it,” Ayres
said. “At the time, people went to the beach in their
leisure time. I really couldn’t understand why people would
go to an amusement park in Anaheim.”
When she went to the site in Anaheim, she
said it was covered with rabbit trails.
“But if this was really going to be as big
as some people thought, I felt I was lucky to get the job,”
Soon it became evident that the press wanted
to tell the Disneyland story, she said.
When the park started she said all there was
to it were some houses in an orange grove and a horse barn.
Work had begun on the railroad — a special Disney interest
and park focal point — and rides were under development in
preparation for a July 17, 1955, opening.
She said her first meeting with Walt Disney
was far from what she expected.
“I was talking on the phone and suddenly
someone started hammering on the building,” Ayres said. “I
yelled, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing out
She said she went outside and discovered it
was Disney, wearing a tool belt.
“He said he was sorry, that he should have
asked first,” Ayres said. “He was very down to earth. He
would go around the park and if something needed to be done,
he would do it.”
Not long after that, she said she got a call
from a person identifying himself as Walt. When she asked for
his last name, he said Disney.
“I told him, ‘Sure, and I’m Minnie
Mouse.’ But it really was him. He liked to be on a
first-name basis with everyone. People had trouble getting
used to his informality,” Ayres said.
By the time the park opened, Ayres said
people became enamored by what was being offered.
“We realized we needed to aim much of our
marketing at adults,” Ayres said. “They were every bit as
interested in the park as children, and that’s still the
review: Sky High
"Sky High" gets off to a slow
start with half-baked jokes and a cheesy visual style. Then
the jokes pick up and the characters come into sharper focus.
The visual style remains pedestrian, but
director Mike Mitchell ("Surviving Christmas")
receives spirited performances from his young actors and
knowing turns from the veterans. This comedy about a special
high school for teens with superpowers earns a B+, with much
of the credit belong to a savvy screenplay by Paul Hernandez,
Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle, which explores the angst and
travails of high school through the comic lens of a world in
which superheroes are commonly known and accepted.
This Disney film is a likable mix of laughs
and wacky action sequences so the studio can anticipate
above-average business from family audiences and teens on
Will (Michael Angarano) is the son of two
superheroes, Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie
Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who must save the world on a
regular basis. His first day at his Dad's alma mater, Sky High
-- a campus whose antigravity device keeps it suspended above
the clouds -- Will must confront his worst fear: He has no
apparent powers of his own.
The school is divided into a demeaning class
system among heroes, kids with extraordinary power, and
sidekicks -- youngsters who act as support for the heroes of
the future. So for Will, his first day becomes a bad news/good
news situation. The bad news is that he, along with his best
friend and girl next door, Layla (Danielle Panabaker), whose
beauty Will fails to notice, get lumped with the sidekicks.
The good news is that the hottest girl on campus, senior class
president Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), seems to
have a thing for him. Which is bad news for Layla, who has a
major crush on Will.
Will also discovers he has an arch enemy in
Warren Peace (Steven Strait) -- as in War and Peace because
the guy's a bit schizophrenic -- whose dad was put in jail by
Will's dad. Eventually, Will must confess to Dad and Mom about
his lack of powers, a conversation he no sooner has then he
discovers he does have superpowers. (Something to do with
late-blooming puberty, no doubt.) When Will transfers from
sidekick to hero studies, the whole class issue becomes
ensnared in the romantic triangle among Will, Layla and Gwen.
Of course, Gwen has ulterior motives in her relationship with
Adult figures on campus include Principal
Powers, played by Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter; Bruce
Campbell's Coach Boomer, his voice a sonic boom; Kevin
Heffernan's bus driver, whose gung-ho spirit belies his lack
of powers; and Cloris Leachman's amusing cameo as a school
nurse with X-ray vision.
"Sky High" wins few marks for
originality. A school for superheroes sounds suspiciously like
the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K.
Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. And a family of
superheroes does remind you of "The Incredibles."
But the way in which the script mixes campus melodramas --
from cafeteria fights and detention to school dances and
problematic romances -- with a world of superheroism becomes
more amusing with each passing minute.
Angarano delivers just the right blend of
earnestness, insecurity and moral indignation. Panabaker has a
beguiling, intelligent presence on screen, while Winstead
nicely suggests a cool femme fatale. Russell and Preston play
their roles with nonchalant preening. Strait is allowed to
develop the movie's most complex character, a sullen antihero
with the makings of an actual hero.
The effects, sets and action is clumsy at
times, but then you wouldn't want the movie to be slicker; the
filmmakers could have overproduced this little comedy. By
keeping things modest and relying on the ingenuity of the
script, the movie stays enjoyable rather than becoming silly.
Cast: Josie Jetstream: Kelly Preston; Will
Stronghold: Michael Angarano; Layla; Danielle Panabaker; Gwen
Grayson: Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Commander Stronghold: Kurt
Russell; Warren Peace: Steven Straight; Coach Boomer: Bruce
Campbell; Principal Powers: Lynda Carter.
Director: Mike Mitchell; Screenwriters: Paul
Hernandez, Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle; Producer: Andrew
Gunn; Executive producers: Mario Iscovich, Ann Marie Sanderlin;
Director of photography: Shelly Johnson; Production designer:
Bruce Robert Hill; Music: Michael Giacchino; Costumes: Michael
Wilkinson; Editor: Peter Amundson.
Screenwriter Scott Frank will make his
directiorial debut on The Lookout, a dramatic thriller he
wrote, says Variety. Spyglass and Disney will finance
and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star.
The film revolves around a mentally impaired former athlete
who works as a janitor at a bank and gets sucked into a heist.
Shooting begins next spring in Canada.
Frank wrote Lookout eight years ago. The script originated at
DreamWorks and has had at various times attachments from
directors Sam Mendes and David Fincher and stars Leonardo
DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling.
Disneyland Resort Line, the rail link running
between the new Tung Chung Line Sunny Bay Station and the
Disneyland Resort Station, will be open to the public August
MTRC's head of operations, Wilfred Lau, said
the opening is part of the final preparation work for Hong
Kong Disneyland, which will open September 12.
Lau said there will be contingency measures
in place to control the crowd at Disneyland Resort Station,
while a small section of the Park Promenade between the
station exit and the park entrance will be open for public
access to facilitate smooth pedestrian flow.
``Advisory public announcements will be
broadcast at MTR stations when we see crowds starting to
build. And there will be intermittent closure of ticket gates
to slow down passenger flow,'' Lau said.
He said the MTRC will work with the police
and Disneyland to monitor the crowd situation.
Lau urged the public not to be in a hurry to
try out the new service on August 1 and during the initial
period of the MTR's operations.
The Disneyland Resort Station was opened to
the media Monday. The station is decorated in Victorian style.
Miranda Leung, MTRC's general
manager-corporate relations, said that the aim is to take
visitors on a journey back in time, traveling from the
modern-day Sunny Bay Station to the 19th century-styled
Disneyland Resort Station.
Inside the Disneyland Resort Station, people
can find Mickey Mouse everywhere as nearly 200 Mickey head
logos in five styles are printed on lifts or engraved on lamp
poles inside the station.
The resort line trains will be fully
automatic. Lau said there may be ``teething problems'' during
the early days of operation, but they will try to deal with
problems immediately. The route length of Disneyland Resort
Line is 3.5 kilometers and it takes only 3½ minutes to finish
the journey. The fare from Sunny Bay to Disneyland Resort
Station is HK$6.
The service hours of the new line will be
from 6am to 1am, as with the current MTR system.
Trains will run every four minutes during
peak hours and 10 minutes during non-peak hours.
to co-anchor 'ESPN Hollywood'
Former "Saved By The Bell" actor
Mario Lopez has been named the co-anchor of "ESPN
Hollywood," ESPN 2's new show looking at the intersection
between Hollywood and the sports world. Lopez will join
co-anchor Thea Andrews, former co-host of ESPN 2's "Cold
Pizza," on the Los Angeles-produced show that will air
weekdays at 6 p.m. ET beginning Aug. 15. Andrews has been on
the team for several months but ESPN Original Entertainment
has been trying to find the right co-anchor ever since.
"One of the things we liked about Mario is that he really
knows sports and he's passionate about what this show is going
to be," Bill Bonnell, co-executive producer of ESPN
Hollywood, said Friday afternoon. Bonnell is an NBC Sports
veteran who has been coordinating producer for ESPN's tennis
teams up with Disney on Mayan-language film
Actor-director Mel Gibson is well on his way
to cornering a new niche market in Hollywood -- movies written
in ancient languages.
A year after breaking box-office records
with "The Passion of the Christ," which was shot in
Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew, Gibson has struck a deal with the
Walt Disney Co. to release his next picture in a Mayan
Gibson is due to begin shooting the film,
titled "Apocalypto," on location in Mexico in
October and is aiming for a summer 2006 release, spokesman
Alan Nierob said on Monday.
As with "Passion," Gibson will
direct and produce the Mayan-language film from his own script
through his own company, Icon Productions, and he will not
appear in the movie.
The film's cast will consist of unknown
performers native to the region of Mexico where the film is
being shot, Nierob said. Few others details about Gibson's
project were revealed.
"He lets his work speak for
itself," Nierob said.
The story, which Gibson began writing nine
months ago, is described as a "unique adventure" set
500 years in the past. Nierob said the title, "Apocalypto,"
was taken from the Greek word for an unveiling or new
A note on the first page of the script says:
"The dialogue you are about to read will not be spoken in
English." Gibson presumably will have the script
translated into Mayan by a scholar of the language and release
the film with English subtitles, as he did for
A Disney spokeswoman confirmed that the
studio had agreed to team up with Icon to handle marketing and
distribution for the movie but declined further comment.
Entertainment trade paper Daily Variety
reported that at least three studios passed on the film before
Disney landed rights to it.
Still, the Disney deal demonstrates how much
Gibson's clout in Hollywood has grown since he made
"Passion," which was financed entirely out of his
own pocket and issued by the small, independent studio
At the time, many industry analysts scoffed
at what they saw as the commercial folly of making a film in
Aramaic about the last hours of Jesus.
But intense media attention and a heavy
Christian turnout helped propel the controversial film to well
over $600 million in ticket sales worldwide, making it the
most successful R-rated movie ever.
It remains to be seen whether Gibson can
repeat his success with a subtitled film that lacks a built-in
religious-based audience or controversy like the criticism
leveled by some Jewish leaders at "Passion."
In the meantime, the "Lethal
Weapon" star has put on hold what was to be his next
acting project -- the Icon-produced drama "Under and
Alone" for director Antoine Fuqua at Warner Bros., Nierob
Disneyland gives sneak preview
Hong Kong Disneyland gave journalists a
sneak peek two months before the park opens, showing off
classic thrill rides like the Space Mountain roller coaster
and giving tours of restaurants serving all the major Chinese
The park features an East-meets-West theme,
with a trademark Sleeping Beauty Castle and a Main Street that
recreates small-town America. The food is distinctly Asian,
catering to the masses of tourists Disney hopes to attract
from across the border in mainland China.
Robert Iger, who takes over as Disney's CEO
in October, told reporters he dreamed of going to Disneyland
when he was a child.
"I'm convinced that the children of
this region will have that same dream. They will dream of one
day being able to come to Hong Kong Disneyland," Iger
The park plans to attract 5.6 million
visitors a year and opening day on September 12 is already
sold out, said Don Robinson, managing director of the Hong
Kong Disneyland Group.
Robinson said 95 percent of the park is
complete and that workers are rehearsing shows and testing
The park has eight restaurants -- with
29,000 seats -- serving all the major Chinese cuisines, like
Cantonese, Shanghainese and northern noodle dishes.
Visitors will also be able to dig into
Japanese sushi and Kashmiri chicken curry.
The park will feature popular rides like
Space Mountain as well as a jungle river cruise and a Buzz
Lightyear ride, named after the spaceman warrior in the movie
A long palm tree-lined driveway leads to the
park. At the front gate, there's a huge water fountain with a
bronze statue of a whale spouting a stream of water on which
Mickey Mouse is surfing.
Throughout the park, signs are in Chinese
Robinson said the park hopes to eventually
attract 10 million people a year, and when that goal is
reached, Disney will expand the attractions.
ice cream company adding employees
The Idaho maker of an ice cream sandwich
that's due to be sold at Disney theme parks is adding 60
office and manufacturing jobs at its plant in southwestern
Matterhorn Ice Cream announced the expansion
this week, doubling the size of the company's Caldwell work
The move comes after the company's merger
with Salem-based Deluxe Ice Cream, and Vitafreze Frozen
Confections of Sacramento, Calif.
"The environment in the grocery
industry has changed, with the big getting bigger, and we
needed a broader product line," said Tom Nist,
Matterhorn's chief executive officer.
Ten office jobs will pay between $30,000 and
$100,000 per year. The 50 manufacturing jobs will pay wages of
$7 to $15 an hour, and include full benefits, Nist said.
News of the expansion comes as the company
is testing its Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich, to be sold at
Disney parks in the United States.
Matterhorn is making the product for
Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, the unit of Nestle SA that
distributes the sandwiches for the entertainment conglomerate.
Walt Disney Co. on Monday named Daniel Battsek
as president of Miramax Films - the studio responsible for
Academy Award best picture winners including "The English
Patient," "Shakespeare in Love" and
Walt Disney Studios said Battsek will work
with founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who will remain
co-chairmen of Miramax on a non-exclusive basis through Sept.
30. The parties reported in March that they mutually agreed to
conclude the Weinsteins' employment contract with Disney.
This year, Miramax films received best
picture nominations for "The Aviator" and
Battsek, who most recently served as
executive vice president and managing director of distribution
and production for Buena Vista International UK, will report
to Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios. The company
said Battsek will focus on building a new executive team and
slate of Miramax films, while the Weinsteins will focus on
completing projects in production and oversee marketing and
distribution of Miramax and Dimension films scheduled for
Disney said Battsek will take over all
operations for Miramax Films on Oct. 1. He will relocate to
New York from the UK, and the Miramax headquarters will
continue to operate independently, the company said.
Shares of Walt Disney fell 5 cents to $25.78
in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Tickets On
Designed for guests who want to uncork the
secrets of fine wines, a lineup of special mealtimes, tastings,
schools and parties has been planned in conjunction with the
10th annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival this
Sept. 30 through Nov. 13.
Reservations for the special events, which have limited
availability and popular appeal, are now available at prices
ranging from $35 to $185 per person.
The schedule includes a new cooking school and a third wine
school, focusing on Spain. Some of the returning events
include vertical tastings, two dinner series, Lunch and Learn,
and Party for the Senses -- a well-named Saturday evening
experience that combines an array of special food, wine, music
and entertainment, including a sampling of Cirque du Soleil.
Reservations and additional information are available by
The special events are in addition to all of the festival fun
included with regular Epcot admission -- wine and beer
seminars and cooking demonstrations plus the Eat to the Beat
concert series featuring an eclectic musical lineup of classic
rock, oldies, jazz and funk.
Walt Disney World guests can immerse themselves in cultural
experiences from around the globe or sip to learn at a wine
seminar. They can expand their culinary repertoire at one of
many cooking demonstrations or drop by the Specialty Beer
Garden. The opportunities are many when Future World and World
Showcase overflow with first-rate food, wine and beer
experiences during the six-week-long Epcot International Food
and Wine Festival Sept. 30 through Nov. 13.
Each year, the festival features at least 20 international
tasting marketplaces and a lineup of winemakers and guest
chefs, elegant dinners, wine schools, tastings and pairings.
In recent years, the festival around World Showcase Lagoon has
grown dramatically, attracting a diverse audience of more than
one million each year -- from wine connoisseurs and epicures
to droves of wine neophytes eager to boost their wine IQs. In
addition, the fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series
will feature an even more varied lineup this year, including
classic rock, oldies and country performers.
"The festival is our opportunity to showcase not only all
the culinary and wine-related talent at Walt Disney World
Resort, but also to introduce great celebrity chefs and wine
connoisseurs in the industry," said Nora Carey, festival
manager. "We strive to provide various levels of
experiences that reflect the diverse interests of our guests,
from simple marketplace tastings and seminars to extravagant
More than 100 wineries offer tastings, and guests can sample
the marketplace cuisine in tasting portions ranging from $1 to
$4.50. Other highlights include:
- The Festival Welcome Center, with a
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Bar, commemorative posters
and other festival keepsakes.
- Some 250 Disney chefs and guest chefs
conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant
dinners and tasting events (past guest chefs have included
Allen Susser, Dominique Macquet, John Ash, Diego Lozano,
Michael Ginor and many others).
- Up to 1,200 wine and beer seminars
providing complimentary samplings.
- Elegant dinners, the weekly Party for the
Senses grand tasting and other by-reservation-only events.
- Along with the music, dance, acrobatics
and avant-garde entertainment showcased at Epcot
pavilions, festival guests can enjoy Eat to the Beat!
concerts performed three times each evening at America
Entrance to the Epcot International Food and
Wine Festival, plus wine and beer seminars and cooking
demonstrations, is included with regular Epcot admission.
Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information or
reservations for special events and programs. By summer,
festival details will be posted on the Web site:
Mouse to Visit 5th Avenue World of Disney Store on August 1st
During a rare trip outside of a Disney theme
park, Mickey Mouse will stop by the World of Disney store on
Fifth Avenue on August 1 and 31 to greet store guests. In
addition, nine of the 75 unique, 700-pound, 6-foot-tall Mickey
statues, created in celebration of Mickey's 75th Anniversary,
will be on display for guests to enjoy.
The nine statues displayed, part of the
"Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations" tour, will be:
The Original Mouse Pad by Jamie Lee Curtis, Funny Bones by
James Gandolfini, Space Mouse by Tom Hanks, Music Royalty by
Sir Elton John, Mickey: In Yellow by Rosie O'Donnell, Clouded
Conscience by Raven-Symoné, Big City Mouse by Kelly Ripa,
Mousetaccioli by Doris Roberts and Ready for Action by Christy
Beginning August 1, World of Disney will
have six exclusive, limited-edition pins modeled after six of
the 75 InspEARation. Separately, a "Pin Pursuit"
interactive competition for World of Disney guests, will also
Visitors will be given a map to navigate
through the World of Disney store and answer trivia questions,
all to receive a complimentary starter Mickey pin upon
After visiting the World of Disney Store,
the statues will be auctioned by Sotheby's in New York City on
September 26, 2005 with all proceeds benefiting 50 charities.
Mickey Mouse will greet guests on August 1
and 31 during the following times: 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:15
p.m. and 7 p.m.
The World Of Disney store is located at 711
win rights for Gibson's next epic
Disney has won the right to distribute Oscar-winning actor Mel
Gibson's next historical epic - which is largely to be
performed in a language that was used 3,000 years ago.
According to reports in America over the weekend, Mr Gibson
has written the script, will direct and produce the movie,
Apocalypto, through his Icon production company, but he will
not act in the film. The film will be based on the Mayan
civilisation of central America, of around 1000 BC. Shooting
is due to begin in October with the release due next summer.
This is not the first time that Mr Gibson
has preferred an off-screen presence, having courted
controversy with his The Passion of The Christ. That
film also revived Aramaic, as well as using Latin and Hebrew.
In Passion, Gibson retold the final
hours of Jesus' life, often in excruciating detail. Hollywood
studios were reluctant to distribute the religious epic, but
it ended up grossing more than $611 million worldwide.
Apocalypto is apparently does not have a
religious theme, and Disney were keen to snap up the rights,
according to Daily Variety.
The film's contents were closely guarded
secrets, with executives forced to read scripts at Mr Gibson's
Santa Monica offices to help prevent any leaks.
Apocalypto is not the only movie based on
Central American history planned in Hollywood, where The
Serpent and the Eagle and Aztec are both in
today sounded a note of scepticism about Mr Gibson's
apparently opting to replicate the successful formula of Passion,
however. "After all, the success of Passion lay
largely on two elements: the support of the immense religious
movement in the States, and the controversy that drew everyone
else to go have a look out of curiosity's sake", the
online edition of the magazine related.
"In the absence of those factors,
you're going to be left with a struggle to persuade anyone but
lecturers in Mezoamerican studies to attend... Frankly, we'd
be surprised if an R-rated action film in Mayan breaks box
High' cast soars at premiere
Not even hot, humid weather could dampen
spirits at this Hollywood premiere. After all, the movie is
called, "Sky High" - and, appropriately, it's a
buoyant Disney action-adventure comedy.
Think a live-action take on last year's
animated hit "The Incredibles."
"'Sky High' follows the life and tale
of Will Stronghold, the only child of possibly the two
greatest super-heroes in the history of the planet: Commander
"The only problem with Will is he's
their only child, so everyone thinks he might inherit his
father's super strength or his mother's supersonic
flight," star Michael Angarano told AP Television News at
the Sunday screening. "The problem with Will is he
doesn't inherit any of their powers, and he has no powers
Will is portrayed by Angarano and his father
is played by Kurt Russell, who, according to Disney
publicists, pulled out of the premiere at the last minute
The role of Will's mother is filled by Kelly
"When I read the script, I just
thought, 'It's so upbeat, and it's so much a family
movie,'" noted Preston, who brought along daughter Ella.
Her husband, John Travolta, did not walk the arrivals line.
"It's the perfect Disney," Preston
continued. "It's almost like the Disney movies of
yesteryear - you know, those great ones that you could take
the whole family to. And it's upbeat and it's clean and I
loved the fact that it's a new concept."
The film marks an on-screen reunion, of
sorts, for comic troupe Kids in the Hall mates Kevin McDonald
and Dave Foley, who couldn't resist some arrivals-line fun.
"Sky High," Foley joked, is
"a sensitive lesbian love story..."
"No," interjected Foley's wife,
Guerrero: "Wrong movie."
Foley: "It's a searing advocation of
Guerrero: "No, no, no. Try again."
Foley: "I'm not sure I've seen this
The "Sky High" cast includes Lynda
Carter, who portrayed Wonder Woman in the 1976-79 prime-time
"Normally, I have stayed away from
sitcoms wanting to take advantage of the 'Wonder Woman' thing,
because it's much more about their show and not about my
character," said Carter, who turned 54 Sunday and soon
returns to the big screen in "The Dukes of Hazzard."
"And I don't ever want to cheapen her,
I love her too much," she said. "You know, I love
Wonder Woman. But this one was just a nod, a salute. It was
paying homage to her in a way."
internships draw criticism
Dan Cockerell spent his time as a Walt
Disney World college intern checking guests into their hotel
rooms, working as a custodian and parking cars. He says the
experience 16 years ago has been useful in his current job as
general manager of the Disney All Star Resort.
Each year, 8,000 students come to Disney
World to work as six-month college interns in one of the
largest internship programs in the country. The interns make
up a significant portion of Disney World's 55,000-person
workforce. They learn about customer service and absorb
Disney's hospitality culture.
''It's very different for the students from
working at the local mall,'' said Kristi Breen, manager of
college and international recruiting at Disney World. ``It's
training that I think will stay with someone forever.''
But aside from giving interns valuable
experience, the program is a relatively cheap source of labor
for Disney and is sometimes a worry for the unionized workers,
although union officials approved the program when it began
almost 25 years ago.
''None of them are paid properly,'' Ed
Chambers, president of United Food and Commercial Workers
Union, Local 1625, said of the college interns. ``They're like
indentured slaves . . . They live on Disney property. They eat
Disney food. They take Disney transportation.''
Most of the college interns earn $6.25 an
hour, well below the more than $11 an hour pay for a veteran
employee performing the same tasks. Interns also don't receive
any pension or healthcare benefits like regular workers.
Regular workers sometimes grumble about the
college interns when business is slow and their work hours are
cut back, such as after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Last year, the college interns, along with
part-time high-school students and international students,
worked almost a seventh of all available scheduled hours in
jobs such as lifeguarding, serving fast-food and selling
merchandise, according to figures compiled by the unions at
Disney's California parks also have a
college program, but it's on a much smaller scale. Only a few
hundred students participate in it, and unlike the Florida
location, the company doesn't offer housing. Disney generally
docks $79 or more a week from the Disney World interns'
paychecks to pay for housing.
Some students such as Cockerell leave the
program with a step on the career ladder at the company.
But a few, like Steve Cippittelli, leave
with dashed expectations.
Cippittelli, a Schenectady County Community
College student, was forced to leave the college intern
program last year after a co-worker accused him of making a
vulgar remark. Unlike regular hourly workers, who have the
right to join unions, the community college student didn't
have any labor representation, and he said he was unable to
defend himself properly.
''It hindered my education quite a bit. That
was a major requirement, and I was not able to finish my
college education,'' said Cippittelli, who hopes someday to
work again at Disney World because he loved the experience.
Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in an
e-mail that the company doesn't comment on individual workers.
But the company's goal is for every participant to complete
the program and that disciplinary action is taken based on the
available facts, she said.
''There are guidelines students are expected
to follow,'' she said.
Despite his concerns, Chambers said the
program probably is a good experience for the students because
they learn what it's like in the working world.
Joanna Gonzalez, a University of Florida
graduate, said serving fast food in the Magic Kingdom helped
her become quick on her feet and overcome shyness.
''We're not there to flip burgers or to give
people food. We're there to create magic,'' said Gonzalez, 23,
who now works at the Department of Homeland Security in
Washington. ``When I worked there, I opened up. The confidence
it builds in you is huge.''
Less than half of the students earn college
credit during their internships. Those who do pay tuition to
their universities and can take classes on subjects such as
communications, hospitality management or human resource
management taught by Disney executives with higher education
degrees. They can earn anywhere from three to 12 credits,
depending on their school.
''Many times when the students come back
here, I have local employers ask me if they can have some of
the students who were in the Disney program . . . because
Disney has such a reputation in the area of customer
service,'' said Bud Miles, a business professor at the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, whose school sends
75 to 100 students to the program each year. Miles also serves
on an advisory board for the internship program.
Disney World offers a more advanced
internship program for alumni of the college program. The
advanced program offers work in white-collar jobs that are
more closely aligned with students' studies, rather than jobs
in the parks or hotels.
BACK FOR MORE
Omarr Cantu, who recently graduated from
Texas A&M with degrees in history and communications,
worked as a ride operator at the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway in
the Magic Kingdom four years ago. His experience this summer
is quite different since he is working as an advanced intern
in the marketing department of the resort's human resources
Cockerell regularly tells college interns
that they can handle anything after being in the program.
''Guests walk up to you and . . . they
expect all the great service and heritage, and you have to
know everything about everything,'' Cockerell said. 'It's a
bit overwhelming. So I tell the college program students,
`Just roll with it. I guarantee if you get through this thing,
you'll get through a lot.''
Searches for UK Toontown Champ
With schools breaking up for the summer,
families will no doubt be planning a variety of activities
to keep themselves occupied. To help keep boredom at bay,
Disney today launches the Toontown Championships: the
perfect way for families to stay busy and win prizes.
Toontown Online, the award winning online
computer game from The Walt Disney Company designed
specifically for kids aged eight to 13, is hosting the
Toontown Championships (www.Toontown.co.uk/championships)
from today until August 18th. Kids and their families all
over the UK can head online to enter the Toontown
Championships where they'll be in with a chance to win
fantastic prizes, including a family holiday to Disneyland®
Resort Paris, a Disney TV and DVD player, a Disney Boombox
and clock radio as well as winners' trophies and medals.
Tens of thousands of people have already
passed through the "gates" of Toontown since the
game launched last summer, having a fantastic time playing
in the huge, magical universe of unique Disney characters.
In Toontown, everyone gets to create their very own Toon
character, and interact and unite with other players online
in real-time in the quest to defeat the evil robot Cogs who
have invaded Toontown.
The Toontown Championships offer players
different tasks and challenges each day, with the objective
being to win that all-important Championship crown!
Activities range from battling with the Cogs, to fishing in
the Toontown ponds, earning jellybeans and playing Trolley
Games. Tasks are announced daily on the Toontown
site, with details also available on the Capital Disney
radio station (available on DAB digital radio, Sky 912, Ntl
889, Telewest 960.)
Players earn points on a daily basis
between 8 am and 8 pm BST with the Top 100 Toons published
online within 48 hours. The highest scorer each day is
awarded with a special winner's medal. The Toon that racks
up the most points throughout the entire Championship will
be crowned the UK's Toontown Champion 2005 at the end of the
Toontown Championships. He or she will win a fantastic
family holiday to Disneyland Resort Paris and will be
interviewed on Capital Disney radio.
Runners up and daily winners will win
amazing prizes such as DVD's, Discmans, Beach Gear or other
cool Disney gear.
The competition is open to absolutely
everyone*: both current and new players. For a limited
period only, visitors to www.toontown.co.uk/championships
can even take advantage of a specially-extended seven-day
Toontown has won a string of awards
including Game industry News' 'Family Game of the Year'
2003; Computer Gaming World's 'MMPOG of the year' 2003; the
2003 Webby Award as the 'People's Voice' winner in the kids
category; and the 'All Star Software
Award' from Children's Software Revue magazine.
To get started, simply head to www.toontown.co.uk/championships.
*UK Residents only
exhibit to Henry Ford
The Henry Ford is collaborating with Walt
Disney Imagineering to create an exhibit celebrating the
50th anniversary of Disneyland - Disney's original theme
Titled "Behind the Magic: 50 Years of
Disneyland," the exhibit brings to life Walt Disney's
creation beginning Sept. 23 at Henry Ford Museum in
Timed tickets at $10 (general museum
admission is also required) will go on sale Aug. 1 and can
be purchased at www.thehenryford.org or by calling (313)
"Behind the Magic" is the first
exhibition of Walt Disney Imagineering art and artifacts
focused on Disneyland to be widely displayed in the United
States. Included in the 7,500-square foot display are 250
pieces of original Imagineering artwork, hand-crafted
models, construction drawings, and marketing materials
tracing the growth and history of the California landmark.
The original rendering of Disneyland by
Herb Ryman will be displayed.
The rarest opportunity in this exhibit
will be the chance to view up close the Abraham Lincoln
figure created for the 1964 World's Fair in New York City -
the first Audio-Animatronics "human" to appear in
a Walt Disney production.
Photos from Everest
Here are the latest photos from Animal Kingdom's Expedition
Bay Buccaneers NFL Training Camp Opens at Disney in July
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers return to Disney's
Wide World of Sports Complex for their 2005 NFL training camp,
July 29-Aug. 17. The Buccaneers, who have trained at the
220-acre sports complex for the past three years, are the
first NFL team to conduct a preseason training camp at Walt
Disney World Resort.
Fans will have the opportunity to see Head
Coach Jon Gruden and favorite Bucs players in action when
the team takes the practice fields for "two-a-day"
workouts -- daily morning and afternoon sessions -- on the
Hess Sports Fields at Disney's Wide World of Sports.
Training camp practices will be free and open to the public.
For more information, guests may call 407/939-GAME, or visit
disneyworldsports.com and buccaneers.com.
And finally, Since Roy Disney has made up with the Disney
Company. Disney has decided to give him, his own window on Main
Street U.S.A. You really didn't think he made up with them just
for the consultation job? Did You? And of course he in turn will
dismantle the Save Disney web site on August 7th. Good Deal,
right? Yeah right!
International has ended a potentially lucrative licensing deal
with the Walt Disney Company’s Hollywood Records, the record
label whose acts include the teen star Hillary Duff, The
Times has learnt.
The five-year-old deal has fallen apart
after Disney and WMI, the international division of Warner
Music Group, the world’s fourth-largest record company,
failed to agree terms for a new agreement that would begin
early next year.
The negotiations, which lasted about six
months, are understood to have fallen apart after Disney
insisted on removing the right to distribute read-along
children’s CDs and books. WMI is also thought to have balked
at multimillion- dollar advances demanded by Hollywood on new
releases, which it would prefer to spend on developing its own
The record company is understood to have
been frustrated by difficulties in selling some of the biggest
artists because they did not make promotional tours to Europe.
“There was no way WMI could justify doing
the deal that was offered by Hollywood,” said one person
familiar with the situation.
However, Hollywood is likely to be courted
by rival record majors, including EMI and Universal Music
A division of Disney’s Buena Vista
Entertainment, 15-year-old Hollywood Records has long been a
minor player in the US music industry, and for years lost tens
of millions of dollars annually. Disney is thought to have
considered closing it several times. But the company has
recently began making modest profits on the back of chart
successes from a clutch of teen stars.
WMI’s cancellation of the deal reflects
the pressure on Warner Music Group to win favor on Wall Street
after a poorly received $556 million (£320 million) share
sale and initial public offering.
The company has been focusing on
cost-cutting and artist development since it was acquired from
Time Warner in 2003 for $2.6 billion by Edgar Bronfman Jr and
a group of private equity backers.
book hopes for new life under Disney
CrossGen Entertainment of Oldsmar launched
26 comic book series during a dynamic five-year run that ended
in bankruptcy court. The Walt Disney Co. snagged the rights to
all 26 titles at auction last year for $1-million.
Will Disney fare better with CrossGen's
intellectual property? We're about to find out.
The entertainment powerhouse recently
announced plans to turn one of CrossGen's titles, Abadazad,
into a series of chapter books for children ages 9 to 12.
Tentatively priced at $9.99 apiece, the books - written as if
they were the diary of the main character, Kate - will meld
traditional comic book panels, text and other artwork.
Brenda Bowen, editor-in-chief of the Disney
Book Group, says it's the ideal format for our postprint world
of movies, television and the Internet. "It's a lot more
complicated graphically, but it's very simple to read, and in
fact makes the reading experience tremendously
Bowen expects an initial print run of
100,000 when the first book makes its debut next spring. The
original writer and artist are on board.
One of the advantages Disney enjoys over
CrossGen is its deep pockets. At the Comic-Con convention in
San Diego this month, Bowen's group sponsored a panel, "Abadazad
Lives On," and handed out 2,500 fans featuring one of the
comic's characters. Other possible promotions include issuing
character trading cards, asking educators to include free
Abadazad textbook covers in their back-to-school kits, and
advertising in Disney properties such as Mad magazine,
Disney Adventures and D.C. Comics.
Bowen, whose offices are in New York, hopes
to see Abadazad picked up by Disney's television, film
and games divisions. "We actually had a pitch meeting (in
Burbank) with our own colleagues," she says. "They
are keenly interested."
Catching a bit of the fervor that the
Harry Potter series has stirred among young readers would
be nice, too.
"I want my own action," Bowen
says. "But I'll take whatever action is out there."
Kong Disneyland emphasizes East-meets-West theme
Hong Kong Disneyland gave journalists a sneak peek Wednesday,
nearly two months before the newest park opens to the public,
showing off an East-meets-West mix of classic thrill rides,
such as Space Mountain, and restaurants serving Asian
The park features a trademark Sleeping
Beauty Castle and a Main Street that re-creates small-town
America. The food is distinctly Asian, catering to the masses
of tourists Disney hopes to attract from across the border in
When the park opens Sept. 12, its eight
restaurants - with 2,900 seats - will cook up all the major
Chinese cuisines, including Cantonese and Shanghainese, and
northern Chinese noodle dishes. Visitors also will be able to
dig into Japanese sushi and tempura.
A pastry shop serves Hong Kong-style
barbecue puffs and pineapple buns alongside chocolate
croissants and cinnamon rolls.
The food is served in Western settings, such
as at Royal Banquet Hall, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.
Throughout the park, signs are in Chinese and English.
Along with popular rides, the park will have
a Mickey's PhilharMagic movie theater with a huge 3-D screen.
The cinema will show Disney staples such as The Little
Mermaid, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast mixed in with
A long, palm-tree-lined driveway leads to
the park. At the front gate, there's a huge water fountain
with a bronze statue of a whale spouting a stream of water on
which Mickey Mouse is surfing.
The park, a joint venture between the Hong
Kong government and the Walt Disney Co., is built on reclaimed
land on an outlying island.
shows dominate Critics Awards
The ABC series "Desperate
Housewives" and "Lost" dominated the 21st annual
Television Critics Association Awards in Los Angeles.
"Housewives" was named program of
the year in the Saturday night ceremony at the Beverly Hilton,
while "Lost" won the outstanding new program award and
won for outstanding achievement in drama, Zap2it.com reported
The outstanding comedy award went to Fox's
"Arrested Development" and the BBC America's "The
Office Special" was named outstanding movie, miniseries or
Individual achievement awards went to Jon
Stewart of "The Daily Show" for comedy and
"House" star Hugh Laurie for drama.
"Degrassi: The Next Generation" was
named outstanding children's drama and "Frontline" won
for outstanding achievement in news and information.
The Heritage award went to ABC's
"Nightline" and a career achievement award was
bestowed on comic Bob Newhart.
Holds Star-Studded Fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation
On Saturday, June 16, 2005, Disney held a star
studded evening on the Disney Magic. This event was a
fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Fountation. Several children
had their wishes granted on this evening. Our coverage
includes photos and video of the presentation of the check
ceremony, star studded events aboard the ship, and the grand
finale event with Peabo Bryson and Kimberly Locke.
woos pre-schoolers with new programming
Eyeing the big kid-entertainment space in the
country, Disney Channel on Friday launched Playhouse Disney, a
six-hour learning platform engaging and stimulating the
imagination of young minds.
"Playhouse Disney's objective is to
encourage imagining and learning by using age-appropriate tools
and experiences. This will help parents to inculcate confidence
in their children from the preschool days," Walt Disney
Television International (India) Programming and Production
head, Nachiket Pant Vaidya, said here.
The programme encourages active involvement
and will stimulate and entertain kids through interaction with
Disney characters, stories and activities, he said.
Targeted at kids between the ages of two and
five and parents, the six-hour block incorporates animation,
puppetery, live action and CGI in a safe, entrtaining and
"The daily morning block provides
seamless quality entertainment programming to help preschoolers
get the most out of those precious early years," Pant
The block combines award-winning Disney
pre-school programmes and locally produced mini shows. The local
programmes have been developed is close consultation with local
early childhood advisors.
"Each show is a collaborative work
involving educational advisors and Disney's producers and
writers to ensure that entertainment and education are
seamlessly integrated," he said.
Disney will be promoting its Playhouse Disney
by touring 1,200 schools across the country, demonstrating how
to learn by powering children's imagination.
Disney at present has a market share of more
than 16 million homes in India. "We are aiming to reach 20
million homes by the end of this year," Pant Vaidya said.
With over a third of the country's population
being below 14 years of age, the children's entertainment space
is turning into a hotspot for television channels in the
Cartoon Network, Hungama Television, Disney
Channel, Toon Disney, Pogo and Nick are major players catering
to the kid-entertainment space.
Kong Disneyland admits asked govt to round up dozens of stray
Disneyland has admitted it had asked the government here to
catch dozens of stray dogs on the site but denied it had used
them to guard the construction site.
'These dogs came in packs. We felt that
they posed a safety threat to our staff so we asked the
government to take them away,' spokeswoman Esther Wong told
The South China Morning Post reported
earlier today that dozens of stray dogs roaming around the
construction site for Hong Kong Disneyland had been captured and
put down ahead of the September opening of the theme park.
It added that some 45 dogs had been
used as unofficial guard dogs on the site during construction.
The agricultural department said it had
found 45 stray dogs around the theme park following complaints
from Disneyland but was unable to provide details on their fate.
The park is due to open on Sept 12.
live the magic, memories
As Marty Sklar nears the entrance to Disneyland, he pauses,
looks up, and reads the plaque that has been there since the
park opened on July 17, 1955:
"Here you leave today and enter the world
of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy."
"That says so much about what Walt
intended here," said Sklar, who was hired two months before
the park opened to write an 1890s-style tabloid newspaper,
"The Disneyland News," that would be sold on Main
Street for 10 cents.
"I think Disneyland is so much about
reassuring people the world can be OK, that things can be
orderly, that you can speak to a stranger - all those things
that we are losing or have lost in our daily lives," he
Sklar, 71, has been shaping that vision for
decades, helping to design such memorable Magic Kingdom
attractions as The Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World and
He has also trained a generation of designers,
dubbed "Imagineers," who have spread that vision to
Disney parks in Paris, Tokyo and, in September, Hong Kong. The
Disney Imagineering unit, of which Sklar is vice chairman, also
designs hotels and other properties for the company.
Walt Disney's proposal for a "theme
park" that would bring stories and characters from his
movies to life was met with considerable skepticism because it
was such a break from the amusement parks and traveling
carnivals of the time.
But Disneyland proved to be successful beyond
even Walt's wildest wish upon a star and within a few years,
Disney was hired to create four major pavilions for the New York
World's Fair, and soon was making plans for a Florida resort.
Today, there are 10 Disney parks around the
world and many other theme parks influenced by the Disneyland
concept. Hundreds of millions of people have worn Mickey Mouse
ears, spun around on the tea cups and tried in vain to get the
tune "It's a Small World" out of their heads.
Again, Sklar returns to that vision theme.
"To me it somehow communicates that there
are values in our world that last," Sklar said on a recent
walk through the Magic Kingdom. "People have said escapism.
I don't think it's escapism at all. It's the optimism."
As he strolls down Main Street, Sklar pauses
to pick up a discarded wrapper and stuffs it in his pocket to be
disposed of later. It's a motion he will repeat instinctively as
he walks the park.
"Walt was an incurable optimist," he
said. "He believed things could be better and so much of
Disneyland proves that all the time. And we continued in that
vein from the beginning."
Over the years, Disneyland has played host to
U.S. presidents and other dignitaries. In 1959, Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev railed against authorities in a speech after
being told he could not visit the park because his safety could
not be guaranteed.
Sklar recalls President Truman's visit a few
"We tried to get him to ride on 'Dumbo'
for a photo. And he said, 'I wouldn't ride on that! It's the
symbol of the Republican party!"'
Sklar pauses at Disneyland's Hub, in front of
the entrance to the park's signature Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
To the right is Tomorrowland, home to Space
Mountain, which is basically an indoor roller coaster. The
original sketch of the attraction was done by Imagineer John
Hench back in 1965. But it was a little ahead of its time - even
"Computer technology wasn't advanced
enough to be able to run those vehicles around in a dark
environment and keep them separated safely," Sklar said.
"It wasn't until almost 10 years later, we were working
with RCA and were looking for an idea for their sponsorship and
we came back to Space Mountain."
At the center of the Hub is a bronze statue of
Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse. Sklar remembers that
when Walt died in 1966, there was never any thought of turning
the park into a memorial.
"I never think of it as a shrine because
it's so alive," he said. "It's a living, breathing
thing and that's the memorial to Walt Disney, that it still
communicates the same values that it did when he started
To the left of the Hub is New Orleans Square,
home of the beloved ride that launched an entire film franchise
- Pirates of the Caribbean.
Sklar and his Imagineers built a full-scale
mock-up of the Pirates auction scene for Walt Disney to see
before construction began. "It was the last thing that Walt
ever saw before he died," Sklar said.
"We had recorded all the voices in the
auction scene. The auctioneer and the redhead and all the
characters. And Walt came in and (Imagineer) X. Atencio said,
'You know, I don't think this is working because it's all this
conversation and it's kind of a hodgepodge.'
"And Walt said, 'This is going to work
because it's like a cocktail party. At a cocktail party you turn
to a voice that's saying something and you turn to another voice
that's saying something and pretty soon you get a sense of
what's going on at the party. But the thing is you'll never hear
everything at once, so they'll have to come back and go through
it again.' "
Yo Ho! Yo Ho! Indeed they have.
10: Disney top draw
The top U.S. attractions, from tripadvisor.com:
1. Walt Disney World, Orlando
2. South Beach, Miami Beach
3. Universal Studios, Orlando
4. Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.
5. Discovery Cove, Orlando
6. Hershey Park, Hershey, Pa.
7. Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas
8. Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
9. Six Flags AstroWorld, Houston
10. Blue Man Group, Las Vegas
gift to vets appreciated
When I returned from my tour of duty in
Vietnam in July 1970, I was able to get a package from the
special services office at Mather Air Force Base that gave me
and my family two days of entry to Disneyland and access to all
rides for only $1 per person.
To the best of my memory, Disney was the only
major corporation who did anything like this for service members
who completed a tour of duty in Vietnam. This was not
well-publicized and was not mentioned in The Bee article
("Magic Kingdom is golden for 50th," July 17,
PageA-1). I think it is worthy of mention.
I still deeply appreciate this courtesy the
Disney people extended to me, my family and all Vietnam
returnees. I only wish more organizations had made the same
effort to recognize Vietnam service. Needless to say, we all had
a great time at Disneyland.
Users Dial Up Disney
It's Sunday night and Ricky Brigante is
gathering a week's worth of Disney news, rumors and research for
his weekly podcast: Inside the Magic -- The Internet's First
Orlando-Based Disney Podcast.
A small room in his Winter Garden home --
filled from top to bottom with Disney memorabilia -- serves as
an office and recording studio.
Podcasts are Internet audio feeds that can be
downloaded to a personal computer and transferred to a portable
audio player like an iPod or an MP3 player. Podcasting makes it
possible for virtually anyone with a computer and a microphone
to have his own talk radio-type show.
"I found podcasts pretty entertaining,
more than typical radio. I thought, 'What do I know well that I
could start my own podcast?' And I thought, 'Of course,
Disney,'" Brigante, 24, said.
Brigante, a Miami native, became a Disney fan
as a child during his family's occasional trips to Orlando.
"I always had a really good time,"
he said. "I enjoyed their [Disney's] way of creating a
beautiful getaway that people could escape to."
A graphic artist with a computer science
degree from Georgia Tech, Brigante says Disney's animated
movies, such as "Aladdin" and "Toy Story,"
influenced his career choice.
In his spare time Brigante co-maintained an
unofficial Disney site, but when he searched the Internet for
Disney podcasts, he found only a couple, and none from Orlando.
"I thought, 'This is perfect. I would be
the first one to have firsthand news on the parks because I live
so close to them and visit them on such a regular basis.'"
He launched Inside the Magic in April. His
half-hour show is filled with information gathered from Disney
fan Web sites, public forums, official Disney releases, and his
weekly trips to the parks -- including ride and restaurant
In a few months his audience has grown from a
few dozen regular listeners to more than a thousand.
One regular, Kirby Bartlett-Sloan, a
45-year-old father of three from Woodstock, Ga., said that he
enjoys Brigante's show because of all the "useful and fun
information about the Disney parks." Bartlett-Sloan also
maintains his own Disney Web site.
"I grew up watching Walt on Sunday nights
while he was still alive, and his enthusiasm, optimism and
patriotism stayed with me," he said.
Disney spokeswoman Brandy Phillips said that
"it's always flattering when fans take the initiative to
voice their affinity towards Disney, especially in this unique
Realizing the broad appeal of podcasting -- an
April survey put the number of listeners in the millions -- the
company has joined the trend. In May it offered podcasts during
the three-day kickoff of Disneyland's 50th anniversary
celebration, and last month it joined forces with Apple (Nasdaq:
AAPL) for the launch of the new podcast-friendly version of
Apple's digital music software and online music store, iTunes
The new version, with a directory of 3,000
podcasts including Brigante's Inside the Magic, contains
official broadcasts from Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN.com, ABC News
and Disney Online.
Brigante, whose design of a Monsters,
Inc.-inspired attraction took second place in 2003 at a Walt
Disney Imagineering competition for college students, said that
he is open to the "endless possibilities" podcasting
"I'm having a wonderful time with this.
As long as people keep e-mailing me that they are enjoying the
show, I'll keep doing it."
all ears for Disney
Robin Jones allows herself to be brainwashed by tweens on a
daily basis. In return, they have to listen to what she dishes
out. The symbiotic result is Radio Disney, one of the
fastest-growing radio networks in America, and the 46-year-old
vice president of programming is at its master controls in
According to the latest ratings, 6.6 million
listeners tune in weekly – half kids age 6 to 14, half adults
chauffeuring children to school, sports and shopping.
Every song, every contest, every celebrity
interview emanates from here. The disc jockeys are standing in
on-air studios near the Galleria.
After nine years on the airwaves, Radio Disney
reaches 97 percent of the United States via Music Choice, a
digital cable and satellite TV provider; XM and Sirius satellite
radio; and more than 50 radio stations, including KMKI-AM (620)
The secret, says Ms. Jones, is to play hot
music that kids clamor to hear and moms also enjoy without a
hint of sexual innuendo, violence or profanity.
"I'm not trying to be a censor,"
says the former on-air personality. "But here's a place
where you can safely go with your family and have fun together.
Too many stations play follow the leader. We listen to our
Not that she has a choice.
Each day, 225,000 kids from around the nation
call in to request songs, win prizes, play games or talk to the
DJs. Most of them don't get through to the live studio, but they
can still leave requests on the computer system.
The highly interactive www. radiodisney.com
targets tweens – kids too old for Barney and too young for U2
– and draws more than 300,000 daily visitors.
"We give kids the records they want with
good stuff in between, and they're happy. It's not that
hard," Ms. Jones says.
After-school drive time
Advertisers are primarily interested in
reaching the moms. Even companies hawking toys and videos know
she holds the purse strings and has veto power over this age
Premium ad rates kick in during the
after-school drive time of 3 to 7 p.m. Dallas time. That's when
there's the greatest opportunity to encourage instant
gratification – particularly if you're McDonald's, one of the
Radio Disney, Oscar Mayer Lunchables and
RealNetworks Inc. recently offered a free music download promo
targeted at families. The response exceeded all expectations.
Oscar Mayer wanted to offer free music
downloads that were certifiably family-friendly, says
spokeswoman Sara Delea. "When we consumer-tested the
concept, moms told us they really liked the fact that is was
going to be Radio Disney. We had over 80,000 downloads, and were
thrilled with the outcome."
These days, rumors abound that Disney might
spin off or sell its lucrative $3 billion radio station and
network group, which includes Radio Disney. Business gossip
mentions Sirius Satellite Radio as a potential purchaser.
Disney officials aren't talking, and Ms. Jones
isn't about to break the silence.
Neither is her boss, Jean-Paul Colaco, the
president of Radio Disney, who handles the business side from
Burbank and has flown in for the interview.
Rather, he's intent on talking about efforts
to strengthen the brand on the Internet, TV and computer
downloads, as well as to extend Radio Disney's international
This all begins with Ms. Jones and her staff
Ms. Jones, who fits the core demographic with
two young daughters, has guided Radio Disney since its inception
on Nov. 18, 1996, Mickey Mouse's 68th birthday.
The network, launched shortly after Walt
Disney Co. bought Capital Cities/ABC, was a logical marriage of
Disney's family focus and ABC's broadcast prowess.
Radio Disney is here because ABC Radio
Networks has its headquarters, studios, production facilities
and satellite uplinks here.
Last year in Dallas, 38 programming employees
at Radio Disney and more than 40 part-time child actors for
voiceovers produced 10,000 promos, commercials and features for
the network and its stations – from 30-second spots to
one-hour music specials.
There were early missteps, says Ms. Jones.
"We were dumb and dumber in the
beginning. Our first focus groups had kids who didn't take their
Ritalin flying off their chairs. We learned to keep the sessions
to no more than 25 kids and short, because after 45 minutes,
they want out. No sugar, no bathroom breaks. If you let one go
potty, they all need to go."
Ms. Jones' biggest challenge is walking an
ever-shifting line of acceptable decency. "Parents
immediately let us know when we cross it."
Like early on when they accidentally aired a
song about prostitutes. "Somebody queued up the wrong
cut," she says, rolling her eyes. "It didn't hit me
until I walked down the hall humming the song and I thought,
'Oh, dear God.' "
Does being in Dallas keep her tethered to
"I think it does," she says.
"It's a good down-the-road middle."
Radio Disney's fondness for playing blasts
from the past has encouraged young artists to remake oldies.
Some artists, including Dallas' own Bowling
for Soup, remake tunes to get airtime on Radio Disney.
"If it's the whole song, forget it. But a
word here or a line there can make all the difference," Ms.
Jones says. "A funny thing happens when artists have
children: Their whole perspective changes."
Singer Akon's "Lonely," an urban pop
version of Bobby Vinton's "I'm Mr. Lonely," now ranks
No. 2 on the Radio Disney chart. He rerecorded the hit to remove
a risqué line about lying down next to his girlfriend.
"There's no lying down allowed," Ms.
Jones says, wagging a finger. "Unless you're napping."
Her latest brainchild is Incubator, which
promotes young unknowns.
"It shows kids, 'Look, set goals, work
them out in increments, and you can make it. Don't give up on
your dreams,' " Ms. Jones says.
So does all this keep her young?
"I think so," says Ms. Jones, who's
been known to color her hair in various hues just for fun.
"When you're talking about booger humor and which band is
hot, how can you get old?"
Institute brings program to area
The Disney Institute is bringing its renowned professional
development program, "The Disney Keys to Excellence,"
to Huron on Sept. 28.
Sponsored locally by The Chamber of Commerce
of Sandusky County and the Erie County Chamber of Commerce, the
full-day program will give area business professionals a chance
to learn innovative Disney business strategies that they can
easily implement in their own organizations.
The Disney Keys program has four components:
- Leadership, Disney Style -- Participants
discover how effective leadership has been the catalyst at
Disney to drive employee/customer satisfaction and
bottom-line results, from the company's inception to today.
- Management, Disney Style -- Participants
examine the importance of integrating an organization's
corporate culture into selection, training, and care.
- Service, Disney Style --Participants
explore world-renowned Disney principles for service
- Loyalty, Disney Style --Participants learn
key practices and principles in building and sustaining
loyalty that have made Disney a trusted and revered brand
around the world for more than 75 years. These area
businesses are also helping to sponsor the program: Memorial
Hospital, Terra Community College, Style Crest Products, The
Bellevue Hospital, RS Office Solutions, the North Coast
Business Journal, Magruder Hospital, BGSU Firelands,
Firelands Regional Medical Center, Fisher-Titus Medical
Center, Northern Ohio Medical Specialists and the Sandusky
Registration is $99.00 per session.
Participants can choose to attend from one to all four sessions.
Registration includes course materials and break refreshments.
Those who go to all four will receive a complimentary lunch.
Others may pre-order lunch for $20.
The program will be held at BGSU Firelands
just off of Ohio 2 in Huron, 1 University Drive. For
registration information, call the Chamber at 419-332-1591. A
registration form can be downloaded at www.scchamber.org. For
more information about the Disney Institute, call 407/566-2620,
or visit www.disneyinstitute.com.
Disney eyes Indian pre-school TV segment
Walt Disney Television International, the
world's largest kids and family entertainment company, is
looking to capture the untapped Indian pre-school television
With its special program block "Playhouse Disney"
targeted at children between two and five years, the channel
aims to capture the 100 million children in this age group.
"India is a key market and is central to our emerging
market growth," said Nachiket Pantvaidya, production and
programming director of Walt Disney Television International
"At present, most of the cartoon programs are targeted at
children in the age group of five to 15 years. And Disney's
target of pre-schoolers is a well-thought out strategy.
"In India no one has yet tapped these pre-schoolers and
hence it is definitely a good move to introduce special shows
for this untapped audience," Pantvaidya told IANS.
The channel started its Indian wing last December with an aim to
capture the 350 million Indians below the age of 15.
However, the channel believes that these programs are not just
marketing mantras but aim at inculcating high learning values
through a concept called whole child curriculum.
"All the programs for our pre-schoolers are based on whole
child curriculum that is designed to stimulate learning with
"This curriculum-based program is an outcome of experts'
suggestions and aims to develop social and life skills while
encouraging academic learning through creativity and artistic
expressions among kids," explained Pantvaidya, an alumnus
of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
At present Disney has a reach of around 16 million cable and
satellite homes in India and expects to reach 20 million homes
by the end of this year.
To keep the audience loyalty, the channel is making its content
Along with famous "Winnie the Pooh", "Jojo
Circus", "Rolie Polie Olie" and
"Stanley", Playhouse also includes four locally
produced segments - "Hanste Khelte", "Sair Sapata",
"Pet Pooja", and "Studio Activities".
"We want our audience to identify with our programs. Since
Hindi is the common Indian language, we are producing it in
Hindi. We are also working to increase our local content in
local language," said Pantvaidya.
Some of the local content of the channel will be produced in
India, based on local stories and will be hosted by Indians.
Meanwhile, the channel is taking feedback on its new pre-school
program block from 255 nursery schools from across the country
of which 115 are from Delhi.
The $30-billion company has already tasted success in capturing
the pre-school market in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei
and the Philippines.
a Small World
After a short absence, the world's most
recognizable cartoon character comes home. Nahdat Misr's
successful re-release of Mickey proves the mouse has massive
potential for growth in the Arab world.
I recently attended a dinner party with some
Cairene friends. Naela, an NGO director, was moving to Sweden
with her family, and we had all gathered to bid her farewell. As
the evening progressed, Naela casually mentioned how she wished
there were a way to get her favorite Arabic comic book, Mickey
(or Meekee, as it's pronounced) while abroad. Suddenly, talk of
politics and society took a radical turn as everyone around the
table discovered a shared love of the magazine.
Hours later, guests were still overcome by
teary-eyed laughter as they reminisced about their favorite
weekly adventures of Mickey, Batoot (Donald Duck) and Bondock
Having grown up in the United States, I can
sing along to old songs from the Mickey Mouse Club and even name
the original Mouseketeers. I've seen Mickey's debut film, the
1928 black-and-white Steamboat Willy, more times than I can
count, but what I witnessed that night was unlike anything I
have ever seen in America, the birthplace of Mickey Mouse and
However popular the Disney characters are in
the United States, they occupy a unique position in Egypt's
collective memory: Mickey is one of the few childhood memories
common to virtually all Egyptians living today. Tastes in music,
movies, art and politics have changed over the years, but Mickey
remains largely unchanged, retaining the same nationwide allure
as it had when it was first introduced more than 40 years ago.
The characters' international appeal is
equally strong: Last October, Mickey and friends topped Forbes
magazine's list of top grossing cartoon characters worldwide,
earning Disney some $5.8 billion per year. (See sidebar.) It's
no wonder: with three theme parks, more than 100 feature films,
hundreds of books, thousands of magazines and a face
recognizable to virtually anyone, anywhere, the Mickey Mouse
franchise shows no signs of dimming.
Still, Mickey has suffered through a few rough
spells during his sojourn in Egypt, most recently in early 2003
when, without warning, the weekly pastime of tens of thousands
of readers came to an abrupt end. Disney had decided not to
renew its Arab-world licensing agreement with Egyptian publisher
Dar Al-Hilal, citing quality issues and a lack of "creative
plans" to take the franchise forward.
A friend was gone, and no one knew when or if
he would make a comeback. Fans didn't take the news sitting
down. Disney was bombarded by letters from readers throughout
the region demanding the return of their favorite characters.
They were victorious
In January 2004, after a nine-month hiatus,
the Egyptian publishing house Nahdet Misr launched a new,
revamped Mickey under license from Disney. The new magazine
looks a bit different than it did when it first hit the local
markets in the 1950s. For starters, the flimsy newsprint paper
on which it was printed has been given a pricey facelift with
glossy, smear- and odor-free pages. Each Nahdet Misr issue runs
approximately 20% longer than the old Dar Al-Hilal standard and
artists use bolder, more advanced methods of illustration, much
of it computer-aided. What's more, Mickey and friends have
abandoned their old, colloquial Egyptian conversations in favor
of Modern Standard Arabic dialogue.
Fans also need deeper pockets to indulge their
weekly habit. The new version costs LE 2.50 on newsstands, up
from LE 1.50. (Mickey Gaib and Super Mickey, special monthly
editions, now cost LE 3.50.)
Readers seem to appreciate the new Mickey: The
magazine has not only retained its place as the Arab world's
top-selling children's title, but its circulation nearly tripled
in its first year with Nahdet Misr.
Journey to Egypt
With Mickey having graced the silver screen 15
times by 1930, a company by the name of King Features Syndicate
still a powerhouse in its field offered Walt Disney a deal to
star Mickey Mouse and his supporting characters in their first
nationally syndicated comic strip in the United States. Disney
was happy to oblige, and on January 13th, 1930 the comic
collaboration of artists Ub Iwerks, Win Smith and, of course,
creator and company founder Walt Disney himself, debuted in
The first to roll out was an adaptation of
Mickey's 1928 silent film, Plane Crazy. Minnie Mouse soon joined
the strip's cast, and more comics and characters would follow,
including the "Silly Symphony" Sunday page and the
Donald Duck newspaper strip.
The Mickey strip was a hit and later crossed
oceans and conquered language barriers as the mouse and his
supporting cast made their international debut in England in the
Mickey Mouse Weekly, which ran from 1936 to 1959. The
tabloid-sized magazine reprinted strips from the American
edition leavened with story lines developed to suit British
In France, publisher Paul Winkler launched Le
Journal de Mickey in 1934. The magazine included both reprinted
Disney material and third-party comics. It wasn't until 1950,
when the Belgian edition of Mickey launched, that France
published its first art using authentic Disney characters.
The Second World War slowed the franchise's
international expansion even as it saw Mickey grow in importance
to North American audiences looking for escapist humor in the
midst of the world's most destructive conflict. Disney cartoons
debuted in Italy in 1937, but production there and elsewhere in
Europe didn't take off until the post-war period: Political and
military realities prevented Disney from promoting the
characters in countries occupied by invading Nazi German armies.
After the war's end, Mickey Mouse and friends
spread through Europe like wildfire in the late 1940s and early
1950s. Local publishers often rewrote stories in local dialects,
peppering the strips with inside jokes famliar to most natives.
Still, Mickey's popularity had yet to reach
its peak, and the only versions available in the Arab world were
Mickey goes Arabic
In the late 1950s, Egypt was deep in the
thrall of President Gamal Abdel Nasser's pan-Arab and Arab
socialist ideals. As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, the
region's cultural life flourished as a golden era of Arab film
packed throngs into cinemas; the sentimental lyrics of Abdel
Halim Hafez and Om Kalthoum graced the airwaves; and Naguib
Mahfouz released his classic Children of Our Quarter following a
All the while, Disney decided to conquer
uncharted territories. Having already won over the hearts of
readers in more than two dozen countries, Disney executives
approached the Cairo-based publishing house Dar Al-Hilal in 1959
hoping to launch an Arabic version of Mickey comics.
By that year, Sinbad, Egypt's first locally
published children's magazine, which launched in 1952, was in
troubled waters, leaving the market largely wide open except for
Dar Al-Hilal's own Egyptian comic book series Samir, which first
hit the stands in 1956. Nadia Nashaat, then editor-in-chief of
Samir, negotiated a deal with Disney that won Dar Al-Hilal the
rights to publish a translated version of Mickey Mouse comics in
a regular magazine format.
"Dar Al-Hilal was a reputable company at
that time," says Dr. Shahira Khalil, currently the
editor-in-chief of Samir magazine. "The magazines published
by Dar Al-Hilal at that time were very successful, so there was
no problem at all to have the copyright for Mickey here."
"Mickey magazine was the first
publication in the region to approach children and maintained
its position during the previous period because it kept on
developing its ideas to cope with the fast pace of the recent
history, noting that Disney characters[appeal to] allgenerations,"
explains Hisham Zahid, director of publications at Disney Middle
East. "The most important factor is the great support these
publications get from Disney itself as the strongest family
entertainment company in the world."
The Mickey craze quickly caught on. Readers
identified with these American-conceived characters, whose names
were Arabized for greater appeal. Donald Duck became Batoot;
Goofy was called Bondock; Uncle Scrooge renamed Amm Dahab, to
name a few.
"The Arabization of Mickey should be done
very properly, in an intelligent way," says Khalil.
"It must be done in a comedic way that is appealing to
children. For Goofy's name to be Bondock, this is an appealing
name for Egyptian children."
At a time when Egyptians knew little of
television and nothing of video games or satellite broadcasts,
reading was a leading source of entertainment for the country's
youth. Mickey also provided a cultural and emotional connection
to the Western world that so many young people longed for.
It was, in a way, one of the early hints of
the spread of globalization then called "Coca-Cola
capitalism" in the Arab world.
For years, Dar Al-Hilal had a lock on the
local market, with Samir and Mickey (which soon gave Samir a run
for its money on newsstands) the only two children's magazines
available in the market.
"The form was great, the printing house
was great. The colors were bold. It was very good," says
By the 1990s, even as the number of
competitors grew, Mickey remained the top-selling selling
children's magazine in the Arab world. Dar Al-Hilal had by then
increased the franchise's newsstand entries, licensing the
rights to produce the monthly supplements Super Mickey (with
extra comics and stories) and Mickey Gaib (Pocket Mickey),
literally a pocket-sized version of the book.
As the decade drew to a close, Dar Al-Hilal
claims to have been printing 70,000 to 80,000 copies a week with
a 70% sell-though rate. The 30% returned from newsstands at the
end of the week, company officials say, were bundled with books
or distributed as repackaged loss leaders.
At LE 1.50 per copy and assuming no
discounting and a 70% sell-though rate, Mickey alone was worth
LE 3.8 million to LE 4.4 million a year in copy sales alone big
business by the standards of Egyptian publishing in general, and
stunning for a niche publication.
"It was a profitable magazine," says
Khalil. "There were a lot of advertisements coming. It
wasn't a big profit, but it was a successful magazine. It wasn't
successful because it was profiting, it was successful because
we were providing a service to children."
Dar Al-Hilal was in a comfortable position.
Too comfortable, perhaps.
As with any multinational whose profits rest
largely on the exploitation of intellectual property, Disney is
driven by two concerns: Maintaining quality and finding new ways
to leverage a brand's value through spin-off and ancillary
"What they are concerned with is their
image, their quality, because Disney considers that they provide
a product with very good quality," explains Dalia Mohamed
Ibrahim, vice-president of Nahdet Misr for Publishing and
Printing. "This is part of their mission: quality, not just
of the material itself, but of the printed format."
When it came time to renew its contract with
Disney in early 2003, Dar Al-Hilal was secure in the belief that
its 44-year-long track record made the process little more than
The international cartoon giant's unilateral
decision to terminate talks came as a shock to the state-owned
"The contract was renewed [with Disney]
many times," Khalil says. "It was flowing without
problem, it was about mutual cooperation. Then, there was a
As Zahid, Disney's Middle East publishing
director, explains it, "quality was one of the issues, an
important one" behind the company's decision to break off
negotiations with Dar Al-Hilal. "But the major reason was
[that we were interested in] finding ambitious strategies and
plans to develop the product, which Dar Al-Hilal did not offer.
Also, we felt that the private sector has more ambitious ideas,
so we decided to move our cooperation in Egypt from the public
sector to the private sector."
To the disappointment of Mickey readers across
the Arab World, the magazine disappeared from newsstands for
nine months, with no word on when (or whether) it might return.
"People were very upset," says Amal
Farrah, editor-in-chief of Mickey at Nahdet Misr. "Mickey
is one of the magazines people were brought up on. It's not a
magazine for children, but something that appeals to all walks
While Mickey was off newsstands, "we were
looking for a reliable partner to work with," Zahid says.
"We wanted not only to keep but to enhance the image and
reputation of Mickey in Egypt, to keep it alive in people's
Several Arab publishing houses soon learned of
Disney's search for a partner with the resources and creative
vision to take Mickey to the next level and made bids for the
rights. Nahdet Misr was one of them. Ibrahim, the company's
vice-president, had just 21 days to design a marketing plan
creative enough (but sufficiently rooted in reality) to impress
Disney executives and bring home the deal.
In the end, the numbers Ibrahim brought to the
table spoke volumes at Disney. Where the average children's
magazine spends no more than LE 50,000 or so a year on marketing
activities, Nahdet Misr submitted a bid that included a proposal
for a campaign worth at least LE 1 million, all of it backed up
by a solid three-year business plan.
"We [designed] a very, very solid
marketing campaign," Ibrahim says. "We did the
marketing campaign, we conducted marketing research, we got
children's ideas, what they like, what characters they
The effort paid off as Nahdet Misr beat out
four other major publishing houses for rights to distribute in
roughly half the territory Dar Al-Hilal previously covered,
Disney choosing to split its regional territory in two. Nahdet
Misr now has rights to North Africa and the Levant, while the
United Arab Emirates' Arabian Establishment publishing house has
the contract for the Gulf region.
"What attracted us to Nahdet Misr was the
company's commitment to its work and its ambitious plans for the
future, as well as its invaluable past experience in the
market," Zahid explains. "The company was chosen
mainly due to its managers' ambitions; they impressed us."
Even with a price hike that saw Mickey jump to
LE 2.50 a copy, Nahdet Misr executives say they don't expect to
make a fortune out of the franchise any time soon.
"When we made our offer to Disney, we
were not expecting to make money," says Ibrahim. "We
got Dar Al-Hilal's sales [base] and we started building from
there. By increasing the quality of the paper and the magazine,
we set a very thin profit margin very, very thin."
Instead, she and others at Dar Al-Hilal
suggest, Mickey is equal parts long-term development project and
labor of love.
Still, both sides had something to smile about
as Mickey celebrated the one-year anniversary of its return to
the local market last month.
"The results were amazing," Zahid
says. "We scored record numbers that Mickey magazine never
managed before during its long presence in Egypt. We achieved
with Nahdet Misr three times the sales we used to have with Dar
Remember Dar Al-Hilal's claim to have printed
60,000 to 70,000 copies a week, selling 70% of them? Not so
fast, say Disney insiders, who suggest Dar Al-Hilal's sales
figures were somewhat lower: 25,000 or so a week when school was
in session, and rarely breaking 50,000 in summer months, when
sales typically peak. A source at a publishing house that bid
against Nahdet Misr confirms the range, saying Dar Al-Hilal
probably averaged "under 35,000 copies a week."
Under the terms of its licensing agreement,
Dar Al-Hilal was required to provide audited circulation
figures, as Nahdet Misr does now.
The first issue of the new Mickey sold 75,000
copies in its first five days on newsstands in January 2004
despite the price hike. According to Disney, the magazine now
sells 60,000 to 70,000 copies a week. (The company stopped short
of disclosing sales numbers for the monthly supplements Super
Mickey and Mickey Gaib.)
Ibrahim suggests the magazine's total
readership probably stands between 240,000 and 350,000 readers a
week, with each copy being read by 4-5 people.
At least one of those readers is in a high
place: First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, the Arab world's leading
advocate of literacy and children's programs, jumped on the
Mickey bandwagon, writing the editorial introduction to Nahdet
Misr's first issue.
So how well is Nahdet Misr making out with
Mickey? At 60,000 copies a week at LE 2.50 per copy (assuming no
discounting), the company is pulling in LE 7.8 million in gross
revenues a year on newsstands alone before distribution costs
are factored in. (Most distribution companies, the largest being
the state-run Al-Ahram Distribution Co., take 40% of the sticker
price off the top.)
The company declined to talk about advertising
sales and profit margins, but printers surveyed in Cairo
estimate it costs LE 1.25 per copy to print the magazine,
without factoring in staff, overhead and distribution costs or
royalties to Disney.
Publishing royalties account for some $100
million of Disney's revenues each year, and while the Middle
East accounts for just 1% of that total, Egypt alone accounts
for 30% (or $300,000) of it, according to figures disclosed by
"Comics are not yet a big part of
Egyptian culture," says Farrah. "We don't have a
significant role in the world of comics. Mickey is starting to
round out that picture. And thank God, our translation makes the
souls of the characters like our people."
Production on Mickey starts each month when
Nahdet Misr re-ceives its package of comics from Disney; editors
then break story lines down by each issue from there.
Once the comics and story lines are selected,
the illustrators get to work. Artists touch up the Disney
illustrations, sometimes removing elements that may not be
culturally appropriate for Arab readers.
Next comes dialogue work. "We empty the
speech balloons, ink in the translations, adapting them with
lightly humored Arabic," says Farrah. Nahdet Misr actually
hires comedians to add a little 'funny' to scenarios provided by
All the while, other departments work on the
six extra pages of Mickey that originate in Egypt, including fan
mail, additional illustrations, songs (often written by
Editor-in-Chief Farrah herself) and advertisements.
As editor-in-chief, Farrah must put a final
stamp of approval on the magazine before it is shipped off to
Nahdet Misr's printing plant in Sixth of October City.
"How to choose the material, how to
simplify it with Disney, we take the text and we translate it.
It's not an easy task," says Khalil, an expert in the field
of children's media. "Making the characters, the way Batoot
jumps up and down, gets upset and hits things, for example, this
is the art."
Better yet, it's art for promotional projects
outside the magazine that could yet expand Nahdet Misr's profit
margins, because when it comes to spin-off merchandise, Mickey
Mouse and friends are experts. Disney cannot quote an exact
figure earned by character spin-offs, simply because the
business is far too broad to keep track of.
"Disney does different things in every
line of business," Zahid explains. "For this reason it
is very difficult to keep track."
If, for instance, a product or character owned
by Disney should be used, the rights come from its specific
department whether it is a consumer product, publishing or home
entertainment, for example. Then you have movies, which
originate from three major studios: Disney Pictures; Buena Vista
and Miramax. This does not include VHS or DVDs, which come out
of Disney's sister company, Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Finally, consumer products are managed by
Disney Consumer Products and publishing by Disney Publishing
Worldwide. It's a lot to keep track of, Disney executives admit,
which is why their departments maintain a separate but equal
system for tracking profits.
Nahdet Misr markets a handful of merchandise
spin-offs on the local market, largely as free gifts with the
magazine, not as new lines of business or profit centers. Since
launching a year ago, the publisher has offered 17 gifts bundled
with cellophane to the magazine, ranging from CDs to puzzle
pieces (which readers must collect over a number of consecutive
weeks), to games.
"If you sort it out, in the last year we
gave away 16 or 17 gifts," Ibrahim says. "It costs.
Take the CD, for example, which cost LE 1.15 to stamp, and you
send it for free with the magazine for LE 2.50, without even the
material inside. So, all of this is a cost."
Still, executives at Nahdet Misr do not want
to view Mickey as a profit-maker, even now, despite its
tremendous success. Instead, Ibrahim says, they're currently
focused on growing the brand itself.
"We are building for the future; we do
not expect any profits and actually, it is not making a
profit," she says. "Publishing is a mission. There
must be somebody understanding, who focuses on things and leads
the market and leads the people to knowledge smoothly and to get
them to understand."
Nahdet Misr has also added Disney's Winnie the
Pooh to its lineup with Winnie, which joins the company's 250
periodical and book titles. Among the other highlights are the
local rights to the Harry Potter franchise as well as the Batman
and Superman comics.
The company is even going a step further.
Negotiations are underway with Disney to launch a Mickey website
in Arabic so that those who cannot access the magazine can still
enjoy its splendor, even if it does eat into newsstand sales a
"We are considering this a marketing
campaign. When you set this on the internet, I'm not going to
put a fee for the people to enter," Ibrahim explains.
"We are going to support this with general information,
games; they are going to make it a whole entertainment site on
Everyone's a critic
Everyone is familiar with the lengths to which
Batoot will go to woo his love, Zeezee (Daisy). In a recent
edition of Mickey, Batoot was determined to take his sweetheart
out for a nice day at the park. Unfortunately, the winter
weather proved an obstacle, so a resolute Batoot did what any
duck in love would do: He went to the big man in the sky to
negotiate weather conditions.
Disney and Nahdet Misr felt the scenario was
innocent enough, but some critics in Egypt disagreed. Nahdet
Misr was bombarded with letters insisting that weather is an act
of God something out of the hands of Batoot or anyone else.
"A lot of people write letters
criticizing, for example, religious issues," Farrah
explains. "So we receive letters saying 'Haram!' But we
speak with the people [and] say 'It's a comic, it's
It's a fine line to walk. Mickey's begins in
the imagination of Disney illustrators and writers, most of them
based in the United States. But with the magazine distributed in
more than 30 countries, individual publishers are bound to come
across issues that don't necessarily fit the value system of
"We have artists who touch-up the
illustrations," admits Farrah. "There are some things
that we will remove, such as a bottle of alcohol, for example,
things that don't fit with our society. The retouch artist fixes
Dar Al-Hilal's Khalil, who now edits Mickey's
competitor Samir, says the problem with Mickey as it now stands
goes far beyond cultural differences.
"I am upset because these are not our
characters. What's the second step? We should have our own
characters, we as Egyptians and we should make Egyptian
magazines," she says. "Sorry, but with Mickey we are
copying others' mentalities, others' creations. Of course it's
an amazing creation, and we have to learn from it. But what's
going on after that?"
Khalil says Disney has accomplished something
far beyond the abilities of any individual company in Egypt for
a simple reason: "In Egypt, there isn't a big company like
Disney to finance [a new character]. It needs film, it needs
t-shirts, it needs good promotion. We still need more
help," she says.
And then there's the question of imagination:
Not every adult has the talent necessary to write for an
audience of kids.
"How to write, edit a dialogue for
children, it's an art," Khalil insists. "How to talk
to children through a magazine is not an easy task. Not anyone
can write for children, not anyone can draw for them, not
everyone can simplify the material you're giving them or
understand their mentality. There is a special technique for
punctuation, for editing."
When Mickey first graced newsstands in Egypt
in 1959, the magazine was black and white, on flimsy newsprint
paper. Occasionally, artists would spice it up by adding
two-tone color, splashing a bit of red or blue on the page.
Illustrations, magazine quality and dialogue language have since
Naturally, there were a few raised eyebrows
when Nahdet Misr took over. Some griped about the price hike
(though the boost in newsstand sales has shown those gripes were
fleeting), but most who had problems had them with the content.
Characters who once communicated in colloquial
Egyptian Arabic now speak a more refined, Modern Standard
Arabic. The intention, according to Farrah, was to broaden its
appeal across the Arab world, and not just in Egypt.
Ibrahim adds that by using Modern Standard
Arabic instead of colloquial, Mickey serves as both a source of
entertainment and as an educational tool.
"We are making a lot of events,
festivals, talking with mothers, explaining how important the
magazine is and how this can help their children play and have
fun and also learn," she explains.
Other readers complained the stories are not
consistent with the old ones published by Dar Al-Hilal. Past
issues, some said, were simply better. Others still complained
that the old typeface used by Dar Al-Hilal was nicer than then
one used by Nahdet Misr.
Experts in children's media say it's not fair
"The original writers of Mickey? That
generation is now gone. There is now a new generation writing.
The writing is different," explains Farrah. "This is a
new Mickey. It has new opinions, new thoughts, and if people see
it that way, then they'll feel how beautifully it is made."
"We were raised on the old Mickey. We had
a specific viewpoint," Khalil agrees. "The children of
today might like something completely different. This is
something personal between you and the publication. It's more
than just the appearance. A different generation is reading now
with a different concept than we had when we read it."
Just can't get enough
Nahdet Misr's success with Mickey is clear,
but still I wonder what it is about a mouse, a duck, a dog and
their friends that make people rush to newsstands every Thursday
morning to pick up the latest issue.
"When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it's
because he's so human; and that is the secret of his
popularity," the late Walt Disney once said. Egyptian
readers seem to agree.
"You never think that the characters are
actually a mouse, ducks, dogs and horses," says Chahire
Adel, 28, a marketing director. "You think of them as real
people. Each with its different and well-known characteristics
to the point where you begin to expect how they will react in
certain situations. Over the years, their personalities have
remained the same."
"The stories in Mickey have more meaning
than the other magazines," says Shaddy Emad, 10. "My
mom likes Mickey because she used to read it when she was young
and she still reads it because she likes it. I like Batoot most
because he looks like my brother."
"Mickey's books and magazines are popular
in the region because Mickey was the first character appearing
on TV. It was also the first character developed by Walt Disney
75 years ago, then the other standard characters came,"
"For the older people, Mickey offers them
something to laugh at, for children, it's playful and something
that makes them laugh as well," says Farrah. "Batoot
is like any Egyptian, loud and tense. Mickey is civil and kind:
All of the characteristics in the world complete in one place.
So the people feel they are full, they swallowed a piece of
Call it the best of both worlds a cartoon
character conceived in the America of another century and
adapted to fit the ideals, insecurities and emotions of the Arab
And, best of all, a business success story.
Below are some
stories worth mentioning while we were gone.
Walt Disney Co., the second-biggest U.S.
media company, and former director Roy Disney said they agreed
to put aside their differences and that Roy Disney will become
a director emeritus and consult for the company.
Roy Disney agreed not to run a rival slate of directors for
the Burbank, California-based company's board and will dismiss
his lawsuits against the Disney, the company and Roy Disney
said in an e-mailed statement.
a half-century-old, Disneyland still shapes American travel
Uncle Walt, the storyteller, saw it this way:
"Disneyland is like Alice stepping through the looking
glass; to step through the portals of Disneyland will be like
entering another world."
And if the locals were at first perplexed — "What's
a Disneyland?" — lore would soon have it that the
magical kingdom sprang from the orange groves as if, well, by
In the 50 years since Walt Disney flung open his gates on
July 17, 1955, more than 500 million "guests" have
stepped through his portals, willingly surrendering to his
fanciful notion that "Here you leave today and enter the
world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy."
Disney's vision has transformed not just Anaheim, but the
American consciousness. His creation was a story he would tell
Americans about themselves, about "the essence of the
things that were good and true." Yet the storyline
appeals to people the world over. When Hong Kong Disneyland
opens in September, it will make for a total of 11 Disney
theme parks on three continents, each as much a state of mind
as a destination.
There was pixie dust in those California fields
— in Disney's imaginative ideas about how we experience the
world around us: what urban planners call a sense of place.
At the very moment Disney was searching for fertile ground,
postwar Americans were moving in droves to the suburbs, where
they would come to lament the loss of unique urban identities.
That yearning persists for public spaces where people can
naturally gather. It's evident in Anaheim and other cities
across the country where developers have revived fading
downtowns and designed new "town centers" and
"village squares" that connect people with their
Sleepy town hits gold
In the early 1950s, Anaheim was, as they say in the movie
industry, a bit of a sleeper with just 14,556 residents.
Founded by German immigrants in 1857, it was dominated by the
orange groves that replaced vineyards wiped out by a late 19th
But this agricultural community also had an eclectic flair
for the entertainment business. In the 1880s, it built an
Opera House (where plays were performed, though never an
actual opera). A Halloween parade grew so popular it was
televised. A future mayor, in 1952, opened an entertainment
center described as "part zoo, part park and part
nightclub" and featuring Jerry, "The World's Most
Human Chimp." Jerry was known to wait tables.
Walt Disney, meanwhile, had commissioned the Stanford
Research Institute to survey Southern California for a place
to build a theme park — an idea percolating in his
frustration as "a daddy with two daughters wondering
where he could take them where he could have a little fun with
He considered and rejected 16 acres next to his Burbank
studios. He wanted a bigger, blank canvas, "to mold his
own hills and mountains, and dig his own lakes," says Tim
O'Day, a Disneyland spokesman and student of the park's
Seventy potential sites were studied. Prevailing winds,
average maximum summer temperatures, freeway master plans —
this and more was taken into account. All roads, many of them
still dirt byways, led to Anaheim.
A deal was struck between Disney and Anaheim.
Not quite a decade later, in 1963, renowned developer James
W. Rouse, in a keynote address to the Harvard Graduate School
of Design, issued this pronouncement: "I hold a view that
may be somewhat shocking to an audience as sophisticated as
this: that the greatest piece of urban design in the United
States today is Disneyland." He praised its inherent
respect for people, and how it functioned to serve them.
How had Disney done it?
On opening day, 15,000 were expected. A
"Disneyland" television show on ABC — now owned by
the Disney company — had built audience interest for almost
It worked, all right. Some 28,000 people showed up. They
counterfeited tickets and climbed walls to get in. High-heeled
shoes, in the 100-degree heat, stuck in newly poured asphalt.
The three hosts — Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Art
Linkletter — struggled with the unpredictability of live TV,
before an estimated 90 million viewers.
Disneyland's old-timers still call it "Black
Sunday." But something important happened that day, and a
singular moment captured it: A beaming Frank Sinatra was
filmed riding Tomorrowland's Autopia, an idealized version of
the highways then transforming the American landscape. Here
was a prosperous, clean, safe and — above all — fun world.
Americans saw what was on the other side of those portals
Disney talked about, and they wanted in.
Disneyland, as Rouse would say, was "a brand new
thing." Costumed street sweepers kept it spotless. It was
staffed for "guests" by well-mannered and clean-cut
"cast members." Public areas were
"onstage," with park operations kept out of sight
Disney made his reputation in 1928 with the film debut of
Mickey Mouse. And guests approached Disneyland like a film.
The main gate was the lobby, and the view down Main Street the
"long shot." At its end, Sleeping Beauty Castle
beckoned viewers, drawing them to a plaza that formed the hub
of a wheel. Each spoke led to a different "land,"
orienting visitors — "You always know where you
are," says O'Day. Scale was kept at a human level.
Sleeping Beauty Castle is only 77 feet from moat to the
The overall effect was summed up by the late John Hench,
one of the park's lead designers. Disneyland, he liked to say,
allowed you to say hello to a stranger. Sklar believes the
park is not so much about escapism as an acute sense of
optimism and reassurance that comes directly from Walt Disney.
Disney was preoccupied with controlling the environment. A
half-century later, Anaheim is embracing his philosophy. The
company and the city have worked hand in hand since the 1990s
to give the Disney area and Anaheim itself a distinct,
pedestrian-friendly, palm tree-lined resort look — a signal
to visitors that they have arrived someplace special.
Billions of dollars have been pumped into reinforcing that
all-important sense of place. The additions of a new park,
California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney retail and
dining district reinforce Mayor Curt Pringle's assertion that
"Mickey Mouse is right in the middle of everything
That mouse helped transform Anaheim into California's 10th
largest city, and the transformation began immediately. In the
first years after opening day, it was the nation's
Ron Dominguez grew up on one of the family farms that made
up Disneyland's original 60 acres. His grandfather planted
orange groves there in 1910. As a boy, Dominguez built forts
and had orange fights. His home stood about where the entrance
is now to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. He started with
Disney on opening day, as a Main Gate ticket-taker, and
retired as an executive vice president in 1994. His last
working years were spent reimagining Anaheim.
"We were trying to make a statement that this is our
town," he says.
And perhaps that was Walt Disney's secret all along.
"Disneyland is your land," he said that
sweltering July day in 1955.
Which is why the guests streaming in this summer are in
such a celebratory mood. They are donning commemorative golden
mouse ears over the traditional black at a rate of eight to
Remains Critical After Riding Disney's 'Tower Of Terror'
A 16-year-old British girl remained in critical condition
Wednesday after riding the "Twilight Zone Tower Of
Terror" ride at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World,
according to Local 6 News.
Officials said Leanne Deacon, of Kibworth, Leicestershire,
exited the ride Tuesday at about 9:50 a.m. and complained that
she was not feeling well, Local 6 News reported.
She sat down with her mother in the theme park but her
condition continued to worsen.
"Deacon felt strange but told her mother she'd quickly
recover after exiting Disney World-MGM Studios' "The
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror," which depicts a haunted
elevator ride, said Jim Solomons, an Orange County Sheriff's
However, Solomons said the girl's condition deteriorated so
rapidly that her heart stopped beating and she had to be
resuscitated by emergency workers.
Disney medics came out and treated her and she was
transported to Celebration Hospital where she was
unresponsive, Local 6 News learned.
Disney said in a written statement that the ride was closed
until more information was available.
"Our concern is for the family and we are working with
them to provide whatever assistance they need," the
statement said. Disney officials declined further comment.
Orange County Sheriff's Office will be investigating.
Two people have died at Disney World this year. A
4-year-old Pennsylvania boy, Daudi Bamuwamye, died June 13
after riding Epcot's "Mission: Space" and a
77-year-old Minnesota woman, Gloria Land, died in February
after riding the Magic Kingdom's "Pirates of the
A medical examiner's report said Land who was in poor
health from diabetes and several ministrokes and her death
"was not unexpected." The cause of the boy's death
remains under investigation.
Florida's major theme parks are not directly regulated by
the state, and instead have their own inspectors.
On the ride, guests are seated aboard a freight elevator
that glides through hotel passageways.
The elevator enters a pitch-black shaft and launches guests
skyward unexpectedly. The vehicle then drops 13 stories.
Disney to Dismantle Site After Striking Truce
Former dissident shareholder Roy E. Disney, who led a
revolt against Walt Disney Co. management last year, said he
would shut down his website, Savedisney.com, days after
striking a truce with the company.
Roy Disney and partner Stanley P. Gold used the site to
criticize the entertainment giant's leadership after they left
the board in late 2003. But the two men and management agreed
to work together to better the company last week.
The site will be dismantled Aug. 7, Roy Disney said.
Sunday July 17, 2005
Happy 50th Birthday
On this Historical Date 50 years ago today, the Grand Opening
Day of Disneyland occurred. As it happened 50 years ago and
still happens to date, may you find joy and Happiness at the
Happiest Place on Earth. Happy Birthday Disneyland and Many,
many more. To all who come to this Happy Place Welcome.
Thursday July 14, 2005
How to Build a Tree
Construction continues at Magic Kingdom on Pooh's 100 acres
woods playground. These pictures were taken today. Here are
construction workers adding leaves to a tree that faces
Fantasyland. Click the thumbnails for larger view.
Friday July 8, 2005
Fourth of July at Magic Kingdom and
Hey everybody, well, July 4th came and went, but Wow did it go
with a bang. We thought the July 4th fireworks at Magic Kingdom
were a bit short, 10 minutes to be exact, but I think Disney had
something else in mind and they were testing something new out,
some type of hybrid Wishes and Fantasy in the Sky's combination.
Disney was also filming the display on Main Street USA. Our
sources say this might be for the new Soarin' film finale slated
for after the Happiest Celebration comes to an end or sometime
after that, but again this is only a rumor and should be taken
just as that.
The Countdown for Disneyland's Official 50th
Birthday has begun, with a little more than a week left, July
17th., regular guest are starting to wonder if anything special
is being planned at all the other parks besides Disneyland.
We'll just have to wait and see. See Ya Real Soon!
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