Friday, August 29, 2014

Disney App Store Labor Day Sale

Labor Day App Sale from Disney!

With Labor Day as the last long weekend to enjoy those long summer car ride trips, Disney is celebrating with a special Labor Day sale on mobile apps across Disney’s beloved properties! From August 29th through September 4th, more than 25+ of our most popular mobile apps will go on sale for 99 cents.  
From princess playtime or adventuring with our favorite superheroes, Disney’s mobile apps have something anyone can enjoy for some great backseat fun. Featured apps include Disney classics like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Marvel superheroes with Spiderman and Avengers, and all-time favorite Disney princesses. Apps also span formats including animated storytelling to interactive gaming activities. Whatever you decide, each one of our Disney apps is sure to extend the magic of Disney to your family in the most engaging ways possible.
Click here to visit iTunes and see the available apps!

Disney Princess: Story Theater 
Disney Princess Royal Salon
Princess Dress-Up: My Stickerbook
Minnie Fashion Tour HD
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint & Play
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Wildlife Count Along 
Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book
Numbers with Nemo
Lightning Was Here: My Puzzle Book
Letters with Pooh
Mickey Mouse: Mash-Up
Frozen: Storybook Deluxe
Brave: Storybook Deluxe
Tangled: Storybook Deluxe
Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace
Toy Story: Story Theater
Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe
The Lion King: Timon's Tale
Planes: Storybook Deluxe
Cars 2 World Grand Prix Read and Race
Spider-Man AR Book HD
Avengers Origins: Assemble!
Avengers Origins: Hulk
The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story
La Luna: The Story Project
Disney Karaoke: Frozen
Disney Magic Mirror
Wake Up With Disney
Disney XD Grand Prix
Gravity Falls Mystery Shack Attack
Disney Super Speedway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Press Release: Disney Interactive And Harmonix Bring The Music And The Magic From “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” To Pax Prime 2014

Press release from Disney about several special events taking place at Pax Prime in Seattle this weekend.



Fans Experience and Play Through New Worlds and Music To Earn Exclusive Collectible Swag

Full Soundtrack and Footage of Recording Sessions Revealed at Panel

BURBANK, Calif. — (August 26, 2014) – Disney Interactive and Harmonix are delivering music and magic to PAX Prime 2014 in Seattle with the award-winning “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.”  Disney Interactive and Harmonix will be on hand for the ultimate fan experience, giving attendees opportunities to collect exclusive swag, play new songs at the Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved Soundscape, and receive a behind-the-scenes look at the music production for the game at the ‘Music Evolved – From 8 Bit Soundtrack to Gameplay’ panel.

“Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” Soundscape
When: Friday, August 29 – Sunday, August 31 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Monday, September 1 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: Portland & Discovery Rooms at the Grand Hyatt (721 Pine Street)

Stop by the Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved Soundscape and play through new worlds and music featured in the game to earn limited edition “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” giveaways including collectible buttons (8 styles – collect them all!) and a T-shirt featuring award-winning original artwork, while supplies last.  Fans can also enter for a chance to win a custom Xbox One.  Daily drawings will be held one hour before doors close.

“Music Evolved – From 8 Bit Soundtrack to Gameplay” Panel
When: Saturday, August 30 at 12:00PM – 1:00PM PT
Location: Hedgehog Theatre at the Washington State Convention Center

Join Award-winning Composer, Inon Zur, Recording Producer and Engineer Eddie Kramer, Host/Producer of “Classical MPR” Emily Reese and instrumental members of the Disney Interactive music team to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce music for the first-ever immersive music discovery platform.  Full soundtrack will be announced and never-before-seen footage of recording sessions revealed.

Featuring over 30 tracks – including contemporary hits, classic rock, classical music, and more – “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” transports players to a breathtaking world where music and magic combine to transform extraordinary interactive landscapes in entirely new and creative ways.

“Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” will be available worldwide on October 21, 2014 for $59.99 for Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Kinect for Xbox 360 with an ESRB rating of E10+ with lyrics descriptor. For additional information about “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved,” join the Facebook community at, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @FantasiaGame and view all videos on our YouTube channel at

My Disney Library: Disney Years: Seen Through a Photographers Lens by Thie and Kilpatrick

Disney Years: Seen Through a Photographer's Lens by Carlene Thie and Mel Kilpatrick. 2002.

This book is a collection of black and white photographs taken by Mel Kilpatrick during the first few years of Disneyland. There are 60 photos that he took while he worked for a local newspaper. The photos are beautiful, but there's nothing monumental. If you love Disneyland, especially the first few years, then you'll love the high-resolution photos.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WYWHW: Monorail at Walt Disney World Postcard

Wish You Were Here Wednesday: Monorail!

One of the most unique forms of transportation, "The Monorail" transports you to the Magic Kingdom Park to Epcot with stops at some of the famous Disney Resort hotels in between.
This postcard has a rather odd juxtaposition of the monorail, Tomorrowland and Cinderella Castle. I'm assuming the vantage point is between the Magic Kingdom bus stop and the Contemporary Resort.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DVD Review: Unidentified Flying Oddball

We received a copy of the Unidentified Flying Oddball from the Disney Movie Rewards Club for redeeming points from Blu-rays. I'd never seen it before and it's been on our shelves for more than a year. After a violent storm, we lost internet, so I pulled this one out to watch while we waited for internet to start working.

The film was released in 1979 and was originally entitled A Spaceman and King Arthur. It's a take on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court which was published in 1889. I've not read Twain's novel but I'm familiar with the story and I had a few expectations.

The story centers on Tom Trimble and his work with NASA. A space shuttle called Stardust that can travel faster than any ship before has been developed by NASA. Instead of sending a person into outer space on a journey that could take 30 years, they decide to create an android duplicate. Tom Trimble, the lead scientist (I think), creates an android duplicate of himself. Trouble ensues during launch sending the android and Trimble to England in the 600s.

Unidentified Flying Object is a fish-out-of-water story in which any amount of sophistication on the part of any of the characters would have resulted in a different film all together. There is some charm, but the characters seem so out-of-touch that I spent half of my time dismayed at the choices they made. Trimble is an awkward leading man and an even more awkward scientist. He tends to take each situation without regard to his life. He spends time telling King Arthur and Sir Gawain the history of the world until the 1970s, which would prove nothing to anyone.

Merlin was played rather nefariously, which is interesting since it's out of character for what we always perceive as the court wizard. Sir Mordred, played by the amazing Jim Dale, is the best part of the whole film. He's campy, over-the-top and laughably evil (and I mean that in a good way). His character is a splinter of Doc Terminus from the wonderful Pete's Dragon. To me, he's the only actor in the film that really stepped up and gave his best performance.

Overall, the movie seemed to miss on quite a few levels; I just couldn't get past the obvious lack of a thought process by the characters. As I mentioned earlier, there was some charm, but not enough to give the movie the heart that it needed. It felt like it was another film that Disney put out because they were too afraid to break with the films of Walt Disney or the stereotype of a Disney live-action film.

My ten year-old had no interest in the film, but he did stop to watch some of the action scenes, including the android jousting and Trimble being burned at the stake. If you're looking for a decent family film without any presuppositions, then it's a good choice. There's not too much that's overtly offensive, except a very ditzy blonde with a gander.

Did they have ditzy blondes in England during the 600s?

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Disney Library: Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook by Kimberly Button

The Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook by Kimberly Button was released in 2006 and was one of the first titles to address the issue of waiting in the queue. The book offers a short description of the attraction and the estimated time of the ride. The majority of the book is dedicated to trivia questions and scavenger hunts to use during the queue.

My only gripe about the book is that she uses the word queue and line together. Seeing as how the book is almost ten years old, there's no reason to purchase a copy since it hasn't been updated. Unless you're a completist, like me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

That's Not at Disneyland by Dominick Cancilla as ruined by Horatio Q Liar

That's Not at Disneyland by Dominick Cancilla (as ruined by Horatio Q. Liar)

We just got our review copies and I'm really excited about diving into this book. Basically, Horatio Liar took Dominic's scrapbook of his various trips from Disneyland and messed them up a bit.

We reviewed Horatio's book 396 Pure, Unadulterated, Dyed-in-the-Wool, 100% Made-up, Completely Fake Disneyland "Facts" during our Season One Finale of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show™).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Carowinds New Giga Coaster Fury 325!

Carowinds has been teasing us for a few weeks about a big announcement that was supposed to transform the park. At their media event, they released the details on the new giga coaster set to debut Spring 2015.

Fury 325

  • 325-foot hill
  • 81 degree first loop
  • Speeds up to 95 miles per hour
  • 6,602 feet of track
  • three and a half-minute ride time
Fury 325 is designed and manufactured by Bolliger and Mabillard (B&M) of Monthey, Switzerland, a recognized industry leader in roller coaster development and the same firm that brought Vortex to Carowinds in 1992, Afterburn in 1999, and The Intimidator™ in 2010.
This will be the world's fastest and tallest giga coaster and should help breathe a lot of life into Carowinds and make it more of an international draw for coaster enthusiasts.

Another part of the press release discussed revamping the entrance plaza, which will include walking through the Fury 325 track. The new 8.2 acre main entrance complex that includes a "state–of–the–art ticketing and season pass processing area and expanded guest service facilities."
Fury 325 is part of a planned $50 million dollar multiyear investment to bring new life to founder Pat Hall’s original vision for Carowinds. The park will be revamped from top to bottom to celebrate Carolina culture including new rides and attractions, signature Carolina food offerings and entertainment.
Honestly, this section of the press release excited me the most! This is a true opportunity for Cedar Fair to make Carowinds stand out and not just be a regional coaster park. It's a great step to becoming a true theme park, like Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm.

Check out the flyover of the new entrance, the park and the Fury 325!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WYWHW: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Postcard

Wish You Were Here Wednesday: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Postcard

"Hang on to your hats and glasses 'cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness." Travel on this rollicking mine train through an Old West mining town for a rip-roarin', thrill-a-minute ride.
This is an interesting postcard image because of it's non-traditional shot of the attraction vehicle. Maybe it's that the train is going down a small hill instead of the more traditional lift hill shot.

What do you think about this postcard for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Press Release: Vinylmation Pixar Villains Series 5 Descend on Disney Store!

I've never been a big collector of the Disney Vinylmation characters, but there are quite a few that I've not been able to resist (usually ones related to my favorite theme park attractions). Disney has just released Villains Series 5 that contains eight villains from Disney Pixar films, including a mystery figure.
Each blind-boxed package contains one of eight different designs in this series. You won't know which one you've got until you open the box!
Figures in this series include: Syndrome - The Incredibles (Artist: Enrique Pita), Mordu - Brave (Enrique Pita), Thumper - A Bug's Life (Marvin Lao), Charles Muntz - Up (Gerald Mendez), Darla - Finding Nemo (Gerald Mendez), Waternoose - Monsters, Inc. (Marvin Lao), Dean Hardscrabble -Monsters University - with neck extension (Enrique Pita), plus Mystery Figure.

Do you collect the Vinylmation figures? Which one is your favorite of the Disney Villains Series 5?

My Disney Library: Disney Creative Arts

This is an interesting book that's related to a program for 10-15 year-olds that Walt Disney World Seminar Productions featured in the late 1970s and early 1980s called the Wonders of Walt Disney World. It was sort of like a day program that kids could participate in that took up several full days. Basically, the kids looked at how art was featured in Walt Disney World.

Disney Creative Arts is a large book that takes you through the creative process--at Disney and throughout the art world--in order to show you how art is everywhere and how you can create art. It was published in 1979 with a reprint in 1984. It's 104 pages.

It's a neat book but the real reason to own it is because there are some pretty cool photos of Walt Disney World that I haven't seen in other places.

Did you ever get to experience the Wonders of Walt Disney World?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Disney Dining on the World Famous Jungle Cruise

Not that dining on the World Famous Jungle Cruise is a reality, yet, but there are some fanciful nods to food among the other jokes, tributes and hilarities.

As your skipper will often inform you that it could be a three-week cruise, are you wondering about the possible dining options? Of course, there's no need to tap your MagicBand for a dining credit at this attraction.

Yet, anyway.

As you navigate the queue, pay attention to the signs, reference and crates which help tell the story of the Jungle Cruise and its crew. Right before load, you will find a sign detailing the Lunch Menu for the crew of the Jungle Cruise.  

Monday—Fricasse of Giant Stag Beetle (tastes like chicken)
Tuesday—Barbecued Three-Toed Skink (has a chicken flavor)
Wednesday—Consomme of River Basin Slug (poultry like)
Thursday—Fillet of Rock Python (chicken-esque)

On second thought, maybe the Jungle Cruise isn't the best place to grab a bite to eat during lunch.

Anybody up for chicken?

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Disney Library: Designing Disney's Theme Parks by Karal Ann Marling

Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance edited by Karal Ann Marling was released in 1998 and is comprised of seven long-form essays about Disney parks. It's a great read and offers a lot of insight into Disney theme parks and their design.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Muppets Bonus Clips!

Celebrating the release of Muppets Most Wanted on blu-ray, Disney has released the following film clips!

Tina Fey Bloopers

Ricky Gervais Bloopers

I really enjoyed Muppets Most Wanted a lot more than I thought I would. If you're a Muppets fan, then you definitely need to add this blu-ray to your collection.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Massive Disney Blu-ray Release Song Clips!

With the five blu-ray releases this week, Disney is offering a few film clips of some of the songs.

Which one is your favorite?

Tarzan: Strangers Like Me

Tarzan: Son of Man

Hercules: Training

Bedknobs And Broomsticks: Substitutiary Locomotion

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Merrily On Our Way

Don't forget that The Reluctant Dragon is part of the Ichabod and Mr. Toad blu-ray release. It's an incredible look at the Disney Studios in 1941 and worth the price of the blu-ray. alone!

WYWHW: Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom Postcard

Wish You Were Here Wednesday! 

This postcard celebrates the imposing facade of the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The Haunted Mansion - Foolish mortals, once you begin your ride through this macabre manor, as your "ghost host" informs you, "there's no way out!" It's wall-to-wall creeps and hot 'n' cold running chills!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Disney Library: Designing Disney by John Hench

Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show by John Hench has seen two releases. The purple one (referred to as Hench Purple) was 2003 and the orange version was released four years after his death in 2008.

The purple cover is classic Hench and shows how much power he wielded at Disney. Even in 2003, it wasn't a modern cover and felt dated. After his passing, Disney re-designed the cover to make it more modern, especially with regards to color. There's not much difference between the two editions, text-wise.

When I am asked, "What is your greatest achievement?" I answer, "Disneyland is our greatest achievement. Disneyland was first and set the pattern for others to follow." Disneyland has been an example for many enterprises in the entertainment industry, and its design principles have been embraced by other industries as well. The concept of "themed" environments--places designed so that every element contributes to telling a story--was developed and popularized by Walt Disney. Its influence has been extraordinarily widespread, and can be seen today in many aspects of our daily experience--in shops and shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, museums, airports, offices, even people's homes. --John Hench, p. 1.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Carowinds, The Roller Coasters

Carowinds (Charlotte, NC) is a great local park with more than a handful of roller coasters. They've evolved over the past 40 years, bouncing from Disneyland-clone to amusement park to thrill park. With the purchase by Cedar Fair a few years ago, it looks like Carowinds is slowly turning into more of a theme park. Carowinds has some great coasters and I'd love to see a lot more theming take over the entire park. The need for shaded walkways was very apparent, even during a spring visit. Let's hope that the upcoming announcement will show that Cedar Fair is pumping some money into this local favorite. Check out my earlier post about Carowinds.


Our first ride of the day was Nighthawk, a flying coaster with eight inversions. During our visit, we'd received one free Fast Lane ticket. We new we'd need to use it on Nighthawk or the Intimidator. After speaking to a very friendly employee, he advised using it on Nighthawk since most of the other coasters loaded faster.

There was a seat located at the front of the queue to give you an example of the seating configuration and style. It's nice to offer this to guests, but I would have like to seen it in a more out-of-the-way area for guests that might have weight issues.

The queue was fairly straightforward, and even first thing in the morning, it was a 45+ minute wait. We used our Fast Lane ticket, which cut the wait to slightly less than 15 minutes. As you can see from these images, you load on your back and crest the first hill like that. Most of the coaster is spent hanging.

It really was a great coaster but we would run into the same experience again and again: we spent more time in load and unload than we did on the ride. It detracts a lot from the total experience to wait to start and then wait to unload. It's the reason that we skipped a few of the coasters, like the Carolina Cobra and the Vortex. I'd ridden them before and was bothered that I spent more time loading than enjoying the coaster. Nighthawk clocks in at two minutes and I wonder if there's a way to engineer a separate load and unload zone for the coaster to speed things up.

Still, hitting Nighthawk first thing in the day is a great way of experiencing this flying coaster (I'd love to do it at night, too).

The Intimidator

Besides California Screamin', the Intimidator is one of the best coasters I've ever experienced. You can ignore the heavy NASCAR theme and don't let it keep you from this fantastic hyper coaster (a hyper coaster is defined by exceeding 200 feet, lacking inversions and having a lift hill). The Intimidator's lift hill is 232 feet and it's the tallest in the Southeast.

The Harmony Hall was under construction during our visit, which you can see from the queue.

The queue is mostly in the sun but you get a great view of the ride vehicles before they re-enter the load/unload zone.

Misting fans are provided in some of the queues. Just be careful, they can "remove" your sunscreen and the water droplets can magnify the sun's rays. Just sayin'.
We saw a lot of construction going on in the park. Sadly, it did detract from the overall experience. Maybe a few construction walls? 

That first lift hill is quite amazing and the ride doesn't give up until right before you hit the unload zone. We rode it twice in a row and that was just one ride too many. It would have been better to tackle the coaster again, but later in the day. Don't let the first lift hill scare you away; the Inimidator is an amazing coaster.


Afterburn is an inverted coaster with six inversions and it clocks in at two minutes and 47 seconds. 

We approached the coaster from behind and this was our first view of it.

It was originally a Top Gun coaster and the theming still has a military feel.

The load didn't seem to take as long, and at almost three minutes, it's a very satisfying coaster. Afterburn has always been one of the most popular coasters at Carowinds, since it was added in 1999.


Ricochet is a wild-mouse coaster that packs in quite a bit of scares and screams. I'm a huge fan of wild mouse coasters. Ricochet is just under two minutes and always seems to have a long wait in the queue.

We were in the front seat of the four-person vehicle and there were two large "football-type" guys. I just bring it up, because they were screaming the whole time that they were going to die. I ave to admit that it was more frightening than the Intimidator.

Again, it does take a long time for the load and unload process of the Ricochet. It's a great coaster but the wait can be a killer. Because of the single entrance, Fast Lane is not available for this attraction.

The Hurler

The Hurler is a classic wooden roller coaster that reached 50 MPH and lasts for two minutes. I rode it many years before when the entire area was themed to Wayne's World.  It's a very bumpy and rickety coaster that seemed a little too bumpy for us. When we headed around the main curve for the big drop, you could see the amount of storage and construction material that was hidden from outside view. It's obviously storage for Scarowinds. The queue winds through the base of the coaster, which is a great way to get riders excited about it.

The Juke Box Diner was a Stan Mikita's when the entire area was themed to Wayne's World (when Paramount owned Carowinds).

Carolina Cyclone

Installed in 1980, the Carolina Cyclone was the first coaster in the word to turn riders upside down four times. It's an Arrow Dynamics ride (that name should be very familiar to Disney fans) and comes in at an embarrassing 60 seconds. We spent more time waiting in the hot sun to get into the unload zone before we were able to exit.

A caveat: each car holds four people and the back seat has much less leg room than the front. It was very uncomfortable for two six-foot guys to sit in the back seat. Since you can choose your own row, I'd suggest you opt for one of the front seats.

Carolina Cobra

By the time we reached the area of the park with the Carolina Cobra, we decided that we didn't want to wait in that long of a queue. The ride is two minutes long. You experience three inversions then travel backwards through the ride for three more inversions. Obviously, the load and unload would have taken a while.

I wanted to call it the Saved By the Bell coaster!

The Carolina Cobra was very popular and it looked like a great experience. Maybe on my next trip.

There were some other coasters that we didn't get to, including the Carolina Goldrusher and Thunder Road. The Goldrusher is an opening day attraction and is still a park favorite. It's a runaway mine train ride that last for two minutes and 17 seconds. I've ridden plenty of times on previous trips and it's a great little coaster that's also a great first grown-up coaster wants kids reach the 48" height requirement. Thunder Road debuted in 1976 and is the first coaster to straddle two state lines! Thunder Road is also known for helping to usher in the great coaster races of the late 1970s that continue today. They're both great coasters but we simply ran out of time during our visit.

I love this billboard advertising the Ricochet!

Do you have a favorite Carowinds' coaster?