Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disney Geeks: Gift Buying Guide

Andy's Birthday
Originally uploaded by biblioadonis.
So what do you give a Disney Geek for his birthday?

How about: Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real and Modern Marvels - Walt Disney World on DVD.

This should be enough to keep one of the Disney Geeks busy for a while.

And be the beginning of an impressive Disney library.

Happy birthday, Andy!

A Reason to Go to (shudder) Universal?

John Frost at The Disney Blog has posted a link to the Orlando Sentinel about the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Island of Adventure.

So, does this mean the one of the Disney Geeks will actually have to make a trip to Universal? If the Wizarding World comes off as planned, I will have to make that arduous journey. But not at least until 2009. I visited Universal Studios in Hollywood many years ago. All I will say is that it was a huge disappointment and it has kept me away from Universal in Florida.

My love of Harry Potter--the books, films and video games runs strong. Strong enough to make me visit Islands of Adventure--at least for one day!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Disney Geeks: Bringing the Magic Home

We stayed at Disney's Old Key West Resort in May of 2004.

Every morning (and afternoon) we would cross over Peninsular Rd. to get to the Hospitality House and the bus stop.

Right at the intersection, there was a ground cover that smelled amazing. I looked forward to the smell in the mornings and the afternoon. It came to be a portent of the day. Once we smelled the flowers, we knew we on our way to another exciting day at a theme park.

I raved about the flowers so much, that my mom tracked down the flower at our local Lowe's Home Improvement. I called the Old Key West front desk and asked if this was the flower. They transferred me to a voice mail and I left a message for a horticultural specialist at Walt Disney World.

A few days later, I received a voice mail telling me that the plant was a Confederate Jasmine.

We found the plants at Lowe's and put them in planters right next to our deck.

The smell will hit me and take me back instantaneously to Old Key West.


Main Street 8:59

Main Street 8:59
Originally uploaded by taylorfam2007
For many of us, having Main Street to yourself seems impossible. Here is a little tip that will allow you to bask in your Disney Geek-ness.

Book an early breakfast at The Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Royal Table (CRT) and you will be allowed to enter the park and stroll at your leisure to your breakfast destination. The closer to opening you book your breakfast, the more the entrance will be guest ready.

The shot on the left was taken one minute prior to opening. Our breakfast was at 9:10 at CRT. When we arrived via a Walt Disney World bus at 8:50 on a busy Saturday and saw 5,000+ people outside in line, we thought we would miss our reservation. Fortunately, by showing a cast member our reservation, we were whisked through the gates, bypassing any lines and were released to smell, hear and see Main Street with no obstructions.

The busy-fun music was already playing....

The delicious smell of different foods would change every ten steps....

Every cast member was fully dressed, including smiles....

Because the street was empty, I tried to get some shots of the fam in front of the castle. A PhotoPass photographer walked up and volunteered to take some pics on our camera. He took the time to position us perfectly between the castle and the statue of Walt holding Mickey. He patiently snapped away while we tried to get our two year old to smile.

It was almost like the cast members were in on it--that we were experiencing something so few ever do. Even though you could not see or hear the throngs at the gates, you could feel them surging and building for the big entrance. It really added to the energy of the experience.

The whole morning felt reminiscent of finding the tree loaded with presents on Christmas morning before anyone else was awake, only amplified in magnitude by the Disney magic.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Charles Ridgway "Spinning Disney's World"

One of the most important things we can do as humans is remember. Sometimes the memories are painful, sometimes they are joyous. When the memories come from one of the largest legends in the entertainment journalism field, they are at the very least significant.

A living piece of our nation's brightest landmark has delivered a collection of memories that is filled with the same magic that has captured millions.

You get the sense that Charlie never underestimated the importance of what he was helping to build, even though he never directly stated it. You also feel the presence of Walt's hand in all of the amazing stories. As much as I respect what Charlie has accomplished, his stories have made me realize how important Walt's ideas and passion are to the everyday success of Disney. I think Charlie would agree that he was a steward of Walt's, helping fulfill the legacy Walt left behind.

Fortunately, on July 5th, at 7:00pm, I will get the chance to ask him personally. He will be at the Barnes & Noble in Winston-Salem, NC, signing copies of his new book Spinning Disney's World. Let me know if you would like to ask Charlie a question and I will be your steward.

If Walt was the father of the parks, Charlie was the big brother. Tirelessly promoting the parks not as a job, but as a passion. Charlie was present at every meaningful moment and always stood up for the parks in a way that only a big brother can. This care came unconditionally as the reader can easily sense that Charlie had a passion that he was compensated for as opposed to a job that he loved.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Disney Dream: Living in Orlando

Imagine being able to visit the Magic Kingdom during your lunch break.

Catching a showing of Illuminations at Epcot since there is nothing good on TV that evening.

Eating at a different Walt Disney World restaurant every weekend.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

What if you lived near Walt Disney World. How much time would you spend visiting the theme parks?

I have been reading Brian Bennett's column, Eyes On Orlando at Mouseplanet, for many years. Recently, he posted Orlando Attractions From an Orlando Resident's Perspective.

Brian talks about how his family visits theme parks and other Orlando attractions after becoming Orlando residents. What would you do differently if you lived less than 30 minutes from the magic? Take a gander at his column and let us know what you think.

Because every Disney Geek wants to be closer to the magic!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Haunted Mansion Detail

Haunted Mansion Detail
Originally uploaded by biblioadonis.
I love the Haunted Mansion.

Every time that I visit the Magic Kingdom, I ride the Haunted Mansion. It was actually my first Disney ride. Back in 1994, after a delicious meal at the Liberty Tree Tavern.

I remember the first time I had ever heard of the Haunted Mansion. A friend went to WDW and brought back viewmaster slides of the Vacation Kingdom. I vividly remember the slides of the ballroom. I knew at that moment that I needed to ride the Haunted Mansion. Fast forward twenty years. It completely lived up to it's reputation.

Check out the details in the photo. Is it a person? What is the other object?

There are so many myths and legends about the Haunted Mansion.

What is your favorite tale?

In the meantime, check out

Have a lot of spare time and want to impress the Disney Geeks? Do this.

Also, check out the Haunted Mansion Wikipedia article.


After doing some more searching, I came across On the blueprints page, I ran across an architectural detail for the Liberty Square Haunted Mansion Cresting Detail on the Colonnade.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Disney Travel ON DEMAND!

The Disney Geeks are excited about this! (What aren't we excited about?)

From the Piedmont Triad Time-Warner On Demand channel:

Journey TV - Channel 1107
Journey TV is the first on demand channel dedicated to travel information offering viewers the opportunities to review travel and destination videos provided by the destinations themselves. Check out destination packages from Disney Parks, the National Parks Service, Busch Entertainment, Mexico Tourism and various U.S. State and City Tourist Boards.

So...what does this mean? Check out the press release.

Here is a shot of the press release explaining the details (click on the image to view it larger).
I know what I will be doing this evening.

What about you?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Disney Dining Change

Several blogs and news related sources have been talking about the latest change to the ever-evolving Disney Dining Plan.

The Disney Geeks love the Disney Dining Plan (DDP)--if you can take advantage of it. Both of the Disney Geeks have had two completely different experiences. Even though we agree that it is an incredible money saver, there were some issues.

  • The restaurants are always full,
  • The service has seemed to fall by the wayside in some venues,
  • It is hard to take full advantage of the DDP without making Advanced Dining Reservations(ADR), and
  • Some restaurants are full at the 180 day mark for ADR's.
The change that has been discussed is that gratuities (or tips) will not longer be part of the DDP. Meaning you will be spending more of your own money during sit down meals. You will have to pay the tips.

The Disney Geeks feel your pain.

But, allow us to express why this is a good idea for the DDP.

We have talked to many people about the DDP--their fears, reactions and excitement. Many people have complained about the service levels. That they were not up to typical Disney standards. The general feeling on message boards, forums and blogs is that many servers, although feeling inundated, we pleased with the automatic 18% gratuity.

We spoke to the manager of the 50's Prime Time Diner about a great experience we had in December 2006. She was dismayed that our other dinners were not up to Disney snuff. She mentioned that the gratuity was always optional. We could have refused the gratuity for poor service. one had mentioned this before.

So, we applaud this new policy. This might be the impetus to bring some of Disney back to the wait staff at the various eateries.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Disney + Greensboro = Economic and Social Vitality

The Disney Geeks continues to cheer the rumors about Disney building an entertainment complex in Greensboro, NC.

Please keep your arms, legs and brain inside the blog at all times!

The following is excerpted from the 2005 Disney Annual Report:

We believe that Disney’s long-term prosperity fundamentally rests on our ability to create exceptional content that audiences around the world embrace, to deliver that content, to the greatest extent possible, to consumers when, how and where they want it, and to do so in a way that delivers economic value to our shareholders over the long term. Allocating capital profitably and managing our day to day operations in a way that maximizes Disney’s opportunity for both creative and financial success are the most important ways that we serve the owners of our Company.

To measure how we are doing as we seek to sustain robust financial performance over time, we track three major financial metrics: 1) earnings, 2) free cash flow and 3) return on investment. We believe that we must deliver strong results on all three of these metrics over time. None of them, taken alone, is a sufficient indicator of value creation, but we believe delivering attractive results for all three of these metrics over the long run will drive long-term economic prosperity for our Company.

As we target these long-term financial goals, we will continually fortify our established businesses and brands because they remain a vital part of our future. At the same time, we will embrace and seek to capitalize on the changes that are transforming the media business. Across the Company, we are pioneering new distribution opportunities and investing in a wide variety of initiatives to position Disney as a preeminent player in the rapidly evolving media marketplace.

Now we turn to Action Greensboro's number one goal in their 2006 Annual Report:

I. Build Community Spirit, Image and Civic Engagement.

Center City Revitalization

A City’s downtown is the #1 indicator of its economic vibrancy. Action Greensboro’s center city initiatives are designed to serve as a catalyst for additional private and public investment. In 2006, the revitalization of Greensboro’s downtown continued to be a priority. Completion of the new $12 million Center City Park was the major center city event of 2006. With a spectacular, programmable fountain, numerous alcoves for quiet enjoyment, two large areas for special events, intriguing original works of art by local artists, beautifully implemented design details, trees, plants and flowers, Center City Park opened on December 1.
The City of Greensboro agreed to provide $350,000 in annual support for the Park and contracts were signed with Downtown Greensboro, Inc. to maintain the Park and with Grassroots Productions Limited, Inc. to manage special events. Johnny Burris was hired
as Park Manager.

Further into the document, we see the heading Attracting and Retaining Young Professionals.
We applaud Action Greensboro as one of the beacons in the downtown revitalization.

Looking at the goals for Action Greensboro and the intent of Disney's Annual Report, we come to the conclusion that Disney will be good for Greensboro. Disney is rumored to be looking at several locations in the eastern part of the United States. Locations to be home to urban entertainment complexes.

We're not talking about plopping a Magic Kingdom or Epcot in the middle of downtown Greensboro. We're talking about a complex with a themed hotel, ESPN Zone, Broadway style theater and a themed restaurant or two.

Still scared of a Disney themed hotel in downtown Greensboro? Check out this article from the Orlando Sentinel:
Disney to partner with Four Seasons on luxury resort

With a partner like the Four Seasons providing a luxury hotel at Walt Disney World, imagine what a partnership like that could do for a hotel in Greensboro. Coupling Four Season's and Disney's resort expertise is like the Yankees and the Red Sox fielding a team together. Ritz Carlton service with FedEx efficiency.

Also, the synergy between Disney's Wide World of Sports, ESPN Zone, and the ACC Hall of Champions would be incredible.
Imagine....a few hours at the ACC Hall of Champions revelling in Jordan, Worthy, and Jimmy V followed by a big steak in front of the mega screens at ESPN Zone, a few video games after dinner to settle the feast, and out to a local bar for a few drinks (and dancing if the mood strikes and the gut is willing).

There is always concern about corporate responsibility and the environment. Disney has released their Envirport for 2006.

Just for fun, here are some facts:
  • Disney business units donated and recycled more than 63,000 tons of materials in 2005, resulting in an estimated 40 percent waste diversion from landfills and nearly $1.7 million in avoided disposal costs.
  • Disneyland Resort Paris increased cardboard recycling totals by 32 percent last year as a result of efforts to enhance communications and to add collection points throughout the Resort.
  • An adult bull elephant produces approximately 350 pounds of “poop” during each 24-hour period. In 2005, Disney’s Animal Kingdom composted more than 2,600 tons of animal waste.
  • The Walt Disney Company as a whole has recycled more than 850,000 tons of materials since 1991.
The rumored investment towers over Greensboro at $150 million (that's SEVEN zeroes) and would serve as the permanent "We're Back!" Greensboro has been hoping for since its revitalization phase began. Coupled with the blossoming club scene and the spectacular new Grasshoppers stadium, a complex of this magnitude would ensure downtown's longevity and add revenue to the small and mid size businesses that call downtown home.

Synergy, eh?

This will bring jobs to Greensboro.

This will bring a more active nightlife to Greensboro.

This will bring longevity to downtown.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Disney Rumor: Greensboro, NC.

The rumors are flying all over the Greensboro area blog-o-sphere.

You can catch one here.

The news item that is sparking the rumors is here.

What is the Disney Geeks take on the rumor? Glad you asked.

What we have seen so far:

1. Negative comments and posts about the rumor. Can't stand the thought of big business coming in and taking over. Even worries about the plastification of Greensboro.

2. Wild gesticulations--monorails, rivers, theme parks and the loss of Greensboro as a city. Some are excited and some are negative. A little over the top, but fun to read.

3. Pundits. Trying to create an online excitement about this project. Using what facts are known and what clues that have been brought to light. Trying to build a united community to convince Disney to do this project in Greensboro.

It is probably obvious where the Disney Geeks stand!

Let's take a look at some of the facts.

In Disney's 2006 Annual Report, they mention "new urban entertainment center." It is under the Dreaming section, which is one of the first times that Disney has let some of its imagineering dreams out of the box.

You can read more about this idea here. But to sum it up, here goes:
Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts has stated that they are "considering putting Disney-themed hotels and nightlife districts into downtown areas of major cities that don't currently have Disney properties." He also states, " contemplating small, immersive 'niche theme parks' and water parks in other cities."

That pretty much sums up all that we truly know.

For speculation...

1. Greensboro is centrally located between major population centers within and outside of North Carolina (Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Washington DC and Atlanta).

2. The land or building acquisition should be cheaper than RTP or Charlotte.

3. Greensboro has an active night life (and likes to boogie).

4. Greensboro is just a few hours away from I-95. Imagine traveler's being able to stop over in Greensboro and enjoy a stay while on their way to and from WDW.

5. Entertainment. Disney could create a theater and show their stage productions. I can imagine that people would drive from Atlanta or DC to see Disney off-broadway.

6. The Piedmont Triad area has recently garnered a lot of media attention from landing other big businesses.

Thanks for reading,

The Disney Geeks