Friday, August 31, 2012

Creepy, and Just a little Grotesque.

That silly-putty-stretched out Minnie Mouse is from Barney's (the department stores) holiday ad campaign.   I'm going to let this article speak for itself.  Props to the Stanimal for bringing this one to our attention.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

NYT's Why Waiting in Line is Torture

Alex Stone of the New York Times recently wrote an article about why waiting in line is the worst.  Much like we did in Episode 56, a lot of great insight is shared on what makes waiting painful and what can help ease the pain.  Here's an excerpt for flavor:

Professors Carmon and Kahneman have also found that we are more concerned with how long a line is than how fast it’s moving. Given a choice between a slow-moving short line and a fast-moving long one, we will often opt for the former, even if the waits are identical. (This is why Disney hides the lengths of its lines by wrapping them around buildings and using serpentine queues.)
Not a lot of new ground, but I haven't seen it elsewhere in the WDW blogosphere.  If the article interests you even a little, you should listen to the ep.  Russ did some great work on that one.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

HalloWishes Video



Believe it or not, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party starts in a few short weeks (Tuesday September 11th).  Dutch has discussed some of the pluses and minuses of the hard ticket events like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in previous episodes of the MMOM podcast, but the special fireworks show for HalloWishes remains one of the highlights of the event.  If you won't get a chance to enjoy the HalloWishes fireworks in person, enjoy the above video.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Some Test Track Refurb Details



The folks at WDW Magic conducted a chat with one of the lead Imagineers in charge of the Test Track refurbishment.  You can read about the refurbishment details in a prior post on MMOM.  Here are some of the details:

1.  Disney seems to be trying to sell the pre-show design concept hard.  It is probably going to be the biggest change to the attraction, and the designed concept vehicles will "stay" with the guest from the beginning to the end.

2.  Those using FastPass or the single rider line will likely receive a stock design, as a majority of the pre-show is dependent on there being a long wait.

3.  There are likely no changes to the track itself, although it looks like some of the "tests" your design go through may change.  There is now a dedicated ride section for environmental "friendliness."  \

That said, the news about the attraction is short on details, but long on vague buzz words like innovation, technology, experience and interaction.   We shall see.

Episode 66 -- A Bus Driver Told Me Steve Was on The Show


Steve-o!  A legend finally comes on board to discuss the Values, water parks, the Spirit of Aloha and Harry Potter.

 Download Episode 66 Now

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saratago Springs, NY and the Malta Fairfield Inn & Suites

This August, Mrs. Lombrowski and I returned to Saratoga Springs, NY to hit the races and have a glorious child-free weekend.  We stayed at the Malta Fairfield Inn & Suites in a suite.  We found the hotel to be pretty good.  Their was ample space in the room, but it was definitely in need of a slight facelift.  It was about 12 minutes away from the racetrack.  We were about the same time away from the town center as well.  We'd recommend the hotel, but caution you that you will be overpaying for the accomodation, which is true anywhere in the area.

Hotel Exterior

Suite Bathroom Sink Area





Suite "Kitchenette" and Fridge

Fridge

Suite Living Room

Suite Living Area Picture 2




King Size Bed

TV and Dresser -- only storage space other than closet

Saratoga Race Track -- View from box seats on a rainy day

Entrance to the Track


Backview of the grandstand

Hustle and Bustle behind the grandstand

Paddock area


At the Oklahoma



Dining Area -- ADRs Necessary!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Episode 65 -- Ruminations on Dutch's Trip and Hotels


Dutch is going to the World in January 2013 and has some updates.  They include some news on the Dolphin Grand Suite, how nice it is to look at  floorplans, frustration with ADRs and not having park hours.  There's also some news on JetBlue coming to Providence.  The show closes with some hotel discussions based on the team's new life circumstances.

Download Episode 65

Disney's Park Dress Code "Police" Nab Santa

This is NOT the Santa asked to leave WDW

In June, Disney is reported to have made a man who looks A LOT like Santa Clause to tone down his Santa rhetoric and change his clothing.  Details on the events can be found here.  Give it a quick read, because the devil is in the details of this situation.

Here is a link to Disney's theme park dress code policy.  In part, it reads as follows.

attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
  • Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
  • Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
  • Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
  • Excessively torn clothing
  • Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment
  • Objectionable tattoos
A Guest is allowed into the parks if her or his hair (or make-up, if applicable) has been made to resemble a Disney Princess or character (for example, after a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover) provided the Guest is not also wearing a costume or clothed to look like the character. 

Russ' Note: I hate how they had to work in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique into this policy.

I will of course grant the generic "Disney is a private company and can do whatever they want argument" that you hear so often when it comes to people getting thrown out of a Vegas casino for winning more than they "should."  However, this is pretty clearly not a violation of the Disney dress code.  As Mr. Tolbert points out, Disney does not own Santa Clause.  Further, the fact that they asked fake Santa to tell people that he was NOT the real Santa seems an awful like controlling  free speech.  To compensate Tolbert, Disney gives him a replacement shirt (he was wearing a Christmas related shirt not a Santa costume) and free guest passes for his trouble.

Still, from a public relations standpoint, this is a pretty much a fail for Disney.  Its one thing to shut down a teenager who looks a little too much like a Disney character, because they can fall back on the first bullet above.  It is quite another to not have your actions backed up by your own internal policies.   My main question is whether this was a overzealous cast member who just thought the whole thing was ridiculous, or was Tolbert watched and monitored over several days at the parks and the decision to shut him down made a higher level.

What do you think of Disney's decision? Let us know in the comments below or E-mail us at show@mightymenofmouse.com

Friday, August 17, 2012

NY's Soda Ban, Default Bias, and All You Care to Enjoy

In case you haven't already noticed, we here are Mighty Men of Mouse love our food.  In fact, I recently did an audit of our episodes, and we spend a full 72% of our air time talking about eating and drinking:

See?
 I also love looking at how things work, the thinking behind decisions.  Nowhere is that more fun than in Disney, because everything down to the minute details has a rhyme and reason.

To tie this back to food, I have already said how intrigued I am by "All You Care to Enjoy."  Not the buffets, but the phrase itself (well, to be honest, I am also intrigued by the buffets too, but that's not the point of this post).  Any other time I go to a buffet (some sort of family style), I am told that the food is "All You Can Eat."  Why does Disney change this very ubiquitous language? 

I have stated my theory on the show before.  "All You Can Eat" sounds like a command to ingest as much foodstuffs as your innards can handle.  "All You Care to Enjoy" is gentler; the focus is on quality, not quantity.  It is an invitation, "All You Can Eat" is a challenge.


"Do these sound like the actions of a man who had, 'ALL he could eat?'"
 In case you thought I was over- thinking this whole thing, here's an article defending Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed large soda ban.  Now I am never going to defend Mayor Bloomberg, but the point is that there is a certain logic to the idea.  The article sets up the concept of "default bias."  The idea is that, subconsciously, most people will opt for the option that we consider to be the "default."  We will opt for the "regular" sized fry, or the "medium" soda, regardless of the absolute sizes of these portions.

You can see this in restaurants in another way.  Buffets often offer smaller-sized dinner plates than other restaurants.  The idea is that the default bias encourages people to eat food by the plate-full.  If the plate is smaller, people will less less food and still feel satisfied.

I suspect the same philosophy is at play with "All You Care to Enjoy."  By changing the phraseology, the default changes from physical limitations to "enjoyment" limitations.  If that subtly encourages patrons from eating even a little bit less, that translates to higher profits for Disney.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Too Cute Not to Put Up

I had to share this.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot this past spring (but don't worry, I went twice in Disneyland last year), but here's a little promo for Art of Animation featuring Crush.  Enjoy!


Rev Your Engines: Be Our Guest Restuarant ADRs

The interweb exploded today with everyone screaming "ADRs ARE COMING!"  Twitter, every blog and Facebook.  Every single was clogged with shouts of "AUGUST 20th."  The skinny is available at TouringPlans.com.  They also have the menu items that have been floating around as well.

There are times when my Disney fandom seems weird.  Today is one of them.  As excited as I am for expansion and a new dining option in the Kingdom, I think we should all probably keep it in our pants until we know it is actually going to be any good.

My suggestion today is go to the Disney Food Blog and study up on restaurants that we know are good.  Also, you can look at some of AJ's food porn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

France Pavilllion Food Overhaul



One of MMOM's favorite spots is the Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot's France pavilion.  Disney recently announced that the area will be undergoing a pretty major expansion by expanding the menu and adding 90 seats. This turns the location into a true "counter service" option.  The pavilion will also get an ice cream shop in what is the current Patisserie location.

I rather liked the "Soup Naziesque" feel to the current storefront.  Make your way down the line, pick your delicious pastry, pay and go enjoy Epcot.  It really doesn't feel like the type of place that needed a few additional "blah" sandwiches and sandwiches just to turn it into a dining destination.

Maybe Disney will surprise me and keep the additions unique, but I sense a lot of "turkey sandwich with American cheese and mustard" options more than I do truly "French" options in the future.   As always, I hope Disney proves me wrong.  The new bread oven could be a great start.

Have any thoughts on the changes to the France Pavilion. E-mail show@mightymenofmouse.com


Monday, August 13, 2012

Plaza Swan-Boats Ride Video



A quick blast from the past with an old video ride through from the old Plaza swan boat ride that was discontinued in 1983.  The folks at Walt Dated World give a really nice summary and recap on the history of the attraction.

One point worth noting: I believe the loading area, shown below, is now a "ticketed" area to view Wishes.


Episode 64 -- The Dark Side of Keistering Drugs at WDW

The Epicenter of Leonard Kinsey's Heart of Darkness -- The Fixins Bar
In this SUPER EXPLICIT episode, the Team has a little Book Club style discussion of the Dark Side of Disney by Leonard Kinsey.  Discussion includes who the book is for and the value of Kinsey's advice.   There is also discussion on news on the Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Download Episode 64

Friday, August 10, 2012

Married to the Mouse: Is it Really an Abusive Relationship

Last week we discussed the book Married to the Mouse by Professor Richard E. Foglesong of Rollins College.  With a title spoofing on the 1998 Michelle Pfeiffer film, Married to the Mob, Professor Foglesong explores the ups and downs (mostly downs) of the relationship between Disney and its surrounding localities, and "tells the inside story of the use and abuse of Disney unparalleled governmental powers."  Essentially, he argues that over the past 40+ years Disney has skirted a wide range of laws through various means, and taken more from the neighboring communities than it has given back.

While it is true that Disney was given a lot of leeway by Florida government, and the corporation basically has rule over two municipalities and "improvement districts," is the cost/benefit analysis really so one-sided?

For another look at Disney's contribution, I refer to a piece released last month by the Progressive Policy Institute.  The PPI styles itself at the "'idea mill' for Bill Clinton's New Democrats," so we're not exactly talking about a strongly right-wing or pro-corporation think tank.  In July the PPI published its list of Investment Heroes.  These "Heroes" are the companies investing the most to build and expand in the U.S.  As the report points out, "domestic business investment generates growth, raises productivity, increases wages, and creates jobs for Americans."  Here is the list:


Source
A lot of these companies on this list are quite expected.  Telecommunications companies (like Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon) need to continue to build ever larger and faster fiber optic and wireless networks.  Likewise oil companies, including Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron, are wildly expanding fossil fuel exploration and production to capitalize on the historically high price of oil. 

But you'll see that Disney comes in at a respectable 17th, investing about $3 billion domestically.  The paper states that of that amount, $2.3 billion was spent on its U.S. theme parks.  Granted, we know a good chuck went to revitalizing Disneyland (think Cars Land).  Still, we're talking about over a billion dollars being spent in central Florida in 2011 alone.  How many jobs did that create?

Yes, Professor is Foglesong is correct that Disney has been a lot of power, but nothing on the scale of WDW could be built (from the ground up, on otherwise unusable land) without that power.  But as Disney has spent, and continued to spend--and build, and employ--it is difficult to argue that its neighbors have only been taken advantage of.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Neverland Pirate Band at Downtown Disney

Like many of you, I'm always trying to get a bit of WDW back in my life when I'm at home.  Since I don't have the time to dedicate to a podcast and blog, I like to push my 2 year old towards Disney Junior, especially the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She loves it and the indoctrination is well on its way.

Each episode of the Clubhouse also includes a short like Small Potatoes (do yourself a favor and YouTube this right now) or Minnie's Bowtique.  One of the bumpers is Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Now that is a show, but they also play catchy music videos like "Yo Ho is the password" and "Gonorrhea in Me Rum."

I just read on WDW Magic that The Neverland Pirate Band is playing at Downtown Disney through August 12th. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fantasy Land Expansion Hard Opening Announced



Disney has officially announced the opening of a large portion of the Fantasy Land Expansion on December 6th 2012 (after several weeks of previews).  Other than a large meet and greet, the only major addition to be added will be the Seven Dwarfs mine coaster in 2014.  This means Dutch will be the first of the MMOM crew to experience Under the Sea-Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Be our Guest Restaurant, Beast's Castle, and Gaston's Tavern.

Here are some initial questions I would use to determine the early success of this major undertaking.  Lets face it, while Disney may be able to "afford" to have a miss on the Fantasy Land Expansion, they clearly want to take a bite out of success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP).  Hopefully they aimed high.

1.  Will Under the Sea-Voyage of the Little Mermaid qualify as a top 7 or top 10 attraction? Will the technology be substantially better than that which is found in the Seas w/ Nemo and Friends?

2.  How will the Be Our Guest Restaurant handle the transition from counter service to table service? Will the table service be "signature dining?"  How close will the counter service quality be to that of Sunshine Seasons in Epcot (which is regarded as one of the best counter service options in the World).

3.  Will Gaston's Tavern serve a unique drink item that you can only get there? Will there be any innovation in the menu?

4.  How immersive will Beast's Castle and the surrounding area be?  Will it "transport" guests to the Beauty and the Beast movie like WWHP does at Islands of Adventure?

Obviously, this is all a round-about way of saying.  Dutch, please answer these questions for us when you go in January.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Episode 63 -- Island Nation


This week the boys continue ambling around the World and take a look at the Japan Pavillion.  Kip also revisits his trip to Disneyland.

Download Episode 63

Monday, August 6, 2012

RFID Technology Continues Implementation at Haunted Mansion and Contempoart\y

Speedpass-available for 15 years


Back in May, we gave a preview of the new RFID readers being implemented at Space Mountain as part of Disney's "NextGen" system.  Disney has since installed similar readers at Haunted Mansion and at several counter service spots at the Contemporary.

Payment through waving your card/device across an RFID reader is nothing new, but this feature remains a part of the "NextGen" implementation that actually does make a lot of sense.  In fact,  the technology was widely used by Exxon Mobil for their Speedpass system all the way back in 1997.  I remember thinking it was cool at the time, and I thought it was cool when my first credit card came in with "Blink" technology.  Unfortunately, most retailers lacked either the RFID reader or the security to make the feature stick.  Disney, however, should make the technology a sustainable success, but lets not call this feature cutting edge.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Food and Wine: Eat to the Beat Lineup

Below is a lineup of the Food and Wine Festival's Eat to the Beat Lineup series.  If you are going to be in the World during late September-mid November, the performance dates of each can be found over at WDW Magic.  I will save commentary for future posts, or perhaps Kip or Dutch will chime in with their thoughts.  Honestly, there are a lot of amusing choices to digest here, and could make for an interesting show topic.  For what its worth, there is quite a bit of former star power here.  To help, I have put what I believe is  one song that makes the group most famous (read: you would pissed if this was not part of their concert each night) and the year it was released. If I missed the mark on the song I picked, give me a shout at russ@mightymenofmouse.com.  

Night Ranger-"Sister Christian" (1983)
Sugar Ray-"Every Morning" (1999)
STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas-"We Built This City" (1985)
Boyz II Men-"Motownphilly" (1991)
Smash Mouth- "All Star" (1999)
Javier Colon, winner of "The Voice"-I went with "The Voice" and picked his cover of "Time After Time" (2011)
Air Supply-"All Out of Love" (1980)
Gin Blossoms-"Hey Jealousy" (1992)
Survivor-"Eye of the Tiger" (1982)
Hanson-"MMM Bop" (1997)
The Pointer Sisters-"I'm So Excited" (1982)
Sister Hazel-"All for You" (1997).  
Russ Note: Kip and I used to serenade our college dorm room with a stunning duet of "Champagne High" 
Billy Ocean-  "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" (1988).  This was a bit later in the B. Ocean phenomenon.  
38 Special-"Hold On Loosely" (1981)
Howard Jones LIVE-"Like to Get to Know You Well" (1984)
Blues Traveler "Run Around" (1995)
Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX.  I suppose he gets credit for Styx, I am sure he  will play some of the songs at the concert-"Lady" (1974)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy-"Go Daddy O" (1996)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover WedWay Machine Ride

Long week kiddies.  I don't want to leave you hanging, so I thought I would point you towards this article over at the TouringPlans.com blog.  It's a fun look at Wedway People Mover with some of the most unnecessary tips in the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hidden Mickey Dog



I enjoy Hidden Mickeys in the "real" world.  Read about the special pooch here.

Tip of the mouse ears to Felicity for sending this along.  Have your own photo of a hidden Mickey in the real world?  Send a photo to show@mightymenofmouse.com and you could win MMOM's E-mail of the week and receive your own copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World!