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September 30, 2005
How Eisner Saved the Magic Kingdom
As the Disney CEO steps down, it's good to remember that before his recent controversies, he revived the struggling Mouse House. ... But as he leaves his job as CEO of the Mouse House on Oct. 1, ending a 21-year tenure -- sometimes successful, often stormy -- as Hollywood's most recognized mogul, it's hard to remember him as the self-deprecating dad he was back then.
Michael Eisner's credited with many of the greatest achievements in the history of entertainment. Why is no one applauding? Pride Rock is the mythical precipice from which the Lion King peers down on his subjects. For Michael Eisner, long-reigning chief of Walt Disney Co. - creator of the feline franchise and many others in his two decades at the top -the time has come to swallow his pride and come down from the mountain.
Though he officially takes over the keys to the Magic Kingdom Friday, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger has been busy reshaping the company since his embattled predecessor, Michael Eisner, announced his resignation a year ago. Despite some recent box office clunkers, Iger seems to be off to a good start, including recent success rebuilding important bridges that Eisner burned during the turbulent closing years of a 21-year reign that culminated in shareholder revolt.
Disney's Magical Express, the free service that shuttles Disney tourists and their baggage to and from Orlando International Airport, will no longer be able to lure in travelers with greeters on the airport's third level. The employees, who wear oversized Mickey Mouse gloves, meet passengers as they enter the main airport terminal. Their location has been a source of friction for taxi, luxury car and rental-car services, which say Disney's exclusive access to the third level has significantly cut into their businesses.
Walt Disney Co. on Thursday agreed to be the first movie studio to help finance the digital distribution of its movies, jump-starting a decadelong effort to usher the nation's theaters into the electronic age and phase out the treasured but expensive tradition of film. The agreement -- between Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, camera maker Christie Digital Systems and software company Access Integrated Technologies Inc. -- calls for 150 digital movie screens to be up by the end of the year and up to 4,000 by the end of 2007.
Fancy a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy in vampire outfit with fangs? How about a matching set of black-and-white Mickey Mouse bra and underpants? They're among the more glaring knockoffs of Disney products on sale in the myriad small shops in the southern China boomtown of Shenzhen, just an hour away from Hong Kong -- home to the newest Disneyland. With the opening of the theme park Sept. 12, counterfeit Disney products manufactured in mainland China have flooded the markets in Hong Kong as licensed retailers struggle to keep up with demand.
Orlando limo group says airport should terminate Disney baggage deal
A Central Florida group that represents 200 luxury transportation businesses is calling for an end to Disney's Magical Express program, which provides free transportation and baggage handling exclusively for guests staying at Disney owned and operated hotels. The Greater Orlando Livery Association (GOLA) says a ground transportation agreement between the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and Walt Disney World is "an unfair business practice" that gives the Central Florida resort "exclusive and unprecedented access to travelers."
Walt Disney World is quietly building a new road onto its property that could siphon thousands of tourists a day off Interstate 4. The route would take visitors driving down the Interstate 75/Florida's Turnpike corridor into Disney from State Road 429, the Western Beltway toll road being built through western Orange County. When more of that expressway opens this winter, one of the exits will lead to a new four-lane divided road called Western Way, entering Disney from the west. "The connection of the new Western Way to the Western Beltway will be a convenient alternative . . . to access Walt Disney World Resort," said Andrea Finger, spokeswoman for Walt Disney Imagineering. The Western Beltway is being jointly built by Florida's Turnpike Enterprise and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.
Hong Kong Disneyland threw open its gates to the public Monday, marking Mickey Mouse's biggest push into China -- a market the U.S. company hopes will flood the theme park with splurging tourists from the world's most populous nation. With the pink Snow White Castle behind them, Disney executives and a senior Chinese leader celebrated the opening with musicians clanging cymbals, Chinese lion dancers prancing precariously on tall poles and fireworks bursting in the sky.
Hong Kong Mulls Legal Action Over Disney Food Poisoning
Hong Kong hygiene officials are considering legal action against the Disney company over a row that erupted following the discovery of three cases of food poisoning at its soon-to-be opened Disneyland resort. Director of food hygiene Leung Wing-lap said his department was seeking legal advice after it emerged inspectors were asked to remove their uniforms and badges so as not to frighten customers when they went to probe allegations of food contamination at the resort, which is due to open Monday. It is the latest setback at the three billion US dollar park in the southern Chinese territory, following rows with green groups over the resorts impact on the local environment and amid complaints from customers that staff were rude and there were too few rides during rehearsal days.
Places Everyone! Curtain About to Rise on Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
Dumbo gleams. Brass fittings sparkle on the horseless carriages of Main Street, U.S.A. Mickey Mouse's tux is pressed to perfection. Even the rocket ships of Space Mountain are poised for the stars. All is in eager readiness for the dawning of a new frontier in family entertainment in China. Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is about to open. Disney's 11th theme park and first-ever in China, Hong Kong Disneyland has its grand opening Monday, bringing Disney's brand of wholesome family fun to an exciting new corner of the world and the fastest growing tourism market anywhere.
Disney's Discover Magazine Soon to Have a New Owner
The Walt Disney Company is to announce today that it plans to sell Discover magazine to Bob Guccione Jr., the founder of Spin and Gear.Discover, a 25-year-old consumer science magazine, has been published by Disney for 15 years, but it is "no longer a strategic fit for us," said Glenn Rosenbloom, senior vice president and group publisher for Disney Publishing Worldwide's consumer magazine group in the United States. Disney's other magazines - including FamilyFun and Disney Adventures - focus on families and children.
The Walt Disney Company, along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, recalled about 12,900 red sunglasses sold at Disney theme parks, resort because the paint in them contains high levels of lead. The recalled sunglasses were sold at Disneyland Resort in California, The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Florida, and the Disney Cruise Line based in Florida, from November 2004 through June 2005. The items are a solid red color and have dark plastic lenses and were sold with either a navy blue toddler cap featuring the character Mickey Mouse or a light blue toddler cap with the character Stitch. The sunglasses are attached to the bills of the caps.