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February 27, 2006
Hong Kong Disneyland to Add Three Attractions As Part of Expansion Plan
Hong Kong Disneyland announced Monday that it planned to add three new attractions to the theme park as part of its expansion plan. The additions are the "Autopia" electric car ride, the "Stitch Encounter," a theater show, and the UFO Zone -- made up of water-squirting robot, rocket ship and flying saucer, said a Hong Kong Disney spokeswoman Esther Wong. The three attractions -- located in the Tomorrowland section of the park -- will be open to the public this summer, Wong said.
Landry's Restaurants Inc. to open 2 New Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World
Landry's Restaurants, Inc., the operater of Rainforest Cafe, announced that it has acquired 80% of the restaurant concept T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover. T-Rex is a unique concept that features dining and retail in an interactive prehistoric environment. Locations are planned domestically and internationally, the first of which is slated to open this spring in The Legends mall in Kansas City, Kansas; with another opening in Downtown Disney (near Orlando) in early 2008. In addition to the T-Rex concept, Landry's has acquired the majority interest in Schussler Creative's new Asian themed eatery (which is expected to open by summer 2007) inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Legendary Disney Animator Names Hospital Beneficia for InspEARations Auction
On Sept. 27, Sotheby's and Disney will conclude the celebration of Mickey Mouse's 75th anniversary by auctioning 75 uniquely designed statues of Mickey, an icon of American popular culture beloved for more than three generations. Ollie Johnston, the last surviving member of the original Walt Disney animators known as Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, has selected Verdugo Hills Hospital as the beneficiary of proceeds from the auction of a Mickey Mouse statue later this month. The Mickey designed by Johnston is entitled "Ollie Johnston, All Aboard!"
For over three decades, George Britton and the steam-powered narrow gauge railroad at Walt Disney World have been inseparable. Since opening day, October 1, 1971, the four vintage locomotives and 20 observation passenger cars have operated under the close supervision of the first and only railroad foreman in the history of Walt Disney World. This illustrious career will come to an end the afternoon of April 6, 2006, when Britton leaves the backstage steam train facilities building for the last time as a Walt Disney World cast member after nearly 35 years of service.
Wayne Culver, who has been a fixture of Disney's clean team since the Magic Kingdom opened, just retired after 39 years in Orlando and Anaheim, Calif. In 1971, at age 21, he was one of two custodians brought east to train Florida custodians in the Disney ways. Since then Culver has mostly been in or helped manage Disney's armies of workers -- the ones who sweep up cigarette butts, ascend scaffolding to wax monorails and rappel down Spaceship Earth to wash the 18-story-tall dome.
Sharpie Signs 5-Year Deal with Walt Disney World Resort
The Walt Disney World Co. and Sharpie, a division of Sanford LP, a Newell Rubbermaid company report they have formed a strategic alliance that joins Sharpie markers with the magic of the Walt Disney World Resort. Sharpie's agreement with Walt Disney World Co. includes marketing and promotional rights, sponsorship of several popular Walt Disney World Resort events and experiences, and on-site promotional presence for the Sharpie marker brand at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.
World of Disney New York Store - Disney Gallery Grand Opening
The World of Disney New York Store has announced the Grand Opening of a new Disney Gallery location inside the store. To commemorate the opening, the store is holding a two day celebration with a Champagne Reception & Private Auction on February 24 and further activities on February 25, 2006.
By Sacrificing Its Catalog, Will Disney Spoil Its Internet Business?
The Walt Disney Company, an icon of mainstream America, will move against the grain of conventional business strategy this spring when it stops distributing a catalog that has filled the mailboxes of tens of millions of households for the last decade, and instead embarks on a Web-only initiative.
Marty Sklar, a 50-year veteran at Disney, stepped down as vice chairman and principal creative exec for Walt Disney Imagineering in the wake of Pixar executive vp John Lasseter being named principal creative adviser of the theme park division. In his new position, Lasseter reports to Disney CEO Robert Iger, bypassing parks and resorts management. Sklar will serve as Walt Disney parks and resorts Imagineering ambassador, a role as yet undefined. Describing the new assignment as a "blank sheet of paper," Sklar wrote that he planned to recruit new talent at colleges and universities, develop traveling exhibitions to promote the talents -- present and past -- of Imagineering and speak at conferences and conventions. Sklar's former position is not expected to be filled, according to an Imagineering spokesperson.
Figure skater Michelle Kwan, whose quest for Olympic gold ended because of a groin injury, has signed on with The Walt Disney Co. as a celebrity spokeswoman, the entertainment conglomerate said Thursday. Kwan, 25, will be featured in ads and other media promoting Disney's businesses. She'll also appear in the media company's original programming, the company said. Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and Citadel Broadcasting Corporation (NYSE: CDL) today announced that the Board of Directors of both companies have approved a definitive agreement to combine ABC Radio, which includes 22 radio stations and the ABC Radio Networks, with Citadel Broadcasting. The newly combined company, to be named Citadel Communications, will be the third largest radio group in the United States, with a strong national footprint reaching more than 50 markets. Following the completion of the merger, Disney shareholders will own approximately 52% of Citadel Communications and The Walt Disney Company will retain $1.4 to $1.65 billion in cash depending on the market price of Citadel Broadcasting at the time of closing. Citadel shareholders will own the remaining 48% of the combined company. Valued at approximately $2.7 billion, the deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approvals.
Big Tokyo Disneyland News: New Hotel, New E-Ticket and "Mystery Tour" Closes
Oriental Land Co, Ltd. has announced that the new Disney hotel scheduled to open in Tokyo Disney Resort in Japanese fiscal year 2008 will be named "Tokyo Disneyland Hotel." The new hotel will be built in front of Tokyo Disneyland Park, with the Disney Resort Line's Tokyo Disneyland Station in between. The hotel will reflect the early 20th-century Victorian architectural style found in the Park's World Bazaar themed land, the monorail station and the main entrance area. While grand and elegant, the hotel will generate a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for the Guests. A new attraction inspired by Disney's presentation of Pixar's Monsters, Inc. will open in "Tomorrowland" in "Tokyo Disneyland Park" in Japanese fiscal year 2009. The Fantasyland attraction "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" will be permanently closed, with its final day of operation on April 5, 2006.
Disney Trades Al Michaels for Ryder Cup, Olympic Highlights, & Oswald the Rabbit
Al Michaels is moving to NBC and will broadcast Sunday night NFL games with John Madden, his partner on ABC during the past four seasons. In exchange for letting Michaels out of his contract with ABC and ESPN, which are owned by The Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal sold ESPN cable rights to Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups, granted ESPN increased usage of Olympic highlights and sold to The Walt Disney Co. the rights to "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," a character in silent cartoons made by Walt Disney from 1927-28.
Square Enix and Buena Vista Games Unveil Kingdom Hearts II
Highly Anticipated Title to Ship on March 28, 2006 in North America Square Enix, Inc. , the publisher of Square Enix interactive entertainment products in North America, and Buena Vista Games, Inc. , the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Companyannounced today the all-star voice cast and North American release date for KINGDOM HEARTS II, the highly-anticipated action role-playing game exclusively for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. KINGDOM HEARTS II is the sequel to KINGDOM HEARTS, one of the top 10 best-selling PlayStation 2 titles of all time in North America.
The growing trend of smoke-free hotels is spreading to Disneyland. All 2,224 rooms at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., will be smoke-free on March 1, says Disney Vice President Rob Doughty. Last month, Westin became the first big chain to adopt such a policy, banning smoking throughout its 77 U.S., Canadian and Caribbean lodgings. Disney says the move is in response to "steadily declining requests" for smoking rooms at the three Anaheim, Calif., Disneyland hotels. The company has no plans to make Walt Disney World hotels in Orlando, Fla., smoke-free.
After a test period in summer 2005, Adventures by Disney is set to officially launch in May 2006. In addition to the Wyoming and Hawaii adventures available during the test period, Adventures by Disney will be offering London & Paris, Costa Rica, Canadian Rockies and Italy Adventures. One other difference from the test period is that there will be two Hawaii adventures, one will include Oahu & Kauai, the other will include The Big Island & Oahu.
An angry mob of parents tried to force their way into Disneyland after the gates were shut because the theme park had sold out for the day. The decision was made to stop entries to the Hong Kong park when it reached its capacity of visitors. But the disappointment swiftly turned to anger for around 100 of the people left standing outside and the scene descended into chaos for a second day. According to a spokeswoman for Hong Kong Disneyland, the visitors had bought flexible tickets that are valid for six months but do not guarantee entry on any day.
John Lasseter, the man chosen to revive the fortunes of Walt Disney Co.'s animation business has professed a deep regard for the legendary studio, but has criticized it for killing Walt Disney's innovative spirit.Lasseter, the creative force behind hits factory Pixar Animation Studios Inc, is now set to take charge of Disney animation when its $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar closes this summer. Industry watchers have dubbed 49-year-old Lasseter "the new Walt Disney" and are awaiting signs that his talent for creating compelling stories and characters will rub off on a cornerstone division that has been in a slump for a decade.