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June 29, 2006
Walt Disney Company Names New Chairman
Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that it has named former Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman John E. Pepper Jr. to succeed Sen. George J. Mitchell as nonexecutive chairman effective Jan. 1. Mitchell was named chairman in 2004. He had planned to retire at the company's 2006 annual meeting, but last December was asked by the board to postpone his plans. With Pepper now named to the post, Mitchell will retire from the board Dec. 31.
Game Over for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-Play It!
Walt Disney World is closing the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire -- Play It! game at Disney-MGM Studios in August and reportedly will replace it with a new indoor ride. Officially, Disney confirmed Tuesday only that Millionaire is closing Aug. 19, based on the company's regular course of re-evaluation. "Preparation will begin for a new guest experience in that sound stage later this year," said Walt Disney World spokesman Jacob DiPietre. He could not comment further about the new attraction.
Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre Offers the Ultimate Pirate Experience
Yo ho, yo ho, it's apirate's life for moviegoers at Hollywood's legendary El Capitan Theatre from July 7th -- September 4th as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man'sChest". El Capitan guests will be treated to a colorful array of props and set piecesfrom the film including cannons, costumes, treasure chests, Captain Jack Sparrow's ring, and pieces of the Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman shipsthemselves. Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store, located adjacent to the ElCapitan Theatre, will also be celebrating the return of Jack Sparrow by offering a "Pirate's Treasure Sundae."
On the fourth of July, Disney-MGM Studios will join in the evening fireworks fun with a special holiday show prior to Fantasmic!. Magic Kingdom will treat guests to the famous "Fantasy in the Sky" display with patriotic music and "bombs bursting in air". And Epcot will present its acclaimed "IllumiNations" show with a special holiday finale. The special nighttime shows are included with theme park admission.
It's part of what makes Main Street, Main Street - a stroll down the nostalgic avenue into Disneyland park doesn't feel complete without the melodic strains of a gay '90s classic song in four-part harmony, crooned by gents in candy-striped suits and jaunty boaters. Like the Dixieland jazz bands of New Orleans Square or the quarrelsome cowboys in Frontierland, the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet "brings life into the lands of Disneyland," says Stage Manager Mitch Mocilnikar. "You can have buildings and you can have attractions, but who are the people who live on Main Street? That's who the Dapper Dans are." They're a beloved Park institution - the Dapper Dans have been in Disneyland in various venues since the '50s - and right now they're getting what the Park calls a "refresh."
Disney has begun licensing fresh fruit in European supermarkets . Shoppers at Tesco are already able to buy Disney satsumas and the company is looking to branch out into apples and bananas. The branding involves putting "collectible" stickers on the skin of the fruit, which can then be transferred into a sticker book. Disney has just started selling satsumas in Tesco, offering stickers of Winnie the Pooh on the fruit. Disney works with a marketing and sourcing company that has a relationship with Tesco. The company liaises with Tesco's produce buyers to find fruit that fits Tesco's needs, and pays Disney a royalty to use its brand. Disney has launched about 300 new food products in Europe over the past year as it extends the kinds of products it licenses.
Winnie the Pooh has been voted the nation's favorite animal character in a new survey, heading a list dominated by iconic bears like Paddington and Rupert. Pooh, created by A.A. Milne, won 51 percent of the vote in the survey, against Paddington's 41 percent. The Jungle Book's Baloo the bear was third with 32 percent, just one point ahead of Black Beauty and two ahead of Rupert in fifth.
This October Disney will launch the "Year of a Million Dreams" celebration. The year-long event will feature the debut of an incredible lineup of new attractions and entertainment at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. Among these attractions is a new variation of Disneyland's Space Mountain and a new interactive Monster's Inc. adventure to take residence in the former Timekeepr location at the Magic Kingdom. For the first time, during the "Year of a Million Dreams" celebration, Disney cast members will award a million dreams, both large and small, to guests selected through a random process as part of a unique "Disney Dreams Giveaway" promotion. The celebration runs October 2006 through September 2007.
Wyndham Worldwide adding 400-room hotel to Bonnet Creek
On the heels of last week's announcement that Hilton will build a 1,500-room, two-hotel complex, Wyndham Worldwide Corp. says it will start construction later this year on a 400-room hotel. The new hotel, which also includes a 14,000-square-foot spa, will be located near the Hilton project and will be part of the rapidly growing Fairfield Orlando at Bonnet Creek time share complex. Construction of the new Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Hotel and Spa at Bonnet Creek Resort is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2006 and will open in the first quarter of 2009.
Pixar's Front Gate Leads to a Studio Unlike Any Other
At the heart of Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California is a huge, soaring atrium. The brick walls are hung with expansive canvases showing the landscape and highways of the American Southwest, foosball and pool tables invite drop-in players, and employees dart back and forth across the wide space on scooters. It doesn't look like any other film studio -- it looks like fun.
Sunday, May 28, 2006, marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of the classic attraction "it's a small world" at "The Happiest Place on Earth." One of the most popular Disney attractions of all time, the show is a fun-filled and whimsical salute to the children of the world that conveys its message of peace and harmony through the international language of music. The water-borne journey originally debuted on April 22, 1964, at the New York World's Fair, but it was its move to an elaborate new home at Disneyland that firmly cemented its place in pop culture and created, literally, an unforgettable theme song (much to the chagrin of many). Although it was a hit with visitors to the fair, "it's a small world" did not gain widespread fame as a must-see Disney experience until after Walt Disney himself presided over its official opening ceremonies at Disneyland on May 28, 1966. The attraction's new address in Fantasyland provided a platform where millions of guests from around the world would be annually introduced to its visual charms and catchy title tune.
With Memorial Day behind us but a long summer ahead, Forbes.com has compiled a list of the world's most popular amusement parks. We worked with numbers from trade publication Amusement Business and consulting firm Economic Research Associates, which ranked the top international amusement parks by 2005 attendance. We picked the best-attended park in each of ten countries. And although Disney dominated the list up front, some smaller, independent parks--like Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Everland in South Korea--also made the cut.
Officials from the NOAA National Weather Service have declared Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., as a StormReady community. As the first theme park and resort in the nation to achieve this recognition, Walt Disney World joins more than 1,050 StormReady communities throughout the United States. "More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods and 1,000 tornadoes affect the United States annually, and hurricanes pose a significant threat-especially to the coastal regions of the Gulf and southeastern states," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "The National Weather Service developed the StormReady program to help protect every American from such hazardous weather
Just the preparation for a typical weekend camping trip in Florida can be a job in itself -- enough reason to do something else -- for the inexperienced and uninitiated outdoorsman trying to impress the family. "You don't have to worry about a lot of that stuff here," said a receptionist at the check-in booth. "Just bring the credit card.'' If you want primitive camping, go to the Ocala National Forest and look for the pit toilets. If you want all the luxuries of home -- and still technically be camping -- go to Fort Wilderness.