31 January 2013

World News Roundtable - 31 January 2013

Roundtable Contributors: Princess Fee (DF’82), Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly.

Princess Fee (DF’82)

The most recent reader's poll from Conde Nast Traveller Magazine has placed Disney Cruise Line in the top 3 out of the top 10 large cruise ships! Coming in at number one was the Disney Magic, followed by Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and then Disney Fantasy was also placed in the top 10, coming in at 8. With the Magic being such an in-demand ship, and the Fantasy the newest of the fleet, these positions are probably not too surprising for the Disney Cruise Line. Although I have not yet to experience any of the ships, this has made me even more keen to try these beauties!

Alan Mize

Say goodbye to Mickey and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  At least in the world of Wasteland, that is.  In 2007, the Disney Company acquired the software company Junction Point.  This acquisition led to possibly the best Disney video game since the Kingdom Hearts franchise, “Epic Mickey.”  Disney announced earlier this week that they will be closing the doors to Junction Point which means “Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” will be the last of the Epic Mickey series.  Granted, there were no rumors that more would come and the less than stellar sales of the sequel probably didn’t help the odds, but this news officially closes the book on the Epic Mickey story.

Personally, I really enjoyed the first game on the Nintendo Wii.  I thought it was fun, creative and original.  I loved the way it played off of the environments of Disneyland that I know and love.  It took Main Street, USA and Tomorrowland and twisted it around to show a dilapidated world where cartoon characters go to fade away.  I was also happy that the game gave me my first glimpse at Walt’s long lost friend, Oswald.  I knew the history of the creation of Oswald and how Walt lost the character in the first place.  I also knew how Disney essentially traded a football announcer to get Oswald back into the family.  But this was the first time that I got to see Oswald in action and I’m glad I got the opportunity.

With the announcement of the new Disney Infinity interactive game that I talked about a few weeks ago, it was inevitable that something get put on the chopping block.  Despite the fact that the Epic Mickey franchise is done, perhaps the success of the first game will convince Disney that Oswald needs a more permanent place in the Disney environment.

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place)

The human guest stars (Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, and Ricky Gervais) have officially been squared away, the Muppets have made it to London in one piece (or so we think) and filming is all set to begin on their newest movie… a caper titled “The Muppets… Again.” (It has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?)

Kermit the Frog revealed some new plot details this week: the Muppets are basically performing all over Europe and mayhem ensues when Kermit is confused for a jewel thief that looks exactly like him. (According to Kermit, he will not pull a Lindsay Lohan and play both roles… a family member is filling in the villain role.)

I’m a bit torn about this movie in general. It’s very similar in plot to The Great Muppet Caper which also revolves around a jewel thief… isn’t there anything else worth stealing that isn’t sparkly and expensive? Oh well. All I want is to see Walter again, watch the Muppets in action, and hope and hope Bean Bunny makes an appearance. (“Has anyone seen a bunny?”)

After all the hoopla last year surrounding Epcot's 30th, Tokyo Disneyland's big day has been shrouded over a little bit.  Always seen as the forgotten park by enthusiasts, considering its hodge podge nature, the event is no less momentous.  To celebrate the milestone birthday this years promotion is known as The Happiness Year (as if the other years have been totally devoid of happiness...) and includes a special parade, merchandise, and the updated Star Tours (seriously, how is this special?)  One of the bright spots in this promotion are the fabulous special costumes that Mickey and the gang will be wearing for the year!  Lots of gold and fun...but regardless, why aren't they getting more?

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

The past few years have seen a surge in behind-the-scenes books that give Disney fans the unique opportunity to peruse pages brimming with knowledge, insight, and wonder behind the magic we all love so much. However, it's often that these books are not heavily advertised, even with the excess of social media present today. For this reason, I occasionally explore Amazon to see if anything new is on the books (pardon the pun) from Disney's professional publishing arm, Disney Editions. And wouldn't you know it, such a title is coming up very soon. Releasing on February 26 and written by Ted Kinni, The Disney Difference will examine Disney's expert guest services, "from expression and brainstorming to organization and people management," as quoted from the book's Amazon page.

Disney is notorious for its strive to give families a near-perfect quality experience, so this book should hit home not only with the Disney-buff market, but also in business people working toward infusing excellence in their company. Interestingly enough, a similarly themed book, Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, also written by Kinni, was first published in 2003 and just received a revision in late 2011. I'm curious how that book, while wonderful, is different from this new title. No matter, The Disney Difference should be a fun read, and is one that I'm looking forward to.

Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)

The spring issue of Disney twenty-three is heading to newsstands on February 12 with a cover promoting the upcoming feature film, Oz The Great and Powerful. Oz will be celebrated not only for this new movie, but also a look back at Return to Oz. A look at another glistening world coming to film, Frozen, is also highlighted in this issue. Plus tales from puppeteer Bob Baker, the 30th anniversary of the Disney Channel, and the Arribas brothers. However, the article I am most looking forward to is the interview with Joe Rohde looking back at fifteen years of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

As many of you know, I am continually falling in love with the youngest Walt Disney World park all over again after each exploration. Disney's Animal Kingdom is a fount of knowledge and story that continue to grow together. If there is one person who understands the ins and outs of this park and truly sees the big and little pictures found throughout, it is Joe Rohde. I had the pleasure of listening to him talk about the Disney's Animal Kingdom, the development of its message, icons, and how the land and structures must work symbiotically when the park celebrated its first decade five years back. For those of you interested, you can find a transcript of Rohde's lecture on the Main Street Gazette.

Between Disney twenty-three and the supporting web content, including a talk with Brian Henson about Return to Oz, and an off road look at Kilimanjaro Safaris, there is a lot to look forward to in this next issue. Joe Rohde may be the driving force behind my rabid reading of the upcoming issue, but there is something here for everyone to find some simple joy in!

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