21 February 2013

World News Roundtable - 21 February 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.

I know of a lot of people who were huge fans of the recently defunct Epcot Segway tours. I was never one of them. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a la carte Disney offerings, and have partaken in a few tours myself. The sense of superiority and exclusivity that goes along with these tours is also quite wonderful...and I fully support these feelings while on vacation. However, the mechanical beasts (aka, Segways) are completely intrusive to the extensive theming of World Showcase. How can I fully immerse myself in ancient Mexico (and her bountiful margaritas)  while dodging a line of Segways? I think, if anything, these tours should be restricted to Future World.

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

The Oscar-nominated short Paperman is getting a lot of pre-awards buzz, and recently sparked a unique photo shoot inside Disney California Adventure. Several fans created a Paperman "cosplay," short for costume play, dressing as the man and woman from the short and re-enacting the story through photography. The end result is simple but wow-worthy.

The cosplay is but a small glimmer in a wave of Internet adoration for Paperman, and does a great job at capturing the spirit and appeal of the wonderful short. Using Buena Vista Street in DCA as a backdrop is a subtle and appropriate setting. Paperman debuted in theaters alongside Wreck-It Ralph last November, and is now up for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The big Hollywood hoopla goes down this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC. I sure hope Paperman wins the Oscar; if it does, it will be the first time Walt Disney Animation Studios has won the category since 1969's It's Tough to Be a Bird.

Princess Fee (DF’82)

Another piece of news from Disneyland Paris for this week’s roundtable, although it may be more suited to the rumour-mill. The Disney Village, Paris’s equivalent to Downtown Disney, has been going through some major changes recently. With the opening of the beautiful World of Disney store last July, and the Earl of Sandwich last year, things are looking up for this slightly dated-looking area. All-but-confirmed is the addition of a new store to the mix – a LEGO store. DLRP Today reports that there has been a recent recruitment notice for assistant managers for a LEGO-branded retail store in the Disneyland Paris area. This fans fire to the flames of previous rumours that a LEGO store may open as soon as June 2013. Other LEGO/Disney fans will note of the recent refurbishments to the LEGO stores in Florida and California, so maybe they will have another addition to the Disney/LEGO family soon!

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place)

I was undoubtedly confused by Disney’s announcement that they would be launching their own cosmetic line to sell in the theme parks. After impressive collections in Sephora in the past few months (Cinderella, the upcoming Jasmine, and the current Oz sets), I’m not sure why they would venture off on their own with this kind of product. Time and time again, I see their nail polish and lip gloss sets in the clearance bin at the Disney Store and I get the impression that people are not comfortable enough buying an “unknown” brand even if Disney’s name is written on it.

According to the comments on the Disney Parks Blog, the cosmetics will not be treated on animals and will be cruelty-free. That’s a great selling point, and actually one I wondered about as soon as I read the news blurb. (But why wouldn’t they mention it in the original article?)

Most people who would buy these products (the adults, anyway) already have brands they trust and unless Disney is going to go one step further where we can test this new line beforehand (a la Sephora), I don’t think it will prove to be a money maker. Why not continue to team up with Sephora and create quality collections? (Or pull an O.P.I. nail polish tactic and sell special Disney-fied collections with a trusted name on them at a decent price?)

Sometimes I’m not sure Disney knows what their consumers want to buy.

Alan Mize 

According to internet rumors, Disney is set to start construction on a major overhaul of the Downtown Disney area.  This overhaul will bring new restaurants, new shops, and new entertainment to the shopping area in hopes of rejuvenating a location that has become somewhat stale since the closing of Pleasure Island.  Named after the street on which Walt opened his first animation studio, the new “Hyperion Wharf” is scheduled to open in 2013 and….wait…what?  That can’t be right.  2013? It’s 2013 now and while I haven’t been down to WDW since October of 2011, I am pretty sure that no new shopping district is slated to open this year.  I must have confused my internet rumors.  Let me start over.

With a nod to the nearby Saratoga Springs Resort, the new “Disney Springs” will provide a much needed shot to the arm of the entire Downtown Disney area.  To start with, the entire district will be renovated and split into six completely different neighborhoods: The gateway, The Town Center, The Springs, The Landing, The Westside, and The Village Marketplace.  Much like the previous plans, these new plans will bring in new restaurants, new shops, and new entertainment in addition to a new parking deck intended to alleviate some of the parking headaches that we’ve all encountered there.

While the cynic in me says that I’ve heard this story before only to see it get cancelled and never mentioned again, I always try to look on the bright side of things and I will admit that any kind of renovation or addition to Downtown Disney is welcome.  So far, this is only a rumor and I haven’t seen any type of concept art so I don’t know what it will look like, but the details of the new plans sound pretty exciting and I hope that these rumors become a reality.

Mickey is trading in his exposed camp hut for a more stable base of operations. What was once Beastly Bazaar, located near the Discovery Island entrance to Asia, will soon reopen as the Adventurers Outpost. Currently, it appears that only Mickey and Minnie will make the trek from Camp Minnie-Mickey to Discovery Island while the rest of the exploration garbed gang stay put in the camp, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest there shortly after the Outpost opens.

This transition is part of the larger plan for the Camp Minnie-Mickey swathe of land that is to be transformed into world of Avatar. Your guess is as good as mine as to when or if the rebuilding process will begin in earnest, and if it will in fact be based off of an Avatar theme by the time it arrives. In the meantime, I am happy to see that thought has been put into where the displaced characters would call home ahead of the wrecking ball coming down. I am also intrigued by what the Adventurers Outpost will look like in its interior. Utilizing the word ‘Adventurers’ in Walt Disney World is sure to spark ideas of the Adventurers Club, and I can only let my imagination run wild with ideas that perhaps some of the artifacts from the club have made their way into Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

As for the camp that is being left behind, I truly feel horrible for Camp Minnie-Mickey. Its slow demise over the course of several years just seems like the wrong way to say goodbye to the space.

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