18 April 2013

World News Roundtable - 18 April 2013

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

Alan Mize

As a Disney Vacation Club owner, I am always tuned into the ever-turning DVC rumor mill.  Because there is always some rumor regarding DVC out there, I have shied away from writing about it for the Gazette.  But this week, I’m going to take the plunge and discuss a rumor that has been around for a few years but is really starting to pick up some speed.  I’m referring to the discussions of a DVC expansion at the Polynesian Resort.

The first time this rumor seemed to gain any traction was in early 2012 when sight balloons were spotted in various locations around the Polynesian.  However, once the balloons were removed, the rumors died down and people quit talking about it.  Well, in the past week, various internet sites and Disney podcasts are starting to expand on what the Polynesian DVC might include.  According to rumors, in addition to converting some current guest rooms into DVC villas, the DVC expansion may also include twenty bungalows built either along the shoreline of the Seven Seas Lagoon or possibly out over the lagoon itself.  Considering that the Polynesian is the only monorail resort that has not had a DVC expansion, it’s hardly surprising that the Polynesian could be the next resort in line.  What is surprising to me is the bungalow concept.  I like the idea, but even combined with some remodeled guest rooms, that is a very low number of DVC units to try and sell to current and new members.  Rest assured that any DVC at the Polynesian is going to be very popular and will likely sell out very quickly.  And since Disney is in the business of making money, I would have expected them to try and maximize the potential at such a popular resort.

I know that some see DVC in a negative light and I won’t try to convince anyone that they’re wrong.  DVC definitely isn’t for everyone but personally, I’m excited about this.  As a current owner, I obviously buy into the concept of DVC so convincing me that a DVC “wing” at the Polynesian is pretty easy.  I can’t wait to get an official announcement about this and see the final result.

Ha! Just last week we were excited (kind of...) about the celebration announced for the 15th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom. While we are still glad that the very low key festivities are still going on, a major factor in our excitement has left the proverbial building. Joe Rohde, who was the lead designer of the park, has suddenly pulled his appearance at the celebration. While I'm sure Rohde has his reasons for not appearing, the sudden nature of his departure has led to much speculation (mostly dealing with the still developing Avatar-land...and Rohde's presumed hatred of it). While I'm sure the other speakers will be fun to watch, there is nothing like Joe Rohde waxing poetic about his park. Shucks.

Princess Fee (DF'82)

Photo Credit: D.J. Wallace
On Monday 15th April, Tokyo Disney Resort celebrated its 30th birthday. After opening in 1983 with the Disneyland Park, the Resort has grown phenomenally, and is now home to two beautiful theme parks and 3 gorgeous hotels. To mark their 30th anniversary, Tokyo Disney Resort is holding the Happiness Year, allowing all its guests to celebrate their birthday all year long. Upon entering the park on Monday, guests were welcome by lines of cast members from each department and land, all holding balloons to commence the celebrations, the Resort held a dedication ceremony, complete with over 100 Disney characters, 350 dancers, and an address by Tom Staggs, Chairman of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Along with theme park decor highlighting the year, there was the debut of a brand new parade on Monday, entitled ‘Happiness is Here’ Parade! From what I’ve seen, it looks like it’s going to be a very happy year indeed!

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

"Everything is perfect, it's falling into place. I can't seem to wipe this smile off my face!" That's a lyric from "Life's a Happy Song," the opening number of 2011's The Muppets, and it also sums up the feelings of Muppet lovers around the globe at the present moment. There has never been a time when Kermit and company were more at the forefront of the public eye since perhaps the initial run of The Muppet Show. It is a blissful age when frogs, pigs, bears, and whatever else are all making talk show appearances, going viral online, winning top-notch awards, and, most exciting of all, making movies.

The gang's next escapade wrapped filming just this Tuesday in London, as tweeted by Muppeteer Matt Vogel (who performs Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Robin, and others). Wittily titled The Muppets... Again, the movie has been in production since January and hits theaters March 21. The film re-unites much of its predecessor's talent, including director James Bobin, writer Nicholas Stoller, producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, and (Oscar-winning!) songwriter Bret McKenzie. Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey hold lead roles. Estelle has touched on the sequel several times before here on the Roundtable, and I share her excitement. To see the world genuinely excited about Jim Henson's Muppets... well, that's pretty special.

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)

On Wednesday night, my Twitter account was all aflutter with tweets from @DisneyChannelPR plugging Throwback Thursdays on the Disney Channel. What does that mean? It means starting yesterday at midnight the Channel, celebrating its 30th birthday, is traveling back in time to give viewers some of their old favorites once again. (First up? Even Stevens!)

I am so on board with this idea. Can you believe it's been 3 years since Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and Kim Possible played on the Disney Channel? (It makes sense; this is around the time I stopped watching.) "Disney Replay" is the best idea since "Nick at Nite" -- I just wish it didn't take them so long to catch on. And who knows? If ratings are solid and people are interested, we may just get the Company to crawl into their TV vaults and look a little bit deeper.

Yay for a sense of nostalgia and getting me back to watching the Disney Channel!

Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)

This summer, from May 25 through June 30, the Disney Youth Education Program will be welcoming Girl Scouts to take part in sessions designed especially for them. Under the banner of Girls Unite the scouts will be able to pursue a path to Dream (leadership), Act (science and technology), or Change (conservation). Each program will be centrally focused in a specific park, such as the conservation education taking place in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

As someone who has invested copious amounts of time thinking about and developing summer camp programs, this is an excellent way to blend fun and education in a perfectly crafted environment. In fact, the Girls Unite programs have piqued my interest so much, that I would love to see the camps expanded to include any child who would like to attend. Think of it as the Disney Institute on a smaller person scale.

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