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RFIDs and MyMagic+ and Privacy, Oh My!

11 Jan

Over at StudiosCentral, my recent Jentasmic! columns have focused on the NextGen, newly-announced MyMagic+ initiative at Walt Disney World.

It’s interesting to watch the response to MyMagic+, both from the Disney fandom and from the press. Business writers generally zoom right into the moneymaker: Disney building an unprecedented database of Guest information, with implications for both privacy concerns and outstanding marketing opportunities. The fandom is mostly giddy for the new technologies, the new customization of Guest experience, and the convenience of wearing a MagicBand instead of carrying a card or two.

As a dues-paying member of the ACLU, which chimed in on tracking people with RFIDs years ago, I’m concerned about the privacy implications, primarily related to the inferences which can be drawn through data-mining (remember when a couple MIT students figured out how to mine Facebook data to determine whether a man was gay?).

And at the same time, I’m deep enough into Disney fanaticism that I’m likely to give the system a spin next time I travel to Walt Disney World. I’ll be interested to see how things go as MyMagic+ is gradually rolled out, and how much it changes from this point in response to Guest feedback and operational experience.

Disney x Barney’s: Minnie Dreams of Heroin Chic?

16 Nov

My friend @TheJoezer completely nailed it this morning: The Disney x Barneys video released this week is “Minnie dreams of heroin chic.”

 

Skinny Minnie creeps me out a bit, but I don’t think she’s the real issue. From this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral:

I’m not convinced that Minnie’s temporary transformation into an emaciated 5’11” dress size zero fashion model is in and of itself particularly threatening to the well-being of young girls. What troubles me more is a related point raised by the “Leave Minnie Alone” petition: The problem is “with a dress that only looks good on a woman who is 5’11 and a size zero.” And we’re really not talking about just one dress here, people; we’re talking about an industry.

Jentasmic! on Limited Time Magic

19 Oct

Limited Time Magic! It sounds so, so . . . so much like legalese! So entirely unmagical, in fact, that I have a hard time believing it came out of Disney. But despite the lackluster name, I do like the concept. From this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral:

But now that I’ve got my bitterness out of the way. . . Oh man, I am loving the concept of this new promotion, which I’ll just refer to as LTM to contain my annoyance. As a regular Guest at Disney Parks, I like to plan my trips around special events, whether Disney-hosted (like Star Wars Weekends) or fan gatherings (like Reunion 2012 – be there or be square). I enjoy seeing special decorations, going to talks or shows that just aren’t offered every day, and yes even buying special merchandise that you can only get at a certain time. As much as I hate the phrase “limited time,” there is something special about things that are only available, well, for a very limited time.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest.

Jentasmic!: Disney’s Influence on Florida 2012 Elections

5 Oct

In this week’s Jentasmic!, I muse about Disney’s involvement in Florida’s electoral politics. A snippet:

Based on recent political contributions by Walt Disney World, we should probably be singing “It’s a Republican world after all” as we glide along through a classic indoor boatride. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Walt Disney World has spent nearly $2.5 million on political candidates and causes in Florida so far this election cycle” (as of September 27, 2012), with approximately 90% of that money going to Republican candidates or Republican-leaning interest groups.

And I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface; Disney has a long and complex relationship with politics in Florida (and nationwide — let’s not forget Sonny Bono’s Mickey Mouse Protection Act). Vance at StudiosCentral points out that Disney’s also recently been involved with preventing a paid sick-leave question from appearing on the Florida ballot. From HuffPo:

Thanks largely to the pressure brought by the business lobby in Orange County, Fla., it appears the most magical place on earth won’t include mandated sick leave for workers anytime soon.

Last month, Orange’s Board of County Commissioners voted to put off a ballot vote on a hotly contested measure that would require employers to provide workers with one hour of sick leave for every 37 hours worked, capped at 56 per year. By delaying the vote until after the printing deadline for the Nov. 6 ballot, the board’s move at least temporarily scuttled an initiative that 50,000 voters had petitioned to put to a public vote.

I took a quick look at the current union contract for full-time WDW Cast Members, and full-time Cast Members can earn up to 48 hours of sick leave per year (assuming one works 8-hour days, that’s 6 days worth). That’s below the average for full-time workers in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And I’m well-aware that many Cast Members are neither full-time nor covered by the union. Any Cast Members have stories they’d like to tell? Plenty of room here in the comment section below.

Jentasmic! Have You Thanked a Cast Member Lately?

24 Aug
Towel animal

Towel animals don’t just make themselves, y’know. And yeah I have no idea what animal this is. Sloth? Puppy? Reindeer?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cast Members need love too. This week I’m saying it at Studios Central in my Jentasmic! column.

If you’ve ever had a great, magical time at Walt Disney World, there have been Cast Members to thank for it. Perhaps it was a cheerful face as you boarded an attraction, or a Princess lavishing attention on your child, or a friendly bus driver welcoming you aboard. Or maybe it was something truly exceptional, such as the time a kind Guest Services Cast Member gave my son a new Buzz Lightyear mug to replace one he’d lost in the mens’ room, or the manager at Le Cellier who replaced my entire outfit after an unfortunate experience with a tray of drinks. Or maybe it was people you never saw: The Imagineers who designed an attraction, the housekeepers who left towel animals on your bed, or the people who prepared your meals.

Head on over to StudiosCentral for the full article.

Jentasmic on Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

10 Aug

I was instantly hooked on Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. So how’s about Disney bringing that technology to Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Here’s a snippet from this week’s Jentasmic! column, over on StudiosCentral:

SOTMK is more complex (both in technology and game mechanic) and has greater potential for expansion and re-themeing than its Epcot equivalent, Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure (which recently replaced an almost-identical game themed to Kim Possible). Aaron DelPrince recently reviewed this game here on StudiosCentral. I agree with Aaron that the Agent P experience is a step up from the Kim Possible version. But SOTMK is in another league entirely, using full-movement animation and a wider variety of variables which will affect each specific interaction in the game.

Star Tours: In Praise of Avoiding Spoilers

16 Dec

With an old buddy, at Connection 2009

[Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!]

I waited . . . and waited. . . and waited. I guess you could say I’m dual-diagnosed, because I’m both a Disney fan, and a Star Wars fan. And still, I managed to avoid almost all spoilers about the recently-updated Star Tours attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Was it worth it? From this week’s Jentasmic! column:

I’ve got an analytical mind, and I find it hard to shut off. But that first time through, I was completely swept away. Darth Vader was there, and we were in his grip. My friend Eliyanna was a rebel spy! C3P0 and R2D2 managed to get us free, and before I knew it we were dodging AT-ATs on Hoth. Then a message from Admiral Ackbar (it’s a trap!!!), and now off to Naboo! I was having so much fun even Jar Jar didn’t get to me. I do believe Matt will vouch for me when I tell you that after the ride was over, I was so happy I could have cried.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest . . .

New Fantasmic! Dining Experience

2 Dec

Is it temporary? Or just on a trial run? I dunno, but I want to give it a try. There’s a new “Dining Experience” product at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which includes preferred seating for my favorite evening show at Walt Disney World. This week’s Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral has my take on whether this package is worth a shot.

Jentasmic! on Disney Travel for the Frugal

8 Nov

I am the 99%! So one shouldn’t be at all surprised to know that I try to keep my travel budget low. When traveling to Walt Disney World, I tend to stay off-site (either using hotel points or a timeshare my family bought when the market tanked), and book flights with frequent flier miles.

My last two Jentasmic! columns at StudiosCentral have tips for the frugal Disney traveler:

The Joys of Trip Planning

9 Sep

Sometimes I think I enjoy trip planning more than I enjoy the trips themselves. And science backs me up on this! This week in Jentasmic on StudiosCentral: The Joys of Trip Planning.

 

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