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 . . .
So wrong I just had to link to it. Check out more at Daily Obsessional.
Now, here’s something that’s just sat in my blogreader for days, because I couldn’t figure out what to make of it. Mousevine posted last week that the Night of Joy Christian music event at Walt Disney World is being moved from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Not a big deal to me . . . my fondness for Christian music is pretty much centered in Bach chorales, Gregorian chants, and similar golden oldies. So, what caught my eye was Mousevine’s commentary on the event itself:
. . . some who have attended previous NOJ festivals, as well as Cast Members who’ve worked it, claim that of all the separate-ticket events held at the Magic Kingdom, it’s the most unruly. Tales abound of the Magic Kingdom overrun by mobs of drunken teens, petty thievery in the shops, as well as an overworked security dealing with fights among the crowds of young concert attendees. Not exactly the kind of behavior one would expect to find at a Christian music festival. The discussion then devolves into those who swear the stories are true and those who accuse people of being anti-Christian posting their false stories.
It’s hard to assess the veracity of the tales of debauchery involving NOJ unless one witnesses it for themselves. I have read of one Disney fansite who had members attend the concerts to see if the stories were true or if it had become another Disney urban legend to add to the pile. And for the most part, the group found the stories to be true. And it’s hard not to believe the stories when you read the accounts by cast members who’ve worked NOJ and the majority are negative.
Wow, I had totally missed this Disney fan controversy! Almost makes me want to attend NOJ and see for myself. (But hey, it doesn’t take much to make me want to go to Disney World, now does it?)
DIS Updates has a set of posters available for Toy Story Mania, coming to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in 2008. Yee haw!
From the Disney Geeks’ Daily Figment:
I submit to you the ultimate collectible: a monorail in your own backyard! Dan Pedersen of Fremont, California has constructed the ultimate reminder of a trip to WDW. For under $5,000.00 (not including his years of labor), Ken constructed a complex, usable monorail system in his own backyard. The monorail reaches a height of over eight feet and travels a lengthy 300 feet around his backyard, making several stops along the way.
Head on over to Wired.com for more pictures.
Two news stories caught my eye today, technically unrelated but both datelined “Hong Kong”.
DIS News reports that Disney has been found to violate Chinese labor laws:
Workers at a Chinese factory making Disney toys are overworked, underpaid, exposed to dangerous toxins and forced to live in filthy conditions, a labour rights group said in a report Wednesday.
The EarthTimes reports that things aren’t all that much happier at Hong Kong Disneyland:
On top of its disappointingly low crowds, a survey conducted by the Disney Cast Members Union among 470 of the 5,000-odd staff found that 63 per cent were unhappy with management, complaining largely of unequal treatment and what they see as unfair work distribution.
More than 80 per cent of respondents said they wanted Hong Kong Disneyland to bring its labour practices in line with those at the Disney park in Florida, where staff can be accompanied by union officials at disciplinary hearings and have access to independent arbitration.
The Wachamacallit has published a brief review of Disney’s multimedia, features-enhanced web site:
They want you to watch this video, listen to this song, chat on their single board, play this game, and rate all of them at the same time. Now I know why they bought Club Penguin. Seriously, If you can figure out how to do things one at a time, than great for you. for every one who isn’t at that level of 1337-ness, just avoid it.
(A translation for those who do not speak leet: “1337-ness” translates into “technical expertise and excellence.”)
At the risk of falling prey to nepotism, I must say I think he’s onto something here, and it’s not just Disney.com that’s affected. There’s a lot of feature-heavy web sites out there. Does anybody out there still read Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com?
As many had predicted, I was not happy about being car-free at Saratoga Springs Resort. If I stay there again someday, I’ll probably rent a car. But sometimes that’s not an option. Maybe your budget won’t support it, maybe your desire to reduce carbon footprint is strong, maybe you have physical constraints that preclude driving. Or hey, maybe you like to have a little adult beverage poolside in the afternoon, and know better than to get behind the wheel afterward.
If for any reason you end up at Saratoga Springs Resort without a car, here are my tips for a relatively sane experience:
- Request a room in the Grandstand section, or walk to the Grandstand bus station, especially if you are traveling to the parks right around opening time. SSR has five bus stops, and Grandstand is the first to be picked up on the way to the parks, and the first to be dropped off on return. Sure, you’ll have to do a 10-minute tour of the entire SSR resort on your way to the parks, but you won’t sit at the bus stop watching the buses roll by, full to capacity and unable to take on any more passengers.
- Consider taking a cab if you’re in a rush, or if you’re traveling anywhere other than to/from the theme parks. We lunched one day at the Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort, and instead of taking the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom to wait for a bus, we hopped in a cab. We were back at Saratoga Springs in 10 minutes; Disney transportation might have taken as long as an hour. It was well worth the $23 bucks (including tip).
- Bring a book, iPod, or other portable personal entertainment device. I’d usually argue against these things, as I prefer to just soak up the Disney atmosphere. But there’s only so much atmosphere sitting around on a bench at the bus stop. Without a book, you may resort to more embarrassing pursuits, such as obsessively photographing your well-dressed Pal Mickey everywhere you sit around waiting. Ahem.
- Do not take the bus to Downtown Disney – I heard plenty of complaints about it. There’s a boat from near Artists’ Palette that seems to run pretty well on schedule, and Pleasure Island sure looks pretty from the water. Or, walking to Downtown Disney is not too bad from the Congress Park area.
- Keep your sense of humor. We all know what real problems look like, right? They tend to involve terms like “neurosurgeon,” “foreclosure,” “inoperable,” or “viral load.” Sure, it’s frustrating to be so close to Magic Kingdom EMH rope drop, and miss it because the buses aren’t running right. But hey, if you’re at Disney World and everybody’s safe and sound, how bad can things really be? If you get frustrated and lose your cool (like I did, at least once), try to shake it off . . . I’m sure Pal Mickey’s ready to offer a quick quiz, or maybe you’ll even make a new friend while waiting for the bus.
Honor Hunter of Blue Sky Disney has created a couple excellent cheat-sheets for those of us who might confuse Ollie Johnston with Eric Larson, or somehow even forget who Ed Catmull is.
Those with opinions on Tony Baxter (or wishing to form some) will want to read the comments on the Suits vs Creatives post fer sure.