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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 . . .

Busby Berkeley Awareness Weekend, Please?

12 Aug
Footlight Parade, image courtesy of Wikpedia

Footlight Parade, image courtesy of Wikpedia

Now that ESPN The Weekend has been cancelled at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are a few new weekends I’d like to see. From this week’s Jentasmic! at Studios Central:

Sure, you’ve been on The Great Movie Ride, so you’ve heard of Footlight Parade, and might even know that Busby Berkeleydance numbers were a key feature of the film. But have you actually *seen* any of his films? C’mon people, this is the man who directed classic performances including Judy Garland’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” and Carmen Miranda’s “Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat.” Let’s encourage Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get back to its old school Hollywood roots with some outrageous production numbers in the main hub in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat. How about a few film screenings, perhaps in the moonlight over Echo Lake? And just imagine the merchandise potential. I want my Tutti Fruitti hat, gosh darn it.

And just think: The Sci Fi Dine In would be perfect for a Monster Movies Weekend. C’mon, Disney!

Jentasmic! Disney Handbags I’d Like to See

3 Jun

Handbags are my obsession, and these days they might just be my primary vice. So, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that I’ve got a wish list for designer collaborations I’d like to see, themed to attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

At the top of my list is a popular designer heavily influenced by Japanese kawaii culture:

Tokidoki Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Collection.Tokidoki‘s my current favorite handbag company, for their whimsical prints and imaginative characters. They’re often at their best when pairing disparate elements, as you see in their logo (a heart-and-crossbones). In fact, Disney’s already borrowed heavily from Tokidoki’s style with the “nerd” bags you’ve probably seen on Disney campus, which some fans have affectionately dubbed “Mickeydoki.” Tokidoki and Disney already have one collaboration, on merchandise themed to Marvel characters, suggesting that the necessary business ties already exist and they’ve likely developed some knowledge of lessons learned and successes from the collaboration. So why not take it the next step? Love Aerosmith, love Tokidoki, hellooo. . . .

Head on over to Studios Central to read the rest.

 

At Disney Restaurants, Is Theme More Important Than Food?

4 Feb

Image from Studios Central

When you’re sitting down to a meal at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, are you more concerned about the quality of the food, or the themeing of the restaurant? There’s quite an interesting discussion going on about that over at Studios Central, in comments responding to Matt’s recent review of the Sci Fi Dine In at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

happy at the Sci Fi

See how happy we are? October 2006: Surprise trip to WDW, and went straight to the Sci Fi.

I’m of two minds, myself. Perhaps it all depends on my mood, and the circumstances. The food at the Sci Fi is kinda lousy, but when I’ve brought WDW first-timers there, they’ve all raved about the place. Clearly it’s not the burgers and fries — those are literally the same burgers and fries you’re getting at every other table-service joint (maybe every quick-service, too). It’s the cheesy B-movie trailers, the hostess on roller skates, the silly cars you sit in. It all makes you forget that  it’s too dark to read the menu, and too loud to talk to anybody. And it was even better before they told the Cast Members to stop shouting out at the films, Rocky Horror-style.

When my brother-in-law and his wife came to Walt Disney World last summer, there were two in-park restaurants I insisted they try: The Sci Fi, and Le Cellier. The Canadian steakhouse didn’t suit their tastes, but they left the drive-in theater smiling.

On the other hand, I’ve been to the Sci Fi so many times now that I’ve grown weary of the movie loop, and if I’m gonna plunk down my hard earned Disney Dollars on a sit-down meal, I want it to be worth the price. I’m happier at Le Cellier than the Sci Fi. I’ve also been enjoying the 50s Prime Time lately . . . but the themeing there is also excellent, so it’s hard to tell what’s affecting my choice.

Power outlet

Sometimes it's all about the grab for power

And of course, sometimes all I really want is a power outlet, and I’ll eat whatever greasy fish-and-chips they might happen to have on hand if I can get a spot by the balcony at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe, so I can power up that damn phone to keep the Lines app alive for the rest of the day.

These days, I’d rather drop into the Sci Fi for a milkshake or dessert than actually have a full meal there. But dining reservations and wait times being what they are, I rarely want to invest that much time in a snack. I’d still bring first-timers there for sure, though.

I think what bothers me about the argument is that I don’t know why it’s so hard to do both. Why should we have to choose? Certainly some restaurants do both very well: The 50’s Prime Time, the California Grill, Le Cellier all among them. I agree with Studios Central commenter Newkrew35 when he says, “I think Disney rests on the fact that the Sci-Fi is a draw for the theme and not the food. Too bad we can’t have it both.”

Jentasmic: Pablo, Marlin, and Me

18 Jun

I’m staring down the empty nest. How can my child be growing up so quickly? Somehow, all this middle-aged angst brings thoughts to mind of a well-loved Ewok named Pablo, and our voyage together to Star Wars Weekends 2008. From today’s Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral:

Pablo’s traveled much of the world with us. He’s been to Paris, Kahului, New York City, Anaheim, Orlando . . . too many cities to count, actually. But as he is a precious friend to us, and can’t walk on his own, he generally doesn’t set out with us to tour the city, lest he somehow fall behind in the maddening crowd. Anyone who has parented a small child, or seen Toy Story, knows the potential horror of the favorite attachment object becoming A Lost Toy.

In 2008, when my son and I were planning our trip to Star Wars Weekends, it was always clear that Pablo would need to accompany us to the park just for one day, for one special moment: To meet Warwick Davis, and perhaps even enjoy a photo op or two. Sure, Pablo would’ve been safer back in the hotel room, but nobody would really be happier that way.

I’ll be spending this evening, of course, watching Toy Story 3, at my local IMAX in 3D. I understand this, too, will make me weep. Oh joy.

Jentasmic! If I Were Going to Star Wars Weekends. . .

21 May

Yet again, I’m not going to be at Star Wars Weekends. Now mind you, I’ve only been there once, but that doesn’t stop me from griping about it on a regular basis, and occasionally daydreaming about what I’d do if I could be there. From this week’s Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I’d never been to Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But in 2008, I attended for the first time, and since then there’s been a radical disturbance in the force: Since I haven’t managed to get back for another round, I therefore spend each May wishing I were headed down to Florida for the weekend, to cavort once again with Ewoks, stormtroopers, and celebrity guests.

But instead, I find myself perusing the schedule posted at the Star Wars Weekend section of Studios Central, and thinking of what my top priorities would be if, perchance, I were able to hop a flight this morning and take in a little time with the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.

And by the way, Matt “Mr. Outstanding” Hochberg’s got the full Jentasmic! archives available over on the site. If you’re looking for an interesting offbeat Disney read, you could do worse than to browse through the past articles.

Radical Re-Imagineering: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

12 Mar

Sometimes I can’t resist meddling with a good thing. Hence, the discussions of re-imagineering Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featured both on this week’s Those Darn Cats and Jentasmic! From my column today at Studios Central:

Steven Tyler’s out of rehab, and rejoined Aerosmith. They’ve even got a European tour scheduled, “Cocked, Locked, and Ready to Rock.” So, one can imagine that the rumors that Disney’s going to replace Aerosmith with a new band for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster should be dead, dead, dead.

But isn’t it fun to imagine what one could do with a Re-imagineered Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? Aerosmith gets enough play on the oldies stations these days that one can imagine a future where Love in an Elevator feels almost as nostalgic and old timey as the Dapper Dans serenading the crowds on Main Street.

My sentimental favorite is still the Ramones: You’re in a super-stretch taxi headed to CBGB’s, and the object of the game is getting to the club before your buddy throws up in your lap. Or maybe that’s just a tad too much like my early twenties.

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