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Unfortunate New Acronym for Monsters Inc Laugh Floor

26 Mar

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor Coming Soon

Apparently MILFCC was a bit too much of a mouthful, so they’ve dropped the CC. MouseExtra points out today that this leaves the acronym with a rather unfortunate acronym, having been tipped off to this by MousePlanet.

Construction of said acronym, and discovery of its alternative and more adult meaning, is left as an exercise for the adventurous, 18+ reader.

Pirates and Princesses Party Returning in August! Dates TBA

11 Mar

Disneyworld.com has confirmed it! The Pirates and Princesses Party will be returning to Magic Kingdom for select (but yet to be announced) dates in August.

Now, I’ve never been one for these separately-ticketed events . . . if I’ve got a park hopper or an Annual Pass, I don’t want to spend an extra $40/person to see special shows, fireworks, etc. Like the folks at WDWToday, I think of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as the $50 cookie. But this one might just be the exception. If I’m there while the party’s going on, my pirate mania might just win out.

More Concern About Year of a Million Dreams

8 Mar

In late February, many travel agents received emails about a special sweepstakes, for one lucky travel agent to win a night in Cinderella’s Castle, as part of the Year of a Million Dreams.

The problem with this? The thing that’s got some of us cynical and irritable? Well, the winner must take their night in the castle on June 2, 2007. And it just so happens that Magic Kingdom is “park of the day” for Gay Days at Walt Disney World.

Co-incidence? Maybe, maybe not. But for those of us feeling a little twitchy about not seeing any families headed by same-sex couples winning the big photo-op YOMD prizes, well, it makes us even a little more so. Is Disney trying to avoid awarding a night in Cinderella Castle to participants at Gay Day? I wish I could give them the benefit of the doubt here, but I’m still too sad about the fact that same-sex couples can’t use Disney wedding services to think that there’s not something amiss here.

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor Opens April 2

3 Mar

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor Coming Soon

Just saw this on The Disney Blog: Laughingplace.com tells us that the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club will open April 2 at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

I’m looking forward to hearing how the show’s been improved since my son and I caught a soft opening in December. Despite my geeky frustrations with the audio/visual problems, and plenty of shortcomings in the show content, I do think there’s potential here for a good, solid attraction, especially for the 7-10 crowd. They’re just a little too old for Turtle Talk with Crush, but will still be charmed by the comedians interacting with the crowd, and (if this survives) thrilled to see their own jokes told on-stage, after text-messaging them to the cast and crew. They might really miss Sully, though . . . my understanding is that his fur is too expensive and difficult to render on-the-fly, so he won’t be appearing in the attraction anytime soon.

For what it’s worth, my son and I still rattle off lines from the attraction from time to time, and we only saw it just that once. You know who my son wants to be for Halloween this year? That guy!

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor: Notes from a Soft Opening

8 Jan

On Tuesday, December 19, my son and I happened across a soft opening (ie, unscheduled preview) of the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor attraction at Walt Disney World, in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor Coming Soon

As you may have already heard, the Laugh Floor had been scheduled to open in January 2007, and feedback from early soft openings led to the opening date being pushed back to some unspecified date in the spring of 07 (the Orlando Sentinel has more on this). In my opinion this was a wise move. The attraction has a lot of potential, but also some serious flaws which I believe Imagineering can address. In its current state, it could be a big hit with the 7-10 year old crowd, but leave adults bored and irritable. With some improvements, it could be even better for the kids, and better tolerated by their parents.

Out of respect for the Imagineers who requested no pictures be taken, I’m omitting photos. However, I can tell you that much of the aesthetic of both the queue and the pre-show are similar to that of the Monsters Inc ride in Disney’s California Adventure, including a replica of the soda machine from the queue in that ride:

Drooler cola

Snacks

The theatre is a decent size, seating a few hundred people in rows of tables, as if you’re at a comedy club styled like a factory (but not, sadly, The Factory of Andy Warhol fame). There are three screens up front, with most of your attention focused on the left screen (where you’ll see Roz) and the main screen, which features a series of comedians vying for your laughs. You see, following up on what they learned in the movie Monsters Inc, the monsters are gathering laughter to power their city.

There’s also an interesting gimmick . . . they’re integrating the use of cell phone text messages into the attraction. While you were in the queue, you had the opportunity to send text messages from your cell phone to the monsters, offering your jokes for the monsters to tell. (And if you happened to be there for this soft opening, you also had the opportunity to give those jokes to Cast Members, running around a bit frantically to gather jokes. Perhaps they don’t yet trust that people can easily text message? Or are they having trouble with receiving the messages?)

As you wait for the show to start, a camera is pointed at random people in the audience, with amusing subtitles below each person (ie, “Is sitting between two aliens,” “Will buy you all churros,” “Doesn’t know you’re looking at him” — though I didn’t take notes so don’t take those as verbatim).

Once the show begins in earnest, there are essentially four acts:

  1. Mike Wazowski and Roz explain why we’re here: The gathering of laugh power, and a contest among three comedians. This part of the show works fairly smoothly, though a bit dry.
  2. The three comedians each perform in turn. Here, we need some real work. The jokes aren’t great, and the audience’s expectations are understandably high. This is the Laugh Floor, after all. Shouldn’t this be side-splitting stuff, since their world’s power supply depends on it? There’s some audience interaction here, much like in Turtle Talk with Crush, and this is the high point — the comedians seem to be at their best when they’re ad-libbing (or, perhaps the writing is best when it’s loose).
  3. The monsters tell another batch of jokes, sent in by text message (or, in our case, Cast Members carrying clipboards). This is hit or miss. Obviously the jokes will be of varying quality, especially if they have very few to choose from. But for the kid who hears his joke read by one of the monsters (or the parent who’s sitting by his side), it’s an instant pixie-dusted memory.
  4. The audience votes with applause for their favorite of the three comedians, and the winner is announced. The show wraps up, and we’re on our way.

Or, if you’re at a soft opening, maybe you’re not on your way quite yet. In our case, the Cast Members asked for our feedback. We were asked to vote by show of hands, responding to a series of fairly detailed questions, most on a scale of 1 to 5. The audience response at our soft opening was fairly positive, but not quite enthusiastic. Few people responded with 1’s or 5’s.

For me, some of the technical issues left me frustrated (and, of course, we were warned that this would be the case — this was of course a soft opening, which one expects to be technically rough). The left-hand screen looks great, but at our preview the main screen seemed less bright, less clear, and with slighly rougher edges on the characters. Looked like a rendering issue to me. Microphone coverage in the theatre was inadequate, which was an issue during the interactive sections of the program. Perhaps that’s just because they’re in previews, and will have more Cast Members running around with handheld mics once the attraction opens?

I also have to wonder where Sully is. Did they leave him out because he’s not a great comedian? Or is his fur just too hard to render on the fly, given the tremendous amount of software work behind that gorgeous mane?

Overall, though, I do believe that this is the next Turtle Talk with Crush, both for its charming interaction (I know they’ll improve the writing!), and for the popularity of some of the main characters. I’m rooting for the folks at Walt Disney Imagineering who are no doubt putting in long hours to make a great show for us.

Disney.com vs. MySpace?

3 Jan

John Frost reports today on a Wall Street Journal article about the upcoming new disney.com web site, and its attempt to position itself as a MySpace competitor.

At first this seemed odd to me, but then I thought back to the now-legendary story of Walt Disney sitting on a crummy bench, watching his daughters ride a mediocre carousel in an ill-kept city park. And he thought to himself, couldn’t we have a place where parents and kids could both enjoy themselves? Seems to me that a MySpace-ish disney.com could be headed for that same sort of conceptual space, though I’m not placing any money on whether they can succeed.

It’ll be interesting to see how they tie Disney Mobile into all this. And the upcoming Monsters Ince. Laugh Floor attraction at Magic Kingdom, where you can send text messages to the monsters from your cell phone. How far will Disney take the potential synergies here?

Bucky Greenhorn, Celebrity Extraordinaire

27 Dec

If you need a fake celebrity autograph, guaranteed to depreciate in value from the very moment the ink dries, Bucky Greenhorn is your man.

Bucky Greenhorn

My son and I met Bucky one afternoon last week at Disney MGM Studios, where he had set up shop on a bench near Hollywood Hills theatre. We needed some autographs, and he had the hookup: we walked away with genuine fake signatures of Tallulah Bankhead and Lucas Grabeel.  And since Bucky’s clearly on a path to stardom, we got his autograph as well.

Now, I imagine Bucky’s pretty busy today. I just read in the Orlando Sentinel that both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom filled to capacity by 3:15, and the Disney MGM Studios parking lot was full, so Bucky’s gotta be doing a brisk business. But next time you’re there, look around for him, he’s a helluva guy.

DIY Disney Project Ideas for Crafty Types

5 Dec

Sometimes it’s tough for Disney geeks to find the right wardrobe . . . there’s plenty of stuff out there emblazoned with our beloved characters, but perhaps it’s not quite in keeping with our personal aesthetics. Or maybe it’s out of our price ranges. Or, well, maybe we just like to spend a bit of time with our sewing machines, or with a tub of fabric paint.

I’m very new to crafting, but thanks to books like Sew Subversive and a wonderful lesson from a local sewing machine shop, I’ve been having fun customizing clothing and starting to design a few pieces of my own. Having caught the crafty fever, I’d like to show off a few of the things I’ve made and perhaps inspire you to DIY a few pieces of your own.

Patches

One easy way to get started is to grab a few patches and customize clothing you already own (or can obtain cheaply). I noticed this summer at Disneyland that they’ve got some great patches out for Pirates of the Carribean. Disney is selling these patches as part of the “make your own pirate hat or bandana” package at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but you can also buy them separately — and they’re a pretty good deal, running about $2.50 per patch. Because they’re not designed for use on clothing, you might want to carefully remove the snap from the patches using an exacto knife, and then you’re ready to go.

In homage to the city-ablaze scene in Pirates, I made a hat and scarf out of fleece, using this pattern. I swear, it’s totally easy to sew! Including the patch, it took maybe 90 minutes to make the whole set.

Pirates fleece scarf and hat

Close-up on fleece pirates patch(click this and other thumbnails for better view of patch)

Also in that same set of patches, there’s an awesome little pink girly skull! This time, I scavenged fleece fabric from a major fashion mistake, a pink fleece I picked up super-cheap in the Dollar-A-Pound section of the Garment District (home base for Boston-based bargain fashionistas — email me if you want advice on when to go!). I also added a Ramones patch to the scarf to complete the look.

Pink skull fleece hat and scarf

Pink skull patch

Another patch in this same series worked well on a black Banana Republic shirt I found that same day on the crowded floor of Dollar-A-Pound:

Pirates shirt

Pirates patcho

Pirates not your thing? Shame on you! But over at Animal Kingdom, the Expedition Everest gift shop is all ready for you with a set of patches, designed for your iron-on convenience (I tend to sew them anyway . . . holds up better over multiple washings). Here’s a vest (once again from Dollar-A-Pound!), with a lovely Yeti patch.

Everest fleece vest

Everest fleece patch

Fabric Paints

Want to create your own designs? Make yourself a fabric stencil, grab some paint and a t-shirt, and you’re on your way. I made a Mickey Jolly Roger, which I’ve painted onto a couple shirts and a pair of jeans. Now, beware of copyright issues here . . . you can’t even think about selling this sort of thing. But in many cases you may be protected by the first amendment, especially if your design is satirical, as is my Pirate Mickey below.

Mickey pirate fabric paint jeans

Sewing

The piece I’m proudest of so far is the Mickey Christmas hat. Totally simple.

Mickey Christmas hat

This was very simple to make, if you have basic improvisational sewing skills (or are willing to pick up that Sew Subversive book, and get yerself some skillz!). . . use a stocking cap as a pattern, cutting two pieces about the same size and shape of the cap but with about 1/2″ added on each side for seam allowance. Cut yourself out a pair of Mickey ears from black fleece, two pieces of fleece per ear so you can sew them together and stuff ’em, then sew into the main seam of the hat. Stuff them firmly enough that they’ll stand up straight when the hat is pulled on snugly.

If you find yourself interested in crafting, there are tons of web sites out there that can tell you way more than I can about how to get started, and how to move on to more advanced stuff. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite just a bit.

Please Remain Seated Until the Tram Comes to a Complete Stop

30 Oct

Man conscious, alert after jump off tram at Disney.

Nitpicky Disney geek moment: There is no tram in any Magic Kingdom parking lot. This clearly was at the Ticket and Transportation Center.  I am geeky, hear me roar.

What’s Your Personal Dream Path for Walt Disney World?

24 Oct

There’s a new feature on the Walt Disney World web site: Custom Disney park maps, which yo can load up with the attractions of your choice, and/or include “Dream Paths.” The maps are then mailed out to you, free of charge.

Or, well. . . I’ve been told they get mailed to you, free of charge. Apparently they’re still working some bugs out of the system, because the web site keeps complaining about my zip code (which I promise you is in fact absolutely valid).

And what, may you ask, are Dream Paths? Part of the Year of a Million Dreams campaign, Dream Paths are suggested agendas (or touring plans) for making your way around the Disney parks, with specific interests in mind. The three I’ve seen so far are Fairy Tale Fantasy, The Call of Adventure, and Little Dreamers/Big Dreams. I’d love to see them offer Dream Paths for the geekier among us. How about . . .

  • Campy Retro Favorites, featuring Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Spaceship Earth, and Living with the Land
  • Cast Members Do Stand-Up, featuring Jungle Cruise, Great Movie Ride, and Kilamajaro Safaris
  • Round and Round, featuring Dumbo, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and Triceratops Spin
  • Motion Sickness Madness, featuring Mad Tea Party, Star Tours, Body Wars, Mission: Space, and Primeval Whirl
  • What Were They Thinking?!?, featuring Stitch’s Great Escape, Stitch’s Great Escape, and Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Classic Audio-Animatronics, featuring Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Carribean, and The Enchanted Tiki Room (yes, even with the new management)

Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents: Clearly No Laughing Matter

Surely you, gentle reader, will have other suggestions, perhaps a bit more subversive even? Let’s offer up a few Dream Paths of our own. The WDW Today podcast show #168 might be good fodder for thought . . . it’s a discussion of the panelists’ least favorite attractions at Walt Disney World.

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