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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.

My Thoughts and Prayers are With Japan

11 Mar

I woke up to the news of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, and to warnings of (smaller) tsunamis en route to Hawaii (now hit, not bad) and California (still waiting, but hopefully much weaker impact by the time it hits there). My heart sank. My thoughts are with the people of Japan, and also with those currently evacuating and making other preparations in many parts of the world.

The BBC is my go-to for major news stories. Here’s their special report on the crisis in Japan.

Tokyo Disneyland? Don’t get all worked up about what you might see on twitter. Yes it’s been affected but check some live coverage here, and chill. (Hat tip to my good friend Trace for the link.)


My Anime Boston 2011 Panels: Hello Kitty Theme Park, Family Geekdom

23 Feb

Dear Daniel at Sanrio Puroland

Hello Kitty's boyfriend (husband?) Dear Daniel, in the Sanrio Puroland afternoon parade

Long-term readers of this blog might just remember that my favorite non-Disney theme park is Sanrio Puroland, the five-story indoor Hello Kitty theme park I visited in 2002.

Sanrio Puroland is located in Tama City, about 30 minutes outside Tokyo. You can take the subway there, if you don’t mind traveling through a good number of stations where the signs are written only in Japanese and Chinese characters. Luckily, I had a Japanese friend in Tokyo who gave me excellent directions, and my then-five-year-old son and I found our way there with little difficulty (the rest of the family decided to spend the day in Tokyo rather than visiting Hello Kitty’s homeland . . . gee, I can’t imagine why!).

This April, at Anime Boston 2011, I’ll be presenting a session titled, “Hello Kitty Holyland: A Personal Journey.” From the not-yet-published Anime Boston 2011 program guide:

Sure, you love Hello Kitty, but did you know she has her very own fivestory indoor theme park in Tama City, a quick commute from Tokyo? And have you ever considered making the ultimate Sanrio pilgrimage? Come to this panel to hear first-hand stories of my journey to this site where gaijin rarely tread with my then-five-year-old son, and watch the super-hard-to-find Sanrio animated and live action video that inspired three generations of my family to cross the Pacific.

If you’re going to be at Anime Boston, stop by to say hello! I’m also presenting as part of The Family That Geeks Together:

Ever wonder about this anime stuff your kids are into? Worried you could never understand all these crazy shows? Wish you could clue the parents into how great your favorite shows are, or why you spend all your free time editing AMVs and haunting costume shops? An actual family – two parents & a 14-year-old – talk about their shared love of anime and cosplay, offering tips on bridging the generation gap from either side. Bring your frustrations and questions, and come away with practical ideas for how to make anime cons a new family tradition.

Detailed information about both these panels, as well as my husband‘s panel on Anime and the Japanese Experience of  War, is available on our family Facebook page.

Well, Maybe I Can Do Without Cyberspace Mountain After All

15 Oct

The one thing I hate about the idea that DisneyQuest will probably eventually close is that I fear they won’t move Cyberspace Mountain, but just let it die. I love Cyberspace Mountain, and was sad this summer that it’s gone from Walt Disney Studios Paris. Bill Nye in French, how can you argue with that?

But….looks like they might have me covered, what with the new The Sum of All Thrills design-your-own-roller-coaster attraction coming soon to Epcot. And being a geek, I’m intrigued by the math angle they seem to be working. From Raytheon’s press release:

“The Sum of All Thrills” will be a core component of Raytheon’s MathMovesU program, an initiative designed to engage middle school students in math and science, and help create the next generation of innovators for the U.S. It will be located in the INNOVENTIONS pavilion at Epcot, a unique area of the park that contains 100,000 square feet of interactive, hands-on exhibits that allow visitors to celebrate the inspiration and innovation that improve their lives and expand their horizons.

If you’re not a nerd, you might find the photo in the Orlando Sentinel a little sexier.

Weird Theme Parks, Magic Meets, and Another TDC Plug

23 Feb
image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

How sad am I that I’ve never set foot in any of the World’s Strangest Theme Parks, at least according to Dark Roasted Blend? Truly I would’ve visited Diggerland had the weather been a little more promising while I was in the UK….and last summer I was pretty darn close to Hershey Park the day after Magic Meets 2008, when Lisa and I recorded the Hershey’s Chocolate World Tour ride-through for Those Darn Cats episode #14 (and no, I had not planned in advance to plug my podcast twice in a day, but so there!).

And hey, speaking of Magic Meets, they’ve just opened pre-registration for Magic Meets 2009. The event sells out wicked fast, so they have a two-step process: You pre-register for the event (without paying), and then later on you pay your money to secure your place. So, pre-registering is not a guarantee that you’ll get in, but speeds things up a bit once it’s time to plunk down the cash, and (I think) ensures that you’re on the email list to be informed when the all-important payment window opens up. I’m hoping to be there again this year, especially since I probably wouldn’t be able to make it to MouseFest this year, even if it were happening.

Ain’t No Drinking on the Carousel

18 Dec

Am I curious why Hong Kong Disneyland insists you must be sober to ride Cinderella’s Golden Carousel? Yes.

Did I enjoy reading my friend Hayden’s HKDL report on DisFriends? Yes.

Am I green with envy, wanting to see yet another Magic Kingdom? You betcha!

No More High School Musical!

26 Nov

Now, it just so happens that I do indeed enoy the High School Musical francise. But when the last film wrapped up with a musical tribute to itself, even my stomach churned at the intensity of product placement, and at the lyrical plea to not stop watching just because Gabriella and Troy won’t be around anymore.

High School Musical (yeah)
Who says we have to let it go?
It’s the best part we’ve ever known (yeah)
Step into the future…but hold on to
High School Musical

Um, yeah…I don’t think the tweens were gonna stop watching, even without this plea. Or was this a reassurance that yes indeed there will be fresh-scrubbed antisceptic new faces in High School Musical 4, in addition to the Rocket Boy who they’re surely audience-testing for future installments?

And of course yes, I’ve heard that the HSM Pep Rally at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been updated, so yes I’ll try to catch it at MouseFest. It’s like a sickness, I tell you. But don’t go thinking I’m gonna try the Ludovico technique or anything.

Jentasmic!: SuperStar Monorail Cast Members

25 Nov

In the front car of the MonorailI was thrilled when I heard that some of the Year of a Million Dreams team had read my Jentasmic! column last month on Superstar Cast Members. I’m sad that the Year of a Million Dreams is wrapping up soon, and truly hope that Disney will continue to give its Cast Members the flexibility to be able to provide an extra bit of kindness and magic here and there, as the individual Cast Members see fit.

So, I just couldn’t resist reprising the concept, and this time focusing on some of the fabulous Cast Members I’ve met on the Monorails. I have been so very fortunate! A sample:

Backstage Tour! I have never seen the Electrical Water Pageant. Dunno why…every trip I think I’m gonna catch it, and then every trip it’s just too much bother to get over to the viewing spot when I could be taking yet another spin on Pirates or Haunted Mansion. But thanks to one kind Cast Member, now I know where they keep the floats! My son and I were chatting about the water pageant while riding in the coveted front car of the Monorail between Magic Kingdom and the TTC, and the Monorail Operator was kind enough to slow down the monorail for a few seconds while he pointed out the storage location to us.  I still haven’t seen the darn pageant…but now I feel like I’m in on a fun little secret.

Jentasmic! Scared at the Studios

31 Oct

Happy Halloween everybody! In this week’s Jentasmic! column at, I share a few scary stories of my visits to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’ll bet there’s something in there a lot of Disney geeks will understand…

How Much?!? Sure, I’d done the math before getting to the counter, and I was sure that Annual Passes were the best value for my son and me. And yes, I knew it would mean we might be able to afford a couple more Disney trips that year. But still, when the Cast Member slid the credit card slip over for my signature, I thought I’d have a heart attack. Damn.

Mickey’s Discontinued, But He’s Still My Pal

18 Oct

Yes indeed, the news recently hit the Interwebs that Pal Mickey is being discontinued.

And I gotta say, as much as I enjoy my own little personal tour guide to Walt Disney World, it’s real clear to me that Disney never figured out how to make the most of Pal Mickey. I bought mine expecting interesting trivia and the occasional useful park touring tip…and instead, ended up feeling like I had a needy three-year old vibrating at my hip, wanting to tell me the same old joke again, and again, and again. Lisa and I tried to interview him on Episode #2 of Those Darn Cats (MP3), with predictable results. He also didn’t fare particularly well in comparison with a plastic cup from Club Cool.

But strangely, despite his clear failings I’ve found myself rather attached to Pal Mickey. I’ve been a fan of stuffed animals since I was a kid, and despite never being a huge Barbie fan there’s something fun about dressing Mickey up for the Pirate and Princess Party, or making him a duck costume for a DisBoards meet aboard a duck boat, or just making him a simple t-shirt with the logo of my local roller derby league.

Will I continue bringing Pal Mickey to the parks? Well, maybe not all the time. But he’s shown up so many times on Broke Hoedown that I feel almost duty-bound to bring him to MouseFest this December, and make up a batch of Those Darn Cats t-shirts for him and his little friends.

And I do hope that Disney eventually comes up with a genuine virtual tour guide, like Pal Mickey should have been from the start. They were testing a Nintendo DS-based guide a while back, so I suppose we’ll eventually hear more on that front.

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