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Why For were there so few stories on JHM this week?

Jim Hill

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Why For were there so few stories on JHM this week?

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I got a lot of e-mail this week similar to this note from Leonard S. Which says:


Only four articles last week. Now only two articles this week. That's not the Jim Hill I know. The guy who posts five articles every week, even over the holidays.

You feeling alright, Jim? Trouble at home? If not, what's with the suddenly erratic posting schedule?

Dear Leonard S.

Honestly, I'm fine. The reason that things have been a little flukey at JHM over the past week or so was that I was traveling. For the first time in nearly 18 months, I got down to Walt Disney World. Where I checked out nearly all of the new rides, shows and attractions on property as well as taking in Epcot's 25th anniversary celebration.

Copyright 2006 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Trust me. Over the next week to 10 days, once I translate all of my chicken scratch notes back into English, you guys are in for a treat. There are some really terrific stories headed your way. An in-depth look at WDW's fantastic Haunted Mansion redo (This is virtually a new ride, folks. The next time you're in Orlando, you have to have to HAVE TO go over to the Magic Kingdom and check it out). Plus an article about "Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor," a much maligned (on the Web, anyway) show that really deserves a second look. Plus a story about Marty Sklar's Epcot origins talk. Plus a fun little piece about how last Monday's Epcot 25th Anniversary celebration really came about.

But -- before that can happen -- I first have to answer a few more of your e-mails, like this note from Kelsey P. Which reads:


By now, I'm sure that you've heard about that hotel that Disney is planning on building in Hawaii . Can you give JHM readers a preview about what this resort will be like?

Dear Kelsey P.

Actually, when it comes to this Hawaiian project, I'm feeling a little blue. (Blue ... Hawaii ... Get it? ... What's the matter? Aren't there any Elvis fans who read this site?)

Anyway ... The reason I'm blue is that I've actually had this story for weeks now. No, seriously. My ex-wife, Shelly Smith (AKA the Fabulous Disney Babe for all of you Internet old-timers out there) actually lives in Hawaii these days. She and our darling daughter, Alice, have a cute little apartment in Honolulu. And over a month ago, Michelle told me that rumors were running rampant that Disney was up to something on the Island. That the Mouse had supposedly bought this huge piece of land and was planning on building some sort of Hawaiian resort out there.

Now if I had been a smart ex-husband, I would have listened to Michelle and immediately run that info by my sources at Disney to see if there was any truth to this rumor. But as longtime readers of JHM will tell you, no one has ever accused me of being particularly smart.

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

So I actually sat on this blockbuster bit of news that Shelly handed me. No, worse than that. I immediately lumped this Disney-is-building-a-resort-in-Hawaii story in with all those Mickey-is-building-a-theme-park-in-Texas rumors that have been floating around for over 10 years now. Just dismissing the whole thing as wishful thinking on the part of some dweeb that lived out on Oahu.

And then -- earlier this week -- the story breaks. And I then feel like a complete ass.

So the moral of this story is ... Listen to your ex-wife. Or your present-day wife. Or your significant other.

More importantly, don't automatically dismiss some outrageous sounding Mouse-related rumor just because it sounds like wishful thinking. After all, this is the Walt Disney Company that we're talking about here. A corporation that has founded its fortune on wishes, dreams and magic. And if anyone's going to be able to turn wishful thinking into rock-solid reality, it's going to be the Mouse.

FYI: One aspect of this story that's currently being woefully under-reported is the crucial part that the Disney Cruise Line will play at this new Hawaiian resort. But the nice folks over at DVCNews.com (Which is this snazzy new website that reports on the Disney Vacation Club side of the Mouse House) have done a bang-up job of connecting the dots. You can read their story about the DCL component of this DVC project by clicking on this link.

And -- finally -- DreamwerkSucks writes in to say:

I hated last week's article about "Bee Movie." This is a Disney website. Why would you want to go and bore your readers with an article about some stupid new Dreamworks movie? I don't care about stuff like that and I bet that most JHM readers feel the same way that I do. So please stop posting these boring articles about outside stuff and just stick to writing about the Mouse, kay? And more upbeat stories, please?

Dear DreamwerkSucks,

Sorry. No can do.

Look, the Walt Disney Company doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's actually in competition with corporations like NBC Universal, Paramount / DreamWorks and Fox. Which is why I think -- in order to keep things in perspective -- that it's important to sometimes post articles that talk about what Mickey's competition is up to.

Take -- for example -- the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that Simpsons simulator ride that Universal is readying for installation at its Florida resort. If you don't think that Mouse House officials are paying incredibly close attention to both of these projects (With a particular emphasis on what impact -- if any -- that these two attractions will have on WDW attendance levels starting in 2008) ... Well, you're either naive or high.

You gotta remember that -- in spite of all that talk about wishes, dreams and magic -- the Walt Disney Company is a really-for-real business. One where the people in charge pay very close attention to not only how much money they're making, but also how much money the competition is making.

Which is why I think that Disneyana fans should be paying attention to films like "Bee Movie." Just so that they can then be aware of the ripple effect that high profile projects like this can cause.

Trust me, if this DreamWorks Animation movie opens big on November 2nd and then stays strong throughout the rest of next month ... Well, Disney's going to see that as a real threat to "Enchanted." Which will then cause the Mouse to adjust its promotional campaign for this Kevin Lima movie accordingly.

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

Of course, if you really can't stand articles about non-Disney-related subjects, DreamwerkSucks ... Well, there are lots of websites out there that only report on the Mouse. If you're primarily looking for upbeat pieces, may I suggest Blue Sky Disney and/or 2719 Hyperion? Those guys strictly work the sunny side of the street. Whereas I ... Well, not only do I like talking about Disney's competition, but I also have no problem when it comes to chronicling Mickey's mis-steps.

Which -- as DreamwerkSucks' e-mail points out -- turns a number of JHM readers off. But that said, I'm not going to pretend (as so many Disneyana fans do) that Mickey is the end-all and be-all. As long as Mouse House executives continue to keep close tabs on what the company's competition is up to ... Well, that's what I'm going to do too.

With the hope that stories like this will then help give the site's readers a sense of the bigger picture. The field that Mickey is actually playing on. Rather than the extremely narrow Disney-owns-the-only-theme-parks-worth-talking-about and there-are-no-other-animated-films-outside-of-the-ones-that-Disney-and-Pixar-produce view that some JHM readers seem to have.

Is that okay with you folks? I hope so ... Because that's the sort of coverage that's going to continue here at JHM.

Your thoughts?

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  • Welcome back.  I agree about the changes at the Haunted Mansion - I enjoyed it very much, especially the attic.  

    I hope you had a chance to figure out if any park "surplus" stores were open yet.  I haven't been able to get a response on that question, even from the owners.

  • Yay! I'm excited for your new articles. 8o)

  • yeah i agree with surveying the competition, but sometimes I really  wanna spill hot coffee in Dreamworks lap.

  • You are *so* back on my "nice" list.  I shall let you live.  This time.

  • Congrats on taking a break from the monitor and keyboard to go and visit the Mouse! I have a bit of EPCOT envy for anybody who was down there this week. Publicized or not, the 25th is a landmark day and I'm glad to hear that there was some degree of celebreation w/ a little bit of pomp and circumstance.

    I've never looked forward to an opening/rehab with a more bittersweet anticipation than the Haunted Mansion. I'll reserve judgement until I see it, and I do think that the additional effects and the technology updates are much-needed. However, I feel that the attic rehab totally changes a backstory (loose and quasi-official as it is) enough to change the tone of the ride to something completely different than the Gracey Manor that I've come to know and love. Maybe your article will sway me in one direction more than the other. I look forward to reading it.


  • First off, DreamwerkSucks- I love your screenname/nickname/whatever it is!!!  :-)

    As far as your e-mail to Jim- when Jim writes a story about the competition, I, 99.9999% of the time, don't read it.  Especially when it is about DreamWorks/Sony/not Disney and doesn't mention Disney.  The "Harry Potter" theme park story(ies) were relevant in the sense that the technology used and the rumors about where the HP land would be sort of involved Disney, so I read those (I'm not even an HP fan).

    But, Jim, it's great to have you back!

  • Welcome back, Jim.  Looking forward to all the goodies you have in store once your brain is back from vacation!

    I don't think that you posted on Bee Movie is all that big a deal . . . it was just bad timing.  That article was up for several days while I am guessing you are gone, which could put off any Disney fan (or Seinfeld hater) off their Dole Whip for a while. *chuckles*

  • I don't mind posts on the competition as long as they are fair and unbiased.  I think what really gets people riled up is the spin that happens sometimes when one company making X dollars is a big success while a different company doing the same is a big failure.  It's the double standards that bug people.

  • Hmmm... I've never had the slightest problem with hearing about other aspects of the entertainment industry on JHM.  I mean, for goodness' sake, the subtitle of his website is:

    News, reviews, history and commentary about the entertainment industry

    (But mostly about the Mouse)

    It's MOSTLY about the Mouse, not solely and blindly.  I'd like to think that people's interests aren't so obsessively fixated on Disney that they imagine it's the only company that matters.  As Jim said, what Dreamworks and other companies do affects Disney in a myriad of ways.   Undoubtedly, some of the people at those rival companies will be or were at one point working with or affiliated with Disney.  Although they (and occasionally other companies) horned in on Disney's hallowed ground of animation, I can only hope their presence serves to keep Mickey on his toes, innovating and improving.

    Besides, would it be a crime to say that I enjoyed such non-Disney films as Road to El Dorado, Shrek (somewhat), and Anastasia?

    In the end, if you don't care about the topic, just don't read it.  It's that simple.  Nobody's going to judge you negatively for skipping it... Jim's interests just happen to vary slightly from yours.

  • I read Jim Hill Media to read Jim Hill.  The idea of anyone telling him what to write or think is ridculous.

    AUGH!  What am I doing on the comments page?!

  • Glad to have you back Jim... we missed ya.

    I too am looking forward to reading all of your articles and am glad you got (a well deserved vacation I can imagine) a chance to take a break.

    I do wish, however, that you would stop answering the 'easy' emails and do some of the other emails that I know you get. Do we really need another explanation why you sometimes do articles on non-Disney stuff? I'd rather hear your explanation for all the article series that havn't been finished, or the status of your cd thingy....

    My only comment about your non-Disney articles, they always seem to be 99% rosey, while the Disney ones seem to be 75% dark? JMHO I mean.... the BEE MOVIE? Really? You're telling us to be very aware of it's success... and yet I have yet to speak to any person who has even mentioned this movie, let alone is planning on seeing it. I'd say 50% of the people I know don't even know what it is.

    As another poster said, "Fair and Unbiased"... that would be nice.

    Glad your back!

  • #1 - IT'S YOUR WEBSITE.  You can write what you dang well please.  

    # 2 - As long as you give good and long attention to Burton & Depp's up and coming SWEENEY TODD, I'll be happy..... ;) (And, yes, that's DREAMWORKS, folks....)

  • Don't stop writing about the competiton Jim.  Those stories are always interesting.  If people don't like them, they don't have to read them.

    I went on the Haunted Mansion the week before last and couldn't believe how awesome the rehab went.  It was much needed and long overdue, and they did it right.

  • The concept for the new resort looks spiffy...almost a Polynesian 2.0.  With so many AMAZING resorts in Hawaii it will be interesting to see what Disney does to compete other than adding characters.  Lilo and Stitch dining anyone?

    Still...looks cool.  I wish they would build it on Maui though..


  • Now this was a good article today!

    First, I agree with everything you said to 'dreanwerkSucks'. I personally didn't like the 'Bee Movie" article or the movie it was about, but I do realize its relevance to Disney. You have to put it all in persective! Everyone doesn't have to read every article, but they are not getting the whole story if they chose not read them. Keep it up!

    It is also good to know that you are able to get away and do 'research' on the industry you cover. Looking forward to reading about all you discovered about Disney. Share with us how Disney hopes to counteract the other studios/resorts.  

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