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December, 2011

  • Jim Hill

    Why WDW Cast Members aren't expecting to have a very Merry XPass in 2012

    • 53 Comments
    It's the joke that senior members of Mouse House management have never found to be all that funny. That it now costs so much to vacation at the WDW Resort they should probably change the name of the place to Wallet Disney World. (L to R) Larry Silverstein, president and CEO of Silverstein Properties; Mickey Mouse; Meg Crofton, president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France; and Kathleen Taylor, president and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Copyright Disney Enterprises...
  • Jim Hill

    "The Dark Side of Disney" reveals the pleasures & perils of being naughty at WDW

    • 5 Comments
    It's that classic Christmas-time question: Have you been naughty or nice this year? Well, Leonard Kinsey - at least as far as Walt Disney World is concerned - has been very, very naughty. He and his merry band of Mouse-obsessed miscreants (Wait a minute. Would that then make Kinsey and his crew mouse-creants?) have ventured into all sorts of Cast-Member-Only areas. Places like the Utilidors under the Magic Kingdom and - more recently - the long-closed upstairs portion of the ImageWorks at Epcot...
  • Jim Hill

    So what does Disney have in the works for the Muppets in 2012?

    • 48 Comments
    Okay. There are obviously a lot of people out there talking about " The Muppets " this morning. In particular how ticket sales for this James Bobin film reportedly fell off by 62% during its second weekend in domestic release . But - to be fair here - given that the No. 1 film in the country, Summit Entertainment 's " Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 " also experienced a pretty steep fall-off in ticket sales this past weekend (i.e. an estimated 60%), it wasn't as though...
  • Jim Hill

    Bradley Raymond dishes dirt on the Disney Channel's "Pixie Hollow Games" TV special

    • 6 Comments
    How do you take something small - like, say, an athletic competition between pixies - and then make that seem big? Conversely, how do you take something of size - like those feature-length " Disney Fairies " home premieres that Disney ToonStudios has been producing since 2008 - and then cut it back to just 22 minutes-in-length without sacrificing quality? That was the challenge facing Bradley Raymond , the writer & director of " Pixie Hollow Games ." Striking just the right...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney Junior's "Sofia the First" wants to help preschoolers channel their inner royal

    • 11 Comments
    It's the story that begins where most classic Walt Disney Animation Studios productions end. With the good hearted commoner suddenly becoming a princess. Mind you, in Sofia's case, she isn't some plucky teen who ascends to the throne because her fairy godmother, some dwarfs, a singing candelabra, a pompous crustacean and/or her pet chameleon helps out. No, she's just a regular little girl who suddenly becomes royalty when her mother Miranda marries King Roland. And now Sofia finds...
  • Jim Hill

    Did you catch that "Christmas Story" Easter Egg in Disney's "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice" ?

    • 10 Comments
    How many of you caught the premiere of " Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice " last night on ABC ? Wasn't that a great follow-up to Walt Disney Animation Studios ' 2009 Emmy Award-winning holiday special? This " Prep & Landing " sequel had a lot of fun moments (I particularly enjoyed that series of insults which Noel & Thrasher exchanged. Santa's foremost expert on naughty kids got things started by calling the commander of the Reindeer Stealth Squadron "Bambi"...
  • Jim Hill

    The post-Christmas origin of character dining at Walt Disney World

    • 11 Comments
    It's one of those must-do aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation. Especially if you've got young kids. Character dining . That pricey breakfast, lunch or dinner which is periodically interrupted as Disney characters come by your table, pose for pictures and sign autographs. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Given that character dining is such a hugely popular - more importantly, profitable -- component of the WDW vacation experience nowadays (Don't believe me? Then...
  • Jim Hill

    The Easter Egg hidden in Disney "Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa" is finally revealed

    • 1 Comments
    This week's first Why For question comes from Buddy W. Who asks about a change that was made to one of Disney's Animal Kingdom 's opening day attractions: It seems like "Countdown to Extinction" was tamed down when they changed it to " DINOSAUR ." Besides the movie coming out was it tamed down and why? Buddy W Buddy - You've pretty much answered your own question. DAK's "Countdown to Extinction" was renamed and toned down a bit because it was assumed...
  • Jim Hill

    How the Imagineers came to create the "Country Bear Christmas Special" show

    • 13 Comments
    Back when I lived in Central Florida in the early-to-mid 1990s, one of my favorite things to do this time of year was to go into Frontierland at WDW 's Magic Kingdom and then catch a performance of "Country Bear Christmas Special." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved There was just something about that version of "The Christmas Song" (which you can hear starting 3:10 minutes into this YouTube recording of the show ) which Henry & Teddi Barra perform...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post - Jim Hill : "The Muppety makeover of Disneyland that almost happened"

    • 11 Comments
    "The Muppety Makeover of Disneyland that Almost Happened" Can you picture a Kermit -green version of the Matterhorn ? Or -- for that matter -- Miss Piggy standing in for that winkin' Cleopatra that you see as you float through " it's a small world " ? Or Animal filling in for one of those ne'er do-well cads who chases the wenches in " Pirates of the Caribbean " but never quite catches them? If Jack Lindquist (i.e. the first president of Disneyland Park )...
  • Jim Hill

    Is Disney's Hollywood Studios thinking of turning PI's "Comedy Warehouse" show into this theme park's seasonal safety valve?

    • 5 Comments
    I know, I know. It's the holidays. So hearing people go "Ho-Ho-Ho" this time of year isn't all that unusual. But that steady wave of laughter which has been rolling out of the ABC Sound Studio at Disney's Hollywood Studios since this past Sunday, that IS kind of unusual. Especially since WDW Guests have been howling at a show that's supposedly permanently disappeared when all of the clubs on Pleasure Island were officially closed down back on September 27, 2008 . Copyright...
  • Jim Hill

    Anthony Lyn makes sure that Disney & Cameron Mackintosh's long-running musical stays Poppin' Fresh

    • 3 Comments
    2012 is already shaping up to be a banner year for the Disney Theatrical Group . What with the upcoming limited Broadway engagement for " Newsies ." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved On the heels of its highly acclaimed pilot production at the Paper Mill Playhouse earlier this year, "Newsies" will be presented at the Nederlander Theatre on West 41 st Street March 15 th - June 10, 2012. And given that there seem to be thousands of fans of this 1992 Walt Disney...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney "Prep & Landing" and "Arthur Christmas" take polar opposite approaches to the world of the North Pole

    • 5 Comments
    Just a quick heads up for all of you Wayne & Lanny fans out there. Tonight's the night when ABC will be airing both "Prep & Landings" holiday specials (i.e. The Emmy Award-winning original as well as its 2011 follow-up, "Naughty vs. Nice") back-to-back from 8 - 9 p.m. ET. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved For me, half the fun of watching these Walt Disney Animation Studios productions are the story-driven design choices that directors Kevin Deters...
  • Jim Hill

    Ride the rails and hear some great Disney-related tales on Walt's Sierra Adventures

    • 4 Comments
    Since JHM seems to be on a run of Christmas movie and holiday-related stories lately, I thought that I'd ask how many of you are fans of the 1954 version of " White Christmas ." And you may recall from a December 2002 story that ran on this website, Nancy and her sister Kathy are huge fans of this Paramount Pictures production (if only because two used to love to perform this film's " Sisters " number for their parents). Copyright Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved...
  • Jim Hill

    "Walt Before Mickey" illuminates Disney's tough times in Hollywood, when Walt decided that he " ... was through with the cartoon business"

    • 1 Comments
    By now, you've no doubt seen the maquette of that statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse which is supposed to be prominently displayed on Buena Vista Street (i.e. Disney California Adventure 's entrance plaza. The Main Street, U.S.A. equivalent for this revamped theme park). Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved In a recent entry on the Disney Parks Blog , Ray Spencer (the veteran Imagineer who's Buena Vista Street's creative director) said that this statue depicts...
  • Jim Hill

    5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 Disney podcasts ...

    • 12 Comments
    Ben wrote in a while ago to ask: "What happened to those Unofficial Guide Disney Dish podcasts that you were doing with Len Testa ? I really enjoyed the first two recordings and thought that there were supposed to be more shows in this iTunes series. Didn't you also record walk-thrus of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Epcot with Len earlier this Fall? If so, when are those podcasts supposed to be released?" Photo by Gene Duncan. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved...
  • Jim Hill

    Continual cross-promotion is the key to Radio Disney's "Next BIG Thing"

    • 2 Comments
    When it comes to the way that it promotes young recording artists, Radio Disney doesn't just think outside of the box. It likes to turn the box inside out. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Take - for example - how this division of The Walt Disney Company handled the recently wrapped fourth season of its music talent showcase, " N.B.T." (Next BIG Thing) . The way that everyone else in the entertainment industry stages a music-based reality competition - take, for...
  • Jim Hill

    Kevin Yee's "'Earbook 2011" and "Christmas at Walt Disney World" are books that will help you book your next WDW vacation

    • 2 Comments
    Kevin Yee is a cyborg. Mind you, that's my theory. I don't have any definitive proof. Not yet, anyway. Copyright Ultimate Orlando Press. All rights reserved But there has to be some sort of logical explanation as to why this MiceAge columnist has become the Terminator of Disneyana-related authors. I mean, Kevin just keeps coming up with book (" Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member ") after book (" Walt Disney World Hidden History ") after book (" Tokyo Disney...
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