Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Best Of Many Worlds...And Lands.

Surprise? I was on Facebook today.

Every once in a while, I do actually look at those ads on the sidebar. I like to ensure that the website I spend a better part of my day on (or, probably, life, it'll turn out) stays free. Sometimes, Facebook stalks my information correctly and an ad pops up that actually interests me. Usually, that ad is for something Disney related.

This time, a new app showed up called Disney Parks Shoppes. Normally, any word with a superfluous "e" at the end is an immediate turn-off, but when that word is preceded by "Disney Parks," I make an exception.

I was first struck by the colors. I just finished taking a graphic design class, so now I know about that stuff in a more technical way, or whatever. What I really learned is that when something looks good, it looks good. Look, I just saved you $3,000. Back on point now.

The app, or website, depending on how you access it, is very simple, with a aesthetically pleasing visual navigation, using minimalist inspired icons.

Minimalism seems to the focus with the website, which is a good thing. Less is more when it comes to websites these days, and the people over at Disney know this. The new is stripped down and thus has a much better design than the website it replaced.

On the Disney Store website, they've been selling what used to be park-exclusive merchandise, which has been kind of a bummer because it takes away the novelty of only being able to buy something because you were there. Yet it is also cool, and for the opposite reason: if you can't make it to the parks, you can make the parks come to you in a small way.

That's what this new website emphasizes: park merchandise, hence the name.

You're welcome.

The website sells a few things from both the World and the Land, along with seasonal merchandise, shirts that it labels "Facebook First,"for things that have a social media theme to it, and the Dooney and Burke Collection. It also has a weekly trivia question so you hang around the site longer than you should, and a section for merch that you'd buy before hitting up the parks, like Mickey Ears or some luggage.

While shopping, you can compile a wish list and earn badges for different types of accomplishments, similar to things on Foursquare or Get Glue. I got one that was publicly shared for letting the app access my Facebook information and signing up.

The site is essentially just another online storefront for Disney, but the clever people over there embedded some great social elements into it, so it feels more like a hybrid experience, instead of just giving Disney your money. Because why buy something if you can't show it off on your body and on Facebook?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Disney Semester

Guess what? I'm obsessed with Disney.

Did the blog give it away? Or the closet full of t-shirts? Well, the monkey's out of the bottle now.

In my obsession with Disney, I've tried to make it the centerpiece of my life. I worked at Walt Disney World for seven months, I created this blog, and I'm trying to get them to let me make magic full time. If it doesn't happen now, it will.

Going along with that theme, this semester, just about every big project I've had has been about Disney. This has been a running theme of my college career, having started this very blog in my online media class.

My course load has consisted of a media production class, a graphic design class, a class on the future of journalism, a class on business journalism, a photojournalism class, a one-credit class on the FOX company (so not Disney! Oh, but wait) and an advanced online media class.

For almost every one of those classes, I've managed to apply my Disney love for a grade. I have not yet incorporated it into my business journalism class, but there's still an essay to make it happen. I'm a little annoyed with myself that I didn't buy Disney stock for the faux-stock market assignment we had (I already own it in real life, so it didn't seem fitting.)

My Cars Land Magazine Layout
I've managed to make the first two big assignments for my graphic design class Disney centric. The first, a magazine layout, was done on the opening of Cars Land. The second, an info graphic, was done on the prices and popularity of Disney. I don't know what my grade is on the ladder, but I only got four points off out of 200 for the former. Ka-Chow!
My Disney info graphic.

With my online media class, I'm creating an entire website devoted to explaining just what is
it that attracts Disney to what many see as the child's entertainment company that is Disney.

For my media production class, I did a fake podcast on the Disney parks. That didn't go so well. But I got my Disney in! For my photojournalism class, I turned in a picture I took on my recent trip to Disneyland of the new Carthay Circle Theatre.

The Carthay Circle Theatre

With my future of journalism class, I'm turning in this blog, and a composite video I made for the two components of the final. Most of my grade for the class will be decided on things having to do with Mickey Mouse.

Then there's my class on FOX. How'd I do it? Well, I haven't yet. But I am going to write a (fantastic) paper comparing Walt Disney to Rupert Murdoch. My conclusion, I can tell you, is that they're two very different people.

Oh, and this is my senior year, and every credit counts towards graduation. So, you could say with my college career, "It all ended with a mouse."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wrecking Windows, Fixing Films

The best animated movie to have anything to do with Disney this year? "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings." I was going to say "Mars Needs Moms," but that came out in 2011.

THAT FIRST PARAGRAPH WAS A JOKE. Don't stop reading because of it. Also, because I'm a 21-year-old male, I didn't see "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings," and because I'm a human being with taste, I didn't see "Mars Needs Moms," so I can't actually tell you if those are good or bad. And with that, I will start saying things I actually mean.

I know it might be Brave of me to say this, but 2012 will be known as the year Walt Disney Animation Studios put out a better movie than Pixar did. That's better than 2011, known as the year that I filmed a better movie on my iPhone of me eating a cheeseburger than the movie Pixar studios released.

That's right, "Wreck It Ralph" was by far a better film than Pixar's "Brave," and honestly, it had more of a Pixar feel to it, too. "Brave" was a fairytale with a princess, "Wreck It Ralph" was "Toy Story" set within the world of video games. I think that's all I need to say to back up that argument.

I've always loved "secret world of" films, like "Toy Story" and now "Wreck It Ralph," where part of the premise is exploring what things do when we humans aren't paying attention to them. "Ralph" is by no means as groundbreaking, funny, or as entertaining as "Toy Story," but I dare say it's the best animated Disney film since "Toy Story 3."

These kind of films create a world within a world, using their own sort of slang, taking the familiar and connecting it all together with a little creativity, and a little ingenuity. Instead of feeling things in her "bones," the character Vanellope Vvon Schweetz feels it in her "code" that she's meant to be a racer in the Mario Kart-esque game "Sugar Rush." I love this kind of thing, and "Wreck It Ralph" is full of it.

Brace yourself, it's time for some plot summary: The film focuses on Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, the villain who wrecks things, so Fix It Felix Jr. can then fix things in the 8-bit arcade game named after Felix. Ralph gets tired of sleeping in a literal dump, and ventures off into two other video games, first a Call of Duty-esque first-person-shooter modern 3D game "Hero's Duty," then to Vanellope's "Sugar Rush." Here, in the land of Sugar Rush, Vanellope, a "glitch" in the game, steals Ralph's medal, and the two become enemies that quickly turn into friends. From there, all that character development and plot stuff happens like in most all movies, except for the Indie ones made by artists who are too hip to use a story arch. If you're reading this blog, you'll probably see the movie anyways, and probably already know all of that stuff you just read, anyways. Moving on...

What made this film so great was a mix of character development, gags, humor, and a nice twist at the end that brings everything together. The characters all have their flaws and their strengths, and we get to see them exhibit all parts of their personality, while enjoying some good jokes, and a dedication the the details of the world of video games that does not waiver in thoroughness throughout. The movie modifies a world we're already familiar with, and exploring it with Ralph, Felix, Venellope and Calhoun, the female commander from "Hero's Duty" voiced by Jane Lynch, is a hilarious, fun and at times emotional journey that amounts to one darn good film.

It's no "Up" or "Finding Nemo," but for a film whose only connection to Pixar is John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at both Pixar and the Walt Disney Animation Studios, it will fool those unaware of the separation between the two companies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Buying New Galaxies, and Creativity

Unless you live under a rock, only care about real news like Hurricane Sandy, or don't have six news apps that all send you push notifications of breaking news at the same time, than you've probably heard: yesterday, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.

My first reaction was: "Neat!"

Lucasfilm and Disney have had a very close relationship ever since Star Tours opened at Disney in 1982. Some of the best Star Wars merch I've ever seen or bought has been at a Disneyland. You can find Jedi Mickeys or Donald Duck made up as Darth Maul at gift shops next to Star Tours. Hollywood Studious annually holds Star Wars Weekends, one of the most popular celebrations of the franchise anywhere. The Jedi Training Academy is a popular show, with walk around characters like Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers making daily appearances.

To Disney dies-hards like myself, there won't be much of a transition from Lucasfilm being an independent company to one owned by one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.

Some are decrying the deal, accusing Disney of being greedy, and predicting that when Disney makes episodes VI, VII and VII, they will ruin the "Star Wars" film franchise.

These people don't know what they're talking about and are hating on Disney because it's the convenient, typical thing to do. When Disney took over Marvel for a similar price, one of first films to come out of the joint venture, "The Avengers," is arguably the best Marvel film to date, and is inarguably the highest grossing. This was because Disney let acclaimed nerd Joss Whedon take over, gave him creative control and trusted him. I foresee Disney doing a similar thing with the coming "Star Wars" films.

So people, stop whining. You will be proven wrong.

Star Tours at Disneyland. (Photo by Preston Carter
Melbourne-Weaver/Main St. Monitor.)
Though I won't associated myself with those whiners, I do have something to whine about myself. My past co-worker while I was in the Disney College program, Patrick Johnson had this to say about the deal on facebook: "The most recognized entertainment company in the world that neglects to capitalize on their own intellectual property. Le sigh." In an article about reactions to the deal by USA Today, they quoted Former Columbia Pictures marketing exec Peter Sealey as saying: "It seems to me that Disney is bankrupt of new ideas so they've just gone out and made another big buy."

This deal will cement Bob Iger's legacy as "the guy who bought all that other stuff." From Pixar, to Marvel, and now Lucasfilm and Avatar Land, Iger has made it clear he is more interested in buying creativity than creating it in house. Pixar has created some of its worst films since being acquired by Disney, most of which were money grubbing sequels. Avatar Land's E-Ticket attraction is rumored to use the same ride mechanism as Soarin' over California.

What Iger has done with the parks, with New Fantasyand and the re-imagining of Disney California Adventure, has been great, but not exactly innovative.

I think acquiring Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel are overall good things for Disney, but I look forward to Iger's 2015 planned retirement and hope that his replacement focuses on creating magic inside the company. Iger is, by far, a better CEO than his predecessor Michael Eisner, but at least Eisner had 10 creative years at the beginning.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Impressions of Land

It's been two years, but I'm happy to say, I've finally been back to the one, the only, the original: Disneyland.

It's been more than a year since I've been to any Disney park, which is far too long, but two years without visiting Walt's original, that's just painful. Especially since so much has happened to the resort in the past two years. Finally, my family and I got around to getting a trip to Anaheim.

Flo's V8 Cafe with its stunning neon. (Preston Carter Melbourne-Weaver)
Obviously, the most exciting part of the re-theming of Disney California Adventure is Cars Land, and you've probably read enough to fill a novel about it. There's not much new insight that I can provide. It's everything everyone has said about it. Stunning, breathtaking, immersive, capturing the Disney magic that the park so terribly lacked since its opening in 2002.

It's also packed beyond belief. The best day to go, I would have to say, would be the day they had the press preview. I'm envious of those who got to go and just take in the new land, soak it up without the 30 minute wait for a Fast Pass, or the elbowing and shoving it takes to go up and down the strip. Overall, I didn't wait more than 30 minutes in any line while there, but that took a lot of strategy.

Luigi's flying tires didn't quite soar for me, but I enjoyed the attraction for what it was. It makes for a nice C-ticket attraction. The queue was far more exciting, with its classic Disney details displayed throughout Luigi's tire shop.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, despite being themed around my least favorite Disney character of all time (and by the way, he's nowhere to be seen on the attraction, only heard. What the heck?), were a pleasant surprise for an attraction that looked to be pretty basic. The whipping and constant change of direction made for a thrill.

The food was great. And by food, I mean everything served in a pretzel cone. I had the Chili Cone Queso, the Chicken Verde and the breakfast bacon, cheese and egg cone. The best I'd have to say was the Verde. Quite a surprise for me, as I was betting on the Chili, and had to sample my girlfriend's Chicken Verde. The Apple freeze was delicious, though too sweet for some members of my family, and the pomegranate lemonade was sweet and had just the right amount of tart.

The merchandise was appealing, using the art deco colors and style in a callback to the original screen printed posters of Disneyland. I didn't purchase any though, as I'm not a fan of the vinyl printing they used. It's cheap, uncomfortable and gets killed in the washing machine.

As in the film, Radiator Springs really shows its feathers at night. When the neon's flipped on, it's like the already beautiful land masterfully applies makeup and turns into a real stunner. I had a great time challenging myself with my newly acquired photo-knowledge by taking pictures of the fantastic neon signs and the deftly lit rock formations, and found myself overloaded with things to look at.

It's surely a place so fantastic, one visit will not be enough. I'm starting to understand why Lightening McQueen decided to stay.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Using Tech to Create Magic

When you think Disney, you think princesses, castles, children and fun. At least, if you think of Disney in a broad, stereotypical sense. If I think of Disney, I get all analytical and start rambling off facts and information people generally don't care about.

When you ask a tech-blog like Engadget about Disney, considering that they only cover the company when it creates news that wouldn't be out of place next to a high-performance camera or a rant about the new iPhone, they would probably give you their view of the more technological, innovative part of Disney.

The tech blog recently published an article on what Disney is doing over at its Pittsburgh research labs.

Yeah, Disney is in Pittsburgh.

Why? Because it partners with "Carnegie Mellon University...which has one of the country's top five graduate programs in computer science, and is particularly strong in robotics, computer vision, human-computer interaction (HCI), speech understanding, and machine learning," according to the lab's website.

The Engadget article was about 3D printing, which is the new big thing in the tech world. Wired Magazine featured MakerBot, the leader in 3D printing, on the cover of its October design issue, with the headline: "The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World."

Disney is experimenting with "'printed optics,' the lure of (the) technology (being) the ability to transform inert 3D models into interactive subjects by embedding 3D printed light piping into an object with minimal electronic components," according to the Engadget article.

What does this mean? Well, to everyday people who enjoy Disney for its use of high-tech to nearly imitate magic, it means Disney is just being it's awesome self. The tech could be included in things in the parks or in consumer products, but wherever it's implemented, Disney will no doubt make it seem like magic, when really it's just good ol' math, science and advanced technology. That's why we love ya, Disney: you take nerdy things and use them to create a world of fantasy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Movie Based on the Attraction or the Attraction Based on the Movie?

There are some questions that may never be answered, like whether the chicken or the egg came first. Other questions may have similar themes, yet definite answers.

Such is the case with the many iterations of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Ride Disney Thinks People Won't Ride If They Don't Constantly Change It."

Wait...Where's Jack Sparrow?
No, wait... It's just called "Pirate of the Caribbean." My mistake.

In a more literal world, the ride would have that snarky title. In the actual world, it just lives up to it.

Today, on the Disney Parks Blog, it was announced that the Florida version of the attraction will be undergoing minor tweaks, adding some things from the most recent film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," because that was such a critical darling.

I understand what Disney is shooting for with these changes. Sometimes, I appreciate them. I feel they inserted Captain Jack Sparrow into the ride subtly enough, at least in terms of the scenes.

What I wasn't psyched about was how they altered the story line of the whole ride to adapt to his presence.

The projection of Davy Jones and later Blackbeard, plus the ability to change on the fly are features I'm in support of. Projecting onto fog looks wicked cool.

What I'm not in favor of is the philosophy behind all the changes. (Beware: the curmudgeon side of this 21 year old is about to emerge: proceed with caution.) The ride has been around since 1967, and until the first movie came out in 2003, the only changes they made were because of people whining about how men chasing women is politically incorrect. (By that logic, wouldn't the reverse be true, too? Oh, logic!) Then came the the Cap'n Jack overhaul in 2006, which closed the ride down for months. Suddenly, billboards and advertisements started popping up, advertising the ride with the picture of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, as if the ride what based on the movie.

Kudos to marketing department for making a classic attraction look new again, but shame on them for skipping history. Those young, skateboarding kids need to know about the classic attraction's history: that it was Walt's last creation and that it came first, that Jack wasn't always popping out of barrels. I'm not saying they should like the movie because they enjoy the ride, but knowing the origin of things is always useful.

So, if you can't tell, this guy right here writing this post: not excited for the "enhancements." Luckily, they're only going to be implemented at the lackluster, abridged version of the ride at Walt Disney World. Always have to look on the bright side of things.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wi-Fi at Disney World

In the past couple of weeks, both Epcot and Magic Kingdom have rolled out free Wi-Fi throughout the parks.

All I can say is, finally!

Let's hope they turn those spires into Wi-Fi antennas
Some traditionalists may decry that this is the real word encroaching into the fantasy land that exists beyond the gates, especially for Magic Kingdom. With them, I dissagree: a quick connection to the internet has the potential to enhance the fantasy.

Wi-Fi is the first step towards the completion of Disney's NextGen initiative, which will eventually create a more immersive, more convenient experience in the parks, with RFID technology and other technological advancements.

I understand the argument that the internet posses all the fantasy-crushing facts one could ask for, and a Wi-Fi connection will make it that much easier to stay connected to the outside world.

Internet in the park isn't something providing free Wi-Fi has introduced. People have been using their connected devices in the parks since they were first available.

Disney can either force people to waste their expensive data on a slow, overcrowded networks while in the park, or they can work with the technology and use it to their advantage.

In the App store, Disney has had their share of hits, most notably "Where's My Water?", but there are dozens of other Disney apps out there, from the ABC Player, to the Disney Parks app. It's the latter where I see the potential.

Disney could enhance these apps and make them more data-rich, or make new sections of the app for certain locations in the parks. With a reliable, fast connection to the internet, the Disney parks could use your hand-held portal to the outside world into a handheld magic-enhancer.

And then there's the old question of "What would Walt do?" which at times can be dangerous to ask, because the answer is always hypotheical. Disregard the danger: Walt was an innovator to the fullest extent. I feel if was still around (at the age of 111), there would have been Wi-Fi in the parks years ago, and much more park-related content on the App store. But who knows, maybe he would have wanted a digital "burm."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Imagineering History: Touring My Mecca Pt. 2

After seeing how they converted the annals of Disney history to digital, we were lucky enough to view some of the most glorious artifacts that exist in the archives.

I got to see the original, up close and personal. It was amazing. 
We were brought into a room that had a number of large, metal cabinets. Our host had set up three hand-drawn, framed plans for the original plans for a Disney park adjacent to the studios in Burbank. These original drawing were pretty fantastic, but not nearly as amazing as what was to come.

Our host had put some thought into planning this, as he then took us from the three Burbank park plans, over to a video set up on a MacBook pro of Herb Ryman, or Herbie as our host affectionately referred to him as, discussing in an interview how he and Walt stayed up for a weekend drawing the original plan for Disneyland to show the bankers in New York to get funding for the park. Then, in a well-planned reveal, our host pulled back curtains to reveal that exact hand-drawn, large scale pencil rendering of the plans for Disneyland.

It was amazing. I almost cried. Here I was, standing in front of what was essentially the drawing that started it all. The Disney parks are my favorite aspect of the company besides Walt himself, and here in front of me was a piece of history that was made up equally of both. From the hands of a legendary imagineer and the mind of Walt himself, I almost didn't know how to take it all in. It was like meeting my idol.

The schematic itself was on a rolling wire-mesh wall, with many walls like it in front of it and behind. Hung on those walls were many other original Herb Ryman paintings and drawings, as well as other famous pieces or Disney park art. It was a lot to take in.

We were then shown some of the original silk-screened attraction posters. It was a funny coincidence that I had just started pinning these, and it was an experience to see all these, right there, in stacks. I wish I could have walked away with a couple.

On another wall, behind another curtain, were both the original concept paintings of the stretching room, and ones used on stage. Right there in front of my face, as creepy as ever. It was phenomenal.

After reluctantly pulling myself away from the room, we went to our hosts office which he shares with Vanessa Hunt, one of the two authors behind the new"Poster Art of the Disney Parks" book. I got to meet her, and was bummed I didn't have my copy with me to get signed. Alas it will not arrive until September and is completely sold out at the parks. It was enough just meeting her.

In the office, we were shown the software that the archivists and others use to access the digitized archives. Man, the pinning potential!

Also, sitting in a corner was Figment, an original from Epcot, all nonchalantly. That's just how it is when you're in a building with the most amazing Disney artifacts. Something that could be a spectacular piece on its own is no big deal. It's a weird, overwhelming feeling.

After getting a preview of the Poster art book, while standing in front of its author, we headed over to the WDI gift shop. If I we're a pinning man, I'd have dropped some serious dough on the WDI exclusive pins. Heck, I should have as someone who appreciates a nice ROI, but I'm not. Instead, I got myself two t-shirts: a classic WED Imagineering tee and a more modern, yet equally classic WDI shirt with the blueprint of Sleeping Beauty castle as a background. My girlfriend, in my opinion, got a much more interesting shirt, with an original Disneyland Date night flyer on it. Girls apparel is always more interesting than mens. Always.

It was then that we had to leave. It was a sad moment, but not so sad, because our connection to the place will always be around, and another tour is not impossible.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Imagineering History: Touring My Mecca Pt. 1

My life may not get better than how great it was on Friday, August 3.

That was the day, thanks to a friend of a friend, I toured Disney's Glendale campus, home to Imagineering (which I was not authorized to tour. They keep that place locked down like they're designing the next iPhone in there), and the Imagineering library, which holds some of the most iconic pieces of Disney history.

When I got there, one of the first things I saw as I walked to meet our host was an old entrance to a bowling alley, which has since been converted into offices for Imagineering, and was used as the exterior for Jack Rabbit Slim's restaurant in "Pulp Fiction." A cool fact, but anyone can walk by and see that. Like the saying goes, it's what's on the inside that counts.

We met our host, and the first thing I noticed was a full size print of a stretching room painting from the Haunted Mansion. It was cool, but just a taste of what was to come. We then walked down a hallway with all the highlights from the Disney parks, both domestic and international.

Then it was off, through the new courtyard area, to the library. In that library, Imagineers go to research everything. I was told the library had nearly every National Geographic ever printed, so the Imagineers can get every natural detail right when creating their own environments. We went into the children's library, where, if you pulled out a book, chances were some historic imagineer had picked out the same book years ago. If you were lucky, the book's library slip would be the original, documenting all who had read it before you, maybe John Hench, maybe Bob Gurr. Maybe no one, because someone decided they wanted a centerpiece for their personal collection.

From there we walked by a model of Disneyland constructed of pieces you would receive month-by-month if you were subscribed to a certain magazine. There were a lot of pieces. We also passed a tiki-room animatronic. Herb Ryman's personal library, donated from his estate. It was cold in there, to keep the history fresh. Open up just about any book, and there you could fin Herb's personal notes.

It was off to another room past a Walt Disney World Mr. Toad ride vehicle, and into a room full of binders that had every single detail of every attraction, from the specific color a certain feature was painted. The time I could have spent in there nerding out. We were shown a revolving file cabinet that was so large, the building had to be built around it. All that in old-form, paper media. I was told it was getting digitized. It should be done by 2035. That year was made up.

Another thing we were shown was the room where they do some of that digital documenting, with, ironically, a camera that seemed to be from the Ansel Adams, completely non-digital era. What wasn't old school was the device they used to capture those images, which cost thousands of dollars and produced multi-gigabyte images.

But that was just the beginning... Stay tuned for part 2 of my report!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Visual Queues

Have I mentioned the internet is awesome? That's how I feel, if you don't know.

There are many reasons for me feeling this way, but this weeks, it's because I discovered a blog post with just about every original Tomorrowland poster from the early days of Disneyland.

I'd never seen many of these in person because I was too young to ever go on the rides, but some of these have been part of, what I feel, is the best memory that can be had at Disneyland: walking underneath the Disneyland Rail Road, through the tunnel with all the posters with the awaiting attractions, and walking into town square on Main St. USA.

Those posters may be just static pieces of paper, but what they represent is magic, fun, adventure, exploration, and everything that a day in the Disneyland can be.

I then, through my new fascination with Pinterest, unearthed the other classic posters, from the Matterhorn, to a Indiana Jones to a Peter Pan poster I'd never seen before.

Like I said in my post devoted to Pinterest, the website is enriching my knowledge of Disney History, and with that enrichment comes a huge amount of excitement.

Through Pinterest, I've discovered just how much of Disney's history can be told through visuals, but no other visuals make me feel more like I'm at Disneyland than these posters. They look the same on the screen as they do in real life, unlike everything else, from the castle to Mickey Mouse himself. They literally represent everything that is Disneyland. Many posters have remained unchanged over the many years, and the new ones are done in the same style. The colors are fantastic, the style is simple yet tells the whole story of the ride.

Disney knows this. If you're in the parks, you can pick up their new "Poster Art of the Disney Parks," or if your life is sad like mine and you don't frequent the parks, you can preorder it and get it in September.

I really hope that Disney starts making reprints of these more available. I know there's a kiosk you can order prints from in the Magic Kingdom. Though, getting your hands on a poster that's rare, it's that much more special.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It All Started With a Pin of a Mouse

Pinterest is old news, which is why I am writing this blog post about it. I simply enjoy wasting people's time.

I started a personal Pinterest way back when it was a semi-challenge to get an invite. I pinned some stuff, gave it a chance, and then, like so many other one-trick social networks, I stopped giving it any attention.

Then I realized that a majority of the things that I was either posting or sharing on Main St. Monitor's facebook fan page (which you should like!) were photos. People love photos, I love photos, and Disney has so many amazing photos floating around the internet, just waiting to be appreciated. Facebook was a good place to share them, but not the best place.

So I sent an invitation to myself and made a Pinterest for Mr. MainSt Monitor. Unlike my first go at the mostly-female populated photo/idea sharing site, everything finally clicked.

There's such a vast archive of Disney images out there, from classic photos of the parks, to iconic posters, to early-stage sketches for animated features, that populating my pin boards these inaugural days of the MSM Pinterest have been a blast.

What I've also noticed is there seem to be hundreds of Disney blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages and Twitter account out there, but only a few boards and, besides Disney's official Pinterests, just about zero accounts dedicated solely to Disney (If I'm wrong, comment with the ones you've found, I'd love to follow and re-pin their stuff). So a lot of the things I've been posting have been my own original pins. Though the things I do re-pin are always fascinating.

It has also led to to further explore what hidden Disney gems the internet has to offer. Up until now, I've mostly been following current events, reading about Disney's rich history via old media, like paper books (Yes, they still exist).

People seem to be more receptive to what i share on Pinterest than anywhere else. A couple people like the things I put on the MSM Facebook Page, or click on the links I share on Twitter, and the interaction is a little uneven. From the moment I posted my first pin, people started repining and sharing my content. I haven't had a heavy flow of followers, but people on Pinterest seem to share more freely than on any other social media platform. I'm sure this is old news to anyone who's a casual to heavy user, but it's fascinating to me. No wonder businesses got on board as soon as possible.

Starting the Pinterest account has been a blast, but the best thing that's come out of it is the digging I do to populate the board. There's so many spectacular Disney visuals out there, and pinning them is my new mission.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Less Magic Hour

In publishing early 2013 operational calendars, The Walt Disney World resort quietly announced that it will be reducing Extra Magic Hours, special hours, either before park opening or after park closing, where select parks are only open to guests staying in Disney hotels and resorts.
The Magic Kingdom, probably during Extra Magic Hours

Many are decrying this move, accusing Disney of being motivated by financial reasons to save on operational costs. Those people are right. 

As an "intern" in the Disney college program, I worked many an Extra Magic Hour (or Extra Tragic Hour, as we called them) at the Magic Kingdom, which often lasted until 3 AM. For the most part, I did very little work, the hardest thing was staying awake. I often asked myself "What is the point of me being here? No one else is." 

I even attempted to attend the Magic Kingdom's Extra Magic Hours when my girlfriend visited, and only stayed until 1 AM, a third of the allotted time. We didn't need much more as we were tired out from what was already a long, productive day. 

I did Extra Magic Hours at Epcot one night, and it saved me absolutely no time. The lines were still gigantic an hour in to Extra Magic Hours. 

From my limited experience with Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot, and my extensive experience with them at the Magic Kingdom, I feel evening Extra Magic Hours are not worth it. People will be better off with one less hour. 

The opportunity to stay three hours after park closing is a hard one to give up when you spend thousands of dollars on a vacation. The extra time you're getting in the park with no lines gives you a sense that you're getting your dollar's worth. But what about the sleep you're losing that night, the fatigue you'll have the next day and likely the rest of the vacation? 

The way to really get you're value is to take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hours. You're walking into an empty park, unlike in the evening, where you're staying in a park that's already populated, where lines have to die down, and you have to stay up extra late for them to die down. Yes, the AM Extra Magic Hours are only an hour long, but guests generally don't show up until a couple of hours after the park opens to the general population anyways, so in a way, they are equal to the evening Extra Magic Hours. The lines are much shorter, and you're just starting your day out, instead of elongating an already tiring day. 

It all depends on if you're a morning person or night owl, but I've seen what the Magic Kingdom, the most popular park at Walt Disney World, looks like at 2:30 AM, and you weren't there. Neither was anyone else, really. And the people who were there either looked miserable themselves, or were dragging around powerless, miserable children.     

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The First Ten, The Best Ten

Everything good must come to an end.

For Pixar, that fact of life seemed not to apply to its first 10 films. Then they were bought by Disney, John Lasseter took around 30 other jobs on top of his main gig as chief creative officer at the animation studios, and the main vision and values that made the first ten films fantastic was lost in dollar signs and work schedules that wouldn't fit into a 10-day week.

I've written about "Cars 2," and how it ruined the studio's perfect record.  Those with taste can agree that the movie abandoned all of the things that make a Pixar film great (intelligence, wit, originality, lack of pandering). It proved that, maybe after the "Toy Story" franchise, Pixar should avoid sequels (we'll see if they get away with the technicality of making a prequel with "Monster's University").

Originality is where Pixar thrives (and another things "Cars 2" lacked), and I hoped that with the original story of "Brave," the studio would return to to it's pre "Cars 2" back-to-back original hits, "WALL-E" and "Up" (Toy Story 3, though a sequel, was also extremely original).

I was let down.

"Brave" was great, but as many reviewers wrote, held to Pixar standars, it was average to below average. It has a 69/100 score on MetaCritic, meaning the majority of its review are positive. "Toy Story" has a 92. The only Pixar film to have scored lower than "Brave" is, you guessed it, "Cars 2."

The same things that made "Cars 2" a failure also made "Brave" below average. All the hype about "Brave" centered around the fact that it is Pixar's first film with a woman in the lead role. You couldn't escape the comparison's to "The Hunger Game's" Katniss Everdeen . Disney princesses have always taken heat for being damsels in distress who need men to complete them (by people who have too much time to analyze entertainment. To blame a lack of feminine power on Disney is lazy and insulting to women. Independent thought it not exclusively a male trait.) so it started to feel like the story was engineered to create PR buzz. 

When you get down to brass tacks, every Pixar film has the exact same story line. Things are good, a conflict is presented, the characters must go on an adventure, there's a chase scene,  the good guys just barely win, and things end up hunky-dory (The three "Toy Story" films have literally the exact same plot). It's the nuances in both the characters and stories that make the films great, and "Brave" lacked those just as "Cars 2" did before it.

"Cars 2" was made because young boys everywhere eat up "Cars" merchandise like it's free candy laced with nicotine. Then Disney has Pixar make a film with a female princess that can sell merchandise to the other half of the adolescent world? Seems suspicious. And most of all, it seems more like a reaction to criticism than pure innovation that's unaffected by what studio heads feel is popular.

I will now turn to the upcoming (hopefully) original films Pixar will be releasing in the near future: The Good Dinosaur and The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind, along with the 2015 Lee Unkrich film inspired by Die de los Muertos. If they are made without pandering and without consideration of how merchadise will sell, they will be great. If not, they'll still be good, but they won't be truly be Pixar.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Disney: Mall Edition

The Disney Store has gone through many changes between its creation in 1987, to their sale to Hoop retail, owners of The Children's Place stores, in 2004, to Disney's buyback in 2008, to the 2009 announcement that the stores would be completely rebranded. 

Lucky for me, I live in an area that has one of the few Disney stores with the "Magical New Store Design," in the Chandler Fashion Center.

I've always been a huge fan of the Disney Store, just like I've been a fan of Disney. When I was young, I always looked forward to trips to the Arden Faire mall, where I could visit the long-gone model train display and the Disney Store. Sure, it was just another retail store, but it felt as close to Disneyland as I could get while staying close to home.

As I got older, the just-for-retail factor became apparent. If you weren't going to buy anything, the only thing the store had to offer was a large screen with promos for the newest Disney productions projected onto it. 

Not anymore. Yes, the retail aspect is still there, as it is everywhere Disney magic exists, but now the stores have their own magic, and even more attention to detail, that really take you beyond shopping and create a true experience (That Disney hopes will ultimately get you to spend more). 

For the girls, there's a thorough princess section, with a castle, dresses, tiaras, and everything you could want to look like your favorite leading lady. Wave a specific princess's wand in front of the vanity, and that princess magically appears, narrating her story while scenes from her movie play. 

For the boys, there's an extensive Marvel and Cars section, and for everyone else there's a screening area that puts the kids in control via the touch screen. The plush toy section is interactive, with gears to spin and a tunnel to crawl through. All stuff I would have loved when I was small enough to participate. Those AT&T kids commercials have it right, kids these days. 

Then there's 2D trees lining the aisles, with scenes from the newest Disney films projected onto them. The trees are opaque, so the image is visible on both sides.

On the walls, a boarder runs around the top with characters and icons from the most famous Disney properties. And every once in a while, a character, like Rapunzel or EVE pops up to make a small surprise cameo. It's something you have to look for, but when you see it, it's really special, just like all the hidden details at the Disney parks. 

It's still just a store, but it's a store with things to do, even if you don't buy something. It really feels like a little piece of Disney now, not just something hoping you hand over money for your own little piece of Disney in the form of plush.   

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Let's Hear it for Licensing Headaches

Disney recently announced that it would include characters from its Marvel comics division for the first time alongside characters created within Disney. It will all take place in the special episode "Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel."

That little tidbit of info doesn't really justify this post's headline. Read on:

Pre-2009, pulling something like this off would have been a licensing nightmare, to get these two huge companies and play nice and figure out how to share their money and intelectual property. It's not now, because they're all one company, but that doesn't mean Disney hasn't done a couple things similar to that.

The most recent example, "Wreck It Ralph," see its antagonist Ralph escape his fictitious videogame Fix-It Felix Jr., where he is unhappy with his role as the game's villain to explore a world made up by many video games, some of them familiar, like Pac Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros., some of them made up, like Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush. 

The only character from Super Mario Bros. that's included is the second-tier character Bowser, because Disney didn't want to pay the royalty fees requested by Nintendo. Not surprising, since out of the three games mentioned, Super Mario Bros. is the only game that managed to stay current (excluding iOS apps). 

I was born a few of years after the most daring feat of cross-branding animation feature "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was released, and grew up watching what turned out to be the kickstart of the Disney Renaissance. As a young child, seeing Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in the same movie makes sense. They're both animated, why wouldn't they exist in the same world?

As seen through the eyes of any person of any age, it still makes sense. That's why these cross-branding licensing nightmares are dreams come true for audiences. If Wreck it Ralph escaped Fix-It Felix Jr. to explore the internal world of video games, it would only make sense that he ran into Sonic and Bowser. Anything else would seem like cheap pandering. And if Donald Duck was a real, living being, when he got off work, it's completely plausible that he could be neighbors with Daffy Duck.

As adults, it is also known what a legal feat it is to get these huge companies together to do something like this, adding to the wonder of it all. 

It only works in films though: in the physical world, I like to keep my Animal Kingdom and my "Avatar" separate.   


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Disney's Comic Con

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yay for DCA!

Disney California Adventure has FINALLY found its audience with the opening of Cars Land. Imagineers have given the park that magical Disney touch that it had been missing since Michael Eisner built it on the cheap back in 2001.

It's been open for around 20 days now, and I don't think a negative word has been written about it. People love it, and honestly, it's killing me that I haven't been yet, so all you boastful visitors, I've probably blocked you on Facebook at this point as a measure of self preservation. Yeah, I'm a little jealous.

I haven't been to the California parks since 2010, before I did the College Program in lovely Florida. Visiting DCA at that point, the re-imagining of Paradise Pier had been completed and World of Color was up and running. They'd already rid of the Eisner-ick that made the park so, well, boring.

Not so with Condor Flats and the Grizzly River Recreation Area, Those areas remain almost completely in tact, as they were from the dreadful Day One.

I've always thought that ripping out Grizzly River Run would do wonders for the park. A river rapid ride is so not Disney. Every Six Flags park has one. It's not unique, fun, or worth the five acres it takes up in the middle of the park.

It was, when the park opened, the icon of Disney California Adventure, the weenie, as Walt would have called it. But, much like the Fantasia hat over at DCA's sister park, Hollywood Studios (which covers up Grauman's, the original, and still superior, weenie), there is something that could be a much better icon. In DCA's case, it's the new Carthay Circle Theater, which stands higher than Sleeping Beauty's Castle across the concourse. With the need for something to print on merchandise to distinguish the park filled, there's no need for the uncreative, unimaginative mountain.

As techskip points out on's web forum, Condor Flats is a land designed to represent the desert portions of California. And so is Cars Land. And Cars Land does it better, so why two lands representing basically the same California climate? Surely the imagineers have noticed the redundancy, and are planing on doing something about it.

The west side of the park can't be ignored now that the east side has gotten the brunt of the updates. The newly named "Hollywood Land" where "Who Want To Be A Millionaire" and the "Monsters Inc." dark ride (which should also be replaced by something that, at the very least, begs for multiple rides) is currently, also needs some attention.

But, when you look at the money Disney has been spending (A billion in California, a billion in Florida, a couple billion on cruise ships, a billion probably on Avatar land [Still have saying that]) you come to the conlcusion that they've spend a lot lately. They've come to that conclusion, too, and aren't going to make it a trend.

From the Orlando Sentinel: "We should be coming down substantially — substantially — in domestic spending," Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said during a recent presentation to stock analysts.

So, while all this would be fantastic, reports have come out that Disney may be putting some money into Disneyland's Tomorrowland. This news, with the news of the reduction in capital spending, all means that Disney California Adventure will probably look pretty similar to how it does today 10 years from now.

Or maybe, just maybe, Disney will realize what Walt always knew: being cheap puts you on the level of everybody else, and reinvesting money back into the parks, well, that gets you Cars Land.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Coming Of Cars Land

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Modern Family's Fantasy Visit to Disneyland

I just finished "Toontown Abbey," the Modern Family episode where the family takes a trim to The Happiest Place on earth. A place I know so well that was depicted in some realistic and unrealistic ways.

I thought this scene was funny, with the visible roped off crowd taking
pictures in the back ground. 
For starters, the episode starts off at the Dunphy's house, with sun flowing in the windows, seeming to be about 9 o'clock. Now, I'm not a Southern California resident, so I don't know how they do it, but I'd expect if you're going to make a day out of a Disneyland trip, you'd leave a little earlier than that. At least I would.

I did appreciate the fodder that went on between Gloria and Jay Pritchett have when Gloria tries to wear high heels to the park. Any frequent visitor knows the feeling of confinement and slight fury that hits when they see a women wearing those uncomfortable shoes for a day at the enormous parks. Since the show is a ABC production, it's nice to know that the owners of the park know its ridiculous too.

When the family gets there, Phil and Luke hit up Indianna Jones first, and are elated when Luke passes the height test, and they gleefully run 10 feet to the end of a 45 minute line. It was a funny gag, and again I appreciated the realistic view of a day at the park it provided. The show didn't have to make anything real, and often didn't, because the episode was a synergistic commercial for the park, more or less.

The unrealistic parts: when Haley's ex-bofriend shows up and turn out to be part of the Dapper Dan's. This kid is like 17,18. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen a Dapper Dan under the age of thirty, nor on a tandem bicycle. Then he shows up in a Little Bear costume, which I have never seen before, and proceeds to talk while in it: one of the biggest no-no's for a character. The show does end up revealing that the kid gets fired. It was another funny gag, but depicted something that just about never happens, and if it does, it's a big deal. Luke, after going on Indianna Jones, suggests going on the Matterhorn, which his dad Phil is ok with, and they run off and end up on Thunder Mountain. The Matterhorn was closed during the filming of the episode. And after they go on Thunder Mountain, Luke decided to go on Space Mountain, across the park from Thunder Mountain. Not the most economical decision, speaking in terms of distance.

Then the family leaves before the sun even sets. Disney is so spectacular when the sun goes down, I don't think a family would take off during daylight. I did appreciate that the family's last stop was "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," a Disneyland classic, and something I always try to make my last stop in adherence to my family's tradition.

Overall, the episode had some good laughs, and I always love seeing the Happiest Place on Earth, even if it is in a half hour long subtle commercial. They did a good job for the most part of depicting what a real person's experience at the park would be, so kudos to them. But a talking character...I don't know.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Testing a New Track

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walt as a Character

Ever since French Artist Pascal Witaszek posted his faux-film poster of a Walt Disney biopic, the inter web has been ablaze with praise over how real the poster looked, and how people really wanted it to be real. For real.

I am one of those people, with Ryan Gosling being one of my favorite contemporary actors, and Walt Disney being just about my favorite person of all time and with film being one of my favorite things to watch, it would combine a lot of my scattered favorites into one lovely thing. One of my other favorite things: run on sentences.

But 'twas a fake, and the Disney studios have not announced any plans to release a feature about their founder. Yet. It will happen. No icon makes it this long without a biopic.

But much like Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn," Walt may show up in a movie that's focuses on a part of his life instead of the whole thing.

The film, which will be titled "Saving Mr. Banks," is proposed to follow Walt through his 14-year long struggle to turn the pages of Mary Poppins into a motion picture. It's a little-known story that should make for a well-reviewed film. The Australian author of the Mary Poppins series, PL Travers, will be likely be played by Emma Thompson. Travers was unhappy with the outcome of the Academy Award winning film adaption of her book. She was about the only one.

So, it's not Ryan Gosling. Walt was too old during this time of his life to be played by Gosling (who, later in life from the aged make-up job he had in "All Good Things," doesn't quite look like Walt). The actor rumored to be playing Mr. Disney: Tom Hanks: my favorite actor. So I guess it will work out for my preferences.

Hanks, the voice of Woody in the three Toy Story films and yet-to-be-determined-number of shorts, will do Walt quite a justice. He's a two-time best picture winner, and seems to be just a great all around, funny guy.

But this doesn't satiate my desire for the Gosling-as-Walt biopic to be made. Get on that, Disney.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What People are Saying About: The Disney Fantasy

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Avoiding "Disneyline:" Animation Academy

As someone who (used to) go to the parks of Walt Disney World regularly, at a certain point, the rides lose their appeal.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who hasn't been to a Disney park in a couple of months, I would love to go on Space Mountain or Tower of Terror or really any Disney ride right this moment.

But if you visit frequently, it becomes less about the thrill and more about just being there. I'm someone who likes to stay busy, so I need to do just a tad bit more than soak up the wonderful atmosphere that exists within the parks.

One of my favorite things to do was go over to Hollywood Studios (or if you're on the west coast, Disney California Adventure) and participate in the Animation Academy.

It doesn't matter if you can't draw (OK, it kind of does. If you do this, and your sketch ends up not even resembling the teacher's perfect, seemingly effortless masterpiece, it's only human to be frustrated.), the instructions are easy to follow, and you get a free, hand made (by your own hand) souvenir to take home and display on the fridge (or line your birdcage).

When I first started going to the Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios, I drew Woody. He looked like half his face had been exposed to some intense heat. But I got better.

Now, when I'm bored, I like pull up a "how to draw" tutorial and sketch one of my favorite Disney characters. It's relaxing, and there's nothing more rewarding than turning a blank page into one of your favorite characters.

(I just got the Paper app for my iPad, dropped the $8 on the extra drawing utensils, and had a great time sketching the Sorcerer Mickey seen above.)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What People Are Saying About: Disneyland Paris' 20th and "Disney Dreams"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Avoiding "DisneyLine": Pop Up Shows

"Any dream is possible, wishes do come true!"

One of the valuable lessons you can learn during one of the many-but probably the most annoying-pop up shows that add that little something to a Disney parks visit.

Come early in the morning, and you can meet the mayor and other residents of Main Street USA, or hear about the many great things living in the early 20th century have to offer, lip-synced by a bunch of people who can't decide if the want to ride the horse drawn trolley down the street of jump off it an sing. Or you can learn about the life of a pirate in Adventureland, as told by Captain Jack Sparrow.

Concept art for The Red Car Boys
If you're at Hollywood studios, you can see the Citizens of Hollywood put on their pop-up show, or walk into the middle of a bunch of high school kids randomly breaking out in song. Don't be afraid to be a part of the show, after all, we're all in this together. Maybe you're in the Hollywood back lot, and you happen to find yourself listening to a band covering the classics of rock'n'roll while the truck for their gardening business is being repaired. One of the better guises for a pop-up if you ask me.

The many pop-up-shows of Disney are what separate it from other theme parks, and also something that you can do that doesn't involve waiting in a line. Some of them are entertaining, while others offer the only free food to be found in a Disney park: cheese. You know, kind of like that joke.

As far as I can recall, having actors take on the role of inhabitants has been exclusive to Walt Disney World, Besides Billy Hill and the Hillbillies and The Laughing Stock Co. in Frontierland. Now, in the Disney Parks Blog most recent post, the new Buena Vista Street in California Adventure will feature The Red Car News Boys, singing on the new Red Car Trolleys (one my my favorite new additions) along with Five and Dime in the Carthay Circle Theater. I probably won't ever stop for an extended amount of time to watch either of these acts, but just walking by is enough to appreciate how much it will add to the aura of Buena Vista Street. Though, if those Newsies prevent me form boarding a Trolley, my attitude may change.

There's also been the addition of Minnie's Fly Girls over in Condor Flats, filled with songs from the 40's to the 60's, reliving the glory days of being a flight attendant, and there's the Phineas and Ferb's Rockin' Rollin' Dance Party. California Adventure seems to be following more closely in Disney World's footsteps when it comes to the pop-ups.

These shows are great additions if you're traveling with little ones, or a way to keep a couple extra people out of the line of your favorite ride, shaving a couple minutes off for you.

What do you think? Do you stop and watch, or just appreciate the ambiance they add to the parks?

What People Are Saying About: AVENGErail

This will be the first in a new series where I mine the twitterverse and bring to you what people are saying about current items of Disney news.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Marvel Meets the Mouse

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella. The Green Goblin. Funny as it may sound, these characters now inhabit the same world of fantasy.

It's been a lingering question, since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, if these famous fantastical personalities would live harmoniously in Disney's own worlds of fantasy: their theme parks.

"The Avengerail"
Bob Iger, the CEO and supreme chancellor of Disney (now that he's chairman of the board, too), recently mentioned that the future will see Marvel characters walking around, posing for pictures in Disney's theme parks.

The superhero's first foray near the theme parks (not including merchandise) will pop up this spring as the TRONorail will be replaced with the Avengerail. It's a good move by Disney, as it will slowly introduce a presence of the new slew of characters to the Disney parks. It's also a great advertising gimmick, and keeps the older models of Walt Disney World's monorails looking fresh. 

It's the first small step towards integrating the two companies (that are now, technically one). When Iger announced that the characters would eventually be making their way into Disney parks, my reaction was one of "No Duh!" 

People will love seeing their favorite super heroes roaming around the parks, but Disney will have to work hard to separate itself from the much less classy Universal Studios that the Marvel Universe is still associated with. 

James Cameron tours Animal Kingdom 
They can't just put them anywhere. Hollywood Studios at the World and the Hollywood Pictures Backlot at California adventure seem like the only logical places to meet and greet with The Hulk and Iron Man. Though, once the idea seems a little more natural, who knows how we'll feel. 

The "Disney" brand has always branched a little from the actual Disney company in itstheme parks, and it's usually for the better. Who doesn't love Star Tours, Indiana Jones or the Terror of Terror? Soon, Avatar, which was distributed by 20th Century Fox, will have a significant presence in Animal Kingdom, and the American Idol experience is a prominent part of Hollywood Studios.

Disney knows how to seamlessly introduce things that weren't produced in-house to its theme parks. Introducing Marvel characters is a challenge Disney has yet to face, as their presence has previously been in a rival theme park, but it's one Disney is almost guaranteed to pass.