5/26/09 World News Round-Up

Since there are a few interesting pieces of news making the rounds today, I thought I would cover them all in one post. The first piece is from Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel and talks about Innoventions at Epcot, making brief mention of a new exhibit coming soon on behalf of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research:

Speaking of cows, Innoventions, the corporate-sponsored showcase at Epcot, is quite a cash cow for Walt Disney World.

A story in Friday’s Sentinel revealed just how much companies like T. Rowe Price and Raytheon pay to be part of the exhibits that Disney bills as platforms for advanced technology: about $1million a year, generating about $10 million a year in revenue for Disney.

In at least one instance, though, Disney is giving away some of the space. It pledged to do so as one of the lesser-known components of the incentive package to lure La Jolla, Calif.-based Burnham to Orlando three years ago.

Disney may make good on that promise as early as this summer with a “three-dimensional” display devoted to Burnham, though a Disney spokeswoman said a date had not been set.

Public documents related to the incentive deal never put a dollar figure on the donation of space at Innoventions, but Disney clearly considers it to be a primo marketing stage.

In case you ever wondered how deftly Disney pitches its sponsorship opportunities, this should give you an idea: The company goes as far as to boast of a “halo effect” for companies associated with the Disney name.

The story cited a document written by a Disney salesman to pitch a potential client on space at Innoventions.

“Our research shows that guests perceive a company inside Innoventions as a world-leader in their specific field,” he wrote. “From a psychographic standpoint, guests entering Innoventions enter with an open mind that is ready to be entertained. This is simply a different mind-set from that of a consumer inside of a store, watching television at home or sitting in front of a sales agent.”

As part of the upcoming rebranding of Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex into the ESPN Wide World of Sports, a new sports research facility will be constructed on-site. Also from Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel:

Walt Disney World and ESPN are building a new research facility at the Wide World of Sports complex.

Dubbed the “ESPN Innovation Lab,” the facility will allow the cable-sports giant to test new applications such as virtual graphics during events staged at Disney’s sports venues. Think concepts such as the “EA Virtual Playbook” that ESPN has used as part of its pro football and basketball coverage or the strike-zone graphics used during baseball games.

Because the Wide World of Sports venues are in year-round use, ESPN believes they will make an ideal spot to test and tweak new broadcasting concepts during actual in-game conditions. Disney World and ESPN are both owned by the Walt Disney Co.

The lab, which will be housed in a renovated building at Wide World of Sports, won’t be a typical tourist attraction. ESPN intends it to be a working research facility, though it’ll likely include big bay windows that allow people to look in and see the company’s emerging-technology staff at work.
ESPN has already moved five employees to Orlando from its Bristol, Conn., headquarters to work at the lab, and more could follow. The Innovation Lab is expected to formally open this fall.

The final news piece from the Orlando Sentinel’s Dewayne Bevil tells us when we can see American Idol winner Kris Allen at Walt Disney World:

This just in: American Idol winner Kris Allen, true to his TV commercial word, is coming to Disney World on Friday, May 29. Disney confirms that — but other details have not been announced. We’ll share when they do, but a safe bet certainly includes a stop by the American Idol Experience, which opened earlier this year to much Idol fanfare at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Stay tuned.

Be sure to stay tuned to WDW News Today as we continue to get more information on all of these breaking news stories.

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