Disney Talks About Mickey Talking….

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Some lucky Disneyland park guests experienced a very special meet and greet with Mickey Mouse this week.

Mickey, who usually saves his voice for shows and parades, talked with guests and interacted with them in never-before-seen ways! This was part of a process we call “playtesting” as it gives us a chance to develop new concepts with our guests long before they end up in the Parks. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to let guests interact with our beloved characters,” says Disney Imagineer and head of Advanced Development Scott Trowbridge. “And we have many more surprises up our sleeves.”

Since many guests did not have an opportunity to experience this, here’s a short video that shows some of the fun.

Celebrate with Dancing, Music, and a Khaki-Clad Cast?

In usual fashion, Walt Disney World put out a number of new press releases all at once, giving us a lot to talk about after what has been a rather quiet period. The first piece gives us an official time frame and some already announced details about the Stich’s Supersonic Celebration show coming to the Magic Kingdom:

Interactive wizardry that combines comedy, real-time animation and live musical madness will dazzle guests during Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.

Beginning in May, Stitch will host a zany interactive experience at the new Rockettower Plaza Stage. Guests are invited to participate in a Galaxy Day celebration when the new outdoor stage comes to life with music and a giant LED screen displays real-time, interactive animation.

The new show incorporates the same interactive technology used in “Turtle Talk With Crush” and “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.” Shows will take place six times daily.

Looking for some sweet fun at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa?

There’s a lot “s’more” new fun in store at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa each evening when guests staying at the resort can roast marshmallows around a Mickey-shaped campfire, sing favorite camp tunes on the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon and see the “stars” – both on the silver screen and in the sky – as they watch a family-friendly Disney film on the moonlit beach. S’mores kits and marshmallows are available for purchase during the campfire and movie. For more information about recreational activities at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, visit Disneyworld.com or call 407/824-4321.

The line-up for this year’s Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at Epcot has been released and includes WDWNT’s favorite group, Bjorn Again:

The whole family will be rockin’ and rollin’ to legendary music this summer at Epcot when popular tribute bands take the stage at America Gardens Theatre.

Seven tribute bands will recreate classic hits from musical icons under the stars as part of the Sounds Like Summer concert series. Concerts, which are included in regular Epcot admission, are nightly at 5:45, 7 and 8:15 p.m. (except July 4, when show times will be 5:15, 6:30, 7:45 and 9 p.m.).

Here is the lineup (subject to change):
June. 15-21 – Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees
June 22-28 – Hotel California – A Tribute to the Eagles
June 29-July 8 – Slippery When Wet – A Tribute to Bon Jovi
July 9-19 – Bjorn Again – A Tribute to ABBA
July 20-26 – The Sounds of the Supremes – A Tribute to the Supremes
July 27-Aug. 2 – 2U – A Tribute to U2
Aug. 3-9 – Petty Theft – A Tribute to Tom Petty.

Even though it has been runnign for a few week’s now, Disney is finally publicizing the new farwell show at Animal Kingdom:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests get so involved in adventures with birds and beasts of many kinds that they tend to put off one of their priorities all day long: a little quality time with Disney characters.

“So when guests come out of the park, they are absolutely determined to see our characters,” said Chris Ambrose, general manager of entertainment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In a classic example of giving guests what they want, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has launched Adventurers’ Celebration Gathering, an interactive experience near the theme park entrance each evening during park closing.

Khaki-clad cast – including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy – gather to bid farewell to guests with a music-filled celebration. Cast members shake their pom-poms and urge guests to join in the street-party fun by dancing to the music and forming a conga line procession while Mickey, Minnie and Goofy keep the beat from atop their safari vehicle.

“We’ve created a way for our guests to experience our characters … and it’s a way for us to have a fun, exciting way to end the day at Animal Kingdom,” Ambrose said.

Be sure to stay tuned to WDW News Today for more information on all of these items as it becomes available.

Walt Disney World Entertainment Updates

There are a ton of entertainment changes that will be taking place at the Walt Disney World theme parks this week, so I thought it would be useful to provide a list for those of you visiting in the next few days:

  • The “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party” at the Magic Kingdom will debut on Friday, February 13th and will perform three times daily at 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, & 5:15 PM
  • The times for Dream Along with Mickey will change on Friday to make way for the “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party”. The new performance times will be 9:35 AM, 10:35 AM, 11:40 AM, 1:15 PM, 2:15 PM, and 4:00 PM
  • On Thursday February 12th, there will be an American Idol parade and press event. The motorcade featuring Ryan Seacrest and a number of former American Idol performers will take place t 4:30 PM and will be open to the public. Following that, there will be a special press event closed to the general public. (Don’t fret, WDWNT will be represented at the event)
  • As a result of the American Idol festivities, Block Party Bash will not be performing on Thursday, February 12th
  • Fantasmic! will perform 4 times this week with 7:00 and 8:15 PM shows on both Monday and Friday
  • The Schedules for the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular”, “Voyage of of the Little Mermaid”, and “High School Musical: Right Here! Right Now!” will be altered on Thursday. Consult a times guide for exact times.

Stay tuned to WDW News Today as more information on these entertainment changes become available.

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade Video Debut

With the launch of our new WDWNTube video site just a few days ago, we are still testing a variety of features, including the ability to embed videos from that site right here on WDW News Today. While our amazing technical department is working on that, we will direct you over to that site to watch our newest video in high quality (scratch that, we got it to work, look below). Without any further delay, here is the debut video of the “Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade” at the Magic Kingdom taken by Robert Ashburn:



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WDWNT Weekend Update

A few interesting developments from the last few days to note in this mixed-bag report:

-Matt Paul is reporting that the Mickey Mouse float in the Disney Dreams Come True Parade at the Magic Kingdom has been removed from the parade to be converted to the opening float for the latest version of the parade that will debut around January. The rumored name of the new parade will be the Celebrate Disney Dreams Come True Parade and it will most likely welcome in a slightly altered soundtrack for the parade using the “Celebrate You” theme song of the “What Will You Celebrate?” campaign. In the meantime, Mickey is appearing in a familiar spot on the castle finale float, where he once stood in his sorcerer’s apprentice costume during the Remember the Magic Parade. Matt will provide us with some pictures of this change once he returns home. Stay tuned for more information on this change as it becomes available.

-Disney has put up a number of new YouTube videos for the holiday season that you can view below:

  

  

  

-WDWNT Podcast Episode 72 is now available for download. Here’s a short synopsis:

Join me, Tom Corless, and a cast including Jason Diffendal, Justin Heyman, Matt Paul , Jose Castillo, Adam Roth, and Luke Manning for a show that Bridges the Gaps Between You and the Walt Disney World Resort. I hope you enjoy all of the Walt Disney World information and fun we have to offer on this “missing mountain” edition of the WDW News Today Podcast.

To kick off episode 72, we have all the recent happenings from the last week to discuss in our Walt Disney World Resort News and Rumor Report. This time around, we’ll be talking about some early changes to the “What Will You Celebrate?” entertainment line-up for 2009, a major Magic Kingdom E-Ticket attraction that may go missing next year, and just what attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may not be operating next time you visit the park.

Following that, we’ll have the third edition of “What were they thinking?”, where we will try to examine why certain decisions are made by Walt Disney World management. This time around, we’ll be discussing the presence of famous celebrities in Disney attractions and if it is a good or bad thing for the parks.

Finally, Town Square Talk is back this week, highlighting the hottest topics around our WDWNT Network of websites. First up, Matt Paul is here to highlight some new Disney Park videos you can download from the WDWNTube (wdwntube.com). I’m also making some Town Square Talk this week, with news on some upcoming segments for the podcast that you can vote for as part of WDWNT Interactive. Jason Diffendal also drops in and informs us about the next WDWCelebrations event coming up in May 2009 that has a lot to do with the segment that follows this one.

Finally, to end this weeks program, we kick start our countdown of the 20 Biggest Moments in Disney’s Hollywood Studios History as voted by you with a look at what took the #20 spot. We’ll also be examining just how important this moment is in the 20 year history of the park. We hope to see this segment improve as it continues with a larger group of participants, we were a little short on staff this week because the holidays are quickly approaching.

To subscribe to the WDW News Today podcast on Itunes, go to this link. If you do not have Itunes, visit our Podcast Download Directory to download or listen to all of our shows

This episode is also available in an enhanced version. An enhanced podcast is a podcast with added features that standard podcasts don’t have. Enhanced podcasts include many features like Chapter listings, this lets you skip through chapters or see what is in store for this weeks show. Enhanced podcasts also have images to let you differ the chapters by. Enhanced podcasts have one negative feature, you can not play them on most MP3 players. The file format for this is a .m4a which can play on Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s Zune. You will also need iTunes or Windows Media Player to be able to skip through chapters. If you need or would like the standard edition, download the normal edition listed below this file both on Itunes and in our podcast directory.

Fantasy In The Sky

From montgomeryadvertiser.com:

Picture the Manhattan skyline filled with Nike swooshes. Or the golden arches of McDonald’s gently drift ing over Los Angeles.

A special-effects entrepreneur from Alabama has come up with a way to fill the sky with foamy clouds as big as 4 feet across and shaped like corporate logos — Flo gos, as he calls them. Francisco Guerra, who’s also a former magician, developed a ma chine that produces tiny bubbles filled with air and a little helium, forms the foam into shapes and pumps them into the sky.

The Walt Disney Co. will use one of the machines next month to send clouds shaped like Mickey Mouse heads into the air at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Guerra said.

“It’s a shock factor when you look up and there’s a logo over your head,” said Guerra, whose company, Snowmasters Inc., makes machines that churn out fake snow and foam for Hollywood movies and special events.

He developed Flogos at his small factory in northern Alaba ma — a perfect place for research and development, he said, partly because there aren’t many people around to ask questions about the foam shapes that float above the building on test days.

A Flogo machine works a little like a Play-Doh Fun Factory, the $5 toy kids use to squeeze colorful putty into stars, circles and other shapes.

A boxlike contraption produces a specially formulated white foam in a big round tub and forces it up ward through a stencil. Once the foam is several inches thick, a met al cutter slices it and a faux cloud floats into the sky.

“You want some wind because you want them to travel,” Guerra said. “If there’s no wind they just spiral upward slowly. We’ve got a ghost (stencil), and on a calm day it looks like everyone is going to heaven.” Guerra’s company is working on a version that will spit out 6-foot clouds.

The foam is environmentally safe because it’s mostly water, air and a soapy agent that creates bub bles, Guerra said. Flogos pop just like bubbles and disappear when they hit a tree or building, some times leaving a powdery residue that blows away.

A single Flogo can travel as far as 30 miles and as high as 20,000 feet, Guerra said, and a machine can produce one every 15 seconds. Guerra said he could put a half-dozen machines together and fill the sky with almost any shape a company orders. Imagine a line of drifting Flo gos shaped like the Honda logo leading to a car dealership and you get the idea.

A professor who specializes in environmental issues and public policy said Flogos didn’t sound like a pollution hazard if they’re really just specially formulated soap and water.

“It sounds like it’s harmless, but there’s a lot of stuff that we thought was harmless that turned out not to be,” said Jerry Emison, a professor of political science and public administration and Missis sippi State University.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokes woman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, said she had not dealt with the compa ny before but it appears Flogos would fall under FAA rules per taining to events like balloon launches. She said a local FAA of fice would need to be contacted be fore a Flogo launch so that pilots could be notified about it.

The company has lined up in ternational distributors in Aus tralia, Germany, Mexico and Sing apore. A machine rents for about $3,500 a day, Guerra said.

Matt Leible of New York-based Generation Outdoor, an ad agency specializing in outdoor advertis ing, said companies can spend $5,000 a day for a big banner with graphics towed by an airplane, and skywriting can cost $4,500. Want to rent a blimp like Good year’s? That’s $250,000 a month, and companies typically want a six-month minimum, Leible said.

James Twitchell, a professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida, compared Flogos to airplanes pulling ban ners over football games, spot lights with corporate logos and an old imagined scheme to put an ad vertisement into orbit that would be visible at sunset. “It’s been done before. Well, kind of,” Twitchell said in an e-mail interview.

One expert said the idea sounds catchy, but wonders how Flogos will fare against a backdrop of con trolled airspace, environmental sensitivity and concerns over legal liability in case something goes wrong, like a pilot being distracted by a swarm of floating tomahawks above an Atlanta Braves game.

“I think people will look at them. The question is what hap pens after people look at them,” said Leonard M. Lodish, a market ing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Penn sylvania. Lodish said Flogos would no doubt draw attention. But it’s hard to say whether they will be a com mercial success. “The real question is what is the cost benefit versus other alter natives like banners or blimps,” he said. “How many people will see it and what is the impact for those who see it?”

Only a few people have seen Flogos so far, including a crowd at the local ballpark one day when the company was testing. There was no way to ignore the test clouds as they floated lazily over head, said Augie Hendershot, po lice chief in Lexington. “Everybody thought it was neat,” he said.