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Monday, July 09, 2007

Signs that you photograph Disney parks too much

Here's a sign I spend too much time at Disney World, chronicling its changes for the masses: whenever I pass by the replacement flyovers and loops at the 408/I-4 interchange, I keep having to fight the urge to whip out the camera and record this week's progress. Is it just me?

Thank you, Jim MacPhee

New Epcot honcho Jim MacPhee spoke to the Orlando Sentinel last week about plans to change the show inside Spaceship Earth and to remove the wand.

This is Jim's first public move, and I think he is to be congratulated for doing something that is fan-friendly: he gave a heads-up. It wouldn't have been unusual for Disney to just close it down one day without warning.

But with this warning, fans poured out to SSE this weekend (you could see them taking lots of pictures). I for one want to say thank you for that.

Self-order kiosks at Pecos Bill

Two weekends ago, I got to try the new kiosks at Pecos Bill that let you order your own food, and bypass the lines for a human. It worked fast and well, with one exception: I'm no stranger to this kind of system, and I got stuck anyway.

After you click PAY NOW, the screen didn't seem to change. I kept punching PAY NOW and didn't notice anything change. Only by cancelling my order and starting over could I figure out what happened. When you first click that Pay now button, a new panel pops up on the left side of the screen, and it wants you to click the method (ie, credit card). Once that panel is there, clicking the Pay Now button over and over again does nothing.

To reduce this confusion, they need to program that PAY NOW button to disappear after you click it once.

But otherwise: two big thumbs up.

Stitch leftover

Remember when Stitch was new at the MK and they had a big promotion to pretend he's taking over the park? It included his voiceover on the monorail ("welcome to Stitch kingdom..."

Well, over in the bathrooms between Adventureland and Liberty Square (quick aside here: the CMs who work in those two lands call the department "Ad-Lib," which I find hilarious) there is a remnant of Stitch Kingdom. The background music is infused w/ Stitch muttering every so often, which is really confusing if you don't know about the by-now-old campaign for the attraction.

Treehouse: real moss?

Here's something that doesn't happen often: I'm confused if a particular item is fake Disney magic, or a real something! On the (fake) treehouse in Adventureland, there are fake leaves. But then there is a lot of Spanish moss around, and here's the thing: Spanish moss looks fake even on real trees; it's waxy and plastic looking. And the more I think about it, the more I think real moss could grow on a fake tree.

And then there are other parasite looking vines up here with bright red flowers. They are way too vibrant to be fake, even though they are intertwined with the fake leaves. Right? Right???

Cinderella Royal Table price increase

Effective November 11, the prices will increase. Breakfast now costs $32.99 (adult) or $22.99 (child). Lunch costs $35.99 (adult) or $23.99 (child), and Dinner costs $40.99 (adult) or $25.99 (child).

Well, that's certainly expensive. My first thought was that this is increasingly a rip-off. Disney has a history of maximizing profits, after all (a point on dramatic display if they take away the "inclusion of tips" in the 2008 Disney Dining Plan).

But pause. These character meals do include a printed photo (rather than a hard sell for an extra $15 for one, like at Norway). That's not bad. And let's not forget the role of supply and demand. This place sells out a full 179 (if not 180) days in advance. People are willing to pay that much, apparently.

I'll say this for sure: it's not locals-friendly. But little is, these days.

FastPass problem number 4,532

For those keeping count, here's another reason FastPass creates problems: it requires a heavier staff than an attraction that doesn't run FastPass. Results include things like not having a greeter at the very front of the attraction, or the greeter having to pay more attention to return times than greeting.

Or, heaven forfend, the stuff they are supposed to control. Such as, oh I don't know, the hand-cranked sign saying how long the standby wait is? We walked past Pan two weeks ago and saw the line completely filling the outside queues and wrapping around in Fantasyland and generally making a mess. The standby sign said "20 minutes", when in fact it must have been 90, given that length. I conclude a guest must have moved that sign, and no one in the Cast noticed. Guests, thinking the line was short or fast moving, jumped in and the line got out of control. I wonder if there was a lot of rage as that supposedly short line stretched past the first hour?

DVC hard sell on Main Street

I've long known that DVC has kiosks in the theme parks. Their very presence is a problem in some ways; it's not the pure Disney park with those things in there. But at least they don't intrude and turn into carnival barkers - that would be worse.

I've also long known that the Main St. exhibition hall in Orlando (where Lincoln is at Disneyland) is used an hour per day for a DVC presentation. This week I learned that they give out water, small snacks, and DVDs when you attend. I'm slightly more uncomfortable with that. It's not the hard sell you see about timeshares out there on 192, but it's still more than I think Disney should be doing. Do the gifts and water increase guest 'guilt' and make them more likely to buy? If that's even very slightly true, then the whole thing stinks.

If the product is strong enough to sell on its own without any external force (ie, the free bottled water), then fine. But Disney is on slippery ground here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Quik-E-Marts

CNN has the story that Orlando is one of eleven cities nationwide to receive a makeover for a 7-11 store, into a Quik-E-Mart theme: http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/Movies/07/02/7.eleven.kwik.e.mart.ap/index.html

Just how is this theme-park-Orlando related? Easy. Simpsons are coming to Universal, and this move builds excitement for the Simpsons movie. I've got to find this 7-11 and visit it pronto. I'll post pictures.

Edit: here it is, on 535 right near Downtown Disney:

12298 Apopka-Vineland Road