Friday, October 18, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 9 - Douchey Nudist Chickens


This week Annie and Dan break down the 1950 Disney classic animated film Cinderella. They talk about how Cinderella's life didn't seem so bad, the Von Trapp Family, the stigma assigned to naming a kid Lucifer, and the heirarchy of the fictional Cinderella kingdom of animals. Also Gay Panic, WWII, and maybe the animators being a little lazy.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

We're also available for FREE subscription on iTunes by searching "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Look for the same graphic as above.

If you have any feedback, or topic suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com

Happy Listenin!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 8 - Magical Mystery Cow


In this episode Annie and Dan plow through a whole bunch of Disney news items, they raise several questions to which they do not know the answers, and they ponder the existence of the many mechanical cows across Disney World.

During the second half they play an epic game of Disney World "Would You Rather" where Annie gives Dan several scenarios he tortures himself over. Let's just say that both The Kardashians and Dramamine are mentioned, and not in relation to each other.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

We're also available for FREE subscription on iTunes by searching "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Look for the same graphic as above.

If you have any feedback, or topic suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com

Happy Listenin!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 7 - Bioming...Bioming


Annie and Danny dive into a podcast without a real plan and talk about all kinds of things, though their main focus is a post on MiceChat.com's message board revolving around "Theme Violations" in the Disney Parks.


They also talk about Dan's mounting frustration with Twitter's negativity, the negativity of self-proclaimed Disney fans, Jennifer Lawrence, Amanda Bynes. It wasn't as Disney-centric as always, but we still had a pretty good time.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

We're also available for FREE subscription on iTunes by searching "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Look for the same graphic as above.

If you have any feedback, or topic suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com

Happy Listenin!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 6 - Busting out a Heimlich


Hey Everybody-

Annie and Danny recap the rest of Dan's Disneyland trip, his thoughts on eating food out of cones and how customer service and OSHA don't mix. Annie goes into depth about how all of the princesses look great, except for Aurora. Dan's

Then they spend the rest of the episode ranking and discussing the many Walt Disney World resort hotels from Best to Not as Best.

Also notable: Annie is far more prepared than Dan for their main topic, Dan gets a little drunk, and Annie thinks his rankings are bad.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

We're also available for FREE subscription on iTunes by searching "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Look for the same graphic as above.

If you have any feedback, or topic suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com

Happy Listenin!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 5 - Live from Disneyland


Hey Everybody-

This week's podcast is a special one. I recorded it from my hotel room during a trip to Disneyland!!

We talk about all kinds of fun things focusing on The Happiest Place on Earth.. Annie gives me a scavenger hunt with all kinds of Disneyland specific challenges, and we generally breeze through an hour and it could have easily been five.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

We're also available for FREE subscription on iTunes by searching "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Look for the same graphic as above.

Happy Listenin!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 4 - Fifty Shades of Nemo


Hey Folks! 

We got another podcast on the books!

In this episode talk about all kinds of things. We discuss recent Disney World and Disneyland news involving street toughs, Club 33, my "Dark Times", Annie's anxiety about rule breakers, Starbucks at Epcot, Princess Fairytale Hall, Annie's scuba fantasies, and all kinds of other things.


Feedback has been very positive, but if you have anything you'd like us to talk about, or if you just wanna tell us what you think please hit us up on Twitter @beefydisney or @djphob


You can e-mail us at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com


Click Here to Listen

If you prefer to listen to us on iTunes, search for us there as "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast". Be sure to look for the NEW feed with the NEW graphic (the same one as above).

Thanks for listenin'!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Disney Twitterati


Right before I went on my Disneyland trip in January, I decided to start my own Disney-centric Twitter account. I live-tweeted my trip, and had a really good time interacting with some new folks on Twitter. In fact, I had a non-specific twitter account for a few years and never really made any sort of effort to join into the conversation. I'd tweeted, but always randomly and I had no real audience. I mainly used it for news and my own reading entertainment.

I've found the Disney Twitter community to be a whole lot of fun, at least somewhat welcoming, informative, and definitely entertaining. Probably most importantly, I've found it to be the exact kind of fix I needed when I was most in need of some Disney nourishment.

I am not a pro Disney-Tweeter at this point, by any means, but I like to think that over the past 8 months I've come to realize there are very specific Disney-Twitter Types.

So, without further ado, I give you my take on the Disney Twitter Account Types

The Sanctioned –
These are the official accounts. Some of them are kinda fun like the @DisneylandToday or @DCAToday feeds who will interact with you if you're at the park, will sometimes have contests for park visitors, and are generally pretty responsive. For the most part, though, these accounts are boring, only parse out official information. They're more often commercials than anything, and certainly don't have much personality. I highly recommend finding the “Today” feeds if you're at the parks, but otherwise, you're not gonna get much entertainment out of them.

The Obsessed Teens –
One of the biggest groups seems to be largely comprised by teen girls who pepper their feeds with emojis, pictures of their favorite princes, or screen caps from whatever Disney movie they're watching at any given time. Most often, they tweet about how badly they want to go to one of the parks, how many days there are until their next visit, or how sad they are now that they're back from their most recent visit. The thing I think about most with them is how often they seem to go to the parks. It's just a crazy amount. There's a lot of charm about these feeds, because they have that youthful exuberance that many of us lose as we get more cynical. I can't totally see why some folks would be annoyed with these girls, but I like them in moderation.

The Authorities –
Like with just about anything, Disney Fandom has a way of designating its own experts. The experts here are the folks who have somehow taken their Disney passion and made it their living, or at least partially, through ceaseless blogging, trip planning, restaurant reviews, and all kinds of other tidbits of content that they've taken from hobby to profession. Sometimes it's a little hard to tell how much they're willing to say, out of fear of harming their reps or their relationships (which, even with my modest following, is why I'm not going to call anyone out), but they often have a lot of great pictures, and a lot of great tips about park touring.

The Moles –
This might be the most tantalizing of all categories, as this is where all of the Twitter feeds of Imagineers, Animators, and other 'in the know' cast members fall. Some particularly good ones It's pretty cool to follow legendary Imagineer Joe Rhode. It's neat to read about what some Pixar animator is working on. I call it tantalizing, and I mean it. I would guess that 90% of Disney fans would say we'd love to be an Imagineer, and be a part of the secrets, and even having this sort of tertiary connection to them makes it feel like we're closer to the action.

The Know-it-Alls –
The Know-It-Alls are basically like the Experts, but instead of keeping it mostly positive, they're mostly dicks about everything, so people don't really look to them as authorities, but rather antagonists. They're like the bizarro-world versions of our heroes. You can most often find them ranting and raving about some insider tidbit, or telling more casual fans how “in the dark” they are about some thing they just innocently enjoy. They often have a ton of followers, too, and they use this fact as ammunition to prove how important they are. My suspicion is that many of their followers are more entertained by their dickery than they are impressed with their knowledge.

The Family –
I have to admit that these folks are my favorite. They're people with a love for Disney, they often have podcasts, or blogs much like the experts, but it's not their job, and they're not beholden to sponsors, so they're a little more honest with their opinions. Most importantly, though, they don't take things too seriously. They're willing to make a joke at our pal Mickey's expense, and they don't see that as some sort of blasphemy. I'd even go so far as to argue their love for Disney is even more apparent, because they don't treat it as an unreachable, inaccessible icon, but rather a member of the family. As we all know, family members can be loved and joked about at the same time.

Themed Accounts -
One of the more entertaining types of accounts, if they're done well, are the themed accounts. They have an angle, and they're sticking with it. It's hard to explain without giving examples, so I'll mention @DisneylandCats. This is an account written entirely from the point of view of the famous feral cats living at Disneyland. It's funny, it's light-hearted, and it sticks to their concept. These kinds of accounts can be hit-or-miss, but the hits are definitely worth a follow. (Also, I'll be blogging about the Disneyland cats at some point. I've encountered them at the Disneyland Hotel on each of my last 2 visits).

The Others-
These are the folks who dabble, or don't fit into a mold, or maybe aren't established yet. Certainly I fall into this category, though I'd like to think I'll find my way into 'The Family” at some point, as they're the ones I tend to talk with the most, listen to the most, and enjoy reading the most. Some day... Some day.

So there ya go...

I'd love to hear if you think I'm missing any important groups.

Happy Tweeting!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 3 - Snow White's Sassy Mouth


Hey Folks!

It's Friday in the Blog-o-Sphere, and that means that Annie and I have got another Podcast posted and ready to rock.

This time we tackled a fresh re-watch of the original Disney animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We break down the legendary flick with fresh eyes, Annie finds her salty mouth, and I reveal my secret time-travel fantasies.

Click here to Listen

Also, we are now officially available on iTunes, where ALL THREE Episodes are downloadable. I highly recommend using the excellent Podcasts App if you're using an Apple product. 

Just search for us in the iTunes store as "Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast"

Send us your feedback either on Twitter (I'm @BeefyDisney , she's @DJPhob) or by e-mail at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com

Happy Listening!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Monsters University. It's a prequel!


I think that all of the podcasting and twittering and whatnot has upped my Disney-brain quite a bit over the past month or so. I'm definitely at a fever-pitch, similar to how I get right before a long-planned trip to Disney World. Only like.. all the time. It's probably not a great thing, ultimately but I do love it so.

Speaking of... I'm going back to Disneyland in a couple weeks for the first time since the incident. I look forward to giving you all the full updates.

In the meantime, I went to see Monsters University, and I've got some thoughts.

Monsters U was pretty well received, overall. It's "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, and that's usually a pretty good signal of success, though at 78% it's still not quite reaching the levels of most non-Cars Pixar movies, and after watching it... I just not sure why.

I laughed out loud several times throughout the movie, I was invested in the characters, and unlike many prequels it had some surprises in terms of how characters ended up where they were when we first met them in the original films.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I liked Monsters University more than I like the original Monsters Inc. Whoooaaaa now, Muchacho. Explain Yo'self.

- The Setting.
Both movies are, to at least some degrees, send-ups of a specific setting. The first is the "world" and the second is "college". I just think that Monsters Inc doesn't have a chance to really focus on that kind of examination of how the world of Monsters is different than ours in funny ways. First, it's way too big and voluminous to get into a lot of detail (I admit there are TONS of throwaway easter-eggy things in the first movie that require a million views to catch, but I'm sure this one does too). College, on the other hand, is just sooo ripe for parody. The cliques. The boring classes (Scream Canister Design!!). The girls. The friends. The scary-ass teachers. It's a small enough world to really allow the filmmakers to focus in, but it's textured enough to be able to throw in a million details.

- The lack of children.
I never enjoyed the Boo portion of the original's plot as much as I think most people did. Aside from the abject fear the little girl struck into the hearts of monsters, I just didn't find her all that appealing to watch. I much preferred the monster stuff. This movie? Nothing BUT monster stuff, and I loved it.

- The monsters!
Okay... Small quibble here with the Monsters Franchise production design, but I think that almost all of the monsters are too cute looking and not at all scary. Obviously, if a 4 foot snake-lizard thing came out of my closet and roared at me, I'd be scared, but overall I think they're all kinda cute looking. That said, I think the monsters are awesome, and this one had a crap-ton (that's metric) of them. I love how they all move differently. How they all have such varied physicality. On top of that, I love how they all use their physical difference to scare kids differently. It's so clear that the animators had an awesome time figuring out how a tubby, tentacled monster with a bat wing mustache would scare a kid differently than giant, fur-covered monster with giant fangs.  This movie had so many awesome monsters!! (Special shout-out to the dean of the Scare College. She was actually scary. She both flies AND has a million creepy bug legs. Eeessh).

I'm not gonna get too deep into the plot, but I highly recommend this flick. It does everything a prequel needs to do (sets up how familiar friends meet, rivalries start, jobs are obtained), and it goes there in a particularly creative, unexpected way.

Some additional notes:
- I wonder if the joke about how close-up magic is super nerdy will run out of steam some time. First Pitch Perfect and now this?
- This is the second Disney animated movie I've seen this Summer (Planes is the other) where female characters are basically non-existent. It's probably my biggest issue with this movie in particular, because I mean... College is roughly 90% about hooking up. I get that this is a movie designed to appeal to kids, so you can't have monsters banging each other and whatnot, but whereas Planes was probably justly criticized for placing its only female characters in strictly romantic entanglements, this movie was BEGGING for them.
- Charlie Day's portrayal of a sort of strange, darkly funny monster in Oozma Kappa is one of the more entertaining small roles I can remember in a Pixar movie. They use him jusssst enough.
- Not used enough? Nathan Fillion's Frat boy character. Maybe there were too many villains? I dunno. I wanted to see more of him.
- Speaking of Villains... Randall's thread must have been cut for time at some point, because he's prominent at the start, and then sort of disappears for a while. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 2 - The Ying Yang Twins


Hey Peeps!

Check out Podcast Episode # 2. Thanks to everyone for listening to the first, and thanks for following me on Twitter!

Check out the next episode!

Also, we are now officially available on iTunes. There seems to be a slight delay adding new eps if you're not using the Podcasts App, but if you are BOTH episodes are available. Just search:

"Annie and Danny's Fastpass Podcast"

Send us your feedback either on Twitter (I'm @BeefyDisney) or by e-mail at AnnieDannyFPPC@Gmail.com


Friday, August 23, 2013

Annie and Danny's FastPass Podcast, Episode 1 - Stud Lightbeam


Hey Everybody!

Annie from B Ticket Blog and I decided to do a podcast, and in a shockingly uncharacteristic move for (at least) me, we actually did it.

We will be on iTunes in the next few days, but until then, check out the pod! We talk a little about ourselves, what started us down the path of our Disney love, and we talked a little about some other Disney stuff, too.

There's even an assignment for the readers!!


Please, please, PLEASE give us your feedback. We will talk about anything and everything Disney, AND we're hoping to do a Reader Mail segment, so send your Reader Mail Topics to AnnieDannyFPPC@gmail.com


Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's Next?? 'TRAINS'???


As big a fan as I am, I rarely find the new Disney movies to be “Must See in the Theater” events. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but I guess... Well... I should just...

I have an addiction. I don't drink. I don't do drugs. I don't buy hookers....

I go to movies by myself... like... all the time.

Whenever I have an opportunity on an off day, I hit a matinee and I love it. It's my quiet time. I get to see allllll of the crappy movies that my wife doesn't care about or just doesn't want to see. It's fantastic. My friend, a guy with a degree in film, once said to me “Doesn't it get expensive going to all of those movies?” and I simply told him that I didn't think it was any more expensive than drinking at a bar once or twice a week. That seemed to make a lot of sense to him.

In any case, one of the only things I ever feel weird about is going to see kids movies alone. I'll pretty much see anything. I went to see 'Magic Mike' alone, and I was not ashamed. Still, the prospect of appearing to be a creepy dude watching what would ostensibly be a kid's movie all by himself while surrounded by many children and their parents... this is not a scenario I relish.

Of course, you and I know that Disney movies are definitely not JUST for kids, but that's not necessary a position I want to defend at the movie theater, so I usually just wait for them to come out on BluRay, or even better, I make my wife join me. We saw 'Up' on one of our first dates, and it was fantastic.

Anyway, I wanted to see a movie today, and the pickings are slim, so I decided to suck it up and see 'Planes'. I even selected the 3D screening. I can't say I was overly excited to see the movie. Cars is probably my least favorite of the Pixar films, and it's difficult to see how this movie would be all that much different. I was even sort of viewing it as a spin-off, if not directly a sequel.


But you know? 'Planes' wasn't all that bad. I would even venture to say that it was largely successful, if not particularly indelible. It definitely deserves a better MetaScore than its current 39. That's just ridiculous.

So here are some thoughts.

The Good.
- The Message.. Yes, the notion that any Disney movie needs to have a message is perhaps a bit outdated, and has always been something of a source of derision for the haters out there. Well, you know what? It's a damned movie that is meant to appeal to children, and I just don't see the downside to presenting the little tots some food for thought. The message of this movie is that you shouldn't allow society to tell that you're not good enough or strong enough to achieve your dreams just because of your station in life. The movie is about a Crop Duster plane named Dusty who dreams of being a racing plane, and is constantly told that he can't for no better reason than “You're a crop duster”.

- The Visuals... I wouldn't go so far as to claim the visuals in this movie are on the level as Wall-E or Finding Nemo, but comparing a movie to 2 of the 5 move visually stunning animated films of the past 20 years isn't particularly fair. 'Planes' presents a visual world that is very similar to Cars in that it brings the lines and silhouettes that are familiar in aviation to the natural environment. The flying animations are beautifully done, the different geographies you see as the movie takes you around the world are stunning. It's really a great looking movie. If 'Cars' hadn't already done it, I'd even say it was ground breaking. I don't see a “Planes Land”” in the near future, but I can definitely see some of the characters from Planes showing up in Cars Land. They belong together.

The Not as Good
- Dane Cook. Look, I know it's become popular to bash Dane Cook at any turn, and I don't hate the guy, but I really don't understand what Disney was doing here with this casting choice. He's not at the peak of his fame, which would have made at least some sense (though he's probably totally unknown to a large group of the viewers of this movie), he's not really an actor at all as much as a personality. Sadly, that personality is sort of unpleasant, and there's something about the way he articulates words that makes me want to punch him, so it was very difficult to get past that. Not so great since he's the lead character. Even with Larry the Cable Guy in Cars, you've got a much better argument for casting him. He was HUGE at the time, and more importantly, he was basically asked to play the character in the movie that he already plays on stage. Not the case here.

- The Romances... Okay, so here's where I'm gonna get weird. I don't understand how Cars or Airplanes can have romantic relationships. I don't want to think about how. I don't want to be forced to imagine the mechanics (pun intended) of their intimacy. Where do baby cars come from? Who's building them? Where to the propellers go? I realize this is juvenile, but this is what watching two airplanes romancing each other makes me think about. I will say that the scene where the Mexican plane is serenading the French Canadian (Why French Canadian and not just French?) plane is very entertaining and the slow, Spanish Guitar rendition of “Love Machine” is fantastic. Yes... it's a weird movie.

The Muddy
- The Message. “Wait, Muchacho! You already said the message was a good thing!”
That's true, but that's without any dissection, also. Once you start to think about it, and once the movie plays out, you start to see that they're also sort of saying that while that crop duster should totally go after his goal of being a racer, in order to succeed he's going to have to fully change himself to do it, including removing the one piece of mechanics that makes him a crop duster to begin with. So... yeah... maybe they could have figured out another way to get from A to Z.

Me Intellectualizing Things
So really, why is Planes being so negatively received? I think it has mostly to do with two things:

1) It's very similar to 'Cars', which isn't universally beloved by adults to start with. It's easily the most kid-targeted of all of the Pixar flicks, and I imagine that doesn't go over that well.

2) People love to build something up to iconic status and then tear it down. The world is full of examples. Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Metallica, Pete Rose. Now... to some degree it could be argued that each of those examples had at least some hand in their own unmaking, but in each case there are examples of the same people writing odes to their greatness subsequently feasting on the bones of their downfall.

At some point, Pixar was bound to experience a backlash. Once the kids who grew up on Toy Story and Nemo and Monsters Inc were adults and the movies weren't hitting the same emotional spot for them, possibly just because they're at different places emotionally within their lives... you get the idea. At some point it's impossible to separate the historical greatness from the new product. The only thing that suffers is the new product.

My fellow blogger, DJPhob wrote about Horizons at Walt Disney World and the complete nostalgia a certain block of fans has for it, and I've heard many people bemoan the downfall of Disney (even right here on my own blog in the comments section), and I wonder if that's fair. Is it fair to judge something against their own lofty standard, when it's also mixed with nostalgia (a thing that is literally undefeated in this game.


I just wonder if that's what's happening with 'Planes'. If Planes had come out in 1996 instead of Toy Story, and there had been no history of these remarkable cinematic achievements every year for the next 12 years... Would it be the greatest thing ever? Maybe not, but certainly better than a 39 on MetaCritic. That's ridiculous.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Disney's Response to My Bitching


Two months ago I posted by complaint letter to Disneyland. I was upset, certainly, and I was disappointed.

I promised to post their response, and I've been sitting on it all this time, because...well... It made me sad. I don't want to say anything else before posting it.

First, as a refresher, here's my letter to them:

Hello Disney Customer Service

I’ve taken a while to decide if I wanted to write this e-mail. I’m not a complainer anyway, but it’s especially difficult for me to complain about anything “Disney”.
I am a very big Disney fan. A defender. A Walt Disney aficionado. I’m a Charter Member of D23. I’m a current Disneyland Annual Pass holder, and I’ve been a Walt Disney World Annual Pass holder in the past. I’ve visited Walt Disney World literally dozens of times. I have collected Disney Pins for 13 years, and have spent thousands and thousands of dollars.  I have been a loyal lover of The Mouse for many, many years and I am certain I will continue to be for many years to come.

All of that said, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to bring some issues I had on my last trip to Disneyland, May 9th to 11th of 2013, specifically regarding my stay at Paradise Pier.

The short version is that I failed to read the details of my hotel reservation, and didn’t realize that the “free parking” extended to annual pass holders does not apply to hotel parking. When I asked about it, I was told that the “free parking” associated with the annual pass only applies to theme park parking. I asked if I would be able to park overnight at the theme parks to take advantage of the “Free Parking” and was informed that I could not, and that my car would likely be towed.

In essence one of the great benefits of having an annual pass is nullified by my choice to stay on site at Paradise Pier.

This policy will almost certainly prevent me from staying on-site at Disneyland ever again.

I specifically chose to stay at Paradise Pier so that I could walk to and from the park and create a more immersive experience (similar to the kind created by staying on site at Walt Disney World). I realize I’m not being deprived of that experience by being charged for parking, but there’s also a “feeling” I look for while visiting Disney. When I go to Disneyland I want to get the “feeling” that my visit is valued; that my loyalty is valued. I am certain that part of valuing a customer is making them feel that they’re getting something of value in return. I believe we all implicitly agree to spend 30 dollars a person on a mediocre breakfast buffet in exchange for the amazing feelings our kids have when they see Mickey. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to be asked to wait for an hour to ride ‘Soarin’ Over California’, because what you get in return is nothing short of an amazing experience. Value.

I’m certain you are aware of this, but staying on site at Disneyland is a significantly more expensive proposition than staying at most of the other hotels anywhere nearby. I assumed the additional cost willingly, believing I’d have a more valuable experience in exchange for the higher cost. Instead, in exchange for the extra cost of staying in a “Disneyland resort” I was confronted with even more additional fees. I’m not even suggesting that you don’t charge for parking, but I do know there are more seamless methods of carrying out these fees without making the customer feel like they’re being shaken down. Far be it from me to begrudge Disney from making your money, but the more transparently capitalistic you become, the less enchanted I become.

I called the hotel where I stayed last time (Sheraton Anaheim). They also charge for parking (*though their rate is $14 dollars per night as opposed to your $15).  They also charge significantly less per night to stay (about half). So my question is…If I’m not getting ridiculously great, seamlessly executed service at your Disney hotel, why wouldn’t I save the money, stay at Sheraton Anaheim, and simply drive the .5 miles to park for free much closer to the entrance?

It’s so disappointing to say this, but I sincerely doubt I’ll ever stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel again unless I can be sure I won’t have this kind of cold experience the next time.

Listen… I know this is ultimately a small thing. 30 dollars for parking in the grand scheme of a Disneyland visit is nothing. It’s 3 pins. It’s not even a full dinner for one at The Blue Bayou. It’s nothing.

And yet, truly it’s everything, because for so many years I’ve defended my visits as a grown man to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Sure… it costs more, but Disney does it right. Disney makes you feel special. Disney makes you glad to give them your money, because even though they’re a business they make you feel like they’d be there for free.

It’s such a little thing, this silly parking policy, but it’s taken away my feeling that I’m valued.

I’ll always go to Disneyland and Disney World, because they’re as much a part of who I am, and what I love, as where I went to high school or where I grew up. I just don’t know that I’ll ever wear quite the same shade of rose colored glasses again.

Just thought you should know.

Sincerely,
Daniel P. Cohen, Phone -***-***-*075
Annual Pass #********431


Here's Disney's response:
Dear Mr. Cohen:

Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort. We appreciate you 
taking the time to share your experience with us. 


We are concerned with the disappointments you mentioned in your e-mail. 
As you are aware, our goal is to provide the finest service and 
accommodations. Please be assured we do take our Guest comments very 
seriously, and take them into consideration when evaluating our 
operation. Your remarks have been shared with the appropriate leaders so
they are aware of your experiences. 

As stated in the "Annual Passholder Terms and Conditions" The parking 
benefit, as applicable, is subject to availability and valid only at 
pay-on entry lots at the Disneyland Resort. Regrettably, Annual 
Passholders who have parking on their Annual Passes do not qualify for 
free parking at any of our Resort Hotels or at the Downtown Disney 
Parking Lot. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused 
you or your family. Please accept our sincerest apologies. To view the 
"Annual Passholder Terms and Conditions" you may see them at the 
following website address: http://disneyland.disney.go.com/faq/apterms/





Again, thank you for contacting us. Comments such as yours are welcomed 
in that they assist us in evaluating our operation and our success in 
generating happiness for our Guests. We hope you will have the 
opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort soon and that our 
attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.


Sincerely, 

Terry Sampson 
DISNEYLAND® Resort
Guest Experience Services


I can't decide if maybe my expectations were too high, but this seems like a blow-off, doesn't it? 

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I'm almost ready to return to blogging about Disney and the good stuff. I just haven't totally gotten over this yet.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Rare Complaint




Below is the exact e-mail I sent to Disney Customer Service regarding my recent stay. I have not yet received a reply. I'd be curious to know what other fans think of what I had to say.

______________
Hello Disney Customer Service

I’ve taken a while to decide if I wanted to write this e-mail. I’m not a complainer anyway, but it’s especially difficult for me to complain about anything “Disney”.

I am a very big Disney fan. A defender. A Walt Disney aficionado. I’m a Charter Member of D23. I’m a current Disneyland Annual Pass holder, and I’ve been a Walt Disney World Annual Pass holder in the past. I’ve visited Walt Disney World literally dozens of times. I have collected Disney Pins for 13 years, and have spent thousands and thousands of dollars.  I have been a loyal lover of The Mouse for many, many years and I am certain I will continue to be for many years to come.

All of that said, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to bring some issues I had on my last trip to Disneyland, May 9th to 11th of 2013, specifically regarding my stay at Paradise Pier.

The short version is that I failed to read the details of my hotel reservation, and didn’t realize that the “free parking” extended to annual pass holders does not apply to hotel parking. When I asked about it, I was told that the “free parking” associated with the annual pass only applies to theme park parking. I asked if I would be able to park overnight at the theme parks to take advantage of the “Free Parking” and was informed that I could not, and that my car would likely be towed.

In essence one of the great benefits of having an annual pass is nullified by my choice to stay on site at Paradise Pier.

This policy will almost certainly prevent me from staying on-site at Disneyland ever again.

I specifically chose to stay at Paradise Pier so that I could walk to and from the park and create a more immersive experience (similar to the kind created by staying on site at Walt Disney World). I realize I’m not being deprived of that experience by being charged for parking, but there’s also a “feeling” I look for while visiting Disney. When I go to Disneyland I want to get the “feeling” that my visit is valued; that my loyalty is valued. I am certain that part of valuing a customer is making them feel that they’re getting something of value in return. I believe we all implicitly agree to spend 30 dollars a person on a mediocre breakfast buffet in exchange for the amazing feelings our kids have when they see Mickey. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to be asked to wait for an hour to ride ‘Soarin’ Over California’, because what you get in return is nothing short of an amazing experience. Value.

I’m certain you are aware of this, but staying on site at Disneyland is a significantly more expensive proposition than staying at most of the other hotels anywhere nearby. I assumed the additional cost willingly, believing I’d have a more valuable experience in exchange for the higher cost. Instead, in exchange for the extra cost of staying in a “Disneyland resort” I was confronted with even more additional fees. I’m not even suggesting that you don’t charge for parking, but I do know there are more seamless methods of carrying out these fees without making the customer feel like they’re being shaken down. Far be it from me to begrudge Disney from making your money, but the more transparently capitalistic you become, the less enchanted I become.

I called the hotel where I stayed last time (Sheraton Anaheim). They also charge for parking (*though their rate is $14 dollars per night as opposed to your $15).  They also charge significantly less per night to stay (about half). So my question is…If I’m not getting ridiculously great, seamlessly executed service at your Disney hotel, why wouldn’t I save the money, stay at Sheraton Anaheim, and simply drive the .5 miles to park for free much closer to the entrance?

It’s so disappointing to say this, but I sincerely doubt I’ll ever stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel again unless I can be sure I won’t have this kind of cold experience the next time.

Listen… I know this is ultimately a small thing. 30 dollars for parking in the grand scheme of a Disneyland visit is nothing. It’s 3 pins. It’s not even a full dinner for one at The Blue Bayou. It’s nothing.

And yet, truly it’s everything, because for so many years I’ve defended my visits as a grown man to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Sure… it costs more, but Disney does it right. Disney makes you feel special. Disney makes you glad to give them your money, because even though they’re a business they make you feel like they’d be there for free.

It’s such a little thing, this silly parking policy, but it’s taken away my feeling that I’m valued.

I’ll always go to Disneyland and Disney World, because they’re as much a part of who I am, and what I love, as where I went to high school or where I grew up. I just don’t know that I’ll ever wear quite the same shade of rose colored glasses again.

Just thought you should know.

Sincerely,
Daniel P. Cohen, Phone -***-***-*075
Annual Pass #********431

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Escape from Tomorrow



A movie called ‘Escape from Tomorrow’ has recently come to my attention. That’s not unusual in and of itself, as I probably see more new movies than just about anyone. The unusual thing about this particular movie is that I hadn’t heard of it, and the majority of it was filmed at Disney World.

“What!?!” – That was my reaction when I first heard about it.

The movie premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival to little pre-showing fanfare, and by all accounts isn’t that great of a movie as a whole.  Though it’s being lauded for having an interesting visual style, the “horror” and script are being written off as average. There’s a lot of speculation that it wouldn’t have been accepted to such a major festival without the Ninja-Disney cache.

It was shot, in secret, on small hand-held cameras and other subtle or “touristy” video cameras. They did this, because Disney has never authorized any outside productions to film in their parks. They’ve always been extremely protective over their branding and their images. Because of this, the movie is very unlikely to ever see wide release, since the movie not only takes place there, but depends on the location as part of the story, and Disney is pretty unlikely to allow this movie they had no hand in creating using their images. As of now, the only known showing planned for it is next week in Ebertfest. And then that’s it. Maybe it’s gone forever. Maybe you’ll be able to scrounge up a bootleg somewhere.

Thinking about this movie, and my desire to see it, and my overall love of Disney and Disney Parks has raised several questions for me. I’m going to take some time to toss them around.

First… What’s the issue?

Well, I guess it depends on who you ask, but the main issue would seem to be that Disney doesn’t want people using their images (characters, park rides, names, etc..) without their permission. Now, when last I heard, Disney hadn’t released any official “Cease and desist” statement. They simply said they were aware of the movie, and that was it. The idealist in me would like to think that Disney would let it go, and not stop it, but I can’t see that happening. So basically there’s this movie that won’t be purchased by a distributor because there’s a good chance Disney will just sue the daylights out of them if they ever try to release it. If the movie was undeniably good, maybe someone would take the risk, but not for this.

Second… If it’s not that good, who cares?

That’s a good point. I think there’s an obvious niche audience that just loves to see Disney images, and is sort of titillated by this sort of illicit depiction of “It’s a Small World” and “Space Mountain” in this unsanctioned way. There’s something kinda fun in the notion that you’re breaking the rules. Even the most staunch of Disney fans will likely admit to having had fantasies of hiding on The People Mover until after close and wandering the park all night. None of us wants to do damage, but all of us wants an unforgettable, unique Disney experience. This movie represents that unique experience, and there’s value in that to a Disney Fan. Someone got past the security. Someone figured out ways to perform whole scenes of dialogue amidst the unknowing crowd and on rides. It’s fascinating just to think about it.  Basically, there’s a small audience of big Disney fans who just wanna see it out of curiosity. That’s who cares, and I don’t think that’s enough.

Let’s say it was great? Shouldn’t it be released?

The thing that I’m reminded of most of all in regards to this situation is the Metallica vs. Napster case. For anyone who’s forgotten, Metallica sued Napster (at the time the world’s largest file sharing program) because their songs were being shared from user to user without Metallica’s consent. They insisted over and over it wasn’t about the millions of dollars they weren’t making through legitimate sales of their songs (that’s probably not true totally, since I’d definitely care about the money for sure), but rather that they believed that Metallica alone should have control over how their music (their “intellectual property”) should be made available.

Essentially, if Disney puts up a fight, or refuses to give consent to the filmmakers to use their images, Disney will be arguing the same thing. If Space Mountain appears in some movie, Disney wants to have the ONLY say in how. If Mickey Mouse is a major plot point in a story, you can bet Disney’s name is the only one on it.

The argument made by the other side is emotional and complicated and certainly worth considering.

“Disney is the most powerful entertainment company on Earth. It’s not going to hurt them”
“Disney has enough money. They should just let it go.”
“Shouldn’t they be encouraging young film makers?”
“What about all the fans who want to see the Disney stuff?”
“What happens to all the money the people spent making the movie?”

These are basically all valid, emotion-based questions, with boring, unemotional answers that all make sense to me, but the answer that resonates the most with me is this:

Maybe the money doesn’t matter to them, because them crazy rich, and maybe they’d like to encourage young filmmakers, and maybe this film wouldn’t hurt their image, and obviously they love the fans, but ultimately it’s not about THIS movie or THESE filmmakers. It’s about setting the precedent. There’s no way Disney is going to open the door to film makers not under their umbrella. Maybe this one movie doesn’t harm them, but what about all of the subsequent movies made in the same way? Does Disney have to give them all a pass? Even if it’s a case-by-case thing, I can’t see them wanting to encourage the practice at all.

And lemme talk about this “Doesn’t Disney have enough money?” argument for just a second, because it’s the same one leveled by Napster against Metallica, and it’s just as stupid now.

Disney doesn’t have enough money. Maybe to you they do, but they don’t. Their entire purpose is to make money… (Some would argue that their purpose is to entertain, to which I’d say… “that’s cute”…)  and the only way they make money is off of their own intellectual property (or the legal purchase of George Lucas’ intellectual property, as it were). If someone else is making money off of it, then it’s more difficult for them to. Even if the actual amount of money is small, I have a very difficult time saying they shouldn’t be able to make that money.

I guess, after talking through this with you, my position is pretty clear. The scenario is much less muddy to me than it was before I started writing.

Yes, it’s kinda cool that this dude made this movie and got creative to use a place nobody’s ever used before.

Yes, I wanna see it.

Yes, in a perfect world where nobody has any monetary or creative stake in such things, it’d be available for all the world to see…

But in the end, I was on Metallica’s side against Napster, even though I used Napster. I’m on Disney’s (presumptive) side in this. I care more about the Disney brand than I do about this movie. I am protective of their brand. I like that Disney is also. There was a time in the late 20s and 30s where Disney didn’t license their merchandise and it was bootlegged and replicated all over the place. Disney lost countless millions during that time when all of these other companies put out junk with Mickey and Donald on the side and passed it off as Disney. They have the right to protect their creative property. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue they have the responsibility to do so.

If they let THIS go, couldn’t there be an argument made that if I scrounged up enough money, I could buy a chunk of land in Iowa, and build my own Disney World? How is it different?

I applaud the director for his moxie. I hope to see the movie some day, but I won’t pay to see it.

A friend will be going to Ebertfest next week and will be seeing the movie. If they blog about it, I’ll be sure to point you all in that direction. I’m certain fascinated by the whole thing. But to me, the fascination is where it stops.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Magic! Heroine's Bracket Round 2


Hi Everybody!

Last round I selected the winners, and while I might have made some errors, I feel good about the results. I'm certain I could go through and select winners, but then how do I know if I'm being fair, or just picking the characters from my favorite movies, so...

This round? You guys vote.

Snow White vs. Mulan
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Ariel vs. Belle
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Princess Atta vs. Tiana
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Merida Vs. Lady
  
pollcode.com free polls 

I can't wait to see what you guys come up with!