Disney Patent Roundup: Articulated Character Heads, Smokeless Fireworks and Who Moved My Chair?

When it rains, it pours; now it’s raining cats and dogs and we just stepped in a poodle. Unfortunately there’s no web rim shot patent to share with you today, but out of several patent applications we came across from Disney Enterprises this morning, there’s a few we thought were worth sharing with you all. You can thank us later since there’s no patent here for instant gratuity either.

First up is a patent whose fruit will be very familiar to most of us by now as it played a part in the famous Talking Mickey Mouse episode although you may not recognize it at first.

Character Articulated Head System, Front and BackFrom inventors Tim Eck, William Wiedefeld, David Hynds, Jeffrey Schenck, William Brasher and Brendan MacDonald comes a new take on a new classic: the articulated character heads. This is not the original patent that covers the heads featured in the stage shows at the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, but rather a newer type of head/system that makes the interactive character scenario more plausible.

Titled ‘Method and System for Articulated Character Head Actuation and Control,’ the patent application is two-fold. First, it attempts to seek out the first major problem with the now-antiquated heads: noise. According to the patent, even when the old heads weren’t actually moving, they were prone to generating an audible standby noise. It appears that by ‘simply’ upgrading the quality of the motors and servos et al, that the noise is minimized to a whisper-quiet level, allowing the heads to safely articulate even in close environments with audience members (guests).

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Disney Patent Aims to Create New Generation of Guitar Superheroes

Possible embodiment of musical instrument edutainment systemThere’s just no denying the success of video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band (even to the point of successful ports to the iPhone), but when it comes right down to it, they’re nothing like playing actual instruments. Instead, the plastic ‘guitar’ one holds is nothing more than a glorified typical video game controller with a bunch of colored buttons. Hardly beneficial to anyone who wishes to learn the real thing.

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New Logo for California Adventure Theme Park Has Some Scratching Their Heads

Original logo for Disney's California Adventure (Top) and the new Disney California Adventure logo (bottom)Yesterday, Disney Parks revealed the new logo for its California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort, which is famously undergoing some physical transformations as well.

Guests probably didn’t need it, but Disney helped point out a ‘name change’ as well. What once read as Disney’s (possessive), now reads as Disney. According to the comments on the blog as well as other places, guests are crying foul.

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Disney/Pixar Presents a Video Introduction to Pixar Canada

Disney/Pixar Animation Studios recently opened a production studio in Vancouver, Canada to handle animated shorts, which will initially appear to be mostly the next generation of Cars Toons as well as the Toy Story Toons we speculated about back in March.

In the video, John Lasseter and Pixar Prez Ed Catmull are joined by Pixar Canada’s Creative Director Dylan Brown, CTO Darwyn Peachey and General Manager Amir Nasrabadi as they introduce the new complex and its expectations. Also along for the ride is a very clever mix of the Pixar Animation Studios family against live action footage of the studio’s new home.

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Disney Employee Arrested for Insider Trading; Claims Iger in Talks to Sell ABC

Bonnie Hoxie, an administrative assistant to Disney’s head of Corporate Communication, Zenia Mucha, was arrested earlier today along with her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag (a.k.a. Jonathan Cyrus) by the FBI on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud in an attempt to sell inside information on the company’s latest quarterly earnings report.

The duo allegedly sent emails via a gmail account to hedge funds and investment companies in New York. Posing as hedge fund investors, the FBI arranged to receive insider trading information from Sebbag in New York which included disclosing earnings per share hours prior to the public disclosure.

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Disney Patent Application Lays Groundwork for End of Refillable Mugs at WDW Resorts

Today a finger scan facilitates your entry into one of the Disney theme parks, but in the age of tomorrow, it may help to quench your thirst. So suggests a new patent application from Disney which describes a ‘Self-Service Beverage and Snack Dispensing Using Identity-Based Access Control’ system.

Calling out shortcomings in existing systems such as customers being able to obtain unlimited refills from self-serve beverage dispensers (as Walt Disney World has introduced to a limited number of counter service dining locations) to potential concerns with the Refillable Mugs currently available for purchase at the Walt Disney World Resorts (such as losing the mug, toting the mug back and forth and cleanliness issues), the proposed system allows for either unlimited or controlled refills with any cup/vessel using token-based authentication.

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ABC Owned Television Stations Group President Walter Liss Retires; WABC President Rebecca Campbell Named Successor

Esteemed television executive Walter Liss today announced his retirement as President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group.  He will immediately move into a consultancy role for the Station Group to assist in the transition.

In commenting on the announcement, Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company said, “I’ve worked with Walter for almost 25 years, and I know him to be a one of a kind person: a great executive who knows his business well and has always had a passion for it. He is a no-nonsense guy, who ran the best station group in the country, and loved every minute he spent in the station business! We are all grateful for his leadership, his contributions and his friendship, and we are thankful for ensuring our stations are so well-positioned for the future. Although he has definitely earned the right to retire, he will be sorely missed.”

“I’ve been in this wonderful business for over 50 years.   More than 30 of those years have been with the best Company in the world…The Walt Disney Company,” added Mr. Liss.  “Early next year I’ll go to work on my golf game.  All those guys on the Champions Tour better watch out.”

Walter C. Liss was appointed president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, in May 1999.  In this role he had chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for the Group’s ABC National Television Sales rep firm.

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Disney in a Financial Wonderland with Marvel-ous 2Q Earnings Report

The Walt Disney Company beat expectations today when it reported an earnings-per-share (EPS) of $.48, representing a 45% increase over 2Q 2009.

Although net income was up across the board, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media shone above other business units with an increase of 20% each over the same time period in 2009. DCP, which yielded $596M for the quarter, had its success tributed to both the Disney/Pixar Toy Story and Marvel properties.

The studios also turned in a strong performance for the quarter, mostly due to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, helping to increase revenues 7% to $1.5B for the quarter, smashing last year’s performance which consisted of films such as Confessions of a Shopoholic and Race to Witch Mountain.

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Disneyland Paris Reports Net Loss of $145M in First Half of 2010

Despite the introduction of the Disney New Generation Festival this year, Euro Disney S.C.A has reported a net loss of approximately $145 million in the first half of the 2010 fiscal year (ending March 31), compared with a net loss of approximately $108 million for the first half of 2009. While individual guest spending did increase, the overall effect was an overall 7% decline in both theme park and hotel revenues with the bulk of that being blamed on a decline of visitors from the United Kingdom.

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Photo: Dedication of ‘Roy E. Disney Animation Building’ at Walt Disney Studios

Don Hahn, Mickey Mouse, Robert Iger and Roy P. Disney dedicate the Walt Disney Animation Building in honor of Roy E. DisneyThis past Friday, hundreds of D23 members were joined by Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger, producer Don Hahn, Roy E. Disney’s son Roy P. Disney and, of course, Mickey Mouse, as they re-dedicated the Walt Disney Animation Studios building in honor of the late Roy E. Disney at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.

Pictured are (L-R): Don Hahn, Mickey Mouse, Bob Iger and Roy P. Disney. Photo courtesy of Disney.

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