Zagat Ranks 22 Cruise Lines; Disney Tops in Family, Entertainment and Nightlife

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Earlier today, Zagat released the results of its first Cruise Line survey. The survey, conducted on ZAGAT.com, covers 22 major cruise lines as voted on by 2,379 regular cruise-goers who had taken 9.5 trips, each averaging nine days. All told the surveyors had taken a total of 22,700 separate cruises.

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Disney Store Expands 2009 Black Friday Midnight Openings at Malls Nationwide; Slashes Prices on Top Holiday Gift Ideas Starting at $5

NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS NO LONGER CURRENT. FOR INFORMATION ON THIS YEAR’S BLACK FRIDAY EVENT, PLEASE CLICK HERE

Night owls and early morning bargain hunters can get a head start on holiday gift buying this year as Disney Store prepares to open more than 125 stores nationwide at midnight on Nov. 27 (Black Friday). From opening hours until 10 a.m., shoppers will benefit from 20% off all items, including already discounted merchandise. A host of Black Friday deals at affordable $5, $10 and $15 price points, as well as amazing discounts on big ticket items marked $20 – $40 off*, and special gifts with purchase, will make Disney Store the must-go-to location for shoppers looking for an amazing array of Disney toys, apparel and seasonal décor.

Guests can prepare for their Black Friday Disney Store shopping by previewing hot Disney holiday toys and gift ideas in the YouTube video “Disney Store Holiday Shopping Guide: Share the Magic” now playing online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3-idoWGEiA.

Disney Store is also reaching out to surrounding communities this year to “share the magic” by donating toys to local Boys & Girls Club chapters across America. On behalf of each of its locations in the United States, Disney Store will donate one hundred (100) toys to each of the local BGCA chapters nearest such locations. Guests who shop at the Disney Store are also encouraged to bring in unwrapped toys, which Disney Store will also donate to the local Boys & Girls Club chapter during the holiday season.

“We recognize that consumers are looking for the best value without compromising quality, and Disney Store offers a unique experience, high-quality product, and this year we have bigger and better holiday deals that will begin on Black Friday and last all weekend long,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Store Worldwide. “Last year, we had an overwhelming response from shoppers during our midnight openings, and we are expanding the number of stores opening at midnight to accommodate even more guests.”

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ABC Launches ‘Find My Family,’ A New Heartwarming Series Dedicated to Reuniting Loved Ones

From the producer of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” comes the highly anticipated “Find My Family,” a program with one simple mission — to bring families back together. With the help of a dedicated team of researchers, hosts Tim Green and Lisa Joyner guide people searching for lost loved ones through emotional journeys that will change their lives forever. The heartwarming new series premieres MONDAY, NOV. 23 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET), following “Dancing with the Stars.” Full-hour editions of the show will air Mondays from 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET beginning MONDAY, NOV. 30.

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ABC to Air Beyoncé and Paul McCartney Music Specials Back-to-Back Thanksgiving Night

On Thanksgiving night, November 26, the ABC Network will air back-to-back hours from two of the world’s biggest music stars, Beyoncé and Paul McCartney. Both specials will incorporate rarely seen footage of Beyoncé and Paul McCartney, revealing interviews from the artists and their unique musical performances.

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ESPN Zone to Commence Search for 2010 ‘Ultimate Couch Potato’ in New York, Chicago and Baltimore

BURBANK, Calif., Nov. 11 — Every die-hard sports fan has at one time or another gone on a sports-watching marathon, logging hours of non-stop sports viewing all for the sake of fandom. ESPN Zone wants to reward those that do it best with its ninth-annual “Ultimate Couch Potato” competition, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 1, 2010.

ESPN Zone’s New York, Chicago, and Baltimore locations are seeking four Couch Potato hopefuls at each site to go head-to-head to see who can watch the most continuous hours of televised sports. The Guinness Book of World Records mark for most continuous hours of televised sports watching is 69 hours, 48 minutes, set by Suresh Joachim in 2005.

2009 UCP Champ Jessica Mosley sat for an unofficial Guinness record of 70 hours, 45 minutes in 2009.

To enter ESPN Zone’s Ultimate Couch Potato competition, hopefuls must send an e-mail to [email protected], and in 200 words or less, describe why they have what it takes to become ESPN Zone’s Ultimate Couch Potato. Entries will be judged on passion for sports, competitive spirit and overall creativity. Each entry must include the phone number and mailing address of the sender and be received no later than 11:59 p.m. (ET) on December 9, 2009. Eight finalists will be chosen at each site, who will then take part in an on-camera interview to see just how deeply their fandom runs, before four finalists are chosen to compete for the title of Ultimate Couch Potato.

“People see ESPN Zone as the ultimate sports bar and ESPN as the gold standard in sports broadcasting, which makes us perfect for hosting a search for the ultimate sports-loving couch potato,” said Christine Baum, national director of marketing, sales and communications for ESPN Zone. “Everyone knows someone out there that fits the description of Couch Potato; we want to sift through the spuds to find the Ultimate Couch Potato.”

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Disney Parks Announces Mobile Magic from Verizon is Live

Disney Parks has announced that Mobile Magic for Verizon customers is now live. Verizon customers wishing to subscribe to the application, which we talked about here, should text MAGIC to 2777 from their cell phones.

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Tired of Racing to Check for Email? Let Lightning McQueen Check it For You!

Available in Lightning McQueen, Mater, Doc Hudson, Chick Hicks and The King flavors, this $33 gadget from Brando Workshop plugs into your PC’s USB port and actively monitors popular email sites (including any POP3 accessible account) and lets you visually and audibly know when email has come in. Check out the demo below!

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Disney Precious Collections to Feature Exclusive Jewelry at New Orleans Museum of Art Disney Retrospective

Princess and the Frog PendantDisney Precious Collections, Fine Disney Jewelry For Children, has been selected as the featured product during Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studios, at The New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans from November 15, 2009 – March 14, 2010.

This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, which cannot be seen anywhere else, is set to coincide with the premier of Disney’s newest animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog. The exhibition will feature 600 original works instrumental in the development of animated features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. In addition, there will be artwork from The Princess and the Frog, an animated comedy from the creators of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. This current version of the princess and the Frog is set in New Orleans during the 1920s Jazz Age, and is due for release Christmas, 2009.

“We are delighted to present this magical exhibition in New Orleans,” said “NOMA director E. John Bullard. “Children will love seeing their favorite Disney characters in a museum setting and adults will be taken by the technical skill and emotional depth reflected in these works. It was Disney animators who really led the way in the 20th century toward establishing animation as a serious art form.” The exhibition will also feature a children’s section celebrating Disney’s connections with jazz music and the Crescent City. The artworks, on loan from the Walt Disney Studio Animation Research Library, will be accompanied by film clips to demonstrate how individual sketches and paintings lead to a finished celluloid masterpiece.

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First Look: Disney Cruise Line’s ‘Sailor Mickey’ Helium Balloon for Macy’s Parade

'Sailor Mickey' prepares for his debut in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeEarlier this week, we told you about the new ‘Sailor Mickey’ balloon that will be making its debut during the 83rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, representing Disney Cruise Line. Pictured to the left is the actual, inflated balloon as it gets its final preparations underway for smooth sailing come Thanksgiving morning.

Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

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Disney Parks Now Offers Mobile Editions of Its Theme Park Websites

Walt Disney World mobile site homepageThe mobile version of the Walt Disney World website went live today, offering a compact version of the sort of information one might find on the official flash-required website. In addition to hours, basic entertainment schedules, attraction information, dining, shopping and other miscellaneous park-based information, the mobile site includes easy access to current weather conditions and forecasts. The site appears to be low on  graphics use as well which means there is no map of the actual parks available to the device, nor is the full entertainment schedule listed, so the paper maps and times guides will still be a required staple to Disney Parks visitors.

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