Free Allstar Weekend Performance Highlights Chicago’s ‘Magnificent Mile Lights’ Festival; Phineas and Ferb Also to Appear

Radio Disney AM 1300 kicks off the holiday season in Chicago with a day of fun for kids and families on Saturday, November 20, at the 19th annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival presented by Harris. The day of special events will bring fans face to face with some of their favorite stars, including Allstar Weekend and the “Phineas and Ferb” walk-around characters.

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Report: Disney Store Times Square (NYC) Soft Opening and Merchandise; D23 Event with Jodi Benson

DISNEY STORE TIMES SQUARE HAS NOW OPENED! CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE GRAND OPENING AND LEARN HOW TO WIN A FREE DISNEYSTORE SINGING ARIEL DOLL SIGNED BY JODI BENSON!

Early yesterday morning, a small group of Disney D23 members were invited to visit the all new Disney Store Times Square before it opened its doors to the public for a private shopping experience and in-store continental breakfast. With the store operating in soft mode since last Thursday, Disney Store President Jim Fielding was on-hand to celebrate with the Disney D23 members as was Jodi Benson, the voice of The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and Toy Story 3‘s Barbie.

With check-in for the event commencing at 7:30 am sharp, guests were ushered into the lower level of the store which features a combination of New York City-themed merchandise, exclusive to the Disney Store Times Square location, as well as seasonal Disney Store merchandise and that aimed towards an older demographic, but more on that later. At the event’s official start time of 8 am, guests were invited to journey upstairs to the more ‘traditional’ ‘Imagination Park’ concept store which is where Fielding addressed the crowd from the store’s gazebo which serves as the 350 square foot Disney Store Theater.

Disney Store President Jim Fielding

Fielding talked about the store’s genesis in August of 2008 and how when he first saw the location at 1540 Broadway, former home to the world’s largest Virgin Megastore, he knew he had to have the space. According to Fielding, it took nearly a year for Disney Store to obtain the lease for the store because the space was in such high demand. He spoke of the nearly 250 cast members, some of which had returned to the company, it took to conduct interviews, hire and train new staff for the store which maintains 24 hour shifts to keep the store in tip-top shape. Although the store is open until Midnight most days, Fielding noted that they have had to keep running the store to 1 am due to large groups of guests still remaining inside. He mentioned that by year-end, they will have opened 19 of the new concept stores with an expected 30 – 40 in 2011, including two in Canada (but declined to identify where specifically). Surprisingly, the most profitable store worldwide is the Paris on the Champs-Élysées store according to Fielding, but he joked that the Times Square store calls Paris daily to make sure they’re beating them.

Of course Fielding spoke to the store itself, which consists of two floors, although the Virgin Megastore it partially replaced was four. He explained that the mezzanine from the former store was removed, resulting in a longer escalator ride and that half of the fourth floor, which houses the store’s internal offices, was also removed, allowing the store to have its high ceilings. About 80% of the merchandise found on the lower floor, according to Fielding, is unique to Disney Store Times Square while the upstairs is what he referred to as ‘”Imagination Park” on steroids.’ The ‘Imagination Park’ portion at Disney Store Times Square is roughly twice the size of the norm so far, all told easily making it the largest Disney Store in North America. The store is so large in fact that its Disney Princess castle is 20 feet tall and features not one, but two of the magic mirrors.

After tackling a brief Q&A session in which Fielding responded to questions along the lines of  the current location of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse figures that once hung over the entrance to the former World of Disney store (they’re in storage at Walt Disney Imagineeering as the World of Disney was operated by Disney Parks and Resorts, not Disney Consumer Products as Disney Store is), he introduced Jodi Benson to the attending crowd.

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D23 Invites Members to Meet and Greet with ‘TRON: Legacy’ Writers December 3

On December 3, D23 members and their guests will be able to join TRON: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for a panel hosted by D23 celeb Jeffrey Epstein at the TRON: Legacy Pop-Up Shop in Culver City, CA.

Horowitz and Kitsis will also hold a signing for The Art of TRON: Legacy which will be available for purchase at the event. As a special bonus that night, D23 members will receive a free limited-edition Premiere Film Cell from TRON: Legacy (no minimum purchase required).

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Disney Store Times Square to Make Soft Opening Debut Thursday

DISNEY STORE TIMES SQUARE HAS NOW OPENED! CLICK HERE TO READ THE LATEST UPDATES, VIEW PHOTOS AND SEE THE LATEST NEWS ON ITS GRAND OPENING TAKING PLACE NOVEMBER 9, 2010!

Although all the pomp and circumstance that comes with a grand opening will take place the morning of Tuesday, November 9 (doors will open at 1 pm), Disney Store President Jim Fielding made it known via his twitter that the store, the largest of its kind in North America, will commence a soft opening on Thursday, November 4 at 9 am.

The store is located at 1540 Broadway in Manhattan, between 45th and 46th Streets.

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Photos: Disney Dream Departs Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany

The Disney Dream (Diana Zalucky/Disney)Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, one of the longest ships in the world and the largest ship to be built in Germany to date, left the shipyard yesterday evening with the aid of a tugboat. The ship will remain in the Meyer Werft shipyard’s harbor where she will first undergo a series of several technical tests as internal construction is completed.

The Disney Dream (Kent Phillips/Disney)She is expected to be conveyed down the river Ems at an as-of-yet specified date in mid-November at which point she’ll begin crossing the Atlantic for her anticipated January 4 arrival at Port Canaveral.

Photos courtesy Walt Disney World Resort.

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El Capitan Theatre to Offer Patrons Exclusive Disney’s ‘Tangled’ Events and Commemorative Coin

Disney's 'Tangled' commemorative coin from El Capitan Theatre and Goldline InternationalGoldline International, Inc. announced today that the company is the official sponsor of an exclusive, limited quantity Disney commemorative coin in celebration of the release of Disney’s 50th full-length animated film “Tangled” at Hollywood’s historic El Capitan Theatre.

“The El Capitan is thrilled to honor this historic event by offering each of our guests a special commemorative coin sponsored by Goldline celebrating ‘Tangled’ as Disney’s 50th Animated Movie”

“We’re honored to celebrate this exciting Disney milestone by making this exclusive coin available to Disney fans of all ages,” said Mark Albarian, President and CEO of Goldline. Albarian noted that it is Goldline’s 50th anniversary in the rare coins and precious metals industry.

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Ink & Paint Cel Release for ‘Bone-Appetit’ Featuring Goofy and Scar at Disney’s Hollywood Studios December 18

'Bone-Appetit' Ink & Paint Cel ReleaseOn Saturday, December 18, join Disney Design Group Artist Costa Alavezos and Disney Ink and Paint Artists: James Bonserio, Erin Magill, Theodora M. DeLaney, David Rippberger, Lynn Rippberger and Sharon K. Vincent as they celebrate the premiere of the Bone-Appetit entry into the Ink and Paint Cel series. Goofy’s on safari and might have bitten off more than he can chew when he runs into Scar and the Hyenas from Disney’s The Lion King. Bone-Appetit is also the first entry in the Ink & Paint Cel Series to feature the Tree of Life from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Report: ‘TRON: Legacy’ and Disney Imagineering at USA Science and Engineering Festival

SHIVA Laser at 'TRON: Legacy' exhibit

This past weekend, tens of thousands of families partook in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, DC as well as satellite events throughout the country. The two-day free festival was created in order to inspire the nation’s youth to pursue careers in maths and sciences by offering various hands-on activities. One of many participants, The Walt Disney Company presented a booth and multiple presentations in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering featuring TRON: Legacy as well as Walt Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot.

The concept behind the booth was  ’14 Grand Challenges,’ created by the NAE, which is essentially a list of tasks that the NAE believes will need to be addressed in this and future generations. Inside the booth were a few exhibits that demonstrated some of the challenges in practice as well as items from the Disney film. On display from TRON: Legacy was the life-size demonstration model of the lightcycle as well as the SHIVA laser invented by Kevin Flynn which was actually used during the movie’s production.

Relating to the sci-fi SHIVA laser scanner (which the original TRON featured back in 1982) was an exhibit on 3D scanning which helps scientists understand objects better. By using a scanning in a physical object, the computer can generate a point cloud which then translates into a mesh model and finally a digital representation of the object, which can then be explored further in digital space, modified and even re-printed as a physical object.

The next demonstration made every one into a virtual brain surgeon, even if — especially in my case — they aren’t one. Using the the NeuroTouch VR brain surgery simulator developed by the National Research Council in Canada. The NeuroTouch takes MRI data and generates a virtual copy of the patients’ brain and allows the surgeon to visualize and even practice operating on the brain, even providing physical feedback in the virtual 3D space. The exhibit offered visitors the opportunity to remove a brain tumor while controlling any bleeding that was occurring as a result and scored the visitor’s performance. As I mentioned earlier, I’m no brain surgeon, so we’ll just leave it at that.

The final demonstration in the booth was created by Walt Disney Imagineering specifically as an offering for the festival as well as the film’s premiere and uses a new innovention called ‘light painting.’ A two-step process, the visitor first finds him/herself alone in a room with what essentially amounts to a sawhorse. Reclining on the sawhorse as if one were riding a lightcycle, the system uses stereoscopic imagery to take a 3D photo of the visitor. Following the photo, the visitor is handed a wand whose tip is tracked by the cameras placed all around. This allows the visitor to virtually paint their missing lightcycle in the virtual 3D space. Imagineer Lanny Smoot, who talked about the exhibit during his presentation which I’ll cover next, compared it to using a digital camera at home and leaving the shutter open so that the camera constantly captures every movement, but here it’s in a literal 3D space, not just the 2D space a single camera could capture.

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Photo/Video: ‘Jersey Shore’s’ Pauly D Announces Grad Nite 2011 Appearance at Magic Kingdom

Pauly D on Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Railroad (Photo by Diana Zalucky/Disney)Paul Delvecchio (left), aka “DJ Pauly D” from the hit MTV series “Jersey Shore,” takes a ride aboard the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster Oct. 22, 2010 in the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Delvecchio, riding with Celebration (Fla.) High School senior Bryan Lopez (front right) and a host of central Florida high school seniors behind him, was at the theme park to announce his involvement as one of the featured performers for “Disney Grad Nite 2011,” a private, after-hours party at the Magic Kingdom in April and May 2011 for high school seniors from across the country. Delvecchio will serve as the party’s featured DJ, and headline the graduation party alongside UK-born R&B singer Taio Cruz and pop duo “3OH!3.” (Diana Zalucky, photographer)

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Disney Online Offering Chance for One Family to Win Opportunity to Open Disney Store Times Square

Disney announces an online contest on Family.com to win a trip to the grand opening celebration of Disney Store’s Times Square, New York City location on November 9 and a starring role during the star-studded opening ceremony. The crown jewel of Disney Store’s slate of store openings around the world this year, the Times Square location will be celebrated with magical festivities including celebrity appearances, live musical performances, a parade of Disney’s most beloved characters and interactive experiences storewide. Beginning October 19, Disney fans will have just one week to register online for the chance to join the fun in-person, win a $250 shopping spree, and have the distinction of their child taking the stage to turn the key to imagination and officially unlock the all-new Disney Store in Times Square. The lucky family will also meet award winning singer Jordin Sparks during a private VIP reception after she performs Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” theme song, which she rerecorded to celebrate the 2010 release of the Blu-Ray and DVD.

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