In addition to some of the upcoming additions to the Disney Cruise Line Disney Magic that we reported earlier today, we have some details on Walt Disney World’s ‘Monstrous Summer’ that are expected to be confirmed/announced later this week during a press event.
To confirm reports from other sources, on May 24, 2013, the Magic Kingdom will play host to a 24 hour party, which will feature appearances by Mike Wazowski and James P. ‘Sulley’ Sullivan as their Monsters University meet and greet persona, as pictured here.
The Magic Kingdom will also be ‘updating’ its Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor attraction so that jokes and the material presented will honor the performers’ alma mater.
Also being updated is the duo’s permanent meet and greet location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which will be transformed from the current Monsters Inc. work environment to the MU student union.
And perhaps quite unsurprisingly, a monorail wrap which is Disney is already promoting as the ‘Monsterail’ will make its resort debut in support of Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University, in theaters June 21, 2013.
UPDATE #1: 04/24/13 – The official Disney Parks blog has confirmed the ‘monsterail’ monorail wrap and has provided the concept art in which the students of Monsters University appear to be riding the monorail:
With a patent application titled simply ‘Role-Play Simulation Engine,’ Disney Parks may be looking to use its NextGen technology base and cash in on the CosPlay/LARPing — that’s Live Action Role Play — crazes and bring a brand new experience to its theme parks.
The patent allows for guests to participant in ‘long-form role play’ events in which they interact with performers that are employed by the park to engage the guest in the role-playing activities. The performers don’t even need to be humans either. They can be audio animatronics, for example, or something as simple as a video screen that triggers in response to the guest’s arrival.
All of this information — prompts to performers and responses by guests — are fed into an electronic device/system known as the planner, or game master. The planner then makes decisions on how the rest of the role playing session should play out based on how the guest responds to the game thus far.
The idea is to take what already exists, such as the World Showcase Players, to a much larger extreme, allowing the guest to freely roam the park(s) while the session continues and the guest continues to encounter multiple performers, all of whom are kept apprised of the session via the planner device. In addition to session-specific information, the planner will also make available additional information about the guest to the performer to help carry out the performance.
The guest can even make use of special props in their role-play activities which of course can employ RFID or GPS enabled devices that will allow the planner/game master/performers to track a guest’s location throughout the park and respond accordingly.
Role Play Simulation Engine is US patent application #20130066608 and was developed by Asa Kalama, Cory Rouse, Michael Ilardi and Reid Swanson.
Walt Disney World Resort today announced the multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, a unique destination that will treat guests to significantly more shopping, dining and entertainment amid beautiful open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm.
Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands. From boutique shops to unique flagship anchor stores, guests will be able to explore a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences and discover options unlike any other currently available in Central Florida.
“Disney Springs will be a timeless, vibrant place where Walt Disney World guests and local residents can relax, shop, dine and be entertained in an imaginative setting where they’ll instantly feel at home,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Featuring distinctive brands, world-class restaurants and unforgettable entertainment, Disney Springs will be brought to life with the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that goes into our theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, resulting in a welcoming space that only Disney could create.”
Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, resulting in more than 150 establishments. In addition, Staggs noted, Central Florida stands to benefit from the expansion with more jobs, tax revenues and business opportunities.
Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront. In addition to a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry, the destination will feature:
The Town Center, which offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect.
A colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing with inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.
The family-friendly Marketplace that will continue to delight guests of all ages by combining new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway, along with classic Disney favorites, including an expanded World of Disney store.
A West Side that provides an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment, along with a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below.
Collectively, these efforts will not only have an impact within Walt Disney World, but will also have an economic ripple effect on Central Florida. The project will create an estimated 1,200 construction jobs and nearly 4,000 operational roles.
Disney will share more details on specific experiences coming to Disney Springs in the future. Construction is slated to begin next month with new areas opening in phases. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.
The Disneyland Resort has announced that it will be offering a passholder-only preview for the new Fantasy Faire at Disneyland prior to its official opening on March 12, 2013.
The AP preview will take place between March 7 and March 9, from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Each passholder is allotted two hours within that period to experience the Fantasy Faire.
To obtain wristbands, passholders may begin registering inside the entrance to Frontierland starting at 10:30 am on the day of the event. All participating Guests (ages 3 and older) must be valid Annual Passholders on the day of the event and must register in person. It is recommended that all members of the party register at the same time.
Once a passholder has presented their pass and event availability has been confirmed, they will receive a color-coded event wristband for the assigned entry time period.
For more information, visit the passholder event page.
Disney’s ‘Avatarland’ expansion, based on the successful James Cameron film franchise, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom may in fact be in trouble as rampant rumors have speculated in recent months. Yet just as recently as December, Disney has remained adamant that everything was just fine, according to this article by the Orlando Sentinel.
But according to paperwork recently filed with the Orange County comptroller’s office, everything may not be hunky-dory in the land of the Na’vi. The document calls for the installation of FASTPASS+ for ‘Festival of the Lion King,’ a show that was expected to close and relocate elsewhere in the park to make way for the ‘Avatarland,’ which is said to replace Camp Minnie-Mickey.
While installing FASTPASS+ capability for the show is not a life-time commitment by any stretch of the imagination, it’s not insignificant either. For beginners, the show has never formally had FASTPASS which means a brand new installation, which involves underground wiring for distribution machines and the like. The Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is also one of the last to receive the FASTPASS+ treatment with the ‘My Disney Experience’ NextGen project focus being placed on Magic Kingdom, followed by Epcot. In other words, it seems like an awful lot of investment in time and resources for a location whose razing was once supposedly imminent (‘Avatarland’ is supposed to break ground in 2013).
This news couldn’t come at a stranger time for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, as in addition to the reports of challenges in working with James Cameron, there is a major reorganization of theme park leadership effective as of today. In addition, Tony Baxer, the senior vice president of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering, is expected to formally announce his retirement today, shifting into more of a consulting role. Add to that the recent Magic Kingdom expansion of ‘New Fantasyland’ and Disney’s recent addition of proven franchises: Cars Land at Disney California Adventure (rumored to be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and Lucasfilm / Star Wars and suddenly the road to ‘Avatarland’ has sprung up a lot of potential forks along the way.
While the Walt Disney World Resort has had gaming experiences for some time such as Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and soon A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, the Disneyland Resort has appeared to escaped unscathed from the diversions. In truth, the resort has quietly been working on a project called Disney Kudos, which up until now has been mostly a mystery.
We have uncovered concept art that appears to unearth the project and gives us a sneak peek into Disney Kudos, a self-paced exploration game of its own. While it’s unclear from what we have whether there will be physical components installed at the resort as Walt Disney World’s games have, we have been able to ascertain that is primarily a GPS-driven scavenger hunt which will operate on one’s own mobile device (not unlike the independently developed Wishing Stars) — a feat of no easy proportions as anyone who’s attempted to use a mobile device at Disneyland can attest. We’re told that in addition to tracking various quests, the game is also intended to help entertain guests while waiting in queues.
We believe the game’s development may be being handled by Fi (formerly known as Fantasy Interactive).
In addition, another video demo showing a much more graphically-pleasing version of the game has appeared on Vimeo. This brief demo shows unlocking various achievements such as visiting Disneyland (‘Welcome to the Club’), ‘Party King’ (obtained by attending the New Orleans Bayou Bash) and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ achievements, the ‘Brave Soul’ kudo, reminding the player to view the parade and more.
The artwork follows a series of clues about Disney Kudos which began in early with several domain name registrations such as DISNEYKUDOS.COM (the only active one at this time), DISNEYKUDOSGAME.COM, KUDOGAME.COM, DISNEYLANDKUDOS.COM and DCAKUDOS.COM. Variations with the spelling of ‘cudos’ have also been registered as well as related domain names such as DISNEYACHIEVEMENTS.COM.
Speaking of achievements, we have also seen some recent movement on the Walt Disney World NextGen front with an additional trademark registration for ‘Story Maker’ (one was previously filed for ‘My Story Maker’). We believe this to be related to the ‘Story Author’ patent we described here which will use guests’ MagicBand bracelets to track which attractions a guest has visited and automatically collect video and photos and compile a ‘storybook’ akin to an achievement such as riding all of the Magic Kingdom mountains, or a birthday memory which can than be used as an upsell in merchandising, as part of the total ‘My Disney Experience.’
Note attributions in this article have explicitly been left out to protect the source. Contributed to by insidethemagic.net
Disney Parks has updated its official Limited Time Magic schedule to include two upcoming events at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.
At Walt Disney World’s Epcot, the Canadian pavilion will play host to a ‘magical Winter Wonderland’ where guests are invited to play in ‘snow.’ The Limited Time Magic experience will also provide an opportunity to mix and mingle with some unspecified Disney Characters, though Canada has famously played host to Koda and Kenai from Disney’s Brother Bear in the past. The special event runs from January 14, 2013 through January 20.
Meanwhile at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, the Bayou Bash and Mardi Gras returns to New Orleans Square. Princess Tiana is joined by Louis the Alligator in this tribute to the Big Easy’s infamous annual celebration. For 4 weekends (January 18 – 21, January 25 – 27, February 1 – February 3 and February 8 – 12), the streets of New Orleans Square will be filled with jazz music, street performances and Cajun cuisine.
Effective February 1, 2013, George A. Kalogridis will become the president of the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, it was announced today. Kalogridis, a 41-year veteran of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was named president of the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. George will oversee a workforce of more than 66,000 Cast Members at the world’s premier vacation destination.
Since 2009, George has served as president of the Disneyland Resort, where he leads more than 25,000 Cast Members at the over 500-acre resort, which comprises the world-famous Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Paradise Pier Hotel and Downtown Disney.
George began his career at Walt Disney World in 1971 as a busboy at the Contemporary Resort. During his tenure, George has held numerous executive positions, gaining a breadth of experience from all aspects of the operation.
From 2006 until his appointment to Disneyland Resort, George served as chief operating officer for Disneyland Resort Paris and was responsible for leading the daily operations of the Resort’s two theme parks, seven hotels and the Disney Village. During his tenure in Paris, George oversaw the highly successful 15th anniversary celebration of the resort. He also played an instrumental role in reorganizing the Resort’s operations structure to help improve both Guest and Cast satisfaction.
Prior to his role in Paris, George served as senior vice president of Resort Operations for the Disneyland Resort, where he played a significant role in the first expansion of the resort – the opening of Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. In addition, he was responsible for the daily operations of both theme parks and three hotels, as well as Downtown Disney.
In addition to his leadership roles in both Paris and Anaheim, George served as vice president of Travel Operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where he implemented a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that continues to serve as the foundation for how millions of Guests book their travel to Walt Disney World. George also served as vice president of EPCOT, where, in addition to overseeing park operations, he led the Millennium Celebration for The Walt Disney Company.
Also effective February 1, Meg Crofton will fully assume her global role as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France – a position she has held since July 2011 – while concurrently serving as president of Walt Disney World. With Meg’s transition complete, George A. Kalogridis is named president of the Walt Disney World Resort, and Michael Colglazier is named president of the Disneyland Resort. Both Kalogridis and Colglazier’s roles are also effective Feb. 1.
“With all that we currently have in flight across our resort destinations in the U.S. and France, the time is right to move forward with this leadership transition,” said Staggs. “This group of Disney veterans has the knowledge and expertise needed to continue delivering on our legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that our guests have come to know and expect. I would like to thank Meg for her tireless devotion and the extraordinary contributions serving in both positions, and wish George and Michael the best of luck in their new roles. They both bring a wealth of operational expertise, leadership and passion to these roles, which will contribute to the success of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.”
With the appointment of a Walt Disney World president, Crofton will focus all of her attention to providing strategic oversight of the broader initiatives that impact Disney destinations in the U.S. and France.
Kalogridis brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to his new role at Walt Disney World, including more than 40 years of experience at Disney parks in a number of positions around the world. Most recently as president of the Disneyland Resort, he oversaw one of the most extensive expansion projects in the Resort’s history — including the immensely successful transformation of Disney California Adventure. Throughout his career, Kalogridis also has proven himself to be a leader in the travel and leisure industry, as well as a respected partner in the community.
For the last several years, Colglazier has served as head of Disney’s Animal Kingdom where he has been instrumental in the planning and development of an Avatar-themed land. He brings more than two decades of wide-ranging experience to his new role at the Disneyland Resort, including leadership positions in Operations, Global Development, Operations Strategy and Technology and Strategic Planning.
The company also announced several other corresponding changes. As part of the organization’s approach to providing new opportunities and challenges to leaders, each of these transitions is designed to give seasoned executives the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the segment’s diverse businesses and operations around the world.
Claire Bilby will relocate to Paris as senior vice president, Sales and Marketing Disneyland Paris and Europe, reporting to Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president of Global Marketing and Sales and Philippe Gas, CEO of Euro Disney S.A.S. Bilby has held a variety of executive positions around the world, including several in sales and marketing, and most recently she has been instrumental in leading the Disney Vacation Club business, making it a priority to deliver an exceptional experience to the more than 175,000 Member families.
As a result of Bilby’s new position, Ken Potrock has been named senior vice president and general manager, Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, reporting to Karl Holz, president of New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line. Throughout his Disney career, Potrock has been a leader in a wide array of Parks and Resorts businesses, and has become known as a creative catalyst with deep experience in marketing and operations. Most recently leading both the sports and Downtown Disney organizations, his leadership abilities have been apparent with the sports business and the unprecedented growth of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
While Walt Disney World’s billion-dollar NextGen project has been no secret for quite some time, along with many of its aspects such as extensive use of RFID, the company itself has remained famously mum about the extent of the project, something we have been discussing for well over a year.
A new article from the New York Times, goes into the technology, now officially known as MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience (terms we have been applying for nearly a year), and some of the experiences it will offer. Some of the recently confirmed technology will allow characters to be able to deliver personalized experiences, a topic we have spoken about quite a bit, including in this article on just what Disney will learn about its guests, from which the NYT quotes some of our commenters. Back in October, we also looked at additional NextGen technology which describes just how the MyMagic+ will function inside the parks and negotiate multiple guests with multiple ‘entitlements,’ including characters who will greet guests by name (as the NYT article also suggests).
As extensive at the NYT article appears to be, it’s our contention that it still just a drop in the bucket with what the full MyMagic+ experience will entail, such as ‘Achievements’ (discussed in Big Brother article), a mobile app that will let family members at home virtually join the trip and interact including purchasing real in-park gifts, personalized and interactive elements at attractions like ‘it’s a small world’ and much, much more.
WE HAVE THE ANNOUNCEMENT. FOR FULL DETAILS ABOUT THE DISNEY TIME SWEEPSTAKES, PLEASE VISIT
(not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company)
It’s time to let the memories end — or at least subside for a while. While Disney Parks has made no secret that 2013 will be the year of ‘Limited Time Magic,’ a series of celebrations throughout the year, such as those announced this morning, they’re mostly being mum about just plain ol’ ‘Disney Time’ — mostly.
As we reported earlier today, Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade co-host Maria Menounous teased that she would be making a bit announcement this New Year’s Eve during ABC’s broadcast of the Dick Clark New Year’s Eve programming, just as she had done for the ‘One More Disney Day’ special event held at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts during Leap Year. We claim that part of the announcement will be a new sweepstakes, due to the registration of websites such as DISNEYTIMESWEEPS.COM and DISNEYTIMESWEEPSTAKES.COM and even DISNEYTIME.CA, but we believe ‘Disney Time’ to be the foundation of a new year-long (or longer) campaign, just as ‘Let the Memories Begin,’ and ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ served.
Below is a video released by Disney Parks earlier today which features Menounos as she talks about what ‘Disney Time’ means to her, recorded at some point during the parade taping at Walt Disney World in early December. ‘Whether it was getting pictures with the characters or getting splashed on Splash Mountain, that’s what “Disney Time’ is all about,’ she says in the video. She adds: ‘It’s when parents push the pause button on day-to-day grown-up stresses and become kids, playing with their kids — it’s like every body’s the same age.’
We will continue to report on the ‘Disney Time’ campaign as information becomes available to us. A formal announcement is expected shortly before midnight on December 31, 2012.
UPDATE #1: 12/28/12 We now have a second video promoting ‘Disney Time’ at Disney Parks, this one featuring a graffiti artist whose seemingly abstract work ends up creating the perfect re-creation of Main Street USA. Featuring the tag line ‘Disney Moments: Everyday Everywhere,’ it also ends with the #DisneyTime Twitter hashtag.