Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Marvel Comic Heros coming to Disney

I know that everyone has been sounding off on the Disney acquisition of Marvel comics. As a reader of comics, a watcher of movies, and a lover of all things Disney, I hope to offer a unique perspective on the discussion.

I have daughters, so I spend a lot of my time at the parks visiting fur characters and princesses. I have been following the developments of the new Fantasyland with excitement. I have been watching the developments all over the world at other parks and wondering when there will be a similar interest paid here in Florida. With the huge renovation of California Disney (I know everyone says its long overdue), and hearing they are adding three new lands and several attractions at Hong Kong Disney I began to feel that the Florida properties were being allowed to languish. The addition of Nemo was nice, but the way it was implemented in California was great and reminded me so much of the 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. We got Soarin', but it was just a copy of the same ride that had been operating in California for a while. We did get Toy Story Midway Mania at the same time as in California-yipee!

Now we did get Expedition Everest, but to be fair, Animal Kingdom really did need something to bring people to the park. So looking at the Magic Kingdom, I feel that the park is getting tired. The Stitch Show was a bust (it was pretty awful and was very hot to sit through) and now the stage is vacant. We are getting an overhaul of Space Mountain, and no one is too sure what that means. When you look at the difference between Tinkerbell's home in Disneyland and that in Magic Kingdom, I am again left wanting.

So I am super excited about the plans to update Fantasyland. Since Toon Town Carnival never lived up to its excellent big brother in Disneyland, I am happy to see it go with the hopes that the new Fantasyland will more than make up for the difficult to navigate tacked on Mickey's Vacation Home that became Toon Town Carnival.

So what does this have to do with Marvel Comics? Well I predict that Disney, which receives such a large amount of its revenue from theme parks is going to use this liscense to deal with a missing demographic. Boys from 5 to 12 have been very much left out at the parks. Stitch rides and shows have never appealed to this demographic even though Disney keeps pushing. At California Disney they have leaned on the Pixar liscense pretty hard with an entire land dedicated to that end. At Hollywood Studios, Indian Jones, Star Wars, Stunt Shows, and Power Rangers are entertaining, but are tired and are clearly beyond the end of their real attractiveness.

I see a reinvigorated way of connecting with boys in the parks and in media. With all the emphasis on Jonas Brothers, High School Musical, and Hanna Montana, Disney has had trouble finding its place with half of its audience. Many of its animated features have failed to connect with this group and further, films designed to target an older audience, like Pirates have been used as attractions for boys in the parks. Look at the new Pirate Adventure at Magic Kingdom. This is a well executed counterpoint to the Bippoty Boppity Boutique, but it really is a girl attraction in a boy wrapper. (Make-up and dress-up even if it is pirates and zombies is still the realm of girls.)

I think this new license will bring new animated series to Disney Channel, ABC Family, Disney XD. I think we will see new movies in the mold of Pirates but with the new licenses (this could be hit or miss, I'm not sure Disney can be trusted to do a great job with the these licenses). However, I do think that a new section of the Hollywood Studios dedicated to the Marvel licesne would be unbelievable and could be amazing. Moreover I believe that Disney has a chance to really nail this license and demographic in a way that Universal has not been able.

I might be wishful thinking, but hey, I can dream! I mean lets face it, Treasure Planet, Atlantis, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinson's, Brother Bear, Emperors New Groove, and a few Pixar offerings have been unable to find real traction at the parks or with boys age 5 to 12. Only Pixar has had some success here. Maybe King of the Elves will fair better, but in the pipe right now Disney has a slew of girl films (The Princess and the Frog, Tinkerbell's Lost Treasures, and Rapunzel) and Winnie the Pooh. Pixar is hitting the established properties pretty hard with three confirmed sequels coming up. So, I think that this Marvel acquisition could jump start a new direction for an entire missing demographic.

Yeah Disney! Go Spidey!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Food and Whine

I look forward to the Epcot Food and Wine event every year. Although I first discovered it only a few years ago, I have gone every year since for at least 2 sometimes as many as 4 days (not consecutively mind you). This year I attended the weekend of October 2nd and have a bloated review.All over the internet you will find lots of reviews of the food and the events. I have a family that I take with me to the event and currently it is not possible for me to attend any of the events other than those that are part of the basic tour. So I will keep my comments about the food you can find around the world. Moreover, I am more a fan of my wine made with malted hops and amber wheat; Belgian or German, Stout or Ale. So it is with great excitement that I prepare to go to the food and wine.

This year our plan was to attend on both Friday and Saturday of the weekend. We decided to go to Epcot the entire day of Friday, then on Saturday, enjoy Magic Kingdom and then hop the monorail around 4:00 PM to go and eat wherever we had missed the day before.We entered the world showcase and decided to go toward Mexico. We had a child that was planning a purchase at China and we wanted to make them happy early so that we could be happy the rest of the time. We bought some cheese at the Mouse Catch for the kids and then moved on. We hit the Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Mexico City booths around Mexico and I was unhappy that the only brew they were dispensing was bottled Dos XX’s. This is the standard beer in the Mexico pavilion so I was disappointed. We did enjoy the food immensely, and we had a chance to drop into the Tequila Lounge inside the pavilion. I will save my review of the new addition for a later post.

As we left we tried some offerings from Poland (very good Pierogie but could have been crisper) but found the offerings to be very sparse from Mexico to Germany with only Shanghai, New Delhi, and Poland in between. the Shanghai was good but the New Delhi was not anything exceptional. When we rounded the Africa Outpost, they booths became more interesting including more beverage offerings. Cape Town had a great soup and a decent beef tenderloin, although the sweet potato puree and mango barbecue could have been a desert it was so sweet. Bangkok’s coconut soup was great although being warm out two soups in a row began to be too much. Melbourne had a wonderful lamb chop, even though the one I received was half the size of the one purchased by someone else in the party.

As we approached the German pavilion, we were getting a little full, but that didn’t stop me from trying the Spatze at Munich and wash it down with a great Spaten Octoberfest. We decided to take a bit of a break here and sit a while in the American pavilion. The kids were getting a little tired and we were getting too full to enjoy ourselves. We knew we were coming back on Saturday so why spoil it. Besides some of the best booths were still ahead. I did jump into the Hops and Barley booth for a Sam Adams Anniversary Festival beer (very good by the way) and a crab cake (good as well). Afterwards we decided to sit and wait for Off Kilter while I enjoyed something from the brewer’s collection (located in the middle of the park this year instead of by the UK which was a good choice). Afterwards I jumped into the Rose and Crown for a Half and Half to enjoy with the band.

At this point we left world showcase to jump on all of our fast passes (we had saved our Test Track and Soarin passes) and then leave before Illuminations so the kids could get some rest before tomorrow.
After a wonderful day at Magic Kingdom we arrived at Epcot ready to conquer the rest of the foods. Much to our sadness and dissatisfaction it was so crowded it was unbearable. We waited on average between 10 and 15 minutes in the Santiago, Chili and Athens Greece lines. They were out of some items and as we approached the Montreal looking forward to the Cheese soup from last year we realized that it was going to be another 20 minutes.

There was no place to sit and we were getting very frustrated just wandering from the showcase towards the UK. I really wanted to get to the Cork pavilion since we had heard such good talk about the Fisherman’s Pie. We waited in line and got some wonderful food but they were out of Guinness. I tried to jump into the Rose and Crown and couldn’t even get to the door. Trying to get something for my family to drink, water, soda, anything was futile. It was either empty (fish and chips were not serving anything) and several of the refreshment booths were backed up serving beer only.

On top of this there was a Party for the Senses beginning between the Canada and UK pavilion and hundreds of well dressed persons were waiting around for it to start. Trying to feed the kids something while trying to taste foods was getting to become a disaster. We decided to cut our losses and go to the resort for some dinner and swimming.

Needless to say, we missed most of booths between around Italy and from Japan to the UK. Perhaps we were just too foolishly optimistic regarding the crowds on a Saturday after having such a great day the Friday before, but next year we won’t make that mistake. If we go back on a Saturday we will go early (from 11 to 4 before the crowds build) and will maybe even take an extra day off of work to enjoy the party on Thursday.

Although my family really does enjoy the Food and Wine festival, with children it does become the Food and Whine tour. Maybe next year, it will be time to go to the festival without the kids. I’m just afraid I will feel like I’m missing something.