Boarding Soon! The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

New Fantasyland Concept Art

Bored of waiting?  Don’t be!  It’s boarding soon!

At last!  It is actually ready!

Last week Disney promo videos were shot and the boards finally came down as final preparations were made by the Walt Disney Imagineering team before they handed this attention grabbing attraction over to the eager Operational team at the Magic Kingdom.

Thank goodness Disney do not manage Santa Claus each year, or we would probably be faced with a lot of tearful children and reams of Gantt charts and timing plans with lots of red scribbling all over!
Can you really believe that it has taken almost four years to build this attraction?
Yes, that’s correct, groundbreaking occurred in March 2010 and the dust still won’t be fully cleared away until the official press launch on May 2nd 2014!

Quite what created this mind boggling wait, is beyond me and must amuse Disney’s competitors a few miles north!  They knocked together their Diagon Alley in just over two years!
Sure, I think building a new ride inside an existing gust area offers some logistical issues, but twice as long to build half as much?  Will it be twice as good as Diagon Alley?
We will very soon find out if rumours about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are correct.
More coming very soon it seems!

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Disney’s Mickey Pants Dessert Rip Off!

Mickey Pants Bucket

We’ve seen a bunch of reports at how wonderful Disney’s new Mickey Kitchen Sink Dessert is over the last few days.
Sure it’s cute, but hey!  $23 is purely crazy money for 3 scoops of soft serve plopped into an imported plastic bucket.  It will no doubt be tasty and the gorgeous theming will prove irresistible but is $23 really worth it?

Let Disney answer that question for you in fact: NO IT IS NOT WORTH $23!

Nip over to California and you can reach over the counter for one of these chilly desserts for only $11.99!  Same recipe, same bucket, different state!
Of late, Disney have appeared to change their tactics, and we can honestly sense that Disney are on a route that will definitely risk weakening their biggest asset:
Guest Goodwill!

Nobody likes high prices, but people like being taken for a ride even less!

 

Is this the beginning of ‘paid for priority queuing’ at Disney’s Parks?

Star-Wars-Weekends-06-533x800Just about all Disney fans have been a little uptight about Fastpass+ at some way along the last few years, since the very concept made the headlines, making all guests carry an RFID device of some kind around the parks.
Some have complained about data security, others lost privileges, while others, like me, worry about the family vacation budget running away with Magicband purchases.

Slowly, though, being fair to Disney, they have steadily addressed and improved the system at each and every twist and turn of this colossal IT project.
This week though, under the guise of a special VIP tour for their Star Wars Weekends, we saw the first ‘paid for’ line jumping ‘add-on’ that we have ever seen at Disney (outside of the long standing VIP personal guides that Disney offer incredibly wealthy guests).

Bundled together with two meals and a few reserved viewing areas, the The Ultimate Day at Star Wars Weekends package reported today by WDW News Today runs at $499 per person and does not include park entry.
By any other name, this is nothing less than an unlimited Fastpass+ ticket with a few meals thrown in!

If Disney were to ‘pixie dust’ some Fastpass+ tickets with a few extras such as meals, would we buy them?  Erm, I think so, but definitely not at the cost of $500 per person!
In a world where everything has a price and there’s a person waiting to pay almost any price, somewhere, we can be sure that this is most definitely not the last we’ve seen of ‘paid for’ priority queuing!

 

SeaWorld Fights Back with a Killer Whale Fact Sheet

sea-worldSeaWorld have been a long time in the making of their defence of Blackfish.  It first aired at the Sundance festival on January 19th 2013 as a highly critical insight into the captivity of Orcas (Killer Whales) at SeaWorld’s parks.
Blackfish was the masterpiece of one Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who, as mom had visited the parks with her family, but had later been moved to dig deeper into SeaWorld, following the tragic death of Tilikum’s trainer, Dawn Brancheau.

The Blackfish movie pulled no punches it seemed, and by the time of its general release in July of 2013, had developed a sense of notoriety amongst the general public and animal activist circles.
The main thrust of the movie, being that SeaWorld captured Orcas from the wild, and that once in captivity, their behavour changed, ultimately lead leading to the male ‘Tilikum’ apparently developing a vengeful nature towards trainers.

Since then the Blackfish/SeaWorld duel has been most eventful over the course of 2013/2014, during a time that SeaWorld revenues soared, despite the adverse publicity.  In 2014 however, the park operators reported attendance down by 15% over 2013, despite those record results.
Further controversy was noted during 2014, when it came to light that a government OSHA inspector, assigned to ongoing investigation of SeaWorld had been included in a photo-shoot with the Blackfish team on the ‘red carpet’ at the Sundance festival launch of Blackfish.

Now SeaWorld are responding further with a deeply analytical response to the claims and facts in the Blackfish movie.
A 32 page document attached shows a line by line rebuttal by SeaWorld, apparently pouring doubt on some of the key claims asserted within the Blackfish movie.

  • Former trainers were interviewed in the Blackfish movie, that had not worked for SeaWorld in some cases for over 20 years.  Others were interviewed that had limited experience within the team that looked after the killer whales.
  • The Movie asserts that a qualification tow work with the killer whales was that you had to be ‘a good swimmer’.  SeaWorld appear to have documentation to disprove this.
  • The SeaWorld article alleges numerous editorial and continuity issues that were used to heighten dramatic effect and provide a false sense of authority to the documentary.
  • Blackfish gives the impression that SeaWorld, captures animals from the wild.  SeaWorld claim that they have not done so in 34 years.  No word as to whether this also includes ‘indirect capture’ by other organisations.
  • etc

As an impartial viewer, (and I mean a genuine animal lover and theme park fan), I’ve watched the Blackfish movie and have now read the Seaworld rebuttal document.
For what it is worth, the SeaWorld document appears to be very well researched (as you’d expect from a business under fire!) and includes detailed referencing of the entire movie’s timeline.  66 points are detailed over 1 hour 11 minutes and 48 seconds of the movie.

From the layout of the document, the style in which it is created and the detail provided in writing, my personal feeling is that this is a factual document rather than an emotional response.  In other words, SeaWorld have gone on record with a document that could clearly be referred to in court.  With that in mind, I firmly believe that the words are penned with a heavy element of truth.
If SeaWorld were stupid enough to formulate more lies at this point, they would surely be history!

The document isn’t heavy reading, and if you have an hour or so spare, take a look by following the link at the foot of this blog post.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this and comment below.
Please do so however with the deepest respect for the person that sadly started this whole debate; Dawn Brancheau, who tragically lost her life on February 24th 2010.

 

Follow this link to view the full SeaWorld PDF of its Blackfish Defence Document (PDF)