Disney Vacation Club Changes Trash Pick-Up & Walt Disney Resorts Changes Security Policy

Hey there everyone!  Disney News Today is back!

A week or so ago, I wrote that the site was going to be re-imagineered into reporting the news and happenings of the Disney Community along with my take on the stories.  This will be the first installment of the new site with hopefully a lot more to follow.

Last week Friday Disney Vacation Members were sent an email from Ken Potrock, DVC Senior VP & General Manager, extending Holiday Wishes to members.  Along with the holiday sentiments, Potrock  also mentioned the “big plans” for the future that DVC was thrilled to tell us about.

The item in this list that drew my attention was the mention that DVC would begin removing trash on a daily basis.  This change would begin immediately at Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, The Villas at The Grand Floridian, Disney’s Grand Californian and Aulani.  The change would be implemented to all remaining Disney Vacation Club Resorts on January 7, 2018.

We’ve been Disney Vacation Members since 1995, and frankly we’ve gotten used to ‘Mousekeeping’ not showing up every day.  So, understandably my first reaction was, “who complained about not having daily trash pick up” and what was this going to do to my dues.

Being the way that I am I had to find out why this was happening.  I just didn’t believe that this was just about trash pick up.  So, I contacted Membership Services.  While the answer that I got from them was not completely forthcoming, it did shed some light onto the situation.  In a statement that I got from a Cast Member at Member Services I was told, “It is important for us to visually inspect every room for maintenance, safety, security and other purposes.”

Within days sources were saying Walt Disney World was changing the security policy at this time for the Monorail Resorts (Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village  .  Reports stated that Disney would be removing “Do Not Disturb” signs.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, guests at these locations can now use “Room Occupied” signs. Using the new door tag does not preclude maintenance or housekeeping staff from entering.  Guests are now being informed that Disney staff will now enter rooms at these properties daily. If guests are not comfortable with Disney staff going into their rooms when they are gone, the company will coordinate with those people on an individual basis.

While Disney has not specifically said so, there is a lot of rumors and chatter that sooner than later this policy change is going to be extended to other resorts.

When the security policy at the Monorail Resorts was reported, the trash policy change at the Disney Vacation Resorts started making more sense.

So, why is Disney making these changes?

Like I mentioned earlier, I was initially confused why DVC was doing this.  Then I thought it might have to to with it was taking Mousekeeping longer to clean out the trash when they did come because there was a significant number of guest not taking out their own trash between trash pick ups.  Then I started thinking that maybe this way that maintenance/housekeeping staff and check on things that need to be fixed and get them fixed before guests check out, thereby not holding up guests checking into their new rooms.

Now, even though Disney has not “officially” stated so, the new policy appears to be a response to the October shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and injured more than 500.

I have seen some blowback by a small amount of people on the Internet that they are not happy about this change….stating that they won’t be staying at any of the Monorail Resorts anymore.

Personally, I think that this is very short-sighted.  While Disney has not officially said so, it appears that this change is going to spread to the remaining Disney Resorts.

Honestly, while inconvenient, I’m fully in support of this change.  Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now.  It’s why “we can’t have nice things.”  Disney has to do this because they would end up being liable if they didn’t implement something like this and something like Las Vegas did happen on property.

What is surprising me is why Disney hasn’t come out front and said this is why they are implementing the new polices.  I think as Disney Vacation Club Members, we’d be more understanding why the trash pick-up is being changed if management at DVC would just tell us it’s out of concern for guest safety.  I also believe that guests staying at the Walt Disney Resorts would be less reactionary and more understanding of the security changes if Disney was more upfront about why the change is occurring.

Okay….that’s it for for today.  I’ll be back soon with another story soon.

See ya real soon!

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Disney News Today to be Re-Imagineered

First of all….I would like to thank all of you that have been coming to Disney News Today for your Disney-related news stories.  I really appreciate it.

I have been struggling recently with how I have been presenting the news to you over the past nearly four years.  Over the past four years I have  been diligent in scouring the Internet for interesting Disney news.  As you may have noticed that a lot of the stories are reprints of press releases and stories found elsewhere.  I’ve been happy to be your conduit to stories that you may or may not have had access to.

In doing this I have chosen not to comment on or editorialize these stories.  This is why I’ve decided to re-imagineer the site.

This is where the change for the site will be heading.  After a short break…this shouldn’t be more than a few days or a week…I will continue to provide links to stories that I find interesting and have an opinion on.  With the link to the story I will provide you with my take on the story.  The take from a Disney nerd that loves the parks, their movies (Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation, Disney-Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars) and Disney-related podcasts.

When I find something that I want to comment on or find interesting, you will find it here.  I hope that you will like this change and I appreciate your future support.

Walt Disney World Introduces New Magic Bands

It’s been quite the year for MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort, with the resort-wide rollout of the versatile and easily customizable MagicBand 2, the addition of the super convenient MagicKeeper accessories and an assortment of popular new limited and open edition designs. As Disney continues to expand this innovative wearable, we’re very excited to share a first look at two open edition MagicBands featuring new highly-requested colors that will soon be available for purchase online and wherever MagicBands are sold throughout the Resort.

The first new MagicBand is a solid-color millennial pink, the fashion-forward, trendy shade of pink that continues to grow in popularity. If you’re not familiar with this particular color, its hue is a delicate, softer pink, and we’re already hearing wonderful feedback from guests about this product. The band retails for $12.99 and will debut on Jan. 8. This new MagicBand color is a great addition to the already popular rose-gold Minnie Ears.

The second new color is brown and will first be featured in a fun new design starring the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The design includes the whole gang – Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy – as well as a few diamonds dug from their famous mine. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase this fun, new MagicBand, selling for $22.99, beginning today.

These colors join the new solid-color black MagicBand, which Disney released last month, offering guests even more choices for how they want to unlock the magic of their Disney vacation. As always, these MagicBands connect the vacation choices and purchases guests make in My Disney Experience – from effortless theme-park entry to Disney PhotoPass association, dining plan redemption, room entry and more. And as a reminder, with the MagicBand 2 design, you are able to remove the center icon to mix and match colors and create multi-color bands or take advantage of one of the MagicKeeper accessories to give you even more options on how to wear the magic.

From The Disney Parks Blog

 

The Hall of Presidents Reopens at Walt Disney World on December 19th After Year-Long Transformation

Following a year-long transformation, The Hall of Presidents will officially reopen at Magic Kingdom Park on Tuesday, December 19, with enhancements that will bring the story of the American presidency to life as never before. The epic theatrical production was envisioned by Walt Disney himself to honor the country by honoring the presidents of the United States.

This endeavor began with a single animated figure of President Abraham Lincoln that was developed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. In 1971, advances in technology made it possible for Imagineers to make Walt Disney’s vision a reality by including every chief executive who ever served the United States of America.

The history of innovation at The Hall of Presidents continues to this day. In addition to updating the show’s content, Imagineers have incorporated the latest in theatrical design and Audio-Animatronics technology. Landmark moments in history come alive on a panoramic 180-degree screen that transports guests across more than 200 years of the American story. High-impact projection, sound, lighting and other enhancements take guests into rare and indelible moments in history that helped define a nation.

As has been the tradition with every new president since the attraction debuted, an Audio-Animatronics figure of President Donald J. Trump has been added to the show and features the latest advances in technology that enable smoother and more lifelike movements. President Trump personally recorded remarks exclusively for The Hall of Presidents, just as each sitting president has done for the attraction since the early 1990s.

Rich in innovative storytelling and tradition, The Hall of Presidents carries a legacy and passion for American history that has been part of Disney Parks for more than 50 years.

From The Disney Parks Blog

Disney and Cirque du Soleil Have New Show in Development for Disney Springs

Earlier this year, Disney announced that “La Nouba” would be taking its final bow at Disney Springs on New Year’s Eve 2018. As the curtain closes on this fan favorite, Walt Disney World is sharing some exciting news about the future of the long-lasting relationship between Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Nearly twenty years after teaming up to bring “La Nouba” to the stage, the two entertainment companies are working together on a new collaboration.

This original show will be created by Cirque du Soleil and will pay homage to Disney’s rich history of animation, with a vivid story told in a way that only Cirque du Soleil can deliver. Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, elaborated, sharing “We are incredibly inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. We are convinced that bringing Disney’s magic to life on stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”

An opening date for the new show has not been announced.

In the meantime, if you’d like to experience the magic of “La Nouba” one more time, limited tickets are still available. Purchase tickets online today.

 

From The Disney Parks Blog

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Delivers Second Largest Opening Ever

The Force dominated at the box office as Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi  opened with a stellar $220 million weekend at 4,232 North American sites — the second-highest opening weekend of all time.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” trails only the $248 million launch of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The tentpole opened with $104.8 million on Friday (including $45 million from Thursday night previews) for the second-best opening day of all time, followed by $64 million on Saturday and a projected $51.3 million on Sunday. With international grosses hitting $230 million, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” totaled $450 million worldwide.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has become only the fourth movie to top $200 million domestically in its opening frame, joining 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. It will finish the weekend 29% above the “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened with $155.1 million on the same weekend a year ago.

“Truly in a class by themselves, the movies of the “Star Wars” franchise continue to re-write the history books as to what is possible in terms of box office performance,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

“‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ posts the second biggest preview gross, the second best single day gross ever recorded and if that were not enough, the second biggest opening weekend ever in North America, joining the elusive $200 million club with a knockout of a movie that is proving to be both catnip to the critics and moviegoers alike over what has become the strongest moviegoing weekend of 2017,” he added.

Audiences surveyed by comScore’s PostTrak gave stellar marks to the tentpole with 66% calling it “excellent” and another 23% rating it “very good.” A total of 79% said they would “definitely recommend” the movie.

The stellar performance comes three days after Disney announced it was spending $52.4 billion to acquire 21st Century Fox assets — a move that will make the company the undisputed leader in box office share in coming

Domestic tracking for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has remained in the $200 million range since Nov. 22, when first estimates emerged. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” wound up its domestic run with a record-setting $936.7 million and $2.07 billion worldwide. “Rogue One” went on to gross $532.2 million by the end of its domestic run and $1.03 billion worldwide.

Directed by Rian Johnson, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” picks up where “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” left off. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis. New stars include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro.

The weekend was the third-largest of all time in overall domestic moviegoing with $280 million, according to comScore, trailing only the first two weekends of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Those weekends generated $313 million and $296 million in box office gross.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” also helped close the gap in 2017’s lag over last year’s total by a full percentage point. As of Sunday, this year’s total is $10.29 billion, off 2.9%.

Disney noted that it crossed the $2 billion domestic mark on Saturday, marking the third consecutive year that is has done so and making Disney the first studio to have achieved that record. It’s currently in first place in 2017 market share.

In three days, the domestic total for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has topped the entire 31-day domestic run of Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s of “Justice League.”

From Variety

Disney Shows Off Working Model of Pixar Pier Showing Newly Themed Areas Coming Summer 2018 to Disney California Adventure

Coming summer 2018, Pixar Pier will transform the southern shore of Paradise Bay at Disney California Adventure with whimsical neighborhoods filled with characters from some of your favorite Pixar stories. Today, we are bringing you a first look at this transformation through photos of a working model now in use at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Featuring newly themed attractions, foods and merchandise, this area will introduce new neighborhoods representing beloved Pixar stories. The neighborhood inspired by “The Incredibles” will be anchored by the Incredicoaster, which will feature a new mid-century-modern-style loading area inspired by the Parr family home as seen in the upcoming “Incredibles 2.”

Another of the neighborhoods will be a celebration of many of your favorite Pixar stories. In this neighborhood, each of the 24 gondolas on what is now Mickey’s Fun Wheel will feature different pairs of Pixar pals, and at the Games of the Boardwalk, all of the midway games will be inspired by characters from films such as “a bug’s life,” “WALL·E” and the Pixar short “La Luna.”

Pixar Pier will open summer 2018, during the first-ever Pixar Fest celebration, which begins April 13. The celebration will include the new “Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” fireworks spectacular as well as the return of Pixar Play Parade and “Paint the Night” parade, and much more throughout the entire Disneyland Resort.

From The Disney Parks Blog

What Disney Bought: A Billion-Dollar Breakdown of Assets

Now that the megadeal is done and the smoke has cleared, there’s a price tag that can be put on each asset moving from Fox to Disney. Analyst estimates vary; the numbers below are derived from RBC Capital Markets.

Disney is getting two groups of channels from Fox: FX Networks and National Geographic Channels. FX is the home of critically acclaimed, edgy series from “American Horror Story” to “Fargo”–exactly the kind of content Disney lacks. Nat Geo has just begun to broach that business with scripted fare like “Genius,” but it’s a classic brand that fits perfectly with Disney’s portfolio, and one that is already translating nicely to digital platforms like Snapchat.

That they may represent the priciest assets in the whole deal is less a reflection of their future worth and more a testament to how valuable linear channels have been over the past decade, given the billions of dollars in advertising and affiliate fees they’ve brought to Fox. But Murdoch’s willingness to give them up is proof positive that the pay-TV business is in a state of secular decline, one that will provide plenty of short-term value but limited in the long term. Digital channels like FXX and NatGeo Wild are probably going to be retired eventually.

With ho-hum franchises like “Kingsmen” and “X-Men,” Fox certainly can’t hold a candle to what Disney has accomplished as a movie studio, though there’s still value to be mined with the upcoming “Avatar” sequels and the expected commingling of their assorted superhero characters. The valuation here is probably more based on the greater successes Fox has enjoyed in TV from animation (“The Simpsons”) to comedy (“Modern Family”), where syndication has proved a veritable goldmine. TV production capabilities will be absolutely key to powering Disney’s intent to go head to head with Netflix in the streaming game come 2019.

At first blush, it might seem counterintuitive for Disney to pay so much for what is essentially a satellite-based operation, a business with dim future prospects. But there is so much more to Star than that: It not only provides more international exposure for Disney in a business where it’s under-represented, but India may be the biggest growth market on the globe. Best of all, Star has an OTT platform, HotStar, that already has over 50 million subscribers and rights to must-have sports content in the region like cricket. As Disney mounts a global OTT effort, this could become a very valuable piece of the puzzle.

With ESPN becoming something of an albatross around Disney’s neck these days, doubling down on sports might seem a strange move. But having 22 RSNs across the country that boast deals with some of the greatest franchises — like the home run-happy New York Yankees with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — could help shore up the faltering economics underpinning ESPN. Incredible affiliate fees will be a great buffer for Disney in the short term while it mounts a risky multi-year effort around OTT that may not provide desired returns for quite some time.

The value here is mostly tied up in Sky, where Fox had been engaged in a torturous, possibly doomed effort to snap up the 61% portion of the satcaster it doesn’t own. Handing that over to Disney could help ease the regulatory path to getting a deal done; the combination of Sky and STAR will give Disney an incredible international footprint across two continents.

The rest of these investments are tied up in Endemol, a production hub that could also help TV production efforts, and Hulu, where Disney will take a controlling interest. Hulu could become a valuable contributor to Disney’s overall OTT efforts given the head start the joint venture has in this space.

Total Enterprise Value of What Disney Is Buying From Fox: $66.1 billion

Fox Debt Disney Will Assume: $13.7 billion

Sale Price $52.4 Billion

From Variety

Disney Buying Most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 Billion

Disney is buying a huge chunk of 21st Century Fox in a deal that promises to reshape the media industry and help the entertainment giant fend off digital rivals such as Netflix.

The $52.4 billion deal will combine two of the biggest players in Hollywood.

The sale represents a remarkable turn in the career of octogenarian mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is cashing out after building a major media empire. For its part, Disney is adding even more prime entertainment assets to an already swollen portfolio as it battles upstart streaming services that have undercut the traditional cable subscription model.

In addition to 21st Century Fox’s movie studio and regional sports networks, Disney is buying cable channels FX and National Geographic. Disney will also get Fox’s stakes in Hulu and European pay-TV provider Sky.

Prior to the deal closing, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox broadcasting network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and some national sports networks into a new company that will be spun off to its shareholders. The remaining properties would ideally in the coming years merge with News Corp., from which they split in 2013, Murdoch said on Fox Business Thursday morning.

Disney, which counts ESPN among its crown jewels, has suffered as consumers switch off their TVs and spend more hours watching streaming services such as Netflix that are distributed directly to consumers.

The deal allows Disney to expand its content, especially for streaming services. In addition to a majority stake in Hulu that it will have once the deal closes, Disney is preparing to launch two separate streaming services, one for sports and another focusing on entertainment. And it is pulling its content from Netflix in preparation for the launch. Adding Fox’s television and movie studios and the content they own means adding to the stable of must-watch content it can offer directly to consumers — and that streaming competitors can not.

There are also important international assets involved. Fox is in the midst of a lengthy regulatory review in the United Kingdom to take over the rest of the satellite broadcaster Sky it does not already own. In the announcement, Disney and Fox said “21st Century Fox remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer and anticipates that, subject to the necessary regulatory consents, the transaction will close by June 30, 2018.” Disney would then assume full ownership of Sky as long as Fox’s transaction is completed before Disney’s.

If the deal doesn’t close, then Disney will retain Fox’s current 39 percent stake of Sky “and we imagine they’ll make their own bid for the rest of it,” Murdoch said on Fox Business on Thursday.

The deal will needs to undergo regulatory review and will likely take at least a year to close. The Justice Department, which last month sued to block AT&T’s purchase of CNN parent company Time Warner, will consider to what extent the new company could dominate the market, using its increased leverage to force cable companies and distributors to pay higher rates to carry Disney and Fox content.

News of a possible deal first came to light in early November when CNBC reported that Disney had approached 21 Century Fox about a deal to acquire the movie and television assets. That led to other companies, like Comcast, to explore an acquisition as well. But on Monday Comcast said in statements to media outlets that it “never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer” and was withdrawing from the discussions.

As the two companies work to complete the deal and Disney works to integrate its new assets, Bob Iger, who had been expected to retire, will remain as chairman and CEO of Disney through 2021.

Speaking on Fox Business Thursday morning, Murdoch said he made it a condition of the deal that Iger would stay on.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Iger said in a statement. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building.”

There had been some reporting that Murdoch’s son James, currently CEO of 21st Century Fox, would move over to Disney in a high level role and as a possible successor to Iger. But in a conference call with investors on Thursday morning, Iger said there are no immediate plans for James Murdoch.

“James and I have had a lot of conversations about the future of these companies,” Iger said. “He will be integral to helping us integrate these companies over the next number of months and during that period of time we will continue to discuss whether there is a role for him here or not.”

In a statement of his own, Murdoch said, “I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”

From CNN Money

Disney Cruise Line Reveals All New Star Wars Day at Sea Experiences

Brand new experiences featuring the Dark Side, the Resistance, the droids and more are coming to the Disney Fantasy when Star Wars Day at Sea returns on 15 special sailings this January through April. Check out some of the new out-of-this-galaxy experiences that are setting sail:

The Dark Side

  • To kick off Star Wars Day at Sea celebrations, in a one-time experience the night before the event, Darth Vader and Stormtroopers will march into the ship’s atrium for an Imperial takeover.
  • Kylo Ren will appear in “Jedi Training Academy,” where young Jedi-in-training summon their courage and the Force to face off against Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.

The Resistance

  • Rey will take the stage in the “Summon the Force” nighttime deck show that celebrates great moments from across the Star Wars galaxy including iconic characters and new favorites, complete with an epic fireworks finale accompanied by John Williams’ iconic music.
  • In “Porgs Onboard! Scavenger Hunt,” Chewbacca needs your help to track the Porgs that have been wreaking havoc throughout the ship. You’ll find and decode secret messages to solve a ship-wide quest and be greeted by everyone’s favorite Wookiee at the end of your adventure.
  • In the days leading up to the epic celebration, check out all of the Star Wars feature films in the Buena Vista Theatre, culminating in a showing of the newest film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Fun for the whole family

  • New in 2018, you are guaranteed a time to meet and take photographs with C-3PO and R2-D2, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Before you even step onboard, you have the chance to reserve these character encounters online under the My Disney Cruise section of disneycruise.com.
  • Guests can step into the saga and pose with a life-size replica of Han Solo frozen in Carbonite, as well as other cool Star Wars-themed backdrops.
  • In Star Wars Drawing Academy, guests can learn to draw some of their favorite Star Warscharacters and a new character from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Is it a Porg? You’ll just have to wait and see!
  • Star Wars-themed interactive games, trivia and activities for the whole family will be hosted by your Disney cruise staff on the pool deck and in the D Lounge.

These are the droids you’re looking for

  • C-3PO will make an appearance in Star Wars: Command Post in Disney’s Oceaneer Club. During a special activity, children train to be members of the Resistance and fend off the First Order. C-3PO pays a visit to check on their training and further human-cyborg relations.
  • Droid Racing is a fast-paced activity that the whole family will enjoy where guests can race BB-Unit droids around a course in the ship’s atrium.
  • In a hands-on activity for families, everyone tests their skills to become master droid builders and create an intergalactic droid.

All of these cool new experiences are included in a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise, and just some of the ways you can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars galaxy.

From The Disney Parks Blog