Exciting New Attractions, Entertainment Sparkle at Disneyland Paris for 25th Anniversary

Bonjour from Disneyland Paris.

If you’ve never been here – this is the year to come. It’s all your favorite things about a Disney theme park – with a definitely French twist. Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy at Walt Disney Studios Park is a MUST DO for any Disney theme park fan!

Disneyland Park is ABUZZZ with excitement where Mickey – along with a cast of nearly 15,000 – are getting the park ready for the big celebration.

Starting Sunday, March 26, the celebration begins with new entertainment, updates to some favorite attractions, special merchandise and food and beverage. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – Launched at the opening of Disneyland Park in 1992, Star Tours soon established itself as a cult ride. 25 years later, it’s back with a new experience, new destinations, a new pilot, new characters and new 3D technology. Introducing Star Tours: The Adventures Continue! Prepare for lift-off on an all-new, action-packed, 3D intergalactic voyage…it’s sure to be epic.
  • Meet the Dark Side of the Force – Disneyland Paris guests will finally get the chance to meet the formidable Darth Vader every day. Head to the new dedicated area near the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue ride for a private meet and greet.
  • Disney Stars on Parade – Another exciting journey awaits guests in the brand new Disney Parade. With dizzying new floats, new music, a plethora of Disney Stars and new costumes, Disney Stars on Parade will dazzle guests of all ages. Guests follow Mickey and Friends on a real journey of discovery to the land of imagination – with eight “chapters” of fun.
  • Mickey presents “Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris” – A brand new stage show specially-created for the 15th Anniversary. Disney Stars invite guests to gather in front of the stage at Sleeping Beauty Castle for a huge anniversary celebration, every day of the year.
  • The Starlit Princess Waltz – Another brand new show. With a sprinkle of fairy dust, Tinker Bell opens the festivities in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Aurora wants to invite the other Disney Princesses to the ball: Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Tiana. Each princess makes her entrance in a magnificent ball gown, specially created for the 25th Anniversary. Their message: to remind the audience that every little girl, regardless of her age or background, is a Princess.
  • Disney Illuminations – As night falls, it is time for the final spectacular new experience: Disney Illuminations. This all-new show, featuring state-of-the-art technology, incorporates sound, lights, projections, fountains and breathtaking pyrotechnic effects.

Europe’s number one tourist destination is leaving no corner un-sparkled! Mickey and Minnie even have new, “sparkling blue” 25th Anniversary costumes.

And if that weren’t enough!

  • Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – Later in Spring 2017, Star Wars will take over a legendary space-themed ride. Space Mountain will become Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain for a totally unique experience. In a brand new environment inspired by the Star Wars universe, guests can join the famous Rebel Alliance and become pilots on a sensational mission. They will travel through the Star Wars galaxy at intense speed, to the epic soundtrack of the saga.

Bob Iger Says No to Virtual Reality Headsets at Disney parks, Aims for Augmented Reality Instead

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive has no interest in having theme park visitors strap on virtual reality headsets that block out their view and place them inside a digital world.

Smaller rivals, including Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld and Six Flags, have turned to such virtual reality experiences as an affordable way to spice up rides, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said reality-destroying headsets would be “ersatz” at his stable of parks. He’s ordered his team not to even think about it.

Iger, speaking at a USC event in Santa Monica on Thursday, instead talked up the possibility of launching high-tech augmented reality attractions. Those will still probably involve headgear, but the devices will blend the real and digital worlds.

Iger noted he spends each Tuesday afternoon at a Disney engineering lab sporting a head-worn device that enables him to hold a light-saber and duel with a stormtrooper.

He could be referring to a partnership with augmented reality device maker Magic Leap. Iger expressed hope the gadget would get lighter and more comfortable someday.

He didn’t shed more details. But it’s possible that game would contrast with virtual reality rides at other theme parks because people would be on a large set and moving around other people, as opposed to standing in place and only seeing computer projections. Disneyland currently offers a popular Jedi Training Academy in Tomorrowland, with live characters who pretend to fight light-saber-wielding children visiting the park.

“What we create is an experience that is real,” Iger said. “When you walk into Cars Land, you feel you’re in Radiator Springs because of what we’ve built — not only the attention to the detail, but the scale.”

Iger described how Disney spent considerable time and money ensuring robots cast as “Avatar” characters would have vibrant facial expressions at an attraction opening in May at its Orlando theme park,

This “will have expressions you will not believe in terms of how Na’vi-like they are,” he said, referring to the human-like alien race in the film franchise.

Theme park experts had already speculated that virtual reality headsets would be unlikely at Disneyland. “Theme park purists don’t like” them, Martin Lewison, a business management professor at Farmingdale State College, said last year. “They’d much rather go on a $250-million ride at Disneyland than throw a mask strapped to a Samsung smartphone over my eyes.”

Iger also shed some insight into the upcoming “Star Wars” attraction at Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando. One ride is expected to let visitors joyride in the cockpit of Han Solo’s spaceship, Millennium Falcon.

“It’s pretty good, real good,” Iger said of test rides he’s done in a simulator.

From The Los Angeles Times

Disney Extends CEO Bob Iger’s Contract to 2019

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that Bob Iger is extending his tenure as CEO again.

Set to retire from the entertainment giant in June 2018, Iger has now re-upped his contract until July 2, 2019 amid concerns among industry observers that there is no heir apparent within the company’s executive ranks.

“Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019,” Mr. Iger said in a statement. “Even with the incredible success the company has achieved, I am confident that Disney’s best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition.”

The terms of his employment agreement “remain unchanged,” except for certain provisions, Disney said in a regulatory filing. His annual compensation for the extended employment period “will be determined on the same basis as his annual compensation for fiscal 2016.”

If Iger remains until July 2, 2019, he will receive a cash bonus of $5 million “in addition to an award for fiscal 2019 under the company’s management incentive bonus program,” it said. “Following the termination of his employment at the expiration date, to enable the company to have access to Mr. Iger’s unique skills, knowledge and experience with regard to the media and entertainment business, Mr. Iger will serve as a consultant to the company for a period of three years.”

He will the provide “assistance, up to certain specified monthly and annual maximum time commitments, on such matters as his successor as chief executive officer may request from time to time.”

For his consulting services, Iger will receive a quarterly fee of $500,000 for each of the first eight quarters and $250,000 for each of the last four quarters of the consulting period. “For the three years following termination of employment, the company will also provide Mr. Iger with the same security services (other than the personal use of a company provided aircraft) as it has made available to him as chief executive officer,” the filing said.

Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was considered Iger’s likely successor until his abrupt departure last spring. At the time of Staggs’ exit, the Disney board vowed to “broaden the scope of its succession-planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates.” It has since been mum about its succession planning. At the time, industry observers mentioned Facebook COO and Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg as a possible candidate.

Disney’s stock as of 11:10 a.m. ET was up 0.7 percent at $112.88, near its 52-week high of $113.16.

“Given Bob Iger’s outstanding leadership, his record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney’s future, it is obvious that the Company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition,” said Orin C. Smith, independent lead director of the Disney Board.

Otherwise, experts cited industry executives who all seemed happy in their respective jobs, such as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Under the leadership of Iger, who turned 66 on Feb. 10, Disney has done well. The company has said that total shareholder return during his tenure has been nearly twice that of other entertainment conglomerates.

Iger’s latest extension marks a change of mind for the executive. He originally planned to step down as Disney CEO in 2015 after running the company for a decade. But he extended and then did so again a year later.

Back then, he said about his plans to depart in mid-2018, “I really mean it.” Succession at Disney seems a perpetually thorny going back decades when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz each jockeyed to take over from Michael Eisner. When Eisner finally stepped down in 2005 it was under such strenuous conditions that even Roy E. Disney, the founder’s nephew, was publicly attacking him.

From The Hollywood Reporter

Disneyland Resort Announces Details of Egg-stravaganza as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns in April

Springtime is just around the corner, which means the return of the beloved Egg-stravaganza to Disneyland Resort. This fun, egg-themed scavenger hunt will take place from April 1-16, 2017, at Disneyland park, Disney California Adventure park, and Downtown Disney District. I recently “hopped” over to special event merchandiser Linda Votaw to discover what makes this activity popular with guests.

Egg-stravaganza Details Hatched as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns to Disneyland Resort in April

“This is the fifth year we’ve offered the Egg-stravaganza at the Disneyland Resort,” explained Linda. “I believe our guests love it as spring is a wonderful season to visit. This activity is easy to do, and it’s something the whole family can enjoy. Even if you have been to Disneyland Resort many times, this scavenger hunt gives guests an opportunity to explore the theme parks and Downtown Disney District in a new way.”

To participate, pick up a map and stickers for $5.99 (plus tax) at select merchandise locations throughout Disneyland Resort. Search for special hidden “eggs” themed to Disney and Pixar characters. Record your discoveries by placing the corresponding sticker on the themed Egg-stravaganza map to represent that location.

Egg-stravaganza Details Hatched as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns to Disneyland Resort in April

Whether you choose to hunt for eggs or not, return your map to a redemption location for a surprise. Redemption locations include the following merchandise shops: Elias & Co. at Disney California Adventure park; Disney Showcase in Disneyland park; World of Disney Store in the Downtown Disney District.

For guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, don’t forget the Egg-stravaganza is currently taking place at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 29, 2017.

Purchasing limits will apply, while supplies last. Please note that no discounts apply and separate admission is required to enter Disney theme parks. The experience is subject to restrictions and may change without notice.

New Capcom Bundle Brings Back Classic Disney Games Like DuckTales and Rescue Rangers

Six classic Disney games are being rereleased as a new bundle dubbed The Disney Afternoon Collection. The new collection features titles created by Capcom during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s for platforms like the NES and Sega Genesis, all of which were based on Disney animated series. Games include DuckTales and its sequel, Darkwing DuckTaleSpin, as well as both Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers titles.

Disney Afternoon Collection Video

Capcom says that the games have been “beautifully restored” with support for 1080p HD visuals, as well as optional filters to make them look a touch more retro. The games have also been updated with some more ways to play, with both a boss rush and time attack mode added for each of the six titles. And since classic games can be fairly challenging, Capcom has also added an “option to rewind time and enjoy a swift recovery from blunders.” Longtime fans will also be able to dig into a collection of concept art, advertisements, and music in the in-game museum.

The Disney Afternoon Collection will be launching on April 18th for $19.99 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

From The Verge

Next Star Wars Celebration to be in 2019

Recently Star Wars Celebration announced that there will not be an event in 2018, but will return in 2019.

The official statement states:

While we might be in the thick of getting ready for Star Wars Celebration Orlando, it’s never too early to start thinking about when the next Celebration will be. 

Celebration is the official, definitive Star Wars event, with entertainment, interactive experiences and exclusives that can only be found at this Lucasfilm production. They are the ultimate community fan gathering as well, and friends will want to start planning to be together again to commemorate everyone’s favorite saga. The next official Celebration is slated for a location and date soon-to-be announced, in 2019.

Stay tuned to www.starwarscelebration.com for the latest news on Celebration Orlando programming, and for news on the next Celebration!

There is speculation that the reason that they are skipping 2018 is financial. With new Star Wars movies premiering every year, plus new seasons of Star Wars Rebels every fall, Celebration is getting bigger and better. “Bigger and better” generally indicates “more expensive.” It also means a need for more time and manpower to make the event a success. Because of the increased pace of movies and television shows being released, a year may no longer be long enough for Lucasfilm and ReedPOP – the company that plans and coordinates each Star Wars Celebration – to pull a convention together.

With no Celebration in 2018, it’s unknown where fans will get big Star Wars announcements like new movies and trailers. The D23 Expo doesn’t appear to be an option since following the Expo in July of 2017 the next D23 Expo won’t be until 2019. San Diego Comic Con may be the likely option.  Star Wars had a large presence there until Lucasfilm started relying more on Celebrations and D23 to break news. With neither Star Wars Celebration nor D23 happening in 2018, San Diego Comic Con may see a return of big Star Wars panels.

If this year’s Celebration follows the precedent, Lucasfilm will announce Celebration 2019’s location at the end of the event in April.

‘Star Wars Rebels’ Renewed For Season 4 By Disney XD

Star Wars Rebels will return. Disney 😄 has ordered a fourth season of the praised animated series from Lucasfilm. Production is underway for premiere later this fall. Further details will be revealed during Star Wars Celebration in Orlando next month, according to the network.

Currently in its third season, Star Wars Rebels was Disney XD’s No.1 series in Total Viewers and its No.1 animated series across key kid and boy demos in 2016. The series also generated more than 60 million consumer engagements across digital platforms.

Star Wars Rebels is created by Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Carrie Beck. The Lucasfilm Animation production is executive produced by Filoni and Kinberg.

The Season 3 voice cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall as Hera, Steve Blum as Zeb, Tiya Sircar as Sabine, Taylor Gray as Ezra, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex, David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, Sam Witwer as Maul, Tom Baker as Bendu and Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn.

“The team behind Star Wars Rebels delivers epic storytelling that has captivated fans of all ages across the globe,” said Marc Buhaj, senior vice president, Programming and general manager, Disney XD. “We’re excited to continue sharing the journey of these fan-favorite Rebels with our audience in the fall.”

From Deadline

Adventures by Disney Announces New Themed River Cruises in 2018

Have you ever wanted to stroll through a quaint French town like Belle? Sip wine in some of the most noteworthy wine growing regions in the world? Dance along with a polka band during a rousing German Oktoberfest celebration? In 2018, Adventures by Disney will bring you all these experiences and more on our popular European river cruises!

Adventures by Disney river cruising allows you to enjoy variety and flexibility. You can truly customize your all-inclusive trip by choosing from a wealth of activity options offered both in port and onboard.

New activity options for summer 2018 include all-new “Beauty and the Beast” themed experiences on ABD’s Rhine river sailings. Be immersed in a tale as old as time during a special themed dinner, as well as other unique culinary experiences inspired by the film. Families will enjoy screenings of both the live-action and animated versions of the film onboard, and they can even choose to become part of this beloved story as they tour Riquewihr, an idyllic French village that will make guests feel as though they’ve stepped into Belle’s hometown from the movie.

Are you more of a foodie? Disney has doubled the number of adult-exclusive food and wine themed sailings along the Rhine in 2018, offering two epicurean sailings during the fall. Here you can enjoy extraordinary food and beverage experiences both on and off the ship, including wine tasting, gourmet demonstrations and workshops, culinary walking tours in several ports, a French patisserie class, local beer and wine pairings, craft cocktail blending seminars and more.

No matter which departure you choose, Adventures by Disney Rhine river cruises give you the opportunity to experience authentic, immersive experiences as you revel in the beauty of four countries – France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. From riding a toboggan and hiking in the Black Forest, exploring the famous storybook Heidelberg Castle, or sampling wine in a medieval basement wine cave, these enchanting vacations pair unforgettable adventures in port with luxurious river cruise accommodations and amenities onboard.

Adventures by Disney will also be returning to the Danube River in 2018, visiting iconic locations and hidden gems in four countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. In addition to bringing back another season of summertime and themed holiday sailings,  they will also be offering an all-new adult-exclusive Oktoberfest sailing in September 2018. This special itinerary will visit Germany during the iconic yearly Oktoberfest celebration, and will include festive themed parties and culinary treats both on and off the ship.

On all of the Danube river cruises you can choose to revisit scenes from the movie “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg, explore Devin Castle in Bratislava, take a traditional Austrian folk dancing lesson in Melk, and so much more.

Bookings for 2018 river cruise vacations open on March 2, 2017. Book early and save $500 per person on select 2018 river cruises* when you book by May 1, 2017 for sailing dates June 17 – Oct. 8, 2018 (Excludes suites and category E staterooms).

*Early Booking Rate offer valid for select Adventures by Disney river cruise departures with travel start dates between June 17, 2018 and October 8, 2018, inclusive. Qualifying river cruise departures have an Early Booking Rate designation on the applicable Rates and Dates page on AdventuresbyDisney.com; provided that the Early Booking Rate designation may not reflect real time offer availability; accordingly, availability of Early Booking Rate is subject to confirmation at time of booking reservation with Adventures by Disney. Availability of the Early Booking Rate for select departures will be determined at the time standard trip deposit is paid. Any courtesy hold, without payment of the standard trip deposit, will not guarantee availability of the Early Booking Rate for selected departure date. Early Booking Rate offer terminates on May 1, 2017 or when the limited spaces on the applicable departure date have been booked, whichever is earlier. The Early Booking Rate offer is not valid for Adventures by Disney land packages, Adventures by Disney Long Weekend land packages and Disney Cruise Line related packages. The Early Booking Rate is $500 less than the rate applicable to the same departure date and river cruise after the termination of the Early Booking Rate offer. A limited number of staterooms of certain categories are available on each applicable departure date at the Early Booking Rate. Early Booking Rate offer excludes suites and category E staterooms. Early Booking Rate is valid on new bookings only. Spaces on the river cruises at the Early Booking Rate are subject to availability. Lead Guest of the booking party must travel on the river cruise booked. Offer not transferable or redeemable for cash in whole or in part. Void where prohibited. Booking is subject to conditions and restrictions. Early Booking Rate cannot be combined with any other offers, discounts or promotions. Not valid for group bookings. Offer is subject to change without notice. Bookings subject to Adventures by Disney’s standard terms and conditions.

Disney Research Builds Prototype Living Room With ‘Safe and Ubiquitous Wireless Power’

Disney Research has constructed a prototype living room with “ubiquitous wireless power delivery,” allowing users to move around while their technology charges without any cables, wires, or charging pads (via Ars Technica). Disney’s technology mirrors some early rumors for the 2017 iPhone 8, which suggested Apple was building a long-range wireless charging solution instead of the Apple Watch-style inductive charging solution of more recent reports.

The room’s walls, ceiling, and floor were built with aluminum panels, and a large copper pipe was placed in its center. The middle of the pipe was cut out and in the gap the researchers placed fifteen capacitors, “and it’s those capacitors that set the electromagnetic frequency of the structure, and can find the electric fields.”

To generate the power that is relayed into the room, a signal generator sits just outside the prototype living room and outputs a 1.32MHz signal to the capacitors in the pole, producing what the researchers call “quasistatic cavity resonance.”

“In this work we’re demonstrating room-scale wireless power, but there’s no reason we couldn’t shrink this down to the size of a toy box or a charging chest, or scale up to a warehouse or a large building.”

Given that it’s still a very early prototype, there’s a few caveats to Disney’s wireless charger, including the limit on the power that can be pumped into the room before it reaches dangerous levels for humans. The specific absorption rate, a measure of how much energy can be absorbed by the human body, is capped at 1900 watts. The copper pole at the room’s center requires the nearest person to have at least 46 centimeters of clearance before they’re put in danger. Besides these restrictions, Disney says it’s “completely safe” for anyone to occupy the room for any period of time.

In order for the devices to receive the charging signal, Disney had to design a receiver that allowed the researchers to “power many devices simultaneously.” Including an iPhone, the other objects included an RC car, a fan, a lamp, and six other devices. Although the technology is still nascent and the receiver is bulky, Disney’s “Volumetric Wireless Power for Livable Spaces” is an interesting look at what future wireless charging systems might be able to accomplish without the restrictions of the inductive charging pads popular today.

Disney Research Video

Because of the restrictions of charging mats, Apple’s Phil Schiller has said in the past that the introduction of a wireless charging pad for iPhone would actually be “more complicated” and he remained unconvinced that it was actually a convenient solution to traditional outlet and USB cable charging. Still, a prominent rumor for the iPhone 8 is its inclusion of wireless charging in some form, with Apple recently joining the Wireless Power Consortium in order to assist in the open development of the Qi wireless charging standard.

Read more about Disney’s findings here, and check out another video that dives deep into the science behind the researcher’s wireless charging living room.

From MacRumors

Disney Plans Midnight ‘Star Wars’ Event to Unveil ‘Last Jedi’ Merchandise

Walt Disney Co and major retailers will release the galaxy’s newest “Star Wars” toys at a September 1st midnight event ahead of the holiday debut of the next film in the saga, “The Last Jedi,” company executives told Reuters.

The marketing push called “Force Friday II” is a sequel to an event Disney used to build buzz for merchandise tied to the 2015 movie “The Force Awakens.”

Star Wars products were a big contributor to the financial success of the series reboot. BB-8 droids, lightsabers and other playthings made “Star Wars” the U.S. toy industry’s top-selling property for 2015 and 2016, with $1.5 billion in sales over the two years, research firm NPD said.

Hasbro Inc cited “Star Wars” sales when it reported its biggest quarterly revenue rise in nearly five years for the December 2015 quarter. Mattel Inc also posted a surprise rise in sales for the same period with help from “Star Wars”-based Hot Wheels toys. And at Disney, licensing income from “Force Awakens” merchandise drove record quarterly operating income in the consumer products unit.

Force Friday II will begin just after midnight on September 1st. Lego, Hasbro and others will release the first toys, apparel, books and other products tied to “The Last Jedi,” both online and in stores at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target, Toys R Us, Kohl’s, Amazon.com Inc and Disney Stores.

Disney will incorporate new technology to its “Last Jedi” products like it did with the popular BB-8 droid, said James Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. New products will feature returning characters such as Rey and Finn, plus new ones, and will span a broad range of categories for male and female fans, he said.

“One of our top priorities is to expand the audience,” Pitaro said.

“The Last Jedi,” the eighth installment in the “Star Wars” movie saga that began in 1977, debuts in theaters Dec. 15. Toys typically hit shelves closer to a movie’s release, around four to six weeks in advance.

At the 2015 Force Friday, fans dressed as Stormtroopers and Jedi waited in line for hours ahead of the midnight store openings.

“There was a certain mania that took over,” said Marty Brochstein, a senior vice president at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. The excitement around “Star Wars” in 2015 was unique because it had been so long since the last film, Brochstein said.

“It would be unfair to expect the same kind of volume generated this time around by consumer products,” he said, adding it was too early to assess demand.

Pitaro said Disney continues to see “very, very healthy sales” of “Star Wars” merchandise. “We have a lot of confidence we will continue in that direction,” he said.

Disney bought “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion and reintroduced the franchise with “Force Awakens.” That movie became the third-highest grossing ever, selling $2 billion worth of tickets worldwide. Disney also released “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One” in 2016.