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MouseStation 134 - MousePlanetWatch news

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Walt Disney World News

  • Disney Parks & Resorts announced on Friday that a new "Dreams Come True" online sweepstakes would give away five vacations at Disney resorts, with the Grand Prize being a night in the Disneyland Dream Suite. The Dream Suite was wonderfully presented in a photo tour by MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix last Thursday.
  • We've been receiving some e-mail asking about dining surcharges during peak seasons, but we didn't want to report on them until we had a response from Walt Disney World. We've finally received that response, so we have now reported the story.
  • The new Off to Never Land cel will be released at Disney's Hollywood Studios on March 15.
  • Duncan Wardle, vice president, Global & Walt Disney World Public Relations Integration, was awarded one of four "Outstanding American Citizen by Choice Awards" at the White House on January 15.
  • Walt Disney World was the first stop for more than 70 foreign ambassadors and their spouses from 45 nations recently at Epcot, as the kick-off event for the U.S. State Department's "Experience America" tour.
  • This week's construction update includes the installation of new handrails in the main building of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, exterior repairs at the Grand Floridian's Convention Center, replacement of guest restroom mirrors at Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, lots of roof replacement at Fort Wilderness, replacement of the playground equipment at the Old Key West Resort's feature pool and much, much more.
  • Quick Takes:
    • We've posted our new Park Guide page for the 2008 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
    • Disney's Wish Lounge, a place where those children with life-threatening medical conditions who are visiting Walt Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other wish-granting organizations can take a break from the park to gather their strength, turned one year old on January 25.
    • A television commercial for Walt Disney World was recently voted number one in the Top 20 Most-Liked New TV Spots of 2007 by Advertising Age magazine. In addition, it received an Outstanding Achievement Award for a Television Commercial by the Media Access Association, which recognizes those in the entertainment industry for positively portraying people with disabilities.
    • In a press release about a new Web site, Waste Management, Inc. has provided a look into an upcoming display at Innoventions at Epcot.

This and other news can be found in this week's Walt Disney World Park Update.

Disneyland News

  • Disneyland's Year of a Million Dreams promotion got a media boost this week with the debut of the Disneyland Dream Suite. Disney.com is also hosting a contest during the month of February to award an overnight stay to one winner. As above, you can find the photo tour by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix here.
  • Jenifer Greenwell of St. Petersburg, Florida came to Disneyland to accept the grand prize in the "Become a Disney Pirate" sweepstakes.
  • Disneyland hosted its first Dream Time event last week, and several MousePlanet readers were able to win tickets to the after-hours event. Reader Terry, who contributed his impressions of the first DCA Dream Time event for last week's Update, wrote in again with his experience from the Disneyland event.
  • Disney announced that the third annual Food & Wine Festival will be April 11 through May 5, 2008 at Disney's California Adventure, and several additions and changes have been made to the event.
  • The Disneyland Resort has begun training non-union cast members to act as housekeepers, valets and dishwashers in the event of a strike by workers at the three Disney-owned hotels on property.
  • There is still room for first-time teams to register for the inaugural MouseAdventure 101 division, designed exclusively for new teams and players (returning teams should not register for this division).
  • Other stuff:
    • Disneyland is recognizing the "Year of the Mouse" with a photo location in Town Square.
    • Eli Manning, the quarterback for the New York Giants football team and winner of yesterday's Super Bowl XLII against the heavily favored and unbeaten New England Patriots, was selected as the game's official Most Valuable Player to utter the famous "I'm going to Disneyland!" slogan after the big game. However, Manning missed his flight and did not appear at Disneyland. We haven't yet heard whether his appearance will be rescheduled or simply cancelled.

This and other news can be found in this week's Disneyland Park Update.

The Walt Disney Company News

  • Disney stock had a bit of a bumpy ride last week, as first Jessica Reif Cohen of Merrill Lynch and then Jason Bazinet of Citi Investment Research both downgraded Disney stock. After Bazinet's downgrade, Disney CFO Tom Staggs took the unusual step of refuting a market analyst's comments. After a $1.22 drop following Bazinet's comments, Staggs' rebuttal provided a 60-cent bounce before the end of the day. That led to Pali Research and, later, Oppenheimer upgrading the stock. The stock was climbing as the week ended, continuing its rise through Monday before the normal pre-earnings drop. Following Tuesday's earnings release, the stock was up on Wednesday, closing up $1.43 after being up over $2 at one point.
  • As mentioned above, Disney released their earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 on Tuesday. After adjusting for one-time income from the sale of businesses last year, the company's diluted earnings per share were 63 cents, versus 49 cents in the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Revenues and segment operating income were up by double-digit margins over the first quarter of last year in the Media Networks, Parks and Resorts and Consumer Products divisions. Studio Entertainment had a 15 percent drop in segment operating income on flat revenues. We included an interesting clip of Disney CEO Bob Iger responding to a question about how Disney approaches their franchises. In the clip, Iger notes that a Cars-themed virtual online world is coming, and that we should also eventually expect a sequel to the movie. It was also mentioned during the conference call that Hong Kong Disneyland has seen a strong rise in attendance as Disney has changed its strategy. You can access a replay of the entire 55-minute-long conference call here, or get a printed copy of the release here.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger and CFO Tom Staggs have both signed new contracts, it was announced last Friday.
  • Meanwhile Iger continues to work on the informal talks with the Writers Guild of America in hopes of ending the union's 13-week-old strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It appears that a tentative agreement may have been reached, and the union will brief its members and get feedback on the proposal over the weekend.
  • Continuing its push into Video on Demand, Disney-ABC International Television has signed two more deals with Internet Protocol TV networks in Korea.
  • Another deal will let French viewers purchase episodes of "Lost" within 24 hours of broadcast in the United States.
  • Anxious to do for its animated fare what it has done with its live-action series, the Disney Channel has hired Eric Coleman away from Nickelodeon to serve as Senior Vice President of Development at Walt Disney Television Animation.
  • Disney-ABC Domestic Television is trying something new: producing a series for broadcast syndication.
  • A new game for Nintendo DS called High School Musical: Work This Out! will be available in April for $29.99.
  • The Hannah Montana 2 Non-Stop Dance Party CD was released last week.
  • Wal-Mart and Disney have signed a deal to make the megastores into Hannah Montana retail headquarters.
  • New commercials for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and WALL-E premiered during the Super Bowl.
  • Miramax's No Country for Old Men won best feature film award from the Producers Guild of America on Saturday. Ratatouille was best animated feature.
  • A number of critics have been writing that, if it weren't for the fact that there is a separate category for best animated film, it's possible that Ratatouille would have been nominated for best picture.
  • Following its huge opening weekend, Disney has announced that the originally-limited run of the 3-D Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert film will be held over for a longer run. Mike actually went to the movie on a date, and he said that it felt more like an extended music video than a concert. He said that the target audience would enjoy it, but it's more like a DVD special feature than a real concert film like U2-3D was. He gave it 2.5 out of 5 planets, and would guess that the target audience would give it 4 out of 5 planets.
  • The Hannah Montana movie set records for the biggest opening for any purely 3-D movie ever and the biggest opening for any film over Super Bowl weekend.

Administrative stuff

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Thanks to our West Coast correspondent Andrew Rich, and audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).