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|Observations and Analysis of Disney in the News|
News Commentary from August 21 - 27
Hopefully Someday We Won't Even Have to Leave the House
The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that SeaWorld Orlando customers need only visit the theme park's Web site www.seaworldorlando.com to buy tickets via the Internet. Unlike other ticket buying services on the Web, the SeaWorld customer can print the tickets on their home printer. And best of all, SeaWorld Orlando doesn't add a surcharge for this convenience.
What does this mean for Disney? The Orlando Sentinel reported that Walt Disney World has been selling tickets via the Internet for years, but had little response to the new SeaWorld plan. Unlike SeaWorld, there's no instant gratification for the Disney Internet customer, who has to wait to receive tickets through the mail or stand in line to pick them up once at the park. Maybe Disney needs to take a look at what SeaWorld is doing and add this convenience for their customers, or guests, to use the correct Disney- speak.
The Orlando Sentinel quoted Tim O'Brien, southeast editor for Amusement Business, as saying "Anything you can do to save people from waiting in line is a big deal."
Continuing Good News for Those Traveling to Florida
The Orlando Sentinel reported that travelers may get even better deals on airfare and accommodations. If business travel doesn't pick up, vacationers may benefit from excess capacity in the airlines and central Florida hotels and motels. What is turning out to be a poor performance year for the tourist industry can be a boon for tourists ... As MousePlanet has been reporting for several months now, if at all possible you should make your own vacation plans for this fall or winter before the economy picks back up and the travel industry raises prices to make up for lost profits in 2001!
In other central Florida news, the Sentinel also reports that the state of Florida has spent $1 million to study the expansion of Florida's turnpike to service Universal Studio's next major expansion.
Certainly, it's not uncommon for municipalities (including state governments) to improve infrastructure that will support capital investment by major companies. Certainly Florida has spent a fair share on supporting Disney's developments over the years.
I think that the key here is that the state is spending the money to study the proposal. Knowing the return on an investment and understanding the technical issues that may be involved are good things. Kudos to Florida for doing it's homework ... and kudos to Florida for being so supportive of an industry that provides so many jobs to Floridians!
Fool Me Once, Shame on Me...
In some parts of the world, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service are as familiar as Peter Pan and Snow White. For years Hayao Miyazaki has been creating some of Japan's most popular animated films and several have done well in the United States on video.
Impressed by his popularity and hopeful of fostering a crossover hit, Disney aggressively pursued Miyazaki and successfully negotiated video distribution rights, as well as U.S. theatrical rights for his next films. A recent [INSIDE] story reports, however, that though this relationship has proven profitable, the chances of us seeing new Miyazaki movies in the United States is in doubt.
The first Miyazaki film that Disney released domestically was Princess Mononoke, a wonderful film in my opinion. (Here's a link to the official site if you need to come up to speed on it.) Unfortunately, even with the star power brought in to make a new English vocal dub (Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Gillian Anderson) the film was a flop. It only made $2 million in theaters.
In Hollywood, you rarely get a second chance and Disney is now understandably reticent to risk getting burned again. Even though Miyazaki's most recent film, Spirited Away is going to break records in Japan, there are currently no plans to release it in the United States.
Princess Mononoke probably failed because Americans tend to view animation as a children's genre, and get confused when that stereotype is busted. Mononoke is very much an adult film and was caught between being too violent for children and too animated for adults. I have not seen anything of Spirited Away, and it may very well fall into similar terrain.
It is my hope, however, that even if Disney can't convince itself to let us see this in theaters that we will at least be offered a quality DVD. But then again, I think we need to remind Disney that you don't give up the first time the horse falls out from under you; if you are a fan of Miyazaki, adult-oriented animation, or just anything animated, then I encourage you to let Disney (and Miramax) know just how much you would like to see this movie.
One of the lesser-known features of MousePlanet is our News headlines in our MousePad discussion forum, where we try to direct you to any important news stories about the entire Disney company.
One thing we can't provide in that resource is an idea as to how those stories, generally about very specific portions of the company, may fit into the larger Disney picture. Towards that end, the Reporter's Notebook provides brief comments on those recent stories that are of interest.
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