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The Disney Dish with Jim Hill Ep 441:  Making the most of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Sponsored by: Cirque Du Soleil: Drawn to Life, Agent of Excellence and Rocket Money 

OPENINGS

Normal Open: Welcome back to another edition of the Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill. It’s me, Len Testa, and this is our show for the week of Shmursday, August 21, 2023.

ON THE SHOW TODAY

On the show today: News! Listener questions!  And the location of a secret candy spot not on the map for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!  Then in our main segment, Jim finishes up the story of Spain’s EPCOT pavilion and Gigantic

JIM INTRO

Let’s get started by bringing in the man who was never told that being an adult means you’ll always be cleaning the kitchen. Always. Cleaning. The. Kitchen.  It’s Mr. Jim Hill.   Jim, how’s it going?

SUBSCRIBER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

iTunes:   Thanks to new subscribers  Michael Madzek, DisRickelFam, Ben Eige, and Ahmed52093, and long-time subscribers Matthew Hayes, Marm McCaul, Steve Kachelmeier, and Tania Alexander.  Jim, these are the actual spirits that stand outside the Haunted Mansion during Halloween parties, beckoning unsuspecting travelers into their ghostly retreat.  They say it’s great to see everyone dressed up in such creative costumes, and the job is wayy better than their normal haunting roles, which mainly involves making weird plumbing noises at All-Star Sports during the night. True story.

BANDCAMP: Thanks to new subscribers

NEWS

The news is sponsored by TouringPlans’ travel agency.  Yeah, we have a travel agency too, and we can help book your next trip.  Plus it comes with a free TouringPlans subscription. Check us out at touringplans.com/dish.

                 

News

  • Magic Kingdom has held the first of its annual Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties for 2023, so if you’re visiting the MK between now and November, you’ll see fall decorations in the park.
  • Our own Christina Harrison has now been to two of those parties, and has these tips for folks who are going to the upcoming events:

    🎃⏰ Mickey’s Not-So-Scary- Character Locations and Wait times
  • ⏰🎃 🎃We’ve attended the first two Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Parties and we’ve already spent 9 hours and 59 minutes in line for a total of four character greetings!
  • There are 13 Character Greetings on the Party map but only 1 indicates the characters available- that’s Jack & Sally at Town Square Theater.
  • This is also the only location that opens as soon as the Party ticket begins- 4:00pm.
  • We checked every other location during the first two parties and none of them began prior to 6:00pm.
  • Most were around the 6:30pm mark.
  •  DAS Confirmed- Jack & Sally and Mickey at Town Square, Seven Dwarfs at Storybook Circus, Minnie, Donald, & Daisy inside the Dumbo tent on the left of the entrance, and the princesses at Fairytale Hall. 🎃 
  • We laid eyes on 37 characters available for Character Greetings this year! Some, like Jack & Sally have lines that last for hours and others have shorter waits and set appearance times.
  • Jack Sparrow and Belle have posted times. Ariel & Eric almost never had a wait more than a few guests.
  • ⚠️There are a few reasons for the long waits. 1) Rare characters. (We know. Duh.) 2) Multiple characters means way more pictures per party. Ex: for Pooh & pals lots of people want a group shot & individual photos with their 100 Acre loves.
  • As you’ll have guessed, the Seven Dwarfs line is way worse.
  • 3) Breaks. It’s 🔥hot🔥 and our sweet pals in their Halloween best need breaks. That means there are long gaps (10-15) minutes at a time when they step away and the line stops moving.
  • 🎃Our recommendation: If you’re ok with spending 38¢ a minute in line (assuming the ticket was $169+ tax & you stay all 8 hrs) then wait away. If not, there are SO MANY wonderful things to experience at this party! We suggest you get a few pounds of candy, enjoy a dance party, and check out the parade, stage show, and fantastic fireworks!
  • CMs are using small shovels to hand out candy:
  • And the CMs really are shoveling that candy in.
  • Chrissy found a secret candy stop that’s not listed on the MNSSHP map.  It’s wayyy back in Fantasyland, and it doesn’t have an inflatable balloon to indicate that it’s a stop. So you’d really only find it if you knew where to look.

  • Reservations now available from August 28 for the new sushi restaurant in Japan, Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya.  It’s open noon to 9 p.m, with lunch until 4 and dinner after that. I’m going in a couple of weeks and will report back.

  • Next week, August 30, Disney’s going to provide more details on the newest ship in its fleet, the Disney Treasure. I expect this to be a lot like the Disney Wish.  Disney hasn’t announced sailings yet for the Treasure, but we’re expecting summer or fall 2024.  
  • And speaking of openings, Disney confirmed last week that it’s on track for a late 2023 opening of Journey of Water Inspired by Moana.  I think that’s going to happen sometime after October 1.

Surveys

Our friend Jeff writes in with an interesting set of survey questions from ShopDisney.com:


                     

Listener Questions

Our friend Kelly writes in with this question about the end of WDW’s reservation system:

The Walt Disney World Marathon is on January 7th; I have my bib reserved.

I would assume that many people, myself included, intend to run that day, and then spend a few days at the park.  So, my 5-day Disney World trip had been all organized and I had my park reservations lined up and, last week I woke up to an email that half of my park reservations had been cancelled.

Just half.

Everything before the 9th still had a reservation and everything after the 9th didn't.

Now I have to think that, given the Point of Sales issues the parks have had over the last few years anyway, that the 9th and 10th are going to be absolute chaos.  Perhaps it will be weeks of chaos.

Is it REALLY wise to schedule that kind of shift when there will be an influx of about 50,000 people and their families in the park? I know that an extra, say, 50,000 people during a slow time of year is not the end of the world, but consider the considerable organizational stress the event will already add. Then consider that marathoners will not be on regular schedules (We have to get up around 3:00 A.M. for the races.) compared to the rest of the year and staffing levels will be tough to judge for a few days.

I'm no fan of the reservations system, but it seems like not the best time to be making such a large change to your front-of-house ticket collecting operation.

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing at that organization?

Many listeners wrote in to help with my question last week about why half a kilogram (or one pound) seems to be the most common.  Thanks to Dr. Peter Loose, John Thompson, and Dave D’Arrezzo for writing in with this info:


In most European cookbooks the basic unit/amount of ground beef is around 500 g (or multiple times of that). That could explain the amount and why nobody is changing it. Moreover the overall portion size of a meal is much smaller over here (as you can see on the DLP plates 🫣😂) and the average household doesn’t need that much meat.

And Dave added:

Mostly ground beef sold in supermarkets is made centrally, in very sterile conditions, trayed and often even priced before being sent tray ready to the store.

That’s because few retailers actually have knives in the back and most folks don’t really know how to cut meat. It’s  expensive to have little processing plants in the back rooms of grocery stores, and for cost reasons most processing is done centrally.

Also, if you’re in a new supermarket and trying to find where different kinds of meat are placed in the meat department, Dave says there’s a color-coding system used by almost everyone:

Red trays are used for pork, blue for seafood, yellow for chicken, and white for specific cuts.

And John added:

But the main reason eggs in the US need to be refrigerated is that there’s a protective coating on the eggs that is washed off. Mist countries don’t do that. Also, if (like us) you get eggs from a small farm, they also don’t do that. 

Our friend Rory Gauld from the UK writes in with this question about Genie+:

I’m writing in to ask about Lightning Lanes. Whilst I do admit that for our day in Hollywood Studios we had Genie +, we certainly didn’t need it. However, there were a few standout attractions, like Na’vi River Journey, where the lightning lane to standby ratio was roughly 5:1 at times while I was waiting. This resulted in the standby wait being 100 minutes.

Do you see any improvement in the future of these ratios, or do you think that demands for lightning lane slots will stay high so long as genie + pricing stays at the widely accessible level that it currently is? For reference, the genie plus price for animal kingdom on the day I visited was the base rate of $15.

And Paul wrote in with a related question about Genie+:

Other thing is a question, I was on Slinky Dog yesterday and noticed a sign at the Lightning Lane merge point that said "phase capacity" and had red, yellow, and green columns. What is this?

Research/Patents (use query "disney enterprises".as AND "theme park".ab)

COMMERCIAL BREAK

We’re going to take a quick commercial break.  When we return, Jim finishes the story of EPCOT’s Spain pavilion and its link to the film Gigante. We’ll be right back.

MAIN TOPIC - iTunes Show

Epcot’s Spain pavilion feature story
Part Three of Three

Where we left off last time … Walt Disney Animation Studios had (in a span of three years) produced a pair of films that had made the Imagineers sit up and take notice.

November 24, 2010 -- Disney’s “Tangled” comes out. Does double the business that “Princess and the Frog” had done at the box office the previous year.

Late summer of 2013 – Disney’s “Frozen” is still a few months away from being released to theaters. But the thinking in-house is that this Chris Buck / Jennifer Lee film is … Well, good. The hope is that “Frozen” will do as well at the box office as “Tangled” did three years earlier (i.e., $592 million worldwide)

No one at the Company has a clue at this point that Disney’s “Frozen” will be this worldwide phenomenon, that it will eventually double “Tangled” ‘s global box office take (i.e., selling $1.2 billion worth of tickets during its initial theatrical run).

Okay. So the old saying is “Good things come in threes.” Back in the late 1980s / early 1990s, Walt Disney Animation Studios had this amazing run at the box office where three animated musicals based on fairy tales did big business.

  • “The Little Mermaid” in November of 1989
  • “Beauty & the Beast” in November of 1991
  • and “Aladdin” in November of 1992

Mind you, those were all hand-drawn films. And John Lasseter – who’s now been head of Walt Disney Animation Studios for over seven years at this point (That happened when the Mouse acquired Pixar for $7.4 billion back in January of 2006) … He’d really like to try for the trifecta again. Only this time with a slate of CG fairy tales.

And no one in the Company was more eager to see John Lasseter succeed – get three hit films in a row based on fairy tales – than Imagineering. After all, the guys at WDI had seen all of the projects for the Parks that had come out of the success of “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”

Which is why – when Nathan Greno (the co-director of “Tangled”) comes to Lasseter in Late 2011 / early 2012 with the idea of adapting that old English fairy tale, “Jack and the Beanstalk” to the big screen – Lasseter is definitely excited.

Mind you, over at Warner Bros., around this very same time, that studio has its own “Jack and the Beanstalk” movie in the works (Fun fact: It was the success of Disney’s live-action “Alice in Wonderland” movie – that Tim Burton movie was released to theaters in March of 2010 and then went on to sell a over a billion dollars worth of tickets worldwide – that convince Warner Bros. that they too should make a live-action version of a classic fairy tale) …

And that project – Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Killer” – was out in theaters by March of 2013 and cost just as much as Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” to make [$185 million] but only sold $197 million worth of tickets worldwide.

You’d think that “Jack the Giant Killer” stumbling at the box office would have given Disney pause. But no. They plunged ahead with developing their animated musical version of this old English fairy tale (which – at this point – in-house is known as just “Giants”).

Initial take on this story goes like this … “Giants” is set in Spain during the Age of Discovery (As I mentioned during last week’s show, this is that brief span of time in that country’s history – we’re talking 1492 through 1502 -- where Queen Isabella funded multiple sea voyages as Christopher Columbus went off in search of the New World).

Jack is a 17 year-old guy from a poor family who is in love with the daughter of a rich merchant. And that merchant refuses to allow Jack to court his daughter because he has so few prospects.

This is why – when a giant beanstalk suddenly appears at the edge of his small town – Jack immediately begins climbing it, hoping to find a fortune as he heads “Into the Unknown.”

Quick side note here: On last week’s show, we mentioned how “Gigantic” was originally being putting together by what many people considered Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-star team:

  • Nathan Greno (the co-director of “Tangled”)
  • Dorothy McKim (the producer of Disney’s “Prep & Landing” holiday specials
  • and Robert & Kristen Anderson-Lopez (the Oscar-winning husband & wife team behind Disney’s “Frozen”)

And Robert & Kristen wrote a full set of songs for “Gigantic.” In fact, when the Company finally revealed that this film was officially in the works at Walt Disney Animation Studios (This was done back in August of 2015 at that year’s D23 Expo as part of the Disney Studios presentation), the Lopezes actually performed one number from that film. Which was called “Funny Little Man.”

It was in this scene that those 6000 people in Hall D23 learned how Disney’s “Gigantic” would be different than Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Killer.” Because when Disney’s 17-year-old Jack got to the top of that bean stalk, the first giant that he met was an 11-year-old girl named Ima. Mind you, Ima is 60 feet tall. And when she first sees Jack, Ima thinks that he’s a toy.

Which leads to that “Funny Little Man” song. Which featured lyrics like:

"He’s cutest when he’s jumping on a sponge cake.
He’s funny when he’s running across the floor.
I hope I won’t be stepping on my angry little leprechaun.
Because he’s all I’ve been praying for."

Mind you, when “Gigantic” got cancelled in October of 2017 (for reasons we’ll get to in a moment), it seemed like a shame that that score full of songs that the Lopezes wrote for this now-cancelled project would go to waste. So remember that number that Jack was supposed to sing as he climbed up that bean stalk and headed off “Into the Unknown” to seek his fortune. As it was explained to me, that song was then repurposed from “Frozen 2.” (Which was then released to theaters in November of 2019) Where it then became the big ballad that Idina Menzel sang in the first act for that movie, “Into the Unknown.”

So why – in the end (given the all-star team that had been assembled to make this animated feature. More to the point, John Lasseter’s desire to have Disney replicate its late 1980s / early 1990s run of three hit fairytale films in a row) – was “Gigantic” cancelled? To be blunt, because the filmmakers could never figure out the third act of its story.

To explain: Once Jack climbs that bean stalk up into the clouds, he learns that there’s not just one giant up there. But there’s a whole world of giants up there. And one group in particular – the storm giants – are anxious to now break the centuries-old treaty that the giants have with the human world below. And they looking for any excuse at all to go down there and then … Invade. Conquer.

That was the problem. Because “Gigantic” ‘s story just kept changing (All that was consistent when it came to all the different versions of this plot was that Jack & Ima would eventually have to team up to stop the Storm Giants), the development of this Nathan Greno film kept getting bogged down.

Now you have to understand that – over at WDI – “Gigantic” was seen as this huge get-out-of-jail-free card. At least when it came to finally getting Epcot’s long-delayed Spain pavilion back in development.

Two things really helped out here when it came to the revival of this project:

  • “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” had opened at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in July of 2014. And that theme park was supposed to have a five year exclusive when it came to that specific attraction. But NOT when it came to the trackless ride system that powered “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.”
  • “Frozen Ever After” (the re-purposed version of Norway’s “Maelstrom” ride) had been a smash hit ever since it had first opened along the shores of World Showcase Lagoon back in June of 2016.

So here’s how WDI’s decision tree worked:

  • We have this can’t-miss movie coming from Walt Disney Animation Studios that’s set in Spain
  • We have this ride system we’re using at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris that we’d really like to bring stateside
  • Guest traffic patterns at Epcot is really lopsided right now because “Frozen Ever After” has opened at that theme park’s Norway pavilion. Guests keep going to the left when they arrive at World Showcase Lagoon.

The solution to all three of these problems was to build Epcot’s long-delayed Spain pavilion on the other side of World Showcase Lagoon (between Epcot’s France & Morocco pavilion). And then have that pavilion’s marquee attraction be one that was themed around Disney’s “Gigantic” which then had that ride use the very same trackless ride system that powered “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.

Mind you, this plan went out the window in October of 2017 when Disney announced that – after two years of work (and spending $100 million on the project) – the Studio was officially shelving “Gigantic.” Largely because they just could not solve that film’s story problems.

It’s worth noting here that – even though Epcot’s Spain pavilion got cancelled yet again when “Gigantic” got shelved in October of 2017 – the Imagineers were still determined to bring that trackless ride technology to Epcot. More to the point, they still very much wanted to get a new attraction-of-size built on the other side of World Showcase. Which would then (hopefully) help balance out Guest traffic patterns at that theme park. Give people who were visiting Epcot for the day an equally strong reason to turn to the right when they arrived at World Showcase Lagoon, rather than always going left.

Which is why – in November of 2018 – we learned that Epcot would be getting a clone of “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.” Which – because this attraction wasn’t supposed to open at WDW’s second gate ‘til 2021 (Just in time for that Resort’s 50th anniversary) still honored the Imagineers’ original agreement with Disneyland Paris management (i.e., that that resort would have a five year exclusive on the “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” ride and the technology that powers that attraction).

The ironic part of this story is … Well, when “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” finally opened in Epcot’s France pavilion on October 1, 2021 (just in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary) … You know how you have to hike all the way around to the back of the French pavilion to finally arrive at the entrance to the queue for “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” ?

Well, there’s a reason for that. Remember how the Imagineers initially wanted to build the new version of Epcot’s Spain pavilion between Morocco & Spain (The site where the Spain pavilion had originally supposed to have been built – on the empty expansion pad between Canada & the UK Pavilion was no longer available. The entrance to Epcot’s World ShowPlace was built there back in 1999)?

Well, if construction of Epcot’s revived Spain pavilion had followed its original schedule:

  • “Gigantic” was supposed to have originally been released to theaters in 2018 (Exact month kept changing. One version of its release plan had “Gigantic” arriving in theaters in March of 2018, while another version had “Gigantic” opening in theaters in November of that same year (2018)
  • Construction of Epcot’s Spain pavilion was to have begun in 2019
  • Epcot’s Spain pavilion was supposed to be open in time for WDW’s 50th anniversary in October of 2021.

Just so you know: There would have been roughly three years between “Gigantic” first opened in theaters in 2018 and when the trackless ride based on that film would have opened at Epcot. Same gap existed between when “Frozen” first opened in theaters in 2013 and when “Frozen Ever After” opened at Epcot.

The kicker here: The ride building that was supposed to contain the “Gigantic” trackless ride experience was to have been built where the ride building that contains “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” at Epcot sits today. No need to reinvent the wheel here. Survey work had already been done.

WRAP-UP

That’s going to do it for the show today.  You can help support our show and JimHillMedia by subscribing over at DisneyDish.Bandcamp.Com, where you’ll find exclusive shows never before heard on iTunes.  Email for tech support at bandcamp: support@bandcamp.com.

ON NEXT WEEK’S SHOW: It’s the anniversary of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in the parks, and we’ll have Imagineer Jim Shull on to talk about the trade-offs that happened during that development.

NOTES 

You can find more of Jim at JimHillMedia.com, and more of me at TouringPlans.com.

PRODUCER CREDIT

iTunes Show: We’re produced fabulously by Aaron Adams, who’ll be teaching you how to throw on the 1 and 2 AND over the shoulder and around the neck, at the 2023 Hula Hoop & Hip Hop Festival, on Saturday, September 30, 2023 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, at the Metro Technology Centers Business Conference Center (I did not make that name up), on Springlake Drive, in beautiful, downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

CLOSING

While Aaron’s doing that, please go on to iTunes and rate our show and tell us what you’d like to hear next.

For Jim, this is Len, we’ll see you on the next show.


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