This Is the Hottest Souvenir at Disney Parks This Christmas

Disney Hollywood Studios

Disney Parks are known for their over-the-top Christmas celebrations, but this year it’s not the sky-high trees or snow on Sunset Boulevard that has everyone talking.

It’s the reusable plastic popcorn bucket.

 

Modeled after Disney’s beloved bloodhound Pluto, this specialty popcorn bucket comes filled with both a handy snack and the Christmas spirit. At just $13.50, the delightful keepsake has already become the hottest item of seasonal merchandise at Walt Disney World, making a perfect holiday present for any Disney superfan.

Pluto Bucket Popcorn

First spotted by Disney Food Blog at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last week, the wintertime popcorn bucket depicts Mickey’s much-adored pup decked in an ugly Christmas sweater and delightfully sweet doggy Santa hat. The food opening isn’t on top, but through the back, keeping its design intact and sold with a handy carrying strap that includes small designs of dog bones printed throughout.

This yuletide souvenir comes hot on the heels of Disney’s massively successful Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket, which was introduced to parks on both coasts in celebration of Halloween. Featuring the pinnacle villain of Tim Burton’s cult classic “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the Halloween best-seller caused crazy lines with movie fans clamouring to get one of their own.

If you’re wondering if that “Disney Parks” strap means it will be sold at both parks, you’re in luck. The new character-shaped bucket arrived at Disneyland Resort during the kickoff of their Festival of Holidays events, and the Anaheim park’s weekend crowds snapped up plenty of the souvenirs in stock.

If you want to give this holiday season an added dose of Disney magic, now’s the time. Oogie Boogie buckets sold out at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland over two weeks before Halloween, and resale prices skyrocketed on third-party websites like eBay quickly after word got out. Christmas may be six weeks away, but don’t wait that long to tuck this treat underneath your tree.

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One of Disney World’s Most Popular Rides Inspired This Real Life Car

carCOURTESY CHEVROLET

If you’ve been driving a Chevy Traverse and enjoying all the futuristic-seeming bells and whistles, don’t think that’s without good reason. The popular family car that seats up to eight people actually had the same design team as one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot Theme Park: Test Track. The theme park ride, which is also the fastest ride at Disney, reaches speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. For such a speed-themed attraction that is open to even young children, safety-enhancing features are some of the most important design elements. (If you’ve been living a Mickey-obsessed life, this is probably almost as good as the time you found out about the princess-themed wedding dress collectionthat featured Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.)

 

disney-rideTest Track’s popularity has remained a steady pull for theme park guests over the years, and when the attraction underwent a major renovation in 2012, the design teams at Disney and Chevrolet actually got together to swap ideas. The similarities between Test Track cars and the modern day Traverse don’t seem to stop at seat belts and safety features, though.

carThe ride, which is an open-air race car simulation experience, allows riders of most ages to actually customize their driving experience before heading onto the track, much like the dealership experience. Instead of standing idly by waiting in notorious park lines, guests are encouraged to pick their car’s engine style and even design elements like color, shape, and more scientific details like the degree of aerodynamic success their car will achieve. Fans have quickly grown obsessed with some of the features the Disney cars have already considered standard for years like a feature Chevy pioneered called Teen Driver Technology.

carCOURTESY CHEVROLET

“The GM Test Track ride has all these controls and features to make sure you’re safe while you’re riding,” explains Sue Wright, product marketing manager for Chevy Traverse. “We saw that parents loved one of the ride’s safety features, that the ride just doesn’t move till everyone is buckled up, and we translated that and a lot of other feature elements to the Traverse knowing that it would be a family vehicle teenagers would get to drive from time to time. Our Teen Driver feature comes standard, and if it’s enabled, the teen in the driver’s seat can’t even turn the music on before their seat is buckled, similar to features in the Test Track ride.”

While it’s not just seat belts that determine a teenager’s overall safety when driving, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes.” They’ll probably still follow friends on the road or waste money by driving too fast, but at least parents will have peace of mind knowing they’re wearing seat belts, while even the youngest children will get a kick out of imagining their parents could be driving the same Disney cars Minnie is seen around the park in.

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Here’s why you will never see a Disney theme park employee point with one finger

DID your mum ever tell you it’s rude to point? Well it turns out that Disney theme park bosses took that one rule VERY seriously.

Disney workers are banned from pointing with one finger when giving directions.

Instead, staff point with two fingers… known as “the Disney point.”

The reason is that Disney parks get visitors from all over the world every single day.

Some of these visitors come from countries where pointing with one finger is considered pretty much as rude as flicking the V sign, so to keep everyone happy – two fingers are used instead.

It also has the added effect of being a throwback to the company’s golden days when founder Walt Disney still roamed the parks.

Walt was a prolific smoker and used to get through around three packs of fags every day.

This meant he was always gesturing with two fingers – because a cigarette was dangling between them.

In an effort to hide this habit from the kids who visited his parks, Disneyland started to doctor the the pictures and edit the cigarette out.

This meant that Walt always looked like he had a strange two finger point in every image.

The two finger point isn’t the only strict rile when it comes to Disney Parks and manners.

Strict rules banning any kind of negativity in front of customers means that their hands are tied when faced with a diva guest.

So employees have had to be creative, coming up with genius catchphrases that sound friendly – but are actually full of venom.

So if you ever hear a Disney employee bid you farewell with the words, “Have a magical Disney day” – know you’ve done something seriously wrong.

In Disney talk, that’s code for “f*** you.”

The phrase was revealed during an AMA on Reddit, when someone said: “I worked for Disney’s Ad Agency for three years and we had some cast members tell us this is what it meant,” and it was further confirmed by two former theme park employees.

Disney’s streaming service has won, and it hasn’t even launched yet

Photo: Lucasfilm / Disney

During The Walt Disney Company’s quarterly earnings call on November 9th, CEO Bob Iger casually dropped some news. The tidbit that made the biggest headlines was that the company had just closed a deal with writer-director Rian Johnson to create a new trilogy of movies in the Star Wars universe, giving Lucasfilm the kind of long-term pact with a single director that it’s arguably been missing since George Lucas handed over the keys in 2012.

But another comment may end up having a more significant impact — not just for Disney, but for the entertainment world at large. Iger announced that Disney is developing a series of original television shows for its upcoming video streaming service. They include a live-action Star Wars television series, a new Marvel show, and programs based on High School Musical and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. franchise.

For those not paying attention, the news could have just been background noise — a few more TV shows in development somewhere in the bowels of Hollywood. But the comments really sounded like something else: Disney winning the online streaming service wars without firing a single shot.

That sounds like hyperbole, but to get a real sense of the gravity of this news, we need to take a step back and look at the larger dynamics of the streaming market. Once upon a time — way back in 2011, when Netflix first divorced its online streaming service from its legacy DVD business — the company’s focus was on library titles. Licensing deals with multiple studios and cable channels like Starz gave Netflix a wide selection of films and TV shows that made it seem like an unparalleled bargain for consumers, particularly as broadband speeds increased across the United States, and the quality of streaming caught up to the visual potential of high-definition TVs.

Photo: Netflix

But with competitors like Amazon joining the game, it soon became clear that content was going to be the great differentiator. Audiences primarily care about shows and convenience, not network or service names. Faced with multiple streaming options, they’ll naturally gravitate toward whatever service has the most programming they want to watch. That led to exclusivity deals, with companies paying to be the only streaming service carrying Orphan Black, or any upcoming Marvel movies. We’ve frequently seen this strategy with subscription music services, but licensed exclusivity isn’t a stable platform upon which to build a business. It’s just a business transaction, and any deal can be altered or broken. Which is why original programming has become such an incredible focus for streaming services. A company that makes a show can guarantee nobody else gets that show. Hits like Stranger Things (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), and Transparent (Amazon) have made original content the coin of the realm, with each service vying to become the next HBO.

And then there’s Disney. Since Iger took over in 2005, the company has built its movie-business dominance on the power of multi-billion-dollar acquisitions: first with Pixar in 2006, then Marvel in 2009, and then, after another three-year breather, Lucasfilm. The returns have been astronomical. On this week’s earnings call, Iger touted that the average global box office for Disney’s animated movies is now more than $665 million. Marvel films have averaged $840 million each at the global box office, and The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story alone have brought in over $3 billion. It’s the power of incredibly prominent intellectual property, combined with established creative teams that know how to execute. Disney doesn’t try to copy somebody else’s strategy, or build an expanded universe from scratch. It just buys up the people who are already making the things it wants to sell.

That’s why Netflix’s stock dropped in August when Disney announced it would be ending a 2012 deal that brought all of the studio’s films exclusively to Netflix. Losing Star Wars, Marvel, Disney’s live-action output, and Pixar’s many franchises would be a huge blow unto itself. But even more ominous was the revelation that Disney was building its own streaming service, on which its many blockbusters would be exclusives.

Photo: Disney / Marvel Studios

Just the titles Disney is pulling from Netflix would make the new service formidable, especially to families with young children. But Netflix has maintained its upward trajectory without a consistent movie selection for years now. Like Amazon and Hulu, it’s focused on specifically targeted library programming, with an ever-increasing investment in original content making up the balance. Netflix is upping its ambitions with moves like buying Mark Millar’s comics publishing company — enabling the service to both get into the comics game and develop its own comics-inspired properties in-house — but Disney’s streaming television goals point to a checkmate scenario, where the success of its streaming service isn’t just likely; it’s a given.

We’re talking about a 360-degree view of intellectual-property exploitation that hasn’t really been seen before. A world in which a new Star Wars movie hits theaters, and then is available for streaming only on Disney’s service. The same service that is the exclusive home for new Star Wars television shows. And then that same company will offer fans the opportunity to actually visit the lands they’re watching through Disney’s theme parks, and then read about them in books and comics put out by Disney publishers. It’s a holistic ecosystem of entertainment, all under one corporate umbrella, with each division pushing audiences to engage with every other division. Without outside deals or restrictions, it is all just Disney.

I wrote earlier this year that the Millarworld deal indicated Netflix had far grander ambitionsthan just being the best streaming service out there, and I think that continues to be the company’s strategic vision. But Disney’s aggressive pivot toward streaming makes it clear that its leadership plans to leverage its impressive library of properties to full effect, essentially making its still-unnamed streaming service a no-brainer subscription for anyone even remotely fluent in modern pop culture. Along with the new TV shows and traditional film titles, Iger also stated during the call that Disney plans to make four to five films a year specifically for the streaming service. Disney hasn’t historically been known for the high quality of its direct-to-video titles, but if some of those films are part of the Star Wars or Marvel universes, and are just part of a service people are already paying for, that kind of distinction may cease to matter.

Inside Out promotional images (DISNEY/PIXAR)Photo: Disney / Pixar

There is also the simple matter of price. Netflix, hoping to make original content half of its catalog by the end of next year, recently revealed that it will spend $8 billion to hit that goal. Perhaps not coincidentally, it raised its prices just last month. Disney, on the other hand, is already a successful box-office machine, breaking records year after year. Those big-screen properties are already being used to generate revenue across the company’s other divisions. Which is why Disney will be able to undercut Netflix on price. “I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is,” Iger said on the call.

The biggest properties in the world, all on one service, with original offshoots and expansions ready for streaming whenever somebody’s interested, at a lower cost than what people already pay for Stranger Things and Mindhunter. At that point, it’s not just a question of whether Disney’s service will attract customers. It’s a question of whether its service will so radically reset consumer expectations in the streaming market that a $9.99 Netflix subscription just won’t seem like a value any longer.

At that point, Disney would be able to just lean back and starve everyone else out, knowing that its movie-franchise head start will be impossible to match, no matter how many billions its streaming competitors throw at the problem. And if Disney has to pick up a 20th Century Fox along the way to keep building that intellectual property portfolio, Iger seems to be just fine with that idea, too.

Of course, this also points to a possible future where almost all of our blockbuster entertainment comes from a single course. That would seem to be dystopian and horrific, something that audiences would neither want, nor stand for. But if it means an infinite stream of Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars stories until the end of time… well, maybe it will be a little easier to swallow.

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Runners say goodbye to runDisney at Disneyland

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The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon gets underway at Disneyland in Anaheim on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

There were tears and hugs as runners crossed the finish line.

Like many of the thousands of runners in the Sunday Nov. 11 Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, racing events organized by runDisney at the Disneyland Resort are finished – for now.

Some 7,500 runners – many in costume as their favorite super hero such as Hulk, Thor, and Spiderman – trekked 13.1 miles in and around Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and nearby surface streets for runDisney’s last half marathon.

The runners were among the 24,000 who participated in the superhero-themed weekend running event, which included a kid’s race, 5K, and 10K.

Disney announced earlier this month that runDisney will go on hiatus after Sunday due to pending construction projects in the Disneyland Resort.

Soon Disney will begin construction on two new parking structures and a four-diamond hotel on the west side of the Downtown Disney district in preparation for the crush of visitors expected for Disneyland’s Star Wars-themed land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, in 2019.

Officials expect construction on the new projects to begin in 2018 and the hotel to be completed sometime in 2021.

Disney officials have previously said runDisney races may return in the future at Disneyland Resort but gave no indication when. Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will continue hosting racing events.

Many runners after the race shared their thoughts of the bittersweet moment on Facebook and other social media sites.

“I’m so sad,” wrote Karolyne Stokely, on runDisneyrun, a runDisney fan-made Facebook site. Stokely shared a photo of herself and friends with a Spiderman mascot. “Last Disneyland race. I hope it comes back.”

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Why Disney Rejected China’s Day-And-Date Release Offer For ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

The Walt Disney Company

‘Star Wars The Last Jedi”

For Hollywood movies distributed in China, a day-and-date release—that is, a theatrical opening date that falls on the same day as the domestic debut—is generally a very good thing to have. A same-day rollout in China helps to boost box office activity, because it gives Chinese moviegoers the opportunity to see a film at the same time that the rest of the world sees it, and it diminishes the negative financial impact of pirated viewings.

Foreign companies that wish to distribute their movies in China don’t get to choose their own release dates. That right falls to China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), to whom Hollywood’s studios petition for the dates they feel will best position their films in the marketplace.

Very often a day-and-date release is what’s requested. Sometimes the studios are granted their requests, but more often foreign films are delayed in China to accommodate the preferred status of domestic films, which always get the choice releasing slots at holidays and during certain “blackout” periods when Hollywood movies are shut out. That’s why pictures like Valerian: City of A Thousand PlanetsDunkirkBaby Driver and Spider-Man: Homecoming released in September even though they had opened earlier in the year in North America.

So it came as a surprise this week when word got out that SAPPRFT had offered Disney (NYSE:DIS) a cherished day-and-date December 15th release for its Rian Johnson-written and directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the studio had turned it down (I contacted Disney for confirmation and comment on this story, but have not yet received a reply from the studio).

Disney has been on a tremendous roll for the past few years in China, so rather than second-guess the company’s decision, I’ll instead take a shot at explaining it.

On the surface, December 15th, 2017 looks like a darn good release date to me. There’s no other major studio film set to open on that date. And the only domestic Chinese competitor opening at the same time—the Tsui Hark-scripted and Woo Yuen-Ping directed The Thousand Faces of Dunjia—doesn’t appear to be a match for the Star Wars picture.

I suspect there are a couple of factors at play that caused Disney’s execs to choose to delay their film’s Middle Kingdom release date. For one thing, the company went for early January releases of its Star Wars: The Force Awakenson January 9, 2015 and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which opened on January 6th this year. Both pictures did decent-to-strong business, partly owing to the fact that there wasn’t much domestic or foreign competition at the multiplexes in those early weeks of the year. It’s only when Chinese New Year arrives— next year it falls on February 16th—that the PRC’s theaters get commandeered almost entirely by Chinese films.

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Disney shares rise as focus turns to streaming commitment

(Reuters) – Walt Disney’s (DIS.N) shares rose 3 percent on Friday, as Wall Street shrugged off poor financial results and focused instead on the media giant’s commitment to build a service that will compete aggressively with video streaming pioneer Netflix.

Disney’s sharper focus on streaming comes amid subscriber losses at its legacy cable networks that include ESPN and ABC, which many viewers are deserting for cheaper, on-demand streaming options.

On Thursday, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger talked up his commitment to streaming, calling it the company’s “highest priority this year.”

In a step that will further cement Disney’s strong position as a content powerhouse, Iger also unveiled a deal to develop a new “Star Wars” trilogy.

Perhaps more importantly, Iger said Disney’s planned streaming service would be “substantially” cheaper than Netflix.

Analysts said the lower price likely reflected Disney’s relatively smaller content slate but that the move could help the service gain subscribers quickly.

“We think Disney wants strong uptake early on and that this move recognizes that the equity market rewards strong (streaming) subscriber growth,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Steven Cahall said.

To compete better with Netflix and other streaming services, Disney has also said it will keep new Disney releases out of Netflix, starting from 2019.

Disney was making all the right strategic decisions as it builds out the streaming business, Evercore ISI’s Vijay Jayant said.

The company is developing family-friendly streaming services that will sell directly to consumers. It will launch a sports-focused service called ESPN Plus in early 2018.

According to news reports, Disney has held talks in recent weeks about a potential acquisition of most of Twenty-First Century Fox’s (FOXA.O) media assets including FX, National Geographic and its movie studio.

While Iger declined to comment on the speculation on Thursday, analysts said a deal could help Disney expand its content library as it prepares to launch the streaming service.

Disney’s shares have been a laggard on the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI, having fallen about 1.5 percent this year through Thursday, compared to the 18.7 percent gain the index has seen.

Netflix’s stock, which has climbed 52 percent this year, was down 2 percent on Thursday morning.

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Disney unveils massive plan for Star Wars franchise after The Last Jedi

DISNEY has good news for Star Wars fans.

The company has announced plans for a new Star Wars trilogy and TV series in a company call to discuss annual profits.

“We have big ambitions for the Star Wars franchise,” Disney chief executive Robert Iger said during a quarterly earnings call.

Disney just closed a deal with Rian Johnson, director of upcoming film “The Last Jedi,” to develop a brand new trilogy, according to Iger.

The Star Wars franchise has been “exceeding expectations” since Disney acquired Lucasfilm five years ago, according to Iger.

A scene from film Star Wars: The Last Jedi with BB-8 and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) Picture: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm. ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd

A scene from film Star Wars: The Last Jedi with BB-8 and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) Picture: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm. ©2017 Lucasfilm LtdSource:Supplied

He said there would be completely new characters in “a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored”.

Disney plans to launch Star Wars feature films in a new direct-to-consumer pay service that will offer “thousands of hours” of film and television content, he said.

Disney touted the box office success of two new Star Wars films and expressed confidence that “The Last Jedi,” set to debut in theatres next month, would be a hit.

“The excitement will only intensify as we get closer to the release date,” Iger said of the coming instalment.

An action scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picture: LucasFilm/Supplied

An action scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picture: LucasFilm/SuppliedSource:Supplied

“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”

Disney’s plans for a live-action Star Wars TV series is expected to air on Disney’s streaming service by the end of 2019.

The most recent TV series produced as a spin-off to the franchise was the animated show titled Star Wars: Rebels, which began its fourth and final season last month.

The poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picture: Supplied

The poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Going ‘Solo’

Production recently wrapped on a film based on the story of Han Solo, who was played by actor Harrison Ford in the original trilogy as well as in 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” according to Disney executives.

“Solo” is the second movie of a saga that unfolds on the sidelines of the adventures of the Skywalker family, the primary protagonists of the Star Wars universe. The first was “Rogue One,” which came out in 2016 and raked in more than $1 billion at the box office.

“We’ve got more great Star Wars movies already planned for years to come in addition to the 2019 release of Episode IX,” Iger said, referring to the film that will follow “The Last Jedi.” Star Wars has grown into the most lucrative and influential movie franchise of all time since the original film was released in 1977. It has become ingrained in a geek culture that gave rise to Silicon Valley and disruptive technologies.

Leia (Carrie Fisher) & Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Picture: LucasFilm/Supplied

Leia (Carrie Fisher) & Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Picture: LucasFilm/SuppliedSource:Supplied

Californian filmmaker George Lucas was 33 years old when he prepared to release his third feature — a far-fetched, slightly corny intergalactic saga of good and evil starring a sulky farm boy with daddy issues.

“I’m running out of hyperbolic adjectives to describe the power of Star Wars, but that’s because it is the ultimate standard-bearer,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, told AFP in an earlier interview marking the 40th anniversary of the original film.

“Four decades of record-breaking, genre-defining entertainment across film, television, video games, toys, books and everything else the brand has touched simply speaks for itself.”

The Force is strong

Lucasfilm debuted its highly-anticipated second trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” last month, hinting at dark times ahead for the Resistance and possibly even the end of Leia Organa, one of the main characters in the first three films who returned along with Han Solo in “The Force Awakens.”

The clip for the eighth instalment in the blockbuster space opera, due for release on December 15, followed a trailer released in April which teased Luke Skywalker, the star of the original trilogy, teaching newcomer Rey the ways of the Force.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi features Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) Picture: Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm. ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd

Star Wars: The Last Jedi features Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) Picture: Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm. ©2017 Lucasfilm LtdSource:Supplied

This time around more plot was unveiled, with Luke telling Rey he’d only seen power like hers once before — and while it didn’t scare him enough then, it does now.

Fans speculated on social media that he could be talking about his nephew and Rey’s nemesis Kylo Ren, who is seen in a TIE fighter with his mother General Leia Organa in his sights, his eyes welling up as he prepares to open fire.

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel during the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Picture: Getty

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel during the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Carrie Fisher — who has played the character since she was known simply as Princess Leia in the original 1977-83 trilogy — died in December, having already wrapped her scenes for “The Last Jedi.” “The Last Jedi” — filmed on the west coast of Ireland and at Pinewood Studios near London — sees the return of the characters introduced in 2015’s seventh instalment.

Johnson will write and direct the first instalment of the new Star Wars trilogy in a collaboration with Ram Bergman, who will produce the film, according to a release posted online.

“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on ‘The Last Jedi’,” Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement.

“Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”

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Disney Research created a fireworks display you can feel with your hands

The loud boom of a firework is an exciting stimulus, but those colorful explosions are primarily a visual experience. Disney Research has been working on a “Feeling Fireworks,” a display that offers haptic feedback—vibrations a person can feel—to help translate the pyrotechnic display for visually impaired guests. According to Principal Research Scientist Paul Beardsley, it’s part of his group’s work to create “an aesthetic technology for the blind and visually impaired community.”

Haptic feedback to aid the blind, or people with low vision, is by no means a new concept and has been on the rise in the past few years. You can find touch-based stimuli tech in everything from shoes that vibrate to guide a blind person as they walk, to the Sunu wristband that shakes to give directions. Disney’s design, however, is specifically focused on translating the experience of fireworks to people who can’t see them.

The technology consists of a latex screen that’s roughly 3 feet x 3 feet with a projector in the front and a series of water jets in the back. A basic Arduino computer controls the spray characteristics of the jets, which essentially draw the shapes of the fireworks on the screen so users on the other side can feel them through the flexible surface. A projector at the front of the screen can also create a corresponding image.

Disney fireworks you can feel

A projector on the front works in concert with the water jets at the back.

 

The prototype also uses a Microsoft Kinect camera array to track the movements of the user, which makes the display interactive, which is impossible—or at least certainly ill-advised—with traditional explosive displays.

Disney Research tested the tech on a small group of 18 sighted subjects, and found that they had a 66 percent success rate in matching a haptic firework to a video representing the same shape and duration.

This isn’t the first time Disney has experimented with haptic feedback for interactive displays. In 2013, the company showed off a technology called Aireal (get it?) that used air vortices and ultrasonic pressure radiation to make virtual objects on a screen feel real.

There are also a number of traditional touchscreens that offer haptic feedback that corresponds to

Right now, there are no plans to implement the fireworks device in any of the Disney parks, but the paper does speculate on some possible uses for similar haptic tech for its visitors that go beyond vision. For instance, Beardsley says “the use of balloons by deaf people to feel music suggests that the screen might also be a basis for a tactile-visual musical experience for the deaf community.”

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Disney lifts ban on L.A. Times film critics

Walt Disney Co. has reversed its decision to exclude Los Angeles Times critics from press screenings of its films.

“We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at the Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics,” Disney said in a statement sent to The Times on Tuesday.

The statement followed declarations by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. (which includes Times staff writers), New York Film Critics Circle, Boston Society of Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics and Toronto Film Critics Assn. that Disney films would be ineligible for year-end awards consideration for as long as Times film critics were banned from advance screenings.

Walt Disney Co. revoked the newspaper’s access to all press screenings, the ABC press site and other media events after the Times ran a two-part series on the company’s business ties with Anaheim that Disney considered unfair.

The matter went public when Times editors included notes in the Friday and Sunday Calendar sections to explain why there were no Disney films featured in the holiday movie preview section, and why Justin Chang’s “Thor: Ragnarok” review was not running on the day the film opened.

Support within the journalism community began to grow throughout the weekend, with film writers at the New York TimesWashington Post and A.V. Club announcing boycotts of Disney press screenings and filmmakers including Ava DuVernay tweeting their support.

When contacted, a Disney rep had no comment beyond the statement.

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