“Snow” Flurries Forecast for Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay

Holiday magic will deck the halls and add sparkle to the decks for guests who sail with Disney Cruise Line beginning this Thanksgiving and continuing through to the New Year. Both Disney Magic and Disney Wonder will spread an abundance of holiday cheer, from traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts to "snowflake" sightings and seasonal caroling.

A special 10-Night Holiday Caribbean Cruise is planned for Disney Magic from Dec. 16 through Dec. 26. The Eastern/Southern Caribbean cruise will call at ports not typically on the Disney Magic cruise itinerary, including St. Lucia and Antigua.

The spirit of the season will surround cruise guests from the moment they arrive at Port Canaveral, Fla. Disney characters decked out in their finest holiday attire will welcome guests to the lavishly decorated private cruise terminal. During holiday sailings, guests will discover:

— Thanksgiving festivities complete with Thanksgiving Day meal with all the trimmings, craft activities with a focus on pilgrim hats and turkeys, and visits by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in Thanksgiving costumes.

— A nearly three-deck-tall tree festooned with decorations in the atrium lobby, where "snow" flurries fall and a tree-lighting ceremony occurs.

— A Christmas Day visit from Santa Goofy, with surprises for all the kids.

— International holiday caroling by crew members from around the globe (exclusively on the Christmas cruise).

— Special family time for designing and decorating gingerbread houses.

— A reading of "The Night Before Christmas" by Mrs. Claus.

— Traditional holiday feasts in Disney's three themed dining rooms (Christmas cruise only).

— Multiple faith and interdenominational holiday services (Christmas and Hanukkah cruise only).

— A ship-wide party to ring in 2007 and a New Year's Day tailgate party.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, Disney Magic embarks on a special Western Caribbean journey, during which the ship sails twice to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. The seven-night voyage departs Nov. 18, arriving first at Castaway Cay for the usual Disney Cruise Line visit. When the ship returns the day after Thanksgiving, the island will be transformed into a Magical Wonderland, where the sandy Bahamian isle becomes a "snowy" holiday hideaway. "Snow" flurries will fall like magic, Christmas trees will glow and carolers will croon. Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, wearing shell noses and tropical attire, will greet guests with a sleigh full of presents. The tram that transports guests across the 1,000-acre island will be reindeer themed, complete with antlers and tail. A four-night Disney Wonder cruise stops at Castaway Cay on Thanksgiving Day.

At the beach, families can learn the art of sand sculpting, and kids can dive into holiday-themed activities that include making candy cane reindeer, paper plate angels and snowflake-mobiles.

The Disney Magic 10-Night Holiday Caribbean Cruise departs Dec. 16, with visits to Key West, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Thomas/St. John and Castaway Cay. The Disney Wonder four-night Christmas cruise departs Dec. 24, with visits to Nassau and Castaway Cay.

To celebrate the New Year, Disney Magic departs on its seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary Dec. 30; Disney Wonder departs Dec. 31 for its four-night cruise.

From Thanksgiving through the New Year, Disney Cruise Line guests will experience a magical holiday to remember. To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can contact their travel agent, visit www.disneycruise.com or call Disney Cruise Line at 888/DCL-2500. Travel agents can call Disney Cruise Line at 888/325-2500 or visit www.disneytravelagents.com.


Disney Records releases highly anticipated Hannah Montana soundtrack!

Walt Disney Records releases the highly anticipated The Hannah Montana Soundtrack to Disney Channel's hit "Hannah Montana" on Tuesday, October 24, featuring music from the #1 TV series and a music DVD (while supplies last) with five concert videos. The album is expected to be the largest debut for a TV Soundtrack, with first week sales expected to exceed 200,000 units – and a debut in Billboard's Hot 200 Album chart in the Top 3.

The two-disc soundtrack features eight favorite tracks including the "Hannah Montana" theme song "Best of Both Worlds" performed by Miley Cyrus and a duet, "I Learned from You," performed by Miley and her real-life and on-screen father multi-platinum-selling country music star Billy Ray Cyrus (Robby Stewart in "Hannah Montana"). "Hannah Montana" is the #1 rated series on cable TV among Tween 9-14 and tied for #1 among kids 6-11.

Additional tracks from and inspired by the series are "Who Said," "Just Like You," "Pumpin' Up the Party," "If We Were a Movie," "I Got Nerve" and "This is the Life" each performed by Hannah Montana, and "Pop Princess" performed by The Click Five, "She's No You" performed by Hollywood Records recording artist Jesse McCartney, "Find Yourself in You" performed by Everlife, "Shining Star" performed by B5, "I Learned from You" performed by Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus. The music DVD features five concert videos by Hannah Montana "Best of Both Worlds," "Who Said," "Just Like You," "Pumpin' Up the Party," and "The Other Side of Me."


Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment Unveils First Day-and-Date and 50GB Blu-ray Titles

Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment (BVWHE) president Bob Chapek today announced BVWHE's next wave of Blu-ray Disc titles including the first day-and-date with DVD new release title — Walt Disney Pictures' "Invincible" (December 19) — as well as the first 50GB Blu-ray Disc titles available from the studio, Touchstone Pictures' "Enemy of the State," "Flightplan" (both November 21) and "Pearl Harbor" (December 19). These titles continue BVWHE's ongoing release strategy for Blu-ray Disc titles. Most Blu-ray titles from BVWHE will be available for $34.99 SRP.

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Commenting on the announcement, Chapek stated, "As the Blu-ray technology continues to infuse our industry with robust growth, BVWHE is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the format with the release of our first 50GB titles. We have seen the future and it is here — the digital age is upon us and Blu-ray is the format consumers have embraced for their entertainment choice."

"Invincible" marks the first day-and-date title from BVWHE on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Both editions' bonus features will include Becoming Invincible: The Story of Vince Papale and two Audio Commentaries, the first with Vince Papale, Producer Mark Ciardi and writer Brad Gann; the second with director Ericson Core and editor Jerry Greenberg. "Invincible" Blu-ray Disc includes an exclusive high-definition featurette "Recreating the Vet."

"Enemy of the State," "Flightplan" and "Pearl Harbor" mark the first 50GB titles from BVWHE on Blu-ray Disc. "Enemy of the State" bonus materials will include original DVD features Deleted Scenes, Making of Enemy of the State, All Access: The Showdown, Theatrical Trailer and Blu-ray exclusive Movie Showcase; "Flightplan" will include original DVD features Audio Commentary, Emergency Landing: Visual Effects, Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalto E-474 and Blu-ray exclusives Movie Showcase and Blu-Scape "Jet Stream"; and "Pearl Harbor" bonus materials will include original DVD features Journey To The Screen: The Making of Pearl Harbor, Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor, Theatrical Trailer, Teaser Trailer, Music Video: "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill and Blu-ray exclusive Movie Showcase.

Chapek continued "The amazing presentation of "Pearl Harbor" and "Enemy of the State" on 50GB Blu-ray Disc delivers astonishing high-definition picture and theatre-quality sound. As we delve into the new world of Blu-ray, BVWHE will take full advantage of the extended capacity and bonus materials the 50GB disc allows."

BVWHE's Blu-ray titles feature advanced new menus offering seamless navigation and settings while the movie is still playing; dynamic and unparalleled, high-definition picture; new layering coating technology which provides a scratch resistance surface; Movie Showcase which highlights the most impressive high definition picture and sound moments on the disc; and new sleek packaging. Other Disney Blu-ray feature technologies being developed include unparalleled interactive features; personalized chapter selections; and compelling online content, including web connectivity, which will allow users to connect to live events hosted by the studio and more.

Additional BVWHE Blu-ray Disc titles available on November 21 include Touchstone Pictures' "Annapolis" with bonus features to include Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary and Movie Showcase; "Goal! The Dream Begins" will feature Audio Commentary, Movie Showcase and Behind The Pitch; and Walt Disney Pictures' "Sky High" will feature Movie Showcase, Alternate Opening, Welcome to Sky High, Breaking Down the Walls: The Stunts of Sky High, and "The Wild" will feature Movie Showcase, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary, "Real Wild Child" Music Video by Everlife, Eddie Izzard Unleashed and Meet Colin: The Rock Hyrax.

Blu-ray Disc is the next-generation optical disc format for high-definition video and high-capacity software applications. A single-layer Blu-ray Disc will hold up to 25GB of data and a double-layer Blu-ray Disc will hold up to 50GB of data. Blu-ray Disc is supported by the world's leading Consumer Electronics, Personal Computer & Gaming companies, and with 7 of 8 Hollywood studios releasing their high-definition content on Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray will deliver the widest variety of high-definition, home entertainment content.


Prestige’ materializes at No. 1; ‘Flags’ flutters in third

Walt Disney Co.'s thriller "The Prestige" about rival magicians in London's Victorian era worked some box-office magic as the top performer this weekend, while director Clint Eastwood's World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers" finished a disappointing third.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, "Prestige" pulled $14.8 million out of the hat in the U.S. and Canada, followed by Martin Scorsese's holdover crime thriller "The Departed" with $13.7 million. "Flags" opened below most industry expectations at $10.2 million.

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Stealing the show this weekend, PG-13-rated "The Prestige," starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, drew a young audience. Exit polls showed that 18- to 35-year-olds made up 49% of the audience, the over-35 crowd accounted for 30% and teens the rest. At 2,281 venues, the film averaged $6,496 a screen.

"I think we surprised a lot of people," said Disney's distribution president, Chuck Viane. "For some reason we were picked to be third, even though the director has a fan base and it had the star power."

Viane thinks what put the picture at the top were its strong last-minute reviews, Nolan's devoted following (he directed Bale in "Batman Begins" and made the acclaimed 2000 indie film "Memento") and "what the movie promised" in the studio's well-crafted trailer with highlighted plot twists.

Some industry watchers predicted that Paramount Pictures' "Flags," a heroic tale about six comrades raising the U.S. flag during the battle for Iwo Jima, would storm the weekend ahead of the opposition.

Despite strong reviews, the $90-million film co-financed by Paramount's DreamWorks SKG and Warner Bros. grossed an estimated $10.2 million on 1,876 screens.

Rob Moore, head of Paramount's worldwide marketing and distribution, said the R-rated film debuted below the studio's own estimates. But he said its results mirrored Eastwood's previous movies "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," which grossed $10.4 million and $12.3 million, respectively, when they went into wide release.

("Million Dollar Baby," which won last year's best picture Oscar, went on to gross $100.4 million domestically, and "Mystic River" grossed $90.1 million).

"Eighty percent of the people who went to the movie were over 30. And that's just not an audience that shows up on opening weekend," said Moore, noting that the audience makeup was 55% male. Because Eastwood's films typically have slower rollouts and skew older than most mainstream releases, Moore said, "they tend to play a lot longer."

The fall is when Hollywood releases its more serious adult fare and competes heavily both for box-office dollars and Oscar attention. So far, the results have produced good news for the movie industry, with year-to-date box-office revenue up 6.7% and attendance up 3.4%.

Audiences continued to show up in earnest for Martin Scorsese's R-rated crime thriller "The Departed," whose box-office results dropped just 28% in its third weekend. It held on to the runner-up spot with an estimated $13.7 million on 3,005 screens.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg, the Warner Bros. film has taken in $77 million in three weeks and could upstage Scorsese's 2004 Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator" (at $102.6 million) as his highest-grossing film domestically.

The weekend's only other wide-release opening was 20th Century Fox's family film "Flicka," which brought in $7.7 million at 2,877 sites, behind Sony Pictures' animated feature "Open Season," which grossed $8 million and has hunted down nearly $70 million to date.

Also aimed at families, Disney's new 3-D version of Tim Burton's 13-year-old musical film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" scared up $3.3 million on 168 screens. In its original 1993 run, the film grossed $50.4 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Among the weekend's other new limited-release entries, Sony Pictures' "Marie Antoinette," a contemporary twist on the story of the French queen from director Sofia Coppola, opened at 859 theaters with an estimated $5.3 million. The film, which received mixed reviews and was booed at this year's Cannes International Film Festival, averaged $6,170 per screen.

Sony also debuted its R-rated "Running With Scissors," a quirky tale about a dysfunctional family starring Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin. The film averaged $28,125 on eight screens for a gross of $225,000.

Meanwhile, Sony's "The Grudge 2" dropped a steep 63% from last weekend. Running neck and neck with "Flicka," the horror film also grossed an estimated $7.7 million on about 300 fewer screens (2,396) than Fox's horse movie.

New Line Cinema's horror prequel "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" pulled in $3.9 million in 2,569 theaters in its third weekend. The studio's more highbrow offering, "Little Children," opened on 32 screens with a per-screen average of $8,094.

Expanding its run from 46 to 99 theaters, Miramax Films' "The Queen," directed by Stephen Frears and starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, grossed $1.5 million, averaging $15,333 a screen. Its total to date is $3.8 million.


Book about Walt Disney shows reality behind magical myth

By Cal Thomas

In the introduction to his magnificent biography of Walt Disney, author Neal Gabler writes, “More than any other American artist (Walt Disney) defined the terms of wish fulfillment and demonstrated on a grand scale to his fellow Americans, and ultimately to the entire world, how one could be empowered by fantasy — how one could learn, in effect, to live within one’s own illusions and even to transform the world into those illusions.”
There has been much written about Disney, but Gabler’s “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” (Knopf) is the first to have the full cooperation of the Disney organization and family members. It shows.
Gabler told me that one of Disney’s daughters, Diane, did not want the book to ignore or paper over her father’s faults. Though Diane loved her father, Gabler says she asked him to present the authentic Walt Disney. That he has done in an exhaustively researched and beautifully written work that is among the finest biographies I have ever read.
Disney’s many disappointments, failures and betrayals did not derail him from pursuing his dreams. In fact, he created an alternative universe to which he not only invited the world, but into which he placed himself for protection.
He controlled this fantasy world, and it was the only place in which he felt secure from people and ideas hostile to himself and his beliefs. “For all his outward sociability,” writes Gabler, “associates found him deeply private, complex, often moody and finally opaque. No one seemed to know him.”
Probably no American has escaped, indeed could escape, the Disney influence. For my generation, Disney’s presence and Disney’s influence were everywhere.
From Mickey Mouse watches, to cartoons at the movie theater, to feature films such as “Snow White,” “Bambi,” “Pinocchio” and the futuristic “Fantasia,” Walt Disney has defined family entertainment for decades. Forty years after his death in December 1966, the name Disney exemplifies safety and security for children and parents looking for wholesome entertainment.
He may not have invented the term “family values,” but he perfected an art form through which he was able to transmit stories that American hearts enthusiastically received.
Like so many people with great creative gifts, Walt Disney had a dark side. Rarely having enough money to live on and constantly scrounging for funds in the 1920s and during the Depression to underwrite his animated imagination, Disney became used to giving orders and not taking them.
He even came to regard the most innocent suggestions from his employees about how to improve something as insubordination. Not a few of them were demoted or fired outright for having the temerity to challenge the vision of the real “king of all media.”
And yet he was a doting father and grandfather. His children loved him. Though he spent most of his time at the studio — and the little time at home thinking about the studio — Disney’s quality time with his two daughters was sincere, and his love for them was reciprocated. His wife, Lillian, put up with his “studio-as-mistress,” as many women with inattentive husbands did in that era.
Gabler’s book tells a classic American story. Walt Disney grew up on a farm in Missouri, traveled West to pursue a dream and succeeded against all odds. He perfected a new medium — animation — that changed the world of entertainment.
Gabler captures his influence: “He had created a new art form and then produced several indisputable classics within it — films that, even when they had not found an audience or been profitable on first release, had, as Walt predicted, become profitable upon reissue.
He had provided escape from the Depression, strength during the war, and reassurance afterward, and he had shown generations of children how to accept responsibility while at the same time allowing them to vent vicariously their antagonisms toward the adult world they would soon enter.”
Speaking of classics, this book is one. It should capture every award worth giving. Meticulously researched over seven years and with material never before published, “Walt Disney” is the story of a man who overcame many obstacles, including those of his own making. It is the quintessential Horatio Alger myth writ large.
Walt Disney wished upon a star and his dream came true.
E-mail nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas at cal@calthomas.com.


Student ideas a hit with Disney

If Mickey Mouse and Snow White seem to know you by name someday when you visit Disneyland, it might just be thanks to two students at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham.

Lara Clark and Yrinee Michaelidis took second place (and $1,500 each) combining their creativity and engineering skills in this year's ImagiNation's competition sponsored by Disney Imagineering.

Imagineers are people who dream up the fantastic and bring them to life (the term combines the words imagination and engineering ). The Disney competition was launched to encourage students to pursue careers in creative and technical fields such as digital arts, engineering, and architecture — while also putting out feelers for prospective Disney employees.

Of course, the folks at Disney are no fools: All those competing sign away the rights to their submitted ideas. Whether Disney will pounce on those of the Olin duo remains to be seen.

Entrants were asked to design a theme park attraction, restaurant, hotel, or amenity (from vending stands to public toilets). A team of Imagineers in both California and Florida evaluated the submitted work.

“Our idea was to create a video capture system throughout the park," said Michaelidis, who grew up in Hyde Park. “To take still-frame shots — like photos of visitors with Mickey Mouse — and video footage of guests on various rides and turn it into a DVD of your day at Disney."

The team also developed the technology to make it work. Visitors to the parks would wear a Radio Frequency Identification wristband — a bracelet that emits a radio signal recognized by receivers all over the park. The receivers would be located in anything from statues to street lamps, so Mickey would know not only who you are but where you are.

The 21-year-old mechanical engineering students also designed reception rooms where guests would be greeted by name, interact with Disney characters on a big screen, and view footage of themselves on rides.

Coming up with the idea and technology was only part of the battle. Next, they had to pitch it. And a Power Point presentation — the tradition tool of engineers — just wouldn't do for Disney.

“They wanted us to tell a story and tug at the heart," to promote something that every family would want, said Michaelidis.

The team dreamed up a scenario in which three friends in their 30s reminisce while watching a DVD made of a childhood trip to Disneyland.

To make the DVD, the students created their own Disneyland with the help of Photoshop and scenes shot around campus and at a local Disney store. For instance, they turned a freight elevator at the college into a Tower of Terror.

They packaged their presentation in a leatherbound storybook — as though it were a fairy tale. Along with technical behind-the-scenes background, they included ticket stubs, the mock Radio Frequency ID wristbands, a photo album, and the DVD “Your Story."

The pair collaborated on the final stages while thousands of miles apart: Michaelidis in Greece, where her father lives, and Clark in Australia. They talked via Internet, taking turns staying up late to bridge the nine-hour time difference.

“We've never loved working so hard," said Michaelidis.

After graduation, Clark and Michaelidis plan to apply for an internship at Disney. Perhaps some day, statues in the western suburbs will be speaking to us by name.


Disney fans back home

The Australian Disney fans who took a month-long around-the-world tour to all five Disney parks on three continents are back home.

"We are all safe and sound — although our wallets are a lot lighter, and our suitcases much heavier!'' Keith Simpson, 36, one of seven friends on the tour, wrote on the website www.dudisneyana.info.

"Every park was different yet still familiar,'' he added. "People asked us all the time which was our favourite, but we couldn't provide an answer to that. They all had areas in which they excelled and in which they could improve.''

Travelling the world one Disney park at a time cost about $4,661 US, inclusive of discounted rates for hotels, transfers and park passes.



The Walt Disney Co. has announced plans to turn another one of its animated film hits into a Broadway musical. Finding Nemo, the 2003 feature produced by Pixar Animation, now a unit of the entertainment company, will become the latest candidate for stage transformation, the company said Wednesday. At least initially, the theatrical production will be presented as a "short-form" (30 minutes) musical at the Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando. The main characters will appear as puppets — created by Michael Curry, who co-created the puppets for the stage version of Disney's The Lion King. Preview performances are scheduled to begin next month, while the official premiere is due to take place some time in January.


‘Simpsons’ writer sells Disney on ‘Me2’

Screenwriter Larry Doyle, who is a writer on "The Simpsons," has sold Walt Disney Pictures his concept for a reportedly time-traveling film entitled "Me2."

Doyle, who also takes on production duties on the Fox television series, sold the rumored time-travel comedy to the film studio and will begin writing its screenplay immediately, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Attached to the film are director Mark Waters and producer Jessica Tuchinsky, whose Watermark Pictures company will head production duties during filming.

Doyle previously worked on the big screen through the 2003 Warner Bros. animated film "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and has offered his writing talents to animated series such as "Beavis and Butt-head" and "Daria."

The Reporter said that Waters, who is also signed onto Disney's "Bob the Musical," is in Montreal heading up "The Spiderwick Chronicles," a film adaptation of a popular children's literary series of the same name.


Disney backs theme parks in global drive

Disney is launching its first global advertising campaign to promote its Disney theme parks to a wider audience.

The initiative, which kicks off this month, marks the beginning of a 'new era of broader global marketing' at the branded theme parks, designed to ensure greater brand consistency.

The activity, created by New York agency mcgarrybowen and Leo Burnett, alongside Disney's in-house creative team, will be based around the theme 'Where dreams come true'. It is designed to emphasise the 'magic' of visiting a Disney theme park.

The campaign will include TV and press activity, supported by a celebrity-based campaign, which has been photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Each park will add its own customised message; ads for Disneyland Paris will include the celebration of its 15th anniversary, while promotions for Tokyo's Disneyland will include celebrations of its 25th anniversary.

In the US, Disney is launching the 'Year of a million dreams', which will award 1m 'dream prizes' to visitors at Disney parks.

Michael Mendenhall, executive vice-president of global marketing for Disney Destinations, is overseeing the activity.


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