editorials

Editorial: Summer openings and other comments

Avatar Land – Disney has been REALLY hyping this area recently from the weeklong preview on The View (which I was actually there for part of) and weekly teaser videos on their blog (which they know will be picked up by other blogs and websites). What little I’ve seen of it looks great… without legions of strollers or EVCs in the camera’s way. I would have rather they found something a little closer to home (they already have rights to the Pokémon anime which is also fantasy\family friendly\HUGE built-in fan base and that they could’ve easily opened it 5 years ago for one tenth of the cost) but I’m still looking forward to riding their two main attractions… when the crowds thin a bit after their big summer season.

Frozen Games – Disney is bringing back last year’s popular sidekick event at their ice themed water park. I thought Frozen fever peaked about 2 years ago, but why waste a good theme. Besides, it sounds like it could be fun. #TeamKristoff

Star Wars Land – Is a full year away from opening and yet every line of every artist rendered teaser sketch is being picked apart for even the slightest new detail of the two lands. To say they are hyping these two areas is an understatement, but unlike Avatar Land, I think these fraternal twin projects will be a HUGE win for Disney.

Toy Story Land (which was supposed to open quickly to give guests “something to do” while waiting for SWL) – Nothing. No news, no rumors, nothing.

Volcano Bay – Universal’s replacement for the recently shuttered Wet ‘N Wild opens the same weekend as Avatar Land. I’m certainly excited (even though my apartment complex already has a pool), but I’ll wait until some of the inevitable early bugs in their system are worked out before commenting.

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Opinion: “Wasted space at Disney”

Theme park Tourist recently posted (reposted from 2015) a story about the 5 biggest (in their opinion, not mine) “Wastes of Space” at WDW with a clickbait-y “literally” just for good measure. Of course, they cover the basics: Odyssey Restaurant (I’ll throw in Tomorrowland Terrace), Tomorrowland Speedway, The Outpost (which I always assumed was more “Australian” than “African,” but I digress), the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion and Chester & Hester’s Dinorama (1000x YES!!!).

I agree that Dinorama is largely useless, but I’m not sold on their idea to tear it out and put in another thrill ride (since it covers roughly the same footprint as the nearby Dinosaur attraction). My suggestion would be to take out that and the Theatre of the Wild (and while their “Finding Nemo” show IS popular also takes up a HUGE amount of space in Dinoland USA) and replace it with an Australian themed exhibit (I’d say Antarctica, but that’s already taken).

Seriously, I haven’t been to The Boneyard so I cannot comment on it either way, but Dinosaur regularly has a wait of 45-60 minutes and “Finding Nemo” is usually packed. When was the last time you saw an actual line for either of the two carnival rides, eating at the trailer “diner” or anyone playing their noisy games. I can’t stand being in that area because it’s too frenetic and noisy, but the biggest nail in that area’s coffin is the ONE store in the land sells toys\apparel themed to Cars, Toy Story and even Star Wars (seriously)… but nada for The Good DINOSAUR (in a land themed to dinosaurs).

That brings us back to World Showcase. Yeah, Frozen Ever After is fun, and I love walking through the various pavilions… but what exactly does The Outpost do besides take up space? I don’t know if they have enough space there for a full pavilion or not but, surely, they can do better than leather bracelets, frozen colas and a bunch of drums for kids to bang.

I have a lot more thoughts, but it’s after midnight as I’m typing this. I may or may not get to posting the remainder of this reaction later this week.

 

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Minding the gap

I spent a good portion of the afternoon arguing with the agent from the dental insurance company whose policy starts tomorrow (required to complete my ACA order) to try and establish my “assigned dentist.”

Good grief, I can still remember trying to buy regular health insurance (the Golden Rule plan I’d be replacing) when I first moved to Maryland and before the aforementioned “Care Act” took effect. It was a nightmare (which I don’t feel like repeating here), but was still easier than signing up for Obamacare. Seriously, 20 different policies from TWO different companies PLUS I had to choose separate vision and dental plans – why have one monthly bill when you can have three?

No, you can’t skip these two steps – I tried, and ended up delaying coverage for about 2 weeks (and being woken up by phone calls at 9am every morning for said two weeks saying “it’s time to finish enrollment” which I thought was already taken care of). #endrant

Back to my original story: apparently, there is only ONE in the entire metro Orlando area () – even though there were AT LEAST four offices within a 20-minute bus ride of me which claimed they accepted plans from that company, but nope agent on the phone insisted there was only one in-plan dentist in a 25-mile radius “…unless you want the Premium Plan.”

Seriously considered telling him to forgot it as I really didn’t want the plan to begin with. The good news is: it gives me an excuse to switch practices (which you read about in my “dental” category). The bad news is: I’m on my own for finding it… as long as I’m willing to pay “a little bit extra” for another plan… and wait a full year before true coverage kicks in (so that extracted tooth – from LAST FEBRUARY – isn’t getting capped for another year).

But, hey, at least I get to call them back tomorrow…

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, dentistry, editorials, Health, news, politics, ramblings | Leave a comment

Review: Epcot’s inaugural International Festival of the Arts

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First off, today is Saturday. I never go anywhere NEAR the parks on a Saturday unless I absolutely have to…or unless I’m super bored and the event only happens on weekends like the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

Theme Park Tourist couldn’t recommend it highly enough – even going so far as to suggest making it a multi-day event for art\food lovers. I wouldn’t that far, but I do see it’s appeal… as a way to draw attendance to the park between the phenomenally popular Flower & Garden Show and the overpriced pub crawl know as Food & Wine Festival. Nothing wrong with that – Busch Gardens hosts its own Food & Wine Festival during their slow season.

The problem (and you knew I’d have one) is Disney is trying too hard to make what little they’re offering sound like a lot more than what it is (kind of Hollywood Studios). I’ve been to arts festivals in Miami (Beaux Arts), Harrisburg (Kipona), Baltimore (Artscape), Tampa (Gasperilla Festival of the Arts) and, yes, even Shamokin has one (Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts) and none of them were like this.

It’s like the people planning this had never been to an arts festival.

I get this is mainly about drawing people into the park so they can spend their money in DISNEY’S stores and restaurants (so no blocking paths leading to attractions or restaurants) so even though they also advertise this as a “culinary festival,” those tasty “seminars” were tucked safely behind Disney’s trademark paywall.

To be fair, this was one of the weak complaints TPT made of the event: Little food, big prices and long lines. At Artscape, I couldn’t walk 50 feet without running into a food vendor, here the closest thing to fest food was the existing Funnel Cake House at the American pavilion (and, yes, it had a line too). In fact, there were times where I completely forgot I was walking through an “Arts Festival” rather than an overcast day at Epcot.

As I was walking through the various “Art areas,” I noticed they were dominated by house booths with house merchandise. Don’t get me wrong, ALL of the festivals above had their own merch tents – Artscape had several of them spread throughout their festival – but they had other vendors there. Some of them varied in price\quality (see early years of Heritage Fest), but they weren’t all house booths.

Normally, I’d give them some slack for being an inaugural event, but this is DISNEY and I know they can do better than this. Well, there’s always next year…

Categories: adventures, art, disney world, editorials, entertainment, festivals, florida, news, Orlando, ramblings, retail | Leave a comment

Editorial: Suggestions are Universal

  • I didn’t get to go on it this trip (I wasn’t waiting “95 minutes”), but I did think of a way they could make Skull Island feel more like an actual “island” rather than just a stand-alone ride. That is, ironically enough, another location just kinda sandwiched precariously between Reign of Kong and Jurassic Park River Adventure not doing anything but impeding the flow of traffic between the two attractions – that location is… Thunder Falls Terrace.TFT is currently themed to JP (which already has 2 restaurants AND a handful of snack kiosks) but could easily be rethemed to match the newer attraction (and ideally either moved back or reconfigured so as not to take away from said attraction (which according to both the park map and the official park app, lacks any kind of gift shop as well).
  • I know HHN is their big seasonal draw, but they really need to give guests a REASON to visit the resort over the holiday other than ONE parade (“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”) and TWO shows (“Blues Brothers Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”). Yes, you can argue that “Hogsmeade” section of Islands of Adventure is already generically “Wintry,” but surely there are at least some holiday songs\stories in the Wizarding World.

One thing they can do almost immediately without much effort on their part is switch out their regular “Shrek 4-D” film with “Shrek the Halls” (and while they’re at it, run “Scared Shrekless” in October).

  • Actually, they need to ditch that dated movie altogether as that franchise has been dead for over a decade now – the characters don’t even appear in their afternoon parade! Seriously, if they are really pursuing a “Secret Life of Pets” project, THIS is the place to put it as it is directly across from other Illuminations Animation property “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.”
  • Speaking of “parades,” I stayed late in the park this afternoon JUST to see their “Universal Superstars Parade” and I was extremely disappointed I did. They had 4 floats: Despicable Me, Spongebob, Hop and Dora\Diego (using the same floats – and probably performers as well – they use in their various “party zone” times). That’s it, that’s the whole parade. No exaggeration. No Shrek\Donkey, no classic monsters or even Dr. Seuss characters – it’s literally over in less than 10 minutes.
  • Sites like “Theme Park Tourist” love to deride The Lost Continent, and while neither of its attractions are any good, it is still one of their best lands theming wise (somewhat disjointed, but still very well done). Then we have two areas that have awesome attractions and crappy theming: Toon Lagoon and Super Hero Island (the first is kitschy and visually incoherent – the very definition of “sensory overload” in the worst possible way; the second, while still tacky, manages to far more cohesive and thematically consistent but practically screams late-90s).
  • I had other things to say, but my notebook got damaged in the rain storm. I guess that’s enough for now…
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Commentary: What not to post

Some site called “Thrillist” posted a story this morning titled: Things no self-respecting adult should be doing on Facebook.

 

Posting “chain” statuses – I don’t give a fuck how badly “Tweety\Tinkerbell\Random Fucking Butterfly wants to fly,” I’m not sharing your stupid schmaltzy graphic. Same goes for “I want to see this photo of my kid holding a(n) Autism\Cerebral Palsy\Childhood Leukemia awareness sign on EVERY wall on Facebook” or pretty much any other picture that tells me to “Hit LIKE and SHARE if you agree. :D”

Being an annoyingly over-enthusiastic, semi-delusional sports fan – GOOOOOO C-A-N-E-S cuz we’re #1 and it’s ALL about The ||_||

Posting pictures and/or bragging about drinking/drug use – Father was a RAGING alcoholic so I learned THAT lesson pretty early on (and then was forced into rehab which never believed I never drank anything and thus I was labeled as a “liar\in denial” for the length of my stay)

… and then apologizing for it the next day – I NEVER got an apology for the awful things dad did when he was drunk (as it was always – ALWAYS – MY fault). Other people prescribe to the same philosophy as my likes to say “no-one mistreats you for ‘no reason’ – you obviously GAVE them a reason otherwise they wouldn’t have acted like that! Gah, grow up and take some responsibility for YOUR actions!”

Sending multiple invites to your art show/improv show/band’s gig – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Treating your profile like your personal blog – Soo yeah, they want me to log onto WordPress and write a 10-15 word post? I have tried turning “overly long” FB posts into blog posts before, and it never works.

Friending people you don’t actually know – One of the things I took away from my disasterous Chicago trip is we don’t “actually know” ANYONE.

Sending out a million invites to Farmville – But Zynga said if I post it on my wall, my friends WILL help me out. They didn’t. They don’t. They never fucking will. That’s one of the reasons I quit my FB\mobile gaming blog.

Bragging excessively\Bragging Humbly – This is blog “will NEVER have any fuking followers, ur a pethatic LOSER and no-one will tek ur fuking joke of a blog srsly!”

Posting cryptic messages or lyrics that nobody gets – I hate having to guess what people are posting about just for them to say “oh no, nuthin lik that I was listening to music while I was on FB lolz”

Selfies, of any variety – Not on THIS blog. I’ve seen how mine come out, and you don’t want to.

Going on rambling, incoherent political rants – I USED to post stuff like that here (and considered starting a spin-off blog for that kind of material), but I realized that’s not the point of this blog. If I ever figure out what the point of this blog IS, I’ll let you know.

Talking bad about your job (past or present) – The ONLY outside jobs I ever had was a 30-day stint at McDonalds, sweeping floors at Benchmark Young Adult School and a freelance gig at The Miami Hurricane. Literally, every other job I had was self-employed.

Posting cheesy motivational statuses/pictures – Fuck you. That’s the reason I created this blog’s Facebook page in the first place.

Giving a shit about relationship statuses – Nope, but people REALLY hate when you assume they’re still married to their ex. They also hate that you know their “relationship status” at all – even though they’re the ones posting about it.

Desperately begging for someone to hang out with you – That was how I got to Chicago, and I think I mentioned how well THAT went. Now if people want to hang out with me (ha), they can do so. If not, their loss.

Annoyingly self-promoting – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Blocking your relatives – Believe me after what happened at Bay Lake Towers (and the resulting fallout from it), I strongly considered it, but then only proving THEIR point. They are more than free to “block” me, I don’t gaf.

Oversharing – I can’t stand “wow, look at this steak I made for dinner” posts or when people get into overly detailed posts about their sex lives as I really don’t need to read that.

 

A couple things they forgot:

Clickbait – It seems like every page I subscribe to is loaded with headlines like: “This picture looks normal, but look closer!” “Everything seemed normal until the doctor found THIS – MY HEART JUST BROKE!” and “They didn’t suspect anything unusual until THIS happened – SHOCKING!

Not to brag, but you won’t find shit like that on my page. Annoying demotivating memes and depressing cartoons? Yes. Clickbait? No.

Angry\Libelous posts – I’ve been the victim of quite a few of these – often because they are pissed off at something they did to me but are outright lying about it so that everyone can see what an asshole I allegedly was to them (correcting the record makes me look like an even bigger asshole, not correcting it only confirms it – it’s a lose-lose) or something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but again  blamed on me anyway cuz I obviously and this is “karma” for that.

 

Basically, the lesson is: Don’t post anything on Facebook, don’t friend anyone, and delete your account.

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Chicago, editorials, humor, Illinois, Internet\FB, news, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Editorial: WHY?

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Disney Parks blog has officially confirmed the long rumored Muppets show WILL be coming to Magic Kingdom’s storied Liberty Square this fall to give their musical take on American history. Why?

Want to replace the boring, dated “American Adventure” at Epcot? Knock yourselves out (as I actually like the idea) ditto the equally dated “Muppetvision 3-D” movie at DHS, but the idea of adding this as a show to Liberty Square (the walkway in front of “The Hall of Presidents” is narrow enough as it is – especially if there is one or more people in scooters chugging along at their usual 0.5mph). Personally, I think this is merely a “test” for the Epcot idea. One which I strongly suspect will fail.

Don’t get me wrong: I like The Muppets, and I love their “3-D” movie over at DHS… but the cynic in me sees this as little more than a Band-Aid to rescue the normally flagging fall attendance (as half of DHS is closed and “Rivers of Light” doesn’t look like it’s going to open by the time the abysmal “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” closes in September).

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editorial: Under-represented movies at WDW

Theme Park Tourist posted an article today about 7 grossly under-represented movie properties at Disney World: The Emperor’s New Groove (2000, a vastly under-rated film), The Princess and the Frog (2009), Inside Out (2014), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998) and Hercules (1997).

I agree with most of their list. However, The Princess and the Frog already has its own parade\defacto themed area in Disneyland (New Orleans Square), “The Haunted Mansion” already gets an annual Nightmare Before Christmas overlay every holiday season (at DL anyway), and they somehow recommend opening an “Ancient Greek” themed restaurant for Hercules (as if Mythos doesn’t exist).

For instance, I think TENG would be a good fit for either Adventureland or a South American expansion at either Epcot or DAK. I’m not surprised they didn’t incorporate it more into Coronado Springs (as CS is themed to Mexico and TENG takes place in Peru), but we agree on a coaster themed after Cronk and Yzma’s trip to her lab would be a kind of cool idea.

Inside Out has “Epcot” written all over it, and it deserves far more than a M&G in the shell of Innoventions (more on that below). They could retheme the plotless, meandering and almost universally disliked “Journey into Imagination with Figment” to the movie with Figment taking the emotions on a tour of “Imagination Land” – moreover, they could probably do like “Frozen Ever After” and reuse the existing track to save money. I dislike their idea of an “emotion themed restaurant” though.

There isn’t much I can add to the other films they mention except that I disagree with Pocahontas at “The American Adventure” (which already has a token Native American scene), but I will list a few additional films that desperately need some “theme park love.”

Bolt (2008) has DHS written all over it, yet I can’t even find a simple plush of him at the World of Disney store. I can’t be the only one who can picture a dark ride based on the title character’s journey from NYC back to LA and his eventual home in Kansas.

Big Hero 6 (2014, aka “Frozen for Boys”) is the epitome of what the largely abandoned “Innoventions” (whose main draw now is, ironically enough, a M&G for film’s breakout star, Baymax) was designed to be: a celebration of science, technology and commerce. Imagine if SFIT was hosting a special “Engineering and Technology Fair” right in the middle of Future World with exhibits changing every six months.

Ratatouille (2007) is not only a successful movie but also one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland Paris. Conveniently enough, the area they house the ride in looks almost identical to the France pavilion at Epcot (which seriously needs to retire that dated movie already) – particularly since half the merchandise in that area is Remi anyway

…The other half is Marie from The Aristocats (1970) who used to have a M&G near the Town Hall on Main Street USA, but I’m not opposed to moving her back to her REAL home in either the France pavilion along with Remi and Princess Aurora or even sending her to Disneyland.

The Jungle Book (1967, 2016) is represented well at the parks over this summer with a “special preview” in “One Man’s Dream” and a phenomenally popular nighttime show at DAK…but the former closed to have a preview of Alice Through the Looking Glass and the latter closes in September leaving the movie with only a pair of M&Gs at DAK. They could do more than that, that’s the whole purpose of Adventureland?

Tarzan (1999) had a show an opening day show at DAK, and currently has an attraction in Adventureland at Disneyland and a “Festival of the Lion King”-esque show at Shanghai Disneyland. I’ve toured Tarzan’s Treehouse at DL, but I haven’t seen either of the stage shows. As for DAK, he’s “occasionally” found wandering around the Tree of Life.

Monster’s Incorporated (2001) has its own attraction in Tomorrowland, but the “Laugh Floor” of its title is simply where it’s painfully unfunny “jokes” land (I laugh more on “Jungle Cruise” than I do on this pitiful attraction). Personally, instead of a Toy Story Land at DHS, I’d rather see a Pixar Land with an import of either the DCA or Tokyo Disneyland versions of the ride along with attractions for other deserving movies like UP (2009, which currently has a M&G and educational game at DAK) and Wall-E (2008).

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Summer Rumor Rundown

Muppets invade Liberty Square: Why? Who thought of this idea? They already have a mini-land in DHS and you can even find a way to shoehorn them into the ironically named “Future World” at Epcot, but this idea makes no sense to me. Fortunately, it also has the least likelihood of being true

Disney to remove “Leave a Legacy” stones from entrance to Epcot: Ever try to get into Epcot during Food & Wine or Flower and Garden? Good, then you already know why these eyesores need to go. Gravestones be gone!

Epcot to have attraction around “Guardians of the Galaxy:” I guess the backlash against putting it in at “Tower of Terror” was too much for them (Note: No-one said they were opposed to a GotG attraction at DHS, they just wanted it to replace R&R Coaster instead of ToT). There is some debate over whether it would take over “Mission: Space” (opened in 2003), the severely dated “Universe of Energy” (last refurbished in 1996) or the currently unused Wonders of Life pavilion (closed in 2007).

Disney to permanently close Innoventions: Considering there are only TWO exhibitors in that space, this, sadly, makes sense. However, some in the comments section proposed an area with a Big Hero 6 theme focusing on Robotics Technology and that would fit perfectly into the concept of this area (particularly since the area is already home to a Baymax M&G).

Though I think a better idea is replacing Ellen\Bill Nye with a BH6 retheme: Tadeshi explains to Hiro about the wonders of energy (yah, dinos stay put) and how scientists are working to better harness\use it (most of that ride is wasted space anyway).

Also a lot of commenters wanted an Inside\Out retheme to either “Journey into Imagination” or the SBNO “Body Wars” – both work, but I like the former more (they can even reuse the same track like “Frozen Ever After”) as long as they find a way to incorporate Figment into the ride.

Also, some people wanted a new movie in the Magic Eye Theater (2nd floor of Imagination pavilion, behind the DVC lounge), but I actually like the “Disney\Pixar Short Film Festival” …I just wish they varied the films a bit more. How about alternating movies on different days (like a REAL “film festival”) possibly including: Red’s Dream (1987), Gerri’s Game (1997, played before A Bug’s Life), Boundin’ (2003, played before The Incredibles), Paperman (2012, played before Wreck-It-Ralph), Feast (2014, played before BH6), Lava (2014, played before Inside Out) and\or Sanjay’s Super Team (2015, played before The Good Dinosaur).

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Editorial: On writing

I have been working on a story every day for almost a month now (I know, I’m “supposed” to finish writing a book in a month, but I’ve only got about 11 pages and no title). It’s missing some “world building” sections about rules and whatnot, but for the moment I think I have a good(ish) start.

I have three projects that are somewhere between half and 2/3 finished but no idea where I’m going with them (the endings I have… just the chapters leading up to them are missing). I considered turning part of one of those books into either a short story or a play (or both), but, unfortunately, I realized the rest of the story wouldn’t work as well on stage.

I have a few abandoned projects. I miss the one about the museum as I was having fun with it…until I realized my protagonist was an unlikable dick – and he was based on me (I interned at a museum when I was at UM). Maybe that’s why my fictional bf from that story is the protagonist in this month’s story… or maybe I just like writing idiots.

Whatever, I need to get back to work. I have photos to edit, and maybe when I’m done I’ll come up with a good idea for one of my stories…

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