The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Want It All: Disney's Streaming Service

You may have heard by now that The Walt Disney Company is planning on pulling it’s media content from Netflix in 2019.  It was also announced that Disney will launch its own streaming service and has plans to acquire BAMTech, a streaming and marketing service.

With the change in viewing habits, more people are cutting cable cords and moving to strictly streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.  Numerous households subscribe to several of the streaming services, and according to eMarketer, a digital research firm, almost  80% of millennials have access to streaming services.

With these statistics, it is no surprise that Disney is ready to venture out into it’s own streaming platform.  The only thing that surprises me is that it’s taken this long for them to do so.

A majority of The Walt Disney Company’s cable earnings come from ESPN and it’s countless subchannels.  However, with the countless other ways to watch a sporting event on a mobile device, ESPN’s earnings have steadily dropped over the last few years.
When Disney launches its ESPN streaming service is 2018, it will include thousands of live regional, national, and international sporting events.  For the sports lover, this will be a must-have package to keep track of all the sporting events.  And for those of us who don’t care much about sports, we won’t have to pay for a service we don’t even watch.  Brilliant.  Thank you, Iger.

In 2019, Disney will launch its separate Disney streaming services that will include live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar as well as content from the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD.  It is unclear yet if content from ABC and Freeform will be included in the streaming service.

Unlike Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, Disney has a time-tested vault full of classic movies and TV shows that people are going to be willing to pay for.  They don’t have to struggle to prove they can make an original movie - they’ve been doing it since the 1930s, which is decades longer than any of its current streaming competitors have been around.

Paul R. La Monica, a digital correspondent for CNN, had this to say about the future of streaming services:  “But here's the thing. For many couch potatoes, a subscription to several of these services -- if not all of them -- might still be necessary because they all churn out original, exclusive content.  That's especially the case with Netflix. Disney won't have House of Cards, Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things.

It's important to remember that Netflix also has original shows that are produced by other big media companies, and Hollywood studios may decide they would rather put their content on their own platforms than on Netflix.  For example, Disney owns Marvel, and it's not clear whether Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all based on Marvel characters, will stay on Netflix or move to the new Disney service. The Defenders, a new show that brings these four together, will premiere on Netflix on August 18.

The other streaming companies also realize they need their own hits to attract subscribers. Want to watch the dystopian nightmare that is The Handmaid's Tale? You need Hulu. Amazon is home to the award-winning Transparent as well as Sneaky Pete and Mozart in the Jungle. And you won't find Game of Thrones streaming anywhere but HBO Go or the Internet-only subscription service HBO Now.

With so many streaming services offering a variety of original content, it will be interesting to see how the addition of Disney’s own streaming service will pan out over the next few years.  There are still some questions to be answered, most importantly the cost.  With it’s competitors currently charging anywhere from $7 to $12 for their streaming services, it could be assumed that Disney’s service would fall in that range as well.  

An avid Disney tweeter and former fellow Cast Member friend, Matt DeWater, recently offered his thoughts on Disney’s future pricing and I think it would work well.  He suggested a tier system for the Disney content.  For a Disney only streaming services, it could be $7; a Marvel tier could be $5; a Star Wars tier could be $5; and if you bundled them all together, it could be $15.  Of course with inflation over the next few years, the pricing could go up but even $20 a month for all of Disney’s content would not be a bad deal at all.

Another important question that still remains is exactly what content will be available.  Will it be all of Disney’s repertoire of animated and live action movies and TV shows?  Will it cycle in content for so many months and then remove it to keep the demand up for it?  Will the Marvel shows on Netflix be removed from Netflix and put on the Disney streaming services?  I guess only time will tell.  It will be an interesting two years to say the least.  All I know is that I am super excited to see what is to come.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

It Is Time: Top Five Daytime Shows & Parades, Past and Present

"What time is the 3 o'clock parade?"

It's a long standing Disney joke that this is the most asked question to a Disney Cast Member.  But honestly, it kind of makes sense.  Let's say you're watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Froniterland.  Then, for you, the parade would indeed begin at 3 o'clock.  However if you're watching on Main Street USA, the parade wouldn't start until about 3:20.

Anyway, enough of my former Cast Member self trying to justify the random questions guests ask.

Parades and stage shows have been a staple at Disney Parks from the beginning.  My family has countless home videos of parades and shows of days gone by that we re-watch on occasion because they are still that good.  And since Walt Disney World is my home park, I have decided to rank the five best shows and parades from the past and present.

Inside the Magic

5. Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood were there on opening day at Disney-MGM Studios, and for years, they entertained people on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. The Citizens were able to transport you to the Hollywood that never was and always will be at the Studios with their costumes, jokes, and general antics.  Their shows ranged from a bachelorette type show to an always entertaining game of "99 objects walk into a bar" jokes.  They were the perfect Streetmosphere for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I can only hope something half as great as the Citizens of Hollywood come to my home park soon.

Walt Disney World

4. Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage

This show opened at Disney’s MGM Studios on the same day it premiered in theaters, and it’s safe to say that both the film and the stage show became instant classics.  The 25-minute Broadway style production stays true to the original film and features most of the hit songs from the film. I remember being a little kid and watching this show every time we visited the park, usually while eating popcorn or ice cream.  With the recent successful live-action remake of the film, one can only wonder if the new songs will be added into the show.  (I could totally get behind ‘Evermore’ being added if nothing else.)

WDW Live

3. Celebrate a Dream Come True

I may be biased as I got to see the last performance of this parade while working at the Magic Kingdom, but I seriously loved this parade.  It was a redesign of the Share a Dream Come True parade from the early 2000s, and although it lacked the awesome snow globe floats, the parade still made hoards of people stop every day at 3 p.m. to see it pass by.

Walt Disney World

2. Festival of Fantasy

On March 9, 2014, my brother and I stood at the bridge from Liberty Square to the hub, along a few thousand of our closest friends who had lined the parade route at the Magic Kingdom in preparation for the brand new Festival of Fantasy parade.  I had seen pictures of the new floats and had snuck a peak of them while at work, but when that music came over the loudspeaker and the parade floats came around the corner at Liberty Square, I truly felt the Disney Magic.  I adore this parade because it stays true to the classics while welcoming in the new.  It blends the two perfectly with a soundtrack that I am currently humming along to.

WDW Live

1. Festival of The Lion King

This opening day Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction is, in my opinion, the best show at Walt Disney World.  The show uses the classic songs and characters from the film as dance and puppetry bring The Lion King to life.  Instead of being a shortened version of the Broadway play, this show is more true to the revue style of show in that it keeps the general theme of the storyline there without literally retelling the whole story.  And the four main vocalists are truly four of the most talented singers anywhere.  With tumble monkeys, aerial dancers, and even a fire twirler, The Festival of the Lion King will not disappoint Disney fans of any age.

Bonus: Rainy Day Character Cavalcade!

I remember seeing this parade for the first time as I was playing the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game in the rain one day.  I didn’t think a parade would be going on and then suddenly, as I was wandering around Frontierland, I heard music begin to play on the loudspeaker.  I looked toward Splash Mountain and then I saw it: my favorite hidden gem of the Magic Kingdom.  The rainy Day Character Cavalcade only comes out when it is raining (no lightning) too much for the parade floats to safely get out.  The cavalcade features the vehicles of Main Street carrying various Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to the Disney Princesses.  It’s never fun with the parade gets rained out but Disney has done a great job trying to bring a little happiness to the day with its Rainy Day Character Cavalcade.

So now that you know my top daytime parades and shows, let me know yours! Tweet us @TMKBPodcast and let us know your favorite!

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Marty Called - Wants Changes: Remembering Marty Sklar

LA Times
The World has lost another legend.

Marty Sklar passed away on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at his home in Hollywood Hills.  He was 83.

The Magic in Pixels
He spent over five decades with The Walt Disney Company and worked tirelessly to bring Walt Disney's dream to life around the globe.

I was lucky enough to get to meet Marty Sklar in September of 2013 during a book signing at Downtown Disney.  We talked about Hollywood Studios - my home park - and he thanked me for carrying on Walt's dream.

According to the Disney Parks Blog, Marty was "(b)orn in New Brunswick, N.J., on February 6, 1934.  Marty was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper when he was recruited to create The Disneyland News for Walt’s new theme park in 1955. After graduating in 1956, he joined Disney full-time, and would go on to serve as Walt’s right-hand man—scripting speeches, marketing materials, and a film showcasing Walt’s vision for Walt Disney World and Epcot. During this period, he also joined WED Enterprises, the forerunner of Walt Disney Imagineering, and he would later become the creative leader of Imagineering, leading the development of Disney theme parks and attractions for the next three decades. He retired as Executive Vice President and Imagineering Ambassador on July 17, 2009, Disneyland’s 54th birthday. Disney marked the occasion by paying tribute to Marty with the highest Parks and Resorts recognition, dedicating a window in his name on Disneyland’s City Hall."

Oh My Disney
Following the news of Marty's death, The Mouse Knows Best Podcast released the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken over the passing of Marty Sklar. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.
A true legend, Marty's passion for creating magic for each and every Disney Parks guest was truly unrivaled. His infectious enthusiasm was irresistible, and the joy he always exhibited was contagious. His incredible, uncontainable imagination will continue to inspire future generations to dream it and do it.

For so many, Marty was much more than merely an Imagineer or an ambassador for Disney. He was our Imagineer and our ambassador. He was one of us, humble and endearing throughout his illustrious career and life. He made us believe that it really is fun to do the impossible.
There will never be another Marty Sklar.
Our crew was scheduled to interview Marty Sklar on our podcast this upcoming week. We received the news about his passing last night just moments after we finished recording our next episode. His passing has shook us to the core due to our immense admiration for the man who left us too soon.
 In our email exchanges over the past couple of months preparing for the interview, Marty was always so benevolent and gracious, leading to an authentic enthusiasm to talk with our crew. He even suggested this week in particular so we could react to the D23 Expo announcements together. No doubt he had done countless interviews similar to the one we were preparing to conduct, but his genuine excitement for our show made you believe he had never done anything like it before."
To honor Marty, we will pay tribute to his amazing life and career on episode 78."

Jewish Journal
Thank you for everything, Marty.  You will be miss by the entire Disney Family.

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

D23 Expo 2017: Star Wars and Mickey and Tron, Oh My!

The D23 Expo took place last weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Numerous announcements were made regarding TV, movies and parks, but today, I just want to focus on the announcements for the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.


Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

We’ve known about the Star Wars land for a few years, but now, it officially has a name: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  It seems Disney is taking a cue from Pandora: The World of AVATAR with this name choice.  The lands of Galaxy’s Edge are said to be - as you could guess - at the edge of the galaxy far, far away.  Scott Trowbridge, a Walt Disney Imagineer told fans, to some confusion, about “galactic credits” that will come their way - or not - in this new land.  “This is a living place,” Trowbridge said, “a place where your choices matter.” Although it’s unclear exactly what galactic credits are and what you can do with them, I am very excited to find out in 2019.  I am also very excited that Rex, the haphazard star speeder pilot from Star Tours, has a new job!  Rex has found his new career at the cantina serving as the DJ.  The cantina will also be serving the famed blue milk from the Star Wars franchise.

Disney Parks Blog

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

This news is bittersweet for me.  Although I think The Great Movie Ride needed to be updated, I wasn’t prepared for a complete overhaul.  With the news that GMR would be closing in August, that leaves only four attractions open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and of those four, only one - Toy Story Midway Mania - does not have a height requirement.  But with that being said, I am cautiously optimistic about the new attraction featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  As Walt Disney always said, "It was all started by a mouse," and I am happy to see what this ride has in store for our favorite mouse.  Especially considering the announcement that the ride would be an all new experience that Imagineer Kevin Rafferty referred to as “2 ½ D.”  This mean the ride will not require 3D glasses - a fact that got a cheer from the audience and myself - and yet the flat cartoon world would still come to life.


Guardians of the Galaxy

Several big announcements were made for future projects in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.  Among those announcements was the news that Ellen’s Energy Adventure would be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction. Tom Fitzgerald, an Imagineer who worked on the originals plans for EPCOT Center, said that Epcot will “always be a place where the real becomes fantastical and the fantastical becomes real.”  It was also revealed that Peter Quill - also known as Star-Lord - visited Epcot as a kid and the new E-ticket attraction would be rooted in Epcot's story.  Although I know some are weary to changes at Epcot, I am all for it.  And besides, nothing can be bad if Groot and Rocket are involved.



Although little was said about the two new Epcot attractions, we do at least know that a Ratatouille-inspired attraction will be making its way to the France Pavilion.  It is said to be similar to the attraction in Disneyland Paris, but it is unconfirmed if it is the same attraction.   The Disneyland Paris attraction seems to be a huge hit in France, so one can assume that would transfer over to the US as well.  It would also bring more Disney characters into the park as well as target a younger generation of Disney fans.


Mission: Space Update and Restaurant

The last Epcot announcement was about the refurbishment of the Green Mission part of the attraction to make it more family friendly.  I truly hope they update all the computer screens in the attraction as the display and overall feel of the attraction could drastically be changed with some minor upgrades.  It was also announced that a new space themed restaurant would open near the attraction - maybe in the Wonders of Life Pavilion?  I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.


Tron Coming to Magic Kingdom

Because we need an indoor roller coaster beside an indoor roller coaster.  I’m on the side of the fence that isn’t really for this attraction, if you couldn’t tell.  I’d have been way more excited if they announced they were using cleaner fuel for the Speedway or replacing Stitch’s Great Escape, but instead, we’re getting a Tron roller coaster.  I’ve heard great things about Shanghai Disneyland’s TRON Lightcycle Power Run, but Tron has never been a movie that has sparked my attention.  Maybe that will change once this ride opens.  Again, we shall see.


New Theater Coming to Magic Kingdom

It was also announced that in addition to a new roller coaster, Magic Kingdom would also be getting a new live entertainment theater that will be based on the Willis Theater in Kansas City in the 1920s.  Although it’s exact location is still unclear, my guess would be the end of Main Street to the right going toward the Tomorrowland Terrace or in the parking lot behind Main Street to the right and use the cut through to get there.  Another mystery to the theatre is what would go there?  Maybe a brand new Tangled-inspired show?  Maybe the Aladdin show that ran at Disney’s California Adventure?  As long as it’s not Frozen, I’m really game with anything.


Star Wars-Themed Resort

I’ve already started my savings account for a week long stay at the new Star Wars-themed resort.  “It’s unlike anything that exists today,” Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, said at the Expo. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story.  You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire.  Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you.  It is 100-percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day—and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”  I MEAN HOW CAN YOU NOT BE EXCITED ABOUT A COMPLETELY IMMERSIVE STAR WARS RESORT EXPERIENCE?  Will I even want to leave my resort???


Minnie Vans Coming to Walt Disney World Resort

From a business standpoint, this makes sense.  With companies like Uber and Lyft becoming more successful, it makes sense that Disney would roll out their own car service.  For a fee, the Minnie Vans will take guests from one point to another without having to wait in line for a bus, monorail, or boat.  Hopefully, the Minnie Vans can be scheduled with the My Disney Experience app.

Disney Parks Blog

Gondolas Return with Disney Skyliner

Lovers of the Skyway, rejoice!  Gondolas are back!  Except this time they are character themed gondolas that will connect Disney's Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach to other locations such as Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway.  I’m curious to see how these operation, especially in the unpredictable Florida weather.  But you better believe I’ll be riding a Grim Grinning Gondola when it opens.


Toy Story Land to Open in Summer 2018

In a rare turn of events, Toy Story Land will open earlier than anticipated.  Although the land never had an official opening date prior to the D23 convention, it was assumed it would open around the same time as the new Star Wars land.  But it looks like we will be going to the land of Buzz and Woody before we go to the land or Luke and Leia, which is exactly what Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs since, as I mentioned earlier, it only has four attractions right now.  This themed land will hopefully bring in more parents with young kids to the least visited Walt Disney World theme park.  I’m also excited about this land because it’s in my home park and features my favorite Pixar movie.  

So those were the announcements for the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts made at the 2017 D23 Convention.  What was your favorite announcement?  What announcement are you least excited about?  Tweet us at @TMKBPodcast and let us know!

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

On This Magic Night: Top Five Nighttime Spectaculars, Past and Present

After a long day at the parks, it is time for the best part of the day.  As the sun sets, people begin to hunt for the perfect spot to catch the parade or fireworks show that is probably still an hour away.  The excitement and anticipation builds as the crowds form along the parade routes and in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

And then it happens.

The music from the parade or fireworks show begins to play over the loudspeaker and for a few minutes, crowds watch entranced at the magical display happening in front of them.
There have been numerous parades and firework shows over the years, but I have narrowed this list down to my personal top five list of past and presents spectaculars.

Walt Disney World

5. Happily Ever After

Although I haven’t seen this one in person yet, I’ve watched the replay of the Disney Parks live stream several times. I love the incorporation of lesser known movies - such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame - along with smash hits such as Frozen. Happily Ever After encompasses all of Disney, and for that, I think it will stand the test of time just like Wishes did for so many years.

Disney Tourist Blog

4. HalloWishes/Boo To You

Anyone that knows me knows that my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World is fall for two reasons: Food and Wine and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  MNSSHP has been a favorite of mine since it’s debut almost a decade ago.  The HalloWishes fireworks show is narrated by the Haunted Mansion Ghost Host, which as everyone knows is my favorite attraction.  And the Boo to You! Parade is hands down the best themed parade out there.  Between the music and the Haunted Mansion grave diggers, it’s a spellbinding Halloween treat that I look forward to every year.  When attending the party, I like to plan my night so I can watch the parade from my favorite spot, make it to the castle to watch the fireworks, then catch the second parade wherever I can find a spot.  And let’s not forget all the candy. Overall, I think the Halloween party is the best special ticket event at WDW.

The Laughing Place

3. SpectroMagic

Ahhhh Spectro.  This parade has been a favorite of my brother and I for as long as I can remember.  It ran for nearly two decades at WDW and although it had a long run, I feel like it could have gone on forever and I wouldn’t have minded.  At the time of its debut, it was a replacement for the Main Street Electrical Parade and was definitely an upgrade in my opinion. And although I’m all for nostalgia and keeping originals the same (#WeWantsTheRedHead), I don’t think that replacing SpectroMagic with the Main Street Electrical Parade was the way to go.  But that’s just one girl’s opinion.  Either way, I think we can all agree that SpectroMagic was truly the best nighttime parade, past and present.

Disney Tourist Blog

2. World Of Color

I have only seen World of Color live once in 2014, and it was amazing.  When I went to Disneyland for the first time, I had tried my best to not watch any ride through videos or videos of the shows on YouTube so that I could experience it all for the first time live. This was hands down the best way to go about that trip for me because I had no idea what to expect as I stood on Paradise Pier and watched the water come to life.  I loved the fact that, like Happily Ever After, it pays tribute to films from all eras, as well as Pixar.  But the main thing I loved about this show is it’s tribute to Walt Disney.

Mouse Hints

1. Wishes

When I became a cast member in the fall of 2012, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular was the first show I watched with my blue ID tucked into my pocket.  I had seen the show countless times before, but as I stood on Main Street that August night, I saw the show differently.  It was like the rest of the crowd had melted away and Jiminy Cricket was talking directly to me about all your wishes coming true.  To me, Wishes perfectly embodied Disney.  The music, the story, the effects - they were all perfect Disney Magic.  Because if I’ve learned anything from Walt Disney, it’s that wishes really do come true.

So now that you know my top parades and firework shows, let me know yours! Tweet us @TMKBPodcast and let us know your favorite!

Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.