Feature Central

Disney journalism: reviews, interviews, commentaries, historical explorations, our famous DIZcoveries, and other long articles packed with pixie dust punch.

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"Coming Soon" Builds the Disney Relationship

SEP 10 Ted Topping discusses three ways in which Disney uses Coming Soon – normally a way of promoting movies – to create a sale, add value to that sale and then convert it into a long-term relationship.

Mind Thy Head

SEP 5 Jeff Kober gives us some lessons from Tarzan's Treehouse.

Park Cleanliness Links Guests Directly to Walt

AUG 14 Ted Topping spilled a half-full coffee cup while waiting for Disney's Electrical Parade, and began to learn a benchmarking lesson that links park Guests directly to "management by walking around" style of Walt Disney.

What Meanest "The Backside of Water"?

AUG 7 Everyone knows about the backside of water on the Jungle Cruise. It's an integral part of every skipper's script, and it's still good for a chuckle. For Walt, though, perfecting the back side as well as the front side was serious business.

Area Music Heightens the Experience

JUL 31 Ted Topping visits Condor Flats in Disney California Adventure and discovers an area music loop so strong it can later invoke the entire customer experience, planting a tuneful seed to grow into the desire for a return trip.

Tahitian Terrace: A "Can Do" Place

JUL 24 Admiral Joe Fowler, one of Walt Disney's most trusted associates, had as his mantra two simple, one syllable words: "Can Do". Whatever Walt wanted: "Can Do". Jeff Kober provides examples in Disneyland of Joe Fowler's "Can Do" approach.

The Little Mermaid

JUL 19 To net her true love, Ariel gave up voice, fin, and family. Dennis explores what else a person gives up when they surrender their voice, but Bob finds himself tongue-tied in a surf-side Socratic dialogue he can't hope to win.

Robert Garner, Disney Producer (Part 1)

JUL 7 Is it possible to be a Disney legend without being a Disney Legend? Well, yeah! And Robert Garner is one of them. Bob has written, directed, and produced some of Disney's seminal short films and featurettes. And so much more. Let's start at the beginning...

Nancy's Monthly Magic: May 2011

May 15 The middle of the month really isn't a magical time, except when Nancy Bobby makes the magic with her mash-up of Disney World planning tips. Nancy never disappoints, and her latest includes tips for staying in deluxe resorts on a dime.

Nancy's Monthly Magic: April 2011

APR 17 The middle of the month really isn't a magical time, except when Nancy Bobby makes the magic with her mash-up of Disney World planning tips. Nancy never disappoints, and her latest includes cheater books, split stays, quiet places, and more.

College in the Kingdom (Part 8)

MAR 21 David Zanolla has returned with his students from their learning trip to Disney World, and now the class must end: no more lessons or lectures from David, but instead projects from each of his students, excerpts of which he requires them to publish here.

Nancy's Monthly Magic, March 2011

MAR 15 Every month, we invite Nancy Bobby of The Affordable Mouse to enter Disney Dispatch Manor and enlighten the masses with some affordable Disney World tips. Nancy's current batch of tips are about what you can do at Disney World ... for free!

College in the Kingdom (Part 7)

David Zanolla teaches in the happiest place on earth

MAR 14 We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and I'm just now getting time to sit down and write. So far, the first half of our trip has been a whirlwind. We've had a tour of the Disney University, met with an EPCOT executive, and toured EPCOT with Jeff Kober and Disney's Hollywood Studios with historian/author Jim Korkis. I also may... MORE

Interview: Chip Confer, Chip and Co.

Bob talks with Chip about everything except Dale

MAR 14 Chip Confer operates Chip and Co., a busy Disney site with lots of writers, lots of news, and lots of views. Here, Chip presents some of his own views and a taste of what you'll find on his site. When did Chip and Mickey first meet? How often do you guys get together in Disney World? Mickey and I grew up together. We had... MORE

Interview: Lisa Finander, Disneystrology

Bob talks with Lisa about Disney, her book, and the stars

MAR 9 In September 2010, Quirk Books released Lisa Finander's Disneystrology, a wonderful, full-color, illustrated guide in which you can discover your kindred Disney character based on the astrological and numerological implications of your birthday. Despite what you might think, it's not a mystical mash but rather a cool, clever... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 6)

David Zanolla wraps up loose ends prior to leaving for Disney World

MAR 6 As the travel portion of our class approaches (we leave March 9), I'm racing to teach new content to the students. The last seven weeks have flown by, so it came down to me asking myself the question, "What are the key ideas and concepts that I want every student to know before we arrive in Orlando?" After thinking... MORE

Book Review: Magical Meals

Bob finds magic in Nancy Bobby's new Disney dining guide

MAR 4 Disney dining is not for the faint-hearted. I'm not talking about the food. I'm talking about the options! From speaking the language of the Disney Dining Plan; to making reservations far enough in advance; to comprehending the differences between table-service and quick-service (and whether you're... MORE

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers II

Bob reviews Ridley Pearson's Disney in Shadow

FEB 28 Disney at Dawn, the sequel to Ridley Pearson's wonderful first entry in the Kingdom Keepers series, Disney after Dark, is a dip in the same pool on a cloudier day. It features the same characters, the same primary villain, the same gimmicks. You have to expect the same characters in a sequel, but not the... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 5)

David Zanolla zeroes in on the Disney World guest experience

FEB 27 With the travel portion of our class quickly approaching, the students are starting to get antsy (and so am I). I've been making it a point to expose them to other views on Walt Disney World and Disney design than simply those that toe the 'party line'. That said, while reading the transcript of a recent speech by... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 4)

David Zanolla debates Disney magic and spreads Disney contagion

FEB 20 Our second item of discussion briefly focused on Jeff Kober's idea that some of Disney World's customer service practices become 'contagious', specifically the motto 'everyone picks up trash'. Fortunately, I was able to experience this firsthand at EPCOT during last year's class. A WDW executive was walking... MORE

Disney's NextGen Initiative: An Analysis

Bob interviews theme park expert Scott Smith about NextGen

FEB 19 Disney, of course, isn't spending a billion dollars just to make sure Mickey gives you a shout-out. Disney wants a return on its investment. It's gambling that people will perceive the new technology as fair and non-intrusive. But is it? To help frame the issue, I spoke with Scott Smith, a former Disney... MORE

Interview: Randy Reighard, Themagical

Bob talks with Randy Reighard about Disney thrill ride simulations

FEB 16 Here's something you don't see everyday: on-line simulations of Disney thrill rides. Some of the best are on Themagical, a site run by Martijn Leseman and Randy Reighard. Didn't get your fill of Tower of Terror or Expedition Everest or Space Mountain at Disney World? Not a problem. Themagical has frighteningly... MORE

Nancy's Monthly Magic

The Affordable Mouse checks in with money-saving Disney World tips

FEB 15 Nothing warms my heart more than thoughts of another Disney vacation... unless it is ways to get more for that Disney vacation dollar. Here are five of my favorite new ideas for your next Disney World vacation without breaking your Disney World vacation budget: Let's start with pre-trip. Want to... MORE

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers I

Bob reviews Ridley Pearson's Disney After Dark

FEB 15 Maleficent is the book's main villain. In Pearson's hands, she is evil incarnate - yet with a certain cold beauty. He portrays her perfectly. Truth to tell, I was rooting for her. A little bit. But then I've always had a crush on Maleficent. (And yes, I'm seeking therapy for it.) The finale, set in... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 3)

Meet J. Jeff Kober, keynote speaker for the course

FEB 13 I've been to the top of the Tower of Terror and to the bottom of the Living Seas. I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom a year before it opened, and at the Magic Kingdom in the middle of the night hours before it opened for its 25th Anniversary celebration. Working for Disney was the greatest experience of my life. But... MORE

What Academic Advisors Can Learn from Disney

Brian Elizardi applies Disney principles to his job as academic advisor

FEB 12 One of my favorite Disney stories about customer service has to do with the team that designed the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The lodge features a beautiful indoor waterfall that generates quite a bit of noise. Because the hallways leading to the guest rooms all open up to the lobby, they installed an extra... MORE

Disney Sued Over Hot Nacho Sauce

Child's family contends that Disney sold them 'scalding' sauce

FEB 11 On Wednesday, lawyers representing the family of a four-year-old boy named Isaiah filed a civil suit against Disney claiming that injuries suffered recently by Isaiah at Walt Disney World from hot nacho sauce were the result of Disney selling the sauce to them at an unsafe temperature and with 'malice and... MORE

A Chat with John Kao

Bob discusses Disney with the world's foremost authority on innovation

FEB 8 John Kao is one of the smartest guys I know. And one of the coolest, too. In his early years, he played keyboard for Frank Zappa, and now in his 'mature' years he is one of the world's leading authorities on innovation. He has an MD from Yale, an MBA from Harvard, and his books about innovation (especially... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 2)

From the Classroom, Part 1

FEB 6 My class of seven students has met three times thus far, with the first meeting primarily covering details about the travel program to Orlando and, as one student keeps asking, "Will anyone be forced to go on the Tower of Terror?" (The answer: It will depend on my mood at the moment - a mood easily altered by... MORE

Disney Dream Gets Ritzy on the High Seas

Disney Moms Panelist Ritzy McCarthy reports on the Inaugural Cruise

FEB 6 It all started with a phone call from my Disney Fairy Godmother, Laura Spencer, inviting me to attend the event. Laura is the Social Media Manager for Disney Parks and a huge Disneyphile! I could hardly contain my excitement as I told her I would most definitely be able to attend. Who in their right mind... MORE

Interview: Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Bob chats with Peggy about Disney's appetite for little girls

FEB 3 Peggy Orenstein is a best-selling author but more importantly she's a mom with a daughter beset on all sides by dubious, potentially dangerous corporate influences - in particular, Disney, and even more in particular, Disney's marketing of its princesses as an ultimately unachievable feminine ideal. ... MORE

Take Your Disney Blog Ballistic, Part 1

Spit not forth just the facts

FEB 2 I'm reading the Dinky Disney Blog (there isn't such a thing, you know, but the domain name is available!) because I'm interested in what the guy who writes it has to say - not because I'm relying upon him to duplicate information from better sources. A good example of a blogger who 'gets it' is John... MORE

Disney Dreadful: The Buffet Buffoon

Bob takes a plate, gets in line, and bags some buffoons

FEB 1 The Food Fondler, contrary to popular belief, is a delicate creature; its touch is gentle, and it often appears to caress items, especially rolls or cookies, before gently replacing them. But too late! The spoor of the Fondler now crawls microscopically on that roll, ready for transfer to the palate of... MORE

Disney Launches Yet Another Dream

Jeff Heimbuch Takes a Preview Cruise on the Disney Dream

FEB 1 Certain pieces of art, all around the ship, come 'alive' right before your eyes if you stand in front of them. Scenes from movies play out, Walt's drawings animate, and in my personal favorite, pirates in one painting battle with a Spanish fort - in the adjacent painting! Truly amazing stuff! To make it... MORE

College in the Kingdom (Part 1)

Take David Zanolla's advanced honors course about Disney!

JAN 30 When I went to college, they had nothing like this: an advanced honors course called 'Communication Around the "World"' that culminates in a trip to Disney World itself where students will attend seminars hosted by Disney experts Jeff Kober and Jim Korkis, participate in Disney-run events, and... MORE

Book Review: Disneystrology

Bob looks to his stars and makes a shocking discovery

JAN 30 Disneystrology is a clever portmanteau of Disney and astrology. If you don't believe in astrology or numerology, it's not a problem; you just have to believe in Disney. The author, Lisa Finander, holds a degree in psychology and symbolism, and in her spare time enjoys such breezy hobbies as... MORE

Disney Dreadful: The Bus Beast

Bob boards the bus to continue his noble struggle

JAN 27 We meet now our next fearsome foe: The Bus Beast. The Bus Beast comes in many guises, none of them pleasing. When I'm at Disney World, I use buses to get around. I like Disney buses. I even like the smell of the exhaust. Throw in a colorful bus driver and it's first class all the way, baby. You must, however, be vigilant... MORE

Disney People: A Psychoanalysis

Bob gets inside your head and learns ... things

JAN 25 Next time you're in a Disney Park, look around - not at the characters or the rides or the architecture; look, instead, at the people. Most of those people are not Disney fans. They're Disney guests. Is the difference important? Vital. Think of Disney guests (all of them) as an orange. Squeeze the orange. Now... MORE

Interview: Epic Mickey's Allen Varney

Bob talks with Allen Varney about the genesis of Epic Mickey

JAN 24 I first met Allen Varney, co-author with Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector of the game's original design document, back in the early 1980s. At the time, Allen was editing one of Steve Jackson's roleplaying magazines, The Space Gamer, and I was publishing my own magazine, Gaming Universal. Warren Spector also had... MORE

Snow White Plans Final Scary Adventure

Bob tries to hang tough as news of ride demise spreads

JAN 19 I have a hard time letting go. Books I'll never read, action figures I'll never pose, tools I've never wield. Most of all, though, I have a hard time letting go of classic Disney World attractions. I still remember how, as a kid, I was sure the plexiglass porthole on 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea would burst. Or how... MORE

Review: A Walk in the Park with Rolly Crump

Bob listens as Rolly takes him on a tour through Disneyland

JAN 18 Look no further for gravitas than Rolly Crump, a retired Imagineer, an official Disney Legend (class of 2004!), and a truly cool guy with great stories to share in a clear, confident, enthusiastic voice that evokes the competence, the friendliness, the camaraderie that was the hallmark of 'old school' Disney. Rolly... MORE

Disney Dreadful: The Turned-Around Tot

Bob battles the Turned-Around Tot - and his Gabby Grammy!

JAN 17 The turned-around tot is the kid who kneels on his seat - it's usually a booth - and faces backwards, toward you. He often needs a nose wipe. If he's eating, he's doing so with his mouth open. And he never stops staring. It's a perplexed stare, at first, but soon the kid gains courage, and that's when... MORE

Disney Pin and Pizza Party

Vicki Scott-Huerta plans pins, pizza, and fun for local Disney pin collectors

JAN 16 If you had to think about what goes best with Disney pins, you might say binders to put them in or maybe a database to catalog them in - bet you wouldn't say pizza, though. But that's the right answer! Vicki Scott-Huerta knows. She organizes bi-monthly Disney pin trading events at the local Straw Hat Pizza... MORE

The Story of Winnie the Pooh and Cactus Jack

Bob laces up his boots and climbs into the ring - sorta

JAN 15 In the countless times I've been to Disney World, I've met famous people ... once. Probably, that's my fault. I'm terrible with faces. Friends tell me that I've seen famous people at Disney World numerous times. It's always from a distance, and they're always frantically pointing to someone, somewhere... MORE

The Dilemma of the Disney Fan Site

Bob gets serious, mostly, and talks some shop

JAN 13 I like to simplify things and I think I've simplified the types of Disney fan sites into a grand total of two. The audiences served by these sites are quite different, and the one type of site grows much faster and can become vastly larger than the other. That's bad news for me - and for most Disney... MORE

Got Handy Pandy? Get a Dollar from Disney!

Bob's got handy pandy - but will that dollar ever come?

JAN 13 No matter how long I live, I'll never learn all there is to learn about Disney. I bet even Disney historian Jim Korkis hasn't heard of the handy-pandy contest that Disney ran in one of its comic books way back in 1940. A handy-pandy is a word pair consisting of an adjective that modifies a rhyming noun. Like... MORE

Disney Post-Partum Depression

Bob comes to terms with his condition but still requires treatment

JAN 11 For Shakespeare, maybe, parting was 'sweet sorrow', but for Disney guests returning home, it's sorrow, period. People sometimes ask me about the 'worst part' of my Disney trips. I don't know why people have such fascination with the 'worst part' of things, and I don't know why so many of my friends... MORE

Interview: Arthur Levine, About.com

Arthur talks theme parks, Imagineers, and the challenges ahead for Disney

JAN 10 Arthur has been covering theme parks for About.com since 2002. He updates his section regularly (again just today, in fact!) and his content about the Disney Parks is substantial and growing. The information, as is typical for About.com, is well-organized but not flashy. Arthur puts no spin on what he writes, and his.... MORE

Book Review: The Vault of Walt

Jim Korkis takes you into the Vault - but will he let you out?

JAN 09 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu... MORE

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