Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest
Disney won its war on overflights by planes towing advertising banners in 2003, winning the only no-fly zone over a theme-park in the USA. Read the rest
It's Copyright Week, and I've kicked it off with a post at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deep Links explaining why, regardless of copyright term extension, Mickey Mouse will probably never be "free" -- but that doesn't mean that Disney is acting irrationally in its fight as hard as they are for eternal copyrights. Read the rest
Muckrock has secured the FBI's files on Epcot Center, revealing the panicked thrash that the prospect of a semi-circle of international pavilions around a toy artificial lake set off in Cold War atmosphere of 1981. Read the rest
John Frost writes, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney new documentary captures a side of Walt Disney that other recent documentaries miss. He was a lover of technology, innovation, and a futurist with an eye toward improving humanity. The whole documentary has been released online to be viewed for free by CM Films." Read the rest
Okay, this may not in fact be ALL of the classic movie references in animated films from Pixar, but it's a whole lot of 'em.
The Socal Attractions 360 folks crossed over to the east coast and rode the Walt Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion with a 4K camera, equipped with a extreme low-light filter. The resulting footage is spectacular, the best I've seen. Read the rest
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” just pushed James Cameron's “Avatar” aside as the top-grossing film in North America. In just 20 days of release, the seventh installment in the space opera saga has earned more than “Avatar’s” $760.5 million lifetime gross.
One important caveat is that this massive haul does not account for inflation. When pricing increases are factored in, “Gone With the Wind” remains the highest-grossing film in history with $1.7 billion and the first “Star Wars” is runner-up with $1.5 billion. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in 21st place behind classics such as “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”
Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the fourth highest-grossing pic in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It opens this weekend in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.
Pixar's "Inside Out" alternates between short scenes of the life of a girl called Riley, with increasingly longer, action-packed scenes from inside her psyche (as one Internet wag has it, Pixar movies follow the "_____ have feelings" template, starting with toys, cars and bugs, and they've arrived at the logical conclusion: "feelings have feelings"). Read the rest
Disney Research Zurich and ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) developed VertiGo, a mobile robot that can roll up walls. It uses two tiltable propellers that keep it rolling and also provide the thrust that keeps it against the wall when moving vertically.
“About why Disney is interested in this area, I am not able to say specifics as you can understand," Disney Research scientist Paul Beardsley told IEEE Spectrum. "But just speaking in general, one can imagine that robots with lighting effects could be useful for entertainment effects or for wall games. This also relates to the question of why the ground-wall transition is useful. If you have to manually place a robot on a wall at the start of a deployment, and manually remove it at the end, then that's taking manpower and it's not flexible. If the robot can make those transitions automatically, then you are a step in the direction of autonomous deployment, and that makes the technology more powerful. We are motivated by making a practical device, so it is real-world feedback and challenges that drive our work.”
Passport to Dreams Old in New is the absolute king-hell best Disney design criticism blog, written by Foxxfur, a former cast member who is thoughtful, encyclopedic, and razor-sharp in her observations of the Disney theme parks, especially Walt Disney World. Read the rest
The latest installment of the Long Forgotten blog's series on the lost designs for the Haunted Mansion's corridor of changing portraits (previously) hits on one of the most significant elements of the Mansion's design genius, something that's never been fully replicated in any Disney ride: the conversion of a queue into a ride. Read the rest
A British Muslim family was denied boarding at Gatwick Airport after the US government informed the airline that they would not be admitted to the USA. They were on their way to Disneyland. Read the rest