MickeyBlog Disney News for April 5th
Disney’s getting back into video games! And they’re expanding their sports coverage! Plus, they’ve made your phone even better, readied a new wine bar for its opening, and added some new tech at Tokyo Disneyland. There’s a lot to cover in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News, so let’s get started.
ESPN+ Arrives Next Week
After more than a year of rumors, Disney’s new streaming sports service debuts next week. The Walt Disney Company announced a launch date of April 12th for ESPN+. For $4.99 a month, subscribers will receive thousands of hours of sports programming.
Your first question is likely why you would need this service as a cable subscriber. The honest answer is that you don’t. While some sporting events are only available via this new app, anyone whose cable company carries ESPN doesn’t need it. Cable subscribers aren’t the target audience.
Disney’s trying to entice cord cutters to maintain a connection with the sports world via this service. For a modest $5, less than the price of a burger combo at your favorite restaurant, you’ll gain access to what ESPN’s describing as an unprecedented volume of sporting events.
As part of the initial service, an MLB game of the week is available. Later, ESPN will add an NHL game of the week as well. The true appeal of the service is specialty sports, though. Disney’s highlighted Rugby and Cricket events that they’ll broadcast on the channel, and they’ve promised literally dozens more unheralded sporting competitions available via ESPN+. With so many cord cutters eschewing ESPN in its original form, this new service is critical to the company’s sustained presence as the worldwide leader in sports coverage.
Marvel’s Something Something
Are you familiar with FoxNext Studios? The answer is only yes if you play video games on your smart device. FoxNext Studios is one of the most popular gaming app developers. Conversely, Disney famously got out of the video game market in May of 2016, ending their once-promising Disney Infinity franchise.
FoxNext Studios has had tremendous success using, oddly enough, Disney characters. Specifically, they’ve licensed the Marvel franchise for two of their apps. Marvel: Contest of Champions is one of the most successful smartphone games ever. Four years after its release, it’s still among the top freemium revenue generators. It oftentimes earns $500,000 or more in a day. Recently, the developer introduced a second licensed game, Marvel Strike Force, which is also a likely top earner.
While you may think that this story is relevant due to the Marvel license, that’s only part of the picture. One of the unheralded aspects of the Fox acquisition is that Disney will soon own FoxNext Studios. When the acquisition becomes official, Disney will re-enter the video game market. How big a deal is this? A Seeking Alpha analyst went so far as to describe it as “Disney’s vanguard in following the accomplishments of Activision Blizzard…” and other developers. The writer added, “Going forward, a serious push in video games can feasibly boost Disney’s valuation.”
Here’s one other statistic to show you the difference in scale here. Disney’s own modest attempts at gaming apps are led by Disney Emoji Blitz: Inside Out and Disney Magic Kingdoms. Those two games earn a combined $80,000 on an average day. The two Marvel games should earn ten times that much once Marvel: Strike Force has a larger install base. Over the course of a year, that new $800,000 daily total is $292 million for a pair of games that cost very little to maintain.
Tokyo Disneyland Gets with the Times
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have added introduced smartphone apps to improve the customer service at their parks. Tokyo Disneyland, the third most trafficked theme park in the world, has seemed behind the times in this regard. Japan is a technologically advanced and innovative society, but The Oriental Land Company, the official owner of this park, has eschewed a Tokyo Disneyland app…until now.
Starting this summer, park visitors can use the poorly named but extremely functional Smart Disney: Tokyo Disney Resort App. It will share many of the same concepts as My Disney Experience, albeit with the needed changes to allow for discrepancies between the two parks. Tokyo Disneyland is at maximum occupancy almost all the time, and their admissions and meals work slightly differently.
There’s one other huge caveat about this app. At first, it will only be available in the Japanese language. The Oriental Land Company has promised translations at a later date; however, they’ve decided that launching the app for the busy summer season is more important than making it multilingual. According to Nikkei Asian Review, the company’s main goal is “to relieve crowding issues that have frustrated guests at the popular theme park.”
Speaking of Cool Smartphone Tricks…
You know how you’re old? You know what it’s like to use a physical key to unlock a door or start a car. In the modern world, digital unlocking is the preferred method. You may have had a taste of this with the Magic Band. This technology allows you to tap your band against the corresponding data pad to open your hotel room door or activate a FastPass.
Well, Disney understands that more people carry smartphones than wear Magic Bands these days. It’s even true at Walt Disney World. So, they’ve developed an amazing new technology. It’s another kind of keyless door entry.
Mickey Travelers will opt in to a special feature on the My Disney Experience app. By choosing this option, you’ll load a digital hotel room key on your smartphone. As you approach the door to your room, you’ll scan this digital key. The door will unlock, and you’ll enter your room. You can watch it in action in this official Disney video. It’s another great way to skip the lines at the hotel lobby and check into your resort on your own.
“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”
Are you a wine connoisseur? If so, Disney Springs is about to be the place to visit. Well, it already was, but an upcoming restaurant will appeal to you even more. After a year of anticipation, Wine Bar George recently debuted, and it’s already adding new events to entice guests to visit.
In recent days, Wine Bar George has added weekly and monthly wine tastings. The weekly version is a true wine tasting. This event is held on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. For $45, guests sample several wines that are paired with cheese and charcuterie. These wine tastings are intimate affairs, with a max of 30 guests and a professional sommelier on hand to discuss the various grapes involved.
The monthly event at Wine Bar George is a wine dinner. Master Sommelier George Miliotes, famous for his work during the early days of California Grill, oversees the festivities. He hosts a three-course meal complete with fitting wine pairings. This dinner costs $115, and you’ll also have to add tax and gratuity to both events. So, they’re high end by nature. As long as your wallet can afford it, however, this is a rare opportunity to eat, drink, and be merry alongside a Master Sommelier.
One Amazing Panther
Finally, let’s tie up some business from previous editions of MickeyBlog News. As projected in recent updates, Black Panther did in fact surpass The Avengers to become the most popular superhero movie of all-time. It didn’t stop there, either.
After its April 3rd box office take of $1.6 million, Black Panther also passed Jurassic World to earn fourth place all-time in domestic box office. It also overtook a couple of other Disney releases, Iron Man 3 and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, on its way to the top ten of worldwide ticket revenue. Currently, it sits behind 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, the tenth place film.
In $20 million, Black Panther will replace its Disney counterpart in the top ten. It should follow that by jumping Frozen to finish in at least ninth place. Perhaps the most amazing part of the entire turn of events is that Black Panther may still be in the top ten when Avengers: Infinity War debuts later this month! In the modern movie era, films don’t hang around this long. Black Panther’s the rarest of exceptions in oh so many ways.
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