Disney Headlines for October 1, 2021
Welcome to a historic edition of Disney Headlines!
Walt Disney World is turning 50 years old this week. Obviously, that story has dominated the headlines.
We’ll talk about the cast members who have seen it all and more park stuff. But we also have stories about Disney robotics, Orlando real estate, and even Broadway!
The Greatest American Heroes
Where were you on October 1st, 1971? Since the average American is about 39 years old, you probably weren’t even born.
Well, on that date 50 years ago, some workers were starting their new jobs at Walt Disney World!
Remarkably, NPR reports that two dozen of these cast members have kept their jobs for a half-century!
Yes, you read that correctly. Almost 25 people have worked at Walt Disney World since day one.
The most successful of them, George Kalogridis, even worked his way up to the title of President of Walt Disney World Resort in 2013!
Of course, all of them have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The average American stays at one job for about four years.
These people have worked at one place for 12 times as long! I’m in awe of them. It’s quietly one of the best feel-good stories at the parks this week.
Disney Joins the Robot Wars
On the surface, Amazon and Disney may seem like competitors. After all, the Amazon Instant Video streaming service is in a market share fight with Disney+.
Realistically, Amazon sells so many Disney products on its site that it could never resent the company, though.
As such, some forward-thinking folks at Amazon have just done something they’d literally never done before now.
Disney will gain a voice assistant on Amazon Alexa. So yes, for the first time ever, you can ask for help from something other than Alexa!
Once the rollout begins, guests can activate the assistant by saying, “Hey, Disney!”
Then, the new program will work on top of the existing Alexa interface. So basically, you’re swapping out Alexa for a currently unknown Disney character.
Sources have indicated that this assistant will feature a male voice. So, speculation has centered on Mickey Mouse, although that’s unconfirmed.
Still, how great would it be to ask Mickey Mouse for help whenever you need something from your Echo?
When you launch the new assistant with the “Hey, Disney!” command, you’ll activate plenty of new features on your Amazon hardware.
According to TechCrunch, the app will:
“offer a variety of experiences for Disney fans, including jokes, interactive trivia, greetings from favorite Disney characters and access to audio environments called “soundscapes,” which are inspired by Disney films.”
So, you’ll have a sprinkling of Pixie Dust in your life whenever you want. Just ask Disney a question through your Amazon Echo!
The Hidden Amenity
Speaking of which, you should get used to looking at the Echo Show 5! You’ll see one whenever you’re staying at an official Walt Disney World resort.
As part of the broad agreement between Amazon and Disney, this Echo device will turn into a standard hotel room amenity at Walt Disney World.
Interestingly, Disney will design these devices to answer park-specific questions.
When you have a question in your hotel room, you won’t even need to grab your phone. Instead, you’ll say, “Hey, Disney!” and ask the Echo your question.
This addition will legitimately revolutionize park visits. I don’t know how many times I’ve wondered about park hours when I wasn’t near my phone.
Now, I can just ask an Amazon Echo device, and Disney will respond!
Disney expects this technology to be ready at some point in 2022.
Disney’s Land Grab
The Walt Disney Company just bought 60 acres of land in Central Florida, but it’s not at Walt Disney World.
Instead, Disney purchased the land for its anticipated office campus in Lake Nona, Florida.
This property came at the hefty price of $46 million. Walt Disney once joked that he paid $80 per acre for the first piece of land in Florida and then $80,000 for the last acre.
That pace has apparently continued over the years, as Disney’s paying more than $766,000 per acre.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney could feasibly add “1.8 million square feet of office space across multiple buildings” in Lake Nona.
Interestingly, ClickOrlando has tracked the problems that Disney’s land grabs have caused.
The website division of WKMG Orlando points to a unique problem. Disney could easily add housing across the thousands of land that it owns.
However, if Disney did that, the new homeowners would own voting rights for this region. It’s the one that determines Disney’s self-governmental policies.
As such, Disney cannot sell housing for fear of accidentally doing Walt Disney World a huge disservice.
The company remains particularly sensitive to this subject after a recent imbroglio with the Anaheim City Council.
Something similar happening in Orlando is a non-starter since Disney controls the playing field. But, of course, that would change if non-Disney fans bought homes here.
Miscellaneous Disney Headlines
Disney is back on Broadway!!!
Yes, as of September 28th, Aladdin has returned to Broadway, making it the first Disney musical to make a comeback since the pandemic.
Another massive headline this week involves Marvel’s licensing of various characters.
The family of one of the creators of characters like Dr. Strange and Spider-Man has filed for copyright termination.
I go into detail on the subject on our sister site, MarvelBlog, but the gist is that the same lawyers tried the same thing with Superman. It…didn’t go well.
For the time being, Disney has little to worry about with its Marvel character licenses.
If a court ruled against Disney, the conversation would change, but that’s a Disney Headline for another day.
Finally, just because the story’s fun, let’s hear it for short hemlines! Twitch star Sarah Daniels wound up with a story on DailyDot.
This article summarizes her TikTok about being a costumed Disney cast member:
This topic comes up from time to time with former cast members.
The women suggest that (married) men tend to go for the Disney characters with the tiniest outfits. That’s…definitely Tinkerbell.