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Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Walt Disney World is revealing plans to launch a new way of experiencing its parks–an electronic bracelet encoded with credit card information and technology to enable guests to make purchases within the parks and be notified when they are at the front of the line for popular rides. But even though Disney says the “MyMagic+” initiative will make a Disney vacation far less complicated for its estimated 30 million annual visitors, the system is raising some eyebrows among those who are concern with the privacy issues inherent in any data collection and “customized” marketing. From The New York Times:
The initiative is part of a broader effort, estimated by analysts to cost between $800 million and $1 billion, to make visiting Disney parks less daunting and more amenable to modern consumer behavior. Disney is betting that happier guests will spend more money.
“If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their leisure time with us,” said Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.
The ambitious plan moves Disney deeper into the hotly debated terrain of personal data collection. Like most major companies, Disney wants to have as much information about its customers’ preferences as it can get, so it can appeal to them more efficiently. The company already collects data to use in future sales campaigns, but parts of MyMagic+ will allow Disney for the first time to track guest behavior in minute detail.
Did you buy a balloon? What attractions did you ride and when? Did you shake Goofy’s hand, but snub Snow White? If you fully use MyMagic+, databases will be watching, allowing Disney to refine its offerings and customize its marketing messages.
Disney is aware of potential privacy concerns, especially regarding children. The plan, which comes as the federal government is trying to strengthen online privacy protections, could be troublesome for a company that some consumers worry is already too controlling.
Image via Marketplace.org
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars who sold his storied franchise to The Walt Disney Company for $4 billion last week, has announced he will donate most of the money to charity. The gift will make him one of the most generous givers in the world, according to Forbes.com:
“I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education,” Lucas wrote in his pledge letter. “It is the key to the survival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future — and the first step begins with the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt — as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so.”
Lucas founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the website Edutopia to reform and improve K-12 education. The foundation emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning over plodding devotion to standardized tests and traditional textbooks. It highlights innovative teaching efforts that are already working in classrooms. You can read more about Lucas’ efforts in a Q&A with Forbes’ Luisa Kroll.
While Lucas may choose to donate the billions he made from selling Lucasfilm to a broader range of efforts, it is likely that a large portion will be distributed to this cause. And when Lucas does make that donation official, he will have placed himself into rarified company among philanthropists. Only a select few billionaires will have given away as much as he plans to. While his $4 billion won’t get him as far as [Bill] Gates or [Warren] Buffett, who have donated more than $45 billion combined, Lucas is following their example and should reach the next tier of biggest givers.
Image: George Lucas, via cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to establish a new set of nutritional standards for all food products that advertise on their television programs, radio stations, and websites. The initiative is the company’s response to the American obesity epidemic, that affects millions of children. The New York Times reports:
The restrictions on ads extend to Saturday-morning cartoons on ABC stations owned by Disney. Under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals — both current Disney advertisers — along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material.
The initiative, which Disney revealed at a Washington news conference with the first lady, Michelle Obama, stretches into other areas. For instance, Disney will reduce the amount of sodium by 25 percent in the 12 million children’s meals served annually at its theme parks, and create what it calls fun public service announcements promoting child exercise and healthy eating.
Image: Girl wearing Mickey Mouse ears, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
A 9-year-old boy from Kingston, Massachusetts devised a plan, months in the making, in which he started with a toy soldier, traded it for something of greater value, continued “trading up” until he had earned a full Disney World vacation. He then donated the trip to a local family who had lost a soldier in the war in Afghanistan. MSNBC.com reports:
It’s called “A Soldier for a Soldier.” Back in February, 9-year-old Kingston boy Brendan Haas wanted to trade for a trip to Disney World.
He started with a toy soldier. From there, the trades got bigger and better with the network growing nationwide, until Brendan met his goal: tickets to Disney World including air fare, a stay at the Disney Villas, and almost $900 in Disney gift certificates.
“I think it would make them a lot happier,” Brendan said.
A family of a fallen soldier was chosen randomly from a hat over Memorial Day weekend.
The family of 25-year-old Timothy Steele was chosen for the trip. Steele left behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter.
Image: Toy soldier, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Rapunzel will join the likes of Snow White and Cinderella in the Disney “royal court” this coming October, in a star-studded ceremony literally fitting the notion of royalty, the company announced today. The celebration will take place at Kensington Palace in London, the birthplace of Queen Victoria and a residence owned by the British Royal Family. The location was secured through a partnership between Disney and Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charitable organization that receives no funding from the British government or the Crown.
Rapunzel is to be honored following the success of last year’s film “Tangled,” which told the story of the famous long-haired heroine as voiced by the actress Mandy Moore. The film is among the top 10 highest-grossing Disney movies in the company’s 88-year history. In a release announcing Rapunzel’s big news, Disney said:
Rapunzel is a modern heroine – she may have lived her entire life locked inside a hidden tower but Rapunzel is no damsel in distress. The girl with 70 feet of glowing, magical hair is an energetic, inquisitive young lady who fills her days with art, books and imagination. She is full of curiosity about the outside world and can’t help but feel her true destiny lies outside of the lonely tower walls.
Tiana, the main character from the 2009 movie “The Princess and the Frog” was the most recent princess to join the court. She was also Disney’s first African American princess.
The other 9 Disney princesses are:
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- Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
- Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
- Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
- Cinderella (Cinderella)
- Jasmine (Aladdin)
- Mulan (Mulan)
- Pocahontas (Pocahontas)
- Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
- Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)