Monday, March 18th, 2013
Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks and resorts will, beginning March 23, no longer allow children under age 14 to enter the park unless they are accompanied by someone who is over age 14. The new rule isn’t a response to any particular incident, but it was put in place after visitor surveys and child welfare organizations both expressed concern about the safety of children who are unaccompanied in the parks. More from The Associated Press:
“If a cast member who is working at the front gates sees a guest who appears to be younger than 14 without someone who appears to be older than that, they will engage in a conversation with the guest,” Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told NBC4.
The employee will verbally determine whether the guest is too young to enter on his or her own, since children that age typically do not carry identification with them, she said. The child’s parent or guardian would then be contacted if the visitor is underage, and that adult would need to physically come accompany the child into the park.
Disney chose the age of 14 after the company surveyed its guests and reached out to organizations that deal with child welfare, Brown said. She said both the organizations and visitors agreed on the new age limit.
“That was the age they felt was appropriate,” she said. “That’s also the age the Red Cross recommends for babysitting.”
Image: Girl in amusement park, via Shutterstock
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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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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
The Walt Disney Company has bought Lucasfilm, the company that created the Star Wars movies, for $4 billion, news sources are reporting. The move represents the merging of two immense franchises that have created family entertainment for decades. It also gives new life to the Star Wars movie series, which last debuted a new film in 2005. CNN.com has more:
“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” George Lucas said in a written statement. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Lucas said he will work as a creative consultant on Star Wars Episode 7, the first of a planned new trilogy of live-action Star Wars movies. It is targeted for release in 2015, Disney said.
“The film is in what I’ll call early-stage development right now,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said on a conference call with analysts. Lucas did not join him on the call.
Disney hopes to essentially relaunch the Star Wars film franchise, which had its last installment in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith. Following the three planned sequels, the company envisions releasing even more Star Wars movies at a rate of a new film every two to three years.
Future movies may not be sequels but movies that focus on fringe characters. Disney also believes there is potential for a television series.
“Disney respects and understands — perhaps better than anyone else — the importance of iconic characters,” Iger said.
Image: Star Wars’ R2D2 droid, via Chris Harvey / 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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