TIME Retail

Disney Is Planning a Mega Event to Unveil the New Star Wars Toys

May the Force Friday be with you

To ensure the marketing force is strong with the much-awaited Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is holding what it calls the world’s first-ever “global live toy unboxing event” on Sept. 4.

The livestreamed event will last over 18 hours, during which time Disney will display a new suite of Star Wars toys in an event dubbed “Force Friday.” It will start off in Sydney on Sept. 3 at 7:45 a.m. local time before rolling through other cities, each the site of the unboxing of a new Star Wars toy by popular toy unboxers, gamers and hardcore fans.

The entire launch schedule can be viewed on Disney’s website.

“Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the Saga,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a company statement. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to be one of the biggest movies of all time, with analysts and industry experts estimating the film could earn as much as $3 billion from the global box office, which would top Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever. Merchandise sales from toys and apparel linked to the film could also reach $3 billion annually.

The movie will be released in U.S. theaters on Dec. 18.

TIME Travel

25 Facts You Didn’t Know About Disney Parks

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Peter Ptschelinzew—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images Summer never fails to attract big crowds to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

From historic moments to revamped rides

Sorry, mouse fans: if you’ve ever been to a Disney Park, chances are you missed a lot.

“Disneyland was designed so that you really couldn’t see everything in a single visit,” says Paula Sigman Lowery, a consulting historian for the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. She points to Walt Disney’s signature love of arcane embellishment, first in his animation (in Pinocchio, just try to catch all the details of the background paintings in Geppetto’s workshop) and later in his groundbreaking California theme park.

The business names painted in the windows of Disneyland’s buildings are a perfect example. “Imagineer Harper Goff designed the Jungle Cruise’s African Queen–style boats,” explains Lowery. “He also played banjo in the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a Dixieland jazz band comprised of Disney animators and artists. So his window in Adventureland advertises banjo lessons.”

Disney acolytes live for those minutiae and hat tips to those in the know, fueling a brand loyalty that’s the envy of businesses around the world. Disney Parks have parlayed this emotional connection into an uninterrupted reign as America’s best family getaways and most-visited tourist attractions since 1955.

Today, in addition to all the Easter eggs Walt and his Imagineers baked into their attraction designs, the parks have also accumulated almost six decades of hidden history that’s waiting to be discovered by eagle-eyed guests—provided they know where to look.

Have you seen Disney’s nuclear power plant? Did you watch one of the biggest scandals in American politics unfold at a Disney resort? Ever have a sense of déjà vu when riding a ride? Spoilers ahead: you may never enjoy Disney the same way again.

How many of these secrets did you know?

  1. Abominable B-Ball: Hidden at the top of the 147-foot mountain of Disneyland’s first roller coaster, the circa 1959 Matterhorn Bobsleds, is something more surprising than a roaring, fur-covered beast: a single-hoop basketball court for use by park employees on their breaks. It was created by vote to fill the extra space in the snowcapped icon, as the coaster makes us of only the bottom two-thirds of the peak.
  2. A Kinder Dumbo: Timothy Q. Mouse, who presides over Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Magic Kingdom and Disneyland), once brandished a training whip to make the elephants soar. Times changed, and the whip was quietly replaced with a “magic feather.” One of the original Dumbo “flying elephant” vehicles is on display at the Smithsonian.
  3. Meow vs. Mouse: As any urban dweller can tell you, mice are a fact of life—especially at Disneyland, a theme park built in the center of Anaheim, CA, where every day brings spills of all sorts that critters love. To help curb the problem, Disney takes a barn cat approach and “employs” hundreds of collarless, free-roaming mousers that they feed during the day (and spay and neuter) then let loose at night. It’s a fun irony that Mickey’s greatest natural enemy is given the keys to the Kingdom after dark.
  4. Raiders of the Lost Iguanodon: Although they are different rides on opposite coasts, the track layouts of Indiana Jones (Disneyland) and Dinosaur (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) are nearly identical. The sets and lighting are different.
  5. Disco Yeti: The largest and most complicated audio-animatronic ever assembled is the 22-foot-tall Yeti inside Expedition Everest (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)—and it doesn’t work. When the ride opened in 2006, it lunged menacingly at every passing train, but its systems couldn’t sustain the intensity, and it had to be turned off. Now its design-failure immobilization is concealed with a strobe-light effect, spurring some guests to nickname it “Disco Yeti.”
  6. Walt’s the Password?: Although it may be more of an open secret at this point, mum’s the word on a mostly off-limits speakeasy-esque private dinner club called Club 33, hidden in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. (Tokyo Disneyland also has one but not the Magic Kingdom.) To find it, look for a gray-green door near the Blue Bayou restaurant with a mirrored plaque that reads “33”—but don’t bother pushing the button for entry unless you have a reservation. (There’s purportedly an 18-year waiting list and $10,000 initiation fee.) Inside, celebrities and business VIPs can grab dinner and a Big Easy–inspired cocktail, the only such place within Disneyland itself where alcohol is allowed.
  7. Presidential Fashion: Each president in the Hall of Presidents (Magic Kingdom) wears clothing made using the techniques of his era. For example, if there were no sewing machines in his time—we’re looking at you, Georgie boy—then his suit is hand-stitched.
  8. Bye-Bye, Beatles: For rock ’n’ roll fans, Walt Disney World may not actually be the most magical place on earth: The Beatles officially broke up at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. While on vacation there on December 29, 1974, John Lennon signed the papers that made their dissolution legal.
  9. Repurposed Film Props: The organ in the ballroom scene of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is the actual one played by Captain Nemo (James Mason) in 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea—albeit with a different configuration of the pipes.
  10. Copyright Disney: Want to upload that vacation video to YouTube? Don’t be bummed if Disney asks you to take it down. As in most privately owned theme parks, everything in Disney—characters, rides, and architecture, down to every mouse-eared design detail—is the company’s intellectual property. Disney hasn’t flexed that legal muscle yet, but as a spokesperson seemed to suggest in this story on Daily Finance, it could. It’s just one reason that the movie Escape from Tomorrow, shot guerilla style at Walt Disney World, was such a gamble; the filmmakers even have a cheeky “lawsuit-free” ticker on their website.
  11. Cinderella Castle Trickery: Cinderella Castle feels more imposing than it actually is thanks to the use of forced perspective and a barely perceptible incline. The fiberglass structure (not stone; Disney got special permission from the government for that building-code exemption too) is built higher than the rest of the park.
  12. It’s Not All Imagineered: The gas lamps along Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. are 19th-century artifacts, not reproductions. “Disneyland used to have a costumed lamplighter who lit the lamps at dusk,” says Lowery. “When the energy crisis hit in the 1970s, the gas lamps were turned off.” Out of nostalgia, the lamps were later re-lit. Lowery believes they originally illuminated Baltimore’s streets.
  13. Splash Mountain Sings: Why does the cast of audio-animatronic characters on Disneyland’s Splash Mountain look so different from the cast in Orlando and Tokyo? Economizing. Many of its creatures, including singing geese, frogs, and foxes, were repurposed from America Sings, a robotic musical revue in Tomorrowland that was dismantled in 1988.
  14. Cereal Killer?: The second face in the quintet of singing busts—the one with his head broken off—in the graveyard of the Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom and Disneyland) is Thurl Ravenscroft, who was better known as the voice of Frosted Flakes’ Tony the Tiger (“They’re grrreat!”). Ravenscroft was a favored Disney company player; his voice is also heard on Pirates of the Caribbean, Country Bear Jamboree, and in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
  15. But Was He a Disney Fan?: On November 17, 1973, President Richard Nixon delivered his infamous “I’m not a crook” speech to a convention of Associated Press editors in the ballroom of Disney’s Contemporary Resort (Walt Disney World).
  16. Chew Chew Cho Cho: The steam engines of the Disneyland Railroad run on old French fry oil. After a few days’ use in kitchens throughout the park, waste oil is stored in tanks and then shipped off-site to be converted to a biodiesel the trains can run on. Every time guests order fries, they’re helping to meet the five locomotives’ appetite for 200,000 gallons of fuel a year. Bonus: the smokestacks smell a bit like lunch.
  17. Boy Scouts of the Caribbean: When Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland and Magic Kingdom) was built in 1967, randy pirates chased the women in mechanized circles during the pillage scene—perceived by some as threateningly sexist. Eventually the critiques were addressed in a few different ways across the parks. Gender roles got switched (women now chase the looting pirates away) as did motivations (hungry pirates look like they’re chasing women for the pies they’re holding) for a more family-friendly rendition of the murderous scalawags.
  18. The Reality Beneath the Magic: Because the Magic Kingdom is built on sodden ground, it needed a firmer foundation—technically most of the park is actually the roof of a two-story building that conceals the utilidor, a warren of service corridors. It’s wide enough to admit vehicles and holds wardrobe, break rooms, and the Digital Animation Control System (DACS) that serves as the nerve center for the park’s effects, from the currents of the flume rides to the soundtrack of the Haunted Mansion. Some 30 hidden stairwells and elevators connect it with the “upstairs” of the park.
  19. Christmas in the House of 2000: An unbilled Jean Shepherd, the narrator and author of the stories that became the holiday movie classic A Christmas Story, voices the Father (“John”) in the current 1994 incarnation of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (Magic Kingdom). Yep—Dad is Ralphie, all grown up.
  20. City Planning Innovations: In 1971, when Walt Disney World opened, its systems were revolutionary and progressive. The resort was the first place to install an all-electronic telephone system, and it routed all unsightly cables underground. It was also the first place in Florida to institute a 911 emergency system. Generator heat warms water, hot water runoff is used for cooking, wastewater is reclaimed for plants and lawns, and sludge becomes fertilizer. Trash was sucked away at 60 mph in Swedish AVAC pneumatic tubes, originally to a special incinerator that emitted no soot, only steam. (In the 1980s, Disney decided landfills were cheaper.)
  21. Looks Are Frequently Deceiving: Although the Polynesian-style roof of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (Magic Kingdom) looks like straw, it was actually built with shredded aluminum, which holds up to the elements better.
  22. Behind-the-Scenes: Parade Technology: The floats in Disney’s signature parades stay on track and in sync with the help of quarter-sized sensors embedded in the pavement.
  23. Droids Meet Jones: Hidden among the hieroglyphs in the Indiana Jones scene of the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios is a tribute to his creator, George Lucas. Look to the right, above the crate, and you’ll see images of two more of his creations: C-3PO fixing R2-D2 with a screwdriver.
  24. Nuclear Mickey: Could the nuclear future that Walt Disney World’s Carousel of Progress shows become a Florida reality? Maybe—if Disney ever decides to act on some of the extraordinary concessions it won from the state government before construction began in May of 1967. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the resort is actually its own independently governed municipality called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, giving it the right to form a school district, implement a criminal justice system, and issue tax-free bonds for infrastructure projects ranging from parking structures (as it did in 2013) to airports and yes, even a nuclear-power plant.
  25. Wait-Time Tweaks: Cribbing a page from airlines’ standard operating procedure about flight times, posted wait times for rides are intentional lies. According to a Walt Disney World cast member on a seven-hour Backstage Magic tour, management overestimates by five or 10 minutes so that guests are “pushed” at different areas while also coming away from rides with a warm impression of exceeded expectations.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

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TIME movies

Disney Announces Animated Jack and the Beanstalk Movie Gigantic

In this version, Jack meets a 60-ft.-tall 11-year-old girl

Disney is putting its own spin on a beloved fairytale. The company announced Friday at the D23 Expo that it will transform the Jack and the Beanstalk story into an animated film called Gigantic. Tangled director Nathan Greno will helm the project.

In this version of the story, Jack hails from 15th-century Spain, “the age of discovery,” Greno told the D23 audience, according to Entertainment Weekly. Jack will discover not just one castle and one giant but a whole new world, beginning with a 60-ft.-tall 11-year-old girl named Inma.

“She gets her hands on a grown man Jack, and she thinks he’s a toy,” said Greno, who added that the character was inspired by a young girl they met while scouting locations in Spain. Inma even gets her own song, which the award-winning Frozen duo, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, previewed at the event. The Lopezes will score the entire film.

Following the success of Frozen’s independent princesses, Disney has invested in creating a more diverse range of female characters, including the new character Inma. The studio also plans to bring another feisty princess to the big screen in Moana. The 16-year-old Moana, living in the South Pacific nearly 2,000 years ago, sets out on a dangerous sea voyage with her pet piglet Pua as a stowaway.

TIME movies

Toy Story 4 Will Show Woody Falling in Love

Woody and Little Bo Peep in "Toy Story".
Pixar/Disney Woody and Little Bo Peep in "Toy Story".

He'll help Little Bo Peep find her sheep

Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter confirmed on Friday what fans have speculated about for the better part of a year: Toy Story 4 will revolve around a romance between the blockbuster’s main character, a toy cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks, and a nursery rhyme doll.

“It’s a love story with Woody and—and this is news—Bo Peep,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” Lasseter revealed the plot point last winter but kept the details under wraps.

Lasseter rose to prominence in 1995 as director of Pixar’s Toy Story, a movie about toys that come to life and the first…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

MONEY stocks

Why Media Stocks Are Taking a Beating

Dow Jones Index Falls Sharply After China Devalues Its Currency
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of August 11, 2015 in New York City.

A stream of disappointing news unleashed a huge selloff in media stocks.

These are tough times in the pay-TV market, with fierce competition among providers and accelerating “cord cutting” by consumers shrinking the traditional pay-TV pie. Over the past week, investor concerns over these dynamics finally caught up with media stock prices.

The catalyst was guidance by Walt Disney WALT DISNEY COMPANY DIS 0.3% executives who spooked the market with comments Thursday that their cable networks group (which includes ESPN) would underperform earnings estimates for the upcoming year. On top of that, Viacom VIACOM INC. VIA 4.82% reported declines in profits and revenues. Other media stock earnings have been generally solid but below expectations.

The stream of disappointing news unleashed a huge selloff in media stocks. Two days after Disney’s announcement, Disney shares were down by 11%, Fox 21ST CENTURY FOX FOX 0.54% fell 13%, Time-Warner TIME WARNER INC. TWX -0.6% sank 10%, and Viacom dropped a whopping 21%. Comcast COMCAST CORP. CMCSA -0.18% and CBS CBS CORP. CBS 1.17% fell 6% and 1% respectively. Discovery Communications DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS INC. DISCA 0.74% dropped 9%. The S&P 500 media index lost 8.2% overall for its largest two-day drop in over six and a half years.

As a result, billions in market value were wiped out in a matter of days. Bloomberg noted that between Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Fox, and Comcast, nearly $50 billion of market value was lost during that two-day period. Was this selloff justified, or simply a market overreaction?

Decent Results but High Expectations

A partial selloff, if not a full-blown correction, seemed overdue within the sector. Media shares have been a huge driver of the broader bull market, rising over 500% during the current bull run. That outperformed banking, retailing, auto manufacturing, and most other sectors. According to Bloomberg, last week’s selloff knocked the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of media stocks down to around 18.8, bringing it more or less in line with the general market.

Another factor contributing to the slide is that media stocks are a favorite of hedge fund and mutual fund managers, who are inclined to be quick on the sell trigger. However, there have been signs for several years that the traditional pay-TV model was entering a period of transition and disruption, if not immediate decline.

Disney executives acknowledged in a conference call that cable and satellite subscriptions are down — as Disney CEO Robert Iger pointed out, “We’re realists about the business.” Iger doesn’t see streaming outlets offering smaller, targeted bundles or a la carte channels as an immediate threat, but would contemplate different options for ESPN if traditional pay TV outlets continue to slide, including “going direct to customers.”

Understandably, the cable and satellite companies are dismayed at that concept. Charter Communications chief executive Thomas Rutledge said that networks providing a la carte offerings to the streaming services have “devalued their core product, and they may or may not be carried in the future as a result of that.”

Investors may be wondering: if the mighty ESPN is not enough to keep subscribers on traditional pay TV packages, what will? Even if the current selloff is a bit of an overreaction, that is a fair and reasonable question.

It’s All About Leverage

There has certainly been a desire among consumers for smaller TV bundles or a la carte channels, and now the technology exists to make it happen in a practical way. With this new paradigm available, who has the leverage?

Recent mergers and consolidations within the media sector are an attempt to boost leverage — and the pay-TV component is just one part of that leverage. Companies that own desirable content and control both means of delivering it to customers (traditional cable/satellite packages and high-speed Internet connections) can afford to let things play out and pivot toward the more profitable technology as late as possible.

It’s not a given that a la carte or smaller bundle services will completely kill traditional pay TV. Streaming depends on available and affordable high-speed Internet access, and higher demand for that access is likely to strain those systems and drive up prices (even if net neutrality is retained). Meanwhile, it seems likely that satellite and cable systems are going to have to come up with some creative smaller bundles to compete, whether they like it or not.

Smaller, independent content providers may be in the toughest position. They have to make a choice, or risk being shut out of certain outlets for their content. Conversely, larger content providers may eventually be in a position to apply leverage. What are the odds that Charter would refuse to carry ESPN and Disney properties if push comes to shove?

The Takeaway

Last week’s media selloff, while likely overdue, does not spell the end of opportunity to make money in this sector. Nevertheless, it should give investors motivation to rethink where media stocks fit into their current portfolios.

What individual media companies are you invested in, and how are they likely to fare in the transition to the new TV landscape? Do these companies have their own means of delivery or the overall clout to develop or acquire them? Are they diversified enough that losses in one area can be compensated for by gains in other divisions?

Many media stocks retain strong fundamentals, but they probably won’t regain their status as mutual/hedge fund favorites until the current disruption reaches a clearer equilibrium point. As an individual investor, beware getting caught up in a stampede of selling when the fundamentals of your chosen stocks remain solid. With proper analysis, you may even find relative bargains in solid companies during a general downturn.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to leverage. Do the media companies in your portfolio have it, and does the news of the day cause your companies to either gain or lose that leverage? Assess the individual company’s risk and value, and act accordingly.

More From MoneyTips:

TIME BeachBot

This Beach-going Disney Robot Creates Incredible Sand Drawings of Your Favorite Characters

Tourism In Florida Falls Almost 10 Percent During Second Quarter
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

See if you can find Nemo

“The BeachBot is not just a lifeless, mechanical being; it is a friendly looking creature with a soul.”

At least that’s what’s written on the BeachBot website.

This robot is able to carve pictures into the sand using a rake made of seven movable parts, allowing it to draw lines of various widths from a minimum of 5 cm to a maximum of 40 cm. An aluminum shell and sealing lips completely protect the robot’s internal structure.

This adorable turtle-like machine (or creature with a soul, as it’ll have you believe) was an idea imagined and developed by Disney Research. This explains the BeachBot’s predilection for Disney characters.

Try to find Nemo:

TIME movies

The Lion King Spinoff Adds Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union to Cast

Lowe will voice Simba opposite Union’s Nala

Pride Rock is getting some A-listers.

Rob Lowe, Gabrielle Union, James Earl Jones, Max Charles, Atticus Shaffer, and Sarah Hyland will lend their voices to the African savannah in Disney’s upcoming television movie The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, a spin-off of the beloved animated film The Lion King.

At least six characters from the 1994 film will appear: Lowe will voice Simba opposite Union’s Nala, while James Earl Jones and Ernie Sabella will reprise their roles from the movie as Mufasa and Pumbaa, respectively. Rafiki (Khary Payton) and Timon (Kevin Schon) will also return to the kingdom (but only where the light touches).

The TV movie event, premiering in November on Disney Channel, follows Kion (the second-born son of Simba and Nala) and the rest of the Lion Guard, a task force of animals charged with preserving the Pride Lands. Charles plays the heroic lion cub, who’s also the group’s leader; Shaffer (The Middle) plays Ono, an egret; Joshua Rush plays honey badger Bunga; Diamond White plays Fuli, a cheetah; and Dusan Brown voices Beshte, a hippo. Together, they’re something of a mammalian Avengers — except one’s a bird.

The movie will be directed by Howy Parkins and feature new music from Christopher Willis and Beau Black. Watch a sneak peek of the film above.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Star Wars

Here’s How Much Money the New ‘Star Wars’ Movie Could Make

at Day One of Disney's 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California.
Albert L. Ortega—2015 Albert L. Ortega The new Millennium Falcon on display inside the ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens Exhibit’ at Day One of Disney's 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16, 2015.

It could come second only to ‘Avatar’ in terms of box office success

The new Star Wars film, due for release this December, is expected to make around $2.2 billion globally, according to a Wall Street analyst.

The analyst at the investment firm Stifel Nicolaus recently raised his price target on Disney shares to $130, according to CNBC. The film, “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens,” will capitalize on the increasing popularity of 3D and IMAX screens in the United States, and increasing interest in movie theaters abroad, the analyst said.

Despite flagging American interest in going to the movies, global box office sales are expected to be buoyed by Chinese moviegoers. According to the Stifel analyst, China could account for one-fifth of revenues for the Star Wars film. In the five years ending 2014, Chinese box office revenue grew 427%.

If analysts are correct, the movie could earn a spot on the list of top-grossing movies of all time. It could even surpass “Jurassic World,” which made more than $1.5 billion worldwide. At $2.2 billion in revenues, the Star Wars film would come second only to “Avatar” (2009), which grossed close to $2.8 billion thanks to record international interest.

TIME uniqlo

Uniqlo Aims For Bigger China Gains With New Disney Deal

General Economy Images In Beijing
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Pedestrians walk past a Uniqlo store in Beijing, China.

A new partnership extends Uniqlo and Disney's relationship with Star Wars, Avengers, and Frozen merchandise

Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing retail known for its affordable basics, is doubling down on Disney.

The apparel seller started selling shirts depicting Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in 2009. On Monday, Uniqlo announced a new partnership with Disney that will extend its collaboration with the entertainment conglomerate, a move that’s aimed at deepening the apparel company’s presence in China.

For the joint partnership, known as Magic for All, the companies will design apparel, accessories, and plush toys featuring popular characters from Star Wars, Pixar’s Toy Story, Marvel’s Avengers, and Disney’s Frozen.

Tadashi Yanai, founder of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing, told The Wall Street Journal that he hopes the Disney collaboration will further boost sales in China, where growth is essential for Uniqlo. The clothing company has struggled in the United States of late, and while it has performed well in its home country of Japan, the nation’s shrinking, aging population have dimmed its long-term prospects there.

“Our Chinese business is trending very smoothly,” Yanai told the Journal. The company’s versatile mix-and-match clothing seems to resonate with young Chinese workers. The retailer already operates 370 stores in mainland China; it plans to add 100 more annually for the near future.

The company’s new partnership with Disney will be worldwide, but will have a special focus on China. Uniqlo’s largest store worldwide in Shanghai will dedicate an entire floor to the Disney merchandise.

“The Walt Disney Company prides itself on delivering magical experiences to fans of all ages; whether it’s at the movies, retail, our theme parks or at home,” Paul Candland, President, The Walt Disney Company Asia, said in a statement. “Uniqlo shares our passion for storytelling and we look forward to expanding our global collaboration creating unique experiences for fans to immerse themselves in the Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar brands.”

Uniqlo has maintained its optimism for the Chinese market despite criticism of labor practices at its supplier factories there and a recent scandal over a sex video allegedly recorded in a Beijing store fitting room.

Yanai told the Journal that the video was disgusting: “This is the last thing we would have anticipated happening in our store,” he said.

TIME Travel

How to Master a Disney Cruise

The Disney Dream docks at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the tropical waters of the Bahamas.
David Roark The Disney Dream docks at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the tropical waters of the Bahamas.

Be prepared to stay offline, but limitless activities will keep you busy and entertained

For those who love to have their vacations well-mapped, a Disney cruise—with an itinerary that’s almost entirely pre-planned—holds a lot of appeal. It’s why, when I booked my first-ever cruise, I went with a four-day trip in the Caribbean on the Disney Dream—despite the fact that I was going with my boyfriend… and that we don’t have any children. Still, I spent many hours researching to make sure we maximized our time on board, and learned way more upon embarking. The takeaways, below:

Pre-Purchase

Disney, which has made a name for itself in the service industry, makes you feel like you’re in incredible hands throughout the entire booking process. Because it’s one of the most popular cruise lines and almost always sells out, Disney rarely offers deals—as a rule of thumb, the sooner you book, the lower the price. Once you confirm your booking, Disney sends a pre-cruising booklet, with just about any information you could ask for—general itinerary, embarkation and disembarkation times, what to bring (and what’s prohibited), and more. I loved having a physical copy to refer to as I was planning my trip. And don’t toss the booklet after you’ve read through it, because it includes luggage tags to ensure your bags get delivered to the right room.

Flights and Transportation

The official embarkation time is noon, but the process actually starts much earlier. We took the earliest flight in, and ended up with precious extra hours on the ship. And while disembarkation starts at 7 am, and Disney recommends not booking a flight before 1pm, we got off the boat with time to spare. Budget in extra time for customs upon disembarkation—sadly, TSA doesn’t (yet) run as efficiently as Disney.

Disney offers transportation from the airport to the ship, but at $70 per person, I thought it was a bit steep (though it may be worth it for the peace of mind, or if you have a lot of luggage, because they’ll check your bags onto the ship for you). We ended up taking a shuttle from CorTrans, for $40 each roundtrip.

Port Excursions

Even though we were only docking in two places, Nassau and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island), there was an insane amount of activities to choose from, from basic equipment rentals to a full day at Atlantis’s water park to a rum tasting tour. Book these early, as the most popular ones fill up. We decided to snorkel in Nassau, which worked out perfectly because it happened to be drizzling that day. On Castaway Cay, we opted to just enjoy the pristine beach. There’s a family beach and an adults-only one, and more than enough space for everybody.

Day Bag

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that once you’ve handed your luggage off to crew members—which could be as early as 10 a.m., you won’t see it again until much later that afternoon. So make sure to have a separate bag with a change of clothing in case you want to hit the pool early on, any medications, and of course, your passport and required forms for boarding.

On the Cruise

The only semblance of calm you’ll see on a Disney Cruise is if you get on board as early as possible on day one—the water slide line will be shorter, the buffet lines more approachable. Use this time to sign up for last-minute port excursions, get tickets to meet Disney princesses and characters, or just to enjoy the room. Every night, a Personal Navigator is delivered to your room with the next day’s activities, movies, events, and more. Even better, download the Disney Cruise app, with a map of the ship and the full calendar, before you board—this saved us time when we forgot where certain activities were held or if we wanted to know what was going on elsewhere on the ship. And don’t miss the amazing water slide, which is great during the day but even better at night when it’s lit up with lights. Yes, the line can get long, but if you go while the ship is in port, it’s much more manageable. And the movies on the big outdoor screen above the pool are a welcome distraction while you’re waiting.

Food

I’ll admit I didn’t have the highest expectations for the food, save for the specialty restaurants, Remy and Palo, which cost additional. I’m happy to report that the food far exceeded my expectations. There were a few favorites at the buffet I returned to over and over again—stone crab claws, peel-and-eat shrimp, chicken fingers, chocolate chip cookies—and the evening meals were varied and delicious. But the highlight, without a doubt, was our meal at Palo, the Italian restaurant on board. For $30 each, we had an incredible meal that rivaled any fine dining experience in New York. (Remy, the newer French restaurant, costs an extra $80 per person.)

Entertainment

The first thing we discovered, to my utter delight, was that the in-room TV has every single Disney movie available on-demand, for free. I’ll admit I could have gladly watched movies for 72 hours straight, but stopped myself. Every night, there’s a different musical show that incorporates Disney songs and characters, both classic and new. And first-run movies are shown in the two big theaters—on our cruise, these included Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, and Big Hero 6. There’s popcorn and soda sold outside the theaters, or you can save a few bucks by heading to the buffet before the show for soda, soft serve, and yes, more chocolate chip cookies.

Final Notes

Cash is not accepted on the ship or at the island, so all you have to do is carry your room key, which is connected to a credit card. Cell service is non-existent on the ship and at Castaway Cay, and Wi-Fi is quite expensive on board, so be prepared to stay offline the entire cruise. I was worried about being so disconnected, but the seemingly limitless activities kept me more than busy, and the lack of email meant I truly felt like I was on vacation. In fact, as we returned to Port Canaveral, I felt pangs of sadness as the AT&T bars popped back up—it meant it was time to leave the incredible cocoon of a world that Disney has created at sea.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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