TIME Disney

Here’s Why Disney Just Banned This Vacation Photo Essential

DISNEY PARKS DISNEY SIDE
PR NEWSWIRE—PR NEWSWIRE

The company cited safety as the main concern

Disney is the latest company to ban selfie-sticks due to safety concerns, the company said in an announcement Friday.

The popular travel item will be banned from Disney theme parks in Orlando starting Tuesday, and also in Disney water parks, the Associated Press reported.

“We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty told the Orlando Sentinel.

According to the publication, guests will have the option of checking the items near park entrances to pick them up later in the day.

This has been an ongoing issue at Disney:

Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.

Apple banned the item from its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year.

TIME

Vin Diesel Dedicates Fast & Furious Ride to Paul Walker

"This one’s for you Pablo"

Even as the Fast & Furious franchise surges on—with a theme park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and an eighth installment set for 2017—star Vin Diesel continues to pump the breaks to honor his friend Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in late 2013.

At its opening in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Diesel dedicated the new Fast & Furious — Supercharged 3D car ride to his co-star. “This one’s for you Pablo,” the actor said, invoking the nickname he has often used for Walker.

Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jason Statham, who all starred in the Furious 7, joined Diesel in welcoming fans.

MONEY Odd Spending

Disney World Is Now Selling ‘Poo’ in Giraffe, Hippo Flavors

girl with licking chocolate off her face
Getty Images

$3.99 a pop—or is it $3.99 a poop?

People will buy pretty much anything. Nowhere is this truism more on display than Walt Disney World, a.k.a. the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” a.k.a. home of the $100+ one-day admission fee.

The latest magic trick being pulled by the world’s most famous theme park destination is convincing guests that they want to buy and eat animal “poo.” At Zuri’s Sweet Shop, appropriately located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, customers get to choose among four flavors: elephant, hippo, giraffe, and tamarin. In more ways than one: No B.S.!

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, they’re of course not actual steaming piles of manure but chocolate, brownie, and fudge creations. An order of “giraffe” indeed looks like scat—a pile of mushy dark brown balls—but it’s made of chocolate fudge and caramel. “Hippo” consists of chocolate fudge, caramel brownie, peanut butter, and oats.

The gimmick and instant conversation piece is called “Match the Species,” and customers are encouraged to make a game of guessing which faux dung belongs to which kind of animal. “The animal handlers of Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked in conjunction with pastry chefs so that they perfected the look of the animal poop exactly,” the Kim and Carrie blog explained, after sampling Giraffe soon after the items made their debut in mid-June.

The sweet shop doesn’t list the items explicitly as poop or dung. But on customer receipts, your order will be spelled out as, say, “Poo, Giraffe.” Each order costs $3.99. After grabbing a bite, it’s probably appropriate to hit the souvenir shop, where you’ll find lots more crap to buy.

TIME Disney

This Union Is Attacking Disney’s Weirdest Policy

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YE AUNG THU—AFP/Getty Images

No scab Mickeys are needed yet

Working at a Disney Park may be magical, but apparently the “cast members” — as these Disney employees are called — aren’t allowed to tell anyone what loveable character they play — at least for now.

The union that represents Disney Park employees is challenging the rule, which doesn’t allow workers to say which character they play in any online or print media — this is likely a bigger issue today given the proliferation of social media.

A representative for the Teamsters, the union representing the workers, thinks this is extreme, telling the Orlando Sentinel that the person playing Tigger doesn’t “work for the CIA.”

Dalton told the newspaper that the Teamsters filed a grievance with Disney’s labor relations department last week. The union will also file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, she added.

More: Check out Disney on the new Fortune 500 list

More than 1,200 Disney workers greet guests or appear in parades in various guises, including dressed as “fur characters,” such as Winnie the Pooh, or in outfits that cover the performers completely, and “face characters” such as Snow White or Cinderella, Dalton told the paper.

TIME Tourism

SeaWorld Is Struggling to Keep People Visiting

Premiere Of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey"
Jerod Harris—Getty Images A general view of the atmosphere at the premiere of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" on June 21, 2011 in San Diego, California.

While Universal is riding that Harry Potter high

In the theme park wars, 2014 was a clear victory for Universal and a drag for SeaWorld, with Disney coming up somewhere in between.

Let’s be clear: Disney World is still the biggest dog in the fight, attracting 70.9% of all theme park visits in 2014 — but that’s down from 73.3% in 2013, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Disney’s market share was bitten into by Universal, which had a 22.6% share in 2014 compared with 19.3% in 2013, largely driven by the opening of the second outpost of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Plus, plenty of people who came to experience the world of the Boy Wizard also bought tickets to Universal’s other park, Islands of Adventure, where the first Harry Potter area is still operating. There’s a “Hogwart’s Express” train connected the two parks, which can only be ridden if visitors have tickets to both parks.

SeaWorld, meanwhile, had market share of just 6.5%, down from 7.4%. The aquatic-themed park had its own problems to deal with, as negative publicity regarding its treatment of animals may still be hurting it at the gates.

The Orlando theme park market in general had a good year, with total visits increasing 6% to 72.6 million.

TIME Media

Why Disney Is Poised to Absolutely Dominate

Measles California
Jae C. Hong—AP Sleeping Beauty's Castle is seen at Disneyland on Jan. 22, 2015, in Anaheim, Calif.

The Mouse House is on a epic winning streak

Luke Skywalker. Tony Stark. Elsa and Anna of Arendelle. Captain America. Woody and Buzz. The fictional heroes of family entertainment have never dominated popular culture as much as they have in recent years. And there is one company that is largely responsible for that: Disney.

Founded nearly a century ago, Disney has long-held a firm place in America’s popular imagination, but even within that long history the past decade has been an impressive ride. Since Bob Iger took over as CEO in 2005, Disney’s stock has more than quadrupled while the S&P 500 is up 77%. Most of the gains have come since 2011 as Iger’s early moves began to bear fruit.

And so some Disney shareholders have come to regard Iger with the kind of awe children have for Disney’s franchised superheroes. But in recent months a debate has broken out between bulls and bears over how long the rally can continue.

While no one is doubting Disney’s immediate future, some analysts are concerned about the stock’s heady valuation. Disney is trading at 26 times last fiscal year’s earnings and 22 times its estimated earnings this year. The Dow, by contrast, is trading at 16 times its recent earnings.

Of the 31 analysts covering Disney, 12 of them have a hold rating on the stock – often a rating given when an otherwise healthy stock has grown pricey. It’s not just analysts who are cautious. Goldman Sachs recently calculated that hedge funds have an aggregate $4.5 billion in short interest in Disney, second only to AT&T among US stocks.

The thing is, Disney isn’t just growing, it’s performing so well that it’s surprising even the bulls. In March, one analyst downgraded Disney purely on its valuation,arguing further gains would be limited. But this month, Disney beat Wall Street’s consensus estimate for the fifth time in the last six quarters. Following its last earnings report, seven analysts raised price targets to between $120 and $125 a share. Disney closed Friday at $110 a share.

So while the bears argue that Disney is priced for perfection, bulls counter that the company has enough kindling to keep the bonfire burning for some time, largely because of two things Iger has built over the years: a steady lineup of content that appeals to the masses and an interlacing of Disney divisions that can feed business to each other.

This is especially clear in the film business. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar, an impressive deal given the bad blood that has existed between Steve Jobs and Iger’s predecessor Michael Eisner. Three years later, Disney bought Marvel Entertainment just as it superhero franchises were entering a renaissance. And in 2012, the company bought Lucasfilm just as a new Star Wars trilogy was being planned.

So far in 2015, Disney’s Cinderella has brought in $521 million worldwide and Avengers: Age of Ultron has pulled in $1.2 billion. The company’s Tomorrowland topped the weekend box-office in the U.S., but the movie fell short of expectations in what was the film industry’s lowest-grossing Memorial Day weekend since 2001. But Disney is only getting warmed up: Two Pixar movies, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, are coming this year, along with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The anticipation of Star Wars is especially high–the latest trailer alone has already had more than 200 million views.

Beyond this year, Disney has a Jungle Book remake coming in 2016, along with Captain America 3, Finding Dory and a sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, which topped $1 billion in receipts. Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4 are in the works. And the Marvel lineup will remain busy, with new Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy films and two Avengers movies expected through 2019.

The relentless parade of blockbuster fare may feel manufactured but, for Disney, they are paying off through multiple revenue streams. Sales of Frozen merchandise in the past six months rose tenfold over the year-ago period, even though the movie was released in 2013. EA is timing a Star Wars: Battlefront game to coincide with the film’s release, and the Playdom gaming studio Disney bought in 2010 is working on Star Wars- and Marvel-themed games as well.

There are also tie-ins for theme parks, like Tomorrowland. Theme parks have become a growth area with operating profit in the unit growing 22% over the past six months. Disney is planning to open a new theme park in Shanghai in 2016, which could add to revenue in coming years.

The one area of potential weakness is in Disney’s largest unit, the media networks business including ESPN and ABC, which saw operating income flat in the last six months while revenue rose 12% in the period. In a call with investors, Disney cited higher programming costs for NFL and college football games as reasons for the flat profit in the division.

While it’s easy to imagine Disney’s growth continuing, it’s also easy to see areas of vulnerability. Audiences moving from broadcast TV and cable subscriptions in an era of on-demand Internet TV could slowly bleed Disney’s media-networks business. Disney has made moves to adapt to a world of over-the-top television, but the transition has started to accelerate this year.

The blockbusters could also become a vulnerability. Critics often chide the lack of originality in Hollywood’s blockbuster machine, and at some point audiences might lose their appetite for a glut of blockbusters. Tomorrowland, for example, drew only $40 million over the weekend, a disappointing take for a film with a $190-million budget. It doesn’t even rank in the top 20 grosses for Memorial Day openers.

For now, investors seem confident in Disney as long as Iger remains at the helm. Last fall, Disney extended Iger’s contract for the second time, pushing his retirement date back until 2018. More than any movie Disney’s studios may have in the works, the sequel investors are most interested in seeing is the success story Iger has brought to Disney shares.

MONEY fashion

New Kind of Disney Cosplay Slightly Less Embarrassing Than Original

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Ever imagine what Sleeping Beauty, Buzz Lightyear, or Dumbo would wear if they were real people?

This week, the Orlando Sentinel reported on “Disneybounding,” a growing dress-up trend that some will think is a super fun hoot, while others will perceive it as a disturbing sign of the coming apocalypse.

To be a Disneybounder, you dress up in regular clothes to achieve a look inspired by a Disney character. The look “falls somewhere between a character T-shirt and an elaborate costume,” the Sentinel explained.

According to the Disneybound Tumblr (“Where Disney nerds and fashion geeks collide”), which was created three years ago by a woman named Leslie Kay and is credited with creating the trend out of nowhere, Disneybounding can be summed up this way: “Using items you can find in your own closet or local mall, create the looks outside of costumed or cosplay looks, which represent your favorite Disney character, while having fun with fashion!”

For instance, instead of dressing up in a head-to-toe Little Mermaid costume with a tail and all, you might wear green jeans or a skirt and a purple top, to create a vaguely Ariel-like look. A Disneybound Mrs. Jumbo outfit, inspired by Dumbo’s mom, might consist of gray skorts, a pink blouse, and a light blue sweater.

The most obvious place to go Disneybounding in character-inspired attire is, of course, one of the Disney theme parks. Yet if these fans love Disney so much, why aren’t they just wearing full character costumes?

Beyond the obvious—it’s somewhat ridiculous for adults to dress in costumes when it’s not Halloween (and perhaps even when it is Halloween)—Disney parks actually don’t allow adults to wear masks or dress up in Disney costumes. Included on the official list of attire that’s not appropriate at Disney World are “Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character.” Presumably, without such a policy, theme park guests could be confused as to whether that guy in a costume is a Disney employee or just some random dude from Des Moines who enjoys dressing up as Cruella De Vil.

While Disney frowns upon adult guests wearing costumes at theme parks, the company has embraced Disneybounding. Last summer, the official Disney blog created a quiz meant to steer you toward the character whose look you should emulate in Disneybound attire. After selecting your favorite Disney song, overall style, Disney snack food, favorite retail brand, and so on, an algorithm spits out that you should try to dress like Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Olaf from Frozen, or whoever.

Disney also created a similar quiz to help high school girls choose which Disney character should be the inspiration for their look at the prom. Mrs. Jumbo is not one of the options.

TIME movies

Indiana Jones-Themed Bar Could Be The Best Reason to Go To Disney World

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Paramount Pictures/Lucasfilm Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

Rolling Boulder Meatballs are on the menu, of course

If you’re looking for a place to throw back a few shots of whiskey after raiding a Venezuelan tomb for archaeological treasures or, you know, standing in line for Space Mountain for two hours, the new Indiana Jones-themed bar might be just the place.

As Disney mulls over making another Indiana Jones film, they are making the most of the franchise by opening a themed bar at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, FL, this fall — perfect for thirsty parents and their tiny adventurous whippersnappers.

The new watering hole is named after Indy’s trusty pilot Jock Lindsey and has an airplane hangar theme. According to the Disney blog, the bar will reflect the Indiana Jones story, complete with aviation-themed decor, vintage travel posters, propeller-based ceiling fans (don’t stand too close!) and a diving bell “booth.” Rumor has it that Jock’s pet snake Reggie will also be incorporated into the restaurant somehow. (Perhaps to discourage too much adventurousness from those whippersnappers?)

Naturally, the menu features themed cocktails like the “Hovito Mojito” and will include food like “Rolling Boulder Meatballs.” There’s no word yet on whether the entire bar is booby-trapped if you attempt to make payment with a bag of sand.

MONEY Leisure

Disney World, Universal Break Ticket-Price Barrier

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando one-day admission tickets are in a whole new world.

TIME Companies

Going to Disney World Just Got More Expensive

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse stands in front of
Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tickets pass the hundred-dollar mark

Entrance into the happiest place on Earth just got pricier.

The Walt Disney Co. on Sunday upped the ticket prices to all of its U.S. theme parks by $3 to $6 a ticket. While a single-day ticket at the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orland, Fla., used to cost $99, this week the price broke the hundred-dollar barrier to $105. One day tickets to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., now costs $99 for the 10-and-over crowd, up from $96. Prices also increased for children.

The parks’ prices usually increase annually, Disney spokesperson Suzi Brown told the Associated Press: “We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multiday tickets or annual passes, which provide a great value and additional savings.”

In the final quarter of 2015, Disney parks saw a record attendance bump of 7%.

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