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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

“Game of Thrones” Duo Out at “Star Wars”: Let the Wild Speculation Begin

by Ray Keating
October 29, 2019

The big news this morning is that the creators of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, have quit their planned Star Wars movie trilogy. 

Toss in the mix that Rian Johnson was vague in a recent interview about his continued Star Wars work, and we have the perfect storm for Star Wars fans to speculate wildly – including pointing fingers – about what’s going on and where things might be headed on the big screen in a galaxy far, far away.

Benioff and Weiss were expected to write and produce three Star Wars movies slated for released in each December of 2022, 2024 and 2026. But the duo also signed a big Netflix deal in August. So, perhaps the exit fromStar Warsshouldn’t be all that surprising.

As for Star Wars, Disney has a pretty robust slate coming, including “The Mandalorian” Disney+ series from Jon Favreau coming with the launch of the streaming service on November 12, with another two more live-action series slated – a Rogue One prequel and an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor – and of course, the arrival of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters on December 20.

And what about the recent news that Marvel Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige also was developing a Star Wars movie?

Here’s my speculation that only comes from the hope of a fan: Kathleen Kennedy, who has not exactly thrived at the helm of Star Wars, steps back along with the various players she brought in – i.e., Johnson and the Thrones’ duo – and storytellers like Feige and Favreau step forward more prominently.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Disney Streaming Marketing Powerful, But Why Wait on Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu Package?

by Ray Keating
October 29, 2019

It’s hard to doubt the ability of The Walt Disney Company to market its products. And they’re certainly not shy about getting the word out in appealing ways about its Disney Plus streaming service that goes live on November 12. But an odd question or missing piece stands out during this Disney Plus rollout.

The New York Times published an article on October 27th titled “Disney Is New to Streaming, but Its Marketing Is Unmatched.” The piece goes on to examine Disney’s ability to use various arms of its entertainment empire to cross-promote Disney Plus. And when you read the article reporting on the wide array of means Disney is and will be using to promote Disney Plus, one must be impressed. And if you’re a Disney Plus competitor – like Amazon, Netflix and Apple – you’re probably a bit nervous. Disney knows marketing in a way that the tech guys, at least at this point, don’t fully grasp.

But here’s the weird thing. Disney CEO Bob Iger, and the company has confirmed, that consumers will be able to purchase Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu as a monthly package for $12.99. That’s the same price as the standard Netflix package. Very cool, right? But this package is not available, even for pre-purchase, yet. Why make the customers who want to go all in on Disney-owned streaming – including me – wait to get this combo until November 12 when Disney Plus goes live? It’s a bit bewildering. Why not offer this combo while building up excitement during this marketing blitz?

Of course, no one outside Disney has full knowledge, and the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Hulu package could go live for purchase at any moment (although on the Disney Plus sign up page, it is noted that the combo will not be available until November 12). Indeed, a surprise launch of this Disney combo could still be part of the marketing plan – making a big splash if an early sign-up were announced. Let’s hope so, as I’d like to have my Disney streaming services ready to go when November 12th rolls around.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Estimate of Disneyland’s Economic Impact: A “Powerhouse”

by Ray Keating
October 25, 2019

Last month, economists from California State University, Fullerton, released a study estimating the impact of Disneyland on the seven-county Southern California economy.

Anil Puri, the director of the university’s the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting, called Disneyland “an economic powerhouse.” He explained, “It is the largest employer in Orange County, and its impact is felt beyond Anaheim. Not only does it draw tourists from around the world, it also adds to the local economy through its major construction and renovation projects. Disneyland Resort is a magnet and catalyst for additional tourism and recreational activities and enterprises in the region.”

The economists who performed the analysis reported that the Disneyland Resort had an $8.5 billion impact on the region’s economy in 2018, based on the 78,299 employees and the tourists visiting the area and their spending at local businesses. That represented a 50 percent increase over 2013.

It was reported that the 73 percent of Disneyland jobs in Orange County represented 3.6 percent of jobs in the county. In addition, since 2013, Disneyland’s annual rate of job growth registered 7.2 percent, which was three times the rate for Southern California during that period.

For good measure, Disneyland paid $509.6 million in state and local taxes during the fiscal year 2018.

According to BisNow.com, the economists said that the full study would not be released due to proprietary information. The Disneyland Report provided a $75,000 grant to support the study.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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Join Ray Keating's Email List, and get info about DisneyBizJournal.com, savings on current and forthcoming books related to Disney and your career, Ray's Pastor Stephen Grant novels, and his other books and services, including a newsletter, special savings, and THE TRAITOR: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT SHORT STORY by Ray Keating for FREE coming later this year! Sign up at https://raykeatingonline.com/contact

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

CNBC Interview with Jon Favreau on Storytelling, “The Mandalorian” and Much More

by Ray Keating
October 22, 2019

Jon Favreau is a talented director, actor, writer and entrepreneur. He did a fascinating interview with CNBC earlier today. He talks about technology and storytelling, filmmaking, entrepreneurship, his new Disney+ show “The Mandalorian,” and more. If you’re a consumer or creator, this is a fascinating interview. Check it out.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

“The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution” Helps Disney Fans to Get Organized, Make Things Happen and Be Inspired

This Tool Offers Daily Disney Fun and Facts While Making Sense for Career, Business, Education, and Family

Long Island, NY – If you love all things Disney, then why not get a touch of Disney each day of the year with The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution

Gain inspiration, get organized and set goals using Ray Keating’s “TO DO List Solution,” while enjoying quotes from Walt Disney, other Disney leaders, experts, fans, and hundreds of characters, along with facts about theme parks, movies and much more.

The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, and more.

The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution is available at Amazon.com. And signed books are on sale at RayKeatingOnline.com.

Ray Keating, who is the publisher, editor and columnist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and a novelist, entrepreneur, podcaster, marketer and more, explains: “The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution is ideal for the Disney fan. And today, that covers a big chunk of our popular culture.”

He adds, “Spending each day during the year using The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution makes sense if you’re a Disney fan, if you want to enjoy valuable and fun quotes and facts from the Disney universe, and if you’re looking for a daily takeaway that will make at least a small difference in your outlook, your work, and your life.” 

Keating explains, “I’ve become far better organized – though far from perfect – with ‘The TO DO List Solution’ becoming my main planning, organizing and execution tool. It provides confidence that everything that needs to happen will be remembered; most (though not necessarily all!) will be accomplished; changes can be factored in; and life will be more organized.”

He continues, “In addition, the act of using ‘The TO DO List Solution’ requires reflection on goals; forces prioritization; allows for being more realistic about time management; and generates serious thought on howto best get things done (such as breaking down projects into manageable steps). And as one checks off each completed item, your sense of success and accomplishment is enhanced, with hope and confidence growing.”

Keating concludes, “The fact that you set goals, think about how to achieve those goals, and choose to seek out and use tools like The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution says something very positive about your outlook on work and life. If I might say, I think Walt Disney would approve.”

The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution is one of four TO DO List Solution 2020 planners from Ray Keating. The others on the way are The Movie Buff Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution, The Lutheran Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution, and The Pastor Stephen Grant Novels Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution.

Review copies, and author interviews and appearances are available upon request. 

(This book is unauthorized and unofficial. It has not been reviewed by The Walt Disney Company, and is in no way authorized, endorsed or approved by the company, or by its sponsors, partners or affiliates. This book is an effort to expand the enjoyment that people experience when it comes to Disney and its many efforts to entertain consumers around the world. The author is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with The Walt Disney Company, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.)

Contact: Ray Keating
Phone: 631-909-1122
Twitter: @FreeEnterprise7

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Disney Synergy: Star Wars and Monday Night Football

by Ray Keating
October 20, 2019

“Synergy” is a term tossed around a great deal in the business world. It simply means that the combined efforts of two or more individuals or organizations can produce more than each would separately. Therefore, “synergy” is almost always referenced when two businesses merge.

Synergy is big with Disney, and it will be on display on Monday night, October 21st. How so?

During halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released, after which fans will be able to start purchasing tickets to see this ninth and final installment in the Star Wars Skywalker saga. The movie opens on December 20th.

Of course, Disney owns ESPN and it owns Star Wars. Yes, synergy is strong with this firm.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Relaxing Music for Your Disney Addiction

by Beth Keating
October 20, 2019

Back in May, I fell in love with a piano player who had just released his video of “Happily Ever After,” the amazing fireworks and projections show at Magic Kingdom.  

Gijs Van Winkelhof, a self-taught pianist from the Netherlands, recorded the complete soundtrack to “Happily Ever After,” and, through the magic of greenscreen, uploaded it so that the real  “Happily Ever After” fireworks show plays behind him.  His performance is completely in synch with the actual  show.  

Never having had formal piano lessons and without using any sheet music, this incredible musician and composer performs a number of Disney pieces for his viewers (listeners?).  (He credits The DIS for the very professional video of “Happily Ever After” playing on screen.)  As if his piano-playing skills were not awesome enough, Gijs can’t share his sheet music with fellow musicians because he learned, and plays, the music astonishingly by ear.

This past week, Gijs uploaded the nostalgic and since departed “Wishes” show from the Magic Kingdom. (Technically, the entire show is called  “Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams,” but most fans just despondently mourn it as “Wishes.” 

The footage playing in the background is also from The DIS, and was recorded at “Wishes” final performance in 2017.) Gijs arrangement is stunningly beautiful, and I could listen to it over and over.  

Gijs Music offers other musical performances, including an earlier Star Wars arrangement. I’m now addicted to Gijs Van Winkelhof’s music, and his magic might just hit you the same way.

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Star Wars and JJ: Daunting Story and Box Office Challenges

by Ray Keating
October 18, 2019

J.J. Abrams faces some big challenges with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will hit theaters on December 20th.  Is he ready? Well, according to an Entertainment Weekly report, Abrams declared, “We went into this thing knowing it has to be an ending. We’re not screwing around.”

Abrams faces the monumental task of wrapping up the nine-movie Star Wars Skywalker saga that began in 1977, and has become a cultural icon. EW also quoted Abrams, co-writer and director of The Rise of Skywalker, saying, “Endings are the thing that scare me the most.” Yeah, I bet.

But Abrams’ job was made far more difficult given that the eighth entry in the Skywalker series – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – has become so universally, well, hated. And quite frankly, justifiably so. The Last Jedi director and writer Rian Johnson turned out to be the exact wrong man for the job. It’s clear that he failed to understand key Star Wars characters – most glaringly, Luke Skywalker – and other story choices were made that made little sense. (For example, why were Rose and Finn off doing what they were doing? And the space ship chase made sense how? And Leia survived what? And Luke was where? You get the idea. Ugh.)

As a result, J.J. must do triple duty with The Rise of Skywalker in terms of the story. First, he has to satisfactorily close out the Skywalker tale spanning eight previous films. He also must deal with finishing specifics to this final trilogy. And he has to somehow repair at least some of the damage Johnson did. No wonder Abrams admitted to being a bit scared.

In turn, his work on the story obviously feeds into the box office. It’s kind of interesting to note that every Star Wars movie was a box office success, until the most recent one – Solo: A Star Wars Story. So, The Last Jedi, which, for example, serves up a miserable audience score on RottenTomatoes.com of 44 percent, still raked in an incredible $1.3 billion at the box office. However, Solo, while scoring notably higher, though still not great, with audiences at 64 percent on RottenTomatoes.com, wound up losing money, pulling in a box office gross of only $393 million. (See our postmortem on Solo: A Star Wars Story and related issues.) It’s like fans went to see The Last Jedi more than once, just to make sure they didn’t like it, and then decided not to bother with Solo at all. (By the way, the more I watch Solo, the more I like; and the more I watch The Last Jedi, the more it dislike it.)

So, J.J. Abrams – and therefore, of course, Disney – faces formidable story and business challenges. The longtime Star Wars fan in me is rooting hard for Abrams to pull it all off (and yes, the trailers have me excited). The analyst in me is cautiously optimistic.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What is Captain America All About? Fighting for Liberty (Part I in a Four-Part Series)

by Ray Keating
Commentary and Analysis
October 15, 2019 (originally published in May 2001)

Introduction to this four-part series on Captain America: Thanks to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, has become more well-known than ever before – and this is a character who has been around since 1941, so that’s saying something. As a Captain America fan for more than 45 years, to quote Die Hard’s John McClane, I say, “Welcome to the party, pal.” In these films, Captain America (played by Chris Evans) serves as the heart and soul of the Avengers – from Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011 through Avengers: Endgame, which premiered on April 26 of this year. But what is Captain America all about in the end? In this four-part series, we’re going to take a look at the substance of Captain America – from the comics to the movies. That is, not just what Cap did, but also, why he did so. What was Captain America fighting for? Part I – this article – is a piece I wrote nearly 20 years ago. At that time, I reconnected with Cap, taking almost a year to read the Captain America issues from the 1940s, and then everything about Cap from his return in the 1960s up to the year 2000. Part II will examine the Captain America that briefly returned during the 1950s. Part III will take a closer look at the Captain America of the movies. And Part IV will see what Cap’s been standing for or defending during the 21stCentury in the pages of comics. Whether you’re a Cap fan from the comics, from the movies or both, I hope you’ll find these pieces interesting, and worthy of debate and discussion. This first article originally appeared in the May 2001 issue of the Foundation for Economic Education’s magazine The Freeman, which is a free-market publication.


In recent times, popular culture has not exactly been a bastion of principled thought and philosophy, particularly when viewed from conservative or libertarian perspectives. Television, movies, and music, along with countless novels, have been infiltrated either by big-government leftism or a pervasive nihilism.

Is there a pop-culture genre that might be considered an exception? Well, I fondly remember the superhero comic books from my childhood that emphasized the importance of individualism, protecting the innocent, and standing up against all forms of tyranny.

Of course, so much in the comic-book industry has changed over the past 20 or 30 years. Most striking, few comic books are now written for young children. Specifically for our purposes, superhero comic books grew up a little, with story lines becoming a bit more complex in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. The publication of a few high-profile comics showed the industry moving away from simple pulp fiction just for kids.

For example, Marvel Comics probably broke the mold in the late 1970s with an installment in the X-Men series—“The Dark Phoenix Saga”—that saw a longtime hero, Jean Grey, corrupted by power and eventually dying. In 1986, DC Comics published “The Dark Knight Returns,” which took an older Batman to a grander, but much darker level. In addition, DC’s “The Watchmen” (1986-1987) told a sometimes explicit tale of a set of costumed adventurers who ranged from dysfunctional to psychotic.

By the 1990s, superhero comic books seemed to have given up on the younger market, gearing themselves to older teenagers and younger adults. The stories and, in particular, the artwork took a quantum leap higher. In 1994, Marvel Comics published a rather striking series called “Marvels.” This tale was told from the perspective of a freelance news photographer, who offered the average man’s view—his hopes and fears—while watching the feats of superheroes and supervillains over the years.

Many of these publications still presented a strong pro-individual, anti-tyranny message, except for “The Watchmen,” which offered a far more muddled view of right, wrong, and mankind. For example, while the ultimate message in the X-Men “Dark Phoenix Saga” was taking responsibility for one’s actions, “The Watchmen” arguably went directly against such a notion.
In recent assessments, conservatives seem split on the direction of comic books. In a 1994 National Review article, for example, Anthony Lejeune praised old-time comics, pointing out: “Political themes, as distinct from simple Americanism, were generally eschewed as being likely to divide than to attract readers.” But he saw a drastic change in longer, grander comics known as “graphic novels”: “What almost all of them have in common is that their vision is dark—like the new Batman—rather than bright, ugly rather than beautiful, bitter rather than optimistic, cruel rather than genial.”

In contrast, in the Weekly Standard (1998), Mark Gauvreau Judge wrote that some people creating comics “are trying to explore the big questions. And they’re doing it in books openly hostile to the moral relativism of modern liberalism.” He concluded that “conservative moralists could do a lot worse than to follow the latest round of superheroes flying above the streets of Metropolis and Gotham.”

The True Test

So, who’s right? Well, for me, the true test of the current state of superheroes has to be gauged by my childhood favorite—Captain America. And with this “Sentinel of Liberty” having just reached his 60th anniversary, this is an ideal time to take a look. Captain America, the creation of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, arrived on the comics scene in March 1941, less than a year before the United States entered World War II.

As the story goes, a scrawny kid named Steve Rogers volunteered for a secret experiment, which turned him into America’s “super soldier.” In the 1940s, Rogers—Captain America—appeared in simple, patriotic stories fighting against Nazi spies and saboteurs, along with a few murder mysteries and horror tales tossed in along the way.

Soon, however, the popularity of superhero comic books declined for a period. Captain America remained in suspended animation from the late 1940s until he was thawed out in the early 1960s, except for a brief resurrection in the 1950s carrying the tantalizing Cold War title “Captain America . . . Commie Smasher.” [We’ll look at those issues in the second part of this series.]

In the ’60s, Captain America stories remained geared primarily toward youths. The anti-tyranny message was a constant. “Cap” not only battled supervillains bent on world domination, but also fought against communists, bigotry, and various evildoers trying to resurrect the Third Reich. Along the way, lessons like not taking liberty for granted and the importance of protecting human life were emphasized.

Eventually, some of the uncertainty about the United States that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s even caught up with Captain America. At the time of Watergate and its aftermath, for example, Steve Rogers briefly became disillusioned and set aside his identity as Captain America to become a new hero called Nomad. Could the contrast in names be more acute?
By the time the nation’s bicentennial rolled around in 1976, however, Captain America was back and growing more confident. At this time, Cap would foil a conspiracy to overthrow democracy and destroy the Declaration of Independence, and later take on villains whose cause was pure nihilism. As the decade came to a close, Captain America’s link to World War II also would serve as a way to provide a reminder about the atrocities of the Nazi government, with one issue serving up a poignant reminder of the concentration camps.

Captain America in the 1980s touched on a variety of topics, including the question of vigilantism (always a biggie in superhero comic books), prison reform, taking responsibility for one’s actions, pacifism, nationalism versus one-worldism, the lack of freedom in the Soviet Union, and of course, terrorism.

One story line had a hero from an alternate universe asking for help to fight a new tyranny on his Earth. The loss of democracy and individual freedom occurred for interesting reasons: With the idea of creating a Utopia, a superhero team first helps people in distress, then disarms the populace, and finally resorts to mind control to keep presumed undesirables in line. The underlying importance of the Second Amendment could not be missed.

Another ’80s story line carried a distinct antibureaucrat message, as a rogue government commission strips Steve Rogers of his Captain America identity for being too independent. The pursuit of Captain America by this commission, it is worth noting, was triggered by an IRS auditor.

Cap Takes on a Super Feminist and Galactic Totalitarianism

Since 1990 Captain America has continued to touch on a variety of social and philosophical topics. One amusing story line had Cap taking on a militant, man-hating super-powered feminist. Others provided sound warnings about abusing individuals in the pursuit of some elusive Utopia. A particularly noteworthy recent story featured Captain America battling a “galactic totalitarianism,” whereby an all-powerful being in the future eliminated worry, hunger, need, crime, and violence, but at a daunting price—the loss of free will and independent thought.

In the end, the critics who say that comic books have become far too dark have an abundance of material to back up their claims. Others who see some great issues and interesting stories being played out have examples to point to as well.

For better or worse, since the writers of Captain America (and other comic books, for that matter) inevitably change over the years, there comes a difference in style and emphasis. Nonetheless, after now having caught up with one of my childhood favorites, I can say that, to the credit of Marvel Comics, while usually being general, there has been a fairly constant, favorable emphasis in the pages of Captain America on individualism and freedom, personal responsibility, protecting human life, the opportunity to chase the American Dream, and the need to fight tyranny.

For good measure, Captain America places great emphasis on hard work. As a superhero without special super powers, he has to be a disciplined, hard worker to keep up with both allies and foes endowed with fantastic abilities. In a recent story, Captain America proclaims that “America is about making your own way. America can give you the chance. But it’s up to you to work hard and do something with the opportunity.”

On the rare occasions when specific economic issues have come into play, however, it must be said that the writers of Captain America seem to suffer from the same lack of knowledge regarding our free enterprise system that permeates the rest of popular culture. While in the early 1960s one tale involving Captain America was distinctly anti-communist and pro-capitalist, in more recent times, a rather silly economic populism seems to pop up now and then. For example, a few odd slaps were taken at the advertising business in the 1980s, and more recently, prison privatization was portrayed in a bad light, with an anti-big-corporation message detected on another occasion.

It certainly would be nice if the Captain America character, who speaks so often about opportunity and the American Dream, would occasionally note the critical role played by free enterprise. After all, freedom and opportunity are mere myths or platitudes if one does not recognize the importance of private property and free markets.

Like the rest of pop culture, comic books are first and foremost escapist fun. However, various philosophical or cultural ideas inevitably are touched on to some limited degree. The positive emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility is enough to classify Captain America as recommended pop-culture reading. All Cap needs is a quick lesson in the wonders of sound economics.

(Up Next: What is Captain America All About? Taking on Commies in the 1950s (Part II in a Four-Part Series))

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Epcot Food & Wine Festival: A Delight for the Palate and the Wallet?

by Ray Keating
October 11, 2019

A visit to Disney World isn’t cheap. That’s not really in dispute. The real issue is value. Are you getting value for your money? Or, to put it another way: Do you get a bang for your buck on a Disney vacation? My quick answer is “yes,” especially when taking advantage of events like the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Of course, there are various ways to save money when booking a Disney vacation, including on your room, your park tickets, and your food. For example, Walt Disney World currently is offering savings on park visits with entrance after 12:00 PM each day with Mid-Day Magic tickets through December 15. Disney World also is offering savings on stays at a Disney Resort Hotel – ranging from 15 percent to 25 percent – if one books up to January 1, 2020, for stays between January 1 through April 25, 2020. 

And then there are periods of time when Disney offers its dining plan for free as the key part of a vacation package. Among those who compare the details, debate rages on if the dining plan is worth it or not when paying for it in full. But for this foodie, what’s not to like about a package featuring a free dining plan? The key is to keep an eye out for when free dining plan offers are made available. (For example, DisneyTouristBlog.com tells readers that if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll be notified early on the day a dining plan is released.)

The bottom line remains that when compared to other ways to spend one’s recreation or vacation dollar, Disney remains a darn good value, especially considering everything included in a park visit and/or hotel stay. 

But right now, there’s an annual event going on worth highlighting under the Disney value question, especially if one ranks as a foodie. Depending on how one’s vacation is set up, I have found the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to be a delight for the palate and the wallet – especially if you’re enjoying a free-dining-plan stay.  Plus, it’s a lot of fun to try miniature versions of dishes you might otherwise not try if they were full-sized entrees (read: high cost meals) at your favorite country’s restaurants.

This year’s is the 24th festival, running through November 23, and it has more than 30 global marketplaces with widely varying offerings for the taste buds. Indeed, my visits to the Food & Wine Festival this year and last didn’t disappoint. 

Among the items my group enjoyed this year were the following:

• The Moqueca – Brazilian Seafood Stew featuring Scallops, Shrimp and White Fish with Coconut-Lime – was delicious.

• In Canada, the Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup with a pretzel roll, and Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce were tasty, hearty choices.

• The Alps booth offered Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and a Baguette this year, with the cheese scooped warm and gooey off of a large wheel of cheese and layered onto the baguette.  If you’re a cheese lover, definitely make a stop here.  (It’s also one of the selections on Emile’s Fromage Montage, a type of specialty food crawl, which, surprise, rewards you with a tiny cheesecake as a prize for completing the challenge and collecting all of your cheese stamps.)

• And yes, I love China’s Mango Bubble Tea with Assam Black Tea and milk.

• All three offerings at Coastal Eats were excellent: 1) Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado-Lemongrass Cream, 2) Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette, and 3) Pacifico True Striped Bass Tostada with Slaw and Fire-roasted Tomatillo Sauce.

• At Flavors From Fire, The Steakhouse Blended Burger: Blended Beef and Mushroom Slider with Brie Cheese Fondue, Arugula, and a Truffle and Blue Cheese Potato Chip on a Brioche Bun was terrific, and we went back for a second round on another day.

• At the Ireland marketplace, I wouldn’t miss the Roasted Irish Sausage with Colcannon Potatoes and Onion Gravy.

• As East Coasters, we never pass up a Lobster Roll, and at the Hops & Barley Booth, the New England Lobster Roll: Warm Lobster with Fresh Herb Mayonnaise and Griddled Roll was a yummy selection, and a superb use of a snack credit at $8.25!

• Japan’s Teriyaki Chicken Bun, which is a steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables and a sweet Teriyaki sauce, was a big hit.

In fact, as we made our way around World Showcase trying various dishes with our snack credits, the only dish that disappointed was Japan’s Frothy Ramen: Chilled Noodles and Dashi Broth with a Light Foam Topping.  Food & Wine Festival selections are generally an excellent use of snack credits, with a number of plates costing upwards of the $6.00,  $7.00 and even $8.00 range, well worth the expenditure of a valuable snack credit. Savvy food hunters can certainly max out the value of their snack credits at the Festival booths.

Having said that, our experience at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival was a hit better than 98 percent of the time. That not only warrants no criticism, but high praise. And yes, we enjoyed selections with our free dining plan, but the value would have been there even if we had stayed at Walt Disney World resort under another plan.  Wonder what they are cooking up for the Festival of the Holidays?

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Walt Disney – An Excellent Example of Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise

by Ray Keating
October 10, 2019

Lots of people miss the point of entrepreneurship and free enterprise. Too often, they fail to recognize the role and actions of entrepreneurs, and/or they don’t get how free enterprise actually works. For clarity, they only need to look at Walt Disney.

Interestingly, Neal Gabler, in his massive biography Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, acknowledged Walt as an entrepreneur, but called him “a reluctant one.” Gabler went on to perform a psychoanalysis on Walt, and along the way missed the fact that most of the attributes and characteristics evident in Walt’s intentions and actions fit the classic portrait of the entrepreneur. There was nothing reluctant about Walt Disney’s entrepreneurship.

That brings me to an article published earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal titled “A Disney Story for Young Socialists: Kill the free market? Mickey Mouse would be collateral damage.” Written by Art Diamond, author of Openness to Creative Destruction, the piece is an answer to those who wrongly assume that a fraudster like Bernie Madoff is the symbol of true capitalism. Diamond, instead and correctly, points to Walt Disney. I highly recommend reading the full article, but here are four key points from Mr. Diamond:

• “A better capitalist exemplar is Walt Disney. He took risks, sacrificed and innovated to produce what people wanted.”

• Walt Disney “learned skills that helped him create cartoons a couple of years later at his Laugh-O-Gram Films startup, where Disney slept in his studio and subsisted on canned beans. Later he said it wasn’t so bad—he loved beans. After the studio went bankrupt, Disney tried again in California. He recruited his brother Roy; their parents took out a mortgage to invest in their sons; and an uncle lent them his garage.”

• “Disney was a ‘project entrepreneur,’ investing the earnings from one project into the next, more ambitious one.”

• “When Disney took his daughters to amusement parks, he imagined something better. Walt Disney Productions was overextended with movies and short on cash, so he founded a startup to build Disneyland. He had little money in his name, so he borrowed against his life-insurance policy.”

I chose these four quotes because they capture the nature and fundamentals of entrepreneurship, which lies at the center of free enterprise or capitalism. Entrepreneurs do indeed take risks, sacrifice and innovate. They usually fail along the way but persevere. They use their own funds, and look to family and friends to finance their enterprises. They reinvest and build their businesses. And they see something better or new where others don’t, and they find ways to get those new products or improvements to the market, i.e., they innovate.

Yes, if you want to grasp some of the essentials of entrepreneurship and free enterprise, Walt Disney serves as an excellent example. Thanks to Mr. Diamond for a nice take on the topic.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.