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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Disneyland Announces “Legacy Passholder” Program

 by Beth Keating



January 31, 2021


As the new year rolled in, and no signs of reopening were in sight at Disney’s California parks, Disneyland cancelled their annual passholder (AP) program and “sunsetted” the existing program, promising changes in the future under an updated system.  This week, they announced that Passholders who’d held annual passes as of March 14, 2020 (COVID closure at the parks) would be granted a new designation – “Legacy Passholders.”

Disney offered this explanation on their website for those passholders affected by the changes:


“Thank you for your loyalty and for having been a Disneyland Resort Annual Passholder during this unprecedented time of our Parks' closure. To show our appreciation until new membership offerings are announced, we thought a couple perks, and a new title was in order—Passholders who held active Passports as of March 14, 2020 are now Disneyland Resort Legacy Passholders.


Legacy Passholders can still enjoy some of those ever-so-magical extras that celebrate you. Like when you get the chance to scoop up some special merchandise or enjoy some food and beverage offerings. Or those special surprise and delight moments. And of course, there are those fantastic Passport discounts that have been extended for a limited time—from food and beverage offerings to shopping at select locations all around Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street.


“It’s the magic that makes being a Disneyland Resort Legacy Passholder such an unforgettable experience. And that’s just for starters—we’re working on adding more magic during this limited time! So, get ready to be surprised ... delighted ... and, most of all, celebrated—because that’s what being a Disneyland Resort Legacy Passholder is all about!”


At least for the time being, Passholders will be able to save 30% on select merchandise at select Disney owned-and-operated Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street locations, available Monday through Thursday through February 25, 2021. After that, Annual Passholders who held active Passports as of March 14, 2020, will continue to receive applicable discounts, based on their Passport type, on merchandise and food and beverages at select Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street locations.  These discounts will remain in place until new membership offerings are announced. Legacy Annual Passholders must present their eligible Annual Passport to receive the discounts.

With California lifting its regional stay-at-home restrictions and relaxing curfews this past Monday, and the City of Anaheim and Orange County returning to their Tier 1/Purple restrictive status, the new perks may be more welcome than before. New versions of a membership/annual passholder program, as well as potential new perks for the Legacy Passholders, will be announced at a later date.




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Could Tokyo Olympics Turn Into the “Disney” Olympics?

 by Ray Keating



January 30, 2021


The Tokyo Summer Olympics Games were supposed to happen in 2020. But COVID-19 had different ideas. Now, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to open on July 23, 2021. But questions swirl as to whether or not Tokyo will be able to pull it off, and whether or not the Japanese people actually want it to happen. 


That, in turn, has led to speculation in certain circles that the Olympics could find their way to Orlando. Could the Tokyo Olympics become the “Disney” Olympics? That’s highly – and I mean highly – unlikely.

Concerns and speculation about the Games have flourished due to a combination of a spike in COVID-19; emergence of new virus strains; a slow rollout of vaccines; and polls earlier this month pointing to significant opposition or doubts about the Games among the Japanese. As AP reported, “More than 80% of people in Japan who were surveyed in two polls in the last few days say the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled or postponed, or say they believe the Olympics will not take place.”


The Tokyo Games would mean the arrival of some 15,000 athletes and thousands more related personnel and media. That makes lots of people uneasy, to say the least, during this pandemic.


Of course, when there’s trouble, you can usually count on politicians stepping in to either make matters worse, or to take advantage of the circumstances somehow. Hence, we have Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis ginning up attention by offering Orlando as an option for the Summer Games. After all, there was the NBA bubble, so why not the Olympics? And lots of people come to the area, so why not the Olympics – and on very short notice without any money or planning? Make sense? Not really. But what the heck, this is politics, right?


For good measure, as noted by The Wall Street Journal, the Japanese and the Olympics are looking to the U.S., including President Biden, to give assurance that the U.S. Olympic team, and therefore, NBC Olympics television money, will be supporting and attending the Games. And given that Japan is a key U.S. ally, it’s highly unlikely that the president would pull the rug out from under Tokyo hosting the Olympics, in particular, by warming up to the Olympics being moved to Orlando.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) apparently isn’t prepared with an alternative plan for putting on the Games this summer. So, the options seem to be to hold the Games in July, or perhaps a slight delay, in Tokyo; officially cancel the 2020 Games; or push them to the other side of the 2022 Winter Olympics.


So, while a Disney Olympics in 2020 seem more about political grandstanding than being a serious option, the IOC faces some serious challenges and decisions. 


Oh, yeah, and by the way, the 2022 Winter Games are scheduled for a year from now in Beijing, China. That’s right, China. Human rights abuses already are raising questions about those games. Also, I’m pretty sure that Orlando isn’t equipped to host the Winter Games.




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the  Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.


The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?


Keating’s new book Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13th thriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com


You also can order his book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York  from Amazon or signed books  at RayKeatingOnline.com. His other recent nonfiction book is Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know


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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Enjoy More Than Two Dozen Topiaries at This Year’s Flower and Garden Festival

 by Beth Keating



January 28, 2021


More than two dozen topiary scenes will be added to the landscape this spring as Disney horticulturists get ready to celebrate EPCOT’s annual Flower & Garden Festival.  This year’s version, “The Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival” kicks off March 3 and runs through July 5. 


Courtesy of Walt Disney World Website

Amidst colorful floral displays, breathtaking flower beds, and a butterfly house, guests can explore the spectacular topiaries designed by Disney’s horticulture teams, with entertaining and beautifully crafted scenes of favorite Disney characters. The festival also offers an array of outdoor kitchens and food booths, live entertainment (socially distanced, of course), and activities for guests of all ages.


The Flower & Garden Festival is not only a treat for the senses, with its rainbow of gardens and abundance of springtime scents, but also offers a number of learning opportunities at the festival’s “Global Gardens.”  Along the journey through the park, guests can learn more about sustainable foods, see how to cultivate culinary gardens for their home cooking needs, discover exotic gardens, swoon to an Elizabethan sonnet in the Shakespeare garden, or even learn about tea blending in an English tea garden.  Where ever they decide to pause at the more than twenty different Global Gardens, guests are sure to collect a range of ideas and inspirations for their own yards and kitchens.


New this year is the Prehistoric Garden at Future World West, where gardeners can “imagine life on Earth 65 million years ago with astounding plant life that’s thrived since the age of the dinosaurs.”  


The “Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival” features two planned scavenger hunts – Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration and the Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt – but you could, if you wanted to, include your search for all of the adorable topiary scenes in your scavenger hunting efforts.  While there are more than two dozen “scenes,” there are actually far more topiaries when you consider that scenes such as the Sorcerer Mickey tableau or Donald and his family feature four or five different pieces each.  


Here’s where you can find this year’s displays:


• Sorcerer Mickey Mouse, Broom, Ostriches, Hippo and Mushroom – Main Entrance

• Woody, Bo Peep and her sheep – Future World West

• Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy – Between Future World & World Showcase

• Pluto and Chip ‘n Dale – Between Future World and World Showcase

• Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie – Showcase Plaza

• Buzz Lightyear – Future World East near Mission: SPACE®

• Figment – Future World West near Imagination!

• Topiary Butterflies – Future World West

• The Three Caballeros (Jose, Donald and Panchito) – Mexico Pavilion

• Anna and Elsa – Norway Pavilion

• Troll – Norway Pavilion

• Dragon Topiary – Japan Pavilion near Torii Gate

• Pandas – China Pavilion

• China Zodiac Topiary Garden – China Pavilion in front of Nine Dragons

• Simba and Friends (Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa and Sarabi) – Future World West

• Snow White and Dopey – Germany Pavilion

• Lady and the Tramp – Italy Pavilion

• Beauty and the Beast – France Pavilion

• Remy – France Pavilion

• Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy – Between United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions

• Peter Pan and Captain Hook – United Kingdom Pavilion

• Winnie the Pooh and Friends (Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger) – United Kingdom Pavilion

• Tinker Bell and Fairy Houses – United Kingdom Pavilion

• Bambi and Friends – Future World East near Mouse Gear


Courtesy of Walt Disney World Website

The Global Gardens Displays include:


• Outdoor Escapes Presented by OFF!® Repellents at Future World East – Unwind in refreshing spaces that show just how easy it is to create an outdoor escape that brings family and friends together—no design expertise, huge budget or green thumb required! Note: closes at dusk.

• Floating Gardens – Peer upon more than 100 petite plots drifting on the ponds that border the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase.

• Festival Blooms – Admire thousands of flowers that form colorful, living panoramas overlooking Future World’s East and West lakes.

• The Goodness Garden Butterfly House Presented by GoGo squeeZ® at Future World West – View a kaleidoscope of butterflies up close, in all their extraordinary color. Learn about butterflies’ lifecycles and maybe even see one emerge from its chrysalis. Note: closes at dusk.

• (NEW!) Prehistoric Garden at Future World West – Imagine life on Earth 65 million years ago with astounding plant life that’s thrived since the age of the dinosaurs.

• Bold Bromeliads at Future World West by the Land

• Health Full Trail Presented by AdventHealth – Delight in a whimsical area made to inspire youthful energy and creativity! The whole family can learn ways to stay healthy at this Outdoor Kitchen and garden along the Imagination Walkway. Note: closes at dusk.

• The Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board™ at Future World – Learn about honey bees’ critical role in the environment, and enjoy sweet and savory treats made possible by their hard work. Located near Imagination! Pavilion.

• Tropical Rainforest Garden at Mexico Pavilion – Discover the rich biodiversity of the Mexican rainforest and learn about its highly adaptive species.

• Extraordinary Orchids at Mexico Pavilion – Set eyes on these spectacular plants blooming in radiant color.

• Bamboo Garden at China Pavilion – Visit this garden to see bamboo in a variety of colors, patterns and sizes.

• Chinese Zodiac Topiary Garden at China Pavilion – Celebrate the year of the Ox in this inspired display of Zodiac animals, made entirely from dried plant material.

• Alpine Miniature Garden at Germany Pavilion – Appreciate the little things in this showcase of diminutive dwellings nestled in a forest of fine shrubs.

• Growing the Future presented by Murata Electronics at Germany Pavilion – Beginning in April, join our friends from Science from Scientists® in a fun and fascinating experience that explores how cutting-edge technology from Murata, paired with agricultural science, can transform the way we seed the future.

• Garden Italiano at Italy Pavilion – From fresh spaghetti sauce to pizza toppings, this Tuscan kitchen garden features all the produce and herbs needed to create a classic Italian feast.

• Kokedama Garden at Japan Pavilion – Admire fresh expressions of an ancient Japanese art at this tranquil garden.

• Bonsai Collection at Japan Pavilion – Learn about the ancient art of bonsai, some of the finest living sculptures. Bonsai masters carefully shape and tend to these miniature works of art, creating peace and balance with the earth.

• Urban Spice Garden at Morocco Pavilion – Discover how Eastern cultures flourished, trading signature spices and herb blends, once considered more valuable than gold.

• English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings of London® – Unearth the history and art of tea blending at this elegant English Tea Garden at the United Kingdom Pavilion, featuring plants used in some of Twinings’ finest tea blends.

• Shakespeare Garden at United Kingdom Pavilion – Rediscover Shakespeare in this idyllic garden, featuring excerpts from some of the Bard’s most famous sonnets and the dazzling flowers that influenced them.




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

France Pavilion Expansion Nearing Completion

 by Beth Keating

Feature Story


January 26, 2021


Disney fans have been waiting in anticipation for the completion of the expansion of EPCOT’s France pavilion, sneaking peeks at the construction from aboard the Skyliner as it descends into the back entrance to EPCOT. 

Not only will there be a new ride in “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure,” but a new eatery will be joining some already stellar options in the land. The desserts at Les Halles are to die for, and L’Artisan des Glaces ice cream shoppe is a must-do. Our family has had several incredible celebratory vacation meals at the picturesque Les Chefs de France bistro while looking out on the cobblestone streets through floor to ceiling windows. 


The “official” opening of the pavilion’s expansion seems to be growing closer, and the construction walls have started coming down. The new bathrooms and the walkways to Remy’s have just opened, so can the rest of the city be far behind?


While each of the lands in EPCOT has their own unique vibe, our family has always thought that France is one of the most beautiful of the pavilions. Having been to the “real” Paris many years ago, we appreciate the spectacular job Disney has done in capturing the feel of the landscape. Disney is all about the details, and in an Instagram posting this week, Disney Imagineer and Walt Disney World Site Portfolio Executive Zach Riddley explained some of the choices that bring that atmosphere to life in the new expansion.

“The first thing you’ll notice as you approach this new area is the ornate, Art Nouveau-style archway which is reminiscent of the iconic entrances to some of Paris’ Metro stations,” notes Riddley. “Made of cast-iron and displaying a ‘Ratatouille’ sign inspired by font used throughout the Paris Metro, the entrance to our new neighborhood instantly establishes both our setting and the exciting attraction that will await Guests around the corner. Just beyond the marquee, Imagineers designed a beautiful allée along the waterway. For those of you that have visited the city of Paris, this extension will take you right back to those wonderful strolls along the river Seine.”


If you take a closer look at nearly any Disney attraction, whether it’s in the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or EPCOT, you’ll notice that there are multiple layers that create the magic. The sights, the sounds, and the smells all add to the illusion that Disney creates for their guests.  That is certainly true in the new France expansion as well. Textures and colors abound. Disney also strives for accuracy in their creations (hello, brown curvy sidewalk in Liberty Square…you know what I mean!)

Photo from Instagram post of Disney Imagineer and 

Walt Disney World Site Portfolio Executive Zach Riddley

Riddley points out that in the new France area, “Historically accurate lampposts line a hardscape designed to look like decomposed granite, with cast-iron benches sitting adjacent to ornate wrought iron railings – each revealing subtle hints of Chef Remy in their design. We have paid attention to all the details – down to the exact species of trees, the materials, colors and signage. This is a small section in the grand design of EPCOT and even the forthcoming France pavilion expansion, but the details we are revealing are important when building upon stories of the real world and those inspired by it!”


“Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” is based on the 2007 Disney-Pixar film Ratatouille and designed like the popular ride in Disney’s Paris theme park. Riders will find themselves shrunk down to the size of rats in a state-of-the-art trackless ride system, racing along frantically in rat-shaped vehicles, trying to outrun the chefs at Gusteau’s. In addition to the new attraction, guests will be able to enjoy the new La Crêperie de Paris, brought to EPCOT by the legendary Jérôme Bocuse, who along with his father, Paul Bocuse, created Les Chefs de France and the pavilion’s signature restaurant, Monsieur Paul. Remy’s ride and the crêperie are expected to open this year.




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!



Monday, January 25, 2021

Jungle Cruise to Get Enhanced Storylines and Updates

 by Beth Keating



January 25, 2021


Kungaloosh, Adventurers!  Have we got some news for you today! 


I’m sure you’ve all been on the Jungle Cruise when one of your fellow travelers was kindly sharing the punchlines to the Skipper’s jokes before the Skipper got there. As one of Disney’s classic Opening Day attractions on both coasts, and one of the parks’ most beloved attractions, the Jungle Cruise has spawned a legion of devoted fans. They have memorized the script, and know exactly when they will be stunned by the appearance of “the BACKSIDE of WATER!”

Today, Disney has a surprise for all the wanna-be Skippers in the audience.  The Jungle Cruise will be getting some updates, as well as enhanced storylines. As an added perk, the changes will have the input of the Skippers themselves during the process. While there will be new scenes along the way, the quips and their Skippers will still be guiding visitors along. 


The Disney Parks Blog announced, “Today, we’re excited to share that we are building on the story of the Jungle Cruise at both Disneyland park at Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort to include new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love – more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”


In today’s blog, they’ve also posted a “transmission” from Imagineer and former Jungle Cruise skipper Kevin Lively, who shares a few of the details guests can expect to see during the refurb. His remarks are followed by reactions from some current Skippers who got a sneak peek at the upcoming changes.


In his message to viewers, Lively explains, “As part of this story update, we’ll get to follow a skipper and his passengers as their journey goes awry. That’s right, for the first time ever, the skipper role will not only be that of a live, experienced and witty guide, but also represented by a show figure within the attraction itself.” 


The changes to the show are expected to take place later this year, and will be reflected at both Disney World and Disneyland California. Long time Disney guests who remember the boats Mekong Maiden and Kwango Kate will see these defunct vessels reappear in new show scenes. 


The much-loved Jungle Cruise is one of those attractions whose devotion has generated a Christmas version – the Jingle Cruise – and also birthed its own restaurant filled with off-duty Skippers who bring their special brand of cornball humor to the dining establishment.  (See our dining review here.)


The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen is a really big name for an off-shoot of the puns and backstories that populate the Jungle Cruise, and was opened by Alberta Falls, the granddaughter of famed Jungle Cruise persona, Dr. Albert…Falls. But it is so much more for Disney fans in the know, because, as is the case with the Jungle Cruise itself, there are a multitude of tie-ins to the original Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island, founded by Merriweather Adam Pleasure. The secret meeting room at the Skipper Canteen is known as the S.E.A. Room—the meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Even the bookcase in the Skipper Canteen is filled with little nods to Disney’s history, the Jungle Cruise, and the Adventurers Club backstory. (Sadly, the Adventurers Club closed in 2008, but its mythos lives on in the hearts of its fans, and in Disney lore.) The live-action Jungle Cruise movie starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson is also due out this coming summer.  (Hmmm, could that be when the changes will debut?)


As a Jungle Cruise fan, I’m excited to see what the new storyline will bring. The Disney Imagineers who are writing the script are no slouches when it comes to hiding Easter Eggs in their storylines and attractions, and Jungle Cruise will hopefully continue to enchant us with its off-beat and witty humor.




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!


Sunday, January 24, 2021

“Disney Heroes Week-Long Youth Baseball Experience” Coming to ESPN Complex at Disney World

 by Beth Keating



January 24, 2021


Disney’s ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex has been home to all sorts of sports events, from Major League Baseball spring training camps, to cheerleading competitions, to “NBA bubbles” of late. Soon, youth baseball teams from across the United States will be descending on the site for “The Ripken Experience at Walt Disney World.”

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., a shortstop and third baseman for more than two decades with Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, and his brother Bill, an Emmy Award nominee who was also an MLB player (with the Orioles, Rangers, Indians, and Tigers), created a group of sports complexes for hosting and teaching young baseball players. Their locations include Aberdeen, Maryland; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 


Their newest undertaking is at the ESPN Complex in Orlando, Florida, where “The Ripken Experience Walt Disney World” takes place at the 9,500 seat Champion Stadium, with 11 fields available for tournament play. Champion Stadium is the former home of a variety of spring training events for professional baseball.


Beginning in June, young athletes from across the country can join their teams in tournament play for week-long experiences at the ESPN complex that will include a variety of games, skills competitions, and the thrill of playing at Disney!  


Early registration pricing expires January 28, so you’ll need to act soon to take advantage of discounted prices. Participants will also have access to special rates offered at a variety of Walt Disney World Resort hotels by booking lodging through the Disney Sports Travel service team (details available in The Ripken Experience registration packets).  Players and their families will also have access to specially priced Disney World Theme Park Tickets.


The tournament packages include:

• 6 Game Guarantee / 9 Game Maximum

• Opening Day Ceremonies 

• Skills Competitions

• PA Announcements and Walk-Up Music

• MLB Tournament Ambassador (including Private Coach Q & A Session)

• ESPN Wide World of Sports On-Set Interviews for Tournament Champions

• Player & Coach Gifts

• Ripken Experience Rings


There are four week-long options, but the weeks do vary by age eligibility (see the registration packet at The Ripken Experience for specifics.)

• Week #1: June 13-18

• Week #2: June 20-25

• Week #3: June 27-July 2

• Week #4: July 11-16


The tournament schedule includes:

• Sunday: Opening Day & Skills Competitions 

• Monday - Wednesday: Pool Play 

• Thursday - Friday: Bracket Play and Championships 


The Ripken brothers also founded the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in memory of their father, a big league catcher, coach and manager (also with the Orioles!) with nearly four decades of experience in teaching other ball players how to be their best at baseball. He passed on his dedication to the sport not only to his own sons, but to scores of other players, and now the Ripken brothers are doing the same for other students as well.  


Fun Fact from Ripken Baseball: On July 11, 1987,  Bill Ripken began his major league career when he took the field with the Baltimore Orioles.  The day would make history, as the team was managed by his father, Cal Ripken, Sr., and one of his teammates was his brother, Cal Jr., the shortstop.  It would mark the only time that a father managed two of his sons in the big leagues at the same time!




Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!


Saturday, January 23, 2021

My Top 10 Reasons for Enjoying Disney

 by Ray Keating



January 23, 2021


Why do so many people enjoy, appreciate or even love Disney? Well, there’s a lot to choose from, to say the least. 

The size and scope of the Walt Disney Company – especially its intellectual property from a fan perspective – is vast. Just consider some of the company’s endeavors and vehicles, including Disney+, theme parks, theatrical movies, cruise ships, sports, television, books, hotels and resorts, and so much more. Therefore, more so than ever before (well, not counting our pandemic woes), you can have Disney fans who love everything under the Disney umbrella; fans that like some of the Disney universe and care little about other parts; Disney fans that have laser-like focus on only a few aspects of this entertainment juggernaut; assorted small businesses that have capitalized on various aspects of Disney’s own enterprises; and analysts, academics, writers, and YouTubers who assess everything that Disney does, with lots of speculation tossed into the mix.


So, it’s kind of fun to ponder what exactly it is that each of us enjoys about Disney. Here are my top 10 reasons for enjoying Disney, and for starting the DisneyBizJournal.com website.


1) Walt Disney – Entrepreneur. For a decade, I taught MBA students a course in innovation and entrepreneurship. And for 25-plus years, I have been the chief economist at a group representing entrepreneurs, and along the way, evangelizing about the importance of entrepreneurship for a robust, growing economy. I have written and spoken widely about entrepreneurship, and I happen to be an entrepreneur myself. And Walt Disney ranks as one of the great entrepreneurs of the twentieth century. Walt created and transformed industries – such as animation, movies and theme parks – and constantly innovated. Walt Disney was one of the all-time great entrepreneurs, and therefore, he and his company have long captured my interest.


2) Business and Storytelling. Most writers, I think, dislike the business side of writing. Indeed, that can probably be said about the majority of creators across industries. However, as a novelist and nonfiction author, I actually enjoy the business side of writing – thanks to being an economist, working with business owners, and teaching MBA students. I love both the creative aspects of storytelling and the business side of getting people interested in what I create. That was Walt Disney as well (of course, he did it far better than I ever could), and why he serves as an inspiration for me. Walt was a storyteller. He was an entrepreneur. And he was a businessman. That last role, I think, tends to get underplayed when talking about Walt, especially given that he was partners with his brother Roy O. Disney, who led the way in terms of financing the Disney enterprises. But make no mistake, Walt wanted to create and to tell stories, but he also understood the business aspects of spreading the word about his storytelling, and the importance of getting people to consume what was produced, from watching a Disney movie or cartoon to attending Disneyland.


3) Walt Disney World. Years ago, my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Walt Disney World, and it’s been a special place for me ever since. It certainly is a place to relax and have fun on vacation, and to enjoy time with family. Walt Disney World is a place of special memories, and a dynamic experience for which I look forward to the next visit.  Walt Disney World also has been a place that gets me thinking about how businesses serve customers, and operate on so many different levels.


4) Marvel – Comic Books. Do you recall how you first got truly excited about reading? I do. It was reading Captain America comic books from Marvel. Yes, it was Cap who provided the spark for me to read, and therefore, eventually to write. Marvel, of course, entered the Disney universe in 2009.


5) Marvel – Movies. It follows that Captain America has remained one of my favorite characters in all of fiction, covering the comic books, that corny 1960s cartoon, and Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier rank among my most beloved movies.


6) Indiana Jones. What’s the greatest movie trilogy ever? I argue that it is the first three Indiana Jones movies – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Yes, I know that there are four Indy movies. And no, I don’t think that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) is as bad as most say. There are some good moments in that movie, and in fact, some strong editing clearly would have raised the quality of the film. Having said that, however, the first three Indy movies come about as close to perfect as a set of adventure movies can get. No one will ever forget those movies, nor Harrison Ford as Indy. And yes, Indiana Jones came into the Disney family in 2012.


7) Star Wars. Star Wars also was purchased by Disney in 2012. I’ve long loved Star Wars, and my wife and I introduced Star Wars to our two sons when they were quite young. Of course, there has been a decades-long debate going on about what makes Star Wars so popular, not to mention heated discussions about the quality of various Star Wars productions. But understanding that a franchise covering movies and now streaming shows (yes, The Mandalorian absolutely rocks!) is going to have its up and downs, Star Wars has been amazingly resilient in providing enjoyable entertainment (and yes, again, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World is awesome!). Why so resilient? I wrote a review that, in passing, referenced my long-running internal debate over Star Wars versus Star Trek. I offer the following on this ongoing sci-fi debate, which also presents a brief explanation of why Star Wars continues to entertain (going deeper on this topic must be left for another time, alas):


When I was growing up and the Star Wars-vs.-Star Trek battle raged, I ranked as a Trek fan. However, while still appreciating Star Trek – particularly the Kirk, Spock and McCoy relationship in the original series and related movies – I gradually have become much more of a Star Wars than a Star Trek fan. Why? I came to an answer only recently. In the end, Star Wars has more heart than Star Trek


So, what’s “Star Wars heart”? Well, in the lingo of “The Force,” it’s a feeling emerging from a combination of joy, adventure, courage, determination, optimism, humor, a willingness to sacrifice, and hope, along with characters whom moviegoers come to love.


8) Business and Hollywood History. My interest in history, economics and business coalesce quite nicely in the Walt Disney Company. The story of a business started in the 1920s by a creative entrepreneur; rising to prominence; facing failures and challenges along the way; and not just still standing, but remaining at the top of Hollywood in the 2020s, is endlessly fascinating to me.


9) Disney+. The changing landscape of the movie and television business also intrigues me as a movie lover, one who enjoys quality television, a consumer of sports, a storyteller, and an economist. And right in the middle of this dramatic transformation is Disney, not only with Disney+, but also Hulu and ESPN+. 


10) Work and Fun. Finally, I have learned from my experience and faith to embrace one’s work and career as more than a mere job, but as a calling or vocation in which one serves others. Assorted individuals have served as examples – among the most prominent being Walt Disney – and have pointed out the fact that one’s work need not be a drudgery, but instead, it should be a source of value, fulfillment and, well, fun.


That’s my top 10 rundown on why I find enjoyment and value in the Disney universe. I’d love to hear yours as well.




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


The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?


Keating’s new book Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13th thriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com


You also can order his book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York  from Amazon or signed books  at RayKeatingOnline.com. His other recent nonfiction book is Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know


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