ABC’s ‘The Middle’ films episode at EPCOT

One of the coolest things about being at Walt Disney World Resort is you never know what or who you’re going to see. With 47-squares miles, there is always something going on.

Today, ABC’s family comedy “The Middle” is filming an episode in Epcot. And even if you weren’t a Guest in the park, you can still check it all out thanks to social media.

Shared by @RamblingKite

Shared by @RamblingKite

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Shared by @kaylaferris

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Shared by @lizmclean14

@BazTastic77

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Shared by @brihealy

As a Disney Cast Member, I had the chance to look over the production schedule. And while such information is confidential, I can say that it’s truly amazing that such a huge crew can film a television show without interrupting and interfering with the daily operation.

I’m not exactly sure when this episode will air, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!

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Awwww: Firefighters sing ‘Let it Go’ while rescuing family from elevator

From WHDH News Boston:

READING, Mass. (WHDH) – Firefighters in Reading were called upon to rescue a family of three from an elevator, but more than the rescue it’s their singing that’s getting attention.

Four-year-old Kaelyn Kerr was stuck in the elevator with her mother and brother after a visit to the salon.

“As we approached the second floor the elevator stopped, we pressed every button known to man, nothing happened, we tried to push through the door and it was stopped,” Kaelyn’s mother Kristin Kerr said.

Firefighters lowered a ladder in, but Kaelyn was too scared to climb up, that’s when one firefighter asked what her favorite movie was and she said Frozen, the popular Disney movie.

They weren’t just familiar with the movie, but one of the firefighters actually had the Oscar winning song ‘Let it Go’ on his cell phone.

“He pulled out his phone and on his phone was the song ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. He put it on and they all started singing to her,” Kerr said.

“I just started singing and grabbed my phone, because you know, I’m sure she didn’t want to hear me singing the entire time,” Scott Myette said.

After the song Kaelyn was more comfortable climbing up the ladder and out from the elevator.

“I don’t think it’s anything different than what anyone else would have done. Whether they sang or you know, distract with a little stuffed animal, I think it’s probably along those lines,” John Keough said.
The firefighters said they are glad everything worked out in the end.

Kerr said she was relieved they were out, entertained by the firefighters’ show and impressed with their singing voices.

Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a teeny tiny bit tired of Adele Nazeem’s hit, “Let it Go.” I’ve been listening to the song for months—the movie version, in live performance, parodies and so on. The song even plays multiple times a day on my office radio station. But when I saw this story, I just HAD to share.

I’m always amazed at how Disney and Disney movies can tie in to everyday life and touch so many different people. I was lucky enough to see the movie before it was released and I just knew the song would be a hit. It’s so powerful and Idina Menzel is just the perfect powerhouse artist for this now iconic song.

Do you have a favorite “Let it Go” rendition? Below are a few of my favorites:

Here it is in 25 different languages. I’m really hoping to learn the song in Mandarin!

I first watched this video when it only had a little more than 10,000 views. Now it has nearly nine million. (His Pooh Bear is my favorite part.)

And the African tribal version. I still can’t believe the girl is only 11 years old!

VIDEO: Disney Cruise Line announces new itineraries and ports for 2015

Today, Disney Cruise Line announced new itineraries and ports for 2015:

  • Norwegian Fjord sailings —a first for Disney Cruise Line—with stops in Norway’s fjord region, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Guests can experience the part of the world that inspired the Disney animated film Frozen
  • Northern Europe cruises, including Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland—as well as Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg
  • Mediterranean sailings that visit popular ports of call, like Naples
  • Alaskan
  • Eastern Caribbean destinations, featuring stops at tropical islands like St. Maarten, St Thomas and Castaway Cay—Disney’s private island
  • Western Caribbean cruises to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Castaway Cay
  • Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral, Fla. and Miami, Fla.
  • A Panama Canal crossing
  • A transatlantic sailing

Sooooo, I’ve never been on a cruise. But it’s definitely on my bucket list. And, if I had to guess, my first cruise will most likely be with Disney.

I mean, not only has Disney Cruise Line been ranked No. 1 for the past five consecutive years, but as a Disney Cast Member, I get a not too shabby discount. And I have a much better chance of not having to poop in a bag during my trip. Yes, I’m talking to you, Carnival.

I think if I had to choose from the list, I’d pick the Norway itinerary. Who wouldn’t want to see a fjord? I’ve always wanted to go to Norway, especially since I discovered a relative of mine emigrated from Norway in the late 1880s. AND the trip goes to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, which also look absolutely amazing. Not that the Bahamas don’t sound great and all, but this trips sounds much more interesting. Ahhh, let the daydreaming commence.

Have you been on a cruise? Any good stories or recommendations?

NBD: Disney buying Maker Studios for $500 million, could reach $950 million

From Bloomberg:

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) agreed to buy Maker Studios, a supplier of online video content to YouTube, for $500 million, gaining technology and experience with short-form entertainment.

Disney also agreed to pay as much as $450 million more if Maker Studios meets “strong” performance targets, the Burbank, California-based company said today in a statement. That could boost the total to $950 million.

With Maker Studios, Disney is following DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. into an online video business with expanding audiences and little profit. DreamWorks Animation, producer of the “Shrek” movies, bought AwesomenessTV, a smaller competitor of Maker Studios, for $33 million plus as much as $84 million in incentives last year. The online outlets could help media companies build awareness for films and TV shows.

“Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

With more than 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views a month on Google Inc.’s YouTube, Culver City, California-based Maker has established itself as one of the top online video networks for young audiences, Disney said.

Buying Again

“There is a lot of good happening in digital video networks,” Mike Vorhaus, a technology consultant at Magid Advisors, said in an interview. “There are a ton of eyeballs and the content isn’t expensive to produce. There just hasn’t been a lot of meaningful profit yet.”

The acquisition is one of the biggest for Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, since the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012. In the online space, Maker could potentially exceed the $563.2 million Disney spent in 2010 on mobile game maker Playdom. Disney paid $350 million in 2007 for Club Penguin online world.

Disney rose 0.6 percent to $79.98 in extended trading after the deal was announced. The stock fell 1.1 percent to $79.49 at the close in New York and gained 4 percent this year.

Maker Studios reports to Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer, according to the statement. The online company was founded in 2009, according to a regulatory filing.

Disney had $4.4 billion in cash at the end of September, according to regulatory filings.

***

You may not recognize Maker Studios buy its name, but you most likely know the popular YouTubers behind this now very wealthy company. Maker Studios was founded by Ben Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Lisa Donovan, Shay Carl ButlerPhillip DeFrancoKassem Gharaibeh and Derek S. Jones.

Honestly, I didn’t even know about Maker Studios. As someone who has been a member of the YouTube community since 2006, I’m really excited for the people behind this deal. And I’m excited for Disney.

To give some kind of comparison to try to understand just how much money this is – Disney’s Frozen recently became a billion-dollar franchise. Any way you slice this deal, that’s a lot of zeroes.

As a Disney Cast Member, I can definitely understand the acquisition. I feel The Walt Disney Company really wants to keep up with the times and evolve alongside technology. The public may not always agree with this sentiment, which is understandable. But I think the loyal fans of this site can rest assured that Disney doesn’t want to change anything about Maker Studios. It’s obviously doing pretty well for itself already…

What do you think of this deal?

Beware of Referral Key

So when you’re in the process of looking for employment opportunities, you tend to pay a bit more attention to emails and your LinkedIn profile.

On Feb. 11, I received an odd email from one of my LinkedIn contacts about what sounded like a lead to possible work. Since it was from someone I knew on LinkedIn, I trusted the link and opened it.

Note: I removed the sender’s name and business.

To read the entire message, you need to join the site, Referral Key, which as we all know only takes a few seconds to do. The message itself included this YouTube video, which instructs the user on how to export their LinkedIn contacts to their profile.

However, the video does not inform you that completing the process will email ALL OF YOUR LINKEDIN CONTACTS.

For someone who has 730+ LinkedIn contacts, that created quite the mess. I’ve already had to email countless friends and colleagues who messaged me to see if I had been hacked. (Apologies if you were one of them…)

Mashable endorsement?

Mashable endorsement?

So was I hacked? Technically, no. Apparently this site is real. I’m still having difficulty figuring out what its exact uses are, though. All I know, is that a few clicks can easily damage your reputation, so I advise you NOT to join this site.

The same exact thing happened to poor Cathy Miller…”How Referral Key’s Spammy Practice Embarrassed Pollyanna.” AND this article is another one I wish I would’ve read before this happened – it would have saved me a ton of grief.

Needless to say, I have already emailed the site and deleted my account. I also messaged the contact who initially invited me to the site.

Have you heard of this website? Has the same thing happened to you? I’d love to hear about it. Definitely NOT how I intended to spend my Wednesday afternoon…

*Update (2/13/14)*

It appears the site has removed the “Contact Page,” which is where I sent my complaint. Instead, they now have a “Support” page, which gives a quasi-FAQ. It conveniently has buried the fine print that the user is “100% responsible” for how they use the site. However, none of this verbiage was even on the site before. And, not surprisingly, I haven’t heard anything back from them.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Help! My car is rotting: How Toyota failed me

***UPDATE***

10/11/2014 I am getting more and more comments and I continue to see these cars everywhere I go. Please LIKE this Facebook page I created and perhaps we can finally get this the attention it deserves!

https://www.facebook.com/ToyotaRust

Nov. 7, 2013 – 6 p.m.

Let me start off by saying that I should’ve written this more than a year ago…

My car: 2006 Blue Toyota Corolla

Mileage: Just hit 70,000 miles

Past issues: None – I’ve never missed a service.

I just got off the phone with Toyota. Again. Every single time I get off of the phone with them I’m left with the same story: “We’re sorry Ms. Forman, but your vehicle falls outside of the 3-year, 36,000 mile warranty. There is nothing we can do for you at this time.”

The problem I have with that statement, is that the issue I’m having didn’t start until long after the warranty ended.

See, a little over a year ago, I noticed an odd discoloration on the roof of my car. First it was just a patch. And then it was two patches. And then it spread. Like a disease. My car looks like it has a disease. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Note: I took these photos about an hour ago…

Image

Image

Image

The disease is spreading…

So what do you do when you have a problem? You Google it. And when you google this problem, a plethora of results emerge:

Check it out:

  1. http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/corolla/2006/consumer-discussions.html
  2. http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f19d878/212
  3. http://www.topix.com/forum/autos/toyota-camry/T7KNSSJUAKT2TPCN4/p6
  4. Look at poor Judy! (hers is a 2010) 
  5. And so on and so forth…

Naturally, I took my car in to my trusted dealership, Toyota of Tampa Bay, and they gave me a repair estimate of $1,200 (this was before it spread). I was told this wasn’t just a regular paint job and that they would need my car for up to four days. “Would this be something you would like to do?” they asked me.

I’m sorry. But at the time, I had final exams and obviously did not have an extra grand lying around that I could use to fix something that wasn’t even close to being my fault in the first place.

Several estimates and auto mechanics later, I’m being told the same thing: the paint on your vehicle was applied incorrectly. But Toyota doesn’t want to hear any of that.

The mechanic I saw in June (and just got off of the phone with) told me that I should just trade my car in. “At this point, just get rid of it,” he told me.

Really, Toyota? That’s it? Oh yeah, because I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of $$ for my trade-in with it looking like that. Even though, otherwise, my car is in better-than-great condition.

I know this site does not get a ton of views, and to Toyota, I’m just one person, with one car. But I know I’m not alone. I’ve walked up to strangers, probably 15+ as a matter of fact, who have the same problem with their Toyota. I saw one this very afternoon.

I know the easy thing to do is to just give up. Get a new car. Because that’s just so easy (my car is paid off and I like not having the expense of a monthly car payment).

So please. If you’re reading this, and have the same problem, or know someone who does…please leave a comment. Share this even. I’d like to not completely lose my faith in customer service.