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.

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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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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?

New Fantasyland Dress Rehearsal


10/27/12: Here’s a shot I took while at the Magic Kingdom during a dress rehearsal for the expansion of Fantasyland.

I was lucky enough to experience just about everything that was open (minus meeting Ariel in her grotto). However, I arrived during sunset, so most of my time there was in the dark. I was disappointed at first about this, but it will just give me more to look forward to!

What can I say? I was speechless when I walked up to the entrance. To say I was excited is beyond an understatement. I notice when a restroom on Disney property is changed, or when a new poster is put up, so seeing an entire new area of the Magic Kingdom is quite the milestone.

I don’t really want to give too much away – if you want spoilers, there are plenty of those blogs out there. I will say that it is Disney being Disney. I could easily spend hours roaming around in order to explore each little detail. Both Belle and Ariel were a big part of my childhood and it is so lovely to have an entire portion of the park dedicated to them.

Oh. And Be Our Guest restaurant. I only got to see the dining room from behind a rope, but my heart stopped for a moment when I first stepped inside. Can’t wait to try the grey stuff – I hear it’s delicious! 😉

Have you seen New Fantasyland yet? Do you have plans to? What are you looking forward to most?

Disney Professional Internships: Stage 1 Complete

I’m not very good at waiting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very patient person, but when it comes to things that I’m really excited about…I want to know NOW…or yesterday for that matter.

Just  a few minutes ago I had my first phone interview for a Disney Professional Internship. I was able to schedule the interview on Monday, so I did not have to wait very long for it, but I was told I might not get a response/official offer for a position until early December!

My interview was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. My phone rang at 3:29. Typical Disney and that is what I love about this company. You can count on what they tell you. They’re just dependable like that.

According to my phone, the interview lasted 15 minutes and 16 seconds (shorter than most wait times on property)! A lot was riding on those few minutes, so I spent a good amount of time preparing for my onstage moment. I know The Mouse like the back of my glove, so I didn’t want to over-think the entire process, but I did print out the application, take notes and ask friends and family for advice.

It’s been a few years since I was a Cast Member (although, once a CM, always a CM, I like to say) and I really miss it. I hope my answers grant me the opportunity to move on to the next step. I know the competition is fierce and the opportunities few, so I’ll be checking my status and keeping my fingers crossed.

I have found I can connect every one I meet to Disney (it’s a great ice-breaker if you’re ever in need of a conversation starter). The Disney name is global and every life has been touched by the brand in at least some form. So, what’s your favorite Disney memory? Do you have a favorite park? Character? Event? I’d love to hear it.

Faith, trust and pixie dust,

Rebecca

If you’re a Walt Disney World fan, follow my Disney Twitter account: @TweetsFromWDW