Friday, November 25, 2011

A Disney Theme Park Insider Confesses Some Secrets

(photo: Jeff Noel)
Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider worked five summers at Walt Disney World at such rides as Pirates of the Caribbean and Tom Sawyer Island. In an article last year on he submits some confessions as a cast member:

  • Having to ask women in line if they're pregnant: "Hell hath no fury like a women who's been mistaken for being pregnant."
  • Name tags don't always match the name of the person wearing it: After losing his name tag he was forced to get a new one. "There wasn't a single Robert left, so until a replacement could be made, I pretended to be Randy, a name that amused visitors from the U.K. to no end."
  • Selection of volunteers from the audience is far from random: "Typically, you need to be a certain gender, size and age for each different roles. You might even need to be wearing a specific item of clothing....also helpful to getting picked: cuteness and enthusiasm."
  • People who work there have come to loathe strollers: A cast member's job includes keeping strollers neatly in place at designated areas. But park visitors keep their strollers in appalling condition, loaded up with dirty diapers, rotting bottles of milk. Others see no problem with parking their strollers right in front of an attraction's exit or entrance. Thoughtless individuals like this incur the wrath of the stroller police and these strollers are relocated to a place "far, far away" at the very back of area cordoned off for strollers.
  • This attraction has been camera monitored for your safety: A couple had a boat to themselves while parkgoers were watching the fireworks display. The real fireworks display was visible on the security cameras. The show the couple put on wasn't exactly G-rated.

Visit to read the full article.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hawaiian Airlines Announces New York Flights

Since the news announcement last week numerous friends and acquaintances have been kind enough to make me aware that Hawaiian Airlines will schedule daily flight service to New York City.

Currently the only non-stop flight from Honolulu to NYC is on Continental Airlines via Newark Airport. The Hawaiian flights starting on June 4, 2012 will arrive and depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The airline is promoting the service with a special $212 one-way coach fare (a play on a NYC area code) and $808 first class (a play on the Hawaii area code). For June departures, Continental prices the round-trip economy fare between $680 and $1,000. Hopefully another difference will be the hospitality that is one of the signatures of Hawaiian's in-flight service which includes meal service for both economy and first class passengers.

It would be interesting to take these flights. However upon closer inspection of the fares on Hawaiian, the $212 special is for flights departing from Honolulu. The return trip fares are priced more. Although I hold a gold level status on Hawaiian from all the business travel I make inter-island, for overseas flights my carrier of choice is American Airlines. Because I plan to maintain my platinum elite level status with American and 10,000 miles is earned round-trip to the east coast from Hawaii, it's unlikely I'll switch carriers when flying to the mainland.

But the real bonus of the Hawaiian flights is the added accessibility to Hawaii for East Coast residents that should help boost the 50th state's economy; and with another carrier flying non-stop flights to NYC, prices could become more competitive in the airfare wars. Visit for booking information.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary Box Set

'The Phantom of the Opera' 25th Anniversary Celebration box set.
Covers of the book 'The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary';
Box-set insert including text titled 'The Phantom Phenomenon';
Reproduction of 1986 Opening Night Program.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
First of all this set does not contain a CD or DVD/Blu-ray recording of the 25th Anniversary Celebration at Royal Albert Hall that was beamed live to movie theaters across the country last month. With that said, this limited edition collection will delight fans of the 'The Phantom of the Opera' and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

'Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary Box Set' which retails for $150 includes:

  • 'The Phantom of the Opera' 2-CD Original Cast Recording in gatefold sleeves and new cover artwork.
  • 'Love Never Dies' 2-CD Original Recording in gatefold sleeves and new cover artwork.
  • 'The Phantom Phenomenon' 60-minute DVD with archive footage.
  • Reproduction of the original opening night 60-page program of 'The Phantom of the Opera'.
  • 'The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Edition' 160-page book by Michael Heatley.
  • Exclusive Medallion mounted on numbered mini-certificate.
  • Exclusive web access to download one of the eight international cast recordings of the musical.
  • Handsome box packaging and gatefold 'The Phantom Phenomenon' insert.

Five disc collection and limited-edition medallion.
Pages from 'The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Edition' book:
The auditorium of the Las Vegas production.
Those who already own the recordings of 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'Love Never Dies' may not see the need to purchase this set. However this limited edition box set appears geared toward the true collector of the show. The book by Heatley offers an in-depth history of the musical from London to Broadway to feature film and its worldwide popularity. It serves as an extension of the first book about the musical by George Perry published in 1988.

The reproduction of the London opening night program is like stepping back into time as one flips through the pages and sees the photos of all the major players 25 years ago along their bios. Even reproduced is the advertising (e.g. an ad heralding the 2nd Sell Out Year of 'Les Miserables' at the Palace Theatre).

The true collector's item in the set is the silver medallion (enclosed in a case). On one side is the famous logo mask and the show's title. On the flip side is 25 years at center surrounded by the wording World Premiere 9th October 1986.

Pages from 'The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Edition' book:
Posters advertising the London production of the years.
Pages from 'The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Edition' book:
Chapter featuring the story of 'Love Never Dies'.
The archival footage on the DVD is a true bonus. They are short but informative and look back on show 25 years ago. The footage includes two interviews with Lloyd Webber, one made before the opening of the 'Phantom' and the second during the London run and also features Sarah Brightman. The third is a news report of the Phantom phenomenon after the Broadway opening.

The remaining contents on the DVD have been available elsewhere including the 'Phantom' songs performed at Lloyd Webber's 50th birthday celebration from 1998 which includes the Phantom Overture, "The Phantom of the Opera" (Antonio Banderas & Brightman), "All I Ask of You" (Michael Ball & Brightman), "Music of the Night" (Brightman). Also previously released but included here are the music videos of the singles versions of the title track (Steve Harley & Brightman), "All I Ask of You" (Cliff Richard & Brightman), "Music of the Night" (Michael Crawford & Brightman) and "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (Brightman).

Some will balk at the box set's price tag. But if the CDs and the music videos are available elsewhere the remaining items documents the history of the musical not to mention of having one of the keepsake coins. Click HERE to view the product details on

Note: If you are Mac owner, the file to download the international recording may not open. Since I already own these recordings it was not a huge issue but a disappointment. If anyone knows how to open the file on a Mac, please share your recommendation.

Pages from the reproduction of the 1986 opening night program at
Her Majesty's Theatre.
Box-set insert opens to reveal text titled 'The Phantom Phenomenon'.
Exclusive access to download one of the eight international cast recordings.
Five discs: 'The Phantom of the Opera' 2CD, 'Love Never Dies' 2CD
and 'The Phantom Phenomenon' DVD.
Exclusive medallion
Medallion numbered certificate.

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