Episode 44: Movie Marketing, FastPass+ Tests, Seasons, and More!

Beyond the Berm returns with Episode 44!

To start off our podcast, we discuss movie marketing, looking at three new or upcoming Disney movies: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Big Hero 6; and Tomorrowland. In particular, we talk about whether the trailers make us want to see these movies. Which of these are you looking forward to seeing the most?


Next, we talk about the recent test at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, where you had to have a FastPass+ to ride Toy Story Mania. No standby lines or any other options were available. Is this a sign of the times? Do you think it is a good thing?

We also talked about our favorite seasons to visit the Disney parks. It is hard to pick just one favorite, however, because each one has its good points. Do you have a favorite?

Also, we take a quick look the recently announced extension of Bob Iger’s time at Disney and what that may mean for the company.

All that, plus all of our usual zaniness and such, in Beyond the Berm Episode 44!

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Episode 43: iPhones, Walt Disney World Changes, and Trip Planning

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 43!

For starters, we talk about the new iPhones, since both of us are iPhone guys. Have you gotten a new, bigger phone? Or even an even bigger phone? Hear our thoughts about them, and let us know yours.

Next up, we learned that Cast Members at Disney’s Hollywood Studios were informed that the final day for the Backlot Tour is this Saturday, September 27. Nothing has been announced to take its place, but that doesn’t stop everyone from talking about what it might be, including us. We also talk about some other changes around the resort, including the addition of Frozen in Epcot. Listen in to see what we think about all of this.

Matt is making a solo trip to Walt Disney World to take part in the Marathon in January, and he needs some help in planning what to do during the three days that he is there. Sort of a game, sort of asking for advice. What would you do? Matt would love to hear some suggestions! We talk about some starter ideas, but he would appreciate your feedback.

All this and more in this episode of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 42: It’s a Hullabaloo!

Beyond the Berm is back with Episode 42! And in this episode, we go through several topics fast and furious. And hey, in our new graphic above, we kind of look like the guys from the Fast and Furious movies, don’t we? No? Well then, moving on…

To start off, Steve gives some background about the new header graphic, including a bit about the tools that he used to make it happen and how he might have done things differently.

Next up, Matt brings up two hand-drawn animation projects. The first is a short film called Duet, which was created by renowned former Disney animator Glen Keane. The second is Hullabaloo, an effort to make a 2D hand-drawn short in the hopes of expanding it to a full-length feature. It is nice to see that some people out there still like hand-drawn animation when so many of the big studios have gone to computer animation.

Steve then tells about the new series of Figment comic books from Marvel comics. These comic books tell something of a back story about Dreamfinder and Figment, and they have been pretty popular, selling out the first printing of the first issue completely. Have you read them? What do you think?

Matt then gives a brief recap of his family’s recent participation in the runDisney event at Disneyland. They had participants in the kids’ race, the 10K, and the half marathon. Come hear about their experiences.

And yes, even though it isn’t necessarily the primary focus of this episode, “Hullabaloo” was chosen as the title here just because it is fun to say. Be sure to join the Hullabaloo with us!

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Episode 41: I Am Groot

Beyond the Berm zooms into space with Episode 41!

Join us as we discuss the recent Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy. We give our reviews and thoughts about it, in case you are wondering if we liked it or not. WARNING: There are spoilers here! We don’t try to dance around any plot points or anything. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to know what happens, beware. If you want to skip all of that, you can jump ahead to just after the 35 minute mark.

After all of that, we change gears for a bit to talk about the upcoming D23 Expo in 2015. Ticket prices were recently released, and we discuss those. Matt also talks about his visits to some of the past Expos and his feelings about all that was offered. Do you plan to go next year? We would love to hear about it!

Be sure to join us for Beyond the Berm Episode 41! Spoiler: we had a great time!

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Episode 40: A Race and a Game

Beyond the Berm roars back into action with Episode 40! Which is momentous, if you are one of those who like to celebrate 10-multiple things, I guess.

To start with, Matt gives an update on his upcoming runDisney races as things are getting closer for the upcoming Disneyland runs. His whole family is participating, and he has some updated information on their plans, as well as on his upcoming run in the Walt Disney World Marathon.

Next, Steve has a game for Matt to play, “Name That Disney Quote.” These quotes come from either Disney or Pixar animated movies, and some of them are real stumpers. See if you can guess which movies these quotes are from!

After that, we have some general chit-chat about Disney trivia, Guardians of the Galaxy, a Disney movie that ended up not being a Disney movie (“Earth to Echo”), and some other stuff, too.

Come join the fun on Episode 40 of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 39: Weddings and Honeymoons, Star Wars and Theme Park Wars

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 39!

We start off with Matt remembering the events of 15 years ago, which just happened to be when he and Kathy were getting married at Disneyland. He tells all about their Disney Fairytale Wedding, and he also looks at how some of the options for Disney weddings have changed over the years.

Steve follows that up with remembrances of his honeymoon at Walt Disney World, because his wedding anniversary with Laura is next week. As it turns out, Matt and Kathy spent their honeymoon at Walt Disney World as well. Several years ago, Walt Disney World took over the spot of Number One Honeymoon Destination from Niagara Falls. It would be interesting to know if it still holds that spot today.

Moving on to other things, Matt asks a question about how the Star Wars characters are treated these days. Among the things we discussed was the video of Darth Vader at Disneyland, as well as the Hyperspace Hoopla show that used to be a part of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (that link was to just one video, but there are several videos of the different shows from different years out there). Is using these characters in comedic situations diluting their effectiveness? That’s a good question.

And then Steve talks a bit about the latest round of the theme park wars in Florida, as Universal Studios opens its new Harry Potter section, complete with a new ride, while Walt Disney World throws together a few Frozen offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These wars have been going on since the late 1980s, and it does appear that Universal has won this round, doesn’t it?

Join us for all of that and more in Beyond the Berm Episode 39!

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Episode 38: Vacations in Review

At long last, Beyond the Berm has returned!

Since our last episode, the entire Beyond the Berm crew has been on vacations, and now everyone is back at home. So this time around, we talk about our recent vacation experiences.

First up, Matt tells about his week spent at Walt Disney World. He and his large family group went to all of the parks, Downtown Disney, Typhoon Lagoon, and more!

Steve then contrasts that with his family’s visit to the Central Florida area. Although they were right by Walt Disney World, they didn’t go to any of the main theme parks. They did attempt to visit Typhoon Lagoon, but that visit was cut short due to rain. However, they did enjoy a visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve, where they saw lots and lots of alligators!

After that, Matt tells about the Disney Cruise that immediately followed his week at Walt Disney World. The family took a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, and Matt tells about stopping at several of the ports, riding the Aqua Duck, and enjoying some relaxing times on the ship. He gives his review of Castaway Cay, the private Bahamas Island, too.

Join us as we relive the fun of our recent vacations at Beyond the Berm Episode 38!

Just a note: This episode was originally supposed to be released last Friday, but technical difficulties and another (short) vacation prevented that. Oh well. You finally get to hear it now!

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Episode 37: Have you ever…?

The Beyond the Berm podcast returns with Episode 37! Yes, we have actually done 37 of these things. But who’s counting?

To begin with, Matt has us play a game of “Have you ever…?” Come play along and see if you have ever done these Disney related things, too.

After that, Steve goes over the upcoming Disney movie releases for the summer movie season. Are you looking forward to any of these? Do you plan to see them in the theater? Let us know!

Matt tells us about the latest RunDisney event to be announced, the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland next January. Matt plans to run in this race. How about you?

All that and more in this exciting episode of Beyond the Berm!

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Is a Disney Theme Park Ticket a Good Value?

By now you have probably heard that Disneyland raised its ticket prices this past weekend. The price for a one-day ticket went up $4 to $96, park-hopper tickets increased $13 to $150, and a Premium Annual Passport went up $30 to $699. And perhaps more importantly to many, they are suspending the sale of new passes for Southern California residents. All of that has been covered quite a bit by scores of amateur blogs as well as by most of the news outlets. You can read about it all over, but if you haven’t already, here is one link from Fortune magazine that I chose more or less randomly, because they all say much of the same thing.

However, one part of all of those stories caught my eye, and that is the following official statement from Suzi Brown, the director of medial relations for Disneyland:

Like any business, we periodically evaluate our pricing and make adjustments based on a variety of factors. A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our cast.

We have a running joke in our house that if they have to tell you that something is a certain way, then it really isn’t. Or at best, there is some preconceived notion by some that the thing really isn’t that way. For example, once a year or so when Jaylin gets a cold, we give him some liquid children’s cold medicine, and it always says on the packaging, “Great-tasting grape flavor!” I have tasted it, and it really isn’t great-tasting at all. But that’s what they tell you.

Of course, it is the job of advertisers in whatever form they take to convince you that what they are selling is good, or good for you, or something you want, or even a good value. That’s the nature of the business. But I don’t always take things at face value, and I often wonder what is behind the claims that are being made about a product. So for the Disneyland media relations person to make sure that all the news outlets got her quote about a Disney theme park ticket being a good value, it made me wonder.

Actually, that goes right along with what we were discussing in Episode 36 of Beyond the Berm just a few days before the price hikes were announced. Matt and I were already saying that, for us at least, the Disney parks weren’t the good value that they once were. Of course, some of that is relative, as Matt mentioned when he compared you get at Universal Studios Hollywood to what you get at Disneyland for around the same price per day. Based on that, most would say that you are getting more for your money at Disneyland than at Universal.

But does getting more for your money mean that it is a great value? Not necessarily. I could pay $1000 for one bowling ball from Bowl U Over, or I could go to Big Ben’s Bowling Balls and get two bowling balls for $1000 (just an illustration – I have no idea what bowling balls cost). So obviously I’m getting more for my money from Big Ben, but does that mean I am getting a good value?

You might say that part of this goes back to the “grumpy old man” syndrome. “I remember back in the old days when a 3-day ticket to Walt Disney World was only $42!” And yes, I do remember that. True, there were only two parks then. But there wasn’t an add-on cost to go back and forth between those two parks. And it only cost a fraction of the current charge to park your car, too.

I have here on my desk a flyer of Walt Disney World ticket prices from the Magic Kingdom Club which says, “Revised April 1995.” On that flyer, the general public price for a one-day/one park ticket is $37 plus tax. So in 19 years, the price has almost tripled. Does that mean that in another 20 years, it will be $300 for one day in one park? Count me out if it does.

And even at the current price, what are you getting? The chance to wait in an hours-long line to ride the most popular rides or meet some princesses if you aren’t able to get one of the coveted FastPasses? That isn’t exactly my idea of a good value.

I know it must seem like a good value to some, because attendance levels are soaring, and I know of more and more people that are going to Walt Disney World on their vacations. So perhaps that “good value” portion of the statement was to satisfy the press and bloggers who were likely to jump all over any new price hike, no matter how much, or how little, it was. We do have to keep in mind that “value” is subjective, depending on the person. If you want proof of that, go over to eBay to see how much people are paying for some things that you would consider “junk.”

So to me, the Disney park tickets aren’t really the great value that they once were. And that will affect my decision to visit in the future, just as it has in the past few years. We haven’t stopped going entirely, and I don’t know that we would reach that point, but we have greatly cut back from what we used to do some years ago.

What do you think? Are the tickets a good value? Or is Disney about to price themselves out of a lot of people’s vacation plans?

Sleeping Beauty Castle

(And yes, that is an old photo of Sleeping Beauty Castle if you are wondering. From October 1997.)

Episode 36: Universal, Marvel, and MyMagic+

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 36!

To start things off, Matt told about becoming an annual passholder for Universal Studios Hollywood and about his recent visit there. How does it compare to the Disney parks? Listen in to see what he thought.

Next, Steve brought up the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and that led into a discussion of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which just finished up its first season. The show has been picked up for a second season, along with a new series about Agent Carter that will air in between the fall and winter/spring seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hear what we thought about the first season and see if you agree.

After that, Matt shared the cheerful news as a follow-up to our last episode that he was in fact able to get FastPasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for his family’s upcoming Walt Disney World visit. We talked about the high demand for all of the new experiences, the intricacies and oddities of the new FastPass system, and the effect that it might all have on future visits to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Come hear our thoughts on all of this.

Don’t miss any of the exciting, breath-taking moments in Episode 36 of Beyond the Berm!

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