Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

New York City: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

A1

There were too many “good” things to squeeze into this post, while the “bad” and the “ugly” run together:

Way more homeless people than we saw in 2011, perhaps because they’d been cleared out during the 9/11 anniversary.

Speaking of which: the tourist behavior at the WTC memorial is every bit as depressing and infuriating as you’ve heard. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.

(Hint: When Vice Magazine thinks you’re out of line…)

LaGuardia still looks like a 1970s bus terminal.

Times Square is my idea of hell.

But back to the “good” stuff:

Read bullet |

The 6 Biggest Misconceptions About the Midwest

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 - by Ari J. Kaufman

P1070065

6. Food is meat-and-potato style.

As I discussed in last month’s “10 Reasons Why Indianapolis Is the Best City in the Midwest,” you can enjoy food from around the world in any U.S. city these days. I’ve had, for example, spectacular Thai in St. Louis; Colombian in Minneapolis; Indian in Indianapolis; Lebanese-style in Lansing; Ethiopian feasts in Omaha; and more. People may know Chicago has those options, but clearly so do other locales. “Globalization” has rendered authentic international food once found only in places like New York, San Francisco and assorted college towns commonplace.

Read bullet |

A Great Sunrise Video From the Island of Formentera

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

Located off the coast of Spain, via Instagram user ele_nora11 earlier today:

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. Revised goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union. Completed July 25, 2014 but you can still send in your great photos to be featured.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

Updated August 2014: 5. We’re going to now try and start combining sunrise and pet photos, leading with images and video taken by PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle featuring Maura the Siberian Husky on her morning runs.

The Completed United States Sunrise Collection

Alabama

Great Colors In the Alabama Sky At Sunrise in Cullman

Alaska

The Sun Rises Over a Town in the Alaskan Mountains

Arizona

A Very Cool Sunrise in Arizona This Morning…

An Encouraging Sunrise While Driving in Arizona

Arkansas

3 Invigorating Sunrise Shots From the Shores of the Arkansas River

California

A Bright Sunrise Over San Francisco Bay

Another Superb Sunrise Over Silicon Valley

The Sun Rises Over the Fog In Silicon Valley

A Huge, Colorful Sunrise over San Francisco

A Good Morning Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

The Sunrise Illuminates The Path By the Beach In Cambria, California

The Last Socal Sunrise of 2013

3 California Sunrises – San Diego – Santa Cruz – San Francisco

These 3 Photos Fail to Do Justice For This Morning’s Southern California Sunrise

Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple

A Subtle Sunrise From The San Fernando Valley This Morning

A Colorful Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

A Golden Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

Today’s San Fernando Valley Sunrise

3 Shots of the San Fernando Valley Sunrise This Morning

The Sun Rises Over San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Colorado

Stunning Shots of Sunlight Escape the Clouds In Roxborough Park

A Purple, Pink, and Gold Colorado Sunrise

Which of These 3 Colorado Sunrises Is the Best?

Garden of the Gods at Dawn

Colorado Sunrise Vodkapundit Style

An Orange Sunrise from Boulder, CO

Connecticut

Sunrise Over the Snow in New England

A Connecticut Church’s Stained Glass Sunrise

Delaware

A Delaware Sunrise That Looks Like Heaven

Florida

What Could Be Better Than Kayaking At Sunrise?

A Bold, Blood Red Sunrise Reflecting On Lake Maitland in Florida

3 Fantastic Photos of Yesterday Morning’s Florida Sunrise Courtesy of Myra Adams

The Sun Rises Over the Sea In Florida

A Heavenly Sunset in Cedar Key, Florida

Sunrise at a Damaged Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

3 Florida Beach Sunrises

Florida Sunset With 3 Dogs (All Sunsets Are Better With Dogs)

Don’t Miss This Breathtaking Sunrise Shot From a Kayak On Lake Minnehaha

Georgia

The Sun Rising Over Atlanta From 10,000 Feet

Many Colors Over The Sky In Yesterday’s Sunrise Over Atlanta, Georgia

How the Sun Starts the Day in Covington, GA

Another Beautiful North Georgia Sunrise

Hawaii

Sunrise Dances Across The Clouds in Maui

Idaho

Beautiful Clouds As the Sun Rises In the Idaho Hills

Sunrise On the Farm in Buhl, Idaho

Illinois

Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday

Indiana

An Indiana Cornfield Sunrise In the Rearview Mirror

Iowa

A Bright Red and Orange Iowa Sunrise

Kansas

An Artsy Kansas Sunrise

Kentucky

An Inspiring Sunrise Over the Ohio River Shot From the Kentucky Side

Louisiana

A Peaceful Purple Louisiana Sunrise over the Superdome

Maine

2 New England Sunsets

Maryland

A Superb Sunrise Canoeing on the Monocacy River in Maryland

Massachusetts

A Powerful Pink Sunrise From Framingham, MA

Michigan

Detroit Ice Fishing Sunrise

An Ice Fishing Sunrise From North of Detroit to Start Your Weekend

Sunrise on Lake St. Clair, Just Outside Detroit

Minnesota

Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Which Sunrise Is Better?

A Calming Sunrise Over Wolf Lake in Minnesota

Mississippi

An Overwhelming Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Missouri

This Missouri Sunrise On the Plains Is a Gorgeous Photograph

Montana

Sunrise from the Rooftop in Billings, Montana

Nebraska

A Truly Triumphant Sunrise From Nebraska

Nevada

A Hopeful Sunrise In the Nevada Desert

New Hampshire

A New Hampshire Sunrise Shot Through The ‘Glass Wall’

New Jersey

A Great Smile of a Sunrise On the Jersey Shore

New Mexico

Which State Has the Superior Sunrises? 2 From New Mexico Vs 2 From Colorado

New York

A Bright, Colorful New York Sunrise

North Carolina

A Sunrise to Start The Day at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

North Dakota

These 2 North Dakota Sunrise Photos Are Some of the Most Breathtaking We’ve Ever Received…

A Wide Open North Dakota Sunrise on the Farm

Ohio

It’s 3 Below In Newark, Ohio And The Sun Shoots Up Like a Shining Column of Light

‘Flying at 6500′ Msl Over Zanesville, OH in My Cessna 182 Heading South’

What a 17 Degree Ohio Sunset Looks Like

Oklahoma

An Oklahoma Driving Sunrise

Canada Vs Oklahoma Vs Tunisia: Which Sunrise Is Your Favorite Today?

A Wonderful Blue & Orange Sunrise Creeps Over the Oklahoma Grasses

Oregon

Which of These 2 Oregon Sunrises Is More Beautiful?

A Beautifully Composed Portland Oregon Sunrise Photograph

Oregon Vs. Oklahoma: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Pennsylvania

2 Gettysburg Battlefield Sunrises

Rhode Island

A Colorful Rhode Island Sunrise

South Carolina

5 Instagram Sunrises From Around the World

South Dakota

Golden Skies Over South Dakota at Sunrise

Tennessee

Cows At a Colorful Sunrise in Tennessee

Texas

Which of These 4 Texas Sunrise Photos From This Morning Is Your Favorite?

An Optimistic Sunrise Over Dallas

Sunrise From Galveston Island, Texas

Utah

These 2 Bright Utah Sunrises Are Inspirational

A Utah Camping Sunrise

Vermont

Golden Dancing Clouds in this Tranquil Vermont Sunrise

Virginia

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

Charlottesville, VA: When the Morning Sun Gets Under the Clouds and Lights Them Up

Washington and West Virginia

West Virginia Vs Washington: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Wisconsin

3 Artsy Sunrise Photos From Milwaukee

Wyoming

Wake Up in Wyoming And Start Today With this Bright, Beautiful Sunrise

Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)

What Does a Sunrise Look Like on Mars?

The International Sunset Collection

1. Australia:

The Sun Sets in Sydney, Australia

2. Brazil:

The Sun Sets at a South American Achipelago

2 Very Different Brazilian Sunsets

3. Canada:

6 Sunrises to Start the Last Week of January

4. Cayman Islands:

An Insta-Sunset From the Cayman Islands

5. Chile:

Fire Dances In the Skies As the Sun Sets in the Chilean Mountains

6. Costa Rica:

3 Bright Sunsets From Costa Rica

7. England, 8. France, and 9. Denmark:

3 European Sunrises

10. Finland

Brazil Vs Finland Vs Chile: Which of These Sunsets is Your Favorite?

11. Italy:

An Italian Sunset in Miramare, Trieste

12. Germany:

A Red Sunset in the Woods of Hagen, Germany

This Bright Orange German Sunset Is Like the Conclusion of an Epic Quest

13. Greece:

A Soothing Sunset On the Greek Island of Oia

14. Malaysia:

Sunsets On 3 Continents

15. Maldives:

Tropical Paradise: A Sunset in Maldives

16. Mexico:

Gray Crashes into Gold in This Striking Mexico City Sunset

17. Mozambique:

5 Golden Sunsets From Africa

Orange and Blue in the Mozambique Skies: The Sun Sets Over Nacala

An Absolutely Amazing, Haunting, Spiritual Sunset From Mozambique

2 More Magical Mozambique Sunsets And a Bonus Sunrise

18. Philippines:

A Panglao Island Sunset

19. Russia:

6 Sunrises from Australia to Paris to Russia to America…

20. Sweden:

6 Sunsets to End the Week

21. Thailand:

2 Thailand Sunsets

22. Trinidad:

A Trinidad Sunset Bursts Through Gray Clouds

23. South Africa:

A Waterfront Sunset in South Africa

24. Scotland:

An Astounding Scottish Sunset on the Isle of Mull

25. Serbia:

Purple and Gold in the Skies Over Serbia

26. Spain:

A ‘Naughty Sun’ Tries to Sneak Down the Chimney In Catalonia

27. Wales:

A Beautiful Burst of Sunset at Broughton Bay Yesterday in South Wales

Starting The United States Sunset Collection:

1. Arizona

The Sun Sets Over the Grand Canyon

2. Florida

Florida: A Pink Sunset At Passagrille Beach

3. Montana

A Majestic Purple Montana Sunset

 

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

27 Sunrises:

5 Sunsets:

The Siberian Husky Sunrise Collection So Far:

5 Shots of a Siberian Husky Greeting the Morning Sun in SoCal

The First Siberian Husky Sunrise in Inglewood

Read bullet |

10 Reasons Why Indianapolis Is the Best City in the Midwest

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 - by Ari J. Kaufman

IWM

10. Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District

Throughout four consecutive blocks, Indianapolis recognizes our military heroes. Standing tall in the center of “Circle City,” the Indiana World War Memorial was constructed to honor soldiers from the Great War. General of the Armies John “Black Jack” Pershing laid the ceremonial cornerstone July 4, 1927, two years after the American Legion moved their national headquarters to Indianapolis, where they remain two blocks north. The War Memorial opened its doors on Armistice Day, 1933. A cenotaph, honoring the first soldier killed in World War I, from Indiana no less, sits at the plaza’s northern end.

Because there is so much history within walking distance around downtown, people from around the world visit the area. I know this from experience as a state historian. If you go a few blocks north, you’ll hit the Benjamin Harrison Home, where the 23rd president lived, campaigned and died. A few blocks to the south is the incredible Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, which we’ll discuss later.

Read bullet |

The 10 Most Overrated Destinations in the Midwest

Monday, July 28th, 2014 - by Ari J. Kaufman

SOO

Last week I shared my choices for most underrated destinations in the Midwest; this week I present the most overrated destinations.

10. Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

A vital commerce site and river bypass between Great Lakes along the Canadian border, but ships pass through as infrequently as Old Faithful, so you’re usually staring at empty locks. If you’re in that gorgeous region of our nation, there are superior places to visit like Traverse City, LelandSleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island, the Porcupine Mountains and much more.

Read bullet |

The 10 Most Underrated Destinations in the South

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

StPetersburg-FL-waterfront

Last week I shared my picks for the most overrated destinations in the South, and this week I’m presenting the flip side of that list. Here are ten destinations that don’t always make the list of great places to visit down here in Dixie. Hopefully some of you will consider these places when you book your next vacation. Enjoy!

10. St. Petersburg, FL

On the north side of Tampa Bay, on a peninsula bordering the Gulf of Mexico, sits St. Petersburg. Like its sister city, Tampa, St. Pete boasts beautiful beaches, vibrant attractions, and nightlife. But deep down, St. Petersburg is a funky arts and architecture town masquerading as a mid-sized city.

The architecture of this city encapsulates much of the 20th century’s notable styles, yet nearly all the buildings look like they belong in a city by the water – quintessentially Floridian. The arts scene in St. Pete is strong – museums and bohemian arts communities are nestled all over the city, and one museum in particular holds the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s works in North America.

With an exciting city core and a beach rated number one in America, St. Petersburg has a lot to offer its visitors.

Read bullet |

The 10 Most Overrated Destinations in the South

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Chris Queen
Much of Cherokee, NC consists of quaint, kitschy tourist traps that have not changed much since the 1950s like the Pink Motel.

Much of Cherokee, NC, consists of quaint, kitschy tourist traps that have not changed much since the 1950s like the Pink Motel.

As a lifelong Southerner, I’ll be the first to admit that there’s plenty to love about this varied region I adore. But I’ll also admit that certain areas of the South are simply overrated. Here’s my list of the ten most overrated destinations in the South.

10. Cherokee, NC

Let me start this entry by admitting that I love Cherokee. Growing up, we went there a lot for camping trips and vacations, and my mom’s family did too a generation before me. There’s a lot to enjoy about Cherokee: the history – especially the Trail of Tears play Unto These Hills – and the breathtaking scenery. But beyond that, most of what Cherokee has to offer is kitschy tourism which has changed little since the mid-20th century.

What has created the hype that has made Cherokee overrated? Harrah’s, of course. Harrah’s promotes Cherokee as some sort of amazing resort destination, but that’s not what Cherokee is. If you’re looking for history, natural beauty, and tacky retro-tourism, Cherokee’s your place. If you want to gamble and party, go to the casino and nothing more, because you’ll come away disappointed.

Read bullet |

The Top 10 Things to Do in Cleveland

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Stonebridge Dusk View

Maybe you’ve never considered spending your hard-earned vacation time in Cleveland. It’s certainly understandable because many people only know the city as the “Mistake by the Lake” or the home of the burning Cuyahoga River. But things have changed on the North Coast, and you might be surprised at all the cultural attractions the city on the shores of Lake Erie has to offer — great food, museums, theater, and more. The RTA buses run between most Cleveland locations and Uber just announced that they’re starting service in Cleveland, which will make getting around even easier.

Here are the Top 10 Things to Do in Cleveland:

10. Little Italy

Historic Little Italy is on Cleveland’s East Side, located on “Murray Hill” not far from Case Western Reserve University. It features charming restaurants and bakeries, art galleries, and frequent festivals and art shows.  Our favorite restaurant there is Trattoria on the Hill. If you go, try the Shrimp & Gnocchi Trattoria, which features their gnocchi served in Trattoria’s homemade cream sauce with mushrooms, scallions, and a hint of cayenne pepper. If you’re not in the mood for pasta, try the Spinach & Prosciutto Pizza with black olives, white garlic sauce, and feta cheese.

For dessert, stroll down Mayfield Road to Presti’s Bakery for a cannoli or a delicious gelato.

The Feast of the Assumption is the biggest event of the year in Little Italy. Held in August to commemorate Mary being taken to heaven, the festival is an unusual combination of Catholic religious ceremonies, carnival rides, fireworks, lots of incredible Italian food, and heavy, heavy drinking.

Little-Italy_Cleveland

Read bullet |

10 Ideas For How I’d Build A Star Wars Land At Walt Disney World

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Filmmaker George Lucas meets "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

The rumors of a forthcoming Star Wars land at Walt Disney World keep raising their heads from time to time. So I thought it would be fun to put myself in the Imagineers’ shoes and (to use their term) blue-sky some ideas for a Star Wars land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here’s what I came up with…

ITW_Chalmuns_cantina-600x394 (1)
10. A Mos Eisley Cantina Restaurant

One of the prevailing rumors surrounding a potential Star Wars land at Walt Disney World (and other parks) concerns a restaurant based on the Chalmun’s Cantina at Mos Eisley. A.J. Wolfe over at Disney Food Blog has discussed the idea of a Cantina-based quick service space potentially coming to Disneyland Paris as well as to Orlando.

This idea has a ton of potential. I can picture an animatronic version of the band playing music from the films and dishes themed to the Cantina, along with menu items that conjure up life on Tatooine. Of course, a Walt Disney World Cantina would have to be much more family-oriented than in A New Hope, but I imagine how much fun a Cantina could be for fans of all ages.

Read bullet |

The 17 Places and Things We’ll Miss Most About Living in the San Fernando Valley

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

When I was a kid they went to a little more effort to disguise the fact that it was just a toy commercial... What is this Lego movie crap? April and I about to see "Her". Date night.

17. The ArcLight movie theater at the Galleria.

Where: 15301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

Our theater attendance tended to drop the last few years as my wife’s graduate school workload increased, but when we really wanted to see something projected well and make a nice date of a movie this was our preferred indulgence.

Read bullet |

The Top 10 Tips for Surviving Summer Airline Travel

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Planes Trains Steve Martin

Vacations can be wonderful experiences, but all too often they start out at an airport, which can be one of the most frustrating, uncomfortable, and stressful places on earth.  Here’s the top ten ways to make your airline travel a good experience.  Or at least not a nightmare.

10. Pack a small refreshment bag for the end of the flight.

Purchase the wisp toothbrushes that come with toothpaste already installed. Buy a packet of facial wipes. Take a last visit to the bathroom before landing to wash up, brush your teeth, comb your hair and prepare for your day. No matter how tired you are or how long the flight, the refreshment of a small amount of grooming helps energize you and get you ready to face your journey’s destination. Just avoid changing clothes. It never turns out well unless you’re David Spade in Tommy Boy

Read bullet |

More Star Wars Land Rumors Buzzing Around Walt Disney World

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

IMG_7330

I’ve reported in the past about rumors of a Star Wars land coming to Walt Disney World. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, two attractions are closing in the near future, and these closings are leading some writers to speculate that Disney is making way for a Star Wars land at DHS.

Disney Dining is reporting that the American Idol Experience, which opened to much fanfare in 2009, will close in early 2015:

The close is not that surprising.  The show has never really gotten solid traction and it seems Disney is ready to pull the plug.

A statement was posted between the Walt Disney World Company:

“After more than five successful years, The American Idol Experience will be coming to a close at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in January 2015. Our partnership with FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment has been a great addition to the park and we are very appreciative of the amazing cast and guests who have devoted their time and talent to make this experience special and memorable. We are incredibly proud of the more than 2,000 Dream Tickets that have given guests a chance to live their very own Cinderella story and audition for ‘American Idol.’”

Over at Disney At Work, sources report that the long-running Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will close soon as well:

My sources also suggest that Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is also slated to close at the end of the year. All of this is happening to make way for the major Star Wars additions coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It will surround that end of the Echo Lake corner of the park, and supposedly extend further out as well, though in what direction(s) is uncertain. What is coming in remains to be formally announced, as the attraction is also being tied to a very anticipated follow-up series starting in 2015.

What’s interesting about the closings is that nearly all the vestiges of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a “behind-the-scenes” park will be gone. Instead of the original park idea of a glimpse behind the magic of the entertainment industry, DHS is increasingly becoming a park about the movies, music, and television programs themselves. Do both closings point to a new Star Wars land? Of course, the outcome remains to be seen, but I’ll keep you in the loop.

Read bullet |

10 Free Ways To Have Fun At Walt Disney World

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Disney_Magic_Kingdom_Panorama_08_600

Let’s face it: a trip to Walt Disney World can cost a lot, but it’s absolutely worth it. But you may not know that not everything at Disney World is expensive. Resort guests can take advantage of several experiences that enrich the trip but don’t cost a thing. (Non-resort guests can take advantage of some of them too.)

Here are ten free ways to have fun at Walt Disney World…

10. Enjoy A Boat Ride Around Bay Lake.

3793840956_45aa067d5f

Guests know that transportation is a huge part of the experience at Walt Disney World. From classic trains and old-school ferryboats to innovative monorail and linear induction technology, getting around the parks and resorts is a big part of the fun.

Taking the boat that runs from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort to Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness is a nice way to cool off with a breeze and take in the sights around Bay Lake. In addition to the resorts, check out the “ruins” of River Country and Discovery Island, both of which you’ll see along the way, and marvel at the road that passes under the canal between the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, near the Contemporary Resort.

Read bullet |

NBC Declares Jerusalem Television’s City of Gold

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
DIG

The show’s creator, Israeli-turned-Hollywood golden child, Gideon Raff.

The Jerusalem Post reports that NBC will begin shooting a new action-adventure series, Dig, in Jerusalem this week:

Israel’s capital city is slated to play a central role in storyline of the series that portrays FBI agents uncovering a conspiracy of the Old City while investigating the murder of an American archaeologist.

…”The filming of “Dig” will be a boon for the production industry in Jerusalem, drawing more of them to come film here, create new jobs and encourage investments in the city,” Bennett added.

NBC’s first large-scale production filmed in Jerusalem, will reportedly be broadcast in the United States at the end of 2014.

While American versions of Israeli shows (In Therapy and Homeland, another creation by Dig’s Gideon Raff, come to mind) have made their way to the small screen, this will be the first time an American television show is shot in Israel. According to the Wall Street Journal,  Dig was co-developed by Keshet Media Group, an Israeli media company, and is expected to make its premiere on the USA Network, with a possible second run on SyFy.

“When we combine Hollywood’s creative potential with Jerusalem’s historic backdrop, it will result in the ability to connect hundreds of millions of viewers around the world to this unique and beautiful city. There is an undeniable inspiration and creative energy in Jerusalem, which is why it has become a center for international film production,” said Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, in a statement.

Read bullet |

The Executive Behind Walt Disney World’s MyMagic+ Will Leave The Company

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Nick Franklin

Disney Parks has announced that Nick Franklin, who held the cool title of Executive Vice President for Next Generation Experience at the company, is leaving Disney after 17 years. Franklin spearheaded the massive My Magic+ effort and has served the longest on Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs’ Executive Committee.

“Nick let us know that after 17 successful years with Disney, he wanted to help other companies innovate in how they provide products and services to their customers, much like he did here in leading the development of MyMagic+,” Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said. “We want to thank Nick for his tremendous accomplishments throughout his tenure with Disney.”

In 2009, Disney tapped Franklin, then the head of its global business and real-estate development teams, to lead a secretive project that was referred to internally as “NextGen.” That work ultimately produced MyMagic+, the many-tentacled technology project at Walt Disney World that includes a reservation system allowing visitors to book attraction times up two months before their trips and microchip-embedded wristbands that interact with sensors installed throughout the resort.

Franklin served as essentially a CEO for the MyMagic+ project, and his team grew from 35 to more than a thousand employees. The company has already hailed Franklin’s efforts as a success, despite rumors that the effort went over budget and took longer to implement than expected. Disney is looking to expand the program beyond Walt Disney World.

Although Disney executives have been hesitant to discuss MyMagic+’s financial performance, they say Disney World visitors are embracing the technology. The company’s chief financial officer, Jay Rasulo, told analysts recently that more than 75 percent of guests staying in Disney-owned hotels are now reserving ride times ahead of their trips, as are more than 25 percent of day visitors.

The company says that guests who plan more of their trip schedules in advance ultimately spend more time and money at Disney World, rather than visiting rival attractions. The project, which includes enhanced data collection, is also designed to make purchases easier and to give Disney more personal information about its guests, ultimately leading to more spending on food, souvenirs and other items.

Franklin also negotiated the deals that led to Hong Kong Disneyland and the forthcoming Shanghai Disneyland.

Read bullet |

Yo Ho Ho and My Bottles of Rum

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

Hi PJ gang! I’m back from an adventure-filled trip to St. Croix, where I helped a friend capture and study America’s rarest lizard, and met some interesting characters along the way. You’ll hear those stories another day soon; for now, let’s talk about the TSA.

On my last morning on island, my friend took me to the Cruzan rum factory. While Cruzan was acquired by Jim Beam several years ago, it’s still operated by the same local family that has run it for generations. You can tell locals are very proud of their brand; the other rum factory on the island is Captain Morgan, which has only been operating from St. Croix for two years, and if you walk into nearly any bar, you’ll see rows upon rows of delectable Cruzan rum varieties, and perhaps one or two bottles of Captain Morgan stuck in the corner.

I had just enough time to squeeze in a factory tour before heading to the airport. At the gift shop, I was bummed that I couldn’t pick up any nice large bottles to take back, because I wasn’t checking my bags. The tour guide told me I could buy the 18-bottle variety pack of airplane bottles in different flavors, and then dump them all into my TSA-mandated clear plastic toiletries bag. Sounded clever; other people had done it!

My 18 airplane-sized bottles of rum fit neatly into my plastic bag. I hugged my friend, and prepared for the journey home. However, in the TSA line, I was stopped.

Agents informed me that the scanner told them I was selected for additional screening. My bags were hauled onto a table for examination. The agent assigned to me held up my plastic bag and said, “Too many.”

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Everything fits in my bag. All the bottles are the correct size. I thought I was allowed to take whatever I wanted that would fit.”

The TSA agent told me my bag was too large. That confused me as well; I told her I fly frequently, and I’ve always used that size bag, often full to the brim (I have a beauty regimen, okay!), and I’ve never been stopped or informed it was incorrect.

“You come from the big cities,” she told me. “They’re too busy to stop you, they have too many people. We have plenty of time here, so we enforce all the rules.”

Now came the reckoning. Do I ditch my cosmetics, or the rum?

Read bullet |

The Ultimate TV Geek

Friday, May 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

CNN reports on Eretz Nehederet, Marcus’s first creation.

Omri Marcus is the #1 TV Geek you’ve never heard of. An Israeli journalist-turned-hit TV comedy writer, Marcus made it big thanks to his scientific understanding of comedy, a theory he delves into in a recent interview with Tablet magazine. The dialogue provides a fascinating look at Israeli television, an industry still cutting its teeth thanks to decades of gross nationalization. Until the introduction of foreign channels, the country lived off of one government-run station that began broadcasting in 1968. Color transmissions, a topic of great bureaucratic battles, didn’t begin until 1983. Hitting the industry on the cusp of change, Marcus, 34, helped launch the nation’s greatest comedy hit Eretz Nehederet (This Wonderful Country – think: SNL meets The Daily Show) from a hall closet next to a ladies’ bathroom. Now he’s sought out by TV execs around the globe.

Not ironically (he is a comedian, after all) Marcus made a funny observation about the one thing all TV writers’ rooms have in common:

“One of the best things about my work is that I’ve been to so many writer’s rooms all around the world and they’re basically the same anywhere,” Marcus said. “They are all dominated by a group of neurotic Jews. You know, my dream is to create the world’s largest Jewish writers’ room: German Jews and British Jews and American Jews and Israelis, all sitting together and writing jokes about how they’re not getting laid.”

So, do Jews run TV? Not quite:

“The fact that the world is this global village allows you to reduce the risks in making TV,” Marcus said. “You learn a lot from other countries, and we are all, after all, just storytellers. The stories we tell may differ in details, but they should all be appealing, with well-crafted characters, leaving viewers feeling as if they’ve spent their time wisely watching your show. By learning from each other, we’re able to create great, longer-lasting, and more meaningful content.”

Along with developing a rather scientific dating game involving Google glasses, the Huff-Po contributor maintains BizarreTV, a Facebook page where he chronicles the strangest television shows he’s encountered around the globe. My personal favorite is While You Were Sleeping:

How would you feel if you woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that you’re in the middle of a TV game show? ‘While You Were Sleeping’ is the first game show that gives you money while you’re fast asleep! In each episode one couple plays for a chance to win a cash prize. The twist – only one partner knows what’s going on! To stay in the game they must answer the trivia questions correctly, or risk performing a crazy and hilarious challenge – without waking up their partner!

Other shows featured include The Shower, in which contestants sing in the shower before a live studio audience, Guys in Disguise, a dating show that requires a woman to choose from 2 secret admirers dressed in bizarre costumes and I Wanna Marry “Harry” a new FOX dating game featuring a Prince Harry lookalike.

Currently working under an exclusive, multi-year deal with European media conglomerate ProSieben, chances are Marcus’s shows will be hitting American shores for decades to come.

Read bullet |

5 Essential Hacks for Camping with Children

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

shutterstock_87216670

Camping season approaches, and spending time in the wilderness with your children is a joy but it can be a challenge too. Here are my five essential hacks for making sure the camping experience is a happy one for your family.

1) Bring Lots of Baby Wipes

shutterstock_37772569

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your kids are out of diapers and you don’t think you need baby wipes any more, think again. Baby wipes aren’t just for diaper changes. The cooling, cleansing feel of a baby wipe makes all parts of a camping trip better. We pack three or four containers for each trip. In the morning, use baby wipes to clean faces and hands before breakfast. After breakfast, the tough wipes can clean out pots and pans so the food ends up in your trash bag and not on the ground near your campsite. Swish water in the pans after you’re done and they’re ready for the next meal. During the hot hours of the day, a baby wipe cools and refreshes the skin. At night, baby wipes clean sticky marshmallows off delicate fingers and faces. Which brings me to…

Read bullet |

Breaking Disney Parks Rumor: Is Soarin’ Getting A New Film?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

A classic...

Anyone who has visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland knows how cool Soarin’ is. In an earlier post on the 10 things you must do at Disney World, I referred to Soarin’ as “a feast for the senses” and “an engineering marvel.” The uniquely immersive attraction opened at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001 and at Epcot in 2005. Both attractions use the same incredible film highlighting sites up and down the state of California.

We’re now hearing a rumor that Soarin’ may get an update. The folks at WDWMagic, one of my favorite sources for Disney Parks news, rumors, and gossip, reports:

The use of the film from Disney California Adventure was felt by many as a temporary stop gap until Disney could shoot a movie specifically for the Walt Disney World edition of Soarin’, or a new version that could include both the east coast and west coast. We are now almost 10 years since opening, with the same California based film playing.

Well now it seems we are closer than ever to a new film for Epcot’s Soarin’. In the next month, film crews working on the new film are planning flights over Walt Disney World, and specifically Epcot. It is speculated that this new footage will be part of a Soarin’ over the World, which will include sights from around the world, including Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Keep in mind that we haven’t heard anything remotely official from Disney yet, and also that rumors of updates to the attraction have been around for years. WDWMagic even admits that speculation has been around almost since Soarin’ opened. But wouldn’t it be cool to see new footage? If you’ll indulge me to dream a little, wouldn’t an experience that changes every time you ride Soarin’ – like the new Star Tours – be so much fun?

What are your thoughts, Disney Parks fans?

Read bullet |

Disney’s Billion Dollar Theme Park Gamble

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

0710ZX_001294MA1-640x425

Guests travel to Walt Disney World seeking the ultimate vacation experience, and Disney continues to develop new ways to deliver the best possible vacation. The company has invested over a billion dollars in their MyMagic+ system, which employs wearable technology and RFID (radio frequency identification) chips to fine tune and customize guests’ experiences. Disney has high hopes for MyMagic+, but so far many guests aren’t sold on the idea.

A recent MSN Money profile on MyMagic+ reveals the technology behind this new system, Disney’s expectations for the program, and guests’ decidedly mixed reviews.

It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips — which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.

That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website — all voluntary — help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The goal is to offer people what Tom Staggs, head of the company’s parks and resorts unit, calls “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience” — allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday.

Read bullet |

18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With 49 states buried in snow and most schools in the northeastern U.S. looking at anywhere from 7-10 snow days to make up, our country is ready for a warm up of national proportions. Throw on your heat lamps, put on a bathing suit under that fleece, and cuddle up to these 18 (the number of chai or “life”) warm images of sun, beach and desert (sweet, hot desert) from Israel.

Waking up before sunrise - totally worth it! </p>
<p><a href=Just an abundance of #beauty. #HulaValley #Israel #freedom #River #Mountain #Green

Good morning! בוקר טוב! Bonne journee! Доброе утро! Всем прекрасного солнечного дня! #flowers #instaflowers #nature #4simply4 #ig_treasures

Flowers of the Negev Desert. Цветы пустыни Негев. #israel #ig_israel #gf_israel #e_srael #hapitria #allunique_pro #israeli_moments #Israel_PhotoGraphers #ig_treasures #4simply4 #nature #desert #negev #naturehippys #Naturehippys #ig_captures #ig_captures_nature #power_group #ihavenicepic #nature_uc #awesome_foto #floralfix #_nature_features #ig_diamondshotz

Read bullet |

Disney Raises Theme Park Ticket Prices Again

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

IMG_1824

Over the weekend, Disney Parks announced a ticket price increase for Walt Disney World, effective this week. From the Orlando Sentinel:

Disney’s Magic Kingdom guests will have to fork over a few extra dollars for single-day park admission.

The tickets will cost $99 for adults and children 10 and up.

This $4 price hike keeps Magic Kingdom the most expensive Disney park.

A one-day ticket for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will go from $90 to $94.

“Our pricing reflects the high quality and breadth of experiences we offer and our ongoing commitment to investing in our parks,” Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius said Saturday. “We offer a variety of ticket options that provide a great value, and find that most guests select multi-day tickets that offer additional savings.”

This increase was the second in less than a year. The company did not announce a hike in prices for Disneyland on Saturday, but insiders expect an increase in the not too distant future.

Many of the Disney fans I’ve spoken with bristled at the higher prices, but it’s worth noting that purchasing multi-day ticket packages can ease the blow a little – and the no expiration option, though expensive, allows guests to save tickets for years at a time.

Over at Theme Park Insider, Robert Niles put the price hike in perspective:

As long as more people keep going to the parks each year, theme parks will keep increasing their prices. Disney World’s attendance is up, so it’s just supply-and-demand for Disney to raise its prices. If you think Disney World’s gotten too expensive, don’t bother complaining. Disney’s looking at attendance numbers when setting prices, not people moaning online.

The fact of the matter is that dyed-in-the-wool Disney fans and other guests who really want to visit Walt Disney World will suck it up and pay the higher ticket prices. Even with the increased admission, Disney World still provides a tremendous value.

Read bullet |

16 Protest Photos: A World in Chaos

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

Kiev in in flames and Caracas is rioting.

Here are some pictures from protests happening around the world via Instagram.

Change is in the air.

KIEV

#euromaidan #kiev #ukraine

#euromaidan #kiev

#euromaidan #kiev #ukraine

#euromaidan

#wakeupamerica #kiev #euromaidan

My American Instagram followers can suck it if they don't like what they see #euromaidan #kiev #ukraine

Read bullet |

The 10 Things You Must Do at Disney World

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

98252c6095e011e3958f12eb3ce597d4_8

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2011. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Wait… What’s a 2011 list doing in a 2013 compilation the sensible person asks? My excuse: this article is one of PJ Lifestyle’s biggest hits, in 2013 drawing more readers than many new lists published that year. It’s one of Chris Queen’s first pieces that demonstrated he’d do a fantastic job on the Disney beat for PJ Lifestyle. I’ve given it a a face-lift with some new images for the age of Instagram… Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months.

I’m a major Disney fan — I grew up on Disney, and it has been a key influence throughout my life. From films to music to television series there’s always been some type of Disney entertainment playing in the background. I can’t think of a period in my life without Disney.

Growing up in a family that’s nutty for Disney, Walt Disney World has always been our favorite vacation destination. My parents honeymooned there and they first took me as an infant. By my count, I’ve been to Walt Disney World 25 times, though others in my family think I may have been more times. Since my nieces were born, we’ve tried to make our pilgrimages at least once a year.

I love planning our trips to Walt Disney World almost as much as I love going there. Planning helps us build anticipation and makes our trips that much sweeter. There’s no greater excitement than the expectancy that comes with a Walt Disney World trip.

My whole family have become experts for our friends and acquaintances when it comes to Walt Disney World. People constantly ask us for tips and trip-planning advice. In fact, my sister and I have talked about opening a travel agency specializing in Disney trips.

So without further ado, here’s a list of ten essential Walt Disney World experiences. If you’ve never been or if you haven’t been in a long time, hopefully these tips will help you plan and know what to expect. If you’ve been many times like me, maybe this list can inspire some good-natured debate about what’s best at Walt Disney World.

Next: Heaven for the Disney collector…

Read bullet |