September 12, 2019

Dutch are official test market for Disney+

Filed under: Dutch first,Film,Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:04 pm

As of today, The Netherlands has become the exclusive test market for the new Disney streaming service, unadventurously called Disney+. The country will be able to enjoy the new service for free until November 11, after which ‘The House of Mouse’ will charge 6,99 euro a month for it. On November 12, it will also be made available in the United States and will have more productions added to it. Other countries in North America, Europe and the rest of the world will surely follow.

People in The Netherlands can also watch their Disney favourites on Android and iOS devices as well as PS4 and Xbox One. According to the screenshots we’ve seen on Twitter (see screenshot), Disney+ is offering Marvel films (Avengers’ Endgame will only be available in December), Star Wars (all the films including Solo and The Last Jedi – a big deal because the first films are not Disney productions), Pixar and National Geographic.

Although all in English, some of the productions also have Dutch audio. No other languages are available yet. By testing Disney+ first in the Netherlands, Disney wanted to weed out issues, which sounds more like beta testing. According to one Dutch journalist on Twitter, the search function does not work, and I agree after having seen the screenshot of random suggestions, based on two or three letters, not even in the right order.

Reactions are mixed, but quite positive, ranging from ‘Why do I have to pay for another streaming service?’ [you don’t, but North Americans pay for many services for the same shows we all get on Netflix], ‘If I buy this for my youngest son for his birthday, I’ll be spending more money on him than my other two kids and that’s a dilemma’ to ‘I don’t need a bunch of remakes’ and ‘it’s all Disney princesses anyway’.

Free is always nice, but the true test is who will stay on after it’s no longer free.


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August 17, 2008

1970’s Junior Woodchucks Guidebook

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 12:31 pm

A book that has been in my personal library since I was a kid is the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. No, not the fictional one, a real one (although I am not certain about the actual name, since I lost its cover).

Wikipedia describes the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook as follows: “In Disney’s fictional universe, The Junior Woodchucks are the Boy Scouts of America-like youth organization to which Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, belong. […] Junior Woodchucks always carry with them a copy of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook, a fictional guidebook filled with detailed and pertinent information about whatever country or situation the Woodchucks find themselves. Its depth of coverage is remarkable, considering that it is a small paperback book.”

In the pre-internet age such bottomless founts of knowledge were a popular fantasy. The most famous among them being the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which appears in the novel of the same name by Douglas Adams, and the Memex device by Vannevar Bush, which is widely credited as being the precursor of the World Wide Web. (An early version of the web was called Enquire, after the book about everything, Enquire Within Upon Everything, which I helped proofread for Project Gutenberg).

In the 1970s somebody published an actual version of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in Dutch, in slightly larger than pocket format, and I bought a second hand copy of it. I have long since lost the cover, the front matter and the first fourteen pages, so I am no longer even sure about its title. Presumably it ran along the lines of Walt Disney’s Jonge Woudlopershandboek. In the same series the now defunct publisher Amsterdam Book published “Walt Disney’s Groot Goochelbook” (Walt Disney’s Book of Magic), which contained magic, scientific and occult tricks. It was published in 1973, translated from a 1972 Italian version, and resembled the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in size, paper type and so on, so I am guessing both are from the same publisher and the same time.

What I always found remarkable about this real life version was its depth of coverage. The guidebook went into all kinds of subjects that are useful for trekking: how to make a camp fire (it even goes as far as differentiating fires depending on what you want to cook), how to tell time by looking at flowers, how to estimate distances; then into guidelines useful for the city dweller: how to dry a book (if the pages are stuck together, put it in the oven!), how long to sunbathe (a table shows the time for each body part!), how to take care of your record collection; and also into more esoteric lessons on what names mean, how to decipher blazons, the meanings of onomatopoeic words, and so on.

As a kid, I thought the guide on how to remove stains from clothing was worth the price of the book alone.

(Images from top to bottom: how to make campfires, how to make book-ends from a card board box, how to use flowers to tell the time.)

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January 13, 2008

Most visitors still to Efteling; loses number 1 brand spot to Ikea

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 6:51 pm

Illustration: Houses at Efteling in Anton Pieck style, photo by Danny Haak. Some rights reserved. 

Amusement park Efteling is still the most visited attraction in the Netherlands according to RTL (Dutch). The zoos at the number two and three spots of 2006 changed places last year; Blijdorp came in second, and Burgers third. Burgers feels the swap can be explained by the extra attention Blijdorp got after gorilla Bokito escaped there.

Efteling suffered a blow in another ranking though: that of strongest brand of the Netherlands. Where it led two years ago, now it has to let foreign companies Ikea (1st) and Google (2nd) ahead. The amusement park based in Noord-Brabant comes in fourth, according to the ad agency Consult Brand Strategy (Dutch, PDF), after Cliniclowns (care clowns).

In 1952 Efteling opened its doors to the public. The park was designed by Anton Pieck, whose pictures of small winding streets with crooked, cosy houses found a welcome echo in the park’s architecture and landscaping. Originally little more than a tea house in green surroundings, the park soon added its fairy tale forest with life size depictions of well known fairy tales (trick question: name three of the seven dwarfs from Snow White), and from the 1970s onwards it acquired all the usual amusement park traits such as dark rides, fast rides, a hotel and a golf course.

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