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Disney World Opts for 50th Anniversary Celebration with Zero Nostalgia

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You no doubt have seen the new commercial for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration”. If you somehow missed it, here it is:

The commercial shows banners and the “Beacon of Magic” lighting we have been promised for the event, but not much else. The song choice is “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, which is odd, given that not much new is actually announced to open for this event, other than a delayed Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, you know, a ride that opened at Disneyland Paris in 2014 and was supposed to open at EPCOT in 2020. Disney stalled, delayed, and even halted construction on other attractions planned for the 50th anniversary, most notably TRON Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but they also haven’t hit a ride opening deadline in Florida in many years, so we expected those to be a little late to the party anyway.

Before we start blaming the pandemic for this situation, let’s also remember that Universal Orlando Resort completed the VelociCoaster during the pandemic, a large-scale roller coaster attraction with zero animatronics. That’s not wildly different from what TRON or Guardians of the Galaxy are, with the exception of being mostly indoors, in gravity buildings that were pretty-much completed before a park closed in Orlando in March 2020. Smaller, regional theme parks completed many of their rides that were being constructed at the time as well, many of them debuting those attractions this summer.

Regardless, the broken promises of new attractions are not even the reason I am writing this. I could easily forgive the delay of major additions if given something, anything actually celebrating 50 years of Walt Disney World. As of now, there is no museum aspect, no major ride restoration, no nostalgia-laden advertising, and no press release that even mentions anything from the past.

What was striking to me about the commercial, for a monumental 50th anniversary, is that it has zero references to the storied history and legacy of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. There is no mention of Walt Disney and his last great dream, or even a nostalgic look at vintage footage of guests and characters in the parks. They took the time to put 16 “hidden” references in the commercial, yet none of them are related to anything other than Disney films. We are not celebrating 50 years of Disney movies on October 1st, by the way.

Here’s a recent Disney Parks ad that actively grabbed hold of your emotions and memories of the past in a thoughtful way:

The above isn’t even an anniversary ad, it was just for a short return of an old parade. Mind you, Disneyland Resort typically shows an understanding for what people love about the place, and that dates back to their 50th birthday.

Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration was not littered with new attractions either, but it did embrace the park’s incredible history. A film starring Steve Martin to recap the five decades that came before played at the Main Street Opera House and was accompanied by a thoughtful and well-curated historical exhibit. Classic attractions were also restored and added new magic, such as Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and more. This formula worked so well that Disneyland has replicated it over and over again, parlaying it into a massively successful Diamond Celebration in 2015 and decades of nostalgic merchandise that they have sold since 2005.

Ads for Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary celebrated nostalgia too, along with the original song, “Remember the Magic”:

Smaller amusement parks are even doing a better job than Disney World on capturing these feelings, all while celebrating their key milestones. Knott’s Berry Farm is marking 100 years this year, and in celebration, you’ll find a new attraction that pays homage to a long-lost one, resurrected meet and greet characters from the past, and photo-ops for extinct attractions. These are not wildly expensive things, they’re just thoughtful and show some level of care.

What is so remarkable about a 50th anniversary is that guests who have visited over all 50 years are still with us and can return to celebrate this special place. Walt Disney World has been visited by so many people over these decades, and it’s not just people who are active fans on social media. There are millions of people who have an emotional connection to memories made at these parks and resorts, memories that pre-date the attention span of the management currently in the company and their marketing strategy. Doing small, yet thoughtful things playing on our nostalgia means something to us, the most loyal and loving of guests, and shows people that you care about more than just their money. A golden anniversary is not the time to look at your audience as numbers, it is a time to embrace their feelings for your destinations and establish a connection with them, showing that you understand what they cherish about it.

With 126 days left until October 1st, 2021, I think I speak for everyone in saying we hope something will materialize, something showing an appreciation for returning guests and the incredible feats that were pulled off in 1971 and beyond.

We are pleading with The Walt Disney Company to care about this anniversary before it is too late. There is no do-over on a 50th birthday celebration.

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Andhra Pradesh sees 184 Covid cases, 1 death | Visakhapatnam News

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VISAKHAPATNAM: Andhra Pradesh reported 184 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. The toll increased to 14,443 as one more patient succumbed in Krishna district and 183 patients were declared cured on Wednesday.
There are currently 2,149 active cases with 20,56,501 cumulative recoveries and 14,443 fatalities.
Chittoor reported 39 new infections on Wednesday, followed by Visakhapatnam (28) and Vizianagaram (27).
Five districts posted single-digit case numbers.

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Doom Patrol Season 4 Release Date, Cast And Plot

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No information regarding the plot of Season 4 of “Doom Patrol” has officially been confirmed, although again, due to the nature of Season 3’s ending, it’s highly likely that the team will take on larger missions due to their shared acceptance of their role as a super-team of sorts. It’s possible that we could see some recurring characters like Dorothy (Abi Monterey) and the Dead Boy Detectives make more appearances as well.

There are plenty of issues left unaddressed in Season 3 for Season 4 to tackle as well, including Robotman’s new body, Rita’s possibility of becoming a villain now that she has embraced her darker side, and Laura De Mille’s struggles in truly being a hero. Either way, the plot of Season 4 is likely to see the entire “Doom Patrol” squad deal with their newfound responsibility as a super-team, including finding the best ways to make it work as a cohesive unit. Expect to hear more about the details of “Doom Patrol” Season 4 next year.

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Beamlines cast precious light on SARS-CoV-2, emerging variants and vaccines that will stop them

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Newswise — Ultrabright light from the Advanced Photon Source continues to illuminate mysteries around coronaviruses and shape the vaccines and therapeutics protecting us against variants of concern.

It’s been nearly two years since the first outbreaks of COVID-19. In that time, facilities such as the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, have proved integral to the fight against the disease.

Building on more than a decade of research into similar viruses, scientists using the ultrabright X-rays of the APS have been instrumental in the development of vaccines and treatments against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now research has pivoted to the variants of the virus, and determining whether the approved vaccines will be effective against them.

“Time is of the essence in combating this virus. We are enormously appreciative of APS remaining open throughout the pandemic for COVID-related experiments.”  — Ian Wilson, Scripps Research.

Nearly all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, attempt to mutate in wily efforts to “escape” eradication. Some of these variants disappear as quickly as they emerge. Others linger and are classified as variants of concern (VOCs).

VOCs become highly problematic when established human means of eradicating them fail to have the desired effect. A vaccinated person’s immune system knows to produce virus-fighting antibodies when it sees certain molecular characteristics. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike protein molecule — which the APS helped researchers identify as the target site of current vaccines — has been able to mutate ever so slightly and still attach itself to human cells more readily or tightly. Depending on the degree of mutation, antibodies can then fail to recognize the mutated viruses.

Such variants and mutations of SARS-CoV-2 were always expected, and APS beamlines were used from an early date to study them.

Ian Wilson, a scientist at the Scripps Research Institute, leads a laboratory whose APS-informed work has advanced understanding of dominant and emerging variants of the virus. The Wilson lab, spearheaded by postdoctoral fellows Meng Yuan and Nicholas Wu (now an assistant professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), first looked at SARS-CoV-2 at the APS in February 2020, shortly after its genome was released.

They specifically narrowed their lens on the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein. The RBD is a part of the virus that latches onto and invades cells to increase infection. This focus helped the Wilson lab determine crystal structures of many human antibodies combined with the RBD and see exactly how antibodies target and neutralize the virus.

Ten months later, when it was reported that SARS-CoV-2 was infecting farmed mink in Denmark and that the mutated viruses were transmissible to humans, the Wilson lab built on this initial research to study the emerging variants. They initially identified vulnerable sites on the virus surface that could be targeted by neutralizing antibodies. They also identified the more conserved sites — regions on the viral surface that are often less mutated — which, when targeted by antibodies, are effective at neutralizing the virus’s emerging variants.

Conserved sites of the viral surface, it turns out, are critical to study because while the virus may relentlessly change, certain regions of its spike protein cannot accommodate mutations, as they would lose essential viral function and fitness. By changing too much, the virus wouldn’t be itself anymore. Antibodies target these sites and more changeable sites with different degrees of success.

“Only a small portion of antibodies isolated from COVID-19 patients can cross-react with related SARS-like viruses,” explained Yuan of results published in Cell Host & Microbe. “Some can neutralize these different viruses and are termed cross-neutralizing. Our study was able to reveal conserved regions on these different viruses that can be targeted by cross-neutralizing antibodies.”

In another study of the virus’s escape mechanism published in Science, the Wilson lab tested a panel of 17 neutralizing antibodies isolated from COVID-19 patients, or from mice designed to carry human cells or human genetic and physiological properties. In these tests, two mutations of the virus in the RBD were particularly able to evade a number of neutralizing antibodies. However, when more conserved sites were tested, the variants fared less well; the antibodies were still able to target the variants.

Analysis of the antibodies that bind to these conserved regions using beamline data helps researchers identify ways to resist variants more effectively and guide next-generation vaccine and treatment design.

Jonathan Abraham, an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard University, is another researcher who used the APS to examine antibody response to SARS-CoV-2. He was buried in a different project using data collected at the APS when he attended a clinical presentation about a local patient infected with SARS-CoV-2.

“[The patient] had a five-month-long infection and was receiving therapy to treat an autoimmune condition,” explained Abraham. “One of our colleagues sequenced the virus, and I remember seeing the SARS-CoV-2 RBD sequences and having an “aha!” moment.”

As detailed in Cell, Abraham studied viral sequences collected from the patient at various times during infection — from up to 152 days after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. He found that the immunocompromised patient’s virus over time evolved to acquire RBD mutations that could fool antibodies into no longer recognizing it.

When X-ray crystal structures of the antibodies were examined at the APS, it became clear that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can build a mature resistance to antibodies — and scientists can see exactly where it did so at a molecular level.

“We were compelled to move forward with experiments to better understand the significance of these mutations to receptor and neutralizing antibody binding,” said Abraham. “Many of the RBD mutations we were studying because they arose in this individual later emerged as part of variants of concern.”

Wilson and Abraham give credit to those at Argonne who worked hard to make APS beamlines available for SARS-CoV-2 research. Their dedication, professionalism and fast response times were critical.

“APS staff on numerous occasions have gone above and beyond to help us secure beam time to study SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and spike protein fragments,” said Abraham. “The Argonne technicians and scientists who work on the beamlines have simply been outstanding, and they often provided training and instruction to graduate students who were leading the SARS-CoV-2 research projects in our lab.”

“Time is of the essence in combating this virus,” said Wilson. “We are enormously appreciative of APS remaining open throughout the pandemic for COVID-related experiments.”

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