Main Street, U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom Park

Fantasyland Forever – Photography at Walt Disney World

posted on September 30th, 2009 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Hi, I’m Gene Duncan — part of a photography team charged with the creation and execution of all things photographic for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the magic and beauty of Walt Disney World Resort for 35 years, usually with camera in hand. Granted, I have also had extraordinary access to areas not usually visited by our guests.

Five years ago, I spent an afternoon at the Walt Disney World Horticulture compound, commonly referred to as the “tree farm”, wandering through the topiary construction area. Millions of our guests have admired the finished pieces inside our parks, but few have seen them before or after their days “onstage”. I love “getting lost” there when I can …

This image is one of a series I made noting the ultimate whimsy in truly inanimate objects. Each time I look at it, I find something new I had not noticed before. The original transparency was made using a Fuji 680 medium format camera, and then converted to black and white.

From time to time you can expect to see some of my work here on the Disney Parks Blog. Let me know what you think.

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Chefs Offer Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on September 30th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Sure, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has just begun but we’re not waiting to give you a taste of what’s to come in October. The Disney Parks Blog has an early peek at a few of the more than 250 amazing chefs scheduled to appear during the six-week event.

Our first featured chef is a Festival favorite. Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” will be demonstrating his cooking for a third year on October 25. We’ve posted video showing some of his secrets on preparing Green Peppercorn Steak au Poivre.

Green Peppercorn Steak Au Poivre

Ingredients
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
4 tenderloin steaks, each about 6 – 8 ounces
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbsp. canned green peppercorns
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. cream
1 cup demi-glace (brown sauce)

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (so you can keep the steaks warm).

Put 2 tablespoons of the butter and oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. When the butter melts, add the steaks and turn the heat to high. Sear on the first side for about 3 minutes, then turn and sear on the second side for 2 – 3 minutes. Lower the heat and cook until just short of your chosen level of doneness, about 7 minutes total for medium-rare. Remove to a utility platter and keep warm in the oven whilst you make the sauce.

Pour out any fat from the skillet leaving the brown bits in there. Add the remaining butter and shallots and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the green peppercorns and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mustard, cream and demi-glace and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.

Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

We’re also celebrating with more of our favorite cooks — the Deen Brothers. Jamie Deen and Bobby Deen will appear on October 3 at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. They’ll be hosting a “Family and Friends in the Kitchen” three-course lunch. But first they’re sharing their aunt’s recipe for Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad.

Aunt Peggy’s Pickled Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad

Our Aunt Peggy doesn’t serve a meal without this delicious salad (We make a version of it to serve at The Lady & Sons restaurant). She sometimes makes a variation with banana peppers or bell peppers added in. It’s such a simple, healthy side, and all you need to get dirty is your cutting board and one bowl. Its fresh garden flavor is a terrific complement to just about any main course, but we especially like it with the Honey Mustard Baked Chicken in our newest book, “Take It Easy,” or any kind of pork chop.

Ingredients
1 pound cucumbers (about 3 cucumbers), peeled and thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
In a bowl, toss together the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4 to 6

Culinary demonstrations will be held daily during the International Food & Wine Festival for a fee. Our Festival Welcome Center has more details.

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Insider Tips For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

posted on September 30th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Tweets to our @DisneyParks Twitter account show us that there’s plenty that you’re looking forward to at this year’s Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom Park.

Early favorites have been our exclusive events: Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade and the “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks. If you haven’t seen it, the parade is unique. It begins with a ride by the Headless Horseman and showcases Disney characters in costumes. During the fireworks, Disney villains go trick-or-treating in the sky.

To make the event special for you, we’re offering some insider tips:

  • Look for the white balloons throughout the park to find the trick-or-treat locations
  • Trick-or-treat lines get shorter as the night goes on
  • To purchase your Pirate’s League experience, call 407-WDW-CREW early as the location is only open until 8 p.m. on party nights
  • View the second parade, it’s less crowded
  • The candy mix is the same at every treat location, so there’s no need to “hunt” for the good stuff around the park
  • While there will be event-themed merchandise throughout the park, visit Merchant of Venus in Tomorrowland as that location will be the Halloween headquarters

You should know that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is the only opportunity for the family to dress up in Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat at the Magic Kingdom Park.

There are several more parties between now and closing day on November 1. Parties are slated for:

October 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31
November 1

And remember, this is a separately priced event. Valid special event theme park tickets are required. Go to www.disneyworld.com/halloween or call 407/W-DISNEY to purchase your tickets.

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Disney Volunteer Celebration Spreads

posted on September 29th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Our “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” celebration may have started in Chicago with Mickey and Minnie but it certainly didn’t end there — it spread around the nation and into Canada.

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day in Los Angeles, CA

In California, Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger, celebrities and 125 volunteers helped construct frames of houses to help low-income families. As part of the volunteer effort, Teri Hatcher and James Denton hammered away to build Lynwood homes.

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day in Miami, FL

Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and the Disney VoluntEARS joined the community around the Miami River in South Florida for volunteer work. The projects included shoreline restoration, enlarging a community garden, landscaping and other work to revitalize the community. Disney characters Donald and Daisy Duck helped with the volunteer work.

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day in Atlanta, GA

Also, Disney Parks and Resorts joined volunteers to revitalize Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta, GA. Volunteers constructed an amphitheater, planted and painted to beautify the facility and the surrounding area. Disney characters Goofy and Pluto were also “digging” the volunteer effort at the YMCA.

And volunteers in Toronto helped revitalize the grounds at the Toronto Zoo – they painted, planted and cleaned up the public zoo areas.

Remember, if you perform a similar day of volunteer service for a participating organization beginning on January 1, you’ll receive a one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme park. When the program launches, it’ll be as easy as signing up, volunteering and then redeeming your ticket.

In upcoming weeks, we’ll be spreading the volunteer message throughout the nation. We’re working with Southwest Airlines to provide transportation for a 20-city tour that’ll include a few surprises. We’ll be posting updates on the @DisneyParks Twitter account and on The Disney Parks Blog.

Here are some details you need to know: Must pre-register and sign up for eligible volunteer opportunity at disneyparks.com. Ticket quantities for this program are limited. Must be at least age 6 to participate. Other terms and conditions apply. For details, see disneyparks.com in the United States and Puerto Rico. In Canada, see disneyparks.ca.

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Disney Launches ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ TV Spots

posted on September 29th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


There’s no doubt that our “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” announcement has generated excitement here at Disney Parks. And now, there’s more.

We’re premiering two unique television spots featuring the Muppets and celebrities James Denton and Taye Diggs. They’re helping announce how a day of volunteer service will get you a one-day ticket to one of the theme parks at Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort – for free.

In our first video, watch what happens when Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Denton join forces with community volunteers to construct a home.

And in our second video, Taye Diggs inspires Mrs. Piggy and friends to finish a volunteer project and then celebrate at Disney Parks.

“Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” will begin on Jan. 1, 2010. But don’t wait to learn more. We’ve posted a special page at www.DisneyParks.com or www.DisneyParks.ca in Canada.

Our friends in legal want to be sure you know: Must pre-register and sign up for eligible volunteer opportunity at disneyparks.com. Ticket quantities for this program are limited. Must be at least age 6 to participate. Other terms and conditions apply. For details, see disneyparks.com in the United States and Puerto Rico. In Canada, see disneyparks.ca.

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Give a Day of Volunteer Service in 2010, Get a Day of Disney Theme Park Fun – Free

posted on September 29th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


UPDATE: Hats off to each of the one million volunteers!

Thank you to all who have participated. The last day to use the free Disney Theme Park tickets distributed in this program was December 15, 2010.

Although you can no longer use a free Disney Theme Park ticket received in connection with this program, you can still continue to give back to your community by signing up for volunteer opportunities through HandsOn Network.

If you have additional questions please contact customer service.

And don’t forget to share your Disney Parks memories!

Breaking news…as we just announced on Good Morning America, if you give a day of volunteer service to a participating organization, you’ll get one day of free admission to a Disney Park. It’s a first-of-its-kind program we’re calling “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day.”

And yes, it’s that simple — a free one-day ticket to a Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme park for guests who volunteer a day of service to a participating organization. We’re celebrating you and the good things you do for your communities.

Our program officially begins on January 1, 2010. When it’s live, you’ll be able to visit www.DisneyParks.com or www.DisneyParks.ca and search for an eligible volunteer project. After completing the volunteer work, an e-mail will be sent from Disney with a link to print out a voucher to redeem at a theme park for a free one-day, one-park admission. And if you’re unable to use the ticket, it can be donated to a charity designated by Disney.

With this announcement, we’re looking for 1 million people with a passion to make a difference. And we’re working with HandsOn Network to do it. They’re helping make sure you find the perfect volunteer work. And many of the program’s volunteer opportunities will be for the family.

Also, you’ll notice that we’re raising awareness for grass-roots community volunteerism in more cities than just Chicago. Disney VoluntEARS are joining local volunteers in cities across the United States and Canada today. Work projects involving more than 1,000 volunteers are happening in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami and across Canada — Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

We’ll be posting more details about the program and how it may involve your city on the @DisneyParks Twitter account and right here.

Of course, there are some official details you should know about: Must pre-register and sign up for eligible volunteer opportunity at disneyparks.com. Ticket quantities for this program are limited. Must be at least age 6 to participate. Other terms and conditions apply. For details, see disneyparks.com in the United States and Puerto Rico. In Canada, see disneyparks.ca.

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Halloween Screams Debuts at Disneyland

posted on September 28th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company


“Halloween Screams” is also new for Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. The all-new fireworks spooktacular will haunt the nighttime sky throughout the Halloween season. “Master of Scare-omonies” Jack Skellington, from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, appears in a flash at Sleeping Beauty Castle and presides over the Halloween pyrotechnics extravaganza as haunting melodies fill the air. Classic Disney villains like Maleficent, Ursula the Sea Witch and Oogie Boogie join in the “spirit” of the celebration, and even Zero, Jack’s faithful ghost dog, makes an appearance.

To get a glimpse of the new show, see the video.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Magic Kingdom Park Transforms For ‘Halloween Party’

posted on September 28th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Before any party begins, Disney Parks sets the stage.

And for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, it’s quite a stage — it’s Main Street, U.S.A, Town Square, Mickey’s Country House and other locations you know so well.

Sure, this year’s Party is already in full swing but how we got there is worth a look. We’re launching a first-of-it’s kind video showing how dozens of Cast Members transformed the park with decorations. The decoration work took about five nights, but we’re showing you the process in less than a minute with time-lapse. You’ll see how Jack-o’-lanterns appeared on Main Street and scarecrows appeared in Town Square. It’s hard to take your eyes off Cinderella Castle.

The video is exciting but I say Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is best when experienced in person. The Magic Kingdom Park comes alive this time of year with unique music, special lighting and brilliant costumes. You, too, should take part. The tone of the event is well, “not-so-scary,” and is appropriate for children of all ages.

You’ve got several chances to dress up in costume and collect treats, as well as see the finished decorations between now and closing night on November 1. Parties will be held from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. on the following dates:

* September 29
* October 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31
* November 1

You should know that this is a separately priced event. Valid special event theme park tickets are required. For information on tickets, visit our updated site.

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Disney Parks Blog Launches

posted on September 28th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


All journeys begin with a single step.

And this is it for the Disney Parks Blog — an official first leap into the blogosphere for Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line and Disney vacation experiences worldwide.
Disney Parks Blog
Welcome, I’m chief blogger and social media director Thomas Smith.

Beginning today, we’re offering the latest, official information about our destinations as well as some exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at what makes Disney Parks the most magical place on earth. Expect to hear from Imagineers, horticulturists, chefs and other interesting Cast Members.

Walt Disney listened as he wandered the parks. We’ll listen here.

We look forward to your comments on the blog. As with many blogs, comments are moderated. You can find our comment policies in our Terms of Use. Our moderators will keep posts on-topic, friendly and free of inappropriate comments.

Getting started is easy. Simply register and join the conversation.

There are plenty of exciting plans for the Disney Parks Blog so we hope you continue to check us out and connect.

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Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort Features New Attractions – Ghost Galaxy at Space Mountain

posted on September 28th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company


Hi, I’m Heather, Social Media Manager at Disneyland Resort. On the Disney Parks Blog we’re offering some behind-the-scenes looks and updates from around our properties.

Our first update is a big one as Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Parks have a whole new look. Mickey and Friends are decked out in their Halloween best, and the Disney Villains have some tricks up their sleeves for Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. Guests will enjoy the spooky atmosphere and this year’s new attractions.

Space Mountain riders will be launched into an uncharted and haunted section of the universe on the new Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Out of the darkness and swirling galaxies of Space Mountain, ghosts try to pluck riders from their seats as they speed through space. The drops and curves of the journey are even scarier with piercing screams and haunting music.

Check out the video below, and you just might get goosebumps.

Scare alert: If you find these haunting thrills too frightening you can still enjoy the outside of Space Mountain. The mountain’s exterior will transform into a show that includes new lights, audio and eerie images.

Can’t visit the Parks during the Halloween time but still want to be a part of the fun? Then go to www.disneyland.com/halloween and check out the games and crafts. You can play with the Disney Villains and print out coloring sheets and fun masks.

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