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Top Youth Soccer Stars Getting Their Kicks at Disney

posted on December 21st, 2009 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

Soccer is hot these days with the World Cup soccer tournament coming up next summer in South Africa. But if you can’t make it there, you can at least possibly see several future World Cup players at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex next week.

Disney’s Soccer Showcase, which kicks off Sunday, features the top high school soccer stars in America competing head-to-head in what is widely considered the preeminent youth soccer tournament in the nation. And to give it that World Cup feel, the Soccer Showcase will be the first youth tournament to let teams play with the official World Cup ball.

Official World Cup Ball

In all, we’re talking more than 500 teams involving nearly 10,000 athletes. Naturally, all of that high school talent is of great interest to college soccer programs everywhere. There are expected to be some 800 collegiate coaches on hand, making this a major recruitment opportunity for the country’s premier college soccer programs.

Not only are college soccer scholarships on the line for these players, but also spots on a Disney All-Star team that will get to train at the famed Chelsea Football Club Academy in London and compete against other top youth soccer teams from throughout Europe.

Trust me, if you’re a youth soccer player, this is what you really want for Christmas.

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New Walt Disney World Vacation Offer Features Free Disney Gift Card

posted on December 21st, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Quick announcement…we’re launching a new vacation package offer at Walt Disney World Resort and it’s one worth noting. Beginning today, you’ll get up to a $750 Disney Gift Card free when you buy a 5-night/6-day non-discounted Walt Disney Travel Company package at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotel. The offer is available for stays most nights through June 3.
Disney Gift Card
Never used a Disney Gift Card? It can be used to shop, dine and play at Walt Disney World. Disney Gift Cards have no fees and they don’t expire.

You can book now through March 27 but you should know that the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. We have more details about this offer at the special offers page.

Also, there’s one gift card per room provided at check-in. Visit for participating locations and terms and conditions.

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Filed: Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Disneyland Resort Gives Back During the Twelve Days of Christmas

posted on December 21st, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Goofy Hats Donated to Boys & Girls Clubs
The Disneyland Resort and its cast members have a legacy of giving, started by Walt Disney himself, and the giving efforts kick into high gear during the 12 days of Christmas. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

  • On the first day of Christmas…1,000 individuals receive necessities through the annual Adopt-A-Family program in partnership with MOMS Orange County.
  • On the second day…2,000 military care packages and postcards are sent to military personnel around the world through Operation Uplift.
  • On the third day…30 children at CHOC Children’s Hospital attended a holiday party hosted by Disney and gift bags were provided to another 150 hospitalized children.
  • On the fourth day…4 food packing events at the Orange County Food Bank, including one on National Family Volunteer Day, provided more than 150,000 meals to individuals in need.
  • On the fifth day…$5,000 worth of Disney merchandise was donated by the Resort to support the Adopt-A-Family program.
  • On the sixth day…$6,000 was donated to the Irvine Animal Care Center, and during the Center’s holiday pet adoption event, Disney VoluntEARS helped 241 animals find a home.
  • On the seventh day…700 holiday Goofy hats were donated to five local nonprofit organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
  • On the eighth day…800 gifts were wrapped by Disney VoluntEARS during the annual holiday gift wrap event, raising funds to send military care packages.
  • On the ninth day…90+ Disneyland Resort Cast Members volunteered to host holiday parties at local nonprofit organizations, including Walnut Manor and the Blind Children’s Learning Center.
  • On the tenth day…10,000 toys were collected for the Toys for Tots Foundation through the Resort’s annual toy drive – a tradition that was started by Walt Disney 62 years ago.
  • On the eleventh day…11 food drop-off locations throughout the Resort resulted in a food drive that collected 2,100 pounds of food for families in need.
  • On the twelfth day of Christmas…more than $12 million in cash and in-kind goods will have been donated by the Disneyland Resort and its Cast Members in 2009.
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Celebrating 12 Days of Christmas — and Conservation

posted on December 21st, 2009 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

Cotton-Top Tamarins in a Christmas Tree

The Wildlife Tracking Center, located in Conservation Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas and, of course, conservation in a unique way this holiday season. Think three okapis shopping, four rhinos baking, five poop snowmen and a bunch of cotton-top tamarins in a Christmas tree. Now through January 2, Guests can see the amazing display of all 12 days when they visit the Wildlife Tracking Center, where, mixed with all the fun, is an opportunity to watch real scientists at work.


Led by Senior Conservation Biologist, Anne Savage, Ph.D., areas of research at the Wildlife Tracking Center include elephant communication, reproductive biology, and techniques, such as hi-tech transmitters, that allow scientists to follow animals like endangered sea turtles and cotton-top tamarins in the wild.

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Whoopi Goldberg, Minnie Mouse At Epcot

posted on December 20th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Whoopi Goldberg and Minnie Mouse At Epcot
This weekend’s featured celebrity narrator for Candlelight Processional, Whoopi Goldberg, was seen spending some time with Minnie Mouse at Disney’s Epcot theme park. Whoopi is the latest of several narrators entertaining guests on select nights at the American Gardens Theatre. Here’s the updated list:

    12/18–12/20 — Whoopi Goldberg
    12/21–12/23 — Brian Dennehy
    12/24–12/26 — Edward James Olmos
    12/27–12/30 — Angela Bassett & Courtney B. Vance

Candlelight Processional is a Disney Parks holiday tradition which combines a retelling of the Christmas story accompanied by a 50-piece live orchestra and a mass choir. If you’d like to see it for yourself, call 407-939-3463 or visit our special events page.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on December 20th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Cast members worldwide mourned the loss of Roy E. Disney this week. He was a Disney Legend who played an important role in many of our lives. We shared some images you may have missed in our “Remembering Roy E. Disney” post.

Remembering Roy E. Disney

Also this week, we announced the return of Captain EO at Disneyland Resort. Heather Hust Rivera confirmed that the classic musical spectacular will return for an exclusive, limited engagement at Disneyland park beginning in February 2010. Here are some of our other most popular posts of the week:

Top 10 Proposal Ideas at Disney — December is the busiest month of the year for proposals, so Korri McFann shared some tips about the top 10 places to propose at Disney.

One-of-a-Kind Disney Instruments to Benefit Music Education — we offered a first look at one-of-a-kind Disney artwork — one of several instruments designed and painted to benefit music education in schools.

Holiday Fireworks — Valarie Sukovaty shared a holiday tradition that she began last year: watching “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks at Disneyland park.

Congas, Zendrum Create Unique Holiday Music at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — We featured a five-piece percussion band called The Village Beatniks.

Lincoln: Looking Back and Moving Forward — We posted new video of the figure being programmed.

Did you miss it? Davy Crockett’s Window in Frontierland — Have you seen the window in Frontierland dedicated to Fess Parker, the man known to millions of baby-boomers as legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett?

Zooming Down Main Street, U.S.A. — Walt Disney World Photographer Gene Duncan shares a castle image that’s “a little different” than you usually see.

Snow-Capped Mountains Behind Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle — Paul Hiffmeyer, the chief photographer at the Disneyland Resort, captured an amazing photo of the Castle.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Captain EO Returns to Disneyland Resort

posted on December 18th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Twenty-three years ago, at the height of his phenomenal entertainment career, Michael Jackson joined forces with Disney to create “Captain EO,” a groundbreaking 17-minute 3D film experience.

We are excited to confirm that the classic musical spectacular that thrilled Disneyland park guests from 1986 – 1997, will return for an exclusive, limited engagement at Disneyland park beginning in February 2010!
Captain EO Returns
The attraction’s return to Tomorrowland will provide new audiences the opportunity to experience the original 3D production for the very first time, as well as a nostalgic look back for longtime fans wanting to see “The King of Pop” in a rare performance created for the big-screen, just one more time.

Honey I Shrunk The Audience” will be closing sometime in the next few weeks to make way for the Captain’s return.

Check back here for more details on “Captain EO.”

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Did you miss it? Davy Crockett’s Window in Frontierland

posted on December 18th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Have you seen the window in Frontierland dedicated to Fess Parker, the man known to millions of baby-boomers as legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett?

Fess Parker, as Davy Crockett, receives a tribute window

Five years ago this week, Fess Parker received the highest honor Disneyland Resort bestows when the park unveiled a tribute window. Parker’s salute included an entirely rethemed building facade which paid tribute to Parker’s portrayal of Davy Crockett, along with his sidekick Georgie Russel, played by the late actor Buddy Ebsen. Parker and Ebsen were featured stars at the grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

In his role as Davy Crockett, Fess Parker helped promote and open Disneyland Park. In the photos below, you’ll see Davy Crockett walking through a yet-to-be finished Disneyland park and later with Walt Disney riding a horse on Main Street, U.S.A.

Fess Parker with Walt Disney walking through a yet-to-be finished Disneyland park

Fess Parker riding horses with Walt Disney

The tradition of honoring individuals with a personalized decorative window was started on Main Street by Walt Disney himself and has continued throughout Disney parks worldwide.

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Thousands of Donated Toys Part of ‘Season of Sharing’ at Walt Disney World

posted on December 18th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Along with work on the teddy bear costuming program, cast members have been busy during Walt Disney World Resort’s “Season of Sharing” — this time collecting donated toys. And news that VoluntEARS helped U.S. Marines load more than 15,000 toys for Central Florida children got us thinking about our history with the Toys for Tots program. It’s a 60-year history. In fact, Walt Disney and his animators designed the original Toys for Tots logo that’s still used today. We searched our archives and found this unique image:
Walt Disney and Toys for Tots
This season, Disney VoluntEARS gave more than 3,000 hours toward helping U.S. Marines register families, sort and stock shelves with collected toys and assist with toy distribution to families in need. Here’s new video highlighting the effort.

You should know that the toy drive is one of many charitable activities underway at Walt Disney World Resort during the “Season of Sharing” that focuses on improving the lives of local children and their families. To learn more, please visit

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Community Outreach, Walt Disney World Resort

How to Make a Yule Log

posted on December 17th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

If you’re looking for a different dessert to serve at your holiday party or bring to the work potluck this year, check out this video that shows how make a Yule Log. Executive Pastry Chef Jean Marc Viallet and Disneyland Resort Ambassador Danielle Dubois give a few tips on how to turn chocolate sponge cake, coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache into a festive tasty treat.

Can’t wait to make it at home? The complete recipe is available here. For more ideas on creating a holiday meal, check out the “Tasty Recipes to Savor” on Recipes from the Resort include Citrus Roasted Half Chicken and Asparagus Bruschetta.

If you’re not up to the baking task, you can find the Yule Log during the holidays at the Plaza Inn, Carnation Café and PCH Grille.

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