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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on January 10th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

And we thought the first work week of 2010 would be slow…not at all. We had several announcements and the first post from new author Steve Davison of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. Steve shared some powerful video featuring World of Color fire effects. If you missed it, here it is again:

Also this week, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Tom Staggs, visited Magic Kingdom and other parks for the first time since starting his new role. Here’s the list of our other most popular posts:

‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ – Pass it on! — We featured a new way to spread the volunteer spirit starring the Muppets — and you.

Walt Disney World Moms Panel Welcomes New Members — The newest panelists were introduced on the blog.

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World – Morning to Night — Before the holiday decorations come down, another unique look at Main Street, U.S.A.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Gerenuk Calf to Herd — What better way to begin the first week of 2010 than with a beautiful image of a new member of the family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Rehearsal Video of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy — Heather gave us a first look at “Disney’s Honorary VoluntEars Cavalcade.”

Video Preview: What’s Coming Up at Disney’s California Adventure Park — This video highlighted new experiences coming to Disney’s California Adventure Park

New Retro-Style Merchandise Unveiled for 55th Anniversary — Michelle shared some details of the new program, “Happiest Memories on Earth.”

Children Can Customize Vacations on Disney Cruise Line — Disney Cruise Line announced that children can choose experiences based on their interest.

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New Chairman Tom Staggs Visits Walt Disney World

posted on January 8th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

When Tom Staggs was asked what he’d like to do first as new chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, he said, “Get to the sites, spend time with the Cast and benefit from their knowledge.” And this week, he’s doing just that.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs

During his visit to Walt Disney World, Tom spent time learning the business firsthand during a whirlwind tour that included meetings with Cast, time in the parks and interaction with backstage operators. One important stop was Fantasyland, where Tom learned more about plans for an upcoming major expansion. He also met with Cast Members at the Disney Reservation Center, Space Mountain Operations Center (where he worked in a spin on Space Mountain) and other locations around Walt Disney World Resort property.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs
And at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, Tom met with Cast Members during a backstage tour of The Festival of the Lion King attraction before enjoying a live performance. He also visited with the animal programs team and observed a cardiac ultrasound on a gorilla.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs
As Tom wrapped up his first Walt Disney World visit in his new role, he noted that he will celebrate two decades with The Walt Disney Company this month. “After 20 years, it’s nice to say I just had two of the best days of my career, being out on the property and seeing the Cast in action.”

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First Look: Rehearsal Video of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in “Disney’s Honorary VoluntEars Cavalcade”

posted on January 8th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

If you want to be the first to see Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in a parade at Disneyland park, check out the video above. We taped this during a rehearsal after Disneyland park closed on Wednesday night. The video gives a first glimpse of the new “Disney’s Honorary VoluntEars Cavalcade” that will debut today at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida.

As you’ll see, the cavalcade celebrates volunteerism and features Kermit, Miss Piggy, along with special floats and vehicles festooned with bright balloons and flanked by parade dancers. They’re all excited about the new “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program happening in 2010 (see for terms).

“Disney’s Honorary VoluntEars Cavalcade” precedes “Celebrate! A Street Party” at Disneyland park. You can catch the show at Disneyland park once a day, and there are a few things you should know about the current schedule:

  • If there is only one performance of “Celebrate! A Street Party” scheduled for the day, then the cavalcade will happen at that time.
  • If there are two performances of “Celebrate! A Street Party” planned for the day, then you can catch Kermit and Miss Piggy as part of the Cavalcade at the evening parade.

As always, check for show times because they’re subject to change and cancellation.

Check back on the Disney Parks Blog later as Tom Smith will be sharing photos of the parade at Magic Kingdom park and details of how Walt Disney World guests can see the cavalcade.

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World of Color — Behind the H2O — The Journey Begins

posted on January 8th, 2010 by Steven Davison, Imagineer, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment

Hi, I’m Steve Davison, and I’m an Imagineer with Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. I’m joining the Disney Parks Blog this month to talk about a project that’s very close to my heart – “World of Color.” In the coming months, I’ll be sharing the latest updates on the show, some inside information and exclusive photos and videos.

As testing begins in the Paradise Bay Lagoon, through periodic blog posts, we’re going to be giving guests a behind the “water screen” look at the show as it is created. It will take months of programming to bring all the elements to life as we weave the tapestry of the show together. When you create a show you mentally put it together in your mind. Then you take those initial ideas and test them looking for the right look and feel. After a lot of trial and error, you finally get to see it come to life in front of your eyes.

But even before the programming sessions can begin, all the effects systems have to be brought on-line and fleshed out. With thousands of individual effects in the show, this meticulous initial testing process takes time. Every device has to be individually tested and programmed into the master show matrix. Once this is complete, the actual programming can begin.

One of the first effects elements to be tested was the fire system. Audiences are going to be really surprised by the World of Color fire effects. Because the units are randomly placed throughout the show platform, they will shock you when they appear. Here is a test video of the first look at the fire. While it is not the final program, it will give you a sense of the visual power it yields!

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First Look: D23’s ‘Disney Undiscovered’

posted on January 7th, 2010 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing

Disney’s official fan community, D23, is starting off 2010 with a unique gift that’s sure to get any Disney fan excited — Disney Undiscovered: A 23-Month Calendar of Disney’s Unrealized Masterpieces.

The calendar is brimming with rare and never-before seen images from Disney theme-park, live-action and animation projects that were not completed, many of which have achieved legendary status among Disney fans. “Disney Undiscovered” features art from never-built project like the Mineral King ski resort and Walt Disney’s St. Louis Project, theme park lands such as Discovery Bay at Disneyland, and unproduced films including a watercolor from the original Little Mermaid that Walt had in early preproduction in the late 1930s.

D23 is giving Disney Parks Blog readers a first look at three of the pages in this stunning calendar. They show Mickey’s Madhouse (conceived as part of Dumbo’s Circusland at Disneyland back in 1976 before Toontown was created), the Swiss pavilion at Epcot (designed in 1985 and meant to stand between the Italy and Germany pavilions), and Rock Candy Mountain (which, had it been created back in 1957, would have been Disneyland’s first “mountain”). Have a look and enjoy!
November 2011: Switzerland Pavilion
December 2010: Rock Candy Mountain
May 2010: Mickey's Madhouse

Everyone who joins or renews their D23 Membership in 2010 will receive a calendar.

For more information on D23, visit

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Disney Parks ‘Quick Hits’ – January 7th, 2010

posted on January 7th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

We posted first word on the @Disneyparks Twitter account but if you missed it, The Walt Disney World Resort is officially on Facebook and posting updates. Here’s our “Quick Hits” list of other items you may want to be aware of:

Mobile Magic Update — We updated the Mobile Magic list with several new touch-screen devices.

Typhoon Lagoon is reopening — Typhoon Lagoon will reopen on January 10. Blizzard Beach will close on the same day for its annual refurbishment and reopen on March 21.

Disney Grand Californian “room key” pin — This open edition pin featuring Chip and Dale on a room key for Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel was released this week.

First look: The Muppets Vinylmation collection — This collection will be released late winter 2010 at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Moms Panel: Characters at the Cape May Cafe breakfast buffet — Kay answered the question, “What characters are at the Cape May buffet at Disney’s Beach Club Resort?”

“Chinese New Year 2010 – Mickey Mouse” Disney pin — This unique “Chinese New Year 2010″ pin is now available at The Walt Disney World Resort.

Moms Panel offers tips on how to make your next visit extra special — Karen gives some ideas, including contacting the Disney Dream Makers.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid opened this week in 1992 — The attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park is a 15-minute show that recreates the popular Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid” using puppets, live performers, special effects and movie clips.

“Disney/Pixar UP & Away Family Fun Run 5K” pin is released at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex — This new pin commemorates the race and features Carl Fredrickson and Russell from Disney-Pixar’s Up.

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Bowl Teams Visit the Disneyland Resort

posted on January 7th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Today the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns face off in the National Championship game in the Bowl Championship Series. The teams made their first media appearance of BCS week on Saturday, January 2 when the teams visited the Happiest Place on Earth. Players from both teams experienced attractions at the Parks, and coaches from the teams fielded questions from media at the press conference at ESPN Zone in the Downtown Disney District. Below is a photo of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram of the Alabama Crimson Tide arriving at the Downtown Disney District.

Heisman Trophy Winner Mark Ingram

On December 26, the BCS-ranked No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 7 Oregon Ducks made their first official appearances of the Rose Bowl week and met in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to celebrate the New Year’s Day game. The teams were honored in a brief ceremony, and Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel and Oregon Coach Chip Kelly were awarded crystal replicas of Sleeping Beauty Castle in recognition of their achievement as competitors in the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. After the ceremony, players from both teams enjoyed the thrill of the Matterhorn and the whimsy of the Tea Cups.
Rose Bowl Champion Ohio State Buckeyes
It’s a longstanding tradition at the Disneyland Resort to host the Rose Bowl teams before the big game. The Disneyland Resort has been associated with the Tournament of Roses since 1959 and has had the honor of playing host to many teams during that time.

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Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World – Morning To Night

posted on January 7th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

As we prepare to take down holiday decorations at Magic Kingdom Park, we’re sharing a last look at Main Street, U.S.A. – and it’s quite a look. Just move your cursor up and down the image and see for yourself:

You can still see the Magic Kingdom’s holiday decorations at Walt Disney World, including the 200,000 lights on Cinderella Castle through January 14.

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New Retro-Style Merchandise Unveiled for 55th Anniversary

posted on January 6th, 2010 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

Limited-Edition Mickey Mouse Club Ear Hat
Over the holidays I was working on one of our new merchandise programs, “Happiest Memories on Earth – Since ’55,” and I’m excited to share some of the details with you for the first time. This new retro-style program will feature a variety of items, including ladies and men’s apparel, limited-edition Mickey Mouse ear hats, souvenir items such as a jumbo pencil, photo album and autograph book, as well as plush, mugs, pins and stationery.
Deluxe Autograph Book with Pen
I sat down with the product developer, Summer Bloomfield, for a few minutes during her day to find out more about this new product line which will debut in January 2010.

Michelle: Can you tell us about the “Happiest Memories on Earth” program?

Summer: We wanted to create something dynamic and special for our guests this year. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Disneyland park, and we want to make sure that our guests have the opportunity to take home a memory from their visit that they can treasure through the years. We really aimed for a retro-style look to give guests a sense of nostalgia, in the hopes that they will remember some of their favorite memories and experiences from past visits. The program features some of our beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Thumper, Huey, Dewey and Louie as well as Mr. Toad.

Michelle: Can you give us a little insight on what type of merchandise our guests and collectors will see over the next year?

Summer: Some of my personal favorites include our deluxe autograph book with pen, a ladies tee, the zip hooded fleece, a commemorative A to E Ticket memo book, a nostalgic pennant and of course our Mickey Mouse Ear Hats. There are actually two hats that we expect will be very popular this year, and they were created by our Headwear Product Development team. The first is a limited-edition ear hat that replicates the shape, logo and fabrication of the original Mickey Mouse Club ear hat that was featured on the TV show in 1955. This commemorative ear hat is limited to a quantity of 1,955 and comes with a special label inside the hat, a hangtag and is packaged in a collectible vintage hat box. The second ear hat will feature a blue cap with a drum that states, “Since ’55” and features such characters as Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket as well as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy.
Commemorative A to E Ticket Memo Book
You can find this line at the World of Disney store in the Downtown Disney District, Emporium at Disneyland park and Greetings From California in Disney’s California Adventure park.

What do you think about this new line?

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Gerenuk Calf to Herd

posted on January 6th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Squirt, Animal Kingdom's 28th Gerenuk Calf
What better way to begin the first week of 2010 than with a beautiful first image of a new member of the family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — a gerenuk calf named Squirt.

Never heard of a gerenuk? They’re African antelopes with unique long necks usually found in dry, bushy shrub. Unlike other gazelles and most antelopes that graze on grasses, gerenuks often stand on their hind legs. They don’t need to drink much since they get needed water from the plants they eat. And most adult gerenuk reach about three feet at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 115 pounds.

Squirt, Animal Kingdom’s 28th gerenuk calf, weighed in at eight pounds. She was born at the end of November to her 5-year-old mother Sushanunna and 9-year-old father Jingle as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Gerenuk Population Management Plan.

You can see gerenuk for yourself during a visit to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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