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40th Anniversary of the All-American College Band

posted on July 26th, 2010 by Betsy Sanchez, Manager of Media Relations, Disneyland Resort

For the last 40 years, college students from around the country have flocked to the Disneyland Resort each summer in search of a hands-on music education experience. That experience comes in the form of the All-American College Band – an 11-week paid internship that prepares students for careers in music. On July 17, as the Resort celebrated 55 years, the band held a 40th anniversary reunion. More than 140 current and former band members marched down Main Street, U.S.A. performing “Gonna Take You There” from the Disney film “The Princess and the Frog.” Many band alumni have gone on to highly successful music careers including Sal Lozano, who has played music for hit TV shows such “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” and Gordon Goodwin who arranged the score to the Disney Pixar film “The Incredibles.”

The current program is directed by former band member Dr. Ron McCurdy, who teaches jazz at USC’s Thornton School of Music. Of more than 250 applicants, only about 20 were selected to participate in the 2010 internship. The students learn everything from using technology to compose music to crafting resumes. A highlight of the program is the opportunity to visit Capitol Records to record music they have performed during the summer. The All-American College Band is a fan favorite – it brings great energy to Disneyland park through their performances and get guests of all ages grooving to the beat.

You can see the band play at Disneyland park Tuesday-Saturday through August 13. The schedule is below:

Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday
2:30 p.m. – Plaza Gardens
4:20 p.m. – Sleeping Beauty Castle
5:10 p.m. – Town Square
6:00 p.m. – Main Street
7:15 p.m. – Town Square

4:15 p.m. – Sleeping Beauty Castle
5:10 p.m. – Town Square
7:00 p.m. – Plaza Gardens
8:00 p.m. – Plaza Gardens
9:00 p.m. – Plaza Gardens

Check out the video below to hear more about how the band provides a foundation for young college students launching into the music business.

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Top 10: Activities for the Groom

posted on July 26th, 2010 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

When it comes to your wedding, it often seems like it’s all about the bride. While some grooms leave most of the wedding planning to their lady love, many also plan some fun “guys” activities leading up to their big day. This is especially true for destination weddings, where groomsmen, fathers, brothers and uncles travel from far and wide to share in not only the wedding day itself, but also the days surrounding the big event.

Hosting a Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding at the Walt Disney World Resort offers a wealth of activities to share with buddies. Here are my top 10 recommendations:
Activities for the Groom at Walt Disney World Resort
1. Florida has some of the best golf courses in the world. And whether you golf on your own or plan a group outing, you’ll find that Walt Disney World Golf encompasses five of the most challenging, high- quality golf courses in the country.

2. Enjoy Bass fishing at its finest all year round. With Bass Nitro Fishing, a guided fishing excursion in a tournament style Nitro Bass boat on the waterways of Walt Disney World Resort.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
3. Get behind the wheel in an 8, 18, or 30 lap driving program or ride-along shotgun for 3 high-speed laps at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Get your adrenaline pumping as you unleash a 600 hp engine and scream around the track at white-knuckle speeds! Customized events and group packages are also available.

4. Race across the water, or soar through the skies – either way you’ll be flying! Pump up the thrills at water-ski champ Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre. Treat your friends to an afternoon of water-skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, or rent personal watercrafts to explore the waterways of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Surfing at Typhoon Lagoon
5. Hang ten in the waters of Typhoon Lagoon with the Cocoa Beach Surfing School. Have the bay to yourself before the Park is open so that you can master the fine art of shooting the curls. The world’s largest wave machine produces surf every 90 seconds. Professional instructors and small classes help anyone from a novice to a pro improve form during a two-hour session.

6. How about a little tequila? Cava del Tequila at Epcot offers up tasting of more than 70 types of this potent elixir. You can even learn from a true Tequila Master. Not to be outdone, the international wine bar and tequila bar at Paradiso 37 at Pleasure Island offers 37 kinds of tequila (hence the restaurant’s name) as well.
Activities for the Groom at Walt Disney World Resort
7. If beer is more your scene, then check out Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s BoardWalk. This working brewpub features an on-site brew master who creates five handcrafted specialty beers. Here you get to view the whole process through floor-to-ceiling glass walls – and, of course, sample the results. Those looking for a traditional lager or a pint of Guinness in a pub can make their way over to the Rose & Crown Pub at Epcot or Raglan Road at Downtown Disney.

8. Getting married during football season? Basketball season? Baseball season? No matter the time of year, the ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk offers up a 209 square foot video wall equipped to receive 30 different program feeds and every satellite sports package available.
Activities for the Groom at Walt Disney World Resort
9. More of a music fan? Listen to live bands rock at House of Blues in Downtown Disney. The Front Porch Bar offers live entertainment nightly, but be sure to also check the schedule for the Music Hall – your guys’ favorite band just might be in town.

10. Relive your youth by challenging your friends to Frogger, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more at DisneyQuest. Once inside, you won’t need a hefty pocket full of quarters to see who reigns supreme on the video game machines.

Whatever pre-wedding activities you plan with the guys, just be sure you make it to the pavilion, gazebo, wedding lawn, wherever – on time!

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How to: Making Irish Soda Bread at Downtown Disney

posted on July 26th, 2010 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

I’m just home from a lovely trip to Ireland, where hearty Irish soda bread was served with every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rounded loaf is a snap to make if you have an expert like Chef Kevin Dundon from Raglan Road at Downtown Disney to show you how to make the real deal. Give it a try, then serve slathered liberally with sweet butter.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on July 25th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

News that our Haunted Mansion attraction inspired a new film was a pleasant surprise for many of us this week. There’s much you love about the attraction as we found out when we asked what you enjoy most during your Ghost Host-led “supernatural” journeys – it’s more than dancing and hitchhiking ghosts.

Haunted Mansion Logo

Thank you for the fantastic comments. And be sure and check out Heather’s post for some interesting quotes about the announcement. Now, here is the list of other stories you may have missed this week.

A rendering of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i

Aloha From Aulani – A message from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs following a visit to the site of one of our most unique, new projects – Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i.

An Early Peek at Aulani– It’s still a work in progress, but last week a bunch of us Disney Mainlanders got to visit O`ahu and tour the construction site of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i. Although the Resort buildings are mostly concrete and scaffolding now, they’ve reached their full height and you can get a good sense of how they’ll look when completed.

Video Shows Changes to Rivers of America– In case you missed it, we revealed several changes to the recently-renovated Rivers of America in May, and on July 21st, we shared a video that shows some of these enhancements.

Vinylmation Artist Party on the West Coast– A special event is taking place at D-Street at Downtown Disney District in California. There is a Vinylmation Artist Signing and Meet and Greet scheduled for Sunday, July 25, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

To the Pyramids – And Beyond!– Adventures by Disney has just announced its 2011 Season itineraries, including two brand-new itineraries that’ll give travelers a chance to visit one of the most dreamed-of destinations in the world – Egypt.

Meet the ‘Club 55ers’– Few people can say they worked with Walt Disney when he was launching his dream of Disneyland park. Those cast members have a special bond, and on July 17 a group of them known as “Club 55ers” joined the Resort’s 55th anniversary celebration.

Reservations Open Aug. 6 for Via Napoli– The new restaurant at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, Via Napoli, will begin taking reservations Aug. 6 for Sept. 10, the official opening day. A “Grand Opening” celebration will be Aug. 5, but the restaurant will be in a “soft opening” walk-in phase with no reservations between then and Sept. 10.

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One-Stop Searching: Gene Duncan

posted on July 24th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Post Card from Paradise

With Aulani Resort and Spa in KoOlina, Hawaii, beginning to take shape, I’m reminded of a serene image Gene Duncan shared with us on Disney Parks Blog in his post “Postcard from Paradise.” Gene has a way of transporting us to a different place through his photography. Here is a look back at some of his blog posts.

Nature as seen through Gene’s lens.

The Sanctuary and The Sanctuary, Part II – The stunning beauty of the spectacular butterfly garden at the Fort Wilderness Campground Outpost.

Jewels Beneath Our Feet – This series revealed some often overlooked Florida plants and wildlife.

For Butterfly Lovers – A look at Fawn’s Butterfly House at Pixie Hollow during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Comfort Zones – A Great Egret rests on one leg and a child leads his father on a curiosity-driven quest — each in their “comfort zone.”

A Mother’s Love Witnessed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – A tender moment between mother and baby backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Gene takes us back in time through Disney history.

Yankee Legends – Gene shared the view from his front-row seat at the filming of a television commercial inside the Yankees dressing room with George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin.

The ‘Sunnyside’ of Sleepy Hollow – The real-life cottage that inspired the Magic Kingdom park snack-time favorite.

Let Freedom Ring on Independence Day – A history lesson on the Liberty Bell replica that anchors Liberty Square.

Mickey’s 60th Birthday Celebration – 1988 – In 1988, we Mickey’s 60th birthday with a hot air balloon that made appearances and flights throughout the country, including Niagara Falls.

Gene has captured some of the best-loved characters and performers at Disney Parks.

In Perfect Harmony: The Dapper Dans – Gene showed us the tradition and superb four-part harmony of The Dapper Dans.

The ‘Characters’ of Main Street, U.S.A. – This was the first in a series showcasing the funny and eccentric Main Street U.S.A. Actors.

Mariachi Music at Epcot – Mariachi Cobre performs on the Epcot promenade in front of the Mexico Pavilion.

Gene also has a knack for capturing the magical moments experienced by our park guests.

Big Adventure on Main Street, USA – A young man carefully and slowly journeys down Main Street U.S.A.

Walt Disney World Photography: The Love of a Granddaughter – A young girls shares an intimate moment with her grandfather inside the Morocco courtyard at Epcot.

‘In Character’ From Argentina – These young ladies on holiday from Buenos Aires were captured during a joyous day in the Magic Kingdom.

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Aloha from Aulani

posted on July 23rd, 2010 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs at Aulani Construction Site
Aloha from O‘ahu! I’m at the site of one of our most unique, new projects – Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i. The team in Hawai‘i continues to bring this beautiful beachfront property to life, and it’s exciting that in just a little more than a year, on August 29, 2011, we’re scheduled to welcome our first guests here.

Construction is well underway, and as I walked the site yesterday, the great potential for the combination of the location and Disney creativity couldn’t be more clear.

Aulani is something completely new and different for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It is our first stand-alone Resort, separate from our theme parks that will offer both hotel rooms and villas for Disney Vacation Club members. As we’ve expanded “beyond the berm” with offerings like Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney, our goal has been to bring Disney vacation experiences to our guests. And since Hawai‘i is one of the top family destinations in the world, we always knew that this would be the perfect place for a Disney Resort.

Aulani will be a destination where families can experience the stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and friendship of Hawai‘i—in a setting only Disney could create. Much more than a place to stay, it will be a place to start—a home base from which our guests can explore all that Hawai‘i has to offer.

The culture of Hawai‘i is rooted in layer-upon-layer of meaning, ancestral heritage and a rich storytelling tradition. Obviously, storytelling is something we hold near and dear here at Disney, too. So, together with our Hawaiian advisors, we are collecting stories, legends and symbols, and weaving them into the design of Aulani. Local artists are creating giant murals that surround the resort. For example, the work of one of those artists, Harinane Orme, tells the stories of Maui and Hina, and of the great tradition of star navigation that brought the Hawaiians to this land.

There is so much creativity and passion going into the development of this new Resort. I’m excited to bring my family here and think our guests will be too.

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Sizzling Summer Appreciation Day Sale

posted on July 23rd, 2010 by Dara Trujillo, Manager, Merchandise Synergy, Events, and Communication

It’s that time of year again for you Passholders & Disney Vacation Club Members – time to shop till you drop. On Saturday, July 24, World of Disney Stores at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts are hosting shopping extravaganzas. It happens from 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at Walt Disney World Resort and 6:30am – 9:00am at Disneyland Resort.
World of Disney logo
For those of you who have shopped the sales before, you know that there are incredible discounts of up to 50% off, special offers, door busters and of course, a special gift for the first 1000 Guests that come through the doors of World of Disney.

And if you’re one of our special guests, shopping at Walt Disney World on July 24, the savings don’t stop at World of Disney. Select merchandise shops and restaurants in Downtown Disney are also offering great discounts on keepsake gifts and dining. All you have to do is show your Passholder or Disney Vacation Club ID, and the great deals will come your way. Happy Shopping.

Friendly disclaimer: A valid Passholder ID or Disney Vacation Club ID AND government issued photo ID must be presented to enter the World of Disney store for the early shopping opportunities and must be presented at time of purchase to receive offers. Additional discounts do not apply at Operating Participant locations. Merchandise and offers valid while supplies last. Offers not valid on any previous purchases nor for phone, e-mail , on-line, or mail orders. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Other restrictions may apply. Information and offers are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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A Look Back: New Orleans Square Offically Opens

posted on July 23rd, 2010 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations

I love showing off our amazing collection of historical video, especially when you get to see Walt Disney himself grinning from ear to ear. He was such a kid at heart and the historical footage really captures his love of Disneyland park. The footage you are about to see is bittersweet. It shows one of the last times Walt was on film enjoying his park. The day was 44 years ago, July 24, 1966 (Walt died later that year). Walt and New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro officially opened New Orleans Square. It was the first time since opening day in 1955 that a new land had opened. It was also the only area at the park named after a real city. Guests enjoyed shopping, dining and music, and Pirates of the Caribbean opened the following year. I hope you enjoy this fun piece of history.

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Kaka kicks it at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on July 23rd, 2010 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

Brazilian Soccer Star Kaka and Mickey
The World Cup soccer fever is still lingering at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where several star players from the recent World Cup have showed up the last several days. The latest is Brazilian soccer superstar Kaka who stopped by the sports complex at Disney on the heels of the Disney Cup International which featured youth teams from Brazil, Haiti, Malaysia and 15 other countries.
Brazilian Soccer Star Kaka at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Kaka spent time at the sports complex giving some tips in a mini soccer skills session with some youth soccer players. Of course once Mickey found out about the chance to play with an international soccer star like Kaka, he couldn’t resist and came out in hopes of kicking his game up a notch.

Photos Credit: Diana Zalucky, Walt Disney World Photographer

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Haunted Mansion Inspires New Movie by The Walt Disney Studios and Guillermo del Toro

posted on July 22nd, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Have you heard the news? One of your top five favorite Disneyland park attractions is the focus of a new film from The Walt Disney Studios.

The original Disneyland park attraction, the Haunted Mansion, that debuted in August of 1969 has now inspired a new film for The Walt Disney Studios by well-known filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. A new piece of artwork was also unveiled by the Studios and is featured below.
Haunted Mansion Logo
Announced at Comic-Con today, del Toro surprised thousands of fans with the news. In speaking about the new project, del Toro said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of my own adaptation of the original theme park attraction Walt envisioned and that remains- for me- the most desirable piece of real estate in the whole world!”

Rich Ross, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, remarked “Millions of people from around the world visit The Haunted Mansion each year, but no one has ever had a tour guide like Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo is one of the most gifted and innovative filmmakers working today and he is going to take audiences on a visually-thrilling journey like they’ve never experienced before.”

What do you think of this exciting news?

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