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Koi Pond at Japan Pavilion in Epcot

posted on August 25th, 2010 by Kent Phillips, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Sometimes this job is exciting and glamorous and you find yourself in the middle of a high-energy photo shoot with pirates and princesses and Mickey Mouse. And then other times you find yourself sweating profusely, wearing plastic pants and standing in the middle of a fish pond.
Koi pond at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion by Kent Phillips
I’ve wanted to get this shot at the koi pond at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion for years, and finally became convinced I had half a chance of pulling it off. I used our underwater camera housing, which normally sees action in swimming pools, water parks and at Castaway Cay, to hold the camera halfway under water so the waterline bisected the photo. Because the koi pond is fully in shadow early in the morning, I rigged the camera to fire a couple of big studio flash units to put a little electronic sunshine on my fishy friends.

I’d been afraid my presence in the water would spook the fish, but by utilizing stealth, patience and consummate skill (but mostly with Todd Harmon from Living Seas Animal Care giving them their breakfast) they warmed up to me.

This photo was actually a lot of fun to figure out and execute…for the most part. (Note to self: Next time take your cell phone off BEFORE getting in the water in leaky waders.)

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Chef Mickey’s Adds Short-Term Character Lunch Buffet

posted on August 24th, 2010 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Chef Mickey
For just 14 days in August and 14 days in September-October, Chef Mickey’s restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is adding a lunch buffet, complete with Disney Characters to meet and greet diners.

High demand for the free dining package necessitates the expanded dining time, but anyone (not just guests on the package) can make a reservation at 407-WDW-DINE or here. Cost is $28.75 including tax, $15.97 ages 3 to 9, under 3 free.

Dates are now through Aug. 28, and Sept. 19-Oct. 2. Lunch hours are 12:30-2:30 p.m. Breakfast and dinner are still offered as usual.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Self Service Stroller Rental Now at Disneyland Resort

posted on August 24th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Self-service stroller rental kiosks
We’ve added a cool, new service this summer that makes renting a stroller easier than ever. There are now four self-service stroller rental kiosks next to the staffed counter at the Stroller and Wheelchair rental booth in the Esplanade, just outside the Disneyland park entrance.

Renting a stroller at the new self-service kiosks can also be a lot quicker than the staffed counter. How to use it? Skip the line, bring a credit card, go to a kiosk, select your language (English or Spanish) and rent up to five strollers for up to six days.

The process for multi-day rentals is the same. You turn in the stroller each night, and collect a new one the next day by showing your receipt.

If you have tried this new service, do you have any tips for other guests?

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You Look Like Mickey Mouse?

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

Mickey Mouse
It’s not uncommon to bump into someone who thinks they resemble their pet – which can be interesting. But how about a Disney Parks character? For me, it’s no. Then again, I may be running in the wrong crowds because many of you let us know that you do in fact resemble Mickey, Tinker Bell and yes, even Goofy.

We recently asked, “Name a character you look like” on Facebook. And after receiving thousands of comments, we now know there are some real characters out there. Here are your top 10 answers:

  1. Mickey
  2. Belle
  3. Tinker Bell
  4. Snow White
  5. Goofy
  6. Cinderella
  7. Minnie
  8. Winnie the Pooh
  9. Ariel
  10. Donald Duck

There is also a group of people who shared that they look like Remy and Rafiki. Really? Is that you? Let us know who you think you look like in the comments below.

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Vinylmation – The Animal Kingdom

posted on August 24th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

'The Animal Kingdom' Vinylmation Series

What is your favorite animal? I think that is a question that everyone has been asked at least once in their life. With that question in mind, we created a new Vinylmation series called “The Animal Kingdom.” The series will be released on August 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. I spoke with Dan Howard, the Disney Design Group artist behind this series, about its evolution.

“This series has been in development for a very long time,” explained Dan. “I started work on it in August 2008, long before Vinylmation was first introduced to Guests. The idea was to sprinkle a couple of animals through each collection. It was Randy Noble who suggested this be an entire series.”

Giraffe and Polar Bear

The first animals Dan designed were the zebra and the tiger. The giraffe came much later. In the early days of Vinylmation, accessories were discussed but never implemented. It wasn’t until the emu’s neck accessory from the Have a Laugh series that accessories began to be added to figures.

The series also started as a limited release mystery series. The giraffe would have been the mystery chaser. We changed the series to an open window box to allow Guests to select their favorite animals.

I asked Dan if he had a favorite figure.

“I’d have to say the tiger is my favorite,” continued Dan. “When designing this series, I wanted to push the boundaries of design and feature some really cool graphics. I also like the lion as my son is a fan of ‘The Lion King.’”

Unique Signature

In this series, you may notice that the bottom of each figure has a unique signature from Dan. We also added a description for the series – Animals Series 1. This description will be something new added to future Vinylmation figures which will help Guests and Cast Members identify the various figures.

“I created unique signatures for each of the animals,” said Dan. “I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m having fun with design, and I wanted to make the signatures a fun little detail for Guests to discover. When I sign figures in person, I typically sign ‘Dan,’ so it made sense to continue that trend on these figures.”

Dan also added a feature that Guests have come to love at Disney Parks – Hidden Mickeys. Look carefully on each figure and you will see them like the photo below.

Hidden Mickeys

I think my favorite figure is the polar bear. It is the mascot of my university, and I like a certain television show about an island. Now I will ask you that popular question: What is your favorite animal?

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Where at Disney Parks Can You Find…

posted on August 23rd, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Here you go – a new Monday image in need of an ID for those of you who’ve said recent searches have been a cinch. A dropped FASTPASS led to my discovery of “ANTIMATTER” but have you seen it? If so, where? (answer after the jump)
Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Making a Splash from Coast to Coast!

posted on August 23rd, 2010 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

Looking to beat the heat this Summer? Not only will you make a splash when visiting one of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom parks’ most famous attractions, Splash Mountain, but you’re bound to create a wave of excitement with friends and family when they see you in some of our new Splash Mountain inspired tees.

You may remember my interview with Product Developer, Summer Bloomfield, a while back, when we announced the Since ’55 – Happiest Memories on Earth program. Once again, Summer has been hard at work and wanted me to share with you some of the new artwork that will be appearing on our Splash Mountain inspired merchandise this September and October at Disney Parks.

Splash Mountain Inspired T-shirt Design Splash Mountain Inspired T-shirt Design

Splash Mountain Inspired T-shirt Design
So if the heat starts getting unbearable, head for your nearest laughing place and stay cool with these new looks. Keep in mind that items and art will vary by park, but you never know where they’ll splash down next, so keep an eye out. For a look at some of our new Splash Mountain t-shirts that are currently available visit

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As Temperatures Soar, Here’s How We Keep Cool

posted on August 23rd, 2010 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Kids enjoying dole whip to cool off
Sweltering Walt Disney World summer days seem a lot more bearable when we mist and fan and cool off – and we’ve been known to ride Pirates of the Caribbean multiple times, sip most of the flavors at Club Cool at Epcot, aimlessly browse in the Animation Gallery at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or hope to get extra wet at Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Soaring temperatures are the perfect excuse for cold treats. Really cold treats. And all four theme parks have plenty, but we have a favorite in each park.

What is your favorite sweet treat to cool off?

Our picks:

Magic Kingdom. Hands down, the Pineapple Float with pineapple Dole Whip and pineapple juice at Aloha Isle in Adventureland. Maybe a tart, juicy pineapple spear on the side just for good measure (and a healthy dose of Vitamin C). Find a shady spot and enjoy a taste of childhood.

Epcot. A toss-up between a brain-freezing shaved ice with fruit syrup (tangerine is our favorite) at the Kaki Gori kiosk at the Japan Pavilion or a mango margarita from the kiosk at Mexico Pavilion. A perfect spot for cooling off is the “Spirited Beats” exhibit in the tiny museum at the back of the Japan Pavilion that explores the anime (Japanese animation) mania. Cool and quiet.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Peanut-butter-and-jelly milkshake. Need we say more? Ever since the 50’s Prime Time Cafe opened, we dream of this calorie and carb-laden delight. Late afternoon, slip into the adjacent Tune-In Lounge, take a seat at the bar and order your shake. It’s an oasis of sweet sanity on a hot day. The calories may force you to skip dinner.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For grown-ups a cold Safari Amber Beer under the thatched roof at Dawa Bar in Africa with live African music is a delightful way to forget the heat. Or a frozen cappuccino from Royal Anadapur Tea Company in Asia . . . either way, you can cool off more at Kali River Rapids or just hang out in the gorilla area of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – we can spend hours watching these marvelous creatures in the lush vegetation.

Tell us your favorite way to beat the heat!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Big Day with Big Dreams

posted on August 23rd, 2010 by Garth Vaughan, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Cinderella's Castle

Maybe a chance meeting with a favorite princess at Magic Kingdom Park. I hope her dreams come true.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on August 22nd, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Flying Dutchman Ship by Kent Phillips

Talk about a great start – this week, we welcomed new author Kent Phillips to the blog and for a first post he showed us how some unfriendly skies and unique lighting can be magical at Castaway Cay. There are details about how the image came to be in Kent’s original story.

Another new Disney Parks Blog author, Charles Stovall, gave us a Night of Joy schedule update that you can also find below along with some of the other stories we worked on during the week. Enjoy.

Darth Vader vs. Indiana Jones at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? – Fans attending last week’s Star Wars Celebration V saw something they’d never seen before and may never see again – a lightsaber battle Indiana Jones and Darth Vader at the “The Last Tour to Endor” event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Neil Patrick Harris is a “World of Color” Fan – Neil Patrick Harris took a trip to Disney California Adventure park last weekend and stopped to meet Mickey Mouse at Paradise Pier.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant Celebrates 55th Anniversary – Dumbo the Flying Elephant debuted at Disneyland park on August 16, 1955.

Toy Story Playland Unveiled at Disneyland Paris – Philippe Gas, CEO of Euro Disney S.A.S., joined the Disney Parks Blog this week to give us a peek at the new Toy Story Playland at Disneyland Paris.

Moms Panel: Top 5 Unique Experiences at Walt Disney World Resort – Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Diane L shared her top five unique ways to have fun on property.

Disney Dream Construction Update – It’s (Almost) Showtime – We’re fewer than 160 days away from the maiden voyage of the Disney Dream – here’s an update on the ship’s construction.

Disney’s Night of Joy Concert Schedule Released – We shared a first look at the 2010 Night of Joy Concert Schedule.

“World of Color” Meet-Up at Disney California Adventure Park – We’re planning our next Disneyland meet-up. The “World of Color” Meet-Up next Thursday will give 300 guests the opportunity to hear from some of the show’s creators, including two Imagineers.

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