Show Hide
Anna and Elsa Paint the Night Parade

Celebrating the Art of…Darren Wilson

posted on September 28th, 2010 by Dara Trujillo, Manager, Merchandise Synergy, Events, and Communication

A few weeks back, I shared with you The Art of Randy Noble. This month I wanted to introduce you to another talented Disney artist, Darren Wilson. Like Randy, Darren has a true passion for all things Disney. Darren’s love for Disney started at early age and has brought him to where he is today – a Graphic Designer for Disney Design Group. Darren’s talents can be seen not only in his fine artwork but also in popular Disney Theme Park Authentic items such as our co-branded Dooney & Bourke collections and on the high seas with Disney Cruise Line.

Snow White & Co.

Darren, your work continues to provide a sense of enchantment to our Guests. Your ability to capture some of our most notable Disney characters in many scenes and scenarios is just part of the charm and magic that makes them so special. What led you to want to depict the characters in such a unique style?

Disney has such a rich history and tradition with its characters that I really try to capture the timeless quality of them. Over the years, I have developed my own vision of how I’ve perceived the characters to be and have created a unique art style that has become well known to Disney fans and collectors. I am inspired by the characters’ essences and nuances by bringing them to life through movement, composition, tone and attention to detail in a vintage classical way.

Rags to Riches

Your upcoming pieces will surely capture the imagination of Disney enthusiasts and collectors everywhere. Can you give us some highlights and insights on the pieces you’ve created for your upcoming artist showcase and why you chose these subjects?

The first painting depicts a scene from one of my favorite movies, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” I wanted to put all the characters in a tight compact space all around Snow White and get them large enough to highlight all their expressions and individuality.

In the second painting, Chip and Dale, I wanted to play up the humorous and mischievous look about them. I chose to keep the palate more tonal with hints of color.

Lastly, I painted Cinderella from rags to riches transformation. This painting reminds me of a moment that we all can relate, where we have come from in life’s journey to where we are now.

When you’re not creating your one-of-a-kind masterpieces, what additional items are you dreaming up for Disney Theme Park Merchandise? Have there been any projects from your past that stand out as favorites?

I am currently working for the softlines division here in Attractions Merchandise. I am really excited about the work I have done with the cobranded business with Dooney & Bourke. I have created the character sketch print, along with fellow designer Donna Kozatek, which has been a huge hit with our guests! We also just released a Princess line of bags that I am excited about that depicts the princesses in cameo poses and is very colorful. I worked on Mickey, Minnie and Tinker Bell tattoo inspired art as well as some Pirates of the Caribbean apparel. But when it comes to the gallery work, I am really excited about the series of Disney Cruise Line paintings I have done for the Disney Dream.

Chip and Dale

One of my favorite questions to ask is ‘How did you get your start with Disney?’ Everyone that comes to work at the most magical place on earth has a unique story to tell. Can you share your story with us?

For my 8th birthday, I got a Walt Disney light-up drawing desk from my parents. The little plastic drawing desk was really cool with Disney characters that I could trace. That little desk inspired me and turned me into a drawing machine! It took several hundred ugly drawings; but before long, I became really good at sketching the characters. I have always been creative, winning art contests through my early years of education. I attended college on an art scholarship, and then graduated with a degree in design from Auburn University in 1993.

I began my career in Nashville, Tennessee, where I worked as a designer for a public relations firm with clients such as Saturn and Bridgestone/Firestone. I also spent some time designing for a small studio in the heart of Music Row. I arrived in Orlando in 1996 and worked as a designer for Universal Studios.

Soon after, I received the call I had been waiting for, and since that happy day in 1997, I have worked as a graphic designer for Walt Disney World. I have had the opportunity to create designs for the Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Cruise Line, Disneys California Adventure, Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

I have been happily creating original paintings for the Art of Disney galleries for the past 11 years.

TIP: On Friday, October 1, Darren Wilson will be debuting three new original pieces of art at the Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Visit for more information about Darren’s upcoming appearance.

  • Share: 


Filed: Art of Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

A Peek Inside the Pirates of the Caribbean Suite at Disneyland Hotel

posted on September 28th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

A Pirate’s life for me! The Pirates of the Caribbean Suite at the Disneyland Hotel recreates the exciting world of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films and attractions with unique furnishings and decor. Lodging fit for a pirate king – or a loyal fan of Pirates of the Caribbean – is found on 11th floor of the hotel’s Dreams Tower.

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite at Disneyland Hotel

The specially redesigned suite is intended to fully immerse guests, providing family lodging that combines modern conveniences with décor, furnishings and ambience that evoke the fun, whimsy and adventure of the films and attraction.

The Pirates experience begins as you ring the doorbell, which plays, “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me,” and enter the living room. There you will find Old World rugs covering dark-stained hardwood floors, with wooden beams overhead. The Spanish colonial-style furnishings could be part of a pirate’s plunder, yet the room also provides landlubbers’ comforts including a wet bar, 42-inch plasma TV and surround sound stereo system.

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite at Disneyland Hotel

Down the hall, the Master Bedroom (or Captain’s Quarters) features a vintage canopied four-poster bed with cast iron lighting fixtures and (in addition to a 37-inch LCD TV), decorative artwork inspired by elements of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and attractions. The Master bath compliments the pirate furnishing with some more modern amenities such as a Jacuzzi tub and steam shower.

Younger guests will find their own pirate stronghold in the second bedroom, which features a more playfully rustic theme with nautical-inspired furniture.

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite at Disneyland Hotel

Among the treasures to be discovered in the suite, including some in locked display cases, are a replica of Captain Jack Sparrow’s revolver, rare pirate figurines (discontinued) from the popular Walt Disney Classics Collection, a lithograph signed by Disney Legend “X” Atencio (Lyricist for the song for “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me”) and a replica of the mysterious Davy Jones’ “Dead Man’s Chest.”

The suite also boasts spectacular views of the Never Land Pool area below, Santa Catalina Island, the nearby San Bernardino Mountains and fireworks over Disneyland park.

This is the third post in our series on suites at the Disneyland Hotel. You can also read more about the Big Thunder Suite and Mickey Mouse Penthouse.

To inquire about prices and availability, please call (714) 956-6425.

What is your favorite feature in the Pirates of the Caribbean Suite?

  • Share: 


Filed: Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts

Meet-Up and Warm Up for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon with Running Guru Jeff Galloway

posted on September 28th, 2010 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

UPDATE: 4:30 P.M. – Click here for a complete list of attendees. If you are on the list and did not receive a confirmation email, please contact us at

Please note that we will not be responding to questions via this email address. If you have questions, please ask them on the Disney Parks Blog, and we will do our best to answer them.

UPDATE: 11:16 A.M. – We have reached capacity! Thanks for everyone’s interest in the Run with Jeff Galloway Meet-Up, and we appreciate your quick responses. At approximately 2 p.m. ET, we will send the meet-up attendees a confirmation email. If you are on the list and did not receive a confirmation email, please contact us at By 5 p.m. ET, we will post a link to the complete list of attendees. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional unique opportunities in the future.

Olympian Jeff Galloway

How would you like to go for a run with arguably the greatest running trainer on the planet?

Well, this Friday (Oct. 1), you could be part of a very select group of runners who go on a training run with former Olympian Jeff Galloway, runDisney’s official training consultant. The day before the inaugural Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Galloway will offer tips and training secrets to the group of 20 qualified runners, as selected by Disney, then lead them on a special 3-mile run through one of the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s just one of the many fun opportunities available as part of the new runDisney series.

Galloway, who has run all 17 Walt Disney World Marathons as well as several other runDisney events, is well known for his popular Run-Walk-Run training method and the expertise he’ll share with the 20 runners has helped thousands of runners complete their first marathons and improve their race times.

For an opportunity to be selected to run with Galloway this Friday, hurry up and RSVP right now to Remember, only 20 qualified runners will be able to participate, so be one of the first to apply ASAP!

If you’re not one of the 20 selected this time, post your training questions for Galloway here and I’ll get him to answer a few of them on a future blog post. Also, you can see Galloway at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon this weekend and at future runDisney events.

In the meantime, here are a few things you should know:

  • Qualified applicants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Admittance to the event is limited to the participant; no additional guests please.
  • Valid photo I.D. will be required at check-in. No exceptions.
  • Valid RSVPs must include your name. RSVPs that include the names of more than one person or are missing information (e.g. incomplete names) will not be accepted.
  • Participants must be 18 years or older.
  • The event is subject to change or cancellation.
  • Because this is a running-oriented event, we ask that applicants be experienced runners, able to maintain a 12-minute per mile pace.
  • We will send an email to respondents who sent their valid RSVP via email before we reached capacity to confirm their attendance for Friday. We plan to send this email at approximately 2 p.m. ET today, and we will also post a link on the Disney Parks Blog that will include a list of names of all attendees. If you do not receive an email from us confirming your reservation and your name does not appear on the list of attendees, your RSVP was not accepted.
  • Guests attending the meet-up are not required to purchase admission.
  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks Blog Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

posted on September 28th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Disney Parks Blog

Really, a year? It’s hard to believe it’s already been 12 months since we hopped into the blogosphere with this Don “Ducky” Williams Sorcerer Mickey image and a few promises – to listen to what you had to say about all things Disney Parks and to share our fun, relevant and sometimes quirky information and expertise one story at a time. From day one, you’ve offered great feedback and support. And your comments and questions have made us think and grow.

A favorite recurring question during the year (that we thought would be fun for today) has been, “Would Walt Disney have blogged?” We’ve heard the stories of Walt engaging with families in the park but would he have gone digital? Chief Disney Archivist Dave Smith guesses Walt may have been a bit too busy to seriously engage in blogging. He told us, “I have a personal experience from when I was a teenager – I saw Walt walking in the park in about 1956, and I asked him for his autograph. He politely declined, saying that when he started signing autographs, he got this huge crowd around him and he was unable to get his work done. He did tell me to write him at the Studio, which I did, and he did send me his autograph.”

What say you, Disney experts? Today, we’re in the parks asking, “Would Walt Disney have blogged?”

Let us know if you think Walt Disney would’ve blogged in the comments below or what you would have asked him. And before beginning a second year of posts, we’d like to say thank you for a fantastic first year on The Disney Parks Blog. We have plenty of surprises planned on our journey forward. Stay tuned.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Where at Disney Parks Can You Find…

posted on September 27th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


Here you go…this week’s image is in need of an ID that may just stump a few of you Disney Parks experts. You know that “Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” is part of our Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World Resort but do you know where you can see this smiling face now? Put your answers in the comments and we’ll update the post with the answer later today.
Read the rest of this entry »

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Celebrating the Art of…Jim Shore

posted on September 27th, 2010 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

Last month, Dara took you behind the scenes with the Disney Hollywood Ink and Paint Team. This month, I’m following up with tradition — Disney Traditions — and celebrating the art of Artisan Jim Shore. I hope that you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

The Art of Jim Shore

Q: The name of your collection of Disney inspired figures is called Disney Traditions. Can you share with us what Disney Traditions means to you as an artist?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a huge Disney fan. Like everybody in my generation, I grew up with it. Characters like Mickey and Donald, stories like Snow White and Pinocchio, were an important, everyday part of our lives. And it wasn’t just great entertainment. We picked up some pretty important life lessons too. Disney stood for the values we admired most, things like courage, loyalty, friendship. And what’s great is those classic Disney movies and characters are as popular now as they were when I was a kid. As an artist and for me personally, being associated with that kind of creative tradition is an incredible honor.

Q: Reminiscent of folk art, the detailed quilting patterns and scroll designs along with meticulous attention to character detail and color are all indicators of your signature style of art. What path led you to this unique style?

I grew up in a family of quilters, so I guess that part of it sort of comes naturally. But as I grew older I was drawn to the broader traditions of American and European folk art, things like rosemaling, tole painting, Fraktur and what’s called Pennsylvania Dutch. The unique thing about my work is the combination of these different folk art elements. The challenge is pulling everything together into something that makes sense visually. The goal is to keep the eye moving across the entire piece, taking in all the different elements while appreciating the composition as a whole. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Q: No matter the subject, the color story used for each of your creations can be described as bright and cheerful. How do you select your color combinations?

My grandmother specialized in what’s called Crazy Quilts, which combine apparently random bits of cloth into abstract designs. They were pretty wild and she was pretty out there when it came to color. No combination was off limits to her. I grew up watching her work and I guess I picked up on that mindset. And since I never went to art school that early influence didn’t get bogged down with a lot of formal training. Consequently I use color in a way that most artists would find unconventional. For me it works to put a pink next to an orange next to a purple next to a green. I guess I’m a lot like Grandma that way.

The Art of Jim Shore

Q: Speaking of favorites, we often see the same character portrayed in different pieces, especially when it comes to your seasonal designs. Do you have a favorite character and what about this character inspires your creativity?

I love Tinker Bell. She’s smart, loyal and very spirited. She’s full of fun but always seems to do the right thing in the end. Plus her size makes her an interesting subject to work with. I have a great time drawing her in scale with stuff around the house like clocks, candy canes and the like.

Q: Those of us in the know have seen you appear on more than one occasion at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. What brings you back and what do you enjoy about the experience?

I’m a grandfather several times over, at a stage of life where fairy tales and pirate adventures aren’t supposed to mean much. But the Disney Parks bring out the kid in me and I love going back. I’ll be signing at Disneyland November 20-21 and at Walt Disney World December 3-5. It’s a great time to go because everything at the parks is getting ginned up for Christmas. There’s a special energy that time of year.

Q: The pieces you design for your Disney Traditions collection are among our Guest favorites. Can you give us a sneak peek as to what we might see next?

We’ve got a lot of good things in the pipeline. And what’s gratifying for me is that a lot of them have to do with special memories I have with my kids. My daughters watched Aladdin ‘til they memorized every line. We have a new Genie piece coming out and flying carpet with Aladdin and Jasmine that’ll make them happy. And I used to watch the Muppets every Saturday night with the kids, so the new Muppets collection due out this winter is a family favorite. Plus we have a new take on a musical Disney Princess collection and maybe a theme park piece or two to follow up on the Hitchhiking Ghosts piece I did last year. I’m pretty excited about it. I love doing the Disney pieces.

Keep an eye out for next month’s post and see who’s next in the series.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Art of Disney, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

How to Trade Vinylmation

posted on September 27th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

Since its official introduction in April 2010, Vinylmation trading excitement has spread like crazy. We first tested Vinylmation Trading at the D23 Expo in September 2009 to get a feel of how it would work. From what I’ve seen in the past few months, I would say that folks are loving it (even my son has traded Vinylmation). There are currently more than 90 locations that offer Vinylmation Trading at locations in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland Resort Paris.

So how does it work? I had an article last May on the Disney Parks Blog about the trading experience but I thought it would be cool to see a trade in action. I recently visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and shot this “How To” video. The most important thing to remember about trading (either Disney pins or Vinylmation) – have fun!

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

Filed: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Wonder – A Study in Black and White, Part 3

posted on September 27th, 2010 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort

Today’s final series of images from a day spent aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship are unique. They capture some of the subtle and not-so-subtle “discovery” elements that caught my eye. There must be a million more…all aboard?

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Disney Cruise Line

Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on September 26th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Hearing about your favorite Disney memories is one thing – seeing them is something special. Just look at our new “Let The Memories Begin” online hub. It launched this week and it’s a first for us. We’re featuring your “never-to-be-forgotten” videos and snapshots in television ads and other channels and it’s already begun.

Got a favorite Disney memory? You know what to do.

Also, beginning in January 2011, you’ll be the star of some new nighttime shows at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. There are more details in this week’s post. Now, take a few minutes this Sunday and check out our weekly recap.

What Do You Want to Ask the Disney Villains? – What questions do you have for these Disney Villains? Check the blog in the coming week as the answer some of the questions submitted by readers.

Celebrating Culinary Adventures With New Mini Disney Gift Card – Check out the new mini gift card design for the 2010 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Duffy the Disney Bear Debuts at Disney Parks in October – We released Vinylmation 9-inch figures based on characters from Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story September 17 at D-Street in California and Florida.

A Train’s Life: the Disneyland Railroad – Take a trip through a day in the life of the Disneyland Railroad steam trains.

These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For! – it probably comes as no surprise that one of the first things we set out to do with the new Star Tours show was to figure out when our story should take place within the Star Wars timeline.

Mickey’s Halloween Party: Special Photo Locations and Mickey’s Hide-and-Go-Treat Trails – This year, there are special photo locations and more treat stations along Mickey’s Hide-and-Go-Treat Trails at Mickey’s Halloween Party.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

One-Stop Searching: Disney Behind-the-Scenes

posted on September 26th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Winnie the Pooh Tree Relocated
In addition to providing news and announcements, we’ve enjoyed taking you behind the scenes of some of your favorite Disney Parks attractions and experiences. Here are some of our behind-the-scenes posts.

We’ve introduced you to some of the cast members who work to bring magic to life every day at Disney Parks.

Meet the Disneyland Resort Sign Shop Cast – This video shows the detail and creativity that goes into making signs for the Disneyland Resort.

Behind the Scenes with Disney Hollywood Studios Ink & Paint Team – Meet the talented design team who creates the Ink & Paint collection, available exclusively at the Animation Gallery.

Behind-the-Scenes: Topiaries at ‘it’s a small world’ – The Disneyland Resort Topiary Engineer explains how the 15 topiaries at “it’s a small world” are cared for.

The Most Delicious Role! – Meet the one of the Disneyland Resort pastry chefs and find out why this is the most delicious role at the Resort.

Behind the Scenes: Disneyland Performers Prepare for Celebrate! A Street Party – Think you have what it takes to be in a Disney parade? You might just think again when you see how our parade performers prepare each day.

What it Takes to Serve a Family of 500 – Can you imagine cooking and serving for a family of 500? That’s the kind of orders the Disneyland Resort Resort Banquets Team fills every day.

Behind the Scenes: ‘World of Color’ Control Room – Go inside the control room from which Disney cast members run “World of Color” every night.

Behind The Scenes: Float Driving in the Main Street Electrical Parade – See how our float drivers bring characters to life in the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Making Minnie Mouse Candy Apples at Marceline’s Confectionary – Candy maker Margie Bursiaga at Marceline’s Confectionary in the Downtown Disney District shows us how a Minnie Mouse Candy Apple is made.

Behind the Scenes: Getting Down and Dirty with Pirates – How do you make a costume look dirty and smelly without it actually being dirty and smelly? Watch this video to find out.

Every Role a Starring Role – Behind the Scenes with the Jungle Cruise Horticulture Team – Check out this video to find out how the Jungle Cruise is maintained.

Drawing Characters ‘Is Way of Life’ for Disney Artist – Don “Ducky” Williams is an artist with The Yellow Shoes Creative Group. Watch him draw Goofy in this video.

Every Role a Starring Role – Behind the Scenes with Window Designers – Meet the cast members who bring Disneyland Resort window displays to life.

Behind the Scenes: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Take a look at the preparations for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Behind the Scenes: Disneyland Resort Ambassador – Spend a day in the life of a Disneyland Resort Ambassador.

Magic: A 24 Hour Operation – Find out what happens at Disneyland park after the gates close for the night.

Festival of the Masters Art at Downtown Disney – We uncovered the “magic” behind the “magic” in this interview with Yellow Shoes Creative Group’s Joe Kaminski.

We’ve also given you sneak peeks into new attractions as they are developed.

Behind the Scenes of the Disney Dream Mock-Up Room – This video gives you a look at the “mock-up” room at the shipyard where actual elements of the Disney Dream’s interior are assembled together for the project team to review and approve before being installed on the ship.

‘World of Color’ – Behind the H2O – Making the Fountains Dance – Prior to the opening of “World of Color,” Disney Parks Blog readers got a look at how we made the fountains “dance.”

First Look: Cars Land Welcomes the First Test Vehicle for Radiator Springs Racers – Watch the first early ride system tests for Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure park.

A Look at Silly Symphony Swings – See how Silly Symphony Swings was built and developed.

Disney Wonder Receives Magical Makeover – We gave readers a peek into the Disney Wonder makeover.

We’ve also answered the question, “How did they do that?”

Behind The Scenes: Main Street Electrical Parade Returns To Walt Disney World Resort – How do you move a parade from California to Florida? Find out in this video!

Behind the Scenes: 120-Ton Winnie the Pooh Tree Relocated at Walt Disney World – But what about moving a 120-ton tree? How did we do that?

Behind-The-Scenes: Disney’s Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – See how we turn millions of lights into a spectacular display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Main Street, U.S.A. Holiday Fun Facts – We showed you what it takes to turn Main Street, U.S.A., into a holiday wonderland.

Time-Lapse Video: Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House – In November, readers got a look at how the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House was built.

200,000 Lights Transform Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World – Walt Disney World Entertainment’s senior show director Alan Bruun showed us how they make Cinderella Castle look like it’s been “dipped in sugar.”

Magic Kingdom Park Transforms For ‘Halloween Party’ – Watch this video to see Magic Kingdom park transformed before your eyes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort