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Chilean Miners Honored at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 31st, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Chilean Miners Honored at Walt Disney World Resort

We’re all about great stories here at the Walt Disney Company and the rescue of the Chilean miners was certainly one of the most compelling of 2010. Today, their inspirational story continued right here at Magic Kingdom Park with a parade and celebration on Main Street, U.S.A. The men and their rescuers were greeted by cheers from guests, Disney characters and the “Mayor” of Main Street, U.S.A., who proclaimed their special day.

Chilean Miners Honored at Walt Disney World Resort

Since last week, the miners have been enjoying a Disney-sponsored vacation in their honor. They participated in a welcome party hosted by Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton at Epcot and then received VIP treatment at the theme parks along with a few other Disney surprises.

Chilean Miners Honored at Walt Disney World Resort

One of the highlights of their six-night vacation to Disney was serving as Grand Marshals of the Main Street, U.S.A. parade. Here’s a look at a few of the others.

Chilean miner rescuer Patricio Alejandro Sepulveda Munoz (right) takes a spin with his daughter Esperanza Anais Sepulveda (center, age 2) and his wife Yessica Vivian Sepulveda (left) on The Mad Tea Party attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort Chilean miner rescuer Roberto Cristian Rios (center) joins his twin daughters Elizabeth de los Angeles Rios (left, age 8) and Paz Alexandra Rios (right, age 8) for a ride aboard the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort
 Chilean miner rescuer Roberto Cristian Rios is all smiles as he gives his son, Robert Alex Rios (age 4), a ride atop his shoulders in front of Cinderella Castle at the Walt Disney World Resort  Chilean miner rescuer Patricio Alejandro Sepulveda Munoz (right) joins his daughter Esperanza Anais Sepulveda (left, age 2) and Disney character Tigger as his wife, Yessica Vivian Sepulveda (foreground) takes a souvenir photograph at Walt Disney World Resort

The rescued miners are sharing their lessons of hope and courage with some special youngsters and our author Kathleen Prihoda will have more on that visit for the Disney Parks Blog tomorrow.

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A Different Look at King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

posted on January 31st, 2011 by Paul Hiffmeyer, Chief Photographer for Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

When I went out to get night shots (would you believe it was 4:30 a.m.?) of King Arthur Carrousel for documentation, I brought along most of my lenses, including a great little 15mm fisheye. After about an hour taking images with my normal lenses, I thought I would have some fun with the fisheye lens. The first photo below is an example of a photo I would usually take documenting an attraction.

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

When I first saw this next image on the back of my camera I laughed out loud, and I knew I was seeing a funny side to the majestic and historical Carrousel horses.

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

Below are a few more examples of the photos through a fisheye lens.

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

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Disney Dream Visits Castaway Cay for Fun in the Sun During Ship’s Maiden Voyage

posted on January 31st, 2011 by Jason Lasecki, Public Relations Director, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, Disney Vacation Club

What a week!

On Sunday morning, the Disney Dream returned from her four-night maiden voyage to the Bahamas, a cruise filled with smiles and laughter from the many veterans and first-time Disney Cruise Line guests aboard our newest ship.

After stopping in Nassau on Thursday and a leisurely day at sea Friday, on Saturday the ship visited Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, for some sun-soaked fun among its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters.

Disney Dream guests enjoyed fun in the sun at Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas

Guests made the most of the sunshine, clear skies and many enhancements we’ve recently added like Pelican Plunge, a 2,400-square-foot floating platform with two corkscrew water slides.

Pelican Plunge is one of many recent enhancements on Castaway Cay

Back on the ship, on Friday night we presented an updated version of our popular stage show “The Golden Mickeys: A Timeless Tribute” in the Walt Disney Theatre. On Saturday, we proudly debuted an all-new production, “Disney’s Believe,” which was met with boisterous applause at all three performances.

On Friday, Cruise Director Rachel Quinn introduces “The Golden Mickeys: A Timeless Tribute,” one of three stage shows presented in the Walt Disney Theatre

On behalf of the ship’s crew members and the many cast members who support the Disney Dream back on land, thank you to all the maiden voyage guests for sharing the fun with us! For everyone else who’ll be sailing with us soon or is maybe thinking about taking their first Disney cruise, we hope you’ve enjoyed these exclusive reports on the Disney Parks Blog and Twitter.

Snorkeling is one of many family activities on Castaway Cay Several surprises await guests who explore the island’s snorkeling lagoon Serenity Bay offers a relaxing oasis exclusively for adults Children play in the clear waters of Castaway Cay
Goofy’s Golf is a tongue-in-cheek miniature golf course with beautiful views from Deck 13 Disney Cruise Line guests enjoy stunning sunsets at sea “Disney’s Believe” is a brand-new stage spectacular only on the Disney Dream Pink is a stylish cocktail bar within The District that was inspired by champagne

Here are some highlights from the sands of Castaway Cay and inside the magnificent Walt Disney Theatre:

If you’ve enjoyed our reports from the maiden voyage of the Disney Dream, add a comment below and let us know what you liked the most!

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Character Fan Days Are a Big Hit With Guests at Disneyland Park

posted on January 31st, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Last weekend, guests joined us for Character Fan Days at the Festival Arena in Disneyland park. This Disney character reunion featured some rarely seen characters, including King Louie and Baloo from “Jungle Book” and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s not very often that you see all these fellows together in the park.

The Seven Dwarfs at Disneyland Park's Character Fan Days

King Louie and Baloo from 'The Jungle Book' at Disneyland Park's Character Fan Days

Character Fan Days was one in a series of Family Fun Weekends. The next two weekends will be the Happy Lunar New Year Festival, featuring Lunar Mickey.

For those who couldn’t join us, here are a few shots from our photographer Paul Hiffmeyer that capture the fun.

Country Bears at Disneyland Park's Character Fan Days

Guests enjoyed meeting Esmeralda and others from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Esmeralda from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' at Disneyland Park's Character Fan Days

Guests also got to enjoy the magic of sketch artists at work. And one very special guest got to help direct the Disneyland Band.

A Sketch Artist at Character Fan Days at Disneyland Park

A Special Guest Helps Direct the Disneyland Band

There are five more Family Fun Weekends, celebrating Lunar New Year and Mardi Gras. It’s a great time for Southern California residents to come join the fun. They can get 2 days of fun at the Resort for $99, with a ticket that offers admission to either Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park.

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Disney Merchandise for Living Happily Ever After

posted on January 31st, 2011 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

Bride and Groom Disney Ear Hats

Have you ever attended a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings? I did about 11 years ago when a dear friend was married at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It was such a magical event – I mean, who wouldn’t want to get married in the happiest place on earth? With Valentine’s Day approaching, I figured there may be some of you ready to tie the knot (or at least ask “that” big question). If you have been reading Korri McFann’s articles, then you are aware of the many opportunities we offer to create special wedding moments. But what do you give the happy couple? I walked the hallways of Disney Theme Park Merchandise and found several items with one common theme – a bride and groom Disney Ear Hat.

Megan Kachur, developer for ear hats, said the hats have been around forever (perhaps they were married long ago). These hats served as the inspiration for an entire art program developed by David Whitaker, Product Developer for Home and Décor.

Bride and Groom Disney Ear Hat Merchandise

“I chose the ear hats as I wanted a wedding message that was related to our Disney Parks,” said David. “I’ve seen many honeymoon couples at Disney who love wearing those hats, so it made sense to have an assortment featuring those icons.”

For the ear-hat art program, there are a variety of items including pins (the ultra portable item to inform others you are the happy couple); photo albums and wedding frames to capture memories from the special day; and my favorite item – coffee cups. Those cups sure make it easy to identify who gets what cup in the morning (especially when one is a little sleepy).

Mickey and Minnie Wedding Figurines

Another common theme I discovered was Minnie and Mickey portrayed as a bride and groom. There are some new figurines that look incredible (especially Minnie’s wedding gown). David shared some additional details.
“Minnie’s wedding gown has a pearlescent finish which makes it shimmer,” explained David. “I think the ‘over the threshold’ figure is my favorite. It is not only a great gift but I’ve seen people use it as a cake topper.”

Disney Bride and Groom Vinylmation Figures

My final (possibly favorite) thing I found was sitting on Maria Clapsis’ desk at Disney Design Group. Maria is one of our artists who designs Vinylmation figures. She created a one-of-a-kind custom Vinylmation set for her friends who were tying the knot. Talk about a personalized gift – wow!

So now it is your turn. Have you given a special Disney gift to a recently married couple? I’m sure there are others out there looking for some inspiration.

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Filed: Celebrations, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Weddings & Honeymoons

Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on January 30th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Disney Dream Arrives in the Bahamas

This is what we’ve been working for. After years of planning and construction, the Disney Dream set sail this week on her official maiden voyage to the Bahamas. And to begin the new era for Disney Cruise Line, we shared reports from the trip and featured different aspects of the ship, including our brand-new fireworks spectacular at sea called “Buccaneer Blast!”

Also this week, we debuted a new “Slo-Mo Magic” series on the Disney Parks Blog. Our first video was from the Imagination! Pavilion at Epcot where we offered a very different look at the water-ful dances performed by our fountains – with a surprise ending.

We’re still taking suggestions for what you’d like to see featured in slo-mo from Disney Parks. Please let us know in the comments. Now, here’s a list of some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Where at Disney Parks Can You Find… – You’ve probably walked right past this guy. Do you know where to find him?

How Do We Give Every Disney Dream Guest an Ocean View? It’s Magic! – See how even the inside staterooms at the center of passenger decks on the Disney Dream have ocean views.

Magical PhotoPass Memories at Disney Parks – See how PhotoPass photographers will help create the magic for the new “The Magic, the Memories and You” shows at Disney Parks.

New Attraction Posters Paint a Fresh Vision of Paradise Pier – These new attraction posters are featured at the recently re-opened Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure park.

Moms Panel: Moms Are Moms – This well-known mom has some of her own vacation planning advice to share.

New Projection Show Turns ‘small world’ Into a Big Canvas, for ‘The Magic, The Memories and You!’ – “it’s a small world” attraction will be the backdrop for guests’ memories in this nightly show.

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Take 5 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 29th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Logo
Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes Guests on many different adventures – into the African savannah, to the top of Mount Everest, and back to the age of the dinosaurs. But some of the most amazing adventures are those involving the animal friends who are born and cared for at the park. Here is a look at some of our top Disney’s Animal Kingdom posts.

What has been your favorite adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments.

Top 5: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  1. First Look Video: Wild Africa Trek – Take a peek into the new Wild Africa Trek.
  2. New Baby Elephant, a Girl, Arrives at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Last May, we welcomed Luna, the fifth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  3. Endangered Gorilla Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – In March 2010, Lilly joined the gorilla family and was snapped in one of our favorite images from Gene Duncan.
  4. A Mother’s Love Witnessed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Gene Duncan also gave us another touching mother/child image – this shot of giraffe Big Girl and her calf, Bolo.
  5. Injured Sea Turtles from the Gulf Arrive for Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – In August, eight turtles injured by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began their rehabilitation under the care of our animal experts.
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Maiden Voyage Guests Enjoy Innovation and Pixie Dust Aboard the Disney Dream

posted on January 28th, 2011 by Jason Lasecki, Public Relations Director, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, Disney Vacation Club

After visiting Nassau in the Bahamas yesterday, the Disney Dream is spending today at sea during her four-night maiden voyage.

On Thursday, Disney Cruise Line guests spent the day enjoying everything from the thrills of AquaDuck, the world’s only water coaster aboard a cruise ship…

Maiden voyage guests enjoy an exhilarating ride on AquaDuck, the only shipboard water coaster

…to the chic sophistication of exclusively adult venues like Skyline lounge, where the ever-changing penthouse view features famous metropolitan skylines that transform from day to night and showcase a variety of stunning cities.

Adult guests sip on signature cocktails in Skyline, aboard the Disney Dream

On Thursday morning, two local marching bands met the ship upon her arrival in Nassau for a lively welcome filled with sound, color and rhythm. For guests who chose to explore the city through Port Adventures, it was a chance to soak up the rich history and culture of the Bahamas.

A Bahamian marching band greets the Disney Dream upon the ship’s arrival in Nassau

For those who stayed aboard the Disney Dream, it was an opportunity to enjoy all the magical innovations throughout the ship, including fun spaces for children in Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, and the grownup entertainment offerings in the five interconnected venues of The District.

A Bahamian marching band welcomes the Disney Dream to Nassau Another Bahamian band performs for Disney Cruise Line guests in Nassau Children experience exciting twists and turns during a wild ride on AquaDuck Guests of all ages enjoy the thrills and crystal-clear views aboard the AquaDuck water coaster
Crush, the totally cool turtle dude from the Disney•Pixar animated motion picture “Finding Nemo,” chats with children in Disney’s Oceaneer Club Young guest, Albert, samples the fun in Andy’s Room, one of five areas within Disney’s Oceaneer Club Reece, 6, plays inside Monster’s Academy within Disney’s Oceaneer Club “Anyone Can Cook” is the motto of a fun activity for kids in Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab

After the sun went down, it was time for a ship-wide pirate party, including a special themed menu in the onboard family restaurants, Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Up on the pool deck, the fun continued with Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean, an all-ages deck party.

Many families embraced the ship’s pirate-themed festivities with elaborate costumes

Afterward, a rollicking pirate ship battle broke out under the stars during a brand-new fireworks spectacular called Buccaneer Blast! DJ Randy kept guests rocking during Club Pirate, the hottest dance club at sea, which was followed by a late-night screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” on the ship’s giant Funnel Vision display.

Guests filled the ship’s upper decks to see the fireworks spectacular, Buccaneer Blast!

Here arrrrr some highlights from another magical day aboard the Disney Dream:

During Friday’s day at sea, Captain Tom Forberg treated guests with a “drive-by” visit to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, which was hosting our flagship vessel, the Disney Magic. To guests’ delight, a mini Disney concert echoed across the island as the ships tooted their horns back and forth, including many familiar Disney melodies played by the Disney Dream.

Follow Disney Cruise Line on Twitter at for real-time tweets and photos during the maiden voyage. Then come back to the Disney Parks Blog on Monday for another exclusive report from the ship – and from the sands of Castaway Cay!

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Flower Power Concert Series Lineup for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

posted on January 28th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Flower Power Concert Series

Before jumping into the weekend, we have a quick update for everyone looking forward to hearing some fun live music during this year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the festival, you’ll be able to enjoy music from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s during the Flower Power Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre. And today, we can share the latest lineup of performers:

  • 3/4-6 Jose Feliciano (Light My Fire)
  • 3/11-13 The Guess Who (American Woman)
  • 3/18-20 Chubby Checker and the Wildcats (The Twist)
  • 3/25-27 Melissa Manchester (Don’t Cry Out Loud)
  • 4/1-3 Starship starring Mickey Thomas (We Built this City)
  • 4/8-10 Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (You Don’t Have to be a Star (to be in My Show)
  • 4/15-17 Juice Newton (Queen of Hearts)
  • 4/22-24 Ricky Nelson Remembered featuring The Nelsons (Poor Little Fool)
  • 4/29-5/1 Paul Revere & The Raiders (Good Thing)
  • 5/6-8 Davy Jones (I’m a Believer)
  • 5/13-15 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone (I’m Henry VIII, I Am)

Epcot theme park admission is required for the Flower Power Concert Series. Showtimes are at 5:15, 6:30 & 7:45 p.m. And you should know that entertainment is subject to change without notice. Who are you planning to see?

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New Blue Sky Cellar Show Previews Little Mermaid and Unveils an ‘Animated’ Map

posted on January 28th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

I’ve noticed a curious thing about fans of the Disneyland Resort. As much as they like their favorite shows and attractions, they can’t wait to see what’s coming next to the parks. The hint of a new surprise has its own special thrill.

That’s why fans will be excited to visit the new show at Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar. It opens today with an exclusive preview of the next big attraction coming to Disney California Adventure park: The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Along with dozens of new models and concept drawings crafted by Disney Imagineers, you will see:

  • An artist’s rendering of the 86-foot long, hand-painted mural that will greet guests in the loading area of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
  • Ariel Mural

  • A one-inch-to-the-foot scale model of Ursula, glowing in black-light paint, previewing her appearance in the attraction
  • A new video that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how Imagineers are creating The Little Mermaid attraction
  • A full-size glass sample from the attraction entrance marquee, sitting right there on the Imagineer’s desktop where you can touch it

One of my favorite parts of the show is the night-time painting of Disney California Adventure park, in the alcove of the screening room. It’s a birds-eye view map that comes to life with 30 moving images that are projected onto the painting. If you stand and watch for a little while, you’ll see bubbles over Little Mermaid, Grizzly Rapids geysers, strikes of lightning at Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, “World of Color” fountains dancing at Paradise Bay and many more. I wonder if you’ll find the “hidden” effect!

Imagineers have used the latest in projection technology to bring this painting to life. It’s reminiscent of the way Walt Disney introduced Disneyland Park to his television guests back in the ‘50s using the latest black-light technology of the time, with a painting by artist Peter Ellenshaw that transformed the park from day to night.

Other highlights of the new show at Blue Sky Cellar include:

  • A preview of Goofy’s Sky School attraction and the new Paradise Pier dining locations that will open later this year
  • All-new attraction posters for California Screamin’, Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Silly Symphony Swings – designed in the style of traditional Disney theme park attraction posters
  • Concept art for the new park entrance, the Buena Vista Street entry plaza, and the Red Car Trolleys which will transport guests from the park entrance through Hollywood Land.

You can always check out what’s going on with the Disney California Adventure park expansion at

Who will be the first person to list 10 of the special effects on the new map of Disney California Adventure park?

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