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Epcot Topiaries Go To Infinity and Beyond

posted on February 25th, 2011 by Debbie Mola Mickler, Disney Horticulture

Woody and Buzz Lightyear Topiaries at the 18th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

The 18th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is less than a week away and today we’re sharing a peek behind the scenes as we work our last few days of magic in the greenhouses. During the annual festival, we fill Epcot with millions of blooms and more than 100 topiaries, many that look just like your favorite characters from Disney animated films.

For the first time, we’re debuting several new topiaries based on characters from Disney-Pixar classics, including the “Toy Story” and “Cars” films. We’ll show you Mater and Lightning McQueen in a future post, but here’s a little video tour shot as we prepped topiaries of Woody and Buzz Lightyear to take their place just inside Epcot’s front gate.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival starts next Wednesday, March 2, and runs through May 15.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Newest Disney Cruise Line Ship and Oldest NASA Orbiter Meet at Port Canaveral

posted on February 25th, 2011 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Dream in Port Canaveral, By: Matt Stroshane

Guests departing on the Disney Dream voyage yesterday had an extraordinary view of the space shuttle Discovery as it blasted off from the nearby Kennedy Space Center for its final launch.

The mission marks Discovery’s last liftoff for NASA’s oldest orbiter. We captured a photo in Port Canaveral with the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet in the foreground so you can also enjoy this unique spectacle.

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King Triton Joins Cast of Characters at The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

posted on February 25th, 2011 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations

King Triton – who is Ariel’s father – has taken his place on top of the main archway in front of the upcoming attraction, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, in Disney California Adventure park. The statue itself is 76 inches tall. You’ll probably recognize him. He’s the same Triton who once appeared near the Little Mermaid meet-and-greet area in Fantasyland. He was moved when that space became Pixie Hollow. Walt Disney Imagineers knew the Little Mermaid attraction was the perfect new place for him. He even inspired the design of Ariel’s sisters as classic bas-relief figures on the archway’s face. They will complement King Triton on the arch.

Check out this video of King Triton being moved to his new home.

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Glass Slippers for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend

posted on February 25th, 2011 by Jean Volante, Manager of Dream Making, Disney Floral & Gifts/DEG

This weekend, the Walt Disney World Resort is hosting the Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend and runners will have a “Ball” participating in this fairy tale event while attired with tiaras and other Princess accoutrement. I’m always inspired by these athletes with their commitment and perseverance to the sport. Some of my marathon friends have shared amazing stories about why they started running and what it’s done for them. These stories have inspired me to dust off my glass slippers and live the dream.

Glass Slipper on a Pillow of Flowers from Disney Floral & Gifts

Well, naturally, as a Dream Maker at Disney Floral & Gifts, I had to come up with an idea to create a memory for them…something enchanting, inspiring and memorable to provide a “crowning” moment. So here’s an idea. After our Princesses cross the finish line and receive their Disney’s Princess Half Marathon medal, they’ll join up with friends and family at a designated area. Well, what if at that location, a friend or loved one could surprise them with this glass slipper, featured on a pillow of flowers? And, to enhance the experience even more, at a later time, the glass slipper could be engraved with the name of the race and date as a keepsake! How fun to be an encouragement to those who have inspired us.

So, with that in mind, is there someone special in your life running the race this weekend? If so, how have they been an inspiration to you?

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A Vinylmation Flag Salute at Disney Parks

posted on February 25th, 2011 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

Flag Vinylmation Figure – Japan

As mentioned in a previous Disney Parks Blog article, I love Epcot. I served as an attraction manager for World Showcase East operations in 2003. I had a blast working directly with the International Program Cast Members from Mexico, Norway, China and the United States. I learned much from them, and I still correspond with several of them today. That spirit of cultural exchange was always a part of the Epcot philosophy (even when World Showcase was once planned to be a separate “park” located near the Transportation and Ticket Center). My love for all things international is probably the reason why I love the recently released Vinylmation Flag series so much. I spoke with Caley Hicks, the artist behind this series, about its creation.

Flag Vinylmation Figures – USA

“The first figure I designed was the United States flag,” explained Caley. “I thought it would be easy to design but it turned out to be a challenge. I wanted the figure to be authentic like an actual American flag, but getting the flag to wrap around the Mickey Mouse shaped form was difficult. In the end, I think it turned out great but took a little longer than I anticipated.”

This series is similar to other open window box series we’ve released like Vinylmation Sports. The idea was to allow Guests select their favorite country or the country they consider home. The eleven countries of World Showcase were selected as a starting point. The country of Brazil was added as a figure since there are many Guests from that country visit the Walt Disney World Resort.

Flag Vinylmation Figures

“I sought to create balance with each figure I designed,” continued Caley. “I think my favorite example of balance is found with the Canadian flag figure. I like how the final version looks balanced with the stripes and the maple leaf.”

Work on this series began in spring 2010. While Caley designed the figures, Lisa Badeen of Cutesters #1 fame created the packaging. Elements from this series were then used as visual displays in select Epcot merchandise locations starting last September.

Flag Vinylmation Figures Display

I asked Thomas Scott, one of the lead designers for Vinylmation, if we will see additional flags added to this series.

“I think it is fair to say that guests will eventually see some flags added,” said Thomas. “I can’t say which countries right now but there are some that are coming.”

I’m hoping for Slovakia (it’s my heritage, but that won’t happen). You can find these figures at select merchandise locations in Disney Parks or via our on-line Disney Theme Park Store. With all this talk about World Showcase, I need to visit Epcot again. If you need me, I’ll be in the Japan Pavilion (my home away from home it seems).

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Sci-Fi Academy at Disneyland Resort

posted on February 24th, 2011 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

OK, Disney Parks Blog followers, I received a very important data transmission this morning about a Sci-Fi Academy merchandise pin-trading event taking place on June 24 at the Disneyland Resort. Commander Mickey asked me to share this with as many recruits as possible. So of course, I came to you first!

Sci-Fi Academy at Disneyland Resort

Attention Recruits:

Commander Mickey here! I’m in need of your assistance. The Sci-Fi Adventure Corps and I have gathered a cosmic amount of strange galactic artifacts and worldly keepsakes from various journeys and Sci-Fi explorations.

My trusty communicator device, R.A.L.F (Reality Alterer with Language Functions) has shared that there are other fascinating worlds and galaxies out there, at our fingertips, containing important information and data from various eras of Sci-Fi movies, books, games and television. The artifacts must be collected, catalogued, traded and studied in order for us to move into other alternate realities from your favorite Sci-Fi adventures and understand the strange alien languages that exist.

Reach for the stars,
Commander Mickey

Recruits interested in attending the Sci-Fi Academy merchandise pin-trading event can join the ranks of Commander Mickey beginning March 1 via for an out of this world pin-trading and collecting experience.

Are you planning to join the Sci-Fi Academy ranks?

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Tangaroa Terrace, Trader Sam’s to Join Disneyland Hotel This Spring

posted on February 24th, 2011 by Betsy Sanchez, Manager of Media Relations, Disneyland Resort

Many of you may remember our announcement last spring about the ongoing Disneyland Hotel renovation. This exciting project gives the hotel a retro theme with a contemporary twist and adds historic and nostalgic elements of Disneyland park, circa the 1950s.

In keeping with that spirit, we are excited to announce that this spring Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s will open. The tiki-inspired design and storyline for this restaurant and bar were a perfect fit, as they tie in thematically with the mid-century modern architecture of the Disneyland Hotel and the adjacent Dream Tower, soon to be renamed Adventure Tower.

Artist Rendering of Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel

Inspired by Adventurelands from Disney Parks worldwide and the nostalgic Tahitian Terrace restaurant, located in Adventureland from 1962-1993, Tangaroa Terrace will immerse guests in a tropical setting with tiki torches and themed music. The name of the restaurant was borrowed from one of the tiki gods at the Enchanted Tiki Room. The fast-casual dining experience will include island-inspired food and beverages. The new bar, named after Trader Sam, the infamous Jungle Cruise “head” salesman, will open adjacent to Tangaroa Terrace. Trader Sam’s unique lounge experience will include interactive experiences with a bit of Disney magic you won’t want to miss.

These new locations are in addition to the new in-room décor and exterior of the hotel, as well as the new pool, immersive water play area and redesign of the Never Land Pool that will be completed later this year. Check back soon for more details on the Disneyland Hotel renovation project!

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts

More Than Meets the Eye at Magic Kingdom

posted on February 24th, 2011 by Kent Phillips, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park

(I would like to preface this post with an advance apology for its mildly technical content. Those with an intense physical aversion to science may elect to skip today’s text entirely and go straight to the pretty pictures. No offense taken.)

Just beyond the spectrum of light visible to the human eye lies near infrared light. And though we can’t see it, the silicon-based sensors of many modern digital cameras can. By using a filter which blocks all visible light, you can get pictures that offer a wonderfully surreal view of the world. Foliage and clouds, which reflect infrared light, look ghostly and white, while sky and objects that don’t, go very dark. This is different than far infrared (thermal) photography, which registers heat.

Okay, science is over. Thanks for hanging in there.

Today’s offering is from Magic Kingdom park, though I may very well take my trusty #87 filter through the other parks at the Walt Disney World Resort in the near future.

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Have You Seen Shadow at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort?

posted on February 24th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Earlier this month, my husband, son and I were lucky enough to spend a weekend at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina. Upon our arrival, we were happy to find a very special “cast member” waiting to greet us on the resort’s front porch.

Shadow Greets Guests at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

A frequent sight around the grounds of Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, Shadow first appeared at the resort during construction in 1996. By opening day, she was part of the resort’s family.

The Resort’s local folklore expert, B’Lou Crabbe, often appears with Shadow and shares her tale with guests. According to him, the pup got her name as a result of her curious and happy spirit.

“She showed up when we were building the resort. We noticed a golden retriever puppy hanging around with some of the workers, getting in to trouble and coming out of it smelling like roses. We named her Shadow, not because of her color of her fur, but because she was more underfoot than your own shadow and the name stuck.”

Today, Shadow periodically can be found welcoming guests with B’Lou on the Resort’s front porch. Guests also can join her on a walk around the Resort during Shadow’s Funny Bunny Hunt, or hear about her adventures at Shadow’s Tale story time. Photos and belly rubs welcome.

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Filed: Disney Vacation Club, Hilton Head Island Resort

We Are Heroes Dance Crew Continues to Thrill ElecTRONica Crowds in February!

posted on February 23rd, 2011 by Robin Trowbridge, Entertainment Show Director, Disneyland Resort.

Only one more weekend to catch the all-girl dance crew We Are Heroes as they take the stage at ElecTRONica inside Disney California Adventure park.

Over the last two weekends, the five extremely talented ladies of We Are Heroes dance crew showed off their unique popping and locking skills twice a night for guests of ElecTRONica. Combining cool electric music from TRON: Legacy, hot dance moves, and of course their own glam style sense of fashion, We Are Heroes created a solar storm of energy that recharged everyone’s circuits. Take a look at this video and you’ll see what we mean.

Sensing the popularity of this hard-working creative dance crew, ElecTRONica opened its portal and welcomed We Are Heroes for a series of high-energy, hard-hitting and visually-stunning performances over three weekends in February. From the reactions of fans (old and new), it is clear these girls are a “must see” dance crew!

So, don’t miss the final performances of –– We Are Heroes — MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew Season 4 Winners — LIVE at ElecTRONica, only at Disney California Adventure park. Twice a night, February 25 – 27.

Check the blog next week as we announce the next dance crew to “rez in” at ElecTRONica!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort