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More Than Meets the Eye at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on March 28th, 2011 by Kent Phillips, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Today’s magic words: puffy white clouds. In taking my near infrared photo sideshow through the final park at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I was lucky enough to find myself on the bridge leading to Harambe on a sunny day when the sky was chock full of the little buggers. I was totally unprepared for the effect a sky full of small, fast-moving clouds would produce during 30-second exposures of Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life.

More Than Meets the Eye at Disney's Animal Kingdom

It’s a rare and satisfying experience when you look at an image as it pops up on your camera’s LCD screen and go, “Oooooo!” However, as satisfying as it may be, I realized that day that it’s probably best to smile and say it quietly to yourself rather than standing on a bridge, grinning like a goof and making sounds like a lovesick moose.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

With as much fun as I’ve had shooting these near infrared photos, I find I’m having a hard time making myself take the filter out of my camera bag and put it back in the cabinet. Maybe I could leave it in there a little while longer.

Just in case.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 27th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Sure, Mickey’s new permanent home at Magic Kingdom Park debuts in early April. But this week, we shared another early peek of Town Square Theater with Disney Parks Blog readers – before Magician Mickey begins greeting guests. Walt Disney Imagineering has designed the entire experience to be magical.

Magician Mickey at Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom Park

And one of the magical touches at Town Square Theater will be interactive posters featuring Mickey’s various magic acts. Check our original post for more details.

Also this week, we offered a video update on Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. You can now see some of the key recreation elements taking shape in the Resort’s central Waikolohe Valley, including one of the great landmarks, Pu‘u Kino. It means “hidden faces in the lava” and if you look closely, you may already be able to detect a few of the hidden images.

Now, here’s a look at some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Sharing the Magic at Walt Disney World – Walt Disney World Resort photographer Gene Duncan takes a closer look at one of the most prized photo locations in the park.

What Are Your Favorite Things to Do at Downtown Disney in California? – We list our top 10 favorite things to do at the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim and ask you to share your favorites.

Colorful Merchandise for Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary – Disney Theme Park Merchandise is celebrating Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary with colorful new items.

Hey Mr. Postman! Famous Disneyland Park Addresses – Do you know the name of the famous resident at 1 Neighborhood Lane, Mickey’s Toontown, in Disneyland park?

Join Jack’s Crew Tonight for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek’ – Guests joined Captain Jack Sparrow and his rowdy crew for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek” at Festival Arena, which debuted on March 25.

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Take 5 with Disney Vacation Club

posted on March 26th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Newly Renovated Villa at Disney's Old Key West

In addition to the most recent happenings at Disney Parks, we’re always working to keep readers updated on the latest Disney Vacation Club news here on the Disney Parks Blog. The construction of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai`I, has been of particular interest. Here’s a look at some of the top Disney Vacation Club blog posts.

Take 5: Disney Vacation Club

  1. One Year to Aulani Resort Opening! Mickey Hits the Beach in Hawai`i – Last August, we wrote a blog post sharing that in exactly one year, August 29, 2011, the Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa will open to hotel guests and Disney Vacation Club members.
  2. Disney’s Old Key West is Like ‘New Key West’ with Renovations – This past fall, Disney’s Old Key West Resort got a major facelift. Here are some images of one of the newly renovated villas.
  3. Recreation Abounds at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort– If you ask any Disney cast member who works at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort what the best part of staying at their resort is, they’ll most likely answer, “the recreation.” Find out why in this blog post.
  4. Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Celebrate a Decade of Delivering Top-Notch Service-This past November, we marked the ten year anniversary of The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge welcoming their first guests. The resort continues to be popular with Disney Vacation Club members because of its great guest service and its comfortable, rustic theme. Check it out!
  5. Tempting Treatments on Tap at The Spa at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort– Ready for a spa day during your next vacation? Read about some dreamy treatments offered at the new spa at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
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Filed: Disney Vacation Club, Hilton Head Island Resort, Hotels & Resorts, Vero Beach resort, Walt Disney World Resort

‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ Gets High Ratings from Our Younger Guests

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

With “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” making its debut today at Disney California Adventure park, we thought it would be fun to ask some of the show’s “biggest” fans what they like about it. Take a look at this video for a peek at “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and to see what kids think about this interactive experience.

Along with Jake and his pals, “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” brings back cast members from three audience favorites – “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny” and “Little Einsteins.” The production is jam-packed with music, dancing, beloved characters and Disney storytelling.

Dan Fields, creative director for the show, said it was exciting to be able to add Jake and his pals to the production within a month of their appearance on Disney Junior.

He added: “‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’ is the only place where Mickey and friends are the same size as toddlers, so the show is very approachable and fun for young guests and their families. The Disney characters directly ask the audience to be part of the action. Plus, there are more than a dozen musical moments in the show, so it’s pretty action-packed if you’re four or five years old!”

The new television creation Disney Junior launched in February, introducing “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” to children across the country. The park production opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida earlier this month.

What do you think of the new marquee at Disney California Adventure park?

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Disney’s Dreamers Now Have Their Dreams

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Steve Harvey and Members of Disney's Dreamers Academy
Earlier this month 110 students came to Walt Disney World Resort to not just dream, but dream BIG! The students took part in Disney’s Dreamers Academy which included a weekend full of motivational speakers, fun activities and enriching interactive work sessions.
Singer/Actress Raven Symone and Mickey Mouse at the Disney's Dreamers Academy Commencement Ceremony
The Dreamers, as they are called, graduated at the end of the weekend with a rousing and inspirational commencement ceremony. This year’s keynote speaker was young actress and singer Raven Symone who focused on her dreams of modeling and acting at the ripe old age of 3-years old. The pint-sized powerhouse then landed the role of “Olivia” on the Cosby Show and went on to become a Disney star with her own sitcom on the Disney Channel “That’s So Raven.” Also speaking at commencement were Grammy-award winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams, Mikki Taylor from Essence Magazine, Tracey D. Powell, Disney Parks executive, and Steve Harvey, actor and humanitarian.

The Dreamers this year were hand-picked out of thousands of applicants by a panel of noted educators, celebrities and Disney executives. Many students came from very poor families or live in violent neighborhoods. The mission of the program is to elevate those students above their circumstances and to free them to dream as big and as powerfully as they possibly can.

You can continue to follow the future of the Dreamers on Twitter using the hashtag #DDA and visit them on their Facebook page for photos and videos of the event. For more information on the Disney’s Dreamers Academy program visit

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Adventure for Little Ones: ‘Disney Junior – Live on Stage!’

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

As a new parent, I’m constantly rediscovering our theme parks through the eyes of my six-month-old son, Lucas. Over the weekend, our latest adventure took us to see “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is a newly refreshed version of Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

This 24-minute spectacle is geared toward families with preschoolers and takes them on a journey through some of the most popular Disney Junior programming. A host of characters from “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Little Einsteins,” and my son’s favorite – “Handy Manny,” take the audience along as they plan a surprise party for Minnie Mouse, participate in a space ship race, and fix a bubble machine.

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

A new scene that was added to the show earlier this month features characters from “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” – a young pack of friends who encounter Captain Hook and Smee during their search for treasure. During this scene, families can help Jake, Izzy, Cubby and Skully, et back their Team Treasure Chest full of gold doubloons.

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

For me, one of the best parts of the show is that the theater offers floor seating only, which I think is perfect for very young children who just can’t sit still when there are colorful puppets in the room. In fact, kids are encouraged to get up and clap, dance or move to the beat many times throughout the show. I had enough room to sit cross-legged on the floor, cuddle my son in my lap and rock him to the music.

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

If you go, be sure to arrive a few minutes early, as Disney Junior characters often meet and greet guests just outside the theater.

Disney Junior – Live on Stage! also debuts at Disney California Adventure park today.

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Join Jack’s Crew Tonight for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek’

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Since its debut at Disneyland park in 1967, the Pirates of the Caribbean adventure has thrilled guests with its rollicking fun and detailed storytelling. The attraction inspired the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie in 2003, and now a new, engaging entertainment experience at Disneyland park will give guests an exclusive, 3D “peek” at the newest Pirates film.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sneak Peek” debuts tonight at Festival Arena, just after nightfall. In this exciting pirate experience, guests will join Captain Jack Sparrow and his rowdy crew for an extended film sequence from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (opening May 20).

Here’s a look at the Disney crew getting everything ready to hoist the sails. Show Director Glenn Kelman says he hopes guests “feel like they’ve become a Pirate of the Caribbean.”

As night falls, look for scallywags and pirates along Big Thunder Trail. Guests will start the adventure there and may be surprised to find a special, peg-legged parrot among the pirates.

The “sneak peek” previews will begin after dusk and run continuously until park closing – weather permitting, of course.

If you can’t make it tonight, you can join Jack’s crew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through May 30, and seven nights a week from April 15 through May 1. You can find additional information on the Pirates of the Caribbean – Sneak Peek page.

Follow the film on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about the upcoming Disney Pictures release “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

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Checking In with D-Tech at Disney Parks

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

Checking In with D-Tech at Disney Parks

Last November, I introduced you to the world of D-Tech, our new electronic accessories brand that features all sorts of cases, covers and Disney flair for your favorite gadgets. I “checked-in” with Kevin-Michael Lezotte, Product Developer for stationery and electronic accessories, to get an update on the latest items. Sadly, I didn’t earn a Passport Stamp but I did get an awesome preview.

D-Tech Covers for the iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4

“D-Tech was a huge hit this past holiday season,” explained Kevin-Michael. “I was hoping [D-Tech] would be popular with guests, but the response has exceeded my wildest dreams! I’m excited to see how guests enjoy some of the new items we are introducing in March.”

The newest items to arrive are covers for the iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4 developed by Disney Theme Park Merchandise. These covers feature Disney characters and the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle.

D-Tech iPad Case

“With this new development, I was searching for ways to connect Disney Parks memories to our Guests,” said Kevin-Michael. “Now when a guest leaves a Disney Park, they are reminded of their Disney trip just by answering their phone, reading the latest news on their tablet device or sending a text message.”

The new clip cases for the iPad mobile digital device are some of my favorite new items. The images of the Castles are spectacular! Kevin-Michael said that D-Tech will change and evolve with technology.

“I’m working on cases and covers for a variety of devices such as smart phones, e-readers and other tablets,” continued Kevin-Michael. “You’ll see those items later in 2011. When new technology is announced, it takes me a few months before I can modify or create a new item to fit a particular gadget. My goal is to offer a variety of choices to match our guests’ needs.”

Checking In with D-Tech at Disney Parks

Coming in March, guests will find additional phone covers with new artwork including one of my favorites, Donald Duck. Kevin-Michael also showed me some “shining examples” of new items coming this summer (trust me, they sparkle!). The Mickey Mouse sleeve pictured above is coming in the fall.

Select D-Tech items can be found on the Disney Parks on-line store or see a larger selection at the World of Disney locations in California and Florida.

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Say Aloha to Your Honeymoon in Hawaii at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on March 25th, 2011 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa at Ko Olina on the island of Oahu offers a picturesque romantic setting for your destination honeymoon. With seamless service, world-class amenities, and the unparalleled imagination Guests have come to expect from Disney, Aulani is the perfect place to start your happily-ever-after.

Say Aloha to Your Honeymoon in Hawaii

Whether you desire to hike at Diamond Head, set sail on a romantic catamaran, or snorkel in the only saltwater lagoon in Hawaii, every Resort excursion is sure to be an adventure you won’t soon forget. Looking for something more relaxing? Feel tension melt away with private retreats, mineral pools and a hydrotherapy circuit inspired by the elements of the island at Ulana, a Disney Spa.

Say Aloha to Your Honeymoon in Hawaii

With over 21.2 acres of enchanted beachfront you and your better half can bask in the beauty of Hawaii, as the world’s most beloved storytellers immerse you in the legends of the land. To stay-up-to-date with the latest Aulani wedding and honeymoon news, find us on Facebook, Twitter and Ever After.

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Filed: Aulani, Celebrations, Disney Vacation Club, Weddings & Honeymoons

Happy Birthday, Harry Houdini!

posted on March 24th, 2011 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

Yesterday, Michelle Harker showed you the Spirit Light trick found at the Main Street Magic Shop. While I was taping that video at Disneyland park, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Geno Munari. Geno has been practicing magic since he was 12 years old. He has been collecting Houdini memorabilia almost as long and proudly displays part of his collection in the shop windows. I have peeked in the windows before, but never realized the artifacts actually once belonged to Houdini himself!

According to Geno, “Houdini performed illusions and escapes throughout Europe, the United States, Russia, and Australia. Houdini was also an aviator, an inventor, a writer-author, and filmmaker.” Sounds like Houdini and Walt Disney had a lot in common!

When Geno told me Houdini’s birthday was March 24, I knew I had to come back with our video crew to hear more about his amazing collection.

Next time you are on Main Street, U.S.A., be sure to check out the Magic Shop windows and stop in to say hi to Geno. He will be happy to show you a trick or tell you a magical story!

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