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Night of Joy Stars Win Big at Dove Awards

posted on April 30th, 2011 by Dave Herbst, Print Managing Editor, Disney Destinations

We shared earlier about the lineup that will be performing at Night of Joy 2011. The “Headliners” at the official website are certainly worthy of the honor – newsboys, Jeremy Camp and Skillet on Sept. 9, 2011, and MercyMe, TobyMac and Jars of Clay on Sept. 10, 2011. But the headlines today belong to artists among the other 10 Night of Joy acts – particularly Francesca Battistelli and Chris August.

Night of Joy Stars Win Big at Dove Awards

Between them, Francesca and Chris have piled up six Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, including some of the biggest: Francesca was tabbed Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year; Chris was honored with New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

In all, Night of Joy 2011 artists were awarded 11 Doves. The musical diversity of Night of Joy – and the superb caliber of the lineup – was underscored by the fact that artists were presented “recorded song of the year” in three categories and “album of the year” in four categories. The honored categories: Contemporary Gospel, Rap/Hip Hop, Pop/Contemporary, Rock, and Rock/Contemporary.

Somewhere up there, Sonny Anderson, our long-ago talent booking guru who helped launch Night of Joy in 1983 with an eye on pleasing the ears of people with lots of different music tastes, has to be smiling. His little Christian music party is still filling Magic Kingdom Park nights with a lot of amazing sounds.

You can learn more about this year’s event at Tickets go on sale May 1.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Take 5: Wildlife Wednesdays

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

Underwater Hippo Viewing Area at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Late last year, we began the ‘Wildlife Wednesdays’ series to keep our animal-loving Disney Parks Blog Readers up-to-date on the latest happenings, especially at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here are our top blog posts from this series to date.

Take 5: Wildlife Wednesdays

  1. Wildlife Wednesdays: Dr. Jane Goodall Visits Endangered Woodrats Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Key Largo Refuge – Last month, we were very proud to welcome internationally renowned conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall, to the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Florida Keys, where endangered Key Largo woodrats born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are being reintroduced to their native habitat.

  2. Wildlife Wednesdays: Tigers Tales – A popular spot on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the tiger viewing area. Guests enjoy watching these magnificent animals, and asking questions of our Cast Members as they share “tiger tales.”

  3. Wildlife Wednesdays: Bringing Children and Wildlife Together – Next time you and your family are visiting the Parks, stop by the Kids’ Discovery Clubs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We have six fun Club sites in each land of the Park for children 5-8 years old, but like most Disney activities, everyone in the family participates.

  4. Wildlife Wednesdays: Hippos Create Magical Moments – Cast Members love creating Magical Moments for guests. One of these Magical Moments takes place on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at the underwater hippo viewing area.

  5. Wildlife Wednesdays: Cotton-Top Tamarins Return to Tree of Life – Here’s a post familiarizing readers with the cotton-top tamarin. Check out a few fun facts about about this interesting animal.
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Celebrity Guests Announced for Star Wars Weekends 2011

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Star Wars Weekends 2011

Star Wars Weekends 2011 will be a Tour de “Force” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, celebrating the grand opening of the new Star Tours attraction as the Walt Disney World Resort theme park welcomes Jedi, Sith, Ewoks, Wookiees, galactic bounty hunters and stormtroopers for the park’s annual celebration of all-things-Star Wars.

The fun takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 20-June 12, 2011.

Ashley Eckstein, R2-MK and Jedi Mickey Mouse

Once again, Jedi Mickey and Princess Leia Minnie will be joined by some of the brightest stars from the saga. Celebrity Hosts for the event this year are James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Ashley (seen in the photo above with R2-MK and Jedi Mickey) will host “Clone Wars: Behind the Force,” a closer look inside the popular animated TV series. James will present another event-first: he will star in a one-man show that showcases some of the many voices he has performed throughout his career, including those from The Clone Wars.

Anthony Daniels

Opening weekend will kick off the month-long event in grand fashion, as fan favorite Anthony Daniels (seen in the photo above at a filming session for the new “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” attraction), who brought C-3PO to life and is the only actor to appear in every theatrical chapter of the Star Wars saga, will make a golden return to the event. Dave Filoni, the talented artist and supervising director of The Clone Wars, also will be a special celebrity guest for Weekend I.

Star Wars Weekends II, III and IV will feature celebrities from the live-action feature films and voice artists from The Clone Wars. Here’s the complete event celebrity lineup (*talent subject to change) scheduled to appear:

Scheduled Celebrity Appearances

MAY 20-22

  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • The Clone Wars Special Guest: Dave Filoni (Supervising Director)

MAY 27-29

  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • Bruce Spence (Tion Medon)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex)

JUNE 3-5

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Matt Lanter (Anakin)

JUNE 10-12

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Tom Kane (Yoda)

And while the stars will shine, a galaxy-full of events, live shows, parades and activities also take place throughout the park during the month.

An event highlight for many is meeting the Star Wars characters, and this year is no exception. More than 60 Star Wars characters will be roaming the theme park, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

From the special “welcome” Guests receive at the turnstile areas from the stormtroopers and Star Wars trivia contests to Jedi Training Academy and the spectacular Hyperspace Hoopla, Star Wars Weekends 2011 will have more fun than you can shake a gaffi stick at. And of course, throughout the event Star Wars Weekends Guests will have the chance to take a ride aboard “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” when the attraction launches in 3-D on May 20.

Let us know if you plan to attend this year and what you’re looking forward to most about Star Wars Weekends 2011, or if you have a favorite memory from a past event.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Quench Your Thirst for ‘Lemonade Mouth!’ at the Disneyland Resort

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

Disney’s 'Lemonade Mouth'

Have I got the scoop for you! The cast of Disney Channel’s “Lemonade Mouth” will be stopping by Studio Disney 365 in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort on Monday, May 2, where the stars will be appearing to share answers to some of their most asked “want to know” questions.

'Lemonade Mouth' Stars: Blake Michael as Charlie, Hayley Kiyoko as Stella, Adam Hicks as Wen, Bridgit Mendler as Olivia, Nick Roux as Scott and Naomi Scott as Mo.

After the Q&A hosted by Radio Disney on-air personality Ernie D, the stars will stick around for a special CD signing for two-hundred (200) Guests who have purchased a “Lemonade Mouth” CD at Studio Disney 365, while supplies last.

To find out how you can be one of two-hundred (200) Guests to participate in the signing just visit, I’ll have all the details there.

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Filed: Art of Disney, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney

Take a Look Inside Our Royal Sleepover at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

We were thrilled to host hundreds of wedding watchers at today’s Royal Sleepover event at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, which included a live broadcast of the Royal Wedding, a sendoff from Fairy Godmother, and a whole lot more.

For those of you who can’t get enough coverage of today’s Royal Wedding, here’s a video that takes you inside our early morning celebration.

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Disneyland Resort Arborists Branch Out on Arbor Day

posted on April 29th, 2011 by David Gill, External Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort.

Happy Arbor Day! Few people know that the Disneyland Resort has more than 17,000 trees, all maintained by a talented team of arborists. For the past 18 years, the group has branched out into the community in honor of Arbor Day – planting a tree at a local school to provide shade.

Today, we are honoring them by sharing with you the hard work and dedication they bring to the Disneyland Resort as they monitor and maintain the health of every tree in our parks and at our hotels.

Watch the video below to hear from Disneyland Resort Arborist Christopher Smith and take a peek at the magic behind the landscape that millions of guests enjoy each year.

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Disney Wonder Sails Under the Golden Gate Bridge

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Jason Lasecki, Public Relations Director, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, Disney Vacation Club

It’s a very exciting week full of firsts for us here at Disney Cruise Line. The Disney Wonder is currently charting a course up the West Coast to reposition for our first-ever voyage to Alaska.

As part of the journey, the ship stopped in San Francisco for two days, marking our inaugural visit to the city and allowing guests to explore a new destination. We were also able to capture an amazing photo of the Disney Wonder sailing under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge this morning! Check it out…

Disney Wonder Sails Under the Golden Gate Bridge

During the seven-night Alaskan itinerary that’s just days away, the Disney Wonder visits Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Tracy Arm Fjord. We want to take all of you along to see the sights, so stay tuned for more updates and photos.

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Last-Minute Idea for Mom’s Special Day at Disneyland Resort

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

If you’re still trying to figure out a happy surprise for Mother’s Day on May 8, there’s still time to make reservations for two special brunches at the Disneyland Resort.

Take your pick of the Grand Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel or Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Both feature Disney characters for memorable photos — Cinderella and her princess friends in the Grand Ballroom, and Chip ‘n Dale and friends at Storyteller’s Cafe.

Last-Minute Idea for Mom’s Special Day at Disneyland Resort

“Disney’s Royal Buffet for Mother’s Day” starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. at the Disneyland Hotel with Cinderella, her princess friends and live musical entertainment. Beautiful spring salads, artisan cheeses, smoked and chilled seafood, cured meats, breakfast selections, seasonal fresh fish and free-range chicken are just the beginning. “Action stations” include fresh omelets, carving stations, Mickey waffles and French crepes. Dessert is highlighted with a decadent chocolate fountain and of course, there will be champagne available to toast Mom. For kids, mixed greens, fresh fruit salad, crunchy orange chicken bites with steamed rice, pizza, mac & cheese, sweet corn nuggets and kid-approved sweets.

Cost is $71.99, $20.99 ages 3 to 9, free ages 2 and under (tax and gratuity not included). Premium annual passholders get a 15 percent discount; all other annual passports get a 10 percent discount. Complimentary four-hour parking is included (self-parking available) – after four hours, cost to park is $6 an hour. For reservations, call 714-781-DINE between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

For early birds, Storyteller’s Cafe opens at 7 a.m. with Chip ‘n Dale and friends. Until 2 p.m. the impressive buffet includes black pepper-crusted New York strip loin (with cognac jus and horseradish cream), corned beef hash with poached eggs and chipotle-orange hollandaise, roasted salmon with tangerine vinaigrette, brioche French toast with blackberry compote and olive oil-poached asparagus with shaved Reggiano cheese. Add to that omelets, fresh scrambled eggs, Yukon gold hash browns with fresh thyme, sausage and bacon, artisan cheeses, cured meats and roasted veggies, spring greens, fresh fruits and over-the-top desserts. Kids can fill up on scrambled eggs, oven-roasted potatoes, Mickey waffles and crispy chicken nuggets.

Cost is $29.99, $13.99 ages 3 to 9, free ages 2 and under (tax and gratuity not included). An a la carte menu also is available. Premium annual passholders get a 15 percent discount; all other annual passports get a 10 percent discount. For reservations, 714-781-DINE between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts

Disney Vinylmation in Space: Vinylmation Figures Take a Long Journey Aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

When NASA astronaut Lt. Col. Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom carried the first memento into space when he took a roll of dimes with him on his Mercury flight in July 1961, he started a tradition at NASA that carries on 50 years later.

The customized Mission:SPACE-inspired Vinylmation floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis

To celebrate and inspire exploration, NASA astronauts have carried items into space that they have a unique interest in – items that are then brought back to Earth and placed on display in hopes of inspiring future explorers and achievements.

Disney Parks was honored to be part of STS-132 in May 2010, aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on its mission to the International Space Station (ISS). STS-132 Commander Ken Ham requested that two very special (and quite small) “guests” join the six-person crew on Atlantis’ 32nd flight – two 3-inch-tall Vinylmation figures.

Commander Ham and his wife, Michelle, are avid athletes and runners who have participated in several endurance races in the “runDisney” series. And with its proximity to Cape Canaveral, Walt Disney World has been a vacation stop several times for the couple between missions.

(And here’s another fun fact: Commander Ham served as the Pilot of STS-124, the 2008 mission of Space Shuttle Discovery that had another Disney Parks “special guest” aboard – a 12-inch-tall Buzz Lightyear toy. Buzz, who always dreamed of going to “infinity and beyond,” spent more than 15 months aboard the ISS before returning to Earth and being feted with his very own ticker-tape parade in Magic Kingdom Park. Joining Andy’s famed space ranger in the gala parade was legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin.)

The two 'Very Important Vinylmations are now on display at D-Street in Downtown Disney West Side for Guests to see. The customized Mission:SPACE-inspired Vinylmation, looks to the Earth as it floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis The customized Mission:SPACE-inspired Vinylmation floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis
The 'Create-Your-Own' Vinylmation, with artwork created by the astronauts aboard STS-132, floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis The 'Create-Your-Own' Vinylmation, with artwork created by the astronauts aboard STS-132, looks to the Earth as it floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis Disney Parks Blog author and Merchandise Communications Manager Steven Miller places one of the well-traveled Vinylmations in the display case at D-Street.

Two Vinylmations were aboard Atlantis – the Mission: SPACE-inspired figure from Park Series #3, and a “Create-Your-Own” blank figure that we invited the astronauts to decorate. Prior to the flight, the Mission: SPACE figure was customized by a Disney artist to honor STS-132 and the astronauts. The astronauts then added their own artwork to the “Create-Your-Own.” When the pair came back, we began making plans for their display in the special V.I.V. (“Very Important Vinylmation”) Case at D-Street at Downtown Disney West Side here at Walt Disney World.

The 'Create-Your-Own' Vinylmation, with artwork created by the astronauts aboard STS-132, floats inside Space Shuttle Atlantis.

On your next visit, we invite you to stop by and take a look. They definitely are record-holders as the Vinylmation figures who have travelled the farthest distance from Walt Disney World!

We’re honored to have these Vinylmations on display for everyone to view. We hope they inspire the same achievement, creativity and exploration that NASA intended when Lt. Col. Grissom carried the very first mementoes into space as he piloted Liberty Bell 7 nearly 50 years ago.

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Celebrate the Royal Wedding at Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion

posted on April 29th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

If you’re looking for a high-spirited place to celebrate the Royal Wedding today, look no further than the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot, which is full of cast members from the United Kingdom who can’t wait to share this historic day with guests.

Celebrate the Royal Wedding at Epcot’s U.K. Pavilion

I headed over earlier this morning to witness the excitement firsthand. The entire pavilion has been festooned with flags in honor of this special occasion, and I watched as cast members greeted one another with calls of “happy wedding day!” Many stopped to take photos together, so that years from now, they’d have a nice remembrance of just where they were the day their future king wed.

Celebrate the Royal Wedding at Epcot’s U.K. Pavilion

And their enthusiasm for the prince and his new bride was contagious – especially Food & Beverage Hostess Lindsay Adams, who shared that she was born and raised in St. Andrew’s, Scotland, where Prince William attended school.

“This is a special day for me because he went to school in St. Andrew’s,” Lindsay said. “I saw William a few times around town when he was in school there. I was there when he graduated, and the Queen was there and it was quite a big matter.”

And Food & Beverage Hostess Jenny Watkinson, from St. Helen’s, England, who set her alarm clock extra early so she wouldn’t miss a moment of the festivities.

“I got up very early and watched the entire thing on the Internet,” Jenny said. “I’ve been getting more and more excited, and now the day is actually here. I can’t quite believe how excited I am, about the whole thing. I can’t wait to share the day with guests and answer their questions.”

Celebrate the Royal Wedding at Epcot’s U.K. Pavilion

In addition to excited cast members, guests can expect to find special touches today at the Rose & Crown Dining Room, including Royal Wedding trivia. Lucky families who visit during lunch and dinner also may be surprised with a Royal Wedding Reception Magical Moment, which will be done completely at random and involve complimentary wedding cake.

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Filed: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort