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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

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

Partners Statue at Magic Kingdom Park

Creativity never sleeps at Disney Parks and this week, Kent’s post was a perfect example of how magic happens at any time around here. How about this? Kent grabbed a disco ball and a department fog machine and headed to the Magic Kingdom Park at 4 o’clock in the morning to create the amazing image above. Keep an eye out for more of Kent’s creative images here on the Disney Parks Blog.

And while we’re talking creativity, did you see Shannon’s latest “Disneyland Resort at Dawn” video featuring the natural sounds at Grizzly River Run? She captured the calm before the excitement at the attraction. Walking around the parks before opening is still one of my favorite things to do. Check out some of our other Disneyland Resort at Dawn videos:

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week:

New 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Merchandise Coming to Disney Parks – We share an exclusive look at the newest Vinylmation figures and pins inspired by this classic Disney Parks attraction.

A Mom’s Point of View: Dining Aboard the Disney Dream – From a whimsical garden inspired by Versailles to a lavish banquet hall fit for royalty, the dining options aboard the Disney Dream offer magical dining experiences for all guests.

Have a Soundsational Summer with New Disneyland Resort Special Offers – Now through September 24, enjoy one of these great offers for Disneyland Resort hotel stays.

Giant Disney Sleeping Beauty Sand Castle Created in Paris – Take a peek at some of the amazing Disneyland Paris artwork now on display in Paris Plages, a yearly summer event held in the heart of Paris.

Challenging the Kitchen Sink Dessert at Walt Disney World – Watch as our “confection correspondent” Gary tries to conquer this colossal Disney’s Beach Club Resort dessert.

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Take 5: Disney Resort Enhancement Team

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

Christmas Tree

Who doesn’t love Christmas in July?! Believe it or not, last week the Resort Enhancement team at Disneyland began their preparations for the detailed Christmas decorations that will create a winter wonderland for guests later this year. Check out the posts below from the Disney Parks Blog to learn some tips and see how this talented team of artists works practically year-round for the special holidays we all love to celebrate at Disney Parks!

Take 5: Disney Resort Enhancement Team

  1. It’s Christmas in July at the Disneyland Resort! – The hot days of summer are here and though we love basking in our glorious California sun, our cast members already have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads!

  2. Christmas Tree Decorating Tips from Disneyland Resort – Dave Caranci, manager of Resort enhancement at the Disneyland Resort shares a few tips for decorating your own Christmas tree!

  3. Behind-the-Scenes Video: How to Decorate Pumpkins Like the Disneyland Resort Enhancement Team – Have you ever considered turning the pumpkin on its side and using the stem as a nose? Check out this idea and others from the Disneyland Resort Enhancement Team!

  4. Holiday Decorating Ideas from Disneyland Décor Experts – Check out this video to learn some expert tips on how you can create some Disney holiday magic in your home.

  5. Disneyland Décor Expert Shares Halloween Tips – Take a look at fun decorating tips from the Resort Enhancement team for creating your own Jack Skellington Halloween Tree and Shrunken Apple Heads.
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Then and Now: Casey Jr. Circus Train at Disneyland Resort

posted on July 29th, 2011 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

Two weeks after Disneyland Resort opened in 1955, the Casey Jr. Circus Train left the station for the first time.

Sunday, July 31, marks the 56th anniversary of this “Dumbo”-inspired attraction. Guests ride along in animal cage cars or ornate sleighs through Storybook Land to the tune of the classic theme song written by Frank Churchill and Ned Washington, who also wrote music for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio.”

Let’s celebrate this classic attraction with a look back at how it appeared when it opened in 1955, and the way you’ll find it today:

Casey Jr. Circus Train, 1955 Present- Day Casey Jr. Circus Train at Disneyland Resort

All together now: “I think I can! I think I can!”

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Resort

Catch the ‘My Yard Goes Disney’ Finale July 30

posted on July 29th, 2011 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

If you’re a loyal viewer of “My Yard Goes Disney” – you know that our last family saw the back of their home magically transformed into a mini-Disneyland park, complete with an “it’s a small world” façade and a life-size, spinning tea cup inspired by The Mad Tea Party.

But, every reader of the Disney Parks Blog knows that a visit to the Disneyland Resort isn’t complete without a day at Disney California Adventure … and the designers at HGTV agree that the first season of the show should be topped off with a yard inspired by that very place!


Tomorrow, you’ll meet the DeJesus family. Carlos and Meggan actually met for the first time in Orlando. As annual passholders, their favorite date was going to Epcot to watch Illuminations together. Now the parents of three energetic kids, they make frequent visits to the “Happiest Place on Earth” and Disney California Adventure has become their #1 family destination.


Until this point, we’ve seen some pretty incredible creations show up in these back yards. But you’re not going to believe the extraordinary replica of the Silly Symphony Swings the designers created for this family. Utilizing the original animation art that the Imagineers used to crown the attraction, it feels like the ride was magically transported to their backyard. And my “boss” makes another very bright appearance on a pretty cool replica of Mickey’s Fun Wheel, too!

This family loves getting wet, so while we briefly thought about recreating “World of Color” behind their house, we decided it wasn’t quite big enough. (Plus, can you imagine THAT water bill?) Instead, kids Bella, Luci and Carlos got their own version of the Princess Puddle Park from the Park’s A Bug’s Life Land. It’s making quite a splash with their friends and neighbors!

Here are a couple more of those “behind-the-scenes” photos you’ve written to tell us you like so much. We try to make it look effortless on the air, but it takes a big crew to pull these things off.

Behind-the-Scenes of ‘My Yard Goes Disney’ Finale Behind-the-Scenes of ‘My Yard Goes Disney’ Finale Behind-the-Scenes of ‘My Yard Goes Disney’ Finale

Tonight’s episode airs at 8 p.m. EST on HGTV. It brings us to the end of our first season of “My Yard Goes Disney.” It’s been a blast bringing you pirates, fairies, trains, Mickey Mouse-shaped pools and a whole lot more!

Here’s a sneak peek from tomorrow night’s show:

Our fingers are crossed for more episodes soon. In the meantime, I’m working on a number of television projects at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line. I even have a trip set to film at our sparkling new resort, Aulani – a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii to tell you about. So … see you real soon!

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Where to Find Disney Characters and Buffet Dining at Aulani

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

Mural at Makahiki – Bounty of the Islands at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, celebrates the beauty and culture of Hawai`i with a touch of Disney magic – and that has to include the much-loved Disney characters. And one place you’ll always find them is “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki” on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.

Makahiki – Bounty of the Islands is destined to be a favorite, not just for the Disney touches, but for the extravagant daily buffets for breakfast and dinner. And the beautiful interior is a visual feast, with spectacular art by local painters, wood carvers and glassmakers. As day turns to night, the restaurant lighting gradually turns from rose to indigo with the setting of the sun. (The “Makahiki season,” by the way, was the ancient Hawaiian New Year festival, a time of peace, play and renewal.)

With a daily buffet for breakfast and dinner, the spirit of the Makahiki is celebrated in the fresh and flavorful cuisine.

Starting with breakfast, the spread includes everything from a simple Continental offering to a Western breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, French toast – even baked beans with barbecued ham. The Chinese/Japanese buffet has soy milk, dim sum, crispy dough, wok-fried noodles, seared island fish, tamago, greens, miso soup, steamed rice, dried seaweed and pickled vegetables.

House-Made Dessert at Makahiki – Bounty of the Islands

The casual dinner buffet features line-caught sustainable seafood, fresh salads with local greens, rotating carving stations, Asian-inspired entrees and house-made desserts.

A melting pot of cultures, the expansive buffet features starters from a Nicoise salad to cheeses, lobster bisque and cioppino. On ice, shrimp, marinated squid, scallops, mussels, lobster and tiger prawns showcase the abundance of seafood.

Dining at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Entrees might include sustainable catch in banana leaves, seafood paella, grille poke, roast duck with plum sauce and chicken wrapped in seaweed. For Asian flavors, there’s sushi and sashimi, Chinese pork buns, fried noodles, dim sum and wok-fried seasonal vegetables.

The grill heats up with chicken wings, pork chops, Asian-spiced lamb chops, sausages and assorted satay, with live-action stations featuring pastas with vegetables, meatballs, clam stew, Portuguese sausage, and carved meats or fish.

Delicious tastes with a little something for everyone – and much of the seafood, fruit and vegetables sourced locally.

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Ka-chow! New ‘Cars 2’ Disney Gift Cards Available Online, at Disney Parks

posted on July 29th, 2011 by Virginia Scanlon, Manager Alliance Management, Disney Gift Card Services

'Cars 2' Coastal Cruisin’ Disney Gift Card

Start your engines – “Cars 2” Disney Gift Cards are now available online, at the Walt Disney World Resort, and at Disneyland Resort! Just in time for the theatrical release of “Cars 2,” these new cards will have you racing to grab the film-inspired designs.

'Cars 2' Mater & Finn Secret Mission Disney Gift Card

The two new designs feature Lightning McQueen racing along the Italian coastline in “Cars 2 Coastal Cruisin’” and Tow Mater with new character Finn McMissile tackling Tokyo in “Cars 2 Mater & Finn Secret Mission.”

As a special treat, guests who visit the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort can pick up special 3D versions of the designs. Cards purchased online do not feature the 3D effects.

Disney Gift Cards are good for almost everything Disney, including Theme Park tickets, merchandise, dining, and more! Get yours today at or at select locations at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

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Kakigori Cart Expands with Savory, Sweet Bites

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

Kakigori Cart at Epcot Expands with Savory, Sweet Bites

On a hot afternoon, nothing is better than a shaved ice, or kakigori, from the little cart in front of the Japan pavilion at Epcot. A brain freeze is inevitable as we slurp the icy, sweet treat.

Kakigori Cart at Epcot Expands with Savory, Sweet Bites

Now the cart, just reopened this week, has as new name – Kabuki Cafe – and new tastes, the kind of satisfying nibbles you can eat and still stroll.

Kakigori Cart at Epcot Expands with Savory, Sweet Bites Kakigori Cart at Epcot Expands with Savory, Sweet Bites

The shaved ice still is there, but now the menu includes edamame (steamed soybeans in the pod) and meal-in-a-bowl miso soup, plus sweet plum wine and sake. And smoothie and ice cream cups join the sweet line-up.

Delicious salty-sweet tastes for munching and strolling World Showcase Lagoon.

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Challenging the Kitchen Sink Dessert at Walt Disney World

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

There must be a few Disney Parks Blog readers out there who’ve at least considered trying to finish our legendary Kitchen Sink dessert without help, right? Think you can? Wait, wait, before you say “that’s easy, no prob” you should know that our colossal Disney’s Beach Club Resort dessert is designed to feed four to six people. And there’s a long list of delicious stuff included.

So, who dares challenge this colossal Disney Parks dessert treat? Our “confection correspondent” Gary dares and he even trained to finish it by himself – or at least his own unique type of training. We caught some of the fun on our first-ever “Faucet Cam.” Check it out.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever tried to finish the Kitchen Sink. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has.

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Today in Disney History: Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

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

Earlier this month, the Disney Parks Blog celebrated the anniversary of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – but that wasn’t the only major attraction that debuted in the month of July. Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith was dedicated July 29, 1999, and officially opened July 30.

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

The attraction allows guests to step into the shoes of a rock band VIP, and travel from Aerosmith’s recording studio to the backstage area of their concert courtesy of a “super-stretch” limo. These vehicles are equipped with 120-125 speakers and 24 sub-woofers that provide an unforgettable soundtrack for the journey. Oh, and don’t worry about being late for the show – these “super-stretches” speed from 0-57 mph in 2.8 seconds.

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Remembering Jennings Osborne at Walt Disney World

posted on July 28th, 2011 by John Phelan, Show Director, Disney Creative Entertainment

Jennings Osborne, the creator of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, passed away on Wednesday and we extend our condolences to the family. His creativity has influenced many guests, cast members and fans of Walt Disney World, and that includes me. In fact, I consider the years I worked with the Osborne family the highlight of my career.

Jennings Osborne and Mickey Mouse

Christmas time and the holiday season at Walt Disney World can be a truly wondrous time, so many sights and sounds to fill you with the Spirit of the Season. Back in 1995, I was part of a creative team charged with developing such a holiday experience for Disney’s Hollywood Studios (called the Disney-MGM Studios back then). I remember sitting in a staff meeting when I was told that a vice president had seen a brief news report about a businessman in Little Rock, Arkansas who had a Christmas lights display so big that his neighbors took him to court to have it turned off. He fought it all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court and lost. I was asked to contact him and find out if he would like to bring his display to the Studio and put it on Residential Street on the backlot. I tracked down his business phone number and gave him a call. Little did I know that was the beginning of a 16 year magical holiday ride for me, the Studio and millions of our guests.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has become a holiday tradition to rival any experience at Walt Disney World. The display was the vision and passion of Jennings. In 1986, his daughter, Breezy, asked for some Christmas lights. He put up 1 million. When his next door neighbors complained, he bought their houses and put lights on them, too. With the support of his wife, Mitzi, and to the delight of Breezy, the display was THE holiday experience in all of Arkansas and beyond….until he had to turn it off. And that’s when Disney stepped in and Jennings could say, “I’m going to Disney World!” As it turned out, Jennings, Mitzi and Breezy were huge Disney fans and had visited the parks many times.

Indeed, they bought the nativity scene that is in the display to this day at the Italian Pavilion in Epcot. All the original icons are still part of the display: the giant globe, the 100 flying angels, the twirling carousels, the flying Santas and reindeer, the red canopy of lights, the 70 foot tree and all the other figurines of elves, snowmen and carolers.

Now, you may think that a man who creates such a spectacular display on his house would be an extrovert and over the top. Jennings was the opposite. He was a quiet man although there was certainly a twinkle in his eye. He and his family came to Disney every year at Christmas time. He would spend hours on the street, talking to guests and chatting with the crew. The local press in Arkansas is calling him a great philanthropist, and indeed, he was. He donated holiday light displays to over 20 towns in Arkansas. He decorated hospitals, museums and the local zoo. He threw giant charity barbecues that fed 2,000 people at a time or more. He was a great proponent of committing “a random act of kindness.” As he used to say to me, “John, I like creating memories that people won’t soon forget.”

I think that was his driving force, creating memories. I remember standing underneath the red canopy with him one year. I asked him how he came up with the idea for it. He said, “I want the people to feel like they are inside the lights, looking out at the world.”

May we all be Christmas lights that shine for all the world to see. Thanks, Jennings. I will miss you, big guy!

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