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Internet Marriage Proposal Couple Celebrates Their Engagement at Disneyland Park

posted on September 30th, 2011 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

You may have seen an online video of a fun marriage proposal that occurred at Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort last week.

We thought it would be fun to meet this young couple, so we invited Jamin and Valerie to Disneyland park, where our own Paul Hiffmeyer took their engagement photo.

Jamin and Valerie at Disneyland Park

They told me their favorite things to do at the Disneyland Resort include Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Soarin’ Over California and especially Turtle Talk with Crush! These two are truly kids at heart.

Today, they are most looking forward to experiencing Star Tours: The Adventures Continue for the very first time.

Jamin and Valerie at Disneyland Park

Some special guests also stopped by to wish the happy couple best wishes on their upcoming marriage.

As for setting the date, it’s looking like May 11, 2012, is going to be the big day. Congratulations, Valerie and Jamin!

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

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

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

This wasn’t your ordinary crowd. Hitchhiking Ghosts, a few Snow Whites and even a giant, walking, talking hot dog were among a group of hundreds who joined us last night for our first “Trick or Meet Up” at Magic Kingdom Park. We kicked things off with a talk from Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Surrell and a chance to show off some of your amazing costumes.

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’ Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’ Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’ Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

And there were some great characters in attendance. We’ve posted a gallery of favorites.

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

During the night, attendees got special guided tours of the new Haunted Mansion Queue with Walt Disney Imagineering show designer and art director Pete Carsillo and Walt Disney Imagineering show producer Eric Goodman. Both Pete and Eric gave blog readers a sneak peek of the queue in March.

Senior graphic designer Tom May also signed some special Disney posters for a group of lucky people.

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

There were trick-or-treat stations at the event and unique character meet & greets before wrapping things up with a grand exit by the same Headless Horseman you’ll see at this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Now that’s an ending, right?

Scaring Up Fun at the Walt Disney World ‘Trick or Meet-Up’

Chances are I’ll likely never talk to a group of hundreds dressed as Indiana Jones standing next to a giant talking turkey leg and that’s what made this event so fun. See for yourself.

We’d like to thank all of our new blog friends for joining us and everyone else who came out in costumes last night. Keep your eyes on the blog for first word of our next event.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

ElecTRONica Re-Activates with Team Millennia at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on September 30th, 2011 by Robin Trowbridge, Entertainment Show Director, Disneyland Resort.

Attention Programs! ElecTRONica re-activates tonight to electrify your weekends at Disney California Adventure park!

Team Millennia to Perform at Disney California Adventure Park

Nighttime action surges to life with the power of TEAM MILLENNIA! One of Southern California’s premier hip-hop dance crews helps re-charge ElecTRONica with pulsating energy and excitement, starting Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2!

Laser-hot music! Electrifying entertainment! Dancing! Flynn’s Arcade! Gaming competitions! Food! Family fun! And TEAM MILLENNIA! Fall nights at Disney California Adventure park have never been cooler! Be there and “power on” at ElecTRONica!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort

What’s My Line? Can You Place These Disneyland Resort Attraction Quotes?

posted on September 30th, 2011 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Resort

We’ve been having fun quizzing you on some of our favorite Disney Parks attractions quotes. But it got me thinking – who comes up with these quotable lines? So I asked Dave Fisher, a writer at Walt Disney Imagineering, who has written for such attractions as “Circle of Life” at Epcot, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland and Jungle River Cruise at Hong Kong Disneyland. Right now, he’s working on story treatments, writing copy for graphics, refining and recording rider instructions and providing dialogue for background audio for Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park. He happens to have written my personal all-time favorite quote from a Disney Parks attraction, but we’ll get to that later.

“The great thing about being a writer at Walt Disney Imagineering is that we write for everything: lands, attractions, shops, restaurants, resorts, cruise ships,” Dave told me. “It’s all about story and that’s how every project begins.”

Dave went on to tell me even more about the process of writing for an attraction in the Q&A below. But first, let’s test your memory with some more “What’s My Line?” quotes:

  1. “You so totally rock!” (Extra credit if you know the response to that line)
  2. “Those around the cannons best be standin’ back.”
  3. “Next time, you’re on your own.”
  4. “The gods have been angered by all the celebrating.”
  5. “Initiating power transfer in 3…2…1…”

And now, the rest of my chat with Dave Fisher, writer at Walt Disney Imagineering.

When does the show writer become involved in the creative process of an attraction?

Writers are usually involved in the creative process right from the start because everything we do at Walt Disney Imagineering derives from story. The story treatment, usually a one- or two-page document that provides the setting and context for a land, attraction, shop or restaurant, is a key step in the creative process because it informs the design and development of the architecture, landscaping, graphics, interiors, music and dialogue, sets, characters, even the costumes worn by cast members.

How do you make the story fit the ride element of the attraction?

In a perfect Disney world (pardon the pun), the story comes first and remains the most important aspect of the design and development process. As proud as we are of the cutting-edge and breakthrough technologies that have been invented, developed or refined at Walt Disney Imagineering over the years, they are storytelling tools for us. They give us the opportunity to tell compelling stories in new, innovative and often thrilling ways.

Is the process of writing for an attraction the same as it is for writing a show?

Writing for an attraction is a unique challenge in that you want the experience to remain as visual and visceral as possible. It may seem kind of strange for a writer to say this, but we want to tell our stories and create our environments with a minimum of dialogue. Ideally, the story unfolds through a series of visual cues that forward the action seamlessly and almost subconsciously. If we have to rely too heavily on dialogue to keep our guests in the story, we need to rethink our approach.

When you’re writing a script, can you tell which lines are going to be the most quotable? Can you give an example from an attraction you’ve written for?

I don’t think we as writers ever start a script with the intention of creating a line that could become a catchphrase. Certainly we spend a lot of time polishing our scripts – and we often have multiple writers providing input – but I think the most effective dialogue is that which sounds natural and unforced (unlike that last sentence). If a line captures the fancy of guests, so be it, but it’s not something we’re consciously trying to do. I think we just to write stuff that is appropriate and/or fun. For instance, in “Circle of Life” at the Land in Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, we were keeping a scene from the previous film, “Symbiosis,” in which the camera pulls back from a Native American on horseback to show the Glen Canyon Dam. It just seemed natural to me to have Pumbaa say “Dam!” followed quickly by Timon admonishing him with “Hey, watch your language, Pumbaa!” To which Pumbaa replies, “No, Timon, look…”

What is your favorite quote from a Disney Parks attraction?

This is like asking me who I like more, my mom or my dad? Or which of my kids I like best. Yeah, yeah, that sounds like a cop out, but all writing is precious and I don’t want to insult any lines of dialogue by saying one is better than the others. Other than that, “We wants the redhead.”

UPDATE: How did you do this time?

  1. Turtle Talk with Crush (Bonus: The correct response is “Dude!”)
  2. Sailing Ship Columbia
  3. Indiana Jones Adventure
  4. Enchanted Tiki Room
  5. Space Mountain
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Filed: Disneyland Resort

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Starts Today

posted on September 30th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival officially kicks off today and runs through Nov. 13.

Kalua Pork Sliders with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

My husband and I were lucky enough to attend the First Bites opening reception dinner last night, which was an indoor preview of the sights, sounds and tastes that will be at this year’s festival. We dined on some amazing international dishes, attended a beverage seminar by Banfi Wines, and spotted HGTV’s Vern Yip at a meet and greet.

The dinner was amazing, and I surely found some new favorites that I’ll revisit at the festival over the next few weeks, including Shrimp and the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze (Australia), Kalua Pork Sliders with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney (Hawai’i, pictured above), and Seared Filet of Beef with Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce (South Africa).

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

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Filed: Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 30th, 2011 by George A. Kalogridis, President, Disneyland Resort

George Kalogridis Celebrates 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

As most of you know, Walt Disney World Resort turns 40 soon. And it’s no coincidence I’m celebrating my 40th anniversary with Disney as well, along with nearly 100 other cast members who opened Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, and continue to work for the company today.

I still remember my first interview, standing in the heat, in a queue that went on for what seemed like forever. I listened as the people in front of me and behind me talked about how they just came off the Apollo program in Cape Canaveral. So there I was, fresh out of high school with my diploma and those around me had just sent men to the moon! I thought I didn’t stand a chance!

As luck would have it, I did get the job and was hired as a busboy at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Two days before opening day, I took my mother to a cast open house where the first attraction we rode was ‘it’s a small world’ and I remember thinking how amazing it was. It’s still one of my favorites today.

I’ve had countless memories and incredible experiences over the last 40 years including opening Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, working at Magic Kingdom Park for the Bicentennial celebration and at Disneyland Paris for its 15th anniversary, as well as being part of the openings of Epcot and Disney California Adventure. The same excitement I felt on my first day has continued to grow and has carried with me through the many years and experiences but I’ll never forget where my journey began. I’m proud to still keep in touch with some of those first cast members I worked with at the Contemporary Resort.

As I reflect on my career and those of many colleagues I’ve grown with in this organization, I can say with certainty the reason so many have stayed through the years is due to the values we share with the company and one another – two things you simply cannot duplicate. I can’t imagine having spent the last 40 years anywhere else – and I look forward to our road ahead.

Congratulations on 40 years, Walt Disney World Resort!

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Filed: Disney History, Walt Disney World Resort

Today in Disney History: Mickey’s PhilharMagic Debuts at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on September 30th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Today in Disney history, one of Fantasyland’s most innovative attractions to date made its grand debut at Magic Kingdom Park on Sept. 30, 2003.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom Park

Mickey’s PhilharMagic features a cast of 14 Disney characters performing together in a digital 3-D film that shows just what happens when Donald Duck gets ahold of Mickey Mouse’s conductor’s baton. Songs featured in the show include “Be Our Guest,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!”

Mickey’s PhilharMagic was the seventh 3-D film presented at Walt Disney World Resort. Can you name the others?

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Filed: Disney History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Villains Storm the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort

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

A spell is being cast over Disney Vault 28, but don’t fear Disney fans, it’s actually artist Noah who has conjured up this wicked combination. Here’s a sneak peek at the ladies fashion tees set to release on October 15.

Villain Tees by Noah

Whenever anyone talks about Disney Villains, it’s always “Who’s you favorite?” But today, I challenge you, Disney fans. Not only would I love to know which Disney Villain is your favorite, but which Disney Villain do you think has the best sense of style?

These dramatic “divas” are the most fashion-forward of them all. When I asked Noah which one was his favorite and how he came up with the idea for this collection, here’s what he had to say.

“Definitely the Evil Queen – she was the very first! She reigns over all of those characters you love to hate. When I was asked to dream up something for a Villains collection, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to present the characters in a new light. Literally! While remaining true to the films but with a realistic stylization, I added dramatic lighting and back glows to each of them, to really make them pop. These are, without a doubt, some of my favorite images that I have created to date. For me, it keeps the great storytelling of Walt’s vision alive, while creating something ‘cool and edgy’ to wear!”

While the inner fashionista in me won out for this post, guys – this may be the perfect gift to “taint” your someone special with. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure this Poisoned Apple inspired Vinylmation is something you can sink your teeth into. This “evil creation” comes in two sizes: a three-inch and a nine-inch version, each limited to 36. And you know what they say about an apple a day… (Insert maniacal laughter here). This is sure to be the pick of the crop, come the morning of October 15.

Special Note: Noah will be on hand for a signing of this new collection between 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on October 15 at Disney Vault 28 in the Downtown Disney District.

Not able to make it to Disney Vault 28? Then be sure to keep an eye out on for this Villains collection of fashion tees and artwork, plus a special Maleficent-inspired Vinylmation by Noah in November.

Don’t miss it!

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Filed: Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District

Timeline: Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World

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

With the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort taking place this Saturday, we really had to think hard about what to feature on the blog in the days leading up to this huge milestone. After all, four decades of history sure offers a lot of options!

In the end, we wanted to honor as many milestones as we could. What resulted was the infographic below.

What do you think? What’s been a Walt Disney World Resort highlight moment for you?

Timeline: Celebrating 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

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Filed: Disney History, Walt Disney World Resort

Histories of Disney’s Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts

posted on September 29th, 2011 by David Brady, Senior Writer, Internal Communications

Hello, Disney fans! I’m the senior writer for Eyes & Ears, an internal magazine for Walt Disney World Cast Members. I’m delighted to share some of those stories with you from time to time. Here’s one in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort.

In 1969, Disney announced five “theme resorts” for the project’s first phase. Two opened October 1, 1971 – we know them today as Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Early renderings for what became Disney’s Polynesian Resort included a 12-story tower.

An early concept for Disney’s Polynesian Resort featured a 12-story tower, a bold design that might have looked more at home among the luxury hotels on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach.

By about 1970, the site plan had evolved to a more architecturally authentic “village” layout, much of which remains today. Incredibly, construction began in February 1971, less than eight months before the first guests were scheduled to arrive.

Construction of Disney’s Polynesian Resort began in February 1971.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort were designed by WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering), the California architectural firm of Welton Becket & Associates and United States Steel Corp. Each was built with a unique process called “unitized modular construction.”

Take a look at this early photo of Disney’s Contemporary Resort:

Disney’s Contemporary Resort was built using a new method of modular construction.

Once the central elevator shaft went up, crews assembled 13 steel-trussed A-frames around it, forming a 150-foot-high skeleton. A few miles away, assembly-line workers built rooms for both resorts at a rate of around 40 per week. When finished, each was a free-standing unit complete with air conditioning, bathroom fixtures, sliding-glass doors and groovy decor.

During construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, prebuilt rooms were slid into the building’s frame one by one.

After being trucked to the construction sites, the nearly nine-ton rooms were slid into the building frames by crane, like dresser drawers. Despite a widely believed legend, they were never meant to be removable for future refurbishments, though.

To help learn the hotel business, Disney leased the Hilton Inn South in Orlando, Fla., which opened in May 1970, and used the 140-room hotel as a kind of living laboratory, developing everything from training manuals to restaurant menus later used in its own resorts.

The remaining “Phase One” resorts, inspired by Asian, Venetian and Persian motifs, never made it off Imagineers’ drawing boards. Four decades later, they remain tantalizing examples of what might have been.

Who visited our first two resorts in the early years?

Construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Construction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Construction of Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Contemporary Resort Disney leased the Hilton Inn South in Orlando, Fla., as a place to learn the hotel business.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort was known as the Polynesian Village Resort when it opened in 1971. Disney’s Polynesian Resort opened with 492 rooms in eight longhouses, and later expanded. In 2001, the Nanea Volcano Pool replaced the original swimming pool (seen here) at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. A never-built Asian-themed resort (seen here as a model) was planned for the<br />
five-year first phase of the Walt Disney World Resort.
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Filed: Disney History, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort