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Mickey & Minnie Sleeping in front of Diamond Sleeping Beauty Castle (Day)

Flashback: Walt Disney World Announced In Florida

posted on September 28th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

As we close in on the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World, look what we found in the archives to share with you. It’s video from 1965 of Walt Disney officially announcing the big plans during a conference in downtown Orlando.

I can’t imagine the excitement in the room. Walt Disney told the world in front of what former Gov. Haydon Burns called the largest gathering of press he’s ever seen in the state of Florida.

See what Walt had to say when asked if another Disneyland would be built in Florida.

For more Walt Disney World history, check out the posts below:

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Filed: Disney History, Walt Disney World Resort

Every Role a Starring Role – Disney Youth Education Series Facilitator at Disneyland Resort

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

We all know the Disneyland Resort is a big playground, but did you know it also serves as an educational laboratory?

Watch as Matt Aldapa, a Disney Youth Education Series facilitator, takes guests through Disney’s World of Physics: Energy and Waves program, one of many Youth Education Series courses offered at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

Check out the posts below for more in this series:

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disneyland Resort

Stars To Shine During Disney Golf Classic

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

Today was Media Day for next month’s PGA TOUR golf tournament at Walt Disney World and we revealed the list of celebrities who are expected to play alongside the Tour pros in the pro-am.

Johnny Damon of the Tampa Bay Rays Golfing at Walt Disney World Resort

It’s a pretty impressive group. Jerome “The Bus’’ Bettis (Pittsburgh Steelers), Alonzo Mourning (Miami Heat), Steve Young (San Francisco 49ers), Johnny Damon (Tampa Bay Rays), Anthony Anderson (Law & Order) and Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Bucs) are just a few of the names playing this year in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on Disney’s Palm and Magnolia golf courses. And more are expected to enter before the event, Oct. 20-23.

We also announced today that Joe Ogilvie, a veteran pro, will be one of the four tournament sponsor exemption players competing in the tournament, which is the last TOUR event of the season. The rest of the field will once again be a unique mix of established champions and rising stars, including defending champion Robert Garrigus, all trying to join the likes of Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Jack Nicklaus as winners of the tournament.

Fans will notice a few changes this year beyond the fact that the event takes place nearly a month earlier. For example, the popular Wine & Dine feature will be centrally located in one area near the putting green by the clubhouse where fans can sip on fine wines and sample unique international cuisine.

Tournament tickets ($10 single-day and $20 weekly badges) and Wine & Dine tickets ($30) are still available at or through

Hey, if you’d rather play in the tournament rather than just watch, there are still a few spots left in the pro-am. Call (407) 938-3501 to tee it up with Bettis, Young, Damon, Mourning, Anderson and the pros.

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Filed: Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

How a Horse Becomes a Disneyland Horse: Getting Ready for the Show

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

We’ve already learned how a horse lands a job at the happiest place on Earth – so now we move on to how he gets ready for his role at Disneyland park.

Gus and Owen at Disneyland Park

Once the horse is selected, his education begins at Circle D Corral. The two newest horses at the corral, Owen and Gus, are learning the ropes right now. When they are finished, they will have gone through approximately three to six months of training to get show ready, to get to know the Circle D cast and to allow the cast to observe their progress and interactions.

“Training here is very progressive,” says Alan Cooper, Equine Trainer Leader at Circle D Corral, meaning that once a horse achieves a training goal, he moves on to the next level – and only when he’s comfortable with what is being taught. Once the new recruit learns all he needs to know at the corral, it is time to get used to working in the park. He starts with trips around the perimeter of the park, getting used to all the sights, sounds and movement of backstage activity. When he’s ready, it’s time for dress rehearsals on the big stage: Main Street, U.S.A.!

In the last post of this series, we’ll learn how the new cast member gets ready for his big debut in the park.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Mickey and His Pals Get ‘Animated’ in a Unique Way at the Magic Kingdom Park

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Creating animated motion using still images has been a favorite of designers on the Internet for many years. With a series of still photographs, artists can create fantastical scenes and vignettes that tell stories at a single glance.

Stitch Gets 'Animated' at Magic Kingdom Park

We recently asked some of our favorite Disney Parks character pals to join guests in Magic Kingdom Park to create a few of these vignettes. Disney Parks Photographer Kent Phillips conducted photo shoots with Mickey, Stitch and Goofy, and then Production Director Ed Brown and the rest of the magic-makers of Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group went to work to bring Kent’s photos to life.

Mickey and His Pals Get 'Animated' at Magic Kingdom Park

I asked Kent to explain a bit about the methods he, Ed and the team utilized. “A sequence of still photos is taken, with a single photo used to comprise the majority of the visible frame. Holes cut digitally in that photo allow select pieces of the rest of the sequence to be seen running behind them. The whole thing is set to loop continuously, and a still picture is given a breath of life.”

Goofy Gets 'Animated' at Magic Kingdom Park

Speaking personally, I think it’s fitting that Mickey and his pals have told countless stories over the years through animation and that this process is yet another form of animated storytelling in which they are featured.

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Caption This: A Pack of Disney Pachyderms

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Looks like Dumbo is thrilled at finding some buddies to pal around with in this photo, which was snapped at the Walt Disney World Resort in 1972. (A similar shot was used as one of the park’s first postcards).

Caption This: A Pack of Disney Pachyderms

What’s Dumbo thinking? Where will the new friends head to first? More importantly, what does the group think of that nice new Monorail in the background? Go ahead and “Caption This!”

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Filed: Disney History, Walt Disney World Resort

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise

posted on September 27th, 2011 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise

With the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort on the horizon, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the early merchandise from the 1970s. You may recall that I enjoy collecting merchandise from the early days, particularly from EPCOT Center. My fellow Disney Parks Blog author Jennifer Fickley-Baker put me in contact with Steven Vagnini (extra points for the awesome first name), who is an archivist with The Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, California. I recall the day that Steven sent these images – opening that message was one of those extra magical moments in my Disney career. I think it was the colors or the designs that transported me to another time and place. I spoke with Steven via the telephone to discuss the items and his role with the Archives.

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise

“The Archives was founded in 1970 by Dave Smith,” explained Steven. “This was just ahead of the opening of Walt Disney World Resort. So Dave was lucky to collect a good sample of items from the early days of The Florida Project.”

Steven began his Disney career in Florida at Pirates of the Caribbean in 2005. He worked with Y.E.S. Programs and with Guest Relations before making the move to the Archives in California. I enjoyed our conversation as he, too, has such a passion for Disney. Steven explained that limited space is one reason why they seek to collect a representative sample of items.

“While we don’t have one of every Disney merchandise item ever produced, we have licensee files and catalogs that provide a wealth of information,” continued Steven. “Of course, it is important for us to collect physical samples. A variety of departments, including Disney Consumer Products and Disney Theme Park Merchandise, has often used them for reference and have found great value in them.”

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise

Steven and I discussed the images he shared with me.

“Some of the items were once on display at the One Man’s Dream attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” said Steven. “One of my favorite items is the bag as the iconography and colors scream 1970s [laughs]. I also like the thermometer as it is a merchandise item you don’t see at Disney Parks today.”

Another item not seen today is the oil lamp with pink accents (Jennifer and I had a good laugh over that one).

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise

You may notice the name “Walt Disney Productions” on the items. That was the corporate name used on merchandise until February 6, 1986, when it was changed to The Walt Disney Company. When I find items for my personal collection, I look for the “Walt Disney Productions” namedrop (which usually means I’m taking the item home).

I asked Steven if he had any favorite memories from visiting Walt Disney World Resort as a child.

“I recall ‘flying’ in the now closed If You Could Fly attraction in Tomorrowland,” reminisced Steven. “I remember experiencing one of my favorites, the Carousel of Progress, but I admit I was a bit drowsy; I was probably only one and a half years old at the time. Finally, I loved the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown!”

Here are a few additional images of some early merchandise that hopefully take you on a trip down memory lane. Happy 40th Anniversary to the “Vacation Kingdom of the World!”

A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise A Look Back at Early Walt Disney World Resort Merchandise
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Filed: Walt Disney World Resort

A Unique Point of View: E.P. Ripley

posted on September 26th, 2011 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

The Disneyland Railroad was the original inspiration for my Point of View (POV) series of videos. I saw the train and wondered what it would be like to experience what the engineers get to see every day.

We used 3 cameras for this video; two mounted on the exterior of the E.P. Ripley and one hand-held positioned just behind the engineers.

I’ve traveled the 20-minute journey around Disneyland park many times as a passenger; however, I now have a whole new perspective of the Disneyland Railroad, and I hope you will too.

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Finding Your Way Around Magic Kingdom Park, 40 Years Ago

posted on September 26th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Did you ever wonder what Magic Kingdom Park was like on opening day Oct. 1, 1971? I sure have, so last week I went looking for a copy of the park’s very first map to see for myself.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride from 1971 at Magic Kingdom Park

According to The Walt Disney Archives, the park’s first map wasn’t a guide map as we know it today, but a multi-page newspaper called The Walt Disney World News. The first edition, titled “Vacation Kingdom Opens,” celebrated the opening of the park with photos of company founder Walt Disney, Walt Disney World Ambassador Debby Dane, and the Windsor family, the first guests to enter the park on Oct. 1. (It also told the story of how in order to be the first guests admitted to the park, mom, dad and sons slept overnight in their Volkswagen in a nearby parking lot).

The park’s first map appears on page 4, and is followed with a listing of attractions, shops and restaurants in each “land.” While many of the park’s original attractions still exist today, there are shops and entertainment offerings. How about following up your Peter Pan’s Flight with a performance by The Polka Band? Or buying greeting cards on Main Street, U.S.A.? Or hot dogs at Refreshment Corner instead of Casey’s Corner?

What do you think?

Pages from ‘The Walt Disney World News,’ Magic Kingdom’s First Park Map Pages from ‘The Walt Disney World News,’ Magic Kingdom’s First Park Map
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Jamie Deen’s 3 Easy Grilling Tips – And He’s Back for Epcot Food & Wine Fest

posted on September 26th, 2011 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Fans are signing up for cooking demos with Jamie Deen at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, but we’ve got a few “grillin’” tips to share before he arrives. Jamie admits he’s not a chef, but a guy who loves to cook and eat, so his approach to the grill is easy.

Look for Jamie’s culinary demo at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, in the Festival Welcome Center. Cost is $13, and all we know is that he’s planning to cook something wonderful with chicken. You’ll pick up some great tips and get a taste of his dish during the 45-minute session.

For more information on this year’s festival and to book a session, go to Epcot theme park admission is required. You also can call 407-WDW-FEST.

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Filed: Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort