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Take 5: Halloween Time Fun at Disney Parks

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

Halloween Screams Fireworks at Disneyland Park

Halloween Time at Disney is a Guest favorite and over the last month we’ve shared stories on the Disney Parks Blog on ways the parks have been celebrating worldwide. We held a spooktacular fireworks show, transformed the Haunted Mansion at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, and even introduced some yummy seasonal treats.

Take 5: Halloween Time Fun at Disney Parks

  1. Disney’s Halloween Festival in Paris – Here are some fun photos of how we celebrated Halloween at Disneyland Paris.

  2. Headless Horseman Leads the Way this Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland – In Hong Kong Disneyland the Headless Horseman led the way in spooky fun for Disney’s Haunted Halloween celebration.

  3. Dapper Dans Sing Special Spooky Songs for Halloween Time at Disneyland Park – The not-so-scary but very Dapper Dans sang a special set during Halloween Time at Disneyland park including a creepy classic created by Disney Legends X Atencio and Buddy Baker.

  4. A Spooktacular in the Sky at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts – Check out some images taken from this year’s Happy HalloWishes fireworks spectacular.

  5. Our Favorite Disney Sweet for National Cookie Month – We shared a recipe for baking and decorating Jack Skellington cookies from the blockbuster animated film, “Nightmare Before Christmas.”
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Filed: Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resort

See HGTV’s Kim Stoegbauer at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

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

I love baking during the holidays, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time to do so with Christmas shopping, visiting friends and family, and of course, attending a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party also on the to-do list. Kim Stoegbauer from’s Design Happens blog has a couple tips for dressing up store-bought cakes and cupcakes that can save you a ton of time during the busy holiday season.

Kim is the latest HGTV personality to be a featured speaker at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the festival’s end on November 13, HGTV designers and personalities are offering seminars that are included with the price of park admission.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort

We’ve got two more HGTV personalities visiting the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival this year – Lisa LaPorta from HGTV’s “Designed to Sell,” who will talk with guests on November 4-6. Emily Henderson is the season five winner of “HGTV Design Star” and currently appears on “Secrets From a Stylist.” She will be at Epcot November 11-13.

Check out the posts below for more celebrity tips at this year’s International Food and Wine Festival:

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Happy Halloween from the Hitchhiking Ghosts of The Haunted Mansion

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

I was in Magic Kingdom Park this summer with a friend and I asked a common question, “Who is your favorite Disney character?” His reply: “The Hitchhiking Ghosts.”’

I think we all have a soft spot in our hearts for The Hitchhiking Ghosts and their antics in The Haunted Mansion. They make hitching a ride in a Doom Buggy look like a lot of fun.

As a Halloween treat, we wanted to bring you this video that features our not-so-scary specters and a little optical illusion fun. By building the trio out of cardstock-style paper and adding a few well-placed folds, cuts and pieces of transparent tape, The Hitchhiking Ghosts’ heads seem to turn with their eyes following the camera as it moves left and right.

So you can join in the fun in time for Halloween, we’ve even included the pattern that you can print out and try at home. There are a few sizes available to print, depending on your printer and choice of paper size.

Hitchhiking Ghost #1 Hitchhiking Ghost #2 Hitchhiking Ghost #3
8.5″x11″ 8.5″x11″ 8.5″x11″
8.5″x14″ 8.5″x14″ 8.5″x14″
13″x9″ 13″x9″ 13″x9″

Happy haunting!

Be sure to check out the terms of use before you download.

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Elephants Really Do Fly at the Disneyland Resort

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Valarie Sukovaty, Disneyland Public Relations

He’s baaack! Last May, one of our African bull elephants from the Jungle Cruise needed a “check-up.” (This happens once every 7-10 years.) Our special elephant, however, can’t be removed by boat or car. This is Disneyland Resort, where elephants fly! So our popular pachyderm was hoisted into the air by a helicopter and flown backstage, where a team waited to refurbish him. Now he’s gone back to the jungle.

Recently, he “flew” over Disneyland park back to his spot on the classic attraction. He wasn’t, however, the only elephant to fly that day. Take a look at this fun video. Enjoy!

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Exploring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Adventures by Disney

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Josh D'Amaro, Vice President, Adventures By Disney

Did you know that more than 400 species of fish have been spotted around the Galapagos Islands? These rare and beautiful creatures are just some of the amazing sights Adventures by Disney guests can expect to encounter in our new Grandiosos Galapagos and Andean Highlands & Galapagos Islands vacations.

The Galapagos Islands lie just 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, and have incredibly unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Across the islands, visitors can explore lagoons, lava fields, mangroves, caves, forests and breathtaking beaches. But for me, the rare wildlife that inhabits this beautiful place is the best part.

Many species that reside here can only be found in the Galapagos. Inhabitants vary greatly from island to island, making each one a special place to visit. For example, the Galapagos penguin is the only species of wild penguin that can be found in the northern hemisphere and they only inhabit a few of the islands.

Come Face-to-Face with Marine Iguanas as You Explore the Galapagos Islands with Adventures by Disney

There are 23 species of reptiles in the Galapagos and all but two of those are endemic to the archipelago. One of those unique to the islands is the marine Iguana; they live between land and sea (they can dive 30 feet!) making them the only marine lizard known to exist.

Meet the Galapagos Tortoise While Exploring the Galapagos Islands with Adventures by Disney

The Galapagos giant tortoise may be the most famous resident species unique to the Galapagos Islands. It is the largest living species of tortoise, weighing up to 595 lbs and living upwards of 100 years in the wild. The Galapagos Tortoise is native to seven of the islands; populations vary from island to island in characteristics such as neck length and the dome of their shell. The island-to-island differences of the Galapagos Tortoise played a huge role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

There are so many animals special to the Galapagos that I could go on and on. Instead, I invite you to experience the Galapagos Islands with Adventures by Disney. Our Grandiosos Galapagos is our new 9-day cruise of the Islands, while the Andean Highlands and Galapagos Islands is a 9-day adventure that takes you first to Ecuador and immerses you in the culture of the region before heading out to the Islands. Join us as we head out to meet the Galapagos fur sea lions, blue-footed boobies, the world’s only red-footed boobies, cormorants, penguins, giant tortoises, sea turtles, fish, more fish and so many more incredible creatures. Hope to see you there!

Interested in exploring other Adventures by Disney destinations? Take a look at the posts below:

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Filed: Adventures by Disney, Vacation Planning

Forty Years of Fireworks at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

The Walt Disney World Resort has marked several 40-year milestones this month, including the debut of Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and the Electrical Water Pageant.

Another 40-year milestone that we marked this week was the anniversary of the first fireworks display ever launched at Walt Disney World Resort. The Fantasy in the Sky Spectacular took place in celebration of the dedication of the Polynesian Village Hotel (now Disney’s Polynesian Resort) on Oct. 24, 1971.

In this clip, Principal Fireworks & Special Effects Designer Brad Cicotti shares the history of Disney fireworks and offers a backstage look at how these shows are launched each night.

See the posts below for more on these recent 40-year milestones at Walt Disney World Resort:

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An ‘Inside’ Look at Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

Here on the Disney Parks Blog, we’ve talked about rooftops, storefronts and bridges on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park, but now it’s time to take a peek inside a few of the doors. I recently chatted with Lynne Itamura, Senior Principal Interior Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, to find out how colors, materials and design are bringing the whole experience to life – inside and out.

Lynne told me that her team worked very closely with WDI creative directors to make sure that the environment which envelops guests on the exterior of Buena Vista Street translates to the interior spaces as well. They also focused on making the design elements fit the time period of the area – the 1920s through ‘30s. Even the patterns and glazing used for the tile will be typical of the time.

An ‘Inside’ Look at Buena Vista Street

She also explained how different design elements can help create separate spaces – for example, the different spaces within Elias & Co., which will be the main merchandise location for the area. Separated into four areas, it will be built to resemble a classic department store. The main space, inspired by some of the older department stores along L.A.’s Wilshire Blvd., will make a grand statement with lots of stone – especially lighter-toned, pinkish-hued marble as seen in the rendering above. By contrast, the kids’ “department,” which will be the toy location, will be colored with a brighter, more playful palette.

“Color is a very important design element,” Lynne said. “It creates mood and volume.”

An ‘Inside’ Look at Buena Vista Street

The accessories space, pictured in the rendering above, will feature more earth tones, while the jewelry location – at the end of the street – will shine and sparkle as if you’re inside a jewelry box. When choosing colors, Lynne’s team looked at historical color palettes from the time period.

“Because of the range of that time period, we had a lot to choose from,” she said.

An ‘Inside’ Look at Buena Vista Street

For Trolley Treats and Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream, the team looked for colors and materials that would showcase the candy and ice cream treats that would be available in those locations. Tiles on the wall of Trolley Treats will look like NECCO Wafers and the colors on the walls of the ice cream shop will be reminiscent of neapolitan ice cream.

“We had a great time talking about what would make this place say ‘ice cream,’” Lynne told me, adding that guests will find the decor very “lickable.”

“Although we really don’t encourage that,” she said.

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Will Be Featured on ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Tonight

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa will be the featured vacation destination on this week’s episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which will air tonight on ABC.

The episode features the McPhail family, founders of the Southern Oregon Chapter of Sparrows Clubs, a nonprofit organization that helps children with medical issues. After spending a few years dedicating their lives to helping ill children, two of the McPhail children were diagnosed with forms of Autism. Now, sons Thatcher and Sawyer are progressing and helping raise Autism awareness at their own schools.

Check out this clip of the McPhail family’s vacation at Aulani, which took place while the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” crew worked to make their home meet the children’s needs.

(I may just watch the show tonight because these kids are so darn cute!).

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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: Chilling, Thrilling Disney CD Picks

posted on October 28th, 2011 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group

The Haunted Mansion Attraction Soundtrack

The Haunted Mansion Attraction Soundtrack

What you get: A complete soundtrack “ride-through” of The Haunted Mansion attraction that runs over 13 minutes (oooh!); isolated music tracks of Buddy Baker’s groovy graveyard music (my fave), the Graveyard Band and Happy Haunts; never-before-released organ music takes, a fully orchestrated “Phantom Manor Suite” by Joel McNeely that includes “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and more.

Why it’s cool: This is the real thing, starring the original Ghost Host, Paul Frees, the organ music performed by legendary Hollywood theater musician Gaylord Carter, fantastic sound quality and rare tracks, all courtesy of the masterful Walt Disney Records Producer/Historian Randy Thornton.

The Story & Song From The Haunted Mansion

The Story & Song From The Haunted Mansion

What you get: A delightfully campy, vintage Disneyland Records “Storyteller” dramatization that follows “two teenagers coming home from a date” and find themselves in the “living nightmare” of the mysterious mansion, a separate track of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and an 11-page booklet illustrated by Imagineer Collin Campbell. The CD also allows you to download the magnificent artwork from the book.

Why it’s cool: It features a who’s-who of Hollywood voice actors and singers: Yes, that’s Ron Howard as Mike! Robie Lester (voice of Jessica in the Rankin/Bass special, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”) plays Karen, Thurl Ravenscroft (voice for one of the graveyard ghost busts) is the narrator; and Peter Renaday (Henry at Country Bear Jamboree) plays the Ghost Host, with an interesting “doubled” effect. It includes fabled details like the raven and the Hatbox Ghost PLUS a bonus track with a condensed attraction soundtrack.

Magic Kingdom Park Event Party Music

Magic Kingdom Park Event Party Music

What you get: The HalloWishes fireworks show soundtrack and Boo to You! Halloween Parade music from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom Park, plus music from the Disney’s Pirate and Princess Party of days past.

Why it’s cool: Loads of great tunes – from “Pink Elephants on Parade” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” to “This is Halloween” and “The Skeleton Dance” – are included, plus some sound memories from an event that we can no longer experience except through its wonderful music. There should be more CDs with the excellent music from so many of the fine entertainment offerings throughout Walt Disney World Resort. I’m glad this one exists.

For information on purchasing select Disney merchandise items, call Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477 or send an email to

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House

What you get: A remastered version of the landmark 1963 Disneyland Records album containing dozens of collected sounds grouped by category, and ten short stories in which a narrator sets up the situation and the sounds take over.

Why it’s cool: This best selling 1963 album is the granddaddy of all creepy sound effects collections, much imitated but never equaled. Laura Olsher (Mrs. Cratchit in Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol) narrates the stories in an ominous manner that is loads of fun to imitate (try it!). Disney Legend Jimmy MacDonald compiled the sound effects, drawing on the vast Disney Studios library. If you know your Disney movies, you’ll recognize the screaming ghouls from Lonesome Ghosts, the hunting dogs from Mary Poppins and much more.

This album can be downloaded on iTunes.

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Behind the Scenes: Mickey Pumpkin Magic at Disneyland Paris

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

If you’ve hopped on a boat at Epcot’s Living with the Land attraction you may have seen a cool Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkin or two. This Halloween season, you can’t miss them at Disneyland Paris – it’s the first ever crop created especially for the park. And today we’re sharing a look at how it was done.

Europe’s largest pumpkin grower David Bowman grew the special crop for Disneyland Paris using a seed variety called Cinderella (yes, that’s the real name). This year, he’s been working to grow Mickey pumpkins so good people think they’re fake.

The Mickey Mouse silhouette was created using a specially-designed mold, which was fitted to the pumpkins in the early stages of growth. The pumpkins grew until they filled the moulds and were then left to ripen, turning from dark green to the ripe, vibrant orange.

Behind The Scenes: Mickey Pumpkin Magic at Disneyland Paris

David grows more than three million pumpkins each year on almost 500 acres of land but says this is a pumpkin first for him. He calls this a really good crop of Mickey pumpkins for the world to enjoy at the park’s Halloween Festival this weekend.

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