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Meet Disney Artist Randy Noble at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 27th, 2012 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


A few weeks ago, I gave you a first look at items created for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Since that time, I went to the festival with my parents who were visiting from Ohio and my son (hello, new favorite coconut flavored beverage from the “Haiti: Garden of Many Colors” display!). While in the Festival Center, I spotted the original watercolor print for sale created by Disney Design Group senior artist and fellow Ohioan, Randy Noble. I recently spoke with Randy about the creation of this year’s colorful, topiary-inspired image.

“This is my second poster for the [Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival],” explained Randy. “I’ve also created works for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival as well as for Star Wars Weekends.”

Randy, who has been with the company for 14 years, had a strong background in painting before joining Disney. He said he worked closely with developer Lindsay Voigt to create the image.

“One of the original concepts I had featured Winnie the Pooh with a giraffe topiary,” continued Randy. “Yet, Lindsay and I decided to use the topiary artwork of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck to tell a more cohesive story.”

Randy will be meeting with fans in the Flower & Garden Festival merchandise tent on the World Showcase promenade near Canada Pavilion during the following dates and times:

  • Friday, March 30 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 28 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 5 – 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
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Filed: Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

The Adventurous Tale of the Great Goofini at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on March 27th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Earlier this month, we celebrated the “soft-open” of phase one of Storybook Circus, which included the debut of Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Barnstormer featuring the Great Goofini.

Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has given Barnstormer an entirely new backstory, which can be seen in circus posters found throughout Storybook Circus.


Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park
Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park Walt Disney Imagineering Gives Barnstormer a New Backstory in Posters Throughout Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom Park

Here’s the description, straight from WDI:

“The greatest show in the kingdom, The Storybook Circus, has just come to town and set up in beautiful Carolwood Park. There’s fun and pageantry to be had for everyone. But if it’s thrills you’re after, The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as the Great Goofini is one attraction you won’t want to miss!

“The circus’ fearless daredevil, the Great Goofini, has become the resident flying ace for his latest spectacular showcase of aerial acrobatics and bravery. It’s ‘plane’ crazy and sure to leave you breathless.

“And that’s just the beginning! The Great Goofini will stop at nothing to amuse and entertain his audience. The Canine Cannonball, the Reckless Rocketeer and Bear Wrasslin’ are just few of his notable feats of peril showcased in fully illustrated posters that line the circus walkways.

“So the next time you visit the Storybook Circus in search of some excitement, keep your eye out for the Great Goofini. You never know if he’ll be blasting, crashing, or soaring through the skies, but you know you’ll definitely have a good time watching!”

Hmm, there seem to be some hidden nods to Disney history here, both in the description and in the posters themselves. What hidden details can you find?

For more information on New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park, check out the posts below:

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Confirmed: The Pleasures of Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

posted on March 27th, 2012 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations

Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

A few months ago, I shared a video about Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani, along with a confession that I’m not someone who usually takes advantage of spa opportunities, no matter how attractive.

Well… last time I was at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, on O‘ahu, Lucia Rodriguez, the spa manager who has contributed so much to the wonders of Laniwai, convinced me that – if only for the sake of putting some firsthand Laniwai experience into the Disney Parks Blog – I should have a spa treatment. I was still hesitant, but we narrowed it down to a facial and (once Lucia convinced me that none of the Laniwai cast members would be too horrified by my feet) a pedicure.

Wishing Stones at Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

After selecting a “wishing stone” and traveling through the “transformation corridor,” I – like most Laniwai guests – had time to enjoy Kula Wai, the outdoor hydrotherapy garden (the only one on O‘ahu). This truly is a memorable, relaxing experience in a beautifully landscaped garden with two herbal pools, a jetted hot tub, a circuit of six different showers and a cold plunge (I didn’t “plunge” exactly, but I did cautiously submerge).

Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

Finally, of course, were the treatments themselves, which left me feeling very pampered, not to mention grateful for the restraint of the cast member who worked such wonders on my nasty feet.

I’m still not sure I can ever become the kind of guy who’d do this on a regular basis… and yet, it’s something I think everyone should experience at least once. If you’re going to have a “first spa” experience, you couldn’t ask for better than Laniwai, a Disney Spa.

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Filed: Aulani, Disney Vacation Club, Vacation Planning

New ‘Phineas & Ferb’ Disney Gift Card Featuring Perry the Platypus Available Online

posted on March 27th, 2012 by Virginia Scanlon, Manager Alliance Management, Disney Gift Card Services

“Phineas & Ferb” fans, what are you gonna do today? How about checking out the new Disney Gift Card that’s going to make you say “Oh, there you are Perry!”


That’s right, the new card called “Teal Takeover” features Agent P, a.k.a. Perry the Platypus, glaring straight at you. With a bold look in his eyes, this “semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal of action” looks as if he is on alert for someone like the evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz to make their move.

Before arriving to check out Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure coming to Epcot this summer, fans will be able to kick-off their OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) mission from home with this cool Disney Gift Card that doubles as a souvenir!


While on the hunt for Agent P, don’t forget to check out the “Phineas & Ferb” gift card featuring the boys brainstorming over an innovative summer project while that sly platypus sits by innocently under the guise of the lovable Perry.

Get yours today at

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Things You Might Not Know About Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort


Pirates of the Caribbean recently celebrated its 45th anniversary here at Disneyland park, but thar be mysteries afloat in this historic attraction. Here be some things ye landlubbers might not know…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean was the last Disneyland attraction personally supervised by Walt Disney.
  • The attraction was originally envisioned as a New Orleans-themed Blue Bayou Mart featuring a Pirate Wax Museum, housed in a 70-foot deep basement. The basement now serves as the grotto section of the attraction.
  • The fire effects in the Burning Town scene were so realistic that prior to the attraction’s grand opening, the Anaheim Fire Chief asked that the effects automatically shut off in the event of a real fire.
  • It cost $15 million to build New Orleans Square ($8 million of which was spent on Pirates of the Caribbean). This is equal to the amount the United States paid for the real New Orleans as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
  • The façade of the attraction was partly inspired by the Cabildo building in Jackson Square in New Orleans, which served as the seat of the Spanish colonial government in 1799. It is also noted for being the site where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803.
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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Moms Panel Monday: Meet Scott Houston, a Dad Who Loves Learning and Makes Walt Disney World Resort His Classroom

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Spring has sprung here at Walt Disney World Resort! With the 19th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in full bloom and warm weather all around, it’s the perfect time to take a spring break trip to come and enjoy the sunshine. The flower creations at Epcot literally blow up like a colorful fireworks display of horticulture! For Scott Houston, one of our newest dads on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, spring vacations are an opportunity for learning.


As an assistant principal, former math teacher, and dad to an adorable 3-year-old prince named Evan (who calls Spaceship Earth a geodesic sphere!), Scott knows how important it is to keep kids’ brains engaged even when you’re on vacation. “I want my students and my son to be lifelong learners, always growing and experiencing the world around them in new ways,” Scott says. “I think it’s important for parents and children to know that you can still have fun while you’re learning.”

On a recent trip to Epcot, Scott and his wife Christy took Evan to Innoventions to experience the Storm Struck exhibit for the first time. “After a tornado touched down near our home last year, the storm was all my son could talk about. When we took him to the exhibit, he just lit up with excitement and we realized he wouldn’t have an experience on that scale in a classroom setting.”


For more edutainment, Scott recommends Conservation Station, which is part of Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. He says the hands-on nature of the exhibit allows kids to get close up with unusual animals and teaches them about what it takes to care for the wildlife they see during their visit.

“When I’m helping people plan their vacations, I think it’s important to let them know about the amount of real-life learning that can happen at Disney. While it’s not necessarily math and reading in the traditional sense, the educational value is unmatched; it’s the practical, real-life experiences that will stick with kids.”

Need more of Scott’s ideas for sparking your child’s thirst to learn while on vacation at Disney Parks? Visit

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Adventures by Disney Heads to Southeast Asia

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Attention fans of Adventures by Disney! An all-new 2013 destination was just announced earlier today – it’s a tour through Southeast Asia, with stops in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

This 12-day, 11-night tour will give adventurers the chance to experience exotic culture in cities like Saigon, Hanoi, Hoi An, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. In Cambodia, adults will have time to take in the unique architecture of the Temples of Angkor Wat while Junior Adventurers live the history of the ancient structure on a tuk tuk vehicle treasure hunt. In Vietnam, guests can expect to enjoy market shopping followed by an authentic Vietnamese cooking lesson.

Take a sneak peek at the other fun adventures guests can expect in this new tour in this video:

Additional details and dates for the new Southeast Asia itinerary and other 2013 offerings will be available on the Adventures by Disney website in late spring. In the meantime, guests are encouraged to contact the reservations center at 1-877-728-7282 with any questions.

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Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – A ‘Go-To’ Favorite at Disneyland Resort

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


While we can always find something delicious to eat at any Disneyland Resort restaurant, one of our favorite “go-to” spots is Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, where Chef Chris Faulkner keeps the kitchen running. We always start with a bowl of the charred Nebraska corn chowder (and sometimes that with a bowl of seasonal berries is lunch).


Chef Chris started working at the Disneyland Resort as a teenage busboy, clearing plates at the Plaza Inn at Disneyland park in the 1990s. And it wasn’t long before he knew that a culinary career was his calling. “Even as a busboy, I loved the camaraderie in the kitchen,” says Chris.


Storytellers Cafe is one of the busiest restaurants in the Disneyland Resort hotels, and Chris says he loves the challenge and enjoys working with his diverse, energetic team. The restaurant’s menu is focused on California cuisine, and one of his favorite jobs is sourcing sustainable fish and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

“With local, seasonal produce, the price is lower, it’s the freshest and most flavorful,” he explains. And while there’s a little something for everyone on the generous breakfast and dinner buffets, you’ll always find seasonal fruits and veggies. And with the a la carte dinner menu, Chris says he has more latitude to create delicious seasonal dishes, such as zucchini blossoms in the spring and heirloom tomatoes in the summertime. Right now, it’s lemon prawns tossed with a low-fat citrus sauce, tomatoes and veggies served with orzo.

What’s your favorite “go-to” Disneyland Resort restaurant?

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts

First Look: Park-Inspired Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers Game

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


Have you heard? Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is coming soon and it’s the first social game inspired by our very own Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Yes, it includes “The Tree of Life,” and during game play, you’ll have a chance to create and nurture your own wildlife nature preserve around it – with exotic animals. A few of the game’s locations will be familiar to Disney Parks Blog readers.

Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers - Coming Soon Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers - Coming Soon Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers - Coming Soon Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers - Coming Soon

When it launches on Facebook, players will also be able to search for hidden objects in some spectacular natural settings, from the Rocky Mountains to the Amazon rainforest to the Australian outback. We can’t wait to experience it. Take a first look at the new trailer for Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers and let’s us know what you think.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Inside the Disney Fantasy: Top Five Experiences

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

With only five days until the Disney Fantasy’s maiden voyage, Assistant Cruise Director Natalie gives us a look at her top five things to see and do on Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship. Check it out!

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Filed: Disney Cruise Line