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Happy Villaintines Day from Disney Parks Blog

Disney Vacation Club Introduces Membership Magic

posted on January 30th, 2014 by Ryan March, Editor, Disney Vacation Club’s Disney Files Magazine

If you’re noticing an extra spring in the step of Disney Vacation Club Members, it could be because today marks the launch of Membership Magic, a diverse array of Membership enhancements, exclusive experiences and special perks. (Either that or members just happen to be wearing really springy shoes.)

“With Membership Magic, we are giving families even more to love about Disney Vacation Club,” said Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Disney Vacation Club. “It’s our special way of thanking our members for being such a valued part of the Disney Vacation Club family.”


The first wave of Membership Magic offerings (for those who have purchased a vacation ownership in Disney Vacation Club) includes new opportunities to see the world, new Walt Disney World Resort experiences created with Members in mind, new discounts to help stretch vacation dollars, a new online home for exclusive merchandise and more. The lineup also includes the annual Member Cruise voyage’s first summer sailing (August 24-28, 2014 aboard the Disney Dream ship), and two Membership-exclusive Adventures by Disney itineraries (New York City, and San Francisco & Napa).

Complete details about Membership Magic offerings, including availability and continuing access, are available now at, and with more magic on the horizon (including offerings in California, Hawai`i and even at sea), look for Members’ collective step to get even springier.

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Finish that Disney Parks Sign: Cheetah Ahead at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 30th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

This week’s “Finish that Disney Parks Sign” photo was snapped in the queue for Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, giving guests facts on the animals they’ll see ahead.


Can you tell what the blurred word is? What do cheetahs use to call their cubs? Tell us in the “Comments” section below. We’ll update the post later today with the answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mechanical Kingdoms ~ Steam-Driven Visions of a Victorian Future Art to Debut at Disney Parks

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

Steampunk and Disney fans alike, this one’s for you! On February 22, The Disney Gallery at Disneyland park will unveil a new exhibit titled Mechanical Kingdoms ~ Steam-Driven Visions of a Victorian Future.

Steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction loosely built around retro-futuristic visions of a steam-powered society, has been gaining (pardon the pun) steam over the past several years. The movement, which is expressed culturally and stylistically in everything from technology and design to music and fashion, was dubbed steampunk in the late 1980s. Though certainly not part of the steampunk “wave” (at least not consciously), Walt Disney Imagineers have been creating their own visions and versions of retro-futuristic technologies since well before that time, incorporating them into Disney Parks and attractions around the world.


Mechanical Kingdoms ~ Steam-Driven Visions of a Victorian Future features conceptual designs and ideas for an array of inventive vehicles, machines and gadgets. The collection also shares some of the same inspirations as steampunk – most prominently a fascination with the extravagantly inventive visions of tomorrow expressed by such Victorian futurists as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. So don your petticoats and bustles or your suits and old military storm coats, pull on your brass goggles and get ready for an adventure that takes us forward into the past, as seen through the eyes of Disney artists and designers.

Here’s one piece that was actually done in collaboration with several of the artists, and for me, kind of tells the story of Steampunk and what you can expect to see.


Of course, it was hard to pick one piece of art to show you, so I convinced the team to let me show you at least one piece from each artist. Take a look!

If you are a fan of Steampunk then mark your calendar now, because as part of the Steampunk launch, we will host artist signings at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

Disneyland Resort:
Meet artists Dave Avanzino, Jim Crouch, Jeremy Fulton, Brian Kesinger, Noah, Mark Page, Michael Peraza and Javier Soto from 9 – 11 a.m. at Disneyana.

Walt Disney World Resort:
Disney Design Group artists, Costa Alavezos, Alex Maher and Mike Sullivan will appear from 2-5p.m. at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace.

For event information and to see more images being released as part of the events, visit the event section of

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Construction on Shanghai Disney Resort Reaches New Heights

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

We’re thrilled to let Disney Parks Blog readers know that Shanghai Disney Resort recently celebrated two new construction milestones, including the topping out of the resort’s first Disney-themed hotel and the start of construction of a “mountain” in the resort’s theme park.


Shanghai Disney Resort and partner leadership teams poured the last concrete onto the roof section of the first of two Disney-themed hotels, marking the milestone. The hotel will feature 800 rooms over seven floors and will offer guests stunning views of Shanghai Disneyland, the retail, dining and entertainment district and the resort’s central lake.


Additionally, the first vertical steel for Shanghai Disneyland’s “mountain”, marked the official start of vertical construction for another remarkable attraction at the resort’s Magic Kingdom-style theme park. The mountain will be located in a key area of the theme park and will be the second highest structure at Shanghai Disney Resort after the Enchanted Storybook Castle.

Disney has a long-standing tradition of creating immersive and unforgettable experiences for guests around the world, and it will be no different with Shanghai Disney Resort. Classic Disney characters and storytelling blend with uniquely-designed and finely-crafted attractions, from rockwork to jungles, lakes and trees, to create exciting and extraordinary immersive places for guests of all ages to enjoy.

Shanghai Disney Resort continues on track to open at the end 2015. On opening day the resort will include Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, a 46,000 square meter retail, dining and entertainment venue, recreational facilities, a lake and associated parking and transportation hubs.

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A Unique Point of View: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

Today marks 55 years since the release of the Disney animated classic, “Sleeping Beauty.” The timeless tale of Princess Aurora has been immortalized here at Disneyland park in the form of the park’s icon, Sleeping Beauty Castle. Designed by Disney Legend Herb Ryman, it was inspired by a number of medieval European castles – most notably, Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria.

Sleeping Beauty Castle made its first appearance five years before the animated feature itself premiered to the public – as part of the opening titles for the “Disneyland” television series in 1954. The castle was intended to be the central icon of Walt Disney’s new, ground-breaking theme park enterprise, and set the standard for the tradition of castle icons seen in Disney Parks around the world today.

Today, in honor of the 55th anniversary of “Sleeping Beauty,” I’d like to share some unique perspectives on Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park, provided by Chief Photographer Paul Hiffmeyer.


A Unique Point of View: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park A Unique Point of View: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park


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Sights & Sounds of Disney Parks: Disney’s ‘Frozen Sing-Along’ comes to Downtown Disney

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group

What’s even better than watching a hit Disney animated musical? Being part of the music, magic and fun yourself!

This Friday, January 31, enchanted snowflakes will be bouncing over the words to every song so everyone can join in Disney’s “Frozen Sing-Along.” This special event will take place both at the AMC Downtown Disney 12 Theatres at Disneyland Resort in California, and the AMC Downtown Disney with Dine-In Theatres at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Of course, you may not need the snowflakes or the lyrics yourself, because you and the gang have already memorized the soundtrack album! Chances are you won’t be alone. The songs have a lot of fans. There’s nothing like the shared elation and energy of a joyous group gathered to sing their favorite songs as they experience a great musical on the big screen.

“Naturally, I’m a music guy, so I firmly believe that songs and music are at the heart of Disney just as animation, fantasy and theme parks are as well,” said Chris Montan, President of Walt Disney Music, told us. “And it’s true, when you love a song the way people love a Disney song, the words and music take on a life of their own. They live deep inside us and become part of that ‘great music mix’ inside our heads.”

Chris is referring to what I like to call the “mp-ME player.” It’s the cool part of the brain that acts just like a radio tuner and can play our favorites at will. (Seriously, I’ve got dozens of entire record albums cued up on my mp-ME player for when I’m swimming laps, driving in traffic or just need a quick pick-me-up on a busy day.) I’ve got great new mp-ME’s to upload into my head thanks to “Frozen.”

And “Frozen” isn’t just any animated musical, it’s become the biggest Disney animated film phenom of the century. “Frozen” has just become the highest grossing original animated film in history, and the soundtrack album hit Billboard’s number one spot.

“We always have high hopes for all of our new film music, but ultimately the public decides what to embrace,” said Chris. “But even we were bowled over by the response to “Frozen” — as a musical and as a film. Now kids have even more wonderful songs to grow up with, and grownups have new gems to place alongside their other “Best of Disney” favorites.”

All this musical success couldn’t happen to a nicer couple. Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are relishing the glitz and excitement of having a smash Disney musical feature — and they’re especially glad to share these moments with their two young daughters, Anna and Katie (who add their talents to the film). Plus, in addition to the “Frozen Sing-Along,” there’s serious talk of a Broadway stage production of “Frozen.”

Oh, and then there’s a little thing called the Academy Awards. If you’re like us, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for the Lopez’s “Let It Go” to win the Oscar for Best Original Song! (Inside joke: Bobby and Kristen like to call their friend Chris “Gandalf’,” because he’s such a mysterious, wandering being of untold wisdom.)

No matter how any of the ol’ awards turn out, the Lopez family, and all of us, are the real winners, rich with the treasure of great new Disney music that will go on to delight generations to come.

Tickets are on sale now for Disney’s “Frozen Sing-Along” at AMC Theatres box offices and at your favorite movie ticket site.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs

I have fantastic news from the 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count, which took place last Saturday. We counted a record number of birds and, for the first time, guests joined in the count during Magical Moments.


Cast Members and their families, guided by Disney’s Animal Programs bird experts, counted more than 24,000 birds representing 119 species at the Walt Disney World Resort and surrounding area. This is a new record for the most birds and the most species observed since we started the bird count four years ago. It’s obvious that our feathered friends enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort as much as our guests do!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

And this year, for the first time, guests joined the count during Magical Moments, some counting birds side-by-side with Walt Disney World Ambassador Rich Tamayo. At Disney’s Pop Century and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts, for example, guests counted hooded mergansers (a colorful member of the duck family) coming in to roost on a pond between the resorts, along with little blue herons, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, and many other birds.

New species that we counted this year included the black-bellied whistling duck, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, American pipit, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow and the beautiful painted bunting.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

Did you participate in a bird count during the past year? If so, tell us about your favorite moment in the comments.

Did you know?

  • Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900. Data collected in bird counts from year to year allow scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas
  • We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.
  • Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6.1 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker and mangrove cuckoo.
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‘Discover Together’ Symposium at Disneyland Resort Offers Nonprofits Nationwide the Building Blocks to Strengthen Relationships that Help Kids Thrive

posted on January 28th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

Through work with our valued community partners, we at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are constantly looking for meaningful ways to extend our impact beyond our theme parks.

Part of that effort, and happening right now at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, is the two-day “Discover Together” symposium – which brings together nearly 60 nonprofit organizations from across the country to explore ways to help strengthen bonds between kids and adults in their own communities. Participants also receive a full day of Disney Institute’s Leadership Excellence training.

The group heard from several speakers, including Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who talked about Disney’s commitment to nurturing, inspiring and empowering children and families, and creating opportunities to help children succeed and thrive.

They also heard from researchers with the Center for Childhood Creativity and the Search Institute, who shared findings about the crucial impact a parent, grandparent, mentor or other influential adult can have on a child’s life – including the fact that kids with positive relationships with adults are almost twice as likely to do better in school and three times more likely to volunteer in their community.

At the symposium, KaBOOM! announced the search for America’s Most Playful Family contest, which kicks off today and is supported by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The winner will receive the most playful vacation of them all – a trip for four to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort – and the opportunity to work with KaBOOM! in granting an Imagination Playground to a nonprofit organization in the family’s home state. Learn more about the contest at

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New Merchandise to Bloom at the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Starting March 5

posted on January 28th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

New Merchandise to Bloom at the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

My fellow Disney Parks Blog author Jennifer Fickley-Baker recently shared that the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is returning to Walt Disney World Resort on March 5. Her story prompted me to do some digging for details about the merchandise being offered this year. Here is a first look at some of my favorite items coming to Epcot.
New Merchandise to Bloom at the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Featuring Garden Items

You may recall that we introduced topiary artwork last year to our merchandise assortment. This fun and festive artwork was created by our Yellow Shoes Marketing group and it was wildly popular with guests attending the event. This year, we have used that artwork on new softlines, home décor and more.
New Merchandise to Bloom at the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

I particularly love some of the new garden items including a Minnie Mouse wind chime that I think my mother would enjoy. The Donald Duck garden stake also made me laugh (I think he’s my favorite character topiary image from this event). We will also have a new 12-inch pre-dressed Duffy the Disney Bear that resembles a garden gnome. I’m personally buzzing about the updated coffee mug that features a hidden bee image inside.
new pins485485

Topiaries also found their way onto new pins created especially for this year’s Festival. There is a limited release pin featuring Mickey Mouse that will be found in multiple locations through Epcot. There are also a series of limited-edition pins that include characters like Kermit the Frog or Mater and Lightning McQueen.
New Merchandise to Bloom at the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Featuring Vinylmation

Finally, the Vinylmation team will introduce a new “revealed/concealed” mystery set with figures shaped like topiaries on March 28. Disney Design Group artist Caley Hicks designed the 3-inch figures. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey topiary is the revealed figure in the set, and it will be found on the top of each mystery box. The other four figures will be randomly packaged, so you won’t know which one you get.

I invite you to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog in the coming weeks as I will be offering a first look inside the Festival Center located between Mission: SPACE and Universe of Energy pavilions at Epcot.

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VIDEO: How to Play the Fun Wheel Challenge at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on January 28th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

A few months ago, we told you about a new, interactive game for Disney California Adventure park guests. Each night, before “World of Color,” guests can log on to play the Fun Wheel Challenge on their mobile devices. Competing against other park guests to match the color patterns, the winner gets to control the lights on Mickey’s Fun Wheel! We recently spent the evening on Paradise Pier to check it out for ourselves. Come along with us!

So the next time you’re waiting to watch “World of Color,” just join the PierGames Wi-Fi network from your mobile device, play the game within your device’s web browser – there are no apps to download. This special Wi-Fi network is available 45 minutes before the start of the first “World of Color” show each evening.

Have you played (or won) the Fun Wheel Challenge? Tell us about it in the comments!

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