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Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Claude Coats

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park

Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland Park

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama on what was then called the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad. In 1955, Claude Coats was one of the elite artists and designers Walt Disney selected to help bring Disneyland to life, and he later worked on the development of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Dioramas for the park.

Born January 17, 1913, in San Francisco, Calif., Claude graduated from the University of Southern California in 1934 with an architecture and fine arts degree. He went on to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles before joining the Walt Disney Studio as a background painter in June 1935.

During his time at the Studio, Claude created stunning watercolor background paintings for “Pinocchio” which continue to be heralded by Disney scholars, fans and art collectors for the rich and textured beauty they lend to the classic film. He also developed backgrounds and color stylings for many iconic animated features such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Fantasia,” “Dumbo,” “The Three Caballeros,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” and “Lady and the Tramp.”

Claude stood 6-feet, 6-inches tall and was known as a “gentle giant” with a warm wit and a wonderful disposition. He once recalled how Walt used to joke with him about his height. Claude said, “When the Disneyland Stagecoach was completed at the Studio, Walt and a driver were giving rides around the lot, but he wouldn’t let me get in. He said I spoiled the scale.”

While working at the Studio, Claude met his wife Evelyn Henry, an inker in the Ink and Paint Department. The couple married in July 1937 and had two sons, Alan and Lee.


In 1955, Claude joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a show designer for Disneyland. He referred to this as his “second career” at Disney. In addition to the Dioramas, Claude worked on Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Submarine Voyage, among others. Claude also contributed to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attractions, including Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress, and “it’s a small world.”

After 54 years with Disney, Claude retired in November 1989. Marty Sklar, Disney Legend, former executive vice president and Walt Disney Imagineering ambassador, later recalled, “Claude paved the way in turning sketches and paintings into three-dimensional adventures. His energy, curiosity and drive to create new experiences for our Disney park guests made him a leader and a teacher for all of us. He was a genuine one-of-a-kind.”

Claude was named a Disney Legend in 1991. He passed away on January 9, 1992, in Los Angeles.

(April 11, 2013)  Main Street Windows (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Claude’s window, located above the Emporium, is a tribute to his name and large stature: Coats & Co., Claude Coats, Proprietor, Big and Tall Sizes for Gentlemen.

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Golden Week and Duffy the Disney Bear Merchandise Makes its Way to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

I love finding special souvenirs when I go on trips! I’m pretty sure most of you do too. So if you are heading to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa during the month of April or specifically during Golden Week at the end of the month, here are some tips on what I think would make some great souvenirs to add to your collection. For those of you wondering what Golden Week is, it is a collection of national holidays in Japan that often fall within a week’s time period.

First up, is a special limited edition pin celebrating Golden Week. This limited edition 1500 pin will debut on April 10 and features Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse enjoying a sweet moment on their Hawaiian holiday. Where can you find it? Kālepa’s Store, of course! It’s a great find and it’s easy to pack for your trip home.


Now, I know that many of you take your very own Duffy the Disney Bear with you on vacation, and I can tell you from experience that Duffy is a great traveler! So here are a few more reasons why you’ll have to make some extra room in your luggage!

Our talented teams of artists and developers have been hard at work creating a handful of new costumes that are … Who am I kidding? I just have to say it … “bear”y cute! First let me show you the dated costume and plaid costume which became available at Kālepa’s Store this past week.


And now … for the sneak peek! Here’s your first look at some additional costumes headed your way in late spring, early summer. As you can see we had some fun dressing up Duffy the Disney Bear!


Personally, I can’t decide which one is my favorite. Which one is yours?

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Filed: Aulani, Disney Vacation Club, Hotels & Resorts

The Newest Downtown Disney Marketplace Kiosk is for the Dogs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Recently, I let our @WDWDowntown Twitter followers know about Happy Hound, a brand-new kiosk at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The response was overwhelming, so today, I’m sharing even more info with all of you!

If you have a pooch, this is the place to score custom collars and tags, trendy outfits, squeaky toys – including a hilarious mustache fetch toy – and more for your favorite four-legged friends.

I don’t have any pets myself, but my sister has a loveable Boxer named Otis. He may not be the smartest dog, but he’s so sweet with my two young nieces that he probably deserves a special surprise from me!

Scroll through the photos below to see some of the offerings at Happy Hound. As a girl who loves to accessorize, I’m most excited about the personalized collars and engravable dog tags – though there’s plenty more to love.

The Newest Downtown Disney Marketplace Kiosk is for the Dogs at Walt Disney World Resort

Look for Happy Hound during your next visit to the Marketplace; it’s located near Marketplace Fun Finds and LittleMissMatched. (And remember, for the latest news and updates, be sure to follow the Downtown Disney Twitter handle at @WDWDowntown.)

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A Look Back: Behind the Scenes of the Re-imagined “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Park

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

It’s hard to believe it has been five years since the new dolls were added to “it’s a small world” at Disneyland park. I had the privilege to sit down with Imagineer Kim Irvine and several of the attraction’s magic-makers before “the happiest cruise that ever sailed ‘round the world” re-opened to guests back in 2009. As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world,” I thought it would be fun to revisit this video and share it with you.

I have to say, the North America scene with the Woody, Jessie and Bullseye toys is still my favorite addition. What’s yours?

Join in the 50th anniversary celebration of “it’s a small world” at

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“it’s a small world” Around The World: Tokyo Disneyland

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Our look inside “it’s a small world” around the world continues today with a peek inside the Tokyo Disneyland attraction.


'it’s a small world' Around The World: Tokyo Disneyland 'it’s a small world' Around The World: Tokyo Disneyland
'it’s a small world' Around The World: Tokyo Disneyland 'it’s a small world' Around The World: Tokyo Disneyland

Did you know that this version of the attraction features the largest Japan section of any other “it’s a small world” attraction? The design of the attraction’s exterior was inspired by the look of “it’s a small world” at Disneyland park, but offers a wider variety of colors. The boarding area for the attraction is on the inside, similar to that of the attraction at Magic Kingdom Park, and features a 360-degree mural of world landmarks.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations

In its second year of operation, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort continues to surprise and delight guests with its animation-inspired design, whimsical amenities and spacious suites ideal for families. As part of our ongoing resort series, here’s the inside scoop on this highly popular Walt Disney World Resort hotel that immerses guests into classic Disney and Disney•Pixar films, in a big way! John Graham will share 10 things you might not know about this magical Disney resort.

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Step in Time: A Look Back at the ‘Remember the Magic’ Parade at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

Just the title of this blog post has this parade’s theme song running through my head, how about you?
A Look Back at the ‘Remember the Magic’ Parade at Magic Kingdom Park

The year 1996 was a memorable one at Disney. It was the 25th anniversary of Magic Kingdom Park, an occasion that turned Cinderella Castle into a giant pink birthday cake, and the “Remember the Magic” parade debuted.

In this procession, Sorcerer Mickey led the way on a special Cinderella Castle-inspired float filled with Disney characters. Ariel and other characters from “The Little Mermaid” appeared in an impressive seashell float, surrounded by dancing fish friends, who would periodically pause and encourage guests to celebrate by dancing along. “The Lion King” also had its own float, which featured Simba, Pumbaa and other characters from the film. Rafiki also walked along the parade path and encouraged young guests to participate in the fun by beating drums.

Do you remember this parade (and its theme song)? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!

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Disney’s Night of Joy 2014 Tickets – On Sale Tomorrow

posted on March 30th, 2014 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager

Wow! I can’t believe it’s almost April. As we go into spring, it’s a great time for a Night of Joy update.

Tickets for this year’s event will go on sale tomorrow (March 31)! As usual, we’re very excited about this year’s event.
Single-night tickets are $59 plus tax in advance and $69 plus tax on the days of the show. There is also a two-night ticket option, which is $108 for both nights and includes a 1-day admission to one of Disney’s two water parks or DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park if you purchase them through August 5.

Fans can purchase tickets at or by calling 407-W-DISNEY starting tomorrow morning.

Disney’s Night of Joy is a special ticket event at Magic Kingdom Park featuring the top names in Christian music. This year’s lineup showcases a stage-load of talent on each night.

Friday, September 5, 2014:

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matthew West
  • for KING & COUNTRY
  • Mandisa
  • Building 429
  • Matt Maher
  • The Neverclaim

Saturday, September 6, 2014:

  • Skillet
  • Casting Crowns
  • MercyMe
  • Israel Houghton & New Breed
  • Britt Nicole
  • Colton Dixon
  • Rhett Walker
  • We As Human
  • 1 Girl Nation

As always, tickets are subject to availability and entertainment is subject to change without notice. Night of Joy admission is a special ticket event and is not included in any other form of ticket media. Tickets are valid during specific event hours only.

Group tickets will go on sale April 8. For more information about the event and the benefits of coming as a group, check out

And don’t forget to check back to the Disney Parks Blog for more updates on the event.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 30th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

This week on the Disney Parks Blog, our readers were treated to a bevvy of “it’s a small world” content in honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the attraction. Many Disney Parks Blog authors shared stories, historic images and videos created especially for this celebration – be sure to check out Erin’s post for some fun trivia and history that surrounds this attraction.


Here at the Walt Disney World Resort, our coverage of the construction of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train kicked into high gear with two updates in our “All in the Details” series. Jennifer shared a look at changing terrain of the attraction, which features rocky cliffs, lush trees, and fields of flowers. Another update focused solely on the “big drop” in the attraction.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

This Week in Disney History: ‘Love Bug’ Day at Disneyland Park, 1969 – 45 years ago, 101 decorated Volkswagen Beetles made their way down Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park to celebrate the release of the film “The Love Bug.”

Chef Marcel St. Pierre New at Helm of Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland Hotel – Meet Chef Marcel St. Pierre and some of the delectable dishes available at Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland Hotel.

Xin Yin Children’s Choir Celebrates Disney’s ‘it’s a small world’ – Watch this special performance of “it’s a small world” by the Shanghai-based Xin Yin Children’s choir.

Caryl Stern, President & CEO of U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Visits ‘it’s a small world’ at Disneyland Park – Caryl Stern shares her memories of riding “it’s a small world” at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and describes the long-standing relationship between UNICEF and Disney.

Video: ‘Let it Go’ Sing-Along from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Performed at Walt Disney World Resort – Did you catch “Good Morning America’s” “Frozen”-themed sing-along event? Watch a group of talented children perform a portion of the song “Let it Go!” at Walt Disney World Resort.

Marvelous New Merchandise Debuts at Disney Parks – If you like the Avengers, then you’ll love this new merchandise, including apparel, iPhone cases and more!

Bringing Maleficent to Life for ‘Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade’ at Magic Kingdom Park – Parade Designer Richard Improta and Tony Award-winning Production Designer Michael Curry discuss the origins of the fire-breathing Maleficent Dragon.

Date Night on the High Seas with Disney Cruise Line – Ever consider a date night on the open ocean? Click through to learn more about how Disney Cruise Line can give you that quality time.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: A Celebration Of ‘it’s a small world’ Continues

posted on March 29th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

This week, our celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the “it’s a small world” attraction kicked into high gear with multiple posts talking about the history and the significance of this attraction.

Kicking off the week, Greg Ehrbar shared some historic photos of Walt Disney during the attraction’s creative process with now Disney Legends Mary Blair, and brothers Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman.


Erin Glover gave us a detailed look inside the “it’s a small world” attraction at Disneyland park, the first attraction of its kind to debut at a Disney theme park.


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I also shared a look inside the “it’s a small world” attraction here at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort – the second “small world” attraction ever built.


Follow the Disney Parks Blog next week as the celebration of #SmallWorld50 continues. You can also join the celebration by creating your own “it’s a small world” doll or singalong video at

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