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365 (Consecutive) Days of Walt Disney World Resort Magic

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


When one of my Downtown Disney partners told me about Brent Dodge, an Annual Passholder who visited the four Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks every day for 365 consecutive days, I couldn’t believe it. While I love the parks, just the idea of visiting every day while working full time has me exhausted!

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I wanted to find out more, so I spoke with Brent myself to find out why he did it. First things first, he confessed that he hadn’t really passed through the turnstiles (or, in our new era of MyMagic+, ventured through the main entrance touch points) for a full year, “there were actually three days that I didn’t visit a park. I was on a Disney Cruise” he shared. Well, 365 days of Disney attractions, then. Consider me impressed.

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Brent has been a Passholder since 2009, and currently carries the “Premier” pass, which also grants him access to Disneyland park. (I’d say he’s getting his money’s worth!) This Peter Pan’s Flight lover has visited the place where dreams come true since he was an infant, and when pressed for the “why” behind his latest all-year-long endeavor, he simply states, “Cause I’m a Disney nerd! If I live this close to Walt Disney World Resort, why wouldn’t I go every day? Especially when others are saving up thousands of dollars to go once in a lifetime.” Okay, he had me there.

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The “official” milestone was reached on August 13; of the estimated 2,200 days Brent has spent at the parks over his lifetime, that day ranks among his all-time-top Disney memories. “A friend surprised me with a custom t-shirt from Disney Design-a-Tee at Downtown Disney; it features my favorite character, Scrooge McDuck. A few other friends met me at Magic Kingdom Park with signs to celebrate, and we had a great view of the parade. We got to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, followed by another beloved attraction, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – three times!”

I’ll admit, it does sound pretty magical. While most of my days are spent at the Downtown Disney area, now that fall is fast-approaching, I plan to spend more time following in Brent’s footsteps and enjoying all that Walt Disney World Resort has to offer.

How about you … can you imagine a daily visit to the parks?

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Top 5 Reasons Not to Miss ‘The Great Irish Hooley’ at Raglan Road

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Recently, Pam Brandon shared details about one of my favorite Raglan Road events, The Great Irish Hooley. I like it because it’s authentically Irish – outside of the Emerald Isle, you rarely have the chance to experience this sort of spectacle, unless of course, you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the Downtown Disney Area during Labor Day weekend!

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Though it was hard to pick my ‘Top 5,’ I think I’ve done it. Below, in no particular order, are the things you just can’t miss:

  1. Scythian – Haven’t heard of this ultra-talented band? One listen, and you’ll never forget them! The group includes a trio of classically trained fiddle players, a jazz percussionist, and an accordion and banjo player. Currently promoting their new album ‘Jump at the Sun,’ they’ll be taking the Raglan Road stage nightly at 9:30pm.
  2. ‘A Knights Brunch’ & ‘The Rollicking Raglan Brunch’ – Whether you’re cheering for UCF or Penn State, football fans from far and wide are invited to watch the Croke Park Classic football season opener taking place in Dublin, Ireland on August 30th at 8:30am. (Yes, brunch starts at 8:00am that morning, with Guinness, Bloody Marys and more on the menu! The venue is no longer accepting reservations, but walk-ins are welcome.) On Sunday, you can book Raglan Road’s traditional Irish Brunch offering, starting at 11am.
  3. ‘From Our Roots to Riverdance’ – We’re all familiar with ‘Riverdance,’ right? Ronan McCormack, the original choreographer, will trace the origins of Irish dance from early jigs to the modern era in this energetic and entertaining event, taking place daily at 6pm on the outside patio (weather permitting). Bonus: Guest participation is encouraged.
  4. Master Chef Kevin Dundon’s Amazing Menu – If you like traditional Irish fare or a more modern twist on Irish cuisine (like me!), you’ll find something special on the menu, created with only the finest ingredients sourced from the best suppliers. The gluten-free fish ‘n’ chips continues to get rave reviews – and they have gluten free onion rings, too. Who knew?
  5. The Great Irish Ceili – I’m always awed by the Raglan Road dancers and this event puts the spotlight on their fancy footwork. Guests are invited to take part in the ceili, a traditional form of group folk dancing, on Saturday, Sunday at Monday at 3:00pm.

Farewell, summer. Hello, fall fun, ushered in the way only the Irish can do it!

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A Beautiful Day to Debut a New Bridge and Boat Dock at Downtown Disney

posted on August 19th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Ninety degrees, clear blue skies and the sort of fluffy white clouds you see in magazine advertisements – it was a perfect morning to officially open the new Marketplace Boat Dock and Saratoga Bridge at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Earlier today, I joined Vice President of Downtown Disney, Keith Bradford, along with cast members and guests who had gathered to celebrate the milestone- one of many that will ultimately take place as the property undergoes the largest expansion in its history, as it transforms to Disney Springs.
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The newly-opened bridge offers a pedestrian-friendly connection between Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and more than 70 shopping, dining and entertainment offerings available at Downtown Disney. In addition, the Marketplace Boat Dock, now conveniently located near the Marketplace Bus Loop, provides easy access to the West Side and Pleasure Island. Guests aboard the complimentary water taxi may even learn more about what’s on the horizon (literally!) as they travel from district-to-district.

One of my favorite views of Downtown Disney is from this new vantage point; with a view of the entire complex, it’s a great reminder of how much there is to see and do (which, I’ll admit, I sometimes take for granted, since I’m here every day)!
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Want to experience it for yourself? The Marketplace Boat Dock operates daily starting at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting. Take a ride, then let me know what you think in the comments below!


For more on Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, read the posts below:

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A VIP ‘La Nouba’ Experience Debuts with ‘L’Experience’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 29th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Last month, I told you about the new clown duo that recently joined the cast of “La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.” I hinted that something “behind-the-scenes and amazing” was coming. Today, I have more to share and I’m certain that the experience of “L’Experience” will not disappoint!

First, L’Experience guests will have reserved seats in the “front and center” area of the theater, with incredible views of the onstage action. Upon arrival, they’ll be greeted by their personal Cirque Usher who will escort them to their seats. Souvenir popcorn and soft drinks are included, along with a gift bag full of popular Cirque du Soleil merchandise. (If you want to purchase more after the show, you’ll also get a 10% discount coupon for The Cirque Boutique.)
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All the “things” are wonderful, but to me, the most exciting part of this experience is the behind-the-scenes access:

  • Have you dreamed of standing on the Cirque stage, looking out into the theater like the performers do? I did it. And. It. Was. Awesome.
  • Ever wonder what the backstage areas look like? The theater was purpose-built for “La Nouba,“ and for the first time, guests will get a look behind the curtain (literally). I had the chance to take part in L’Experience and I now have an entirely new appreciation for what it takes to bring the show to life.
  • Amazed by the array of costumes? (Me, too!) Guests will get an inside peek at the La Nouba costuming department; it’s one of the first stops on the tour. I was dazzled by the miles of fabric and endless sparkle of sequins.
  • Starstruck by the talented Cirque performers? Guests will have the chance to meet one of them and get a personal keepsake photo. (I got to pose with one of the show’s most colorful characters, Green Bird, and I can’t wait for other fans to have a similar experience!)

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I may be biased, but for a special night out L’Experience really is the ultimate way to see La Nouba; it’s offered on Friday and Saturday for the 6 p.m. show. The cost is $250 per person and capacity is limited to keep the tours small and intimate.

Ready to book? Call the Disney Reservation Center at 407-939-7328.

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Downtown Disney Entertainers Record a Special Rendition of ‘Let It Go’

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Apparently, the rain never bothered them, anyway! When popular Downtown Disney entertainers were forced to cancel a few sets recently due to inclement weather, the talented artists used the time to work on a (very!) popular tune – “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Though none of them had worked on the material before, and in spite of rarely having the chance to perform together, I think you’ll agree that the end result was spectacular.

This video, captured by Entertainment Manager Jonathan Lang, was shot behind-the-scenes in the Downtown Disney green room; though it was never intended to be viewed by guests, I couldn’t resist sharing it with all of you.

I love that Drey-C, Bryan Malpass, Karlton Tillman, Mitch Corbin, Nicholas Marks and Don Black used their rainy-day break to make a little backstage magic for themselves (and now, for all of us!).

To see more from this talented group, be sure to visit Downtown Disney. With nine acts scheduled nightly and over 30 performances taking place each day, there’s always new entertainment to experience.

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A Royal LEGO Adventure at Downtown Disney

posted on June 25th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


I bet we’ve all dreamt about winning a once-in-a-lifetime Walt Disney World Resort vacation, right? For 10-year-old Sami from Greenwood, Ind., that dream recently came true when Radio Disney called to tell her she was the Grand Prize winner in their “Royal LEGO Adventure” sweepstakes. Even better? She got to bring along her mom, dad, and cousin, Chaeli.

Sami’s prize was over-the-top, including hotel accommodations, Disney Theme Park tickets, a private meet ‘n’ greet with Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” and an incredible afternoon at Downtown Disney that included a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a shopping spree at The LEGO Store.

Sami’s dad, Steven, is a high-school band director. So while the family had visited Disney Parks before, it was usually with hundreds of other people. I had the chance to talk with Princess Sami during her Downtown Disney visit and it was clear that this was a special trip for her, “I’ve always wanted a ‘family’ vacation – finally I get a break from all 300 people!”

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And what a break it was … all eyes were on Sami (literally – her makeover took place in the front window of World of Disney!) as she transformed into her favorite princess, Elsa. “I love her because of her powers. And the best part about her is that she really cares about people,” Sami shared. After her makeover, Sami enjoyed a red-carpet welcome at the LEGO Store, where she was treated to “Frozen”-themed treats from Goofy’s Candy Company and had a personal LEGO escort to help her make her merchandise selections.

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Her smile said it all. “This was everything I’ve hoped for,” Sami told me. And I had to smile, too, knowing that once again, the magic of a Disney vacation made another little girl’s dreams come true.

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Car Masters Weekend is back at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Earlier today, Pixar Cars Guardian, Jay Ward, and Car Designer and Customizer, Chip Foose, stopped by to share what they’re looking forward to the most at this year’s Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney. Take a look, then join us Saturday and Sunday to experience the fast-paced excitement for yourself.

Visit disneycarevent.com for more details and we’ll see you there!

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Soccer Scores the Spotlight at United World Soccer at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


All eyes are on Brazil as the FIFA World Cup kicks off today (pun totally intended). With 32 teams competing in the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world, soccer will take center stage over the next month.

Here at Downtown Disney West Side, one of the newest venues, United World Soccer, can help you score all your fútbol must-haves. With jerseys representing the most popular teams, a variety of cleats and gear, and even the official FIFA World Cup soccer ball available for purchase, this new retail location has what you need to make the most of this worldwide phenomenon.

Here’s a look at what you can expect inside the shop:

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I’ve got a few friends who are soccer-obsessed, so there’s a good chance you’ll find me hunkered down at one of the many Walt Disney World Resort venues showing the games. You can see the full list of confirmed viewing locations here. Additionally, look for the biggest match-ups at select Downtown Disney locations – Splitsville will be a sure bet, with its many large-screen TVs and full-service bars.

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No matter how you plan to celebrate the World Cup, my advice is to pick up a jersey at United World Soccer before you cheer on your favorite team.

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So? Any early predictions on who will win the whole thing? Share your thoughts in the comments below. (I’m already chanting U-S-A, U-S-A …)

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New Clowns Bring Big Laughs to ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 10th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


“Were you born funny, or is it something you’ve had to work at?” That’s one of the questions I asked the new clown act at “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil. Both named Pablo, the duo didn’t hesitate. “Orange Pablo” shared, “Everybody’s born funny. But if you want to be funny onstage, you have to work. You have to work on the timing of jokes and get a feel for what the audience needs.” “Purple Pablo” chimed in, “It’s genetics, your soul and hard work.” I had the chance to see their performance over the weekend and I’ll tell you this … it didn’t look like they were working at all. They were having far too much fun, and so was the audience.

One of my favorite sounds at Cirque is the pure, unfiltered laughter that comes from the younger kids in the crowd. I heard plenty of that at the show. And already, Pablo and Pablo have gotten fan mail from a dad sharing that he’d never heard his son laugh so much. I think we can all agree that we’ve got a hit on our hands! The new clowns bring a fresh energy to the show, so even if you’ve seen “La Nouba” in the past, well, you haven’t seen it quite like this!

When I asked the Pablos how their performance differs from other clown acts, they didn’t hesitate. They talked about their great respect for Balto and Sergey, their “La Nouba” predecessors, and they also acknowledged their take was much different. “They were like jazz. We’re more ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ with a very fast rhythm. We’re like two kids mocking each other.” Having seen both versions of the show, I think it’s a great analogy. And while I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll share this tidbit: I’ve never seen anyone make piñatas and paper airplanes so entertaining.

The Pablos had some advice for future show-goers: “Arrive early. Forty-five minutes before start time to get a good parking spot and at least 15-minutes early to see our first act. From there, just sit down, relax and enjoy – it’s a wonderful show.”

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Want to experience “La Nouba” for yourself? Next week a special offer hits the market, but Disney Parks Blog readers can book early here.

And though I can’t spill all the details yet, keep an eye out for new news coming from Cirque du Soleil this summer when they debut an all-new offering. (Hint: it’s going to be behind-the-scenes and amazing!)

So … have you seen “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil? If so, let me know what you love most about the show in the comments below.

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Coffee, Shopping & More – Check Out the Newest Reasons to Visit Downtown Disney

posted on May 27th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


If you’ve visited the Downtown Disney Area lately, you know that significant enhancements are in progress. We’re introducing new venues and offerings, with two that are especially buzz-inducing!

Read on to see the latest additions I’m most excited about:
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  • Starbucks: This one needs no explanation. With two Downtown Disney locations, I can already feel the caffeine kick in. I’ll be a regular at the Marketplace walk-up in front of World of Disney; it opened early last week and is great for grab ‘n’ go options. (My first beverage from this spot – a light, no whip, Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino – was flawless!) The West Side location, on track to open within the week, will be a full-sized store featuring the complete line of Starbucks offerings as well as a Clover Bar with special reserve coffees brewed to order. With a covered patio overlooking Village Lake and an outside fireplace, I’m already planning coffee-fueled morning meetings there!

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  • Marketplace Co Op: No caffeine needed to get fans excited about this first-of-its-kind store, Steven Miller has already started to share details about the six new boutique shops opening this summer. I love the idea of a ‘testing space’ for new products, and based on the initial response, you do, too! Disney Centerpiece, which will feature home décor and more, is especially high on my list. I can’t wait to add a few subtle Disney touches to my condo, including something (anything!) featuring Orange Bird. Look for Steven to share more details in early June.

While Starbucks and the Marketplace Co Op will be the newest Downtown Disney hot spots to open their doors, there are a few more fresh venues worth mentioning:

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  • Häagen-Dazs and Wetzel’s Pretzels, located between DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park and Cirque du Soleil, began serving sweet and salty treats earlier this month. I’ll be grabbing a fresh Wetzel Dog after my next House of Blues concert. And with temperatures rising fast, a Classic Haagen-Dazs sundae is in my future, for sure.
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  • United World Soccer: In less than a month, a certain soccer tournament will kick off in Brazil. Here at Downtown Disney West Side, guests will have the chance to score big themselves, with gear, accessories, and the latest ‘fútbol’ must-haves. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to make a play for this new pop-up shop which opened late last week. (Anyone up for matching USA jerseys?)

Of course, the summer also brings huge Disney blockbusters, including “Maleficent” (May 30) to the big screen, which I’ll see at AMC Downtown Disney 24.

Let us not forget Car Masters Weekend taking place June 14-15, 2014. With over 100 cars on display, Disney•Pixar “Cars” characters including Lightning McQueen, celebrity automotive personalities, and more, you may want to go ahead and pencil that in for Father’s Day weekend now.

And, further on the horizon, you’ll see Disney Springs come to life. The first of two parking garages is being built, the widening of Buena Vista Drive recently kicked off and a new pedestrian bridge in the Marketplace is in development. Those are among the most noticeable, and there’s much, much more happening behind the scenes. We’re certainly in exciting times.

So? I’m curious … which of these Downtown Disney additions are you looking forward to the most?

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