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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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.

Sami Before Her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Makeover at Downtown Disney Sami After Her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Makeover at Downtown Disney

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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Car Masters Weekend Returns to Downtown Disney June 14-15

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


Last year was my first time attending Car Masters Weekend, a high-speed event dedicated to all things auto. I loved it! So, of course, I’m excited that the race is on to the 2014 rendition, taking place from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on June 14-15, 2014.

This year, guests can cruise through over 100 classic, muscle and exotic vehicles at the Downtown Disney Car Show Presented by Meguiar’s. The cars will be displayed throughout the West Side promenade, where fans of all ages can vote for their favorite – I’ll probably vote for something ‘classic’ … I love those 60s era designs. Expert judges will also be scoring these sweet rides, culminating in a Sunday evening awards ceremony.

Automotive Legend (and fan favorite!) Chip Foose will be returning to the event; he’s scheduled to make celebrity appearances and will take the stage to share his passion for cars. He’s also created some brand-new merchandise, available for sale throughout the weekend.

If you love cars, it’s clear that this is a ‘can’t-miss’ event. And if you love “Cars” (the Pixar kind!), then you definitely want to park yourself at Car Masters Weekend! Lightning McQueen, Mater and Finn McMissle will be available for photo ops, AMC Downtown Disney 24 will be hosting a “Cars” movie marathon, and Pixar filmmaker Jay Ward will take part in fun Q & A sessions. (I got to meet him last year – and you can tell by the smiles, and my hat, that we were both having an awesome time!)

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New this year, to celebrate the release of Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” I hear that we’ll have a real fire truck on display. And rumor has it that little ones can even try on a few pieces of an authentic firefighter outfit. (Sounds like another photo moment to me!)

If all that’s not enough to get you on the Car Masters track, you can also be part of the Chevrolet Performance Mobile Tour, take a seat inside some of the latest “Test Track” vehicles, and get up close to real-life supercars and new Piston Cup Racers Aiken Axler & Save VanDerSpin from Richard Petty, all at the new Event Expo. There may be additional evening events added to the lineup, so stay tuned. Plus, expect interactive activities from Disney Interactive, DisneyQuest Animators and more.

Of course, you’ll need to fuel up, so look for the Downtown Disney Food Trucks along with offerings from some of your favorite Downtown Disney restaurants! (And if you vote for your favorite car, you can score special 20% savings on lunch at select locations.)

For more information about Car Masters Weekend, click here.

Not sure about you, but I’m ready to put the pedal to the medal! Race you to the event?

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Spring Blooms Bright at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


When you think of spring at Walt Disney World, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is likely the first thing that comes to mind. I agree, but lately, as I’ve been walking around Downtown Disney, I can’t help but notice that we’ve got a lot of colorful blooms sprouting up here, too.

My favorite, a Mickey and Minnie topiary that makes me smile every time I see it, is located near the Marketplace Fun Fountains and Earl of Sandwich. It’s the perfect photo backdrop to mark the season.

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I recently had the chance to connect with Horticulture Manager Patrick Zusack to learn more about what it takes to keep the magic growing. Patrick’s dedicated team of seven cast members starts at early at 5 a.m. each morning – which makes sense, given their task of maintaining over 21 acres of irrigated landscaping. I’ve learned that there are over 25,000 bedding plants, more than 350 containers and 75 hanging baskets currently on display daily at Downtown Disney, all adding abundant seasonal color for our guests to enjoy while visiting the property. Patrick, a 25-year cast member, shares that the most rewarding part of his job is “wowing our guests and then seeing them take pictures of one another and utilizing our colorful garden as their backdrops.”

From flower beds in front of World of Disney to potted plants lining the new pedestrian walkway that connects Pleasure Island and West Side, floral fun abounds in all three Downtown Disney districts.

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Be sure to keep an eye out for pretty petals during your next visit. In the meantime, check out the gallery below for a few of my favorite buds, then let me know which floral display at Walt Disney World Resort tops your list!

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

posted on March 31st, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


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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Downtown Disney Turns Green for St. Patrick’s Day at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 17th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, located in the heart of Downtown Disney, turns a fun shade of green as part of Tourism Ireland’s global “Greening” initiative during the ‘Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival’ throughout Downtown Disney and at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Hundreds of revelers donned ‘Glow with the Show’ Ear hats, fun interactive version of the famous Mickey Ear hats, to celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in whimsical style.

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Downtown Disney joins more than 100 recognizable buildings and historic sites in celebrating this iconic Irish holiday.

The ‘Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival’ runs through tonight, with the final “Electric Ceili” performance taking place at 11 p.m. on the Raglan Road Pub Stage. Want even more Irish culture? For your chance to win a trip for two from Tourism Ireland, visit their booth at the Festival, or click here for rules and entry.

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Don’t Miss the Mighty Family Fun Zone at Downtown Disney West Side

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


The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival is in full swing and family fun abounds! One of my favorite highlights from this year’s event is The Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted.” Here, guests can enjoy Muppets mayhem, complete with music, games and activities for the whole family.

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Inspired by the upcoming film, guests of all ages can pose for Muppets-themed photo ops, learn to draw a Muppets character, let loose at a DJ Dance Party and collect Muppets character trading cards featuring Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Constantine, Beaker and Animal. Of course, guests can get a stamp for their Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Passport, too!

For a sweet bite, look for special Muppets Rice Crispy Treats at the Downtown Disney Food Trucks.

Visit the Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted” at Downtown Disney West Side, located between Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues, from 5pm-9pm through 3/14, then enjoy extended hours, from 12pm-9pm, 3/15-3/17/14.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted,” an international crime caper starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and the whole Muppets gang, hits theaters on March 21, 2014. (Obviously, I plan to see it at AMC Downtown Disney 24!) For more information about The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival, click here.

In the meantime, I think even Kermit would have to agree with me … through March 17, it is easy being green!

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