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Vivoli Gelateria to Open Soon at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 2nd, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to travel to Florence, Italy, chances are you’re familiar with Vivoli Gelateria. I’ve never been myself, but when I searched “Florence Must-Dos” online, Vivoli appeared on every list; wedged between art galleries and chapels, it was the only food venue mentioned in National Geographic’s City Guide to Florence, so you know it must be pretty spectacular!

No immediate plans to visit Italy? No worries. The family-run gelato shop will open its second storefront – and the first outside of Italy – later this month at The Landing, the newest neighborhood to debut as part of the future Disney Springs.

I recently had the chance to connect with Silvana Vivoli, the granddaughter of Raphael Vivoli, one of the company’s founders, to learn more about the gelateria. Founded in 1932 by Raphael and his two brothers, Vivoli Gelateria started out as a dairy – at that time, it was not easy to find raw materials such as milk, eggs and sugar and there were no gelato machines and freezers. After World War II, technology enabled the brothers to follow their passion and produce gelato every day – a far cry from the early recipes that relied on barrels filled with ice and snow from the nearby mountains to keep their concoctions frozen.

Silvana’s father, Piero, learned to make gelato from his father. Silvana learned the craft from him, “keeping the same old tradition,” she shared.


When I asked Silvana why they decided to open a location at Downtown Disney, the answer flowed freely, “Good gelato. In a fantastic place. With fun and family and a sunny destination? It’s a nice combination. Like vanilla and chocolate!”

According to Silvana, the gelato at Vivoli is made with fresh, top-quality ingredients using the exact same recipes from the original shop. The artisans plan to use local and seasonal products, with cocoa powder, hazelnut and pistachio imported from Italy. “There are ingredients not easy to buy,” muses Silvana, “these are love and passion … when you fall in love with your job, you have these for free – they’re the final ingredients that make everything so special.”

For a special gelato experience that will give you the “feeling of being in Italy for ten minutes,” make plans to try Vivoli Gelateria during your next visit to Downtown Disney. Not sure which flavor to order? I asked Silvana one final question: which is her favorite? “It depends on how I get up in the morning! But really, I cannot do without rice pudding gelato.”

In addition to their signature gelato, Vivioli Gelateria will also serve traditional Italian panini, biscotti, espresso and tarts. For a mouth-watering look at what you can expect, check out the gallery below.

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Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar to Open this Fall at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 12th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Tucked in between the soon-to-be-expanded Paradiso 37 and recently opened BOATHOUSE restaurant, a new Disney owned and operated Food & Beverage offering has been taking shape. Today, I’m thrilled to share more details on this aviation-themed lounge, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.


With a prime location along Lake Buena Vista and seating for 150, the venue will feature unique cocktails – such as the “Hovito Mojito” with Barsol Quebranta Pisco, fresh lime juice and simple syrup – and small plates such as “Air Pirates Everything Pretzels” with house-made mustard and beer cheese fondue.

The design team has gone to great lengths to ensure that every element – from the propeller-based ceiling fans and diving bell “booth” to the “Rolling Boulder Meatballs” on the menu – fits within the storyline.


And just what is that story? Ardent fans of the “Indiana Jones” films may recognize Jock Lindsey as Indy’s frequent pilot; he’s also the owner of a pet snake named Reggie – an important detail, trust me on this! In the main room, guests will discover an expansive bar, aviation decor filling the room, vintage travel posters covering the walls and correspondence between Jock, Indy and their fellow adventurers on display. Guests can eat, drink and be merry outside as well, in Jocks’ old steamboat, now in permanent dry dock and aptly named “Reggie;” and in nearby seating on the adjacent deck.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is set to open this fall at Downtown Disney. If you’re as excited about this next adventure as I am, let me know in the comments below!

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New Garage Walkways Now Open at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 6th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Everywhere you look at Downtown Disney, signs of the future are popping up as the area transforms into Disney Springs. The latest can be seen in the parking garage.


As the first of two planned parking garages for Downtown Disney, the Orange Garage at West Side opened late last year and continues to introduce enhancements to surprise and delight guests.

My favorite addition thus far? The smart technology that clearly shows how many spaces are available at each level and even identifies open spaces with an easily recognizable green light above the spots. If you’ve parked in the garage recently, you know how awesome those little lights are.

This week, we’re celebrating another milestone – the opening of two new walkways that give guests a direct connection to the West Side promenade in two locations: adjacent to Splitsville Luxury Lanes and near Planet Hollywood. These new bridges to the property are accessible via the second level of the garage and give guests the option to use stairs, elevators or escalators (my go-to mode of arrival). With lush landscaping and new hardscape finishing out the space, the walkways are a beautiful new addition to what will eventually be Disney Springs.

To experience these enhancements for yourself, park in the Orange Garage during your next outing to the Downtown Disney Area and make your way to level two – with so much new to explore, hopefully your next visit is just around the corner.

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A Focus on Fascinators from Chapel Hats at Downtown Disney in Florida

posted on May 4th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced the name of their baby daughter today – Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. With all eyes on England, it’s the perfect time to celebrate one of Great Britain’s most time-honored fashion statements – the fascinator.

A Focus on Fascinators from Chapel Hats at Downtown Disney in Florida

A Focus on Fascinators from Chapel Hats at Downtown Disney in Florida A Focus on Fascinators from Chapel Hats at Downtown Disney in Florida A Focus on Fascinators from Chapel Hats at Downtown Disney in Florida

Sometimes referred to as a “cocktail hat,” the modern-day fascinator can be worn in place of a traditional hat at formal occasions such as weddings. They are also popular at horse-racing events, like the recent Kentucky Derby. (I love any excuse to wear a fascinator – it always makes me feel fancy and frilly in the best possible way!)

Interested in finding a favorite fascinator for yourself? Look no further than Chapel Hats, one of the new retails locations in the heart of Downtown Disney. If you’re not sure which headpiece fits you best, their friendly staff will help you decide. Trying on is encouraged, and with plenty of mirrors in the store, you’re sure to find something that suits you!

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Princess Perfection at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 21st, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Two years ago when I was new to the Downtown Disney team, my family visited with my then 2-year old niece. One of my first Disney Parks Blog stories was “Big Fun For Little Ones at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort.” Twenty-four months and two more kids later (my sister now has a 6 month old and an 18 month old, too!), I’ve seen hundreds of little princesses come out of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but recently, it was finally MY little princess — my now four-year-old niece, Harper.


As excited as Harper was about picking out her dress (she went with Princess Anna), she was equally as nervous about having someone brush her curly hair. For a minute, I thought we might have to cancel our appointment, and then we met her Fairy Godmother-in-training, Lydia. She was amazing! Before Harper got into the makeover chair, Lydia did a practice run to show Harper how gently she would brush her curly locks. To Harper’s surprise, it didn’t tug at all.

During her princess transformation, Harper got to pick out her hairstyle (I was thrilled that she went with the ever-classy “Fairytale Princess” option), choose her nail polish color, and select her make-up shades. The finishing touches were a shimmering princess jewel for her face, a rhinestone crown for her head, and a pink Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique sash to complete the look. When it was all over, she was invited to sign the “Princess Autograph Book” – she left her signature “H,” taking up a full page.

Later that afternoon, when I asked Harper what her favorite part of the day was, she said “being with my Fairy Godmother. I hope she will always be my Fairy Godmother.” I also caught Harper looking at herself in the full length-mirror, doing a twirl, and whispering to herself “today is my princess day” when she thought no one was looking. (This is a true story. And it was as adorable as it sounds.) Finally, on our car ride home, after a full day in the parks, she told me that when she grows up she wants to be a Fairy Godmother, too.

Harper left Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with a princess backback filled with her remaining make-up and polish, which came in handy, because she wore her Princess Anna dress three days in a row! More importantly, she left with memories that will last for years to come and pictures that will always make me smile.

Have you taken your princess to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? What was your experience like? Please share in the comments below – I hope it was just as magical as ours was!

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The BOATHOUSE Makes a Splash at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 13th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Over the past year, The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats has been hoisting up along the Downtown Disney skyline. The venue, open today, is the first of several new restaurants coming to The Landing, a new neighborhood that will be part of Disney Springs.

The BOATHOUSE is an upscale waterfront dining experience showcasing steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar. Built over the water, the 600 seat nautically themed restaurant also features a display of rare dream boats from the 1930s – 1950s, a beautifully crafted water taxi and a fleet of amphibious autos, called Amphicars.

I had the chance to talk with Theron Skees, executive creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering to learn more about how The BOATHOUSE charted its course. Theron shared “It’s been such a team effort between WDI and the Schussler design team; to see Steve’s dream come to life is awesome. It’s been a true collaboration. Guests will experience rooms that represent different time periods in the history of the building, with a focus on a view of the water. Each design element: the height of the restaurant ceiling, the width of the deck, the transparency of the railing, it was all considered so guests would have maximum visibility to the water.”

I got to tour The BOATHOUSE recently, and if stunning water views and impeccable attention-to-detail were what they were aiming for, well, they nailed it!

Earlier today, Pam Brandon shared details on the menu, so now I’m giving you an early look at what else you can expect at this unique location:

Amphicar Rides – Is it a car? A boat? Yes. And yes! Guests can experience the thrill of a Captain’s guided tour aboard a rare Amphicar that drives on land and floats in the water. The $125 price tag includes your own Car Captain and seating for up to three guests. Along the way, you’ll have a great view of Downtown Disney, direct from the water. I tested the Ampihicars last week and had a blast; you literally drive into the lake with a splash – plus, I felt like a celebrity, waving to all the curious guests onshore! This is the only place in the world to ride in these vintage vehicles. Tours are available daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., weather permitting, and will be available soon.

The BOATHOUSE Is Set To Make a Splash at Downtown Disney In Florida

Italian Water Taxi Cruise – The Venezia, a breathtaking 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi also offers a Captain’s guided tour of Downtown Disney; this one is complete with live music, chocolate-covered strawberries and a champagne toast. Tours will be offered hourly from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., weather permitting, starting soon, for individuals and groups of up to 20. The cost is $75 per person or $50 per child under age 13. (Want a more private tour for two? Ask about the Antique Steamboat Tour aboard Lady Rose; the cost is $150 per couple.)

“Floating Art” – I knew they were beautiful, but I had no idea I was looking at a multi-million dollar fleet of rare boats. Gathered from museums, private collectors, and boat shows from around the world, be sure to take some time to stroll the marina. Photos are not only allowed, but encouraged, so have your camera handy.

Interior Décor – Boat motors mounted on the wall. Trophies from regattas of days gone by. Stunning photography and artwork, some historical, some richly modern. It’s all incredible. But perhaps my favorite décor element is the brand-new boat that the team modified so it could include a dining table. (I’ll just say it now, everyone will want to sit there, me included!) Of course, the true visual hero, even from inside the restaurant, is the water. The good news is that every single table has a great view, so there’s no such thing as a bad seat.

Entertainment – Harbor Master festivities take place throughout the day and evening, with flag ceremonies and lively musical performances of beloved bugle songs, performed aboard Lady Rose. Inside, live entertainment takes center stage with a variety of musical styles – during my “sneak peek,” familiar songs were floating through the restaurant.

Check out the gallery below for a glimpse of what you can expect when you visit.

It’s hard to guess what guests will love most about The BOATHOUSE. What are you most excited for? Tell me in the comments below – I’d love to know!

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A Rare Behind the Scenes Look at ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 7th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

As a longtime fan of “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil, I’ve always wondered what happens behind the scenes. How much practice do the performers need? What time do they start doing make-up? Who helps them with their costumes?

I never dreamed I’d get the chance to peek behind the curtain, but recently, I had the chance to do just that. And the best part? Photographer Matt Stroshane joined me and captured several rarely-seen moments to share with you.

On the day we visited, one of my favorite acts, fondly referred to as “the diabolos,” were working on their routine. The young quartet from China practices five to seven hours a week (and it’s not uncommon to see some of the other talent working out nearby). It was dizzying to watch them balance, flip and spin just a mere few feet away. Check out the photo below – if you look closely behind my shoulder, you’ll see one of the girls is in mid-air, halfway through her backflip dismount. Even in sweats and messy buns, their nearly flawless performance left me breathless. Most of the girls will spend one to two years as part of the show and some may return for a second stint. My favorite new fun fact? The current coach was part of the first diabolo team who originally opened “La Nouba.”


Also getting in some pre-show practice were a few of the trampoline artists. And yes, we got to witness that, too! Looking down from the rafters, we got a bird’s eye view of them for an entirely new perspective.

The backstage area was a flurry of activity as the curtain call neared. We ducked into the dressing room and caught principal performers putting on their show make-up. We also saw a glimpse of the costuming team in action, fitting one of the aerialists, putting finishing touches on hand-painted sneakers and sewing on glittering rhinestones. (The wardrobe room was a utopia of color, filled with fabric, sequins, wigs, props, and more costumes than I could count!) All the while, technicians supporting everything from lighting to audio were hard at work, prepping for the performance.

Now that I’ve seen what it takes to make “La Nouba” a success, I appreciate it even more. After browsing the gallery below, hopefully you will, too!

Interested in seeing the show for yourself? Click here for tickets and more information.

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New Pedestrian Bridge Will Soon Open at the Downtown Disney Area at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 24th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

My office is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Disney Marketplace, so I have a front row seat to all the enhancements coming to the property as we transform into Disney Springs. Some days, the progress is subtle, but last week, there was no denying that change was in the air (literally). Towering above Buena Vista Drive, a new pedestrian bridge was installed in the early morning hours of March 19 – when I came to work on Thursday, there it was, extending from the Team Disney area across the roadway to Downtown Disney.


Our friends at Reedy Creek Improvement District worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney Springs Project Team on this impressive piece of infrastructure. Upon completion, the bridge will weigh 190 tons (or as much 50 average-sized elephants!). While there is still work to be done, it’s expected to be open to guests and cast members later this spring. A second pedestrian bridge, located near Hotel Plaza Boulevard, will open later this summer.


Have you visited the Downtown Disney area lately? With new retail locations now open, the Village Causeway now fully accessible, and a new restaurant – The BOATHOUSE – set to open next month, this pedestrian bridge is just one more sign of what’s to come. Which one are you most excited about? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to know!

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Cross the Finish Line & Race to the ‘Happily Ever After Party’ at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 19th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, is almost here and at Downtown Disney, we’re already prepping for the post-race fun of the “Happily Ever After Party” taking place this Sunday, February 22 from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Whether runDisney athletes complete a 5K, 10K or 13.1 magical miles, this is the way to celebrate a race well run!

Having participated in several runDisney events, I know how much hard work and training it takes to get to the finish line. I totally believe in rewarding yourself for a great accomplishment, so here’s my advice to runners: don’t miss this party!

Indulge in Great Food at the Downtown Disney Food Trucks Grab runDisney Merchandise at D-Tech on Demand at Marketplace Co-Op Grab runDisney Merchandise at Downtown Disney

Here, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Indulge in Great Food – We’ll have one of the Disney Food Trucks on hand; show your finisher’s medal to receive a complimentary themed cupcake with entrée purchased during event hours. Additionally, several Downtown Disney restaurants from the West Side to the Marketplace will offer special discounts* for runners all weekend long.
  • Get the Goods – Need to get your finisher’s medal engraved with your race time? Stop by Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories. Want to make your own celebratory T-shirt? Do it at Disney Design-a-Tee presented by Hanes. Seeking a commemorative sketch? Find it at Art of Disney. Love the idea of a personalized phone case featuring runDisney art? Check out D-Tech on Demand at Marketplace Co-Op. Wish you had picked up more merchandise at the Expo? See what’s stocked on the Disney Merchandise truck. Plus, many retail locations are offering special discounts* for runners all weekend long. (And let’s be honest – Downtown Disney is THE place to let your inner princess shine. Tiaras from Arribas Brothers, anyone?)
  • Let Loose – Take part in the DJ Dance Party to get your post-race groove on. (I know, dancing may sound like the last thing you want to do after running a half-marathon, but it’s a great way to keep your muscles loosened up!)

Admission to the Happily Ever After Party is free and is open to race participants, their guests and the public. The best way for Disney Resort guests to join the fun is via complimentary Disney Resort transportation. If you’re driving, follow signs to available parking which may be located across the street in nearby lots or in the recently opened garage.

Have a great race this weekend and enjoy your happily ever after!

*Participating locations are listed in the Official Event Guide distributed at Packet Pick-Up. All offers subject to change and are at the discretion of individual locations. Runner must present race bib (if prior to race) or medal (post-race) to receive offer. Offer for race participant only unless otherwise noted. Offer valid February 20-22, 2015 unless otherwise noted. While supplies last.

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The Village Causeway Opens to Guests at Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 17th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager

Excited about the ongoing transformation taking place at the Downtown Disney Area? I am, too! Last Friday was an especially notable day as hundreds of cast members and partners gathered to celebrate the opening of the Village Causeway, a new bridge that connects the area near The LEGO Store across the water to Rainforest Café. Not only is this my new favorite route to work, but it’s quickly becoming a popular guest spot for photos, sunset viewing, and shopping – yes, shopping!


I recently shared information on two new kiosks at the Downtown Disney Area, and four more have just opened on the Village Causeway:

  • Flour & Sugar – Perfect for guests who want to take a taste of the Sunshine State home with them, this new shop offers freshly baked cookies with Florida flavors like coconut, key lime and strawberry. (I hear the South Beach Toasted Coconut Key Lime Cookie is especially tempting!) You can buy them individually or in easy-to-transport canisters of six.
  • Florida Bath Co. — Lately, I’m loving specialty soaps, and this locale offers products made with home grown ingredients like organic vegetable juices and essential citrus oils. If you love Basin, you’ll love this – they share the same owners.
  • Icon Jewellery by Bico – Want your accessories to have meaning? Check out this shop where concepts like Love and Friendship, Protection, Strength and Luck are represented in pieces crafted from hand-polished fine grade pewter and enhanced with fine materials like Swarovski Crystals, New Guinea Rosewood and genuine leather. The best part … you can customize your jewelry just the way you like.
  • Kate & Leo – No doubt about it, I’ll be buying my nieces toys and games from this charming cart. With items designed to evoke a world of curiosity, creativity and imagination, you’ll find travel games, magnetic story boards, beautiful art supplies and more, no batteries required.
    New Flour & Sugar Kiosk at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort New Florida Bath Co. Kiosk at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort
    New Icon Jewellery by Bico Kiosk at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort New Kate & Leo Kiosk at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

    During your next visit to Downtown Disney Marketplace, be sure to stroll the Village Causeway – it’s my favorite recent enhancement to the neighborhood and I have a feeling it may become yours, too!

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