Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

Love is in the Air, and On the Ground, at Downtown Disney this Valentine’s Day

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


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Downtown Disney is a great place for a date any day of the year, so it should come as no surprise that I highly recommend it for celebrating Valentine’s Day, too! Read on for a few of my favorite ways to spend quality time with the one you love:

If you’re a classic romantic, there’s a good chance either dinner for two, a big-screen romance or decadent chocolate tops your list of Valentine’s Day gestures. Guess who’s got them all? Restaurant options abound here at Downtown Disney (book early here or via 407-WDW-DINE), AMC Downtown Disney 24 is showing all the latest flicks, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop is the “go-to” source for chocolate delights. (And if you want to roll those all into one big experience, may I suggest AMC 24 Dine-In Theatres – opt for the Chocolate Brownie Sundae for dessert.)

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If you’d rather surprise your mate with something unexpected, you could take your love to new heights with a ride aboard the world’s largest tethered helium balloon, Characters in Flight, presented by Aerophile (weather permitting). Or strike it big with a lane “a deux” at Splitsville Luxury Lanes – not only can you show your flirty, competitive side, but you can feed each other gourmet sushi (if you’re into that sort of thing). One more idea that’s perfect if you just can’t decide what to get … a Valentine’s Day shopping spree! Let your love loose to pick out the perfect gift – whether it’s a watch, jewelry or a special piece of art, there are plenty of retail shops to explore.

Of course, this is just the icing on the cake (which reminds me … BabyCakes NYC is perfect for Gluten-free Valentine’s treats!); the real gift is getting to spend time with your special someone.

So? What’s your “dream” Downtown Disney date? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. And who knows, maybe your Valentine will be reading, too!

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Find Sweets for Your Sweet at Ghirardelli this Valentine’s Season

posted on February 4th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Choosing Valentine’s Day gifts can be tricky. My advice? When in doubt, go with chocolate. With just two weeks until the holiday of love commences, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what to give your sweetheart.

To help you plan, I reached out to my friends at Ghirardelli to get the inside ‘scoop’ on what they’re offering this year. Here’s what they shared:

  • NEW! Muir Woods Sundae – This Black Forest Cherry Sundae features black cherry vanilla ice cream smothered with homemade hot fudge, whipped cream, semi-sweet chocolate chips and a cherry. You can find it at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. (I couldn’t finish it by myself; it looks perfect for sharing, doesn’t it?)

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  • Premium Heart Gift Tins – This is a classic, can’t-go-wrong Valentine’s Gift filled with 14 assorted Ghirardelli SQUARES chocolates; 2 for $25.
  • Impression Heart Window Box – Who doesn’t love conversation hearts? The Ghirardelli version features 20 chocolate hearts, each displaying a romantic phrase; 2 for $35.
  • Sweetheart Truffles – Ghirardelli’s exquisite truffles come in an assortment of unique flavors all designed to help you celebrate romance; 2 for $20.
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I can’t help but notice that most of these items are priced as bundles of two. I’m taking that as a sign that I can gift one and keep another for myself. (That seems right, right?)

These items are available now at Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop located at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Which one do you hope to unwrap on February 14th this year?

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Big Fun on the Big Screen at AMC Downtown Disney 24

posted on January 14th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Love movies? If so, you’re probably thrilled that we’ve officially embarked on one of my favorite times of the year – awards season! If you were glued to your TV set during Sunday’s “Golden Globes” and you’re counting down the days until the “86th Annual Academy Awards” airs on March 2, then there’s a good chance you’ve seen a movie at my favorite theater, AMC Downtown Disney 24, located at Downtown Disney West Side.

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As a local resident, this is my “go-to” venue to see all the latest releases. With 24 screens, I never have a hard time finding my flick. And whether I’m in the mood for a drama or a comedy, a romance or a thriller, I can always find something to suit my mood. (That goes for my friends, too, and they’re a sometimes-picky bunch!)

I recently saw “Frozen” and “Saving Mr. Banks” here, and I’ll admit, there’s nothing like seeing a future Disney classic right in the heart of the magic!

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While you won’t be shocked to find all the newest films here, you might be surprised that AMC often brings ‘classic’ films back to the big screen. Over the next month, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Sleepless in Seattle” will be featured. You can check out this listing of fan favorites here.

Another bonus? If you want to indulge in dinner and a movie, you can enjoy AMC Dine-In Theatres, which lets you reserve a seat in advance, then order from a full menu of drinks, food and dessert, delivered directly to you in time for the show. Get more details on the “Fork & Screen” option here.

So, fellow movie buffs, what’s the best movie you’ve seen recently? I need to catch up, so I’d love to get your reviews in the comments below.

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Embrace 2014 with Fit2Run, one of the ‘50 Best Running Stores in America’

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


It’s 2014, a brand-new year full of promise. And if you’re like millions of Americans, the year 2014 is full of resolutions, too! For those who have vowed to make health and fitness a priority in the year ahead, I’ve got great news – Fit2Run, The Runners Superstore, was recently recognized as one of the “50 Best Running Stores in America” by two leading trade and consumer publications, Running Insight and Competitor Magazine.

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Fit2Run prides itself on its strong community involvement and makes strides to empower athletes of all fitness levels to embrace a more active lifestyle. When I asked Fit2Run spokeswoman, Sharon Jacobson, what sets them apart from other retailers, she shared “Fit2Run is family owned and proud to support all our communities, raising millions of dollars for local charities and wellness programs throughout the state. Our passion is to custom ‘fit’ our guests properly using state of the art footwear technology. Our goal? Empower our guests to run or walk pain free while exercising their passion.” Indeed, the store has already been embraced by the local running community and has added vibrant color to Downtown Disney West Side.

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Ready to tackle your New Year’s Resolutions? Whether you want to simply be able to spend a full day walking in the Parks without getting winded or you want to conquer a runDisney race, make Fit2Run one of the first stops on your route to a healthier, fitter you!

Fit2Run has 10 locations in Florida, including the newest location at Downtown Disney. For more information, visit www.Fit2Run.com.

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Clean Up This Holiday Season with Gifts from Basin At Downtown Disney

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


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Christmas is just a few days away. Still have no idea what to give this holiday season? For most of my friends and me, a little something from Basin is always appreciated. I love the scent of practically everything in the store and whenever I stop in, I have to try out their latest sugar scrub. (I mean it. Every time.) I often buy Basin products as gifts for others, but I rarely treat myself. Want to put a smile on my face? I’ll take a few bath bombs or a custom soap, please!

Recently, I got to chat with store manager, Justin Heninger, to learn more about what they’re offering for the holidays. Not only do they have some products that would make even the most ‘bah-humbug’ guest grin, but some items are exclusively available at the Downtown Disney location. Read on to learn more.

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  • The Fresh Facial: This Downtown Disney exclusive claims to tighten skin and moisturize skin (perfect for these colder winter temps!).
  • Glycerine Soap: These soaps look great, smell great and are extra-gentle on skin. The Mickey soaps are a Disney exclusive that can be found year-round, but the Snowy and Gingerbread scents are available especially for the holidays.
  • Dr. Spot: I’ve been told this is great for getting stains out of clothes. Hopefully I won’t need to test it out, but I have been known to drip egg nog on my Christmas sweaters!
  • Bath Bombs: These gems make bath time magical, changing the color of the water, adding healing moisturizers and, with the Pirate and Princess treasure bath bombs, ultimately revealing toys in the center. Confession: they’re not just for kids!
  • Shave Cream: This product is great for both men and women. Because it doesn’t contain alcohol, it prevents irritation and helps keep skin moisturized, too!
  • Shampoo Bar: Though it looks like a regular bar of soap, this ‘hair food’ offers extra conditioning to help dry, frizzy hair. (I think I need to try this myself!)
  • Of course, this is just a small sampling of Basin’s best-loved products! Other popular delights include Fluffy Pet Soap for your furry friends, Body Butter, Shea Scrub, Spa Wax which helps heal dry, cracked skin, and their Lip Scrub. If you simply can’t decide, a Basin gift card always works too!

    What products from Basin do you hope to find under your tree next week?

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Cirque du Soleil’s ‘La Nouba’ Marks 15 Years at Downtown Disney

posted on December 19th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


On Wednesday night, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil with a special pre-show moment and balloon drop finale. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were joined by Neil Boyd, Company Manager of La Nouba, Keith Bradford, Vice President of Downtown Disney, and ‘Les Cons’ to kick off the 7,124th performance of the show. The cast received a standing ovation and 15th anniversary balloons rained down on the crowd. Guests in attendance received a special-edition 15th anniversary print to commemorate the milestone.

See moments from the 15th anniversary show below.

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Counting Down to New Year’s Eve Fun at DisneyQuest at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 17th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Five, four, three, two … FUN!

When I think of the new year, I don’t typically start with visions of “I’m gonna wreck it!” in my head, but this year, that could change. Wreck-It-Ralph and Vanellope will usher in 2014 along with Buzz Lightyear, Chip ‘n’ Dale and … you! If you buy a ticket to the DisneyQuest New Year’s Eve Party, that is!

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For guests seeking a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, this is a perfect option. The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. on December 31, 2013, and lasts until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. In addition to five floors of virtual fun, guests can also enjoy dinner (included with admission), dancing and the aforementioned Disney characters!

Michelle Homer, DisneyQuest Operations Manager, calls the event “a night of virtual awesomeness” and with unlimited video games, plus all the regular DisneyQuest attractions (except for Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlaster, which will be converted into a dance floor), there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. I hear the New Year’s Eve countdown will be especially colorful.

This event typically sells out, so be sure to get your tickets early; they’re $55 in advance and $65 the day of the event (if available). You can get all the details here and tickets are now on sale here, or at the DisneyQuest Box Office or by calling 407-W-DISNEY.

In addition to the DisneyQuest New Year’s Eve Party, Downtown Disney will feature DJ dance parties and live entertainment in all three districts plus a variety of food and beverage offerings including unique menu items from the new Disney Food Trucks and cocktails, beer and wine throughout property. (Tip: Walt Disney World Resort guests should plan to take Disney bus transportation and drivers should allow extra time as heavy traffic is expected.)

No matter how you plan to celebrate, I wish you all the best as you kick off a brand-new year!

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Fifteen Years of Clowning Around with ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil

posted on December 6th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Because of my job, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil a handful of times. I’m not sure how, but every time I see it, it feels new and fresh. Though I can hardly believe it, “La Nouba” is about to celebrate 15 years at Downtown Disney.

I recently talked with one of my favorite “La Nouba” acts, Sergey and Balto, the clowns who open the show. They’ve been with “La Nouba” since the beginning, when they were paired up by Gilles Ste-Croix, co-creator of Cirque du Soleil. Even more amazing, Sergey, one clown in the duo, is deaf, while Balto, his other half, is French-Canadian. In spite of the communication barriers, the pair ultimately came up with 120 acts during three months of show prep; Franco Dragone, Cirque’s longtime Creative Director, picked five of them to feature in “La Nouba.” If you’ve seen the show, you’ve seen those acts – they’ve withstood the test of time and still get consistent laughs from the audience.

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There are only about 10 performers left from the show’s opening cast. After a decade and a half, the clowns still love it. Balto shared that for him, “It’s a pride. It’s still a pleasure. After 15 years, we still get a standing ovation every show.” Sergey shares the sentiment, “It’s gone by fast. It’s a lot of work, but I still love the performance. This is my dream. For me, there won’t be a retirement … I was born a clown and I’ll die that way.”

Both performers exuded a sincere love for their craft. With 60 years of experience between them, it’s clear that neither can imagine doing anything else. It’s also obvious that they care deeply about one another – their genuine friendship is apparent; it’s real and heartfelt, just like their onstage performances. (If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing “La Nouba,” you no doubt understand).

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The official 15th anniversary date for “La Nouba” is December 23, but we’ll celebrate the milestone with a special pre-show moment during the 6 p.m. performance on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Tickets are still available here, by calling 407-WDW-SEAT or at the Cirque de Soleil Box Office at Downtown Disney West Side.

Have you seen “La Nouba”? If so, I’d love to know which act is your favorite, so please share in the comments below.

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Connecting All That’s New at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 19th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


If you’ve visited lately, you know that the largest expansion in Downtown Disney history is well underway. The transformation to Disney Springs was announced in March; since that time, changes – both big and small – have been happening throughout our property.
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One of the newest, and most visible, is the addition of a new pedestrian walkway that connects the West Side and Pleasure Island. This temporary addition will help with guest traffic flow and should make it easier to move from one district to the other. My favorite part? The beautiful boardwalk meanders along Village Lake, offering guests a spectacular waterfront view. (The Pleasure Island Boat Dock is here too, and I’ve found myself enjoying a few extra boat rides recently!)

Last week, the bridge officially opened. And what perfect timing, because there is so much going on right now! Below, a quick snapshot of the latest:

  • Fit2Run, the Runners Superstore, opened earlier this month. The store features Premier footwear, apparel, GPS, performance sunglasses and more. It may be a coincidence that this location opened just in time for holiday shopping, but the athletes on your gift list will appreciate it.
  • The first of four themed Food Trucks made its debut during Festival of the Masters. Featuring a variety of delectable meatballs, the Superstar Catering Truck was a hit with guests. Additional trucks will continue to roll in over the next several weeks. (I’ve had the chance to sample many of the menu items and I can tell you this … you won’t be disappointed!)
  • Valet Parking is available on the West Side through January 1, 2014; starting at 4 p.m. daily, the $15 service offers guests another parking option. (Bonus: the valet parking attendants couldn’t be nicer!)
  • Festival of the Seasons is happening now, with Santa Claus making appearances daily through Christmas Eve. (5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. until November 21; 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. from November 22 – December 24, 2013). Hope you’ve been good this year!

Will you be checking out the newest offerings at Downtown Disney? If so, be sure to connect to all of them via the new pedestrian walkway; entrances are located near Characters in Flight and Paradiso 37. To me, it’s a sign of progress and I can’t wait to see what’s next! You?

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Celebrating 38 years of Festival of the Masters Magic at Downtown Disney

posted on November 5th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Now in its 38th year, Festival of the Masters is an impressive event. With steady growth over the years, this open-air art festival that allows guests the chance to see and buy unique pieces now boasts over 300 artists, including more Disney artists than ever before. (I love that our guests have the chance to meet many of them in person – I’ve gotten to know a few of these artists and the passion they have for their work is inspiring and contagious!)

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Lately, I’ve gotten into crafting – I blame Pinterest – so I’m certain the interactive art & craft experiences presented by Michaels will be a huge hit with families. You’ll have the chance to “make and take” a Mickey ear wood frame and sun visor, color a Disney masterpiece featuring characters from “Frozen,” and contribute to a larger-than-life mural – all of this takes place at Downtown Disney West Side near Bongos.

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Another new element I’m super psyched about is Mixers & Masters, a “sip and stroll” offering that features artistically crafted cocktails from participating restaurant locations. And for guests who want to learn the art of making some of these signature beverages, the daily “Art of Mixology” seminars at the Waterside Stage are not to be missed!

Of course, popular favorites will return including over 130 fine artists who come from across the country — they’ll cover Downtown Disney with limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, glass, wood and more; more than 20 up-and-coming “emerging masters”; the 15th annual House of Blues Folk Art Festival “where the Art meets the Soul,” and the aforementioned Disney artists – over 25 of them will appear throughout the weekend at the Disney Artist Village, the “can’t-miss” hub for Disney art aficionados, for meet ‘n’ greets and signings. Additionally, awe-inspiring chalk artists will transform more than 1,000 square feet of sidewalk into a colorful display, and personally, I’m just as excited for the children’s chalk art activities that will give kids a chance to get creative!

I’m not able to attend this year because I’ll be in South Carolina meeting my brand-new niece or nephew (my sister’s new baby is scheduled to arrive tomorrow!), so I’m counting on all of you to check it out. If you’ve been before, please share what you’re most excited about seeing again, and if you attend this weekend, come back and comment to let me know what you enjoyed most.

Here’s to a colorful weekend for all of us!

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