Aviator Minnie Mouse at Disney California Adventure Park

Actress Pat Carroll Adds Her Autograph to the Feature Chandelier at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

posted on June 10th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Actress Pat Carroll Adds Her Autograph to an Ursula Sketch on the Feature Chandelier at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Guests at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort recently had an under the sea surprise as they joined in a ceremony in the main lobby to celebrate Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula in Disney’s classic animated film, “The Little Mermaid.” The resort honored the legendary actress by asking her to add her signature to the feature chandelier’s artful array of 77 animation storyboards.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of “The Little Mermaid.”

Only a few dignitaries who have made major contributions to the four animated films represented at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort can sign the chandelier storyboard panels. As an added surprise, Walt Disney Imagineer Joni Van Buren, who sculpted the maquette used to create the resort’s giant Ursula icon, joined the fun and even brought her original work to show to guests and Pat.

After the ceremony, Pat sat down with us to discuss her love of the Ursula character, the 25-year popularity of “The Little Mermaid” and how the power of great storytelling can captivate film audiences.

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Filed: Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Mark Hamill Makes His Star Wars Weekends Debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Weekend IV

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Womp rats, you’ve been warned. Luke is in town.

Actor Mark Hamill, who portrayed farmboy-turned-galactic-hero Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, makes his debut appearance at Star Wars Weekends today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. He is scheduled to appear today, tomorrow and Sunday.

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Activities where guests can see the acclaimed actor include the “Legends of the Force” motorcade and a star conversation about his career and role in the original Star Wars trilogy. To enable more guests to see and hear this special edition talk show, entitled “A Conversation with Mark Hamill,” the Star Wars Weekends event team has made arrangements for a simulcast at various locations throughout the park. Be sure to ask a cast member when you arrive for viewing locations.

We caught up with Mark at the theme park while he was doing final walk-throughs with the Disney Parks Entertainment team. After posing for a few photos with Jedi Mickey Mouse, he spoke with us about the Star Wars legacy, his childhood visits to Disneyland and what makes Star Wars fans special to him.

For more info. about Star Wars Weekends and to download an event guide, head to disneyworld.com/starwarsweekends. Also, join the conversation online by using the event’s hashtag, #SWW2014.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

New Augmented Reality Features Bring Star Wars Weekends to Life in New Ways for 2014

posted on May 17th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


If you plan on attending Star Wars Weekends 2014, be sure to try out some of the new technology designed to bring the event to life in new ways.

For the first time, Star Wars Weekends is utilizing augmented reality to provide guests “virtual” character experiences, added information in the guide maps and even interaction with the event logo itself.

Lots of fun is centered in Darth’s Mall, thanks to our official technology partner, HP.

Before arriving at the park, download the free app., Aurasma, from the App Store or Android Market to your smartphone or tablet. (Tip: While the app. will prompt you to register, you are not required to do so. You can choose to advance by clicking “Skip” in the lower right on the final welcome screen.)

Utilizing HP technology, there are special locations to utilize Aurasma in the park and even on the event’s guide map. Join me and Star Wars Weekends celebrity host James Arnold Taylor as we demonstrate some of the ways you can have even more interactive fun this year.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort

The Magic Behind the Frosting: The ‘Making Of’ the Star Wars Weekends Cupcake Video at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 15th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


“Cupcake or cupcake not. There is no pie.”

Master Yoda might not have said that, but it seems to fit the theme of the Darth Vader cupcake video we debuted earlier this week to celebrate the launch of Star Wars Weekends 2014.

A talented, confection-loving crew gathered overnight in a Disney’s Hollywood Studios bakery to shoot the video that shows what happens when the dark side meets the “sweet side.”

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look, then enjoy a Darth Vader cupcake (and maybe a Yoda cupcake) during Star Wars Weekends. The event begins tomorrow and will be held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 15 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort

Darth Vader Rules the Galaxy (and the Bakery) as Star Wars Weekends Takes Cupcakes to the Dark Side

posted on May 12th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


As we continue our countdown to Friday’s launch of Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, work continues non-stop behind the scenes to prep the park for the galactic gala. Photo locations are being constructed, merchandise is being sorted and Donald Duck is shining his stormtrooper armor as everyone pitches in to make sure this is the best Star Wars Weekends yet.

One of the tastiest gems of the event includes a special snack offering, a delicious Darth Vader cupcake.

Have you ever wondered what would happen in the pastry display case if the Darth Vader cupcake was consumed by the dark side? In a video produced by the award-winning team at Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group, we take a look at how that scenario just might play out. (And Star Wars fans take note: there’s an “Easter egg” in this video that ties it back to a common theme from the Star Wars saga.)

Star Wars Weekends takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 16 – June 15, 2014. Most event activities are included in regular theme park admission.


Click through the following posts for more Star Wars Weekends videos:

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

A Silver (Screen) Anniversary for Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 1

posted on April 24th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


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In a park that pays tribute to many Hollywood icons of the silver screen, a silver anniversary is a special one to celebrate. On May 1, 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (known then as Disney-MGM Studios — a name that would identify the park until it was changed in 2008) became the third Disney theme park to open at Walt Disney World Resort. On May 1, 2014, the park will mark its 25th anniversary in several ways (*times and entertainment subject to change):

  • At 10 a.m., Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will take the stage with Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President Dan Cockerell to start the celebration day, honoring some of the 25-year cast members during a short rededication ceremony.
  • A special motorcade — “Stars of the Studios” — will make its way down Hollywood Blvd. beginning at 7 p.m. and feature many of the famous characters showcased throughout the park. Mickey and Minnie will be joined by television and film stars including Captain Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader, Doc McStuffins, Wreck-It Ralph, Venellope, Sofia the First and more.
  • Following the motorcade, the area in front of the park’s Sorcerer Hat Stage will become a dance party before a fireworks show ends the day in grand fashion at 9:30 p.m. The pyrotechnics show, which will be high in the sky above the Sorcerer Mickey Hat, will pay tribute to 25 years of show business stories that have been told throughout the park.

Special events and entertainment for the celebration are included in regular park admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Also, as previously outlined by fellow Disney Parks Blog author Steven Miller, 25th anniversary commemorative merchandise will be sold (while supplies last). And finally, a taste-tempting treat — a 25th Anniversary Chocolate Nutella Cupcake — will be sold at many of the park’s quick service dining locations during the day.

TIP: If you’re planning to visit the park on May 1, please plan on entering via the main toll plaza off of World Drive.

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Past, Present and Future Galactic Stars Shine at Star Wars Weekends 2014

posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Here’s a little trivia: did you know former “Cheers” star and the Disney•Pixar “lucky charm” John Ratzenberger once appeared on the silver screen in the Star Wars saga? Before he frequented the watering hole where everybody knew his name, he braved the frigid planet Hoth in a minor role in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Next stop for Ratzenberger (or, as he may be known to Star Wars fans: Major Bren Derlin) will be Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends 2014.
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Today, we’re pleased to announce the full talent lineup for this year’s event. Celebrities scheduled to attend include Star Wars actors and actresses from the past (from the Star Wars film saga), present (from the popular animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and even the future (from the eagerly anticipated Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels).

As we previously announced, acclaimed voice actor James Arnold Taylor is the official celebrity host of this year’s event. We’re pleased to announce today that Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars, a former Walt Disney World Resort parade performer and now a successful fangirl fashion designer, will be the host of a special “Behind The Force” show each weekend. This year, “Behind The Force” will showcase some of the main cast members from Star Wars Rebels.

Also of note: Weekend V will feature the most Star Wars celebrities to appear at one time in the event’s history.

Here’s the lineup (*subject to change):

Weekend I: May 16-18

Ahmed Best: Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi; Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend II: May 23-25

Warwick Davis: Wicket W. Warrick (Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Wald (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Capt. Jeremoch Colton (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith)

Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend III: May 30-June 1

Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

John Ratzenberger: Major Bren Derlin (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back)

Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend IV: June 6-8

Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Darth Bane (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)

Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend V: June 13-15

Dee Bradley Baker: Captain Rex/the Clones, Bossk and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Cat Taber: Padmé Amidala and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Tom Kane: Yoda, the series’ narrator and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Matt Lanter: Anakin Skywalker and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Steve Blum: Zeb Orrelios (Star Wars Rebels)

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

‘Diaper Dans’ Show Their ‘Disney Side’ On Main Street U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 11th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


No matter what age, everyone seems to have a “Disney Side.” That concept led us to a question: how early in their lives did the famed Dapper Dans begin honing their skills as a barber shop quartet? For years, The Dapper Dans have been favorites among Disney Parks guests for their blend of harmonies and hijinks. Whether they’re in the Harmony Barber Shop or riding aboard the Main Street Trolley, the Dapper Dans provide a soundtrack like no other on Main Street U.S.A.

In honor of the famed foursome, we asked them to lend a hand in helping to train a troupe of newcomers. Today, we are pleased to present the world premiere of … The Diaper Dans.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Goofy Gets Even More Animated at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 28th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


In a company built on animation, it’s always fun to try different ways of showcasing our famous animated characters. A technique of animation involves persistence of vision, a phenomenon where you retain a visual for a small amount of time, even after the visual is removed from view. (An example would be the flipbooks we played with when we were kids.)

Another way of animating repetitive motion is by printing a series of images on a flat surface and then sliding an overlay with vertical stripes over it. This type of animation, which also utilizes persistence of vision, is featured in a popular series of books. These books feature a variety of animated objects including horses, soccer players, penguins and even Star Wars characters.

When our pal Goofy heard about this, he wanted to get in on the fun. And of course, everything Goofy does has to be a big production. So, with a dash of Disney magic, a giant “Goofymation” shoot took place inside one of the stages at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here’s a 30-second look at the results.

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Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, to Make Historic First Appearance at Star Wars Weekends

posted on March 20th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


His most famous film character has destroyed the Death Star, received the Medal of Bravery following The Battle of Yavin and resisted a turn to the dark side, so what is he going to do next?

He’s going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!

No wait, wrong answer. He’s going to Disney World!

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For the first time in event history, Mark Hamill, the actor who brought Luke Skywalker to the silver screen in the Star Wars saga, will appear at Star Wars Weekends. Hamill will be one of the celebrity guests for Weekend IV, June 6-8, 2014. Fans can see him in the daily “Legends of the Force” Star Wars-themed motorcade and in a featured talk show.

Hamill’s appearances will most likely be a very popular gathering place for members of the Empire and the Rebellion, so be sure to arrive early.

More details about the event have been placed into the memory systems of an R2-unit and we’ll soon reveal them, but we wanted to share this Force-filled news with you today.

Stay updated with the latest event news here, StarWars.com and the event’s official website, DisneyTheForce.com. You also can join the conversation online with the official event hashtag, #DisneyTheForce.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort