Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith Stars in Latest Edition of Famous Disney Parks Commercial

posted on February 2nd, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

As confetti cascaded tonight at MetLife Stadium following Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith looked into television cameras and shouted two of the most famous celebratory lines in ad history: “I’m Going to Disney World!” and “I’m Going to Disneyland!”

Smith, voted the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLVIII, joins a who’s who of athletes and celebrities who have shouted those same words as “When You Wish Upon A Star” played in the background. (Depending on the region the commercial airs, the player either says “I’m Going to Disney World!” or “I’m Going to Disneyland!”). He is the NFL’s first defensive player to star in the commercial.

And Malcolm Smith’s next stop? Magic Kingdom Park, to make good on his post-game proclamation. Current plans (subject to change) call for a celebratory parade through the park on Monday afternoon (parade time TBD, pending final travel details from New York/New Jersey).

Also, there is another special twist to the iconic commercial this year. In a “Frozen first,” Idina Menzel, who voiced Elsa in Disney’s Academy Award®-nominated film “Frozen” and on the hit soundtrack, sings the classic song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” to accompany the iconic ad.

Take a look for this year’s advertisement in programming across multiple networks, including ABC’s “Good Morning America” and on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

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Filed: Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Magic Kingdom Park Says ‘Good Knight’ to the UCF Football Team with Gala Hometown Parade

posted on January 13th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Magic Kingdom Park was a sea of black and gold yesterday to honor the University of Central Florida’s Cinderella football season. The Knights’ record-setting season culminated with an upset victory over the Baylor Bears in the 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 1, 2014. The team ended the season ranked 10th nationally with a 12-1 record.


The entire football team, coaching staff, cheerleading squad, spirit squad and UCF Marching Knights paraded through the park and down Main Street, U.S.A. in a hometown celebration for the Orlando-area university.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

‘Impressive, Most Impressive’ Star Wars Weekends Returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May/June 2014

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Gather your favorite droids, nerf herders, walking carpets and scoundrels and make plans to attend Star Wars Weekends 2014. We’re pleased today to announce the dates for next year’s Force-filled special event.

Star Wars Weekends will be held every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 16-June 8, 2014.

  • Weekend I: May 16 – 18, 2014
  • Weekend II: May 23 – 25, 2014
  • Weekend III: May 30 – June 1, 2014
  • Weekend IV: June 6 – 8, 2014


Star Wars Weekends combines the power of the Force and the magic of Disney into a galactic special event that has become a fan favorite through the years. Star Wars Weekends features the largest collection of official Star Wars characters found at any theme park in the world, star conversations with Star Wars celebrities, a Death Star-sized motorcade through the park and plenty of entertainment fun for guests of all ages.

Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog and for the latest updates and details as they are released. And, check out for the latest in event information.

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

‘Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade’ Celebrates 30 Years of Holiday Magic December 25 on ABC-TV

posted on December 11th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

As Disney Parks Blog author George Savvas recapped last month in this post, Disneyland Resort recently played holiday host to a star-studded taping for the “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade” special.

This past weekend, Walt Disney World Resort took center stage as some of Tinseltown’s brightest stars arrived on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom Park to tape segments for the 30th annual holiday TV special.


Stage and screen star Neil Patrick Harris joined “Good Morning America” co-anchor Lara Spencer to lead the Walt Disney World Resort festivities. Harris showed his versatility as a performer by not only hosting the parade but also co-starring with hundreds of Disney characters, singers and dancers in one of the show’s musical numbers. Additional performances showcased a global collection of musical stars including English-Irish boy band The Wanted, “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, Italian vocal trio Il Volo and Grammy Award-winning R&B artist Ne-Yo.

Take a look at our photo gallery for a sneak peek, and be sure to tune in Christmas morning to see all of the holly jolly fun. Until then, check out for updates and join the conversation online with the hashtag #DisneyParade.

The Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade airs December 25, 2013 at 10 a.m. EST and 9 a.m. CST, MST and PST on ABC-TV. The show also will air in Canada on CBC Network and across the globe on the American Forces Network.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Singer Chris Daughtry Visits Minnie Mouse at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on November 13th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Singer/songwriter Chris Daughtry, lead singer of the band “Daughtry,” visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios this morning and stopped by the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith attraction. While there, he posed for this photo with Minnie Mouse. Ever fashionable, Minnie was decked out in her best rock and roll attire. Daughtry and the band are busy these days and are currently preparing for the November 19 release of the newest album.
Singer Chris Daughtry Visits Minnie Mouse at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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

Guests Ages 6-13 Can Take Center Stage During ‘American Idol Experience Juniors Edition’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on August 9th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

For the first time, “The American Idol Experience” offers guests ages 6-13 the chance to audition and sing on-stage at the Walt Disney World Resort attraction.

“The American Idol Experience Juniors Edition,” the next “Limited Time Magic” offering, hits the stage August 12-18, 2013, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Auditions for kids ages 6-13 will take place from park open to 4 p.m. each day, with the Juniors Show held at 6 p.m. each evening. No “Dream Tickets” will be provided, but young guests will have the opportunity to get a taste of showbiz beginning with an audition in front of a Disney producer. If selected for the Juniors Show, they will get a Hollywood-style showbiz treatment including cosmetology, a vocal training session and walk-through rehearsal before taking the stage in front of the live audience. A list of songs has been chosen specifically for the Juniors Show.

For more information and the song list for “The American Idol Experience Juniors Edition,” guests may go to

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Former 70s Mouseketeer Lisa Whelchel Celebrates a Special Birthday at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 6th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

“Favorite job ever.”

That’s the way Lisa Whelchel describes her role on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” in the late 1970s.

Whelchel, who became a household name for her role as Blair Warner on the long-running series “The Facts of Life” in the ‘70s and ‘80s, also recorded a Grammy-nominated Contemporary Christian album, became a best-selling author and was most recently a contestant on “Survivor: Philippines,” where she tied for second place.

But before all of that, she was chosen in a nationwide search to star as a Mouseketeer on a new version of the famed Mickey Mouse Club TV series. As a teen, she was living her Disney dream, visiting Disneyland park almost every week. She was featured on a lunchbox (which she still has, thanks to her grandmother), recorded a cast album and starred in a made-for-TV movie, “The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World,” which aired on “The Wonderful World of Disney.”

Earlier this summer, Whelchel brought her family back to Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate her birthday. Disney Parks Blog reporter John Graham met up with her in Magic Kingdom Park to chat about her career, family and “favorite job ever.”

And of course, what Mouseketeer visit would be complete without a visit from the leader of the club himself?

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Take Five: Gaither Quintuplets Celebrate 30th Birthday at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 5th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Disney’s “Fab Five” met with another notable “Fab Five” Monday, as the Gaither Quintuplets — the nation’s first surviving set of African-American quintuplets — reunited with Mickey and his pals at Magic Kingdom Park to celebrate their 30th birthdays.

On August 3, 1983, the quints were born to Suzanne and Sidney Gaither in Indianapolis, Ind., and instantly found themselves in the limelight. The five infants were featured on national news programs and daytime talk shows. Mayoral proclamations were penned in their honor and magazines and newspapers featured them in cover photos.

As the years went by and the Gaither quints grew, attention waned. And not by accident. It was the parents’ goal to make life as “normal” as they could for the five siblings. Even though their childhood was a bit far from the norm (the family went through 100 jars of baby food a week) the Gaither quints began their young lives in Indiana. They went to school, played sports, played video games and yes, traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort on family vacations.

Today, the quintuplets returned, now with children of their own, to celebrate their birthdays with Mickey Mouse and the gang at Magic Kingdom Park.

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It’s the 30th Anniversary of ‘Vacation’: Real-life Griswolds Travel to Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 29th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Today in 1983, the motion picture “Vacation” was released in theaters. In the film, Clark Griswold tried to create the perfect family trip. Traveling cross-country to the fictional Walley World, he and his family hit the road to see the nation in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster car. The motion picture went on to become a classic and the car became an iconic part of the film.

Fast-forward to 2013, and a real-life family of Griswolds — Steve and Lisa Griswold, and their two daughters, Amber and Brooke — hopped into a custom-made Wagon Queen Family Truckster and drove from their home in Canton, Georgia, to Walt Disney World Resort.

Visiting Walt Disney World Resort on the 30th anniversary of the famous film? That’s definitely something that would even make Marty Moose proud.

The Real-Life Griswolds and their Family Truckster in Front of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World Resort

The custom car is only about 2 weeks old and this is the first vacation the family has taken in it. What was formerly a brown station wagon was transformed by a car shop in Georgia with new wood-panel siding and a new “metallic pea” color (the exact hue described in the film) paint job. Steve then added special touches like custom-made gold crown symbols on the side of the car, the signature, silver crown hood ornament and even a (faux) fuel tank door on the hood. (Be sure to take a look at the photo gallery to see more.) He also added a few modern conveniences, including DVD players (which were loaded with the “Vacation” film when we visited) and Bluetooth wireless technology. After putting some vintage luggage that he purchased online atop the luggage rack, the Griswolds were ready to hit the “holiday road” to Walt Disney World Resort.

One of their stops? Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a natural fit since much of the new resort is dedicated to an entire town of famous “Cars.”

Steve and Lisa, who own and operate a travel agency in Georgia, are no strangers to Walt Disney World Resort. They are both former Walt Disney World College Program participants and former cast members. They visit quite often with their daughters and have sailed on all four Disney Cruise Line ships.

The Family Truckster, Lisa says, is another fun way to experience Walt Disney World Resort. “For years people have commented about our name being ‘Griswold’ and our love of Disney,” she said. “We wanted to have fun with it and experience it on a wonderful family vacation.”

As Disney Parks Blog author and Yellow Shoes Creative Group photographer Gene Duncan took these photos and our Global Content Development broadcast crew shot the video, a crowd began gathering in front of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to admire and take photos of the car. “We’ve had such a wonderful time.” Lisa says. “We valeted the car at the Grand Floridian the other night before we ate dinner there, and the cast member couldn’t believe it. He told us he’s parked about every type of car there is, but never a family truckster.”

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Actor Gilles Marini Gets His Kicks With Mickey at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on July 24th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor

Actor Gilles Marini, who kicked up his heels a few times on “Dancing with the Stars,” got his kicks today at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Mickey Mouse, clad in his favorite soccer uniform, joined in the fitness fun as Gilles demonstrated some of his soccer skills for our cameras and the impromptu crowd that gathered. A big fan of the sport, Gilles has played amateur soccer in California while continuing his successful acting career.

Actor Gilles Marini Gets His Kicks With Mickey at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Born in France, Gilles began his show business career in modeling after serving in the French Army. After a photographer discovered him, Gilles moved to the U.S. following the fulfillment of his military duties. While modeling, he began his acting career and has starred on TV shows, including “Brothers & Sisters” on ABC. He became a fan favorite for his dancing skills on the hit competition series “Dancing with the Stars,” and currently appears on the ABC Family series “Switched at Birth.”

After today’s photo shoot with Mickey, Gilles stayed and took photos with several amateur teams who were arriving to compete in the 2013 Champion ESPN Games.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 300 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries.

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Filed: Celebrity Visits, Walt Disney World Resort