Mickey Mouse Balloon at Disneyland Resort

It’s (Not) a Trap! Countdown to Star Wars Weekends Continues at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 8th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


As the Limited Time Magic “May the Fourth Be With You!” celebration fades into the galaxy, the team at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is busy wiping out its droids’ memories and resetting them for Friday, May 17, opening day for Star Wars Weekends 2013. Actors and voice artists from the Star Wars film saga and Star Wars: The Clone Wars are ready to hop aboard Starspeeders and head to the park for the annual event. A trio of talent will appear each weekend, along with celebrity event hosts James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein.
Ray Park Will Perform His One-Man Show, 'A Visit to the Maul,' at Star Wars Weekends 2013

Here’s a list of scheduled celebrities for this year’s Force-filled fan fest:

Weekend I (May 17–19)
Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Captain Rex – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Weekend II (May 24-26)
Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok – Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
Jim Cummings (voice of Hondo Ohnaka – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Weekend III (May 31 – June 2)
Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok – Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar – Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Weekend IV(June 7-9)
Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian – Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca – Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Tom Kane (voice of Yoda – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Also new this year is a photo opportunity with a “life-size” rancor. The giant beast, which was Jabba the Hutt’s prized pet in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, will be on display during the event. The handcrafted replica is 17 feet long and weighs more than 700 pounds. The reptomammal sculpture is well-traveled — it’s a popular piece at Star Wars events around the globe and will make its way to our park for Star Wars Weekends.

A trio of specialty “one-man shows” will be presented this year, giving guests a peek into the on- and off-screen worlds of three Star Wars celebrities — James Arnold Taylor, Ray Park and Warwick Davis.

  • “Obi-Wan & Beyond” (each event day) stars James Arnold Taylor. James takes audiences on a journey into his wonderful world of voice acting.
  • “Visit to the Maul” (Weekends I and II) features Ray Park. Guests can see a demonstration of amazing martial arts skills by the actor who portrayed Darth Maul on the silver screen.
  • “An Ewok’s Tale – my short story” (Weekends II and III) stars Warwick Davis. Guests get a unique look into the fascinating world of this Star Wars legend.

As you plan your visit to Star Wars Weekends, be aware that many of the behind-the-scenes shows reach capacity quickly, so arrive early. Also, you’ll want to arrive early to the park if you would like to get a celebrity autograph.

Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #StarWarsWeekends on Twitter.

Star Wars: © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.
(*celebrities and entertainment schedule subject to change)

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‘May The Fourth Be With You’ Celebrated at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for ‘Limited Time Magic’

posted on April 26th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


For one day only, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will present a “Limited Time Magic” event for the annual, fan-proclaimed “Star Wars Day,” May 4 – a date that Star Wars fans worldwide turn into a celebratory pun, “May the Fourth Be With You!”
May The Fourth Be With You at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Separate from our month-long Star Wars Weekends special event (which begins May 17), this “Limited Time Magic” celebration features special Star Wars entertainment, characters, commemorative merchandise, a Star Wars dance party and a Star Wars-themed fireworks show to cap off the day.

You might even find yourself sitting next to Chewbacca aboard Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. Star Wars characters will make surprise appearances on the 3-D attraction to enjoy the wild journey through space alongside park guests.

A special edition of Jedi Training Academy also is planned that day, with parents invited to join their children (ages 4-12, sign-ups required on first-come basis) on-stage for the training and final showdown with the Empire.

When the sun goes down, galactic fun lights the night as Lobot (from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back) takes over as DJ for a dance party that will be highlighted by a special Star Wars fireworks show.

“May the Fourth Be With You” “Limited Time Magic” park activities and shows are included in regular admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Join the conversation online by using the hash tag #StarWarsWeekends on Twitter.

Star Wars: © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.

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Billy Dee Williams, aka Lando Calrissian, Set to Appear at Star Wars Weekends 2013 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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


Billy Dee Williams, aka Lando Calrissian, Set to Appear at Star Wars Weekends 2013
Today we’re pleased to announce that everyone’s favorite galactic smuggler, gambler and scoundrel will temporarily leave Cloud City and board the Millennium Falcon with a course set for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as actor Billy Dee Williams returns to Star Wars Weekends for the 2013 edition.

Williams, a fan favorite for his portrayal of Lando Calrissian in the film saga, will attend Weekend IV, June 7-9, 2013.

Lando, who is described on his official StarWars.com bio as having two weapons of choice — a blaster pistol and “a devastating smile” — betrayed the Rebellion when he made a deal with Darth Vader to capture his old friend, Han Solo. However, there was a storybook ending to the tale when he redeemed himself by later helping to free Captain Solo and assisting in the destruction of the second Death Star.

If you make plans to attend Weekend IV, I definitely suggest attending one of the “Stars of the Saga” talk shows that features Williams. It was a highlight for me at past events to hear him tell tales about his portrayal of the suave scoundrel. But be sure to get there early; his appearances will most likely be a popular gathering place for members of both the Empire and the Rebellion.

Join the conversation online by using the hash tag #StarWarsWeekends on Twitter.

Star Wars: © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.

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A Villain and Hero Highlight ‘Star Wars’ Weekends 2013 in Weekend I and Weekend II and a First Look at the 2013 Event Logo

posted on March 14th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


One of Mickey Mouse’s favorite things about Star Wars Weekends is that he gets to dress in his Jedi best and join the galactic fun. Each year, Mickey seems to take on a different role in the official “Star Wars” Weekends logo. This year, his imagination takes him to the Forest Moon of Endor, where he is seen zipping away from scout troopers with Chip and Dale. Mickey’s wild speeder bike ride on this year’s artwork has historical significance, as 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi” — the film that featured the Battle of Endor.

The 'Star Wars' Weekends Logo for 2013 Features Mickey in the Forest Moon of Endor with Chip and Dale

In addition to unveiling the logo for this year’s event, we’re excited to announce a pair of celebrity appearances for Star Wars Weekends 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort, with two legends from the saga doubling the fun in two consecutive weekends.

Action star Ray Park, who portrayed the Sith warrior Darth Maul on the silver screen, will be one of the celebrity guests in Weekends I and II. Actor Warwick Davis, known to Star Wars fans as everyone’s favorite Ewok, Wicket W. Warrick, will be one of the guests during Weekends II and III.

More Star Wars celebrities will be announced soon, so be sure to program your droids to scan the Disney Parks Blog and StarWars.com, as well as DisneyWorld.com/StarWarsWeekends for updates.

Star Wars Weekends takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 17-June 9, 2013. Most event activities are included in regular park admission.

Join the conversation online by using the hash tag #StarWarsWeekends on Twitter.

Star Wars: © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.

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‘Princess Etch A Sketch’ Jane Labowitch Draws Upon Her Artistry to Create Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle

posted on February 21st, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


If you’re like me, you’ve enjoyed creating your own art on an Etch A Sketch®. Turn the knobs, create a “magic screen”-full of art, then shake it up and start all over again. Never in my wildest dreams, though, could I imagine completing Etch A Sketch drawings like those created by Jane Labowitch.

Jane, a 21-year-old artist in Chicago who is known professionally by the nickname “Princess Etch A Sketch,” began playing with the famous Ohio Art drawing toy at age four. In fact, she says her love of the Etch A Sketch actually has some Disney roots, thanks to a boost from Disney’s animated classic, “Aladdin.”

“When I was young, soon after ‘Aladdin’ was released on VHS, I used to watch it at my grandma’s house while playing around with my Etch A Sketch,” she remembers. “And when I was a kid, all I could really draw were staircases. But what inspired me to draw more was the scene in ‘Aladdin’ where he has to walk up the long flight of stairs to retrieve the magic lamp. I used to draw that scene all the time. Soon, the staircases started looking more detailed, and the boxy Aladdin became more and more detailed as I practiced.”
“‘Princess

Today, we’re debuting two pieces Jane created especially for Disney ParksSleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort and Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort — as our newest wallpaper downloads for you to enjoy. Using Yellow Shoes Creative Group’s photo studio, Disney Parks Blog author and photographer Matt Stroshane shot these images to insure they look as nice on screen as they do in person. But rest assured, no photo manipulation or post-production editing took place to create any part of this artwork. All of the work you see is a result of Jane’s single-line drawing on the famous toy. We hope you enjoy her work as much as we do. We’ve also included a gallery of images that Jane shot as she worked. Also included: a few close-ups, to give you a better look at the details of her intricate art.

Be sure to check out the terms of use about using the wallpaper before you download it.

“‘Princess

And just in case you’re wondering, Jane’s favorite character in a Disney or Disney●Pixar film? No, not Aladdin. It’s “Etch,” who shared Andy’s room with the “Toy Story” gang and always was “fast on the draw” with his good pal Woody!

The Etch A Sketch® product name and configuration of the Etch A Sketch® product are registered trademarks owned by The Ohio Art Company.

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A Walt Disney World Resort Getaway, and a Wonderful Snow White Day, with Tina Fey

posted on February 18th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


It would have made a great “I’m Going to Disney World!” moment.

“Tina Fey, your award-winning series ’30 Rock’ has just ended its successful seven-season run on television. What are you going to do next?”

The response from the multi-talented writer, producer, actress, author, show creator and comedienne easily could have been “I’m going to Disney World!” — because that’s exactly what she did. After production recently ended on her acclaimed comedy series, Fey enjoyed a visit to Walt Disney World Resort. Her next film, “Admission,” is a comedy/drama co-starring actor Paul Rudd and is scheduled to debut in theaters next month.
A Wonderful Day at Epcot with Snow White and Tina Fey

Disney Parks Blog author Gene Duncan was on hand today at Epcot to capture this photo of Tina posing with “the fairest of them all,” Snow White, at the Germany Pavilion in World Showcase.

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Disney Time: World-Renowned DJ Steve Porter Creates a Walt Disney World Resort ‘Magical Mashup’ Featuring Guests, Cast Members and (of course) Mickey Mouse

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


As he sits in his production company’s headquarters on a chilly Massachusetts day, DJ Steve Porter’s thoughts are about 1,200 miles south, at the Walt Disney World Resort. Surrounded by computers, musical instruments, monitors and all sorts of editing equipment, he’s putting the finishing touches on his latest remix video, a mashup of magical proportions for Walt Disney World Resort.

After building his career for 15 years as one of the top DJs in the country, Porter expanded into the world of video mixing and opened his own production company, PorterHouse Media. Regarded as a pioneer of the mashup/video mix movement, he creates his videos by editing sound bites and musical scores to create new songs. In 2012, he won a “Webby Award” (for a Tim Tebow-themed remix he created for ESPN called “All He Does Is Win”) and was named one of “The 100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company magazine.

And the world is watching, and listening. In the past few years, Porter has created original videos for TV networks, national morning shows, popular primetime comedy shows and professional sports teams. Last summer, he created a Muhammad Ali mix that was shown in London during a Team USA tribute to the boxing great.

Take a look (and listen!) and enjoy the video. But a word of whimsical warning: like many songs featured in Disney attractions (yes, I’m thinking about you, “it’s a small world”), Porter’s “It’s Magical” tune just might stick with you for a little while after you view it.

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Stars Celebrate Holidays in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 3rd, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


A twinned celebration and a new posing of “Beauty and the Beast” took place over the holidays with celebrity visits to Magic Kingdom Park, and Disney Parks Blog author and Yellow Shoes Creative Group photographer Gene Duncan was there to capture the moments.

Julie Bowen Visited New Fantasyland to See Beast's Castle

Julie Bowen, two-time Emmy Award-winner for her portrayal of “Claire Dunphy” on the hit comedy series “Modern Family,” visited New Fantasyland to see Beast’s Castle. After a quick dance outside, Beast escorted her into the Be Our Guest Restaurant to show off the castle’s dining rooms (no word on whether he let her see the mysterious West Wing).

Rebecca Romijn, Her Husband Jerry O'Connell and Their Twin Daughters Pose With Cinderella

Later, actress Rebecca Romijn and her husband, actor Jerry O’Connell, celebrated their twin daughters’ birthdays by posing with Cinderella. In addition to Cinderella being the twins’ favorite princess, Romijn shares a love of the color blue with the glass slippered-princess. Romijn is famous for her role in the “X-Men” films as the blue-skinned mutant “Mystique.”

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‘Star Wars’ Weekends 2013 Dates Announced

posted on December 27th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


“Luke, We’re gonna have company!” — Han Solo

If your starship can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (I’m still trying to figure out how fast that is), set your hyperdrive for the Disney’s Hollywood Studios sector for May and early June, for the 2013 edition of Star Wars Weekends.

This year’s Force-filled fun will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 17 – June 9, 2013.

James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein Share a Laugh On-stage at Star Wars Weekends 2012.  The Pair Will Return as Celebrity Hosts in 2013.

While details are still being planned, we’re excited to announce that James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein are returning as celebrity hosts for the annual special event. James, the voice behind many of the most famous animated characters in film, television and commercials, is known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series. Ashley, who started her show business career as a parade dancer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the voice of Anakin’s ambitious Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

James is the Official Celebrity Host of Star Wars Weekends 2013, and Ashley is Celebrity Host of “Behind the Force,” a live show that takes fans behind-the-scenes in the Star Wars universe.

Be sure to program your scanning droids to check here for the latest updates from the Galactic Senate about Star Wars Weekends 2013.

For guests who may be considering a visit to Walt Disney World Resort for their very first Star Wars Weekends, here’s a short overview video with our own galactic reporter, “Jedi John” (please note his very stylish “mic saber”). While the celebrity appearances for this year have not been announced (stay tuned for those names in an upcoming post), John talks to some Star Wars celebrities from past events to get their thoughts.

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A Coast-to-Coast Christmas at Disney Parks December 25 on the ABC Television Network

posted on December 25th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


For a holly jolly dose of cheer, tune in this morning, December 25, for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade TV special on the ABC Television Network.
“Cast

The 29th annual telecast takes guests on a coast-to-coast holiday celebration at the Disneyland Resort in California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Some of today’s top stars join the party, with dozens of sparkling floats and a sleigh-full of Disney and Disney•Pixar characters bringing good tidings to you and your family.

Tune-in times are as follows, on the ABC Television Network (check local listings):

  • Eastern Standard Time: 10 a.m.-noon
  • Central, Mountain, Pacific Standard Time: 9-11 a.m.

The show also will air in Canada on CBC Network, and across the globe on the American Forces Network.
“Ross

Viewers can visit disney.go.com/christmasparade to view some online video features about the show, and join the social media conversation before and during the telecast using the hashtag #DisneyParade.

Also, take a look at these recent Disney Parks Blog posts with celebrity photos, videos and more information about this year’s holiday TV special:

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