Japan Pavilion at Epcot

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.
“Gaither

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.
“Gaither

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

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

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.”

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

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.

  • Share: 

Tagged: ,

Filed: Celebrity Visits, Walt Disney World Resort

Dapper Dans Harmonious Tribute to Boy Bands Gains Some New Fans at Disney Parks

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


This week, the Dapper Dans at the Disneyland Resort are reaching into their repertoire of boy bands tunes for “Limited Time Magic” performances at Disneyland park. Disney Parks Blog author Erin Glover previewed the quartet’s “encore” in this post.

The colorfully clad quartet will croon favorite boy band tunes at the park through July 21.

As the harmonious tribute continues on the west coast, the Dapper Dans at Walt Disney World Resort had a special guest visit for a little sing-along fun. Let’s take a look (and listen):

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , , ,

Filed: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Voice Artist Jim Cummings Bounces His Way from the Hundred Acre Wood to a Galaxy Far, Far Away for Star Wars Weekends

posted on June 4th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


One of the highlights of Star Wars Weekends is seeing — and hearing — the voices behind some of the famous on-screen characters. The world of Disney and the galaxy of Star Wars once again came together during Weekend II, when Jim Cummings bounced his way from the Hundred Acre Wood to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a special visit.

In addition to being the voice of Outer Rim pirate Honda Ohnaka in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” Jim has a long list of credits with The Walt Disney Company. Many guests know him as the voice of Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger too!) and Darkwing Duck. Jim’s credits also include famous Disney characters like Pete, Ed the Hyena, Humphrey the Bear and Ray the Firefly.

Thousands of Epcot guests also listen to Jim’s voice each night, when he famously blows out the torches as the narrator of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.”

The final weekend of Star Wars Weekends 2013 is this weekend, so catch it before it leaves our galaxy. The event takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 7-9. Weekend IV celebrity guest stars include Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew and Tom Kane.

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


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

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

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

New ‘American Idol’ Candice Glover Visits Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 28th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Newly crowned “American Idol” season 12 winner, Candice Glover, took a whirlwind trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the holiday weekend, spending time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and surprising guests at “The American Idol Experience” attraction.

New ‘American Idol’ Candice Glover Visits Disney's Hollywood Studios

“Getting ready to have some fun at Disney!” Candice (@CandiceGlover) tweeted upon her arrival. While here, she recorded video segments that will soon be part of “The American Idol Experience.” She also took time to make a walk-on appearance at the attraction, surprising guests on-stage and in the audience.

Candice’s first single, “I Am Beautiful,” is currently available on iTunes and her upcoming album, “Music Speaks,” is available for pre-order, for a limited time.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

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

Star Wars Weekends Launches Today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 17th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Ewoks are celebrating, Max Rebo is playing a happy keyboard tune with his feet, and the droids are happier than C-3PO in an oil bath. Why? Because Star Wars Weekends launched its galactic celebration today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Here are some new things to keep your electrobinoculars looking for during the event:

  • A giant rancor has taken up residence this year in Darth’s Mall. The intricate, fan-created beast from Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi is sculpted from 2,000 square-feet of expanded polystyrene foam.

  • Our lovable pair of chipmunks, Chip and Dale, get into the Star Wars fun this year by dressing as Ewoks. Clad in their Ewok best, the duo also is depicted on this year’s event logo with Jedi Mickey.
  • Stormtroopers will be “on the move” this year, with mobile sentry outposts along Hollywood Blvd. These new outposts offer the Empire’s shock troops new vantage points to survey the areas for Rebel spies.
  • Tosche Station, made famous as the place where Luke Skywalker wanted to pick up some power converters, finds a new home this year at Star Wars Weekends at the main stage on Hollywood Blvd. Atmospheric entertainment keeps the galaxy festive throughout the day before transforming into a DJ dance party.
  • Warwick Davis, the actor who brought Wicket the Ewok to life on the silver screen, hosts a new one-man show entitled “An Ewok’s Tale – my short story” for two weekends this year.

Star Wars Weekends takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 9. 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.
(*celebrities and entertainment schedule subject to change)

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

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

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

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

‘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.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

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

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.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

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