Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

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):

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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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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.

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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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