Disneyland Park, Haunted Mansion Stretch Painting

Disney Grants Make Dreams Come True for 85,000 Central Florida Kids

posted on March 26th, 2014 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


For children and families around the globe, Walt Disney World Resort is a magical place where dreams come true every day. At Disney, we take great pride in calling Central Florida home for the past 42 years and we’re always looking for ways to share our magic with our community. Today, we hit a high note with our ongoing efforts by announcing $3.8 million in Disney grants to 87 deserving local nonprofits. These donations will make a positive impact in the lives of more than 85,000 Central Florida children this year.

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This morning, Disney Grants recipients were cause for celebration at the Orlando Science Center. It was such a treat to be there and yes, there was much confetti. Mickey Mouse joined Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis and Walt Disney World Resort Director of Community Relations Nancy Gidusko to present the grant awards. All the while, the renowned Voices of Liberty from Epcot supplied musical inspiration by performing a cappella for two songs; the inspirational “You Raise Me Up” and the Oscar-winning song, “Let it Go.” Click on the video to see highlights.

Disney also presented the annual Bob Allen Award to Page 15, an Orlando non-profit that offers free after-school tutoring and creative writing workshops for local students. Page 15 will use the grant to continue enhancing students’ communication skills, encouraging personal creativity and inspiring a lifelong passion for language arts.

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From my vantage point, it was humbling to see the genuine outpouring of gratitude from grant recipients and hear about how much of a difference these Disney grants will make in the lives of children and families throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties.

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College Football Season Kicks Off with the MEAC/SWAC Challenge at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 5th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


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Are you ready for some football? College football fans united at Walt Disney World Resort this past weekend to celebrate the start of the season and partake in a special Fan Day for the 8th Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney.

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Disney is a proud sponsor of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. While football is at the center of the event, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge is more than just a game – it’s a celebration that underscores the importance of diversity and higher education. Events range from a career panel for high school students to a Legends Reception honoring accomplished alums from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“MEAC/SWAC

Gearing up for Game Day, fans of the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (MEAC) and Alabama State Hornets (SWAC) let their competitive spirit fly, all in good fun.

Bethune-Cookman head football coach Brian Jenkins kicked off the festivities at the first-ever MEAC/SWAC Challenge Pep Rally at Downtown Disney, which included appearances from star football players from both schools.

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Over at Epcot, hundreds of feet kept moving to the beat as the Wildcats and Hornets took the park by storm with a parade of marching bands, drill teams and cheerleaders.

Fast forward to Sunday at the Florida Citrus Bowl… Central Florida’s own Bethune-Cookman Wildcats scored a 38-28 victory over the Alabama State Hornets. With the win, Bethune-Cookman became the first team to ever win back-to-back MEAC/SWAC Challenge games.

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Walt Disney World Resort Donates Record 3.1 Million School Supplies to Students

posted on August 10th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


A new school year is almost here. Are you ready?

Walt Disney World VoluntEARS Donate School Supplies for Children in Central Florida

Here in Central Florida, back-to-school efforts are getting in gear with a little help from Disney VoluntEARS. Mickey Mouse and pals just gave a record 3.1 million supplies and 13,000 backpacks to school superintendents, who received bus loads of essentials for their students.

Orange County Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Osceola County Superintendent Melba Luciano, Lake County Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley, Seminole County Superintendent Walt Griffin and Polk County Superintendent Dr. Sherrie B. Nickell all were on hand to accept the donations and ring a bell celebrating the start of the upcoming school year.

Walt Disney World VoluntEARS Donate School Supplies for Children in Central Florida

On a mission to set students up for success, Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members have spent 2,300 hours the past month collecting and sorting pencils, notebooks, rulers and more – all as part of the annual Back-to-School Supply Drive. It’s one of the many ways Disney shows its support of education and children in Central Florida.

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Disney Resorts Soaps and Shampoos Help Clean the World

posted on May 25th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Here’s a story that been bubbling for a while… soaps and shampoos from Disney Resorts are getting a second life after their initial use through a partnership with Clean the World.

When we first shared this story in 2010, all Walt Disney World Resort hotels were participating in the program to collect, sanitize and repackage discarded bath amenities, which in turn are distributed to impoverished areas worldwide. Besides improving personal hygiene, the products help prevent illness and disease in children.

Disney Resorts Soaps and Shampoos Help Clean the World

Clean the World efforts recently expanded to include Disney resorts and hotels in California and Hawaii, and the contributions are impressive. In just two years time, Disney has collected a whopping 53 tons of soap, which breaks down into 565,509 bars. Additionally, more than 33 tons of bottled amenities, such as shampoo and lotion, have been given to the cause.

The Disney soaps go global (from Haiti to India) and local, where they are put to use in homeless and domestic abuse shelters.

In addition to its preventive health benefits, this innovative recycling effort literally is making the world a cleaner place by reducing waste. Since participating in Clean the World, Disney has diverted nearly 87 tons of hotel waste from landfills.

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Disney Gives $1.5 Million to Help Local Kids ‘Shine On’

posted on May 22nd, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Making dreams come true is part of our mantra at Walt Disney World Resort, as well as sharing our magic throughout Central Florida with nonprofit organizations that are making a positive impact in the lives of children.

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During the past week, I had the privilege of being part of the 2012 Disney Helping Kids Shine prize patrol, which went on a record $1.5 million charitable giving spree.

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With Mickey Mouse at the helm, our journeys took us to several of the 59 nonprofits that received Disney Helping Kids Shine grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to support programs that inspire creativity, encourage compassion and promote health and well-being for families. Beneficaries include local school districts, summer camps, theatre groups and outreach programs for homeless youth.

One of the top recipients, Quest Inc., will use their Disney grant to introduce media arts to children with special needs.

I felt proud as I heard how Disney’s support will go a long way for these organizations and make a difference in the lives of more than 70,000 children. Keep up the great work and shine on!

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Disney Dreamers & Doers Celebrates 18 Shining Stars

posted on April 10th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Recently, I went on a road trip powered by pixie dust. Mickey Mouse and the prize patrol were at the wheel and I was along for the ride as we made our way across Central Florida to reward some students who truly shine and make a difference in their communities.

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Our adventure took us to elementary, middle and high schools for some spontaneous celebrations with those selected as Disney Dreamers & Doers Shining Stars.

What makes these 18 kids so special? Whether it’s overcoming adversity or inspiring others to be more civic-minded, they consistently demonstrate outstanding character, lead by example and have a caring spirit.

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For example, Shining Star Elizabeth Tran founded her own nonprofit, “Teens Go Green,” to make a positive impact on the environment.

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When faced with bullying, Shining Star Kyle Sullivan courageously stood up for himself and other friends.

It was such a treat to join teachers, school officials and families as we set up some magical moments to surprise and recognize these students in a memorable way.

Shining Stars are considered to be the best of the best from the Disney Dreamers & Doers program, which recognized approximately 400 local students this year for serving as role models at school, at home and in their community.

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In addition to a visit from Mickey, the Shining Stars received Disney’s own version of an Oscar award known as the “Mousecar,” Walt Disney World Resort annual theme park passes for themselves and their immediate family, a gold medallion and a special invitation to attend the upcoming Kids and Nature Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort.

Now entering its 29th year, more than 12,000 students have been recognized as Disney Dreamers & Doers.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates Second Anniversary of ‘Let’s Move!,’ Disney Magic of Healthy Living at ESPN Wide World of Sports

posted on February 11th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Taking a cue from Perry the Platypus from the Disney Channel series “Phineas and Ferb,” First Lady Michelle Obama, Disney Channel and Disney XD stars and nearly 1,500 local children and families got their groove on this afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Perry The Platypus and choreographer Rosero McCoy in performing 'The Platypus Walk,' made famous in Disney Channel’s series 'Phineas and Ferb.' Mrs. Obama was at Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate the second anniversary of her Let's Move! initiative and the Disney Magic of Healthy Living, both of which promote healthier lifestyles among children and families.

With the goal of showing how fitness can be fun, the First Lady joined pro athletes and Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan (“Jessie”), Roshon Fegan (“Shake It Up”), and Disney XD stars Doc Shaw and Kelsey Chow (“Pair of Kings”) and Olivia Holt (“Kickin’ It”) to inspire attendees to live healthier lifestyles by taking simple steps every day.

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a fitness activity with local children at the Magic of Healthy Living event at Walt Disney World Resort. The event celebrated the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative and recognized Disney’s efforts to promote healthier lifestyles among kids and families.

From “The Platypus Walk” (a new dance inspired by Perry the Platypus) to soccer drills to cooking demos with healthy foods, the event was jam packed with activities that can easily be done at home. Kicking, sprinting and jumping were par for the course and the kids seemed to enjoy the challenge.

These efforts mark the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation, and Disney Magic of Healthy Living, an initiative designed to partner with parents in their quest to raise healthy, happy kids.

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Disney Characters Make the Rounds with a Special Dose of Magic

posted on February 10th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Drawing wisdom from Mary Poppins, a dedicated team of Disney Parks cast members is using a dose of Disney magic much like “a spoonful of sugar” to help the medicine go down.

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Throughout the year, Disney’s animal care team ventures into Orlando-area hospitals to lift the spirits of children in pediatric care.

Accompanied by all sorts of exotic animals on these special visits, Disney animal experts bring the joy and wonder of wildlife to young patients who get to learn and interact with them.

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Special visitors make the rounds as well; Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale have all been known to appear toward the end of the program.

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It never fails to amaze me how magical it feels when “Nurse Minnie” and other Disney characters walk into these rooms. For a moment, kids seem to forget about what’s ailing them. Smiles abound and everyone is left feeling good.

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While it is a temporary relief, these visits are much like pet therapy. They make the hospital experience a little less scary, encourage curiosity about nature and aid in the healing process by helping children journey into their imagination.

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Walt Disney World Resort Brightens the Holidays With ‘Season of Sharing’

posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Happy holidays everyone! I’m happy to report the spirit of giving is alive and well at Walt Disney World Resort, where cast members are sharing their magic to make the season brighter for many Central Floridians.

Mickey Mouse and Disney VoluntEARS Brighten the Holidays for Many Central Floridians With ‘Season of Sharing’

As part of the “Season of Sharing” during the past few weeks, Disney VoluntEARS have:

  • Collected 38,323 toys for the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots campaign;
  • Spent more than 4,500 hours sorting and distributing Toys for Tots donations;
  • Outfitted more than 2,000 teddy bears for the Salvation Army;
  • Prepared more than 1,500 meals at Coalition for the Homeless; and
  • Packaged more than 30,000 pounds of prepared food for the Disney Harvest program benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

While these efforts clearly help during the holidays, they go well beyond, as Disney gives cash and in-kind support year round at hundreds of local nonprofits that focus on improving the lives of children and families.

Disney VoluntEARS Brighten the Holidays for Many Central Floridians With ‘Season of Sharing’

Time and time again, I’m impressed and amazed by what happens when Disney steps up to help address community needs.

These acts of generosity are deeply appreciated by those who benefit from them and are truly making a difference during a time when it’s needed most.

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Disney VoluntEARS Donate 30,000 Toys to Families in Need at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 9th, 2011 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


‘Tis the season at Walt Disney World Resort for the annual Toys for Tots drive, and cast members have been busy collecting a record number of toys for children in need.

Disney VoluntEARS Deliver Toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Central Florida Toys for Tots Headquarters

Yesterday, Mickey Mouse and Disney VoluntEARS began to deliver a collection of more than 30,000 new toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Central Florida Toys for Tots headquarters. Gunnery Sergeant Jose Rodriguez tells me that the sizable donation is the largest received to date and will help make the holiday season brighter for more than 20,000 children in Orange and Seminole counties. Click the video to see highlights from the give.

In addition to donating toys, Disney VoluntEARS are giving more than 4,500 hours toward helping the Marines with sorting donations and distributing toys to families in need.

Disney VoluntEARS Deliver Toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Central Florida Toys for Tots Headquarters

Disney’s involvement with Toys for Tots is a tradition that dates back more than 60 years. In fact, Walt Disney and his animators designed the original Toys for Tots logo, which the campaign still uses today.

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