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Don’t Let Time Run Out! Experience Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 10th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


We’re halfway through the 10-week run of Harambe Nights, our new special event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrating the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” Guests have been raving about the African-inspired cuisine, the street party entertainment, the celebrity narrators, and the live orchestra and choir for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

New Harambe Nights Evening Spectacular at Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of "The Lion King"

Held inside the newly built Harambe Theatre, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is a 55-minute theatrical experience created exclusively for Harambe Nights and completely different from the “Festival of the Lion King” show presented during the daytime. In fact, today we have for you a unique look at how the Harambe Theatre is transformed from day to night, as our Entertainment team sets the stage for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

From Viola Davis to David Alan Grier, each celebrity narrator who has participated in “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” has brought his or her own unique talent and passion to the performance. The lineup of narrators features stars from movies, TV, and Broadway. Scheduled to appear on upcoming nights are*:

  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

The first five weeks of Harambe Nights were all sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Your ticket includes parking, a welcome reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” show, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and an abundant dinner buffet. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

For an even more in-depth look at “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” follow the links below to our previous stories here on Disney Parks Blog.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Exclusive ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Sneak Peek Debuts July 4 at Disney Parks

posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Beginning tomorrow, July 4, and continuing through mid-August, guests at Disney Parks on both coasts will be able to enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the latest exciting adventure from the studio that brought you “The Avengers.”

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This special, extended sneak peek of the film will play daily in spectacular RealD 3D at the ABC Sound Studio at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. You’ll also be able to catch it at Disneyland park in California, at the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland, where it will be presented in 3D with special in-theater effects.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt as space adventurer Peter Quill, who is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of ragtag misfits in order to evade a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.

I’ve got a feeling “Guardians of the Galaxy” is going to be a special kind of awesome! Who else is excited and ready to join us for the sneak peek in the parks this month? Let us know in the “Comments” section below, and make plans now to catch “Guardians of the Galaxy,” when the movie releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014.

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Celebrating Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 30th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


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Independence Day is coming up, and the parks at Walt Disney World Resort are planning to celebrate with some star-spangled salutes to America in honor of our nation’s 238th birthday!

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort for the 4th of July, here is some of what you can look forward to:

  • Magic Kingdom Park – “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” rockets into the air above Cinderella Castle. This special, fireworks spectacular will be presented two nights in a row, at 9 p.m. on both July 3 and 4.
  • Epcot – On July 4, enjoy a special concert of great American songs by Voices of Liberty at America Gardens Theater, where they’ll be performing at 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3 p.m. You can also meet some favorite Disney characters in patriotic attire outside The American Adventure, and catch the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps at the pavilion at 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. That evening, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” joins the celebration at 10 p.m., with a heart-pounding, pyrotechnic grand finale.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A “Rockin’ 4th of July Celebration” at the Sorcerer’s Hat Stage on July 4, features the “Rock Your Summer Side” Dance Party, with a DJ and live band. The Hollywood Rockers will take you on a rock ‘n roll road trip across America that culminates with the band playing live during that night’s fireworks spectacular. The celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. and continues through 11 p.m., with fireworks at 10:15 p.m.

Looks like the 4th of July is going to be a blast all across Walt Disney World Resort!

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Celebrating the Fourth of July at Disneyland Resort

posted on June 26th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and Disneyland Resort is gearing up to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, concerts, and more! Here’s a look at some of the star-spangled highlights we’ve got planned for next week:

  • Disneyland park – “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” rockets into the air above Sleeping Beauty Castle. This special, fireworks spectacular will be presented on four different nights, July 1 – 4 at 9:25 p.m.

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  • 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band – This outstanding military band from Miramar, California, is returning to Disneyland park for another year! The band will be performing several times throughout the day on Friday, July 4.
    • Catch the band in a brief cavalcade along the parade route at 3:30 p.m., just ahead of the “Frozenpre-parade and the first performance of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.
    • The band will help retire the colors at the Disneyland park flag retreat ceremony in Town Square at 5:30 p.m.
    • Immediately following the flag retreat, at 5:45 p.m., the full band will perform along the parade route, all the way back to “it’s a small world.”
    • Finally, you can enjoy the full band in concert on the stage of the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, starting at 7:15 p.m.

  • Disney California Adventure park – On July 4, a special patriotic pre-show will be presented at the start of both the 9 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. performances of “World of Color.”
  • “Glow With the Show” – Don’t forget to bring along your “Glow with the Show” Ears (or pick up a pair)! Those interactive, light-up Ear Hats magically become part of the fireworks at Disneyland park and “World of Color” and its patriotic pre-show at Disney California Adventure park.

To help you get in the spirit, here’s a look at last year’s production of “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky.” Who’s ready for some red, white, and blue?!

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Get Ready to Experience ‘Frozen’ Summer Fun – Live at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on June 26th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Like Olaf, have you ever closed your eyes and imagined yourself in another place? In summer, maybe? At Walt Disney World Resort? Or perhaps in the snow-covered kingdom of Arendelle, from Disney’s instant classic, “Frozen.” Why not all three?! After all, the hot and the cold are both so intense, if you put them together it just makes sense! And that’s just what we’re doing as part of an incredible new experience.

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This summer, the world of “Frozen” takes center stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We’re opening up the gates July 5 for a summer-long happening, featuring a full day of all-new, immersive “Frozen” experiences you won’t want to miss, every day through September 1!

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Olaf on Summer Vacation – Olaf the snowman is having the time of his life on his very first summer vacation! He chimes in throughout the day to keep everyone updated on all his adventures. Plus, you can pick up your very own Take-Along Olaf from locations in the park, so he can join you on your summer vacation. And when you share your photos with Olaf on social media, be sure to tag them with #OlafSummerVacation. They may just get selected to appear in that day’s grand finale!
  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome – At 11:00 a.m. each day, Elsa and Anna arrive in Hollywood as part of their goodwill tour of neighboring kingdoms, making their way down Hollywood Boulevard in a horse-drawn sleigh. Kristoff is along for the fun, too, joined by a flurry of skaters, skiiers, ice cutters and more! The entire procession culminates in a special moment at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage to officially welcome the visiting royalty to this kingdom of Hollywoodland.
  • For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration – Cool down inside the Premiere Theater, where Anna and Elsa join the Royal Historians of Arendelle for a fun and comedic retelling of the unique history of their Kingdom, filled with delightful, sing-along moments from “Frozen.”
  • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – Inside Soundstage One, Oaken and his cousins have created a Frozen Funland filled with cold weather activities, unique photo opportunities, and more! There’s a frozen pond with ice skating demonstrations, wintertime fun for kids in the “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” play area, a “big summer blowout” with plenty of “Frozen” merchandise, and special “Frozen”-inspired food and beverage offerings.
  • “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party – Starting at 5:30 p.m. each day, a dance party takes over the area around the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage, with a DJ, live band, and more! The band plays a variety of classic and contemporary summer rock & roll hits, as well as a cool, rocking medley of “Frozen” favorites. It’s going to be hot!
  • “Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular – Everything wraps up at 9:45 p.m. when Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf come together at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage for a grand finale to the day’s festivities, kicking off an awe-inspiring fireworks display set to the glorious music of “Frozen!”

I don’t know if I’m elated or … well, you know!

If you’re somewhere in that zone, like me, you’re already bursting with anticipation for “Frozen Summer Fun – Live at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.” Starting July 5, the sky will be blue, and you guys will be there, too! It’s going to be a great summer for snowmen, royalty, and anyone who’s a fan of “Frozen!”

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Seeing Stars During Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 23rd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


“The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” the incredible theatrical experience produced for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, celebrates the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” This all-new show is a 55-minute retelling of Simba’s story as never seen before, combining music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions.

In “The Lion King,” Simba’s father, Mufasa, invites him to look to the stars. “The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars,” he says. “So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you, and so will I.”

This and other wonderful messages and moments from that classic film have resonated with people the world over, including the stars participating as celebrity narrators for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” For the opening night performance earlier this month, we were honored to be joined by Viola Davis, Tony award winner and Oscar nominated star of “The Help,” “Doubt,” and the upcoming ABC drama “How to Get Away with Murder.” She shared with us her impressions of the performance, as well as her personal connection to one of the main messages of the film.

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014. The lineup of celebrity guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 28 David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color” – SOLD OUT
  • July 5Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy” – SOLD OUT
  • July 12Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Every event night so far has sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Come ‘Rock Your Summer Side’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on June 20th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


This summer, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is inviting everyone to “Rock Your Summer Side” with a special dance party event each evening from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

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Live band The Hollywood Rockers takes to the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage, engaging in rowdy antics and playing some of the greatest songs of summer. Between sets with the band, our DJ spins hot summertime hits, and you can get up and dance with some of your favorite Disney characters. Mickey and the gang will be dressed for fun in the sun, ready to rock their summer side, too!

Nearby, you’ll even find a giant postcard set up to mark the occasion. It’ll be a great spot to snap a selfie and share the fun with all your friends and family.

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First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 9th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Over the weekend, Disney’s Animal Kingdom played host to the first of 10 Harambe Nights special events, and it was incredible! From the mouthwatering menu and that super addictive Lion Chow to DJ Khalifa and the Harambe Nights Band, with so many wonderful parts of the evening it could be difficult to pick a favorite. For me, though, it is hands-down “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This 55-minute retelling of “The Lion King” story is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Animated sequences on screens in the theater ebb and flow seamlessly with music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions. In one moment, a classic scene from the film plays out to a live underscore provided by a 25-piece orchestra. In another, a 16-voice choir of Harambe villagers steps up to sing as spirit dancers gracefully assume the roles of animals and other characters to help carry the tale forward. And it doesn’t get any more authentic than when Sangoma, the mystic shaman, commands the stage speaking in his native African tongue.

“One by One” and “He Lives in You” gave me goose bumps, and Mufasa’s death scene affected me more profoundly than it has since I first saw it on screen 20 years ago. All I can say is, “Wow”! You simply have to experience this for yourself!

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014, from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Each night, a celebrity narrator joins the villagers of Harambe for their performance of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” The lineup of guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

A limited number of tickets is still available for each of the remaining nights. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Sneak Peek Landing in Disney Parks July 4

posted on June 9th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


From the studio that brought you “The Avengers” comes a new team. They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy, and they’re the crew at the epicenter of one of this summer’s biggest movie events. Starting July 4, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is coming to Disney Parks with an exclusive sneak peek, offering guests an extended look at the film before it opens in theaters.

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At Disneyland park in California, you can catch this limited time intergalactic preview in 3D with special in-theater effects at the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland, where Captain EO is typically shown. Captain EO is expected to return at a later date.

For those of you visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, you’ll be able to experience the cosmic adventure of “Guardians of the Galaxy” at the ABC Sound Studio at Disney’s Hollywood Studios presented in spectacular RealD 3D, a new dimension of entertainment.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” finds space adventurer Peter Quill the object of a bounty hunt after stealing an orb coveted by a treacherous villain, but when Quill discovers the power it holds, he must find a way to rally the quartet of ragtag rivals hot on his trail to save the universe.

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014.

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Behind the Scenes of ‘The Lion King – Concert in the Wild’ for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 4th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Back in 1998, I had the good fortune to be part of the opening team in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Thanks to the impressive work of the Imagineers who created it, the park’s fictional village of Harambe became a very real place to us, with a rich history and vibrant population. The village took its name from the Swahili word “harambee,” which is roughly defined as “pulling together to create something greater than its parts.” For Harambe Nights, the new special event debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week, the citizens of Harambe village are doing just that to create an epic theatrical celebration of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

“On this grand occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, the people of Harambe have pulled together to present the beloved ‘Lion King’ story to visiting guests in a new way,” said Show Director Marsha Jackson-Randolph. “The village storyteller hosts, the Harambe choir sings, the best dancers dance, and the Sangoma shaman works his mystical powers as iconic scenes of the film appear to come to life in the authentic African tradition of a ‘Story Circle.’ And there’s more excitement! Harambe’s Town Council has invited a 25-piece guest orchestra and a celebrity guest narrator to join them each night.”

During a recent rehearsal, Marsha gave us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the tremendous work going into the staging of this all-new show, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” and her close collaboration with noted South African Choreographer Warren Adams, whose impressive credits include Broadway’s “Motown the Musical,” the Hong Kong production of “The Lion King,” “Of Mice and Men” with James Franco, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris.

I got goose bumps just watching the cast rehearse and can’t wait to see all the elements of the show come together in the Harambe Theatre. Of course, the only way to experience “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” for yourself is to get a ticket to Harambe Nights, and they’re going fast!

Harambe Nights takes place from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. every Saturday, June 7 – August 9, 2014. The celebrity narrators scheduled to appear each night as part of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” include*:

  • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Doubt,” “How to Get Away with Murder” – SOLD OUT
  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, the 55-minute theatrical experience, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and amazing food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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