Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

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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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

‘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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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

A New Way to Visit Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on June 2nd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Everyone knows the way to get to Never Land is to follow the second star to the right, but now there’s a new portal that has opened up in Magic Kingdom Park that can take you directly to a very special corner of Pixie Hollow!

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By entering the new Garden Theater, part of Town Square Theater on Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll be magically shrunk down to the size of a fairy and transported into Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook. That’s where you’ll find Tinker Bell herself, waiting to meet you amongst her collection of treasures from the mainland. Take a look:

Best of all, Disney Fastpass+ service is now available for this experience, so Tinker Bell fans of every age can now be sure of getting to meet their favorite fairy!

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Join Us for a Special 3 a.m. Showing of ‘World of Color,’ Streaming Live From Disneyland Resort

posted on May 24th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


UPDATE 5/24: Rock Your Disney Side live stream coverage has concluded.


5:00 a.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. PDT

Who’s still awake and rockin’ your Disney Side?

As our 24-hour celebration is wrapping up on the East Coast, things are still going strong at Disneyland Resort, where dance parties at Sleeping Beauty Castle, Tomorrowland Terrace and Mad T Party in Hollywood Land are continuing through 5 a.m. And coming up at 3 a.m. is our special, late-night showing of “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure park. If you’re not here, check out the Paradise Pier live stream for a glimpse of the show. You’ll find the world is a carousel of color – even at this time of night!

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Step Inside Scary Tale Hall at Magic Kingdom Park… If You Dare!

posted on May 24th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment



12:15 a.m. EDT / 9:15 p.m. PDT

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It’s the witching hour. Beware of apples and spinning wheels!

Two of Disney’s greatest villains, the Queen from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty,” have moved into Princess Fairytale Hall for the evening, turning this corner of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park into Scary Tale Hall and holding court waiting for you! You’d best hurry, though, if you hope to catch them, for they’ll be vanquished with the morning light once the park closes at 6 a.m.

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Catch a Glimpse of Disneyland Resort Nighttime Spectaculars on Disney Parks Blog Live Streams

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



11:30 p.m. EDT / 8:30 p.m. PDT

Between the four live streams originating from Disneyland Resort today during the Rock Your Disney Side event, there’s a lot to see. Tonight, be sure to check in on those streams for live views of some of our nighttime spectaculars.

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Disney Villains Are Set to Take Over Magic Kingdom Park

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



9:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 p.m. PDT

What Disney Side are you rockin’ today? Does it have a bit of a villainous streak? If so, you’re in luck, as the Disney villains are preparing to take over Magic Kingdom Park! They’ve already crashed the “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!” Street Party and are set to roll through the streets in the “It’s Good to Be Bad” Villainous Celebration at 10:45 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. (just ahead of scheduled performances of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade).

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Later tonight, around 1:45 a.m., you’ll be able to meet your favorite baddies at spots all over the park. Among the villains you may find are Big Bad Wolf and Cruella De Vil on Main Street, U.S.A. and Bowler Hat Guy creeping into Tomorrowland. Queen of Hearts, Stromboli, and Captain Hook are headed to Fantasyland. Jafar is slithering into Adventureland, and Dr. Facilier is expected to materialize in the Enchanted Glade near Liberty Square.

Of course, you won’t want to forget about Scary Tale Hall. Maleficent and the Queen will be turning half of Princess Fairytale Hall to the dark side, starting at 11:00 p.m. It’s going to be wicked!

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Movie Marathons to Rock Your Disney Side at Disneyland Resort

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



1:30 p.m. EDT / 10:30 a.m. PDT

Do you wanna see a movie? And do you like the “Frozen” songs?
Come on and Rock Your Disney Side. It’s nice and cool inside. Come join our sing-along!

Among the fun and unique happenings today at Disneyland Resort for our 24-hour event is a pair of day-long movie marathons in each park. At Disney California Adventure park, sing-along screenings of Disney’s Academy Award-winning film, “Frozen,” will be kicking off at 11:30 a.m. and running all day long. “For the First Time in Forever” you can “Let It Go” “In Summer” to your heart’s content … even if your voice is a bit of a “Fixer Upper”!

Over at Disneyland park, you can join the excitement of the Avengers Super Hero Movie Marathon at the Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland. Throughout the day and night, step inside and catch all the action of “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

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‘Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade’ About to Step Off at Magic Kingdom Park

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



12:00 p.m. EDT / 9:00 a.m. PDT

Here we go! It’s nearly time for all the beauty and majesty of the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade,” starting at noon on the streets of Magic Kingdom Park. What are you most looking forward to seeing? The Princess Garden with Anna and Elsa from “Frozen”? Peter Pan’s Lost Boys and soaring pirate galleon? How about the spectacularly colorful and animated Storybook Circus finale? Oh, and I hear there’s a dragon on the loose … and she breathes fire!

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade: The Princess Garden "Frozen"

The entire procession is a sight to behold. If you aren’t able to join us to experience it in the park, be sure to follow along on the live stream. And if you can’t make this performance, the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” will be presented again at 3:30 p.m.

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