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‘Show Your Disney Side Week’ on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

posted on April 27th, 2015 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing


A few weeks ago, I dropped a not-so-subtle hint here on the Disney Parks Blog that there might be more Disney fun coming on “Wheel of Fortune” this season. Well, the wait is over: “Show Your Disney Side” Week starts tonight on “Wheel of Fortune!”

For this special week of shows, we wanted to bring our Disney Side to their Studio. So, we brought them a truckload of pixie dust – and, I literally mean a truckload – to help deliver the magic!

'Show Your Disney Side Week' on 'Wheel of Fortune' 'Show Your Disney Side Week' on 'Wheel of Fortune'

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy are there to share in all the excitement, as well. They had a terrific time with Pat Sajak and Vanna White, as well as meeting the Studio audience. (But … here’s the honest truth. It was part of my job to keep an eye on those guys, and when I wasn’t looking, a few “unplanned events” MAY have occurred. Which MAY have been captured on camera. And you MAY see in the shows. Ooops.)

Here’s another first for Disney and “Wheel”: an entire episode dedicated to our Happily Ever After Side. More about that from my friend Michelle Smits at Disney’s Fairytale Weddings and Honeymoons on the Ever After Blog later in the week – but make sure you don’t miss Thursday night’s show!


Because I know you love it when we can “lift the curtain” and give you a behind-the-scenes look at productions, we’re thrilled to offer up an all access pass! Check out this fantastic video for a look at how we moved attraction vehicles from Disneyland Resort, up the Santa Ana Freeway, to Culver City – I wish you could have seen the look on motorist’s faces as Dumbo went “flying” by! You’ll see the Characters “working” here, too. And … you’ll even get to discover what Pat and Vanna’s Disney Side is!

The shows feature fantastic vacation prizes to both the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort – a pretty good reminder that it’s time for you to be thinking about planning your next vacation to show your Disney Side, right?

And there’s even a chance for you to win a magical Grand Adventure to enjoy with your entire family at the Walt Disney World Resort, just for watching. (Details on that are here.)


Tune in all week starting tonight! Check your local listings for details. And … buy a vowel!

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Disney Sea & Shore Week on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

posted on March 2nd, 2015 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing


There are many partners that we work with at Disney – but it’s no secret that “Wheel of Fortune” is one of our favorites, and we’re always thinking about new ways that we can work together.

Disney Cruise Line has been featured on the show before. But, this week, two more exciting vacation destinations join for the very first time: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Adventures by Disney! And with all three together, it’s Disney Sea & Shore Week on “Wheel”!


I always tell you that I have the best job at Disney… and working on this production may have been the most fun of all. Along with some other very talented (and lucky) cast members, we played host to our friends Pat Sajak and Vanna White as they sailed aboard the Disney Cruise Line, got a taste of Hollywood on one of our spectacular Adventures by Disney trips, and experienced the true magic of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii.

Pat and Vanna, along with the entire crew from “Wheel of Fortune” made memories that will last a lifetime, as we all traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific. From an extraordinary dinner at Palo aboard the beautiful Disney Dream, to storytelling by the fire at Aulani, to a stroll along world famous Hollywood Boulevard on a unique Adventures by Disney excursion, I don’t think any of us will soon forget these special moments.


Good news is, you’ll get to see many of these experiences throughout the week of shows, beginning tonight, along with some clever Disney-themed puzzles, a dazzling set, special contestants who love these destinations just as much as we all do. There’s plenty of inspiration, too, for your next Disney vacation as you venture outside the theme parks. And, another exciting treat – five lucky viewers will win their very own dream vacation to Aulani, just for watching! More details, here.


So, don’t miss Disney Sea & Shore Week, beginning tonight! Check your local listings for time and channel.

(One last thing. I would never dream of giving anything away. But, just between us, don’t be surprised to see even more Disney fun ahead this season on “Wheel.” No one will know I told you, right?)

Buy a vowel!

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America’s Cutest Pet – Howl-O-Ween Special Airing October 18

posted on October 16th, 2014 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

In my thirty years of working in television, the one thing I never wanted to hear anybody say is, “Well, his career has gone to the dogs.” But in this (one and only) instance, I’m really glad it did!


After reviewing hundreds of pet clips, and experiencing a never-to-be-forgotten day at Magic Kingdom Park, when we were visited by 101 dogs, each showing their Disney Side … we’re excited to share a brand new special! Animal Planet’s “America’s Cutest: Disney Side Howl-O-Ween” comes chock full of pets disguised as your favorite Disney characters, promising animal fans one of the kookiest, spookiest hours of television — maybe ever.

Hosted by actor and pet aficionado John O’Hurley, the one-hour pet-acular premieres Saturday October 18 at 9 p.m. Eastern on Animal Planet.

Watch America’s Cutest Pet – Howl-o-Ween Special Airing October 18

This show was fantastic to work on. In addition to that magical Disney Side Dog Day at Magic Kingdom Park, during filming we had more than 30 of your favorite Disney characters drop in and get into the act. It seems they love cute pets just as much as you and I do – and they have a LOT to say about them!

It was great to work with long-time Disney fan John O’Hurley and his family. We shot with them in all four parks, so you’ll get to share in their Disney Side, as well. There are lots of other surprises in store – and with Halloween right around the corner, you might get a few costume ideas from these playful pets, too!

As you know, I always promise some good behind-the-scenes info – but this time, it’s show, not tell! Check out the cool behind the scenes video … and tune in on Saturday night for a howling good time! (See what I did there?)

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‘Once Upon a Parade’ – Bonus Feature – ‘Sleeping Beauty’

posted on October 7th, 2014 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

To call “Sleeping Beauty” a classic is certainly an understatement. With its extraordinary story and unforgettable characters, it’s thrilled generations of filmgoers. Of course, at Disney Parks, it inspired the Imagineers to build our very first castle at Disneyland park. And it continues to inspire magic in our parks to this day, including many elements of our brand new, “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” at Magic Kingdom Park.

So, we’re excited that a brand new Bonus Feature, “Once Upon a Parade”, all about the creation of “Festival of Fantasy”, is making its debut on the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray of “Sleeping Beauty” today! (It’s available in Digital HD, too.)

Some of my favorite projects here have been collaborating on other Bonus Features for titles such as “The Jungle Book” and “The Little Mermaid.” So, we were so excited to again have the opportunity to work with our friends at the Walt Disney Studios.

It’s a behind-the-scenes look, of course. But, this time, the filmmakers are showing you a whole different kind of magic – something you’ve never seen before! Who better to create a Disney Parade than the citizens of Fantasyland themselves – and this film will show you how they did it!


As you know, we love to give you a little “backstage” look at our filmmaking process – so, here goes: This film utilized two tons of hay, plus smoke, thunder, lightning effects, half a ton of feathers, a snow machine … and every frame of it was shot inside Magic Kingdom Park.


“Once Upon a Parade” stars the amazing Sarah Hyland from ABC’s “Modern Family”, and we had a fantastic time working on the project. I’m not certain I know a bigger fan of the Disney Parks than Sarah – she might know more Disney trivia than any of us! Check out the video, where Sarah talks about the project, her passion for all things Disney … and even gives you a sneak peek at the Bonus Feature, too!

“Sleeping Beauty” releases today, for the first Time on Diamond Edition Blu-ray and Digital HD. Go get your copy!

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The Mauro’s Magical Disney Vacations Airs on Food Network

posted on January 24th, 2014 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

It’s a chilly January just about everywhere – so, we wanted to bring you a little something to warm up your winter – and – pun fully intended – whet your appetite for an exciting vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort soon!


We recently had the opportunity to host Jeff Mauro, the Food Network’s Sandwich King, and his family here at the resort – and each one really found their Disney Side! And, because cameras caught it all, the Food Network is sharing the whole experience with you tonight!


With visits to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and a fun-filled safari in Animal Kingdom, the Mauro clan hits the ground running to make this Disney vacation their best yet. In the midst of all the fun, they dine at restaurants throughout the resort, including the new Be Our Guest restaurant, Sanaa, Chef Mickey’s, Victoria and Albert’s and California Grill.

We had a fantastic time filming this special. Jeff met many of our world class Disney Chefs, and even got in the kitchen with some of them. Here’s Jeff with Chef David Njoroge at Sanaa, where he learned to make our famous Naan Bread.


I’ve never been on a shoot where so much delicious Disney food was at my fingertips. Of course, being a producer and all, it’s my job to sample some of the food.

Okay, that’s a lie. I ate everything.

Hope you’ll tune in to the Food Network tonight at 8:00 Eastern / 7:00 Central, for The Mauro’s Magical Disney Vacation.

Here’s a preview…

Hmmmm. I wonder if I can get priority seating at Sanaa for lunch today…..?

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It’s Disney Cruise Line Week on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

posted on December 9th, 2013 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

Starting tonight, it’s “Disney Cruise Line Week on Wheel of Fortune” and we hope you’ll tune in, because there’s a lot of hijinks on the High Seas ahead!

To whet your appetite for what’s to come, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the preparation and the filming of this fantastic week of shows!

I always tell you that I have the best job at Disney and this latest adventure was no exception! I had the extremely difficult and arduous task of having to sail not once, but TWICE aboard the beautiful Disney Dream. (Okay – I lied. Sailing twice in a month? Awesome!)

First, we sailed with some of “Wheel’s” brilliant filmmakers to film scenes of both the spectacular ship and our breathtaking private island paradise, Castaway Cay. Look closely at the backgrounds – you’ll see behind the contestants all week on the show, and you’ll see their stunning work. Here’s a picture of their crew filming on the island.

Castaway Cay

I mentioned hijinks – well, when you hear that word, you probably think there were some, ahem, goofy things going on, and you’d be right. We filmed some very fun vignettes on our second sailing. (Here’s a shot of me giving some “direction” to the Boss – talk about intimidating!)

Tony directing MM

Then, of course, it was time to head out to Hollywood to film at “Wheel of Fortune’s” studio. You’ll see how we worked with their fantastic art director – a former Imagineer, by the way – to recreate Castaway Cay right on their Sound Stage!

We’re excited to share a few photos: First, the finished set – don’t these ships look ready to sail?

Disney Cruise Line on the Set of 'Wheel of Fortune' Disney Cruise Line on the Set of 'Wheel of Fortune'

Mickey “overseeing” the Production.

Goofy and Donald trying to steal “ears” from unsuspecting audience members…

And the gang arriving for work at the Sound Stage.

We were also thrilled that a number of cast members from Disneyland Resort attended the tapings, and here they are posing for a picture in front of the famous puzzle board.

Everything went flawlessly – except for a couple of not-to-be-named chipmunks who were late for their close-ups due to a post-lunch nap. But, we caught up, and we think you’ll love what you see.
Chip and Dale

Enjoy these behind-the scenes outtakes that never made the “final cut,” then tune in to “Wheel of Fortune” all this week – and, buy a vowel!

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Making Disney Memories Week on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

posted on January 28th, 2013 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

As you know, Epcot recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Thirty years of making extraordinary memories for our guests. But, we’re not the only ones celebrating a 30-year milestone. So are our friends at “Wheel of Fortune”!

Well, as you all know, we’re all about the celebrating! And what better way to join in than to bring a BIG dose of Disney magic to “Wheel of Fortune”? So, starting Monday night, it’s “Making Disney Memories Week” on “Wheel”! Coming your way, five fantastic episodes that are loaded with Disney puzzles, prizes, and magic!

In order to prepare for this amazing week, our planning began months ago! We were thrilled to have Vanna White visit us at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Disneyland Resort and aboard the Disney Dream, as she got to experience New Fantasyland, the Disney California Adventure park expansion, the newest Disney Cruise Line additions… and, of course, spend some quality Disney Time with her daughter! (Don’t be surprised if you catch both of them together on camera during the week!) You’ll see a lot of Vanna’s adventures on the shows next week… But, until then, here are a few shots.


Now, you know I always like to give you a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of the productions we’re a part of. When you see the shows on the air, a little pixie dust brings Cinderella Castle, Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Disney Dream magically to life. But, the real Disney magic came courtesy of our friends at Disneyland Resort Ride/Show Maintenance, who made actual attraction vehicles from Dumbo The Flying Elephant, the Mad Tea Party and Peter Pan’s Flight available to be part of the show’s set! I can only imagine the sight of them on the back of a truck, cruising up the Santa Ana Freeway from Anaheim to LA! While I don’t have that picture, I’m really excited to share this photo of their arrival at the Sony Studios!

Some of your favorite Disney friends are part of the week, too. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy all take part in the fun… and, after they were done filming, even sat in the audience to watch! Lightning McQueen even stopped by to get in on the action! (I was really jealous – that guy gets great parking spaces!!)

It was such a fantastic experience being a part of “Wheel’s” 30th, and we’re so excited to share it with you beginning tomorrow night, Monday, January 28, through Friday, February 1st! Please tune in – there will be so many fantastic surprises. Check your local listings. Enjoy the shows… and don’t forget to buy a vowel!

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Attend ‘LIVE with Kelly and Michael’ Tapings at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

In case you missed it this morning, the Big Cheese — you know, my boss — dropped in to see Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan to extend an official invitation for the show to visit the Walt Disney World Resort in February! That’s right, on Feb. 18 and 19, “LIVE with Kelly and Michael” will be shooting four shows from the middle of Town Square at Magic Kingdom Park!

Attend 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael' Tapings at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort

Exactly a year ago, we had so much fun doing a week of shows with Kelly from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i. We’re so excited that Kelly and Michael will be packing up their families to make some Disney memories here at the Resort — their first official visit here together! And the best part is — you can request tickets to be part of the audience! (C’mon! Can you think of a better reason to book a Walt Disney World winter getaway for a little Disney Time with your family?) Here are all the details:

The celebrities scheduled to appear are:

February 18, 2013 – Jon Cryer and Kat Graham

February 19, 2013 – Howie Mandel and Gary Allan

February 20, 2013 – Johnny Galecki, Atticus Shaffer and Chris Wallace

February 21, 2013 – Zach Braff and Ne-Yo

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‘My Yard Goes Disney’: Aboard the Disney Fantasy with Executive Producer Jay Shatz

posted on August 12th, 2012 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing


I can hardly believe it … but we’ve come to the end of our second season of HGTV’s “My Yard Goes Disney”!

Over the last two years, I’ve tried to share with you a bit of the magic behind the camera, as we’ve helped the HGTV Designers create these unique backyards. So, for my last Disney Parks Blog post for the season, I wanted to do something a bit different.

Television is a hugely collaborative medium. It takes hundreds of people countless hours to create what you see in each of these half-hour programs. That said, I’m sure it’s not a secret to anyone that somebody has to take command. In other words, there needs to be a “Master of the Vessel.” (Hey – tonight’s show is about Disney Cruise Line, so I should use a maritime expression, right?) On HGTV’s “My Yard Goes Disney,” that job belongs to Jay Shatz, the head of JayTV, and the series’ Executive Producer.

As you can imagine, we’ve worked very closely with Jay and his team, and we’ve had an incredible amount of fun making the series. I thought you might like to hear a bit of his perspective about how these shows are created. So, I asked him to share. Jay writes:

Our casting team looks at hundreds of wonderful videos from families, but every once in awhile I hear a scream from their office, “JAY. YOU’VE GOT TO SEE THIS!!” That’s exactly what happened when we looked at the entry video from the Galloway Family following their vacation on the Disney Fantasy. We’ve included their amazing entry video in this episode of HGTV’s “My Yard Goes Disney” – you’ll be blown away at the crafting magic done by Marcy Galloway. She’s a passionate and very talented crafter who not only sews Disney-inspired outfits for the whole family, she also creates some of the coolest Halloween costumes you’ve ever seen.


Tonight’s episode will take you aboard the newest vessel, the Disney Fantasy, as a Disney Cruise Line-inspired backyard sails its way to the home of a very special family. Marcy was our inspiration to create a backyard makeover that encourages Harlie (6) and Grayden (4) to use their imaginations as they remember their voyage onboard the Disney Fantasy. The kids LOVED the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, went crazy in the Aqua Lab, and most of all, loved the experience of cruising at sea with mom and dad.


Plus, watch this episode and you’ll see one of my favorite memories of the series: riding shotgun in a follow-up car as a newly restored pirate ship cruised at 45 miles an hour down I-75 towards the Galloways’ backyard!!

This episode is bittersweet for me because it’s our season finale. Over the past 8 months, I’ve had a chance to meet a dozen amazing families and transform their backyards into magical and unique spaces. Each yard and each family is different, but every project is built around the theme of sharing Disney memories with family and friends. Whether it was a cool cabana and pool inspired by Castaway Cay, or a fast moving zip-line capturing the speed of Expedition Everest, each family we worked with wanted (and got!!) a backyard that would become a gathering place to share their Disney memories with the most important people in their lives. As we wrapped up the Galloway shoot and I looked around the yard packed with happy kids and their parents, I felt blessed to share all this wonderful energy with these great families.


And to top it off…..I got to meet Jake the Never Land Pirate!!!! (That’s me in the picture with host Brandon Johnson, and Jake — I’m the one on the right). What an amazing way to cap off an incredible year of “My Yard Goes Disney”!! Thanks to everyone for watching and sharing in these magical experiences. Join us on HGTV tonight at 5:30 pm.

Perhaps my favorite thing about working on this show has been talking with you here each week. And I look forward to sharing more stories on lots of other things we’re working on. Meantime, I’m excited to tell you that our friends at HGTV have decided to continue airing encore broadcasts of “My Yard Goes Disney,” Sundays at 5:30 pm, so keep watching for your favorite families, yards, and Disney memories.

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My Yard Goes Disney: Creating Cars Land

posted on August 5th, 2012 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

Have you visited Cars Land yet? I was so honored to be able to take the Richesons, the family you’ll meet tonight in HGTV’s “My Yard Goes Disney”, to Disney California Adventure park for the grand opening!

Mom is the only lady amongst this amazing, energetic family. The rest are ALL boys! There’s Dad, Daniel, along with sons, Issac and Caleb, and more on the way; about-to-be-born twin boys are just days away! And they LOVE Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Sally, and everything else “Cars”!

The Richesons Family Gets a Backyard Makeover Inspired by Cars Land on HGTV’s'My Yard Goes Disney'

Using inspiration from the simply incredible, brand new land at the Disneyland Resort, the HGTV Designers re-created a mini Radiator Springs for this lucky family! You’ll see their very own Tower of Tires, right outside their Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. And the exciting “E-Ticket” Attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, inspired a pretty cool backyard race track of its own!

Another amazing feature of this yard – one-of-a-kind billboards! As you probably know, the “Cars” films drew inspiration from the legendary Route 66, which was known for many things, of course, amongst them, their famous billboards! When you visit Cars Land, you’ll see some very unique (and clever) ones… so the HGTV designers created an array of signs that tell this family’s story in an extraordinary way! Check them out!

If you haven’t had a chance to get out to the resort to see the latest jewel of the Disneyland Resort expansion, take a great, close-up look on “My Yard Goes Disney” tonight at 5:30 p.m. on HGTV.

Check out these other posts about “My Yard Goes Disney”:

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