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More Opportunities to Soar, Enjoy Toy Story Mania Coming to Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 5th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Here at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, we’re always making investments to exceed your expectations – whether it’s creating new attractions and entertainment or making existing experiences even better.

One of the things we’ve heard from our guests is that a visit to Walt Disney World Resort just isn’t complete without enjoying the spectacular views at Soarin’ in Epcot or a spin through Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Well, I’m excited to share that we are expanding both attractions by adding another theater at Soarin’ and more midway track at Toy Story Mania! We’ll also be updating the screens and projection system at Soarin,’ bringing a visually enhanced experience.

Fly Over California with Soarin' at Epcot Toy Story Mania! at Disney's Hollywood Studios

These expansions are expected to be complete by late 2016, offering even more opportunities for you to enjoy these beloved attractions during your Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

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New Disney Side App Transforms You Into Disney Parks Characters

posted on March 5th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Our newest app, Show Your Disney Side, is now available for download and we think it’s going to be one of your favorites. The app brings your Disney Side – that side of you that comes out to play the moment you step through the gates at Disney Parks – to life like never before, transforming you into characters from our most popular park attractions and experiences.

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With the Show Your Disney Side app, you can become an X-Wing Pilot from the Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction, a swashbuckler from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, a princess from “Frozen” and even a favorite Disney villain, Maleficent. And If you visit Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort, you can unlock special Haunted Mansion characters like the Hitchhiking Ghost and Madame Leota. It’s also possible to unlock these special characters by sharing three creations on Facebook or Twitter.

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Once you download the app from the Apple iTunes store, facial mapping technology transforms you into a 3D moving character. To begin, the first step is to snap a selfie or have someone take a photo of your face. Here are a few tips:

  • Smile big – but without your teeth showing.
  • Make sure your hair isn’t blocking your face.
  • Try to take your photo in front of a plain background.

You can personalize your Disney Side character with different costumes and frames. Then, by tapping or swiping the screen, your Disney Side will come to life with special effects, unique for each character. To share your creation, simply press the share button on the app and pick your favorite social network.

The app was created by TYFFON, an entertainment app developer and one of the participants of the 2014 Disney Accelerator, a highly selective, immersive mentorship and investment program for technology-enabled startups in the media and entertainment space.

Show Your Disney Side is now available for free on the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPod touch at http://DisneySideApp.com. Go try it and let us know what you think.

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Sign Up for Our Disney Parks Blog ‘Cinderella’ Royal Celebration Meet up at the Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 4th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


UPDATE #1: This event has reached capacity. Please stay tuned for a list of confirmed RSVPs.

UPDATE #2: Click here for a list of confirmed RSVPs. If you do not receive a confirmation email by noon on March 5, please email WDW.BlogMeetups@Disney.com.

As promised, we’re inviting Disney Parks Blog readers to a royal celebration of Disney’s new live-action film, “Cinderella” at the Walt Disney World Resort. On March 7, 2015, you have the opportunity to be part of a special preview screening of “Cinderella” and participate in a special reception at AMC Downtown Disney 24.

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The event begins at 11 a.m. EST (doors open at 10 a.m.) at AMC Downtown Disney 24 on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Attendees will be among the first to see the film inspired by Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece. You’re also encouraged to dress as your favorite prince or princess, subject to the costume guidelines below.

Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh and Screenplay by Chris Weitz, “Cinderella” stars Oscar®-winner Cate Blanchett as the infamous wicked stepmother, Lily James in the title role, Richard Madden as the Prince, and Academy Award-nominee Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother.

RSVP for the meet-up now by sending us an email with your name, address and if you’ll be bringing a guest to WDW.BlogMeetUps@disney.com.

Only one guest is permitted. A limited number of attendees will be able to attend the event, so be one of the first to sign up.

Also, there are a few things you should know:

  • All participants who sign up for the event must be 18 years or older, but guests of the participants may be younger than 18.
  • Limit one guest per registrant.
  • Disney “Cinderella” is rated PG.
  • We will send a confirmation email to individuals whose valid RSVPs are received by us via email before we reach the planned capacity to confirm their attendance for the event.
  • Event confirmations are non-transferrable and have no cash value.
  • Confirmation will be for the accepted registered person plus one guest.
  • Meet-up confirmations are non-transferrable and have no cash value.
  • If you do not receive an email from us confirming your reservation, then your RSVP was not accepted.
  • If confirmed, it will be necessary for the registrant and guest to check in at the AMC Downtown Disney 24 West Side for access to the event. The confirmation will include those details.
  • Valid photo I.D. will be required at check-in.
  • The event is subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Costumes should adhere to any guidelines determined by Disney including:

  • Costumes should not be obstructive, offensive or violent; drag on the ground; contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another guest; contain any weapons or objects which resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon. Masks will not be permitted.
  • Costumes are also subject to any rules posted or otherwise provided by AMC Downtown Disney 24 including without limitation the following AMC notice: “We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings.”

This post will be updated after capacity has been reached.

This is an advance screening of the film. Closed Captioning and Descriptive Video services may not be available. Please arrive early. Seating is first come, first seated. No one will be admitted late. The screening may be overbooked and seating is not guaranteed. Disney Destinations, LLC, its affiliates and the theatre are not responsible for overbooking. We may refuse, revoke or limit admission in our sole discretion at any time. NO RECORDING. The screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any video or audio recording devices (including, without limitation, cameras and phones) into the venue and you consent to a physical search of your belongings and person for recording devices. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device during this screening, you consent to your immediate removal from the venue and forfeiture of your recording device and its contents. Any attempted unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability. We reserve the right to pursue any and all available remedies at law and in equity for any unauthorized recording and/or copyright infringement, including without limitation statutory damages of up to $150,000 per violation, and nothing contained in this notice shall be construed to limit our available remedies and/or legal recourse. You assume all risks of personal injury arising from or incidental to attending the screening, whether occurring prior to, during, or after the event. Further, by attending you grant permission to Disney Destinations, LLC, its licensees, licensors, affiliates and agents, to record and utilize your name, voice and likeness to publicize the screening and promote the movie.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 1st, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, we shared a special sneak peek of the work being done to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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The update included a new image showing what the magnificent floating mountains will look like when we welcome guests into Pandora, the mythical land based on the blockbuster film AVATAR. You’ll also be able to wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound and discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.

As Bruce told us in his story, “The project is really pushing the boundaries of what is possible.”

Bruce shared that we’re planning to share Pandora’s grandeur with guests in early 2017.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Also, we announced the dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Walt Disney World Resort. This year, our Magic Kingdom Park Halloween event will be held 25 nights and our signature Holidays event will be 20 nights.

Check out Charles’ original story for details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Takes Over Popular YouTube Channel What’s Up Moms for Vacation Week – Not too long ago, YouTube sensations What’s Up Moms visited Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, for a family vacation. While at the Travel + Leisure Number 1 Top Family Hotel in the United States, the moms decided to have a little fun by shooting a parody video, featuring a new spin on a familiar hit song.

Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Merchandise Planner – Disneyland Resort cast member Freda Hardison is responsible for the inventory planning of toys, such as the popular “Build Your Own Lightsaber,” for merchandise locations at the Disneyland Resort.

Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park: Duke Prepares for His Debut – Part Three – See part three of Duke’s “Journey to Main Street”! Throughout this series, we’ve seen that Duke, in addition to being a beautiful horse, is exceptionally well-suited for his new role at Disneyland park.

March 2015 Merchandise Events at the Disneyland Resort – If you are planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort this March, here are a few quick tips on some of the merchandise events you don’t want to miss!

Luck is on Your Disney Side this March at Disney Parks – This March, think green and luck is sure to be on your Disney Side! Here are a few ways you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Disney Parks.

Neil Patrick Harris Joins Mickey Mouse as Host of the All-New ‘World of Color’ Show for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – Last weekend, award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted The Oscars® on ABC. So, where will his next big hosting gig take place? The Disneyland Resort!

Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel Nominated for 2015 James Beard Award – Congrats to Chef Scott Hunnel, a semi-finalist for the prestigious Best Chef award for the South Region by the James Beard Foundation.

Top 5 Junior Adventurer Activities with Adventures by Disney – Anyone who’s ever traveled with children knows that it can be challenging to find ways to keep the kiddos entertained. Luckily, Adventures by Disney vacations are designed with families in mind so adults can relax, knowing their Junior Adventurers are engaged and having the time of their lives.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on February 22nd, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, we officially welcomed some new members to the family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with first looks at five new sable antelope calves and an adorable white rhino calf.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes 5 Sable Antelope Calves to the Herd! Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes White Rhino Calf to the Herd!

Our team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been busy caring for the new sable antelopes, closely monitoring the multiple births of three males and two females. You can welcome the new sables in early April when the whole herd will make their public debut on the spacious Kilimanjaro Safaris savannah.

Author Steve Castillo has more details and photos of the sable antelope calves in his original story.

The newest baby at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a white rhino calf, is in “good health” this weekend. Earlier this month, a first-time white rhino mom born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2005, gave birth to the healthy baby boy. You can look for both mom and baby to join the rest of the herd on the savannahs of Kilimanjaro Safaris over the next few months.

Author Robyn Johnson has more details and photos of the white rhino calf in her original story.

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And this week, we shared a little magic and helped some winter warriors discover their Disney Side – that part of you that comes out to play the moment you see those mouse ears. Mickey and his pals brought some fun to a simple everyday event – like walking through a mall.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Building The Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – City Hall – Located in the heart of Town Square, City Hall – home to Guest Relations – is one of the first things guests see upon entering Disneyland park. Take a look back at the building of this iconic location.

Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park: Duke Prepares for His Debut – Part Two – In part two of our series on Duke’s training for Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park, Lead Equine Trainer Jennifer Gable describes the next steps in Duke’s preparations to become a Main Street horse!

Disney Parks Blog Time Capsule: February 2010 – Join Disney Parks Blog author Erin Glover on a journey back to February 2010 to see the stories we were working on.

Chinese Zodiac and Disney Characters Combine in ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ at Shanghai Disney Resort – Just in time for Chinese New Year, Shanghai Disney Resort shared more details on its “Garden of the Twelve Friends.”

Learn to Draw Tinker Bell at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Heather Worley of the Animation Academy shows us how to draw Tinker Bell!

‘Frozen’ Friends Join Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures in Norway – For the first time in forever, Anna, Elsa and Kristoff are joining us ashore for a one-of-a-kind family Port Adventure!

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Chinese Zodiac and Disney Characters Combine in ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ at Shanghai Disney Resort

posted on February 19th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Just in time for Chinese New Year, Shanghai Disney Resort shared more details on its “Garden of the Twelve Friends.” A highlight of the theme park’s plans, the garden will recast 12 beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar characters as members of the Chinese zodiac.

The Garden of the Twelve Friends blends Disney storytelling with traditional Chinese culture, while honoring the role the Chinese zodiac plays in local daily life and offering some terrific photo opportunities.

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Twelve Disney characters have been chosen to embody different symbols of the Chinese zodiac, while still showcasing their own distinctive Disney personalities. For example, Remy, who displays cleverness and determination in the Disney•Pixar film “Ratatouille,” will represent the Year of Rat. In honor of this new year, 2015 will be the Year of the Sheep, which will be represented by the “Jolly Holiday” lambs from “Mary Poppins.” As the ancient Chinese saying goes, “San Yang Kai Tai” (or “Three Sheep Bring Good Luck”) these lambs represent elegance, charm and a gentle spirit.

The full list includes:

  1. The Rat: Rémy from Disney•Pixar’s “Ratatouille”
  2. The Ox: Babe The Blue Ox from the short film “Paul Bunyan.”
  3. The Tiger: Tigger from “Winnie The Pooh.”
  4. The Rabbit: Thumper from “Bambie.”
  5. The Dragon: Mushu from “Mulan.”
  6. The Snake: Kaa from “The Jungle Book.”
  7. The Horse: Maximus from “Tangled.”
  8. The Sheep: Jolly Holiday Lambs from “Mary Poppins.”
  9. The Monkey: Abu from “Aladdin.”
  10. The Rooster: Allan-A-Dale from “Robin Hood.”
  11. The Dog: Pluto from various Disney shorts.
  12. The Pig: Hamm from the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” films.

Be sure and check back here on the Disney Parks Blog for more updates.

For more about Shanghai Disney Resort, visit the stories below:

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on February 15th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


It’s Valentine’s Day weekend and we’ve been celebrating all week on the Disney Parks Blog with new stories, headers, logos, and a fresh group of wallpapers for all of your screens. We highlighted several of your favorite Disney couples, including one of the more unusual couples – robots WALL-E and Eve.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with WALL-E Celebrate Valentine's Day with Simba
Celebrate Valentine's Day with Pluto Celebrate Valentine's Day with Donald

Be sure to check out the terms of use about using the wallpaper before you download it.

And check out our complete gallery of wallpapers on our special page.

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Also this week, we announced a new, day-long celebration aboard eight special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea. It’ll be the first official appearance of the heroes and villains of Star Wars aboard our ships.

Star Wars Day at Sea will transport guests to a galaxy far, far away — in the Western Caribbean. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, meet-and-greets with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings, and special merchandise.

Check out Jonathan’s original story for more details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Haunt Your Disney Side Winners Celebrate with Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience at Magic Kingdom Park – The Krummers kicked off their dream Disney Side celebration with an unforgettable after-hours party inside the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom Park.

New ‘Cooking Safari With Mickey’ Cookbook Debuts This Spring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – It was so much fun to work with the chefs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to put together “A Cooking Safari With Mickey,” a collection of recipes showcasing the flavorful cuisine of South Africa and India.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With WALL-E & Eve – We celebrated Valentine’s Day with one of the more unusual Disney couples – robots WALL-E and Eve.

Discover With Me: Kula Wai at the Laniwai Spa at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – The “Discover with Me” series continues with a tour of the Kula Wai – the only outdoor hydrotherapy garden on O‘ahu!

The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park – The next time you’re getting a great deal on a square meal at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, take a look around and discover the story of these talented ladies for yourself.

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Haunt Your Disney Side Winners Celebrate with Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on February 12th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


If you remember our “Haunt Your Disney Side” contest, the grand prize was an experience only Disney Parks could deliver – a private party inside the Haunted Mansion followed by an overnight stay in Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park. Our winners, The Kummer family from Florida, recently joined us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we wanted to share with readers.

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The Krummers kicked off their dream Disney Side celebration with an unforgettable after-hours party inside the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom Park. Their visit included a special performance by the Cadaver Dans, visits from spirits and late-night snacks inside the attraction.

Cinderella Castle Suite  Ready for the Winners of the 'Haunt Your Disney Side' Contest Haunt Your Disney Side Winners Celebrate with Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience at Magic Kingdom Park

After the spooky Haunted Mansion visit, the family headed to Cinderella Castle where Major Domo welcomed the family with a special proclamation. The Krummers spent the night in the Castle Suite – decorated especially for the occasion.

Thank you to everyone who entered the “Haunt Your Disney Side” contest. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for one-of-a-kind opportunities like this in the future.

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Ratatouille Attraction at Disneyland Paris Awarded for Outstanding Visual Effects

posted on February 11th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We’ve shared several updates on our first-of-its-kind attraction at Disneyland Paris called Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy. It’s an amazing attraction that is now “award-winning.”

Disneyland Paris opens new attraction, La Place de Rémy dedicated to the Disney•Pixar movie “Ratatouille.”

The Visual Effects Society recently presented its 13th annual VES Awards and Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy received the award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project.

The attraction, which debuted last summer as part of an expansion at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, uses forced perspective and other techniques to “shrink” guests to the size of a rat as they join Rémy on a whirlwind adventure through Chef Gusteau’s restaurant. We shared a special behind the scenes look last year.

Congratulations to the Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney•Pixar teams who worked years on making this spectacular attraction. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for future Disneyland Paris stories.

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Hong Kong Disneyland Delivers Another Record Breaking Year

posted on February 9th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


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Today, Hong Kong Disneyland announced their fifth consecutive record-breaking year as the resort reported its Annual Business Review. Their financial performance was paired with another record achievement: during the year, the resort welcomed its 50-millionth guest. Coming off of a series of expansions – Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point – and new entertainment like Disney Paint the Night that have turned out to be guest favorites, Hong Kong Disneyland has even more exciting projects in the pipeline. Here’s a look at some of the new experiences guests have to look forward to.

In January, Hong Kong Disneyland broke ground on the resort’s third hotel, Disney Explorers Lodge, marking another exciting milestone in the resort’s development as a world-class travel destination. The 750-room hotel is slated to open in early 2017, and will embody stories from the grand era of exploration and adventure in the 1920s. Inspired by explorer’s travels to an African savannah, a South American rainforest and a Polynesian island paradise, the resort will allow guest to discover the exotic cultures and the natural beauty of Asia.

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Debuting at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016, guests can experience the very first Disney attraction based on a character in the Iron Man Experience. Located in Tomorrowland, the Iron Man experience will allow guests to see firsthand the progression of Tony’s Iron Man suits and many other Stark innovations in Expo format. The super-charged attraction will take guests on an epic adventure against the forces of evil over the streets and in the skies of Hong Kong. In addition, guest will have the opportunity to meet the man, the myth, the legend himself: Iron Man.

And coming up this year, Hong Kong Disneyland will celebrate its 10th Anniversary! There are lots of surprises in store and, along with all these expansions and enhancements, Hong Kong Disneyland is sure to continue to strengthen its positioning as the premier vacation destination in Hong Kong.

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