Walt Disney at Disneyland Park

Celebrating the Culmination of a Five-Year Journey with the Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure Park

posted on June 15th, 2012 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Today, we celebrate a defining moment in the history of the Disneyland Resort: the Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure park.
“Walt

Cars Land and Buena Vista Street are the culmination of a five-year journey that has infused the park with more of our guests’ favorite characters and stories, more attractions and entertainment and more of the creative touches that make a Disney Parks experience truly unique.

These new areas are examples of what we do best — transporting guests to magical times and places where our characters and stories truly come to life. From the rockwork of the Ornament Valley Mountain Range to the hand-laid tile mosaics of the Carthay Circle Theatre, the level of artistry, craftsmanship and attention to detail is spectacular.

As you have seen here on the Disney Parks Blog over the last three days, the Disneyland Resort has hosted tons of media, celebrities and invited guests from around the world to give them an in-depth look at the transformation.

Today also marks the completion of an extraordinary period of expansion across the entire Disneyland Resort. Since 2007, we’ve completed major projects at both the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and have added more than 20 new attractions and shows.

At Disney California Adventure park alone, “World of Color,” Toy Story Mania!, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Silly Symphony Swings have already proven to be extremely popular, and now Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree are exciting additions that give guests even more entertainment options.

I’d like to thank all of the Imagineers, cast members, artists, designers, builders and craftspeople who worked so tirelessly and collaboratively to make this remarkable transformation possible. I’d also like to thank all of you — our loyal guests — who have believed in our dream for Disney California Adventure park and supported us every step of the way.

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Taking a Tour of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle Theatre – Opening June 15 at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on March 7th, 2012 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs Behind the Construction Walls at Disney California Adventure Park for a Hard-hat Tour of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land

Yesterday, Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and I stepped behind the construction walls at Disney California Adventure park for a hard-hat tour of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land, two of the most significant elements that will cap off our multi-year expansion of the park. Led by the extraordinary team of Imagineers working on this project, Bob and I were completely blown away by the level of artistry, creativity and attention to detail of the work done so far and can’t wait for all of our Disneyland Resort guests to finally experience it firsthand.

Our day started on Buena Vista Street where we rode the iconic Red Car Trolley, explored the storefronts that line the street and then continued on to the Carthay Circle Theatre, the new icon of Disney California Adventure park. This new entrance to the park will transport guests to a romantic, idealized version of 1920s Hollywood when Walt and Roy Disney first arrived in California to begin their careers as filmmakers. Buena Vista Street will be the perfect place for guests to shop and eat, watch the parade, or just sit and soak up the atmosphere.

Then we headed to Cars Land, and when we got to the entrance of this all-new, 12-acre land, Bob and I both stopped to simply take in the stunning view before us. From the majesty of the Ornament Valley Mountain Range in the distance to the craftsmanship of each of the buildings in Radiator Springs, Cars Land is going to be a truly spectacular addition to the park.

Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs Behind the Construction Walls at Disney California Adventure Park for a Tour of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land

We wandered down Route 66 looking at all of the familiar hot spots from the films that are just about complete – Ramone’s House of Body Art, Flo’s V8 Café, the Cozy Cone Motel and Luigi’s Casa della Tires, just to name a few. We ended the tour with a test ride on two of the new attractions in Cars Land, Luigi’s Flying Tires and Radiator Springs Racers, which are both going to be huge hits with our guests.

Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs Behind the Construction Walls at Disney California Adventure Park for a Test Ride on Radiator Springs Racers

As we approach the finish line of our expansion of Disney California Adventure park, I am extremely proud of the passion, creativity and innovation that have gone into this entire project over the last several years. When we’re done, this park will be a testament to what we at Disney Parks do best – connect our guests to the iconic stories, characters and music they love…making memories that will last a lifetime.

And now for some big news – I’m pleased to officially announce that the grand opening of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle Theatre will take place on June 15, 2012! Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

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Disney Fantasy Christening Ceremony in New York City

posted on March 2nd, 2012 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Tom Staggs, Mariah Carey, Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse at the Christening Ceremony of the Disney Fantasy

It’s hard to believe it was just over a year ago that we launched the Disney Dream. And yet here we are, marking another significant Disney Cruise Line milestone – the christening of the Disney Fantasy.

Neil Patrick Harris at the Disney Fantasy Christening Ceremony in New York City

During a star-studded celebration in New York Harbor last night, Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and I were joined by the ship’s godmother, Mariah Carey, and of course, Mickey Mouse, to do the honors and officially welcome this stunning new ship into the Disney family. As if Mariah and Mickey weren’t enough star power, Jerry Seinfeld, Neil Patrick Harris and Nick Cannon were also on-hand to help us commemorate this momentous occasion.

Now that the ship has been christened, the Disney Fantasy and her phenomenal cast and crew will head south to the ship’s new home in Port Canaveral to prepare for the upcoming Maiden Voyage on March 31.

Building the Disney Fantasy truly was a labor of love. As with the Disney Dream, our Imagineers worked closely with the team at Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany to construct this spectacular addition to our fleet, one that builds on the creativity, innovation and artistry that are hallmarks of the Disney Cruise Line. I’d like to again thank the thousands of Imagineers, designers, artists and craftspeople who worked so tirelessly for more than two years to bring the Disney Fantasy to life.

The Fantasy has some favorite elements from the Disney Dream, like the AquaDuck and our enchanted artwork. And since guests aboard the Fantasy will spend more time with us on longer, seven-night itineraries, our Imagineers mixed in some new magic, like our two new Broadway-style shows, “Disney’s Wishes” and “Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” and the AquaLab, a brand-new water play area for the entire family.

With the addition of the Disney Fantasy, our fleet of ships has doubled – giving us the ability to offer more destinations and flexibility to our guests around the world than ever before. But more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to do what we do best… connecting friends and families to the Disney stories, characters and music they love to help make memories that last a lifetime.

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Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

posted on September 23rd, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Last night, in a ceremony filled with Hawaiian tradition and Disney magic, Bob Iger and I had the privilege of officially opening Aulani, our new resort and spa on Oahu. We shared the stage with dozens of Hawaiian performers, scores of Aulani cast members and of course, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, to celebrate another milestone in the incredible story of Aulani.

Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

With invited guests, local Hawaiian officials and members of the media in the audience, the Grand Opening Ceremony took place on the beach of Aulani’s lagoon with the resort itself serving as the backdrop. It opened with an “oli pale,” a Hawaiian blessing, which was followed by a powerful performance by drummers, dancers and singers, including Keali’i Reichel, one of Hawai`i’s most popular artists who wrote a beautiful chant specifically for Aulani.

Then came time for the official dedication of the resort so Mickey and Minnie joined Bob and me onstage to do the honors. To symbolize the joining of the Hawaiian culture and the magic of Disney, we placed some sand from our beach into an ‘umeke, a ceremonial wooden bowl, and mixed it with – what else – some pixie dust.
Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa
From the very beginning we have committed ourselves to ensuring that Aulani embraces and celebrates the unique Hawaiian culture and traditions. We are grateful for the warm welcome we have received from the local community and I’d like to thank the Imagineers, cast members, construction teams, local artists and everyone who had a hand in bringing Aulani to life. Their passion, commitment and talent can be seen in every detail of this spectacular resort and I can’t wait for our guests from around the world to experience it themselves.

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Answering Your Questions About AVATAR at Disney Parks

posted on September 20th, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Answering Your Questions About AVATAR at Disney Parks

I’d like to thank all of the Disney Parks Blog followers who left comments or sent in questions regarding our AVATAR announcement today. We got a lot of great questions and while I won’t be able to answer all of them, I’ll do my best to get to as many as possible.

1) TIMING

We got quite a few questions about the timing of our first AVATAR experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including this one from Adam, “Any idea when the experience will be open to guests?”

We’ve just begun the design phase on our Animal Kingdom project and we expect to begin construction in 2013. From start to finish, a project of this size and scope takes about 5 years to design and build. We can’t give you an exact date but we know that when it’s complete, it’s going to be a truly unforgettable experience.

2) IS THIS A PARK EXPANSION OR WILL “LAND” REPLACE SOMETHING?

Several of you asked a similar question, including Doug from Utah – “Will it replace any existing attractions in Animal Kingdom, or will it be built in a new parcel of land within the park’s boundaries?”

Well, Doug, we’re just beginning the Blue Sky process so I don’t have much to share about how we are going to execute our vision for our first AVATAR land but we’re focused on this being an important addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I look forward to sharing more details as our plans progress.

3) SPECIFIC ATTRACTIONS

Jenna from Winnetka, Ill., asks, “What types of attractions will be in AVATAR land?”

This was hands-down one of the most popular questions we got and understandably so. While we’re still in the very early stages of design and planning, we expect this land to be anchored by multiple attractions, entertainment, merchandise locations, restaurants and other immersive elements. Our AVATAR lands will give guests the chance to see, hear and touch the world of Pandora and we can’t wait to dive in with James Cameron and his team as we create new experiences that will delight and thrill our guests.

Answering Your Questions About AVATAR at Disney Parks

4) FILM IS PG-13, HOW DOES THIS MATCH W/FAMILY-FRIENDLY PARK?

Some of you, including Logan in Carnesville, Ga., asked about whether AVATAR was a good fit for a family-friendly brand like Disney.

Thanks, Logan, I appreciate your candor in asking this question. At its core, AVATAR is a film that embraces strong, positive themes of family, loyalty, living in harmony with nature and belief in oneself – all values that we share at The Walt Disney Company. You can be sure that these are the same themes that we will explore throughout our AVATAR lands. They will be places where friends and families can spend time together getting lost in a fantasy world, one of the true hallmarks of any Disney theme park experience. And with two sequels in the works, we feel this is a creative property whose potential is limitless.

5) AVATAR AT OTHER DISNEY PARKS?

We got several questions about whether there will be AVATAR experiences in parks/sites other than Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Kyle from Ontario asks, “Are there plans to add Avatar attractions at any other Disney parks?”

Well, Kyle, the only land we are announcing today is at Walt Disney World Resort but AVATAR is a possibility at any of our other locations. The first film AVATAR is a franchise with massive global appeal and its success at the box office both inside and outside of the U.S. – I should also note that as we determine our future locations, we look forward to working with our international theme park partners as our plans evolve.

Answering Your Questions About AVATAR at Disney Parks

6) ATTRACTION THEMING

Many of you, including Justin from Orlando, want to know, “How does AVATAR fit in with the Disney theme?” and more specifically, how does it fit in with the Animal Kingdom?

As I mentioned in a previous answer, AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. With its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures and strong themes of family and loyalty, it’s a great fit for the Disney brand and our parks.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the perfect place for our first AVATAR land because at its core, the park gives guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in whole new ways. With AVATAR, we’ve found the perfect opportunity to let our guests explore one of the most compelling mythical worlds ever conceived. Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR.

7) WHY BUY SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA INSTEAD OF LETTING WDI COME UP WITH SOMETHING?

Some of you asked why we would choose to collaborate with an outside partner rather than use our own Disney characters and stories to expand the parks. We are as committed as ever to creating attractions and entertainment around favorite Disney characters and stories – with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park and our expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park being two great examples. At the same time, we like to look beyond our own walls at non-Disney properties, like STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES, creating some of our most popular attractions. At the end of the day, we are focused on creating a great experience for our guests and I truly believe that this unique partnership with James Cameron and AVATAR gives us an entire world of imaginative creatures, fascinating locations and intriguing characters with which to do that.

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Special Thanks to D23 Expo Attendees

posted on August 19th, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Thanks to all of you for your responses. Your passion, energy and affection for our parks and resorts is the reason we do what we do so I appreciate your feedback. I know many of you were hoping for announcements regarding new projects from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, especially at Walt Disney World Resort, so I wanted to take a moment to address those comments.

The projects we’ve already announced represent the largest period of growth ever in Disney Parks’ history. We’re working hard to create new and exciting experiences for our guests around the world and while the timing isn’t always right to announce another big project, we like to use opportunities like the D23 Expo to update fans like you on the great progress we’re making. We have several incredible projects currently in the works and look forward to sharing more information with all of you in the weeks and months ahead, including new details regarding Downtown Disney in Florida.

Greetings from the D23 Expo! Earlier today I shared the Anaheim Convention Center stage with Disneyland President George Kalogridis and some of our senior Imagineers for a behind-the-scenes look at several of the incredible projects currently underway at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. As many of you know, we are in the middle of the largest expansion period in our history so while we didn’t have time to talk about everything, we were able to update some of our biggest fans with the latest news from Walt Disney World, Shanghai Disney Resort, Aulani and Disneyland Resort.

For the D23 members who were able to attend the show, I want to thank you for the incredibly warm welcome that our team received. If you weren’t able to make it, we hope you enjoy the highlights from the presentation posted here on the Disney Parks blog.

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It’s a Soundsational Summer at the Disneyland Resort

posted on June 3rd, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Star Tours at Disneyland Park

Combining great storytelling with the latest technology has been a hallmark of The Walt Disney Company from the very beginning, and that spirit continues with the opening of two fantastic new attractions at the Disneyland Resort. Over the last two days, we officially launched Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disneyland park and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure park.

The force is now strong with us on both coasts as Star Tours opened at Disneyland park this week and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando just a few weeks ago. Working closely with our partners at Lucasfilm, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue combines the latest in digital 3D technology with new characters and locales from all six of the Star Wars films. With more than 50 different story combinations, guests will never know just where the Force may take them. I’ve ridden in it a dozen times already and have yet to experience the same ride twice.

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

With the addition of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Disney California Adventure park continues to generate new energy as we take another big step forward in our expansion of the park. This all-new attraction mixes the latest Audio-Animatronics technology with classic Disney storytelling to bring the undersea world of Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder to life like never before. And we will see another Little Mermaid-themed attraction at Magic Kingdom Park in a few years when our Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World Resort is complete.

Of course, if you’ve been to Disney California Adventure park lately, you’ve seen that we have a lot more still in the works. From the newly imagined entry point of Buena Vista Street to the stunning new Cars Land, all of our teams are hard at work as we head into the home stretch of our multi-year expansion effort.

'Mickey’s Soundsational Parade'

As if all of this weren’t enough, last week we premiered “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,” an all-new parade at Disneyland Resort that is proving to be another great addition to the resort’s live entertainment offerings.

So whether you choose to hop in a Starspeeder 1000 and head for the stars, take a journey to “fathoms below” or just sit on a curb and watch the parade go by, there truly is something for everyone at the Disneyland Resort this summer. I’m tremendously proud of all of the Imagineers and cast members who have worked so hard to make these new experiences a reality and can’t wait for all of you to have a chance to enjoy them.

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Yo ho! Yo ho! A Pirate’s Night For Me

posted on May 9th, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Premiere at Disneyland Resort

It was a fantastic time at Disneyland Resort as we helped host the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” It’s very exciting to welcome our friends from the Walt Disney Studios back to Disneyland to show off their latest film. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I am confident you’re going to love it!

'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Premiere at Disneyland Resort

I’d like to congratulate and thank all of the people from the studios and our parks who organized the event. It was a huge success in every way. It’s also great to see Jack Sparrow back on the big screen for another wild adventure. (My mistake…I meant to say, Captain Jack Sparrow).

'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Premiere at Disneyland Resort

This is the fourth time the studios and Disney Parks have celebrated a new “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. Having been to all of them, I think this was the best premiere yet. One of my favorite moments of the evening was seeing all of the fans and guests cheering as the stars of the film walked the carpet. This is really a unique event for our guests and they, in turn, add tremendous energy and excitement to the whole evening. I can see why the studios team keeps coming back – and we’re happy to have them!

'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Premiere at Disneyland Resort

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Breaking Ground on Shanghai Disney Resort

posted on April 7th, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Art Rendering of Shanghai Disney Resort

I’m writing to you from Shanghai where Bob Iger and I are just about to take the stage for a very special ceremony. In just a few minutes we will officially break ground on the Shanghai Disney Resort.

This is truly a defining moment in our company’s history. We will now begin construction on this exciting new site and cause our creative concepts to leap from the drawing boards and become a wonderful new resort where friends and families can visit and play and create memories that they’ll never forget.

Art Rendering of Shanghai Disney Resort

With Shanghai Disney Resort, we have the chance to introduce the Disney Parks experience to an entirely new group of guests. Scheduled to open in about five years, our new resort in Shanghai will include things that you know and love about a Disney theme park such as Disney characters, attractions and storytelling… but it will also feature all-new experiences and stories that were inspired by and created for the people of China. The best way to describe this new resort is authentically Disney, yet distinctly Chinese.

Art Rendering of Shanghai Disney Resort

Shanghai Disneyland will be the name of the theme park itself, but the property will also have two themed hotels, a venue for retail, dining and entertainment, a wonderful sparkling lagoon and some outdoor recreation areas.

We look forward to sharing more details with you right here on the Disney Parks Blog. Until then, I would like to thank everyone from both Disney and the Shanghai Shendi Group who have worked so tirelessly to make the dream of building a Disney resort in Shanghai a reality.

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An Amazing Disney Dream Christening Ceremony

posted on January 19th, 2011 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Since becoming chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts over a year ago, I’ve had many amazing experiences but today may have topped them all – after all, it’s not every day you get to christen a cruise ship.

Disney Dream Christening Ceremony in Port Canaveral, Florida

Today, with an enormous crowd of well-wishers looking on, we welcomed the stunning Disney Dream to the Disney Cruise Line fleet at Port Canaveral in Florida. In a manner befitting a ship of its size and grandeur, we pulled out all of the stops for this maritime tradition with a spectacular show at the Disney Cruise Line Terminal with classic Disney music, dancers, fireworks and, of course, a host of our beloved Disney characters.

Disney Dream Christening Ceremony in Port Canaveral, Florida

Disney president and CEO Bob Iger and Disney’s “dream girl” Jennifer Hudson, the ship’s fairy godmother, were on hand to do the honors and christen the Disney Dream. Jennifer began her phenomenal career on the Disney Wonder back in 2003, so it was only fitting that this award-winning artist be selected as godmother of the Disney Dream.

With the addition of the Disney Dream to the Disney Cruise Line family, we’ll now be able to help more guests create even more unforgettable Disney memories on the high seas. Both the Disney Dream and her sister ship, the Disney Fantasy, coming in 2012, boast a gross tonnage of 130,000 and will be able to carry up to 4,000 passengers. Our two new ships combine the very best in innovation, technology, artistry and the legendary attention to detail that makes a Disney experience so unique.

The christening of the Disney Dream is the culmination of a journey that began years ago. The journey then took us to Germany where the ship was built, across the Atlantic where it was tested and finally to Port Canaveral, where it will live and delight guests of all ages for decades to come. Congratulations to the thousands of Imagineers, craftsmen, designers, artists and crew who have worked so hard to make this Dream a reality.

As importantly, the Disney Dream is yet another great example of what is possible when our people set out with one objective in mind: to create something of the highest quality, something designed to surprise and delight our guests, something special in every sense of the word… in short, something truly Disney.

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