Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park

Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park

posted on June 17th, 2014 by Donna Fisk, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


Our horses at Circle D Ranch have come to the Disneyland Resort from a variety of backgrounds, all with the training to do their previous jobs. However, since the work of a Disneyland horse is so specific, each new horse undergoes a lengthy training process before becoming an official equine cast member. Our human cast members also come from varying backgrounds, which is why Circle D Ranch training emphasizes uniformity and consistency – not only for the horses, but also for the cast members who work with them.

In this video, you’ll see Lead Equine Trainer Jennifer Gable working with one of our Circle D horses in a training exercise called “Round Pen.” Note that the stick she holds in her hand is not a whip, but rather a training tool used to focus the horse’s attention. You’ll also see that by working with the horse’s natural herding instincts, the exercise provides mental stimulation and builds an atmosphere of trust between horse and trainer.

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The Magic Behind Merchandise at Disney Parks: Creating Elsa’s ‘Frozen’ Dress

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


I know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the ever-popular Elsa dress (from the Disney animated hit “Frozen“) at Disney Parks, so I wanted to bring you this special behind-the-scenes look at how merchandise at Disney Parks & Resorts is created. Let me start by asking you this important question: Do you want to build a snowman, costume?

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Much like producing a film or designing theme park attractions, creating a memorable item requires careful planning, creativity, attention to detail and, of course, teamwork. The entire development process for a single item can take anywhere from six months to over one year. With the help of our talented team from Disney Theme Park Merchandise, I uncovered all the details on what makes the Elsa dresses from “Frozen” so special and the magic behind the merchandise. So, let’s get started!

What does it look like?

The artist reviews artwork, which allows them to see the original dress from multiple angles and understand the overall color scheme and design. For this particular dress, Disney Design Group artist Cody Reynolds worked closely with Walt Disney Animation Studios to capture the most recognizable elements of the dress from the animated film to translate into a wearable costume.

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What makes it special?

According to Cody, the next step is for the artist and the merchandiser to work together to finalize and approve the costume concept prior to production. The team explores a variety of fabric swatches in an effort to find the perfect match and examines how the fabrics will comfortably fit on an actual person. The final materials chosen were able to emulate a delicate, icy and sheer appearance. Here’s a quick look at the some of the fabric swatches used to create the dress.

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When I asked Cody and merchandiser Katie Patton about their favorite part of the development process, here’s what they had to share. “It’s seeing the first sample for the first time,” said Cody, “when something that has been in your head actually comes to life.”

Of course there’s a lot of logistical planning that goes hand in hand with all of the creative development, buying the dress, figuring out which store will offer them and determining how they’ll get there. Once the dress arrives in the location, our Merchandise presentation team goes to work, ensuring that the item fits the look, feel and the story.

For nearly 60 years, it has been the mission of Disney Theme Park Merchandise to provide an experience that goes far beyond your expectations and extends the storytelling into your homes.

What’s my favorite part of the process? It’s easy! It’s that moment when you see a child smiling and beaming as they exclaim to Elsa, “I’m wearing a dress just like yours!” As you can tell, it’s a rather integrated process that involves collaboration throughout The Walt Disney Company.

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While I know that our “Frozen”-inspired merchandise at Disney Parks is quite popular and often hard to find, I encourage you to keep an eye out for returning favorites and more to come. Shipments from Arendelle continue to arrive, so be sure to check with us on your next visit.

Quick Tip: Purchasing limits apply

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Behind the Scenes at the Disneyland Resort Monorail Roundhouse

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


As we get closer to the 55th anniversary of the Disneyland Monorail this Saturday, we’ve been bringing you unique looks at this iconic Disney Parks attraction. Today we’re taking you behind the scenes for an insider’s look at the Disneyland Resort Monorail Roundhouse. Electrician Peter Gonzalez gives us the scoop on how the monorail works and what his team does to keep the highway in the sky running every day.

See more Disneyland Monorail stories here:

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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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The Magic Behind the Frosting: The ‘Making Of’ the Star Wars Weekends Cupcake Video at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 15th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


“Cupcake or cupcake not. There is no pie.”

Master Yoda might not have said that, but it seems to fit the theme of the Darth Vader cupcake video we debuted earlier this week to celebrate the launch of Star Wars Weekends 2014.

A talented, confection-loving crew gathered overnight in a Disney’s Hollywood Studios bakery to shoot the video that shows what happens when the dark side meets the “sweet side.”

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look, then enjoy a Darth Vader cupcake (and maybe a Yoda cupcake) during Star Wars Weekends. The event begins tomorrow and will be held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 15 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Time-Lapse Video: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Refurbishment at Disneyland Park

posted on April 18th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


It’s been one month since the “wildest ride in the wilderness” reopened after an extended refurbishment here at Disneyland park. Since then, our guests have been telling us how impressed they are with the improved track and new effects at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Today we’ve got a special look at these improvements as they took shape over the last year.

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Head Inside Creative Costuming To See How ‘it’s a small world’ Doll Costumes Are Created for Disney Parks

posted on April 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Did you ever wonder how those charming little outfits are created for the dolls in our “it’s a small world” attraction? Here at Walt Disney World Resort, costumes are produced in our Creative Costuming department at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Would you believe that the costumes that appear in the attraction today are careful recreations of the designs worn nearly 50 years ago in the original attraction?

Check out the video below for more behind-the-scenes facts.

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Behind the Sounds: Inside Audio Central at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on March 18th, 2014 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


At Disney California Adventure park, behind The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, lies Audio Central, one of the most important areas in all of Disneyland Resort. I recently spoke with Stage Technician Brian White, who explained how audio engineers make the magic of music come to life each day.

Audio Central Fun Facts:

  • Engineers control 209 full-range parade speakers and 114 subwoofers along the parade route, while controlling more than 250 background music zones in restrooms, restaurants, stores, attraction queues and more.
  • Engineers monitor 43 different cameras: 21 along the parade route, 17 for “World of Color” and 5 at additional entertainment locations.
  • During the 2013 holiday season, Audio Central was responsible for 31 shows each day: one Pixar Play Parade, five performances of “Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party: Holiday Edition,” six Disney ¡Viva Navidad! street parties, ten Five & Dime performances, six Red Car Trolley News Boys shows, one tree lighting ceremony and two performances of “World of Color.” These are shows that actively require a technician as an operator. The system simultaneously runs a number of smaller events on its own throughout the day.
  • Disneyland park has its own Audio Central, located on Main Street, U.S.A., just above the Main Street Opera House.
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Video: Making Of The 140-Disney-Character ‘Ultimate Tweet’

posted on February 28th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


You’ve probably seen our “Ultimate Tweet” of 140 Disney characters that officially announced an All-Night Disney Side Party in the parks to kick off summer. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and 135 of their friends gathered at Magic Kingdom Park and formed the familiar shape of a hashtag. How’d we do it? Here’s a behind-the-scenes look.

During the “Rock Your Disney Side Party,” you’re also being invited to show your Disney Side by dressing as a favorite Disney hero or villain. The Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park in California will be filled with Disney heroes and villains from 6 a.m., May 23 to 6 a.m., May 24, 2014, local time.

140 Characters Formed a Hashtag at Magic Kingdom Park and Invite You and Your Family to “Rock Your Disney Side” During a 24-hour Party to Kick Off Summer.

Be sure to check our original Disney Parks Blog story and rockyourdisneyside.com for details on today’s Disney Side announcement.

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Style Snapshots: ‘Disney Festival of Fantasy’ Parade Costumes

posted on February 10th, 2014 by Michelle Stepney, PR Content Director


Fashion insiders from around the globe have been flocking to the Big Apple since last Thursday for New York Fashion Week. It’s a bi-annual tradition where America’s top designers unveil their new collections for the upcoming season and set trends for months and years to come.

At least one Disney designer is taking her turn in the fashion spotlight this week as Disney Parks unveils a new collection of costume creations for “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade,” which debuts at Magic Kingdom this March. And we all get a seat on the coveted “front row.”

Costume designer Mirena Rada is expanding her portfolio of design projects for Disney Parks with this latest endeavor for a Walt Disney World Resort theme park. Previous creations include work for Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. These costumes, some of the most extravagant and elaborate in Disney Parks history, took almost a year to complete. The creations transpired in 10 different costume houses across eight cities and two countries, with the Creative Costuming facilities in both Florida and California among the mix.

The production process mirrors current fashion trends, utilizing new technology to design and print custom fabrics in house. Rada partnered with Walt Disney World costumers to select fabrics that would work well in the Central Florida climate while also accommodating the needs of each performer.

Our style squad got a sneak peek of some early sketches and behind-the-scenes video of some completed works.

We can’t wait to see these whimsical designs come to life when “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” finally steps onto the streets of the Magic Kingdom Park. Let us know what you think.

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A modern interpretation of classic elements is a hallmark of Rada’s designs as seen in the sculpted conch shell headpiece and shimmering pastel dress that comprise “The Little Mermaid” unit’s “Seashell Girl.”

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After gathering the materials, Rada and a Creative Costuming graphic artist worked together to create almost 40 custom fabrics including the furry plaids and tweed stripes worn by the “Newsies-inspired” Lost Boys of the “Peter Pan” unit.

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An innovative 3D printing technology was used to create the elegant beaks of the “Ravens” in the “Sleeping Beauty” unit. Each piece was base coated, bronzed, lacquered and gilded with fiery Swarovski stones to complete the finished look.

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The Finale unit’s “Cha Cha Girl” is the queen of head-to-toe ensemble with her big top inspired fit and flare dress, bolero jacket embellished with sequins, star spangled tights and hair reminiscent of pulled taffy exuding the essence of Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland.

Which costume is your favorite? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!

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