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En Vogue To Appear at the Garden Rocks Concert Series at Epcot March 20-22

posted on March 20th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The Garden Rocks Concert Series at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has a few newbies this year, including this weekend’s group – En Vogue. I own a couple of their CD’s, and have sung along with their hits including “Free Your Mind”, “Don’t Let Go” and “My Lovin”. The trio has a new album coming out later this year. I had a chance to chat with Rhona Bennett about their festival debut – it’s a homecoming, of sorts, for her!

En Vogue to Perform at "Garden Rocks" Concert Series

Victoria: Welcome to Walt Disney World Resort, and your first Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!

Rhona: I haven’t attended the festival before, so I’m looking forward to this. Disney has a knack for creating enchanting environments.

Victoria: You’re already kind of part of the family – I read you were on the “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club”. What can you tell us about that time?

Rhona: I gained so much from my experience at Disney … I had a great time exploring the fine arts (dancing/singing/acting/interviewing/recording/etc..) on such a platform and with such a talented group of kids. And … I frequented Space Mountain, ‘The World’ at Epcot and the splendor of the night lights at the Magic Kingdom [Park].

Victoria: What can you share with us about the new album coming out? Any flowers or garden themes in it (smile)?

Rhona: We’re all pretty silly, so we had a good time being creative and recording the forthcoming album. There were funny writer’s block moments where we would break out into song and dance while passing the time … And, although we don’t have any songs with a flowers or garden theme, we do have a song called, ‘Blue Skies’, that could compliment them.

Victoria: What attractions, characters, food or experiences are “must do’s” during your time with us?

Rhona: I would love to visit Downtown Disney again. I heard that it has continued to expand with greater attractions and places to eat. I will definitely take another stroll through ‘The World’ at Epcot. And, I wonder what’s in place of ‘Horizons in Future World’. I used to love that ride!

I sure hope Rhona isn’t disappointed Horizons was closed back in the late 1990s! Maybe she should take a spin on Test Track Presented by Chevrolet or Mission: SPACE instead! What attraction would you recommend for her first time back in a while?

You can catch her with En Vogue this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as part of the Garden Rocks Concert Series at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m.

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A Look Back: Sneak Peek Celebration of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland Resort

posted on March 17th, 2015 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


On March 17, 2005, students from Green Elementary School joined Green Army Men and Buzz Lightyear for a special sneak peek of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Did I mention it was St. Patrick’s Day?

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Following a cavalcade down Main Street, U.S.A., Buzz led the kids to the Tomorrowland entrance of his new attraction where they were among the first to enter the Gamma Quadrant to battle Evil Emperor Zurg.

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Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters would not officially open for another few weeks, on the eve of our 50th Anniversary Celebration, with Tim Allen on hand for the opening ceremony.

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Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Performers: Jon Secada

posted on March 10th, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Take one look at Jon Secada’s résumé and it’s no wonder he’s been so successful. One of the first Latin crossover stars, he’s a Grammy winner who’s sold over 20 million records. Also an accomplished performer, songwriter and producer, Jon’s starred on the Broadway stage and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business—from Gloria Estefan to Frank Sinatra. He even performed for Pope John Paul II.

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Lucky for us, he took time out of his busy schedule to chat about his upcoming debut at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (running March 4–May 17, 2015), his career and also his history with Disney.

RUSS: What will it be like to grace the Garden Rocks Concert Series stage for the first time?

JON: Looking forward to it! This will be a different experience because I’m used to playing Epcot in the fall. It should be a lot of fun to experience the park at a different time of year.

RUSS: So what can audiences expect?

JON: The hits. Everything that people know me for over the past 20-plus years. My show’s going to incorporate a little bit of everything that’s a part of my career. But for the most part, it’s a high-energy show with a concentration on the up-tempo stuff in my repertoire. That’s what I like to do. Keep the people moving. Everybody’s walking around and being active. So I like to be active as well.

RUSS: Will you have the same set list for each show, or mix it up?

JON: There are certain songs that stay the same. But the rest, I kind of mix and match with different recordings that I’ve done. So for each set, the fans will get the core songs that people know me for, and then they’ll also get a taste of something different. Maybe a couple of songs that they didn’t hear in the last set. That way, it draws people who maybe saw the last show. You can go knowing that you’re not going to experience the exact same set.

RUSS: How would you describe your music?

JON: It’s pop but with a fusion of different flavors. I grew up listening to R&B, rock, Latin music and jazz. I also studied jazz music. So my music has been kind of a fusion that’s integrated so many styles. There are melodies, hooks and lyrics that you remember and can sing along to. So that’s always been kind of the essence of my career and my recordings.

RUSS: I’m glad you brought up your different influences. How does it make you feel being one of the biggest bilingual crossover stars in the world?

JON: I was very fortunate in the early ’90s when my career got off the ground because I was one of the first artists to have success in both languages. And it created a wave of colleagues, friends and other artists who followed during that decade. It’s been the difference maker in my career. And I’m very proud of my heritage, very proud to be Hispanic-American.

RUSS: Will you be bringing your family?

JON: Yeah, they’ll be coming with me. They love the opportunity every time that I perform to enjoy the parks. We take advantage of maybe spending an extra day or so, whether it’s before or after the shows, to hang out and enjoy all that Disney has to offer.

RUSS: What do you hope people get out of your shows?

JON: Hopefully a strong, very organic, very transparent performance. There’s not a lot of sequencing going on. I truly sing live. I just love leaving it all on stage and being just as high energy and passionate as possible.

RUSS: Your admiration and respect for your fans is obvious.

JON: I owe everything to my fans. It’s the reason I have a career. They’ve really followed me through all the different paths that I’ve taken. And so I really appreciate that.

RUSS: You have a new book, “A New Day,” out. Tell us about it.

JON: Yeah. It was released in both English and Spanish a few months ago. It’s a memoir reflecting on my life and 25 years in the business, incorporating who I am as a Latino. I was very humbled, very flattered when I was approached to do this book.

RUSS: One last question. Just how big a Disney fan are you?

JON: (laughs) I’m a huge fan. My children grew up going to the parks. But I’ve also done a lot of work for the Walt Disney Company through the years. My first big project was the “Pocahontas” soundtrack; I did a duet with Shanice called “If I Never Knew You (End Title)”. And we sang it in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I did the Christmas Day Parade here at Walt Disney World Resort a few years ago. Yeah, so, I’ve had a 20-plus year experience doing different things for Disney along the way. A lot of memories there. Plus, I’d say I go the parks at least twice a year. And my kids, they’re growing older but they still love that experience!

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Mariska Hargitay Enjoys Some ‘Frozen Fun’ at the Disneyland Resort

posted on March 4th, 2015 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Mariska Hargitay experienced some “Frozen Fun” at Disney California Adventure park recently.

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When we caught up with her at “Olaf’s Snow Fest,” Mariska and her family were having a great time with everyone’s favorite warm hug-loving snowman, Olaf!

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Country Singer Luke Bryan Visits Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 3rd, 2015 by Joan Peabody, Content Producer


Luke Bryan is one of the most recognized singer-songwriters in the country music industry today. He recently took a break from recording in the studio and preparing for his upcoming tour to take a family trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.

Country Music Artist Luke Bryan Visits Walt Disney World

During his visit, Luke took a break from the fun to check in with us about what he and his family loved about spending time at Disney Parks. Check out the video below to hear all about it.

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New England Patriots Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler Celebrate Super Bowl Win at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 2nd, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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New England Patriots fans lined Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park today to celebrate with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler, stars of yesterday’s Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Amid a cloud of confetti and accompanied by Mickey Mouse himself, Edelman and Butler made good on their exclamation, “We’re Going to Disneyland!” following the game. Check them out in the latest in a series of the iconic Disney Parks advertisements here.

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Wide receiver Edelman and cornerback Butler enjoyed a well-deserved, sunny day of celebration at Disneyland park. Take a behind-the-scenes look at their visit below!

Congratulations to Edelman, Butler and the New England Patriots!

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Super Bowl Stars Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler Coming to Disneyland Resort

posted on February 2nd, 2015 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


After months of speculation and prognostication, we finally know this season’s Super Bowl XLIX champion: the New England Patriots. Well, I’m happy to reveal one other exciting piece of juicy information: star players of the big game – wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Malcolm Butler – are going to Disneyland!

Super Bowl Stars Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler Coming to Disneyland Resort

Immediately after the 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Phoenix, Edelman and Butler stood on the field amid a sea of confetti and screaming fans and shouted those classic words: “We’re Going to Disneyland!” The scene is the centerpiece of Disney Parks‘ annual Super Bowl commercial that is airing for the next several days.

The TV spot is the 48th edition in the beloved series that began in 1987 when New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms first blurted out those words in front of a TV camera after Super Bowl XXI.

This year it was Edelman and Butler’s turn after remarkable performances Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. Edelman had nine catches for a team-high 109 yards, including the game-winning touchdown reception in the final minutes of the game. Butler sealed the victory with a game-saving interception in the final seconds.

They are scheduled to celebrate their performances and their team’s victory with a hero’s welcome parade Monday down Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park, which just last week was the site of the unveiling for the upcoming Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, marking the resort’s 60th anniversary. If you can’t make it out to Disneyland park to celebrate with them, then check back here Monday afternoon to see photos and video from the festivities and get a look at the TV commercial here.

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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: Lucie Arnaz and the Space Mountain Launch

posted on January 8th, 2015 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


You may be aware that Space Mountain celebrates its birthday this month—it’s 40 years young!—as a beloved attraction. But do you know that it’s the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida? Or who were the first two stars to be launched into the Tomorrowland galaxy? Emmy-winning entertainer/producer Lucie Arnaz and Tony-winning Broadway legend Tommy Tune, that’s who.

The Space Mountain grand opening festivities were almost as elaborate as the opening of Walt Disney World Resort itself, so much so that a musical variety special was created for “The Wonderful World of Disney TV” show by Academy Awards producer Marty Pasetta. It was called “Welcome to the ‘World'” because it was the first network TV special to take place at Walt Disney World Resort (earlier broadcasts were either non-network programs or short previews).

Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975 Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975 Lucie Arnaz Hosted the Space Mountain Openin Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in 1975

We caught up with the versatile Lucie as she was finishing a triumphant national tour of the hit musical “Pippin.” She was delighted to gab with us about what went on behind the scenes during the opening festivities for Space Mountain, though she hadn’t watched the special in years but got the opportunity recently when Marty Pasetta sent her a copy.

So what was her reaction seeing the definitely-’70s (think groovy fashions and splashy production numbers) show again? “Fantastic!”

And she shared a tasty tidbit with us. Aside from the technicians who tested it out, Lucie and Tommy were the first two people to ever ride on Space Mountain, introducing the country to the soon-to-be fan favorite.

“It was just incredible fun. Nothing like you’d ever seen before. Because it was in the dark! A roller coaster is one thing, but when you were in the dark you couldn’t tell if you were going to go left or right or up or down—it’s like WLLAHH! Just amazing.”

To get the amazing shots needed for the special, more than half a dozen cameras were installed all around the inside of Space Mountain. And what you see is what you get—when you see the stars riding the attraction, they’re actually doing it, again and again and again, until the director was satisfied with the takes.

Or, as Lucie explains it, “We were like, ‘Oh, good! We get to go around again! YAY!’”

The song “I’m Flying” from “Peter Pan” was recorded before the taping and the stars lip synched to it while cameras rolled. They put speakers in the rocket and every time the director yelled “Action!” the song would play and they’d sing along to their vocal track.

Between singing and general screaming while riding Space Mountain, Lucie says her voice was “lost in space.” But she still calls it a “spectacular experience.”

During rehearsals, they’d open the park early for the stars and that took her back to another time. “I felt just like a kid again, back when my mom [TV legend Lucille Ball] used to take us to Disneyland.”

She and Tommy even got the chance to waltz together, by themselves, at night, in front of Cinderella Castle. It doesn’t get more magical than that.

A musical highlight of the show mentioned all the things you could do at Walt Disney World Resort—circa 1975—to the tune of “Holiday for Strings.” It begins with the line “They have a Mickey Mouse, a haunted house” and ends with “Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Doc and … DOPEY!” Incredibly, Lucie remembers the song verbatim and even sang it for us.

The memorable TV special finale was the Space Mountain grand opening ceremony with astronaut Gordon Cooper. And that was no accident. The Mercury 9 and Gemini 5 astronaut served on the Space Mountain creative team as a consultant.

As our conversation wound down, I asked Lucie if she’s had the chance to enjoy Space Mountain here in Orlando since she hosted the special. Her response was immediate. “Yes, yes! Several times since then. I’ve been to Disney World a lot with my kids.”

With all that Lucie Arnaz continues to accomplish, it’s gratifying to learn that she enjoys Disney Parks stuff just as much we all do. Obviously, the Space Mountain show wasn’t just a TV gig for her.

And that was the opening chapter for an attraction that is so popular, Space Mountain now exists at every Disney Resort across the globe. So when was the last time you enjoyed a rousing rocket ride to explore the wonders of outer space?

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It’s a Pizza Planet Party: Actor Tim Allen Meets Buzz Lightyear at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 5th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Actor and comedian Tim Allen, who voiced Buzz Lightyear in the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” series of animated films, recently stopped by Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a visit with his animated counterpart.

TIM ALLEN MEETS BUZZ LIGHTYEAR AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

Tim, who also starred on the hit TV series “Home Improvement” and in films like “The Santa Clause,” met Buzz on his recent New Year’s Eve trip to Walt Disney World Resort.

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Isabella Rossellini To Narrate ‘The Candlelight Processional’ Dec. 24-25

posted on December 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Actress Isabella Rossellini will take the stage to narrate the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day performances of “Candlelight Processional” (December 24-25).

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The show is a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator with seasonal songs performed by a live choir and orchestra. Shows take place daily at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. at the America Gardens Theatre.

In addition to Rossellini, remaining narrators in this year’s line-up include:

  • Blair Underwood – December 26 – 27, 2014
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – December 28 – 30, 2014

Have you seen the Candlelight Processional at Epcot this year?Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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