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VIDEO: Disney Actress Ashley Brown Answers Reader Questions

posted on April 23rd, 2015 by Anne Macklin, Talent Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Broadway’s own Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown, took a minute out of her family’s visit while at Magic Kingdom Park to answer your questions about Walt Disney World Resort.

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Check out the video below to see if she responded to you!

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Actress ‘Pops In’ on Performing Arts Students at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 23rd, 2015 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


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The Franklin School for the Performing Arts students knew they were going to have a magical trip to Walt Disney World Resort when they arrived for their Disney Performing Arts Program experiences, but it had no idea just how magical it would be.

The group of performers from Massachusetts was surprised during their weekend trip by actress Ashley Brown, star of the original Broadway production of “Mary Poppins”. Brown, who was also starred as Belle in Disney’s Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast”, spent time interacting with the students, answering questions and imparting wisdom from her long career on the big stage.

The real treat came when Brown delivered a special performance of “Feed the Birds” from the hit musical “Mary Poppins.”

The unexpected appearance by Brown was just another example of the types of magical moments experienced by groups participating in Disney Performing Arts programs, which unlock student potential and help young people make their own dreams come true. Those dreams can involve performing in front of an international audience of thousands at Disney theme parks and resorts or honing their craft in enriching workshops taught by entertainment professionals.

The Disney Performing Arts programs are open to a variety of youth groups who can sign up for a workshop or a performance opportunity at www.disneyyouth.com.

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Freshly Picked Music at the Garden Rocks Concert Series at Walt Disney World Resort: Taylor Dayne

posted on April 21st, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


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Now that the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom, it reminds us of all there is to love about it. From the whimsical Disney character topiaries and spring-inspired delicious dishes to the expert demonstrations and Garden Rocks Concert Series, where some of the biggest names in music grace the stage.

We caught up with Taylor Dayne, who will soon play Garden Rocks for the first time (you may have seen her perform at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival). Starting with her smash 1987 single “Tell It to My Heart,” it’s hard to top this New York native for infectious dance pop.

RUSS: Growing up on Long Island, did you ever imagine all the success you’ve achieved?

TAYLOR: As a little kid, I had the vision of “I’m gonna be a rock and roll star,” singing to the radio or every commercial that came on. I was very passionate about working hard. To make music was always my goal and my dream as a very, very young girl. I’m just so blessed.

RUSS: We’ve heard you’re a pretty big Disney fan. True?

TAYLOR: Ya know, the beautiful thing about Disney is I grew up on the incredible animation. And, of course, on Sunday nights we got to watch Disney on TV. The shows, the movies, the parks—it’s pretty special and amazing. Just a big part of my life.

RUSS: Any favorite Disney memories?

TAYLOR: For me growing up, it was “it’s a small world.” I made my children (12-year-old twins Levi and Astaria) go on it because the music is just so incredible.

RUSS: As for the theme parks, adrenaline rush or milder thrills?

TAYLOR: I’m not a drop-from-the-sky kind of girl. No. My son will do that. I stand there and watch while he falls from the sky and does the roller coasters with all the drops. Though I was in to it when I was younger.

RUSS: Have a favorite attraction?

TAYLOR: I love Soarin’ at Epcot! You’re in the chair and floating. It’s incredible. You’re in that entire experience. You’re moving in it. It’s brilliant.

RUSS: Describe your music.

TAYLOR: When people ask me that, I say dance, pop, some R&B to a degree. But classic. So if you’re listening to the radio, you might hear “I’ll Always Love You,” “Send Me A Lover” or “Love Will Lead You Back.” I’ve always been incredibly passionate and people feel what I’m singing. Big voice, big passion.

RUSS: People are anxious to experience your show at the Flower & Garden Festival for the very first time. What do you have in store?

TAYLOR: I hope the fans get an experience so they feel like they’ve been to a show. There’s a beginning, a middle and end. There’s a story. I want them to feel like they got a piece of me. Music is just such a universal language. Why are people so inspired by music? Because it touches them in such a sensorial way. At this point, to a lot of them these songs are the soundtrack of people’s lives. You feel like, “Wow, I remember that.” So yeah, I always look forward to performing at Epcot. It’ll be awesome.

RUSS: Thanks so much for your time. One last question. What’s something your fans may not know about you?

TAYLOR: I’m a nature freak [laughs]. That’s what I do. I go out there and find my peace. My quiet time.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues through May 17. Taylor Dayne performs May 1 through 3. All performances take place at the America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are included with Epcot admission.

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‘LIVE with Kelly and Michael’ Travels to California for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on April 20th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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On today’s “LIVE with Kelly and Michael,” hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan announced that the top morning talk show will head west to Southern California for five shows originating from the Disneyland Resort, airing May 18-22, 2015! Main Street, U.S.A., and Sleeping Beauty Castle will provide the stunning backdrop for “LIVE’s” five broadcasts.

Joining in the fun with Ripa and Strahan will be a stellar line-up of guests, including superstar Mariah Carey, action star Dwayne Johnson, late night host Jimmy Kimmel, “Scandal” star Scott Foley, “The Middle” star Patricia Heaton and more. The hosts also will showcase all that’s exciting and new with the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, in addition to taking a look back at the history of Disneyland, and sharing favorite memories of an A-list line-up of celebrity fans.

“LIVE” viewers who will be in Southern California are welcome to join Ripa and Strahan by attending one of the “LIVE” broadcasts at Disneyland park. Ticket information is available on “LIVE’s” website, LIVEKellyandMichael.com.

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Actress Ashley Brown Visits Walt Disney World, Answers Your Parks Questions

posted on April 17th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


In 2005, actress Ashley Brown made her Broadway debut as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” and then in 2006, made Disney history when she originated the title role of Mary Poppins in the show’s grand Broadway debut. Talk about living out your Disney dreams!

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This award-winning actress is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort soon for some fun in the Florida sun – and she’s taking your questions! This is your chance to ask Ashley a question on some of her Walt Disney World “favorites,” including attractions and places to dine, shop, stay, etc. We’ll be back next week with a video as Ashley answer them to share some of her Disney Parks “favorites” with all of you.

Please post your questions now in the ‘comments’ section below.

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Little League Baseball Star Mo’ne Davis Shows Walt Disney World Resort How To ‘Throw Like Mo’

posted on April 7th, 2015 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


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The whirlwind ride of Little League baseball star Mo’ne Davis made a stop at Walt Disney World Resort this week. The most recognizable 13-year-old pitcher on the planet visited Magic Kingdom Park with her family and got to be the honorary Grand Marshal of the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.”

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Davis, who is from Philadelphia, showed her Disney Side by wearing Mickey ears and a Mickey Mouse shirt. After the parade, Davis spent some time with some little girls near Cinderella Castle, showing them how to hold and throw a baseball. She even played a little baseball with them before taking off to enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the parks with her family.

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The visit to Walt Disney World Resort continues what has been quite a ride for Davis since last summer when the Little League slugger became the first girl to win a game as a pitcher during the Little League World Series. Afterwards, she met President Obama, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in a documentary directed by Spike Lee, published a book and has her jersey in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

More recently, Disney Channel announced it plans to make a made-for-TV movie about her life entitled “Throw Like Mo.’’ But Monday, Davis wasn’t focused on any of that. She was just thrilled about hanging out with Mickey Mouse.

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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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