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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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‘Frozen’ Voice Actor Jonathan Groff Shares What He Loves About Disney Parks

posted on December 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Jonathan Groff is one cool guy.

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The actor who voiced Kristoff in “Frozen” – one of the most successful Disney feature films to date – is actually a huge fan of Disney Parks and films. And the 29-year-old isn’t afraid to geek out over how cool Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is, laugh over recollections of dressing up as his favorite Disney characters for Halloween as a kid, or admit that his head is still spinning over the frenzy that surrounds anything “Frozen.”

Check out our full interview above to hear his thoughts on all of this and much more.

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First Look: Robin Roberts, Ariana Grande, Tim Tebow, Lexi Walker, Prince Royce and More at the Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration on ABC

posted on December 12th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Earlier this week, the stars came out at the Walt Disney World Resort as production continued on Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration on ABC.

“Good Morning America” Anchor Robin Roberts Hosts the 2014 Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts was joined by Anna and Elsa while hosting from Magic Kingdom Park.

Ariana Grande Tapes Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

Singing superstar Ariana Grande caught up with Mickey Mouse after her performance of “Last Christmas” and her newest holiday hit, “Santa Tell Me.”

Prince Royce Tapes Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

Singer-songwriter Prince Royce took to the stage to sing “Feliz Navidad.”

Tim Tebow Tapes Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

ESPN and SEC Network personality Tim Tebow met up with Louis the alligator from “The Princess and the Frog” during the taping.

YouTube Sensation Lexi Walker Tapes Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

YouTube sensation Lexi Walker delighted the audience with her performance of “Let it Go.”

Don’t forget to tune in to ABC on Thursday, Dec. 25:

  • Eastern Time Zone: 10 a.m.
  • Central Time Zone: 9 a.m.
  • Mountain Time Zone: 9 a.m.
  • Pacific Time Zone: 9 a.m.

You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #DisneyParade.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Unique Holiday Celebrations

posted on December 6th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


To many of our guests, holidays are a favorite time of year at Disney Parks. Not only are the halls decked like nowhere else, we’ve also got unique holiday experiences that you’ll find only at Disney Parks and Resorts. This week, we featured three of these celebrations.

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Here at the Disneyland Resort, we cruised into the holiday season at the Disney Parks Blog Christmas in Cars Land Meet-Up.

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At Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko Olina, Hawai`i, musical segments were produced for Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration with stars Gavin DeGraw, Sarah Hyland and Laura Marano.

Candlelight Processional Performed in Front of Cinderella Castle in 1980 Candlelight Processional Performed in Front of Main Street Train Station in 1983

And Nate Rasmussen took us back to the 1980s for a look back at the Candlelight Processional, a holiday tradition at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

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First Look: Sarah Hyland, Gavin DeGraw and Laura Marano at Aulani for Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration on ABC

posted on December 4th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Earlier this week, the beach at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, was the stage for some musical segments being produced for Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration.

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Gavin DeGraw performed the classic song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and then delighted the audience with his hit song, “Fire.”

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Actress Sarah Hyland joined us to introduce the performances from Aulani.

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Austin & Ally” star Laura Marano brought some “Frozen” holiday fun to Aulani with her performance of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” – or should we say “Sandman?”

Check back for updates about Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration and don’t forget to tune in to ABC on Thursday, December 25 at 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. in all other time zones (check local listings). You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #DisneyParade.

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Neil Patrick Harris Narrates the Candlelight Processional November 30-December 2

posted on November 30th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Actor Neil Patrick Harris will take the stage tonight at Epcot as narrator of the Candlelight Processional.

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Neil, who has participated in the show for several years, is a fan-favorite narrator among many Disney guests. The show – which is a retelling of the Christmas story, accompanied by a live orchestra and choir – will take place nightly at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. “The Candlelight Processional” is included in theme park admission.

Is @ActuallyNPH one of your favorites in the lineup? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

Click here for a full list of 2014 Candlelight Processional narrators. As usual, entertainment is subject to change.

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First Look: Train, Trisha Yearwood, Lucy Hale, Trey Songz and More at the Disneyland Resort for Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration on ABC

posted on November 11th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Earlier this week we began production on our annual holiday special for ABC, this year titled Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration. Today we’re giving you the first look at what’s in store Christmas morning from the Disneyland Resort.

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Train took the stage at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle in Disneyland park to perform “Shake Up Christmas.”

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Donald Duck met up with Patrick Monahan and Jimmy Stafford after the performance and we snapped this fun photo.

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Trey Songz then delighted the audience with “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

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Daisy showed up to wish Trey Happy Holidays.

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Over in Disney California Adventure park, Lucy Hale brought holiday cheer to Cars Land with her performance of “Mistletoe.”

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Back at Disneyland park, Trisha Yearwood gave the audience a beautiful rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

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Trisha met two of her biggest fans after her performance, Chip and Dale.

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ABC News Senior Meteorologist Rob Marciano from GMA Weekend joins us as host from the Disneyland Resort this year, and he and his wife Eryn brought daughter Madeline along to meet Minnie Mouse for the first time.

Check back for updates about Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration and don’t forget to tune in to ABC on Thursday, Dec. 25 at 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. in all other time zones (check local listings). You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #DisneyParade.

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Michael J. Fox, George Stephanopoulos and Families Share October Holiday at Walt Disney World Resort

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


Legendary actor Michael J. Fox and ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos joined their wives — actresses Tracy Pollan and Alexandra Wentworth — and children last weekend for an October vacation at Walt Disney World Resort.

Michael J. Fox, George Stephanopoulos, Tracy Pollan, Alexandra Wentworth at Disney World in Florida

Stephanopoulos, who also anchors “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” once made a cameo appearance on Fox’s hit TV show, “Spin City.” During their visit, Disney photographer David Roark was able to capture this photo of the two families on a picture-perfect day in Magic Kingdom Park.

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