Disneyland Park, Haunted Mansion Stretch Painting

Central Florida Disney VoluntEARS Take Wellness to Heart at AHA Walk

posted on September 7th, 2014 by Janet Burnley, Vice President for Compensation, Human Resources Information Systems, Workforce Planning and Health/Wellness for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Like me, many cast members at Walt Disney World Resort strive for a heart healthy lifestyle. As in states across the country, heart disease tops the list of health concerns in Florida. Whether it’s a family member, friend or fellow cast member, we all know and care for someone who has struggled with heart disease and stroke.

Central Florida Disney VoluntEARS Take Wellness to Heart at AHA Walks Central Florida Disney VoluntEARS Take Wellness to Heart at AHA Walk

That’s why hundreds of Disney VoluntEARS put on their walking shoes yesterday for the 2014 Greater Orlando Heart Walk. As the signature fundraising event for the American Heart Association (AHA), the annual 5K was held at the University of Central Florida. Before they even crossed the finish line at yesterday’s race, Disney cast members formed teams to raise more than $23,000, helping the AHA make strides in its fight against heart disease and stroke.

With names such as “Ahoy Me HEARTies,” “The Happiest of Hearts” and “Mickey’s PhilHEARTmagic – the teams reflected the spirit of cast members throughout Walt Disney World Resort. Thanks to cast members’ fundraising efforts and enthusiasm for the cause, Walt Disney World Resort ranks among the AHA’s top contributors in Central Florida.

Central Florida Disney VoluntEARS Take Wellness to Heart at AHA Walks Central Florida Disney VoluntEARS Take Wellness to Heart at AHA Walk

Besides raising important funds for the AHA’s research and education programs, the Heart Walk is a fantastic way for cast members to spend time with family, friends and team members in celebration of health and wellness. In addition to raising money and awareness for this important cause yesterday, walkers visited booths, entered to win fitness prizes and just had a great time together.

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Disney Brings HBCU Alumni and Advocates Together to School Local Students in Higher Ed Opportunity

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Belinda Frazier, Manager, Corporate Citizenship


As an alumna of Clark Atlanta University, one of our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), I was proud to take part in a unique college fair today at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The HBCU College Information Fair brought together 100 students from Orlando’s Edgewater High School, HBCU advocates and Disney cast members who attended HBCUs.
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The event – which is part of the 10th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney – began with a presentation by United Negro College Fund Development Director Sherry Paramore, who outlined the value of an HBCU education, as well as how to prepare for college and secure scholarships. And though they’ll be rivals at Sunday’s MEAC/SWAC football game, representatives of North Carolina A&T State and Alabama A&M shared the stage amicably as they provided tips on making your college application stronger and applying for financial aid.
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After the presentations, I joined fellow cast members who attended HBCUs in sharing my college experiences with students browsing the fair. As I explained how my academic experiences prepared me for a career at Walt Disney World Resort, I told them that enrolling at an HBCU is more than just being a student at a university. It’s becoming part of a network of future business and community leaders who share in the legacy of achievement.
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As we talked, I was inspired by their hopes, dreams and vision for the future. I hope they were inspired, too … and that I see some of them again one day as fellow Disney cast members!

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Filed: Community Outreach, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney VoluntEARS Celebrate 2.5 million Back-to-School Donations with Day of Service at A Gift For Teaching

posted on August 8th, 2014 by Andrea Finger, Manager, External Communications


Can you smell those freshly sharpened pencils and hear the crack of newly opened notebooks? The unwrapping of brand new supplies like these signal one of my favorite times of the year … back-to-school season in Central Florida.

And I’m not the only one who relishes a new notebook or pristine set of crayons. Today, at A Gift For Teaching (AGFT), Mickey Mouse joined VoluntEARS from Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate the success of their annual back-to-school drive and assist in the nonprofit’s first day of teacher shopping at its Free Store.

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In recent weeks, Disney cast members collected 2.5 MILLION school supplies to benefit 70,000 children around Central Florida. They also devoted 2,000 hours to collecting, sorting and organizing donations such as paper, pencils, composition books and markers. Cash donations were particularly helpful, since for every dollar AGFT receives, the nonprofit can provide up to $10 in school supplies.

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Besides their donations, Disney VoluntEARS earned a little extra credit with local teachers by helping them gather supplies at today’s Free Store shopping event. As they shopped, the teachers probably didn’t have trouble spotting the Hidden Mickey in the colorful mural created by Disney cast members and recently donated to AGFT.

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Part of Disney’s longstanding commitment to supporting local students from early learning through college, Cast Members’ annual back-to-school drive has been a tradition at Walt Disney World Resort since 2003. As the wife of a Central Florida teacher, I really do know how much this drive helps our community’s educators and students stock up on essentials. It also gives school supply buffs like me a reason to relive the thrill of new pencils and notebooks.

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Disneyland Resort Awards Orange County, California Students $75,000 in Scholarships

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Ten extraordinary high school seniors were each surprised at their Orange County, California schools with an in-class visit from Disney Ambassador Megan Navarette – and a $7,500 scholarship from Disneyland Resort! Along with demonstrating academic excellence and leadership skills, this year’s scholarship recipients were chosen for a combined 7,000 hours of community service.

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Since 2005, the Disneyland Resort Scholarship Program has granted more than half a million dollars to graduating Orange County high school seniors, who are selected by a distinguished panel of community leaders for their passion for volunteerism, academic excellence and contributions to the community. Learn more about this year’s Disneyland Resort Scholarship recipients here!

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Celebrities Help Announce Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book and a Donation of up to 1 Million Books

posted on April 15th, 2014 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


Disney Junior announced its new Give a Book, Get a Book program in a big way this past weekend, as Disney Junior stars Ariel Winter and Tim Gunn (of “Sofia the First“) and David Arquette (of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates“) performed a storybook reading at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Anaheim, Calif.

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Through Give a Book, Get a Book, Disney will partner with First Book to provide for the donation of up to 1 million books to U.S. communities in need, and also present families with free digital books from Disney Publishing Worldwide. The program includes a redemption code offering a free Disney Digital book and a way for families to experience giving back by donating books to the community of their choice after purchasing a specially-marked Disney Junior book or product.

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Families and children gathered around at the Disneyland Hotel to listen to the celebrity readers. They also enjoyed hearing a story read by LeVar Burton, children’s literacy advocate and Cofounder and Curator-in-Chief of the award-winning Reading Rainbow app. Burton spoke about the importance of building literacy and of storytelling in the digital age.

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Storytelling is the foundation of Give a Book, Get a Book, designed to inspire parents and caregivers to spend time each day sharing stories that help develop the critical thinking, vocabulary and language skills a preschooler needs. The initiative includes public service announcements, interactive Radio Disney events, and free story time events at Boys & Girls Clubs of America Disney Store locations, starting April 21.

Details are available at the new website, www.giveabookgetabook.com. Families can find online activities there and also access resources that promote the value of storytelling.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

ACT Anaheim Announces $1.5M in Inaugural Grants

posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Accelerate Change Together for Anaheim (ACT Anaheim) announced today that it is awarding $1.5 million in inaugural grants to 10 local nonprofit organizations. Disneyland Resort led an effort to develop ACT Anaheim by funding the 2012 Anaheim Youth Services Assessment that highlighted challenges facing youth in California’s 10th largest city.

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Over the next three years, three of Anaheim’s largest businesses – Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks – committed $3 million to benefit underserved Anaheim youth, marking a more collaborative approach to help improve their lives in the community. The Orange County Community Foundation joined as managing partner of the program, helping increase the inaugural granting pool from $1 million to $1.5 million by bringing in additional funders.

The inaugural grants range from $100,000 to $200,000, and are expected to address gaps in services for more than 1,000 Anaheim youth, including mentoring and after-school programs. The inaugural grantees and grant amounts are:

  • GOALS, $200,000
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim, $175,000
  • Community Service Programs, $175,000
  • Girls Incorporated of Orange County, $175,000
  • Western Youth Services, $175,000
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, $150,000
  • Tiger Woods Foundation, $125,000
  • Anaheim Family YMCA, $125,000
  • Orange County Congregation Community Organization, $100,000
  • Taller San Jose, $100,000
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Disney Grants Make Dreams Come True for 85,000 Central Florida Kids

posted on March 26th, 2014 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


For children and families around the globe, Walt Disney World Resort is a magical place where dreams come true every day. At Disney, we take great pride in calling Central Florida home for the past 42 years and we’re always looking for ways to share our magic with our community. Today, we hit a high note with our ongoing efforts by announcing $3.8 million in Disney grants to 87 deserving local nonprofits. These donations will make a positive impact in the lives of more than 85,000 Central Florida children this year.

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This morning, Disney Grants recipients were cause for celebration at the Orlando Science Center. It was such a treat to be there and yes, there was much confetti. Mickey Mouse joined Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis and Walt Disney World Resort Director of Community Relations Nancy Gidusko to present the grant awards. All the while, the renowned Voices of Liberty from Epcot supplied musical inspiration by performing a cappella for two songs; the inspirational “You Raise Me Up” and the Oscar-winning song, “Let it Go.” Click on the video to see highlights.

Disney also presented the annual Bob Allen Award to Page 15, an Orlando non-profit that offers free after-school tutoring and creative writing workshops for local students. Page 15 will use the grant to continue enhancing students’ communication skills, encouraging personal creativity and inspiring a lifelong passion for language arts.

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From my vantage point, it was humbling to see the genuine outpouring of gratitude from grant recipients and hear about how much of a difference these Disney grants will make in the lives of children and families throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties.

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Disneyland Resort Helps Build Sixth Playground in Orange County, California

posted on March 25th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers from Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Family YMCA, KaBOOM! and Anaheim came together to build a new playground at John Marshall Park, less than five miles from the Disneyland Resort.

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This is the sixth KaBOOM! playground that the Disneyland Resort has helped sponsor and build in Orange County since 2011. The playgrounds provide more than 8,500 children a safe place to play! By the end of 2014, Disney’s support will bring the magic of play to more than 75,000 kids and families nationwide as part of Magic of Healthy Living, encouraging kids and families to stay active and healthy.

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‘Discover Together’ Symposium at Disneyland Resort Offers Nonprofits Nationwide the Building Blocks to Strengthen Relationships that Help Kids Thrive

posted on January 28th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Through work with our valued community partners, we at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are constantly looking for meaningful ways to extend our impact beyond our theme parks.
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Part of that effort, and happening right now at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, is the two-day “Discover Together” symposium – which brings together nearly 60 nonprofit organizations from across the country to explore ways to help strengthen bonds between kids and adults in their own communities. Participants also receive a full day of Disney Institute’s Leadership Excellence training.
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The group heard from several speakers, including Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who talked about Disney’s commitment to nurturing, inspiring and empowering children and families, and creating opportunities to help children succeed and thrive.

They also heard from researchers with the Center for Childhood Creativity and the Search Institute, who shared findings about the crucial impact a parent, grandparent, mentor or other influential adult can have on a child’s life – including the fact that kids with positive relationships with adults are almost twice as likely to do better in school and three times more likely to volunteer in their community.

At the symposium, KaBOOM! announced the search for America’s Most Playful Family contest, which kicks off today and is supported by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The winner will receive the most playful vacation of them all – a trip for four to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort – and the opportunity to work with KaBOOM! in granting an Imagination Playground to a nonprofit organization in the family’s home state. Learn more about the contest at kaboom.org/playfulfamily.

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Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

posted on January 24th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Earlier today, a group of our Walt Disney World Resort cast members were featured on “Good Morning America” helping to create an amazing magical moment for Give Kids the World, a local nonprofit that has provided vacation experiences for thousands of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

Shouting “Move that bus!” dozens of cast members helped unveil a Give Kids the World “Extreme Village Makeover” on live TV. For this one-of-a-kind project, Disney cast members dedicated countless hours to redesign and renovate the building. This beautifully re-imagined space features a registration area and lounge, as well as a floor-to-ceiling inspirational mural created with hundreds of photos of personal moments between volunteers and families.

The Walt Disney World Resort and its cast members have been involved with Give Kids the World for more than 25 years, with the resort donating theme park tickets or providing Disney character entertainment, and cast members volunteering their time through the Disney VoluntEARS program.

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Community Outreach, Walt Disney World Resort