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Special Olympics World Games ‘Flame of Hope’ Journeys Through Disneyland Resort

posted on July 20th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last night, the Disneyland Resort hosted the “Flame of Hope,” currently making its way through 127 cities and communities in California en route to the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremonies in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 25. The torch shined brightly even in the rain, and I was encouraged to see so many guests brave the weather to watch Special Olympics athletes carry the torch down Main Street, U.S.A. to a ceremony at the Downtown Disney District.

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The Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the “Flame of Hope” represents the culmination of similar events around the world on its journey to the Special Olympics World Games. In May, the torch made its way to the Walt Disney World Resort during a Unified Relay Across America, going through Epcot and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

More than 30,000 volunteers, including Disney VoluntEARS, will support the Special Olympics World Games. ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the Games, and will be covering the Opening Ceremonies, plus sharing highlights throughout the event.

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Disneyland Resort Celebrates 60th Anniversary and Announces Million Dollar Dazzle Program Benefiting Local Nonprofits

posted on July 17th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney dedicated his dream project: Disneyland – a land beyond the boundaries of the motion pictures with which he’d made his reputation, a park where families and guests of all ages could be immersed in worlds of fantasy and adventure.

As part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, we announced this morning that we will honor 60 years of Walt’s dream with our Million Dollar Dazzle program. Each month during the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew will surprise one or more Southern California nonprofits with a $60,000 gift, totaling more than $1 million. Girl Scouts of Orange County was surprised with the first gift at the ceremony today.

Check back later today for video from this special ceremony!

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Disneyland Resort Seeking Influential High School Students in Orange County, Calif., to be Recognized as First Class of Disneyland Resort Dreamers & Doers This Fall

posted on July 1st, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Are you or someone you know a high school student doing good in the Orange County, Calif., community?

Whether focused on helping their families, classmates or community causes – Orange County high school students are asked to nominate themselves for their good deeds and service. From tutoring younger students, to leading a food drive, to starting a recycling program or helping with a sick or elderly family member – Dreamers & Doers applicants make a positive impact in their community.

Beginning September 8, Orange County high school students can apply to become the first class of Dreamers & Doers, the newly announced Disneyland Resort philanthropy program aimed at recognizing exemplary high school students who take action to improve their community, home or school by conserving nature, inspiring others to be creative or live healthfully, and bringing hope and happiness to the community.

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If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because Walt Disney World Resort has been recognizing Dreamers & Doers in Central Florida for more than 30 years. We are thrilled to now bring this recognition to the Disneyland Resort community in celebration of our 60th anniversary.

Get involved now!
Students interested in applying to become a Dreamer & Doer this fall are encouraged to use summer break to get involved and make a difference, and even showcase how they are making an impact by submitting videos of their work in action. Select videos will then be part of a final video highlighting the program, which will be shown here on the Disney Parks Blog and in various other social media channels. Instructions for submitting videos can be found here. Submit your videos by August 2!

More about the program:
Every high school in Orange County will have the opportunity to select one to two of their school’s Dreamers & Doers applicants, who will receive two Disneyland Resort Park Hopper tickets. From this group, 60 “Shining Stars” will be selected to receive a $1,000 grant for their school and be invited to attend a celebration luncheon where additional surprises will be announced, and six top-ranking students will be designated as “Luminaries” who receive a Disneyland Resort weekend prize package to enjoy with their families. Disneyland Resort also will host a symposium for all “Shining Stars,” providing an opportunity to discuss issues that affect students and create solutions they can implement in their schools and communities. Click here for more information about the Disneyland Resort Dreamers and Doers program.

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Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Give Back to Port Communities

posted on June 30th, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Disney VoluntEARS Month at Disney Cruise Line is a unique opportunity for shipboard crew members to give back to communities in different ports of call around the world. More than 150 crew members across all four Disney ships participated in Disney VoluntEARS Month in May, demonstrating that we all have the ability to make a positive impact.

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This May, 10 organizations from five communities in Central Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean benefitted from more than 450 volunteer hours. Crew efforts impacted charitable causes focused on areas including education, health/wellness and animal care/rescue.

Disney Cruise Line Members Crew Give Back to Port Communities Disney Cruise Line Members Crew Give Back to Port Communities

Each year, the cast and crew at Disney Cruise Line provide thousands of hours of community service – from raising funds for disaster relief to spreading Disney cheer in children’s hospitals around the world.

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Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and Anaheim Ducks Make A Difference in Anaheim One ACT at a Time

posted on June 24th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last year, I told you about the Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks joining together to provide more opportunities to thousands of Anaheim youth through a collaboration called Accelerate Change Together for Anaheim (ACT Anaheim). To kick off ACT Anaheim, our three organizations committed $3 million over the span of three years for the creation and expansion of youth programs with local nonprofits.

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During its first grant cycle, ACT Anaheim awarded $1.5 million to 10 nonprofits, which provided enhanced and expanded services to nearly 2,500 Anaheim youth. ACT II was announced earlier this month to the tune of $2 million for 14 nonprofits. We’ve already exceeded our initial goal, with ACT Anaheim funding a total $3.5 million to local nonprofits in just two years thanks to additional individuals and companies who have joined the cause!

Here is a look at some of the achievements ACT Anaheim recipients made with the help of those first funds:

  • Through GOALS’ (Growth Opportunities through Athletics, Learning and Service) Special Sports program, GOALS teens play hockey, volleyball, soccer and other sports with their buddies with disabilities from the Orange County Adult Achievement Center.
  • Anaheim Family YMCA teens explore all kinds of activities, including snorkeling and archery, at Camp Fox, an overnight summer camp.
  • Anaheim high school students prepare for college and careers through the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Career & College Access Immersion Program at the Tiger Woods Learning Center.
  • Anaheim junior high school students create their own superhero identities as part of Girls Inc.’s Mind+Body program focusing on fitness, nutrition, body image and stress management.
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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on June 7th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, Mickey Mouse and the “Happiest Balloon on Earth” were in Sacramento to celebrate as the California State Senate and Assembly proclaimed June 1, 2015 as “Disneyland Day!”

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During the day, the “Happiest Balloon on Earth” floated over the Capitol lawn before Mickey Mouse and Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto visited young patients at UC Davis Medical Center. Disneyland Resort’s visit included a stop in West Sacramento, where 500 volunteers from Disney, KaBOOM! and the city of West Sacramento built Disney’s largest KaBOOM! playground ever.

Check out Kevin’s original post for more images and details of the day.

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We also unveiled a new, extraordinary entertainment experience for guests of all ages coming to Disney Springs called The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort.

The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort is going to be a one-of-a-kind destination featuring hands-on activities that put families and guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. You’ll be able to explore inside the world of professional basketball with numerous interactive experiences and enjoy a restaurant and retail store.

Check out our original story for more details about The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Behind the Scenes of Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park with Walt Disney Imagineering – Matterhorn Bobsleds recently reopened at Disneyland park, following a refurbishment that brought many new creative elements to this classic attraction – including a whole new look for its most famous resident, the Abominable Snowman.

See an Exclusive Sneak Peek of ‘Ant-Man’ at Disney California Adventure Park Starting June 19 – Soon, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the next evolution of Super Hero when the Bug’s Life Theater at Disney California Adventure park hosts a sneak peek of the high-stakes, tension-filled adventure, “Ant-Man”!

QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park? – This week was the anniversary of the opening of Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park here at Walt Disney World Resort. How well do you know this park? Give your knowledge a test!

Rhino Kiama Makes Her Big Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Earlier this year, thousands of you voted to name our female baby rhino Kiama. She has been growing rapidly – gaining about three or four pounds a day – and now you can see her during your next adventure on Kilimanjaro Safaris!

Team Disney VoluntEARS Raises More than $30,000 for Cancer Research and Runs Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort – While training together for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Team Disney VoluntEARS raised more than $30,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the organization’s Team in Training program.

Six Scrumptious Desserts Debut for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – It’s a party, so you’re allowed to eat dessert first. For the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, here are six new sweets for 60 years, and they’ll stay on the menu throughout the celebration.

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June 1 Proclaimed ‘Disneyland Day’ at California State Capitol

posted on June 1st, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


One week after the launch of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration in Anaheim, Mickey Mouse and the “Happiest Balloon on Earth” arrived in Sacramento to celebrate as the California State Senate and Assembly proclaimed today – June 1, 2015 – as “Disneyland Day!”

June 1 Proclaimed ‘Disneyland Day’ at California State Capitol June 1 Proclaimed ‘Disneyland Day’ at California State Capitol

Disneyland has been part of the fabric of California for six decades, and marking this special milestone by bringing the magic of Disney to the State Capitol makes it all the more momentous. I’m told seeing the “Happiest Balloon on Earth” float over the Capitol lawn was pretty incredible!

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Disneyland Resort’s visit to Sacramento went beyond the Capitol and into the community with a visit to UC Davis Medical Center, where Mickey Mouse and Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto visited young patients. It also included a stop in West Sacramento, where 500 volunteers from Disney, KaBOOM! and the city of West Sacramento built Disney’s largest KaBOOM! playground ever. Following the build, Disneyland Resort made surprise donations totaling $10,000 to Club West Teen Center and Yolo County Children’s Alliance.

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“Disneyland Day” festivities concluded with a special screening of Disney “Tomorrowland” for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students who attend an after-school program at Club West Teen Center in Sacramento.

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Disneyland Resort Celebrates 60th Anniversary, Grants More than $60,000 to Diversity Scholarship Funds

posted on May 29th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


As we reflect on all we’ve accomplished with the community over the past 60 years, our dazzling Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration presents us with the opportunity to inspire the next generation of leaders right here in Orange County. In that spirit, Disneyland Resort donated more than $60,000 in scholarship funds to support the pursuit of higher education.

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Last night, during a special ceremony held at the Main Street Opera House in Disneyland park, we presented 11 nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving diverse students with funds supporting their scholarship efforts. Organizations included:

  • 100 Black Men of Orange County
  • American Indian Chamber of Commerce
  • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
  • California State University, Fullerton Hispanic Scholarship
  • Hispanic Education Endowment Fund (HEEF)
  • National Hispanic Business Woman Association (NHBWA)
  • OC Black Chamber
  • OC Hispanic Chamber Education Foundation
  • Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA)
  • Santa Ana College
  • Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce

The reception culminated with a viewing of the new “Paint the Night” parade. On behalf of the Disneyland Resort, thank you to all of the organizations for promoting the importance of education among our youth. Keep up the dazzling work!

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Walt Disney World Resort Hosts Special Olympics “Flame of Hope”

posted on May 29th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


Guests visiting Epcot yesterday got a special treat as several volunteer torchbearers carried the Special Olympics Flame of Hope through the theme park for the first-ever Unified Relay Across America. Hundreds of Disney cast members and guests cheered as the volunteers made their way from Epcot to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn where where there was a ceremonial lighting of the cauldron.

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While waiting for the torch to arrive, I met several athletes, including a Central Florida athlete who trains everyday preparing for gymnastic events. He beamed as he told me about his daily push ups and the medals that he’s earned. I was both inspired and humbled by his commitment.

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Yesterday’s stop at Walt Disney World Resort was one of several happening over the course of 46 days as the torch passes in a hand-to-hand exchange through all 50 states. The torch’s cross-country journey will end in Los Angeles with the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

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The Walt Disney Company is one of the sponsors of the Special Olympics World Games, with ESPN covering highlights of the nine-day event starting with the Opening Ceremony July 25.

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Disney’s 60th KaBOOM! Playground, Largest to Date, Built in Anaheim in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Disneyland Resort

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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Last weekend, we built Disney’s 60th – and largest – KaBOOM! playground nationwide at Twila Reid Park in Anaheim, Calif., in honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. The playground is inspired by drawings created by kids in the Anaheim Achieves after-school program, and includes a disc golf course, a zip line, horseshoe pits, a giant “fun web” and, of course, swings and slides!

Disney VoluntEAR Shira Wolf was one of more than 700 volunteers who installed the playground in eight hours. She told us, “KaBOOM! playground builds are my favorite Disney VoluntEARS events because they are so much fun and give us a chance to come out and be active with the kids and families in our community. I love it!”

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In addition to Disney VoluntEARS, organizers from KaBOOM! and volunteers from the Anaheim Family YMCA, city of Anaheim, the Corporate Volunteer Council of Orange County and Anaheim residents helped build Disney’s eighth KaBOOM! playground in Orange County, Calif. They also installed more than 20 benches, painted three murals and planted several trees.

Since 2007, Disney has been committed to creating playgrounds where children and families can play together and be active. This commitment is an extension of our Disney Magic of Healthy Living, an initiative designed to help parents raise healthy, happy kids and make healthier lifestyles fun. By the end of 2015, Disney’s support will bring the magic of play to more than 83,000 children and families across the country!

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