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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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Disney Awards $4.5 million to Benefit Central Florida Community Groups

posted on March 30th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


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Disney’s “Giving Side” hit a high note in Central Florida today as we awarded more than $4.5 million in Disney Grants that will positively impact the lives of more than 250,000 local children and their families. During a special ceremony this morning that culminated with a blast of confetti, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse helped recognize 102 community groups that strengthen families, bring hope and comfort to children, encourage creativity, promote economic development and meet the needs of diverse communities.

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Taking the stage at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis and Walt Disney World Resort Director of Corporate Citizenship Nancy Gidusko announced the organizations receiving Disney Grants. The grant recipients, who enjoyed a serenade of hope-filled songs by Disney performers, each received a special “Mousecar” to commemorate Disney’s support.

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Disney also presented the Bob Allen Award — an annual honor that recognizes the creativity and outstanding service of a Central Florida charitable organization — to the Community Hope Center of Osceola County. The nonprofit will use the grant to continue serving local homeless families through case management, life skills training and living essentials.

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From a personal perspective, it warms my heart to know Disney has supported the work of Central Florida’s community groups for more than four decades. Each year, I look forward to the Disney Grants announcement, which gives us the chance to put the spotlight on these dedicated organizations … and all the ways they’re making our community even better.

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Disneyland Resort Funds Hundreds of Student Arts Projects in Orange County, California

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


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Julie Ernst, a teacher at John Marshall Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif., purchased two piano keyboards seven years ago with a grant from the Disneyland Resort to start a music education program. Today, the elementary school has a complete lab of 34 keyboards and a full-time music teacher, and this year received a visit from members of the National Association of Music Merchants.

Disneyland Resort CREATE (Creative Resources Enabling Arts through Education) grants have provided Orange County teachers with classroom materials that support visual and performing arts projects for more than 20 years. In the 2014-15 school year, CREATE grants funded 131 schools with 249 arts and music projects, benefiting more than 42,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students in Orange County.

“Music can make a difference in the lives of our students in Anaheim,” said Ernst. “Attendance rates are up, student success is increasing in all curricular areas, staff is proud, discipline issues have dropped, and I am one happy teacher!”

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2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Commences Eighth Class of Dreamers at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 16th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Selected from 10,000 applicants, 100 high-school students, or Disney Dreamers, from across the country traveled to Walt Disney World Resort to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring event known as Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. This four-day experience is designed to fuel the dreams of teens and help them prepare for the future.

Recently, the eighth graduating class of Disney Dreamers participated in “hands-on workshops” and inspirational seminars from celebrities, executives and industry experts were presented encouraging the students to dream big and get a jumpstart on achieving their dreams.

“LIVE! with Kelly and Michael” Co-Host Michael Strahan Visits Walt Disney World for Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine

Special guests and speakers included Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis, Bishop T.D. Jakes, E! News Host Terrence J, HLN Reporter Rocsi Diaz, Actor Lamman Rucker, Film Producer Will Packer, Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson and many others.

This year’s commencement featured a performance by Grammy-Winning Gospel Artist Yolanda Adams, as well as final words of advice from Steve Harvey, ESSENCE Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks, Super Bowl Champion and Television host Michael Strahan and Vice President of Deluxe Resorts/Executive Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Tracey D. Powell: View Commencement Video Here

Applications for the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy will open this spring. Visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com for more information.

And always remember to dream big!

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Disneyland Resort in the Community

posted on March 14th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


This week, Kevin Rafferty, Jr., showed us some fun ways that the Disneyland Resort is helping its local community in Southern California.

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In his recap of the recent 17th annual “Flashback,” Kevin told us how a record 500 Disneyland Resort cast members volunteered more than 39,000 hours of rehearsal time to produce the popular show, which raised $25,000 for ACT Anaheim (Accelerate Change Together).

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And in his post about the new Teaching Garden at Walt Disney Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif., Kevin gave us an update on this project in which Disney VoluntEARS joined students to enjoy the garden’s first harvest.

Want to learn more about how the Disneyland Resort impacts its local community? Check out the Disneyland Resort in the Community Facebook page!

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Students Harvest First Crop from Walt Disney Elementary School Teaching Garden Funded by Disneyland Resort

posted on March 12th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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As my colleague Melanie shared last year, Disney VoluntEARS joined representatives from American Heart Association (AHA) and Walt Disney Elementary School teachers, students and parents to build the first AHA Teaching Garden in Anaheim, Calif., funded by the Disneyland Resort. Since the build and initial planting in November, the garden has continued to serve as a learning laboratory where students nurture growing plants, harvest produce and, in the process, learn the value of healthy eating. Today, I am excited to share that Disney VoluntEARS and more than 700 Walt Disney Elementary School students recently participated in the Teaching Garden’s first Heart Healthy Harvest Day!

Along with harvesting the garden boxes during the event, students tasted new fruits and vegetables and even learned about a unique form of composting that uses worms to recycle organic materials into soil. Each class also planted new vegetables for harvest later this spring.

“The Walt Disney Teaching Garden is a unique and natural learning environment that has given our students a first-hand experience of the seed-to-table process, while providing them with invaluable insight into the importance and appreciation of nutritious and healthy eating,” said Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Teali Fielder.

Looks like the students are really looking forward to their next crop!

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Disneyland Resort ‘Flashback’ Raises $25,000 for ACT Anaheim

posted on March 10th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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A record 500 Disneyland Resort cast members volunteered more than 39,000 hours of rehearsal time to produce the 17th annual “Flashback,” held at the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure park last week. The musical production, in which cast members produce and perform mini-musicals for family and friends, raised $25,000 for ACT Anaheim (Accelerate Change Together).

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Performances were themed to various Disneyland Resort celebrations: “Blast to the Past,” “Circus Fantasy,” “Year of a Million Dreams” and “Show Your Disney Side.” Several participants also volunteered time to teach song and dance numbers to children at the West Anaheim Youth Center, one of ACT Anaheim’s grant recipients.

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“Since Flashback’s launch, we have dedicated close to $300,000 to local charities within Orange County and Anaheim,” said Flashback co-creator Glynn Alsup, an attractions area manager. “ACT Anaheim is a great way to touch many of those charities at the same time. It truly is a valuable organization that goes to some great causes.”

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Disneyland Band Opens 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California

posted on January 23rd, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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The Disneyland Band officially opened the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show being held at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend. The NAMM Show is the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products industry.

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Yamaha, the official sponsor of musical instruments to the Disneyland Resort, helped make the appearance possible. Guest conductor Mickey Mouse also joined the performance, which included musical numbers ranging from jazz to classic Disney tunes.

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In addition to sharing their commitment to music education at the NAMM Show, the Disneyland Band is performing a dozen community concerts for second-grade students in Orange County, Calif., which they have done for more than 30 years!

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