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Happy Villaintine's Day from Disney Parks Blog

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Lend a Hand to Build a Boardwalk at the Pine Island Conservation Area

posted on October 16th, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


It’s no secret that our cast and crew members are amazing. Not only do they work to create magical moments for our guests each and every day at sea, but they donate thousands of hours of their personal time each year to benefit worthwhile causes in port communities around the world.

This past Saturday is a perfect example. Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS from the Disney Fantasy – in port for less than a day – gave back to their home port community of Brevard County. On their day off, they picked up hammers and nails to help build an ADA accessible boardwalk that leads to a brand new park pavilion.

The Pine Island Conservation Area boasts nearly 900-acres and is a great place for guests to observe and connect with nature. The new pavilion will provide shade and mosquito protection for park guests year round, even in Florida’s hottest months. Because of the hard work of our VoluntEARS, all guests will now have access to the pavilion and park experiences, ensuring that the conservation area can serve as a place for education for everyone.

Here’s a look at the team in action.

In collaboration with Disney, ESPN and ABC, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) supported this project through the NRPA’s Parks Build Community program, which provided 16 communities with resources to improve local parks, connect kids with nature, help kids and families live healthier, and increase kids’ access to sports. The Pine Island Conservation Area received a $20,000 grant for improvements.

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Disneyland Resort Celebrates 25th Anniversary of CHOC Walk in the Park with $250,000 Gift

posted on October 15th, 2015 by Michael Colglazier, President, Disneyland Resort


This year continues to be magical for the Disneyland Resort. In the midst of celebrating our 60th anniversary, the cast members of the Disneyland Resort had an amazing time last weekend helping to celebrate another momentous community milestone – the 25th anniversary of CHOC Walk in the Park.

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CHOC Children’s is one of the most important health organizations in our community. It is hard to meet someone in the area who hasn’t been touched by the great work that they do. The CHOC Walk, one the hospital’s largest annual fundraising events, is also among the most popular community events for our cast. Hundreds of Disney cast members were among the walkers who raised awareness and money for this wonderful organization.

In addition to my role at the Disneyland Resort, I am also very fortunate to sit on the board of directors at CHOC Children’s. I get to see firsthand all of the wonderful things they do on a daily basis. More importantly, I get exposure to how they plan to address Orange County’s greatest needs.

One of our community’s largest opportunities is in mental health services for our youth. According to CHOC, one in five children has a diagnosable mental health disorder. That adds up to about 150,000 kids in our community. However, Orange County has no inpatient psychiatric services for children under 12 and very limited services for adolescents.

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I was very happy to learn that CHOC Children’s is starting a mental health initiative to specifically address this need. I am also excited to share that the Disneyland Resort is matching the funds raised by our cast members for the CHOC Walk in support of the new mental health initiative. In total, our cast and resort is contributing $250,000 to its new program.

I want to thank all of the walkers and sponsors of CHOC Children’s. Your support throughout the years helps to ensure a healthy and happy future for Orange County.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition

posted on October 9th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


‘CAN’ you pick a favorite superhero?

The Incredibles” has always been a favorite movie of mine, so I was amazed when a team of 50 Disney VoluntEARS used more than 7,500 cans of food to create a structure of the family during the recent CANstruction Orlando competition. Over the course of a few hours, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, along with their kids, Violet and Dash, took shape from layers of mixed vegetables, tomato sauce, fruits and other canned food items.

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Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition

The Orlando Chapter of CANstruction, whose mission is to feed and inspire the world, has organized an annual competition since 1994 to design and build sculptures made entirely out of canned goods. After the competition, all of the food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank, a local organization that supports thousands of families in need through programs like Kids Café, an after-school initiative that feeds more than 1,400 children a day.

Take a look at this video of Disney VoluntEARS at work to see how everything stacked up. And, you can get in on the action! View the dozens of entries and vote for your favorite on Facebook this week as part of the Patron’s Choice award.

The theme for this year’s event was “Hunger Heroes.” While the Incredibles may be the ones with superpowers, it’s all of the extraordinary volunteers who are the real superheroes for helping to create hope through hunger relief.

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25th Annual CHOC Walk in the Park Returns to the Disneyland Resort on October 11

posted on October 2nd, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


On Sunday, Oct. 11, the 25th annual CHOC Walk in the Park supporting CHOC Children’s will return to the Disneyland Resort during the Diamond Celebration.

Since its inception, CHOC Walk in the Park has raised nearly $23 million for CHOC Children’s, supporting a variety of patient and family programs, as well as education, research, and the development of the latest technologies to advance the health of CHOC patients.

Here are the top three ways you can help support CHOC Walk this year:

1. Sleep in and make a difference as a “sleeping bear”
Registering as a “sleeping bear” is a great way to raise funds and earn CHOC Walk rewards all while sleeping in on Sunday morning.

2. Party with your ‘ohana at the CHOC Walk Ambassador’s Luau at the Disneyland Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 10
Have you practiced your hula dancing lately? This new event is hosted by the CHOC Ambassadors, six courageous children who represent all the other children at CHOC and their medical journeys. Enjoy live Polynesian entertainment, luau-inspired food, face painting, a silent auction and more. The CHOC Walk Ambassador’s Luau will take place from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom in the Disneyland Hotel.

3. Put on your walking shoes and join us at the CHOC Walk on Sunday, Oct. 11
The walk covers three miles through Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park, where you’ll get a special peek at the magic of the Disneyland Resort before the parks open to the general public.

Tickets and registration for these events are available at CHOCWalk.org. If you are joining us for these events, share your experience with #CHOCWalk!

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Wildlife Wednesday: Disney Conservation Fund Awards $3 Million in Grants

posted on September 30th, 2015 by Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


One of my favorite things I get to do each year is help review conservation grant proposals for the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). Every summer, I have a chance to work with my fellow cast members to provide needed funds to organizations from all over the world that help animals in the wild, inspire communities to preserve ecosystems and ensure our planet continues to thrive and provide for the amazing diversity of wildlife and communities who share it.

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The grant review process is a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding. This year 80 cast members served on one of six committees focused on reviewing conservation work taking place in different geographic areas. Reviewers include cast members from various parts of The Walt Disney Company with expertise in conservation research, education, animal care, communications, business and philanthropy. Each brings their own experiences, points of view and expertise that help us ensure funds are directed to projects that will have the greatest positive impact on endangered species and habitats. In less than four months, our team of reviewers collectively dedicated more than 2,100 hours of their own time to reviewing more than 300 proposals!

Serving on a review committee is a great opportunity for cast members to make a difference for the animals we are passionate about and inspire our guests to learn more about every day. Reviewers often share their awe at the astounding conservation work they read about, the exciting new approaches to solving conservation challenges and amazing stories of people truly dedicated to making the world a better place for communities and animals. Being a part of this process also helps cast members better understand the role The Walt Disney Company plays in conserving nature and connecting kids and families with nature all over the world.

It is especially rewarding when the group chooses to support a project I have been personally involved with – I was lucky enough to provide field or veterinary support to several of the projects in the past, and have visited many of the field sites where this amazing work is being done. We love seeing the Disney Conservation Fund supporting solid projects that our cast members have checked out in person.

This year, we are proud to share that nearly $3 million in grants from the DCF will benefit wildlife, habitats, and communities through 104 conservation projects! After 20 years of helping nonprofit organizations worldwide, we have officially surpassed $30 million in grants through the fund.

The DCF is supported by guests like you who make contributions at Disney’s Animal, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and The Land at Epcot, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club Resorts and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Your support truly makes a difference, and we value the opportunity to work together to protect wildlife each year. I personally would like to share my congratulations to all of this year’s grant recipients, our many cast members for their hard work and to you, our guests, for helping us to conserve nature for future generations.

For a complete list of the 2015 Disney Conservation Fund grant recipients, you can visit www.disney.com/conservation. Learn even more about the incredible achievements we have reached together at The Disney Post.

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Literacy Project Foundation Surprised with $60,000 in Next Chapter of Disneyland Resort Million Dollar Dazzle

posted on September 25th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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Last weekend, I joined our Million Dollar Dazzle Crew as we pulled off a textbook surprise by announcing the Literacy Project Foundation as the latest recipient of a $60,000 Million Dollar Dazzle gift from the Disneyland Resort. The nonprofit organization offers a reading program at no cost in many Orange County, Calif., elementary schools and after-school programs that helps disadvantaged youth improve their reading skills.

We were scheduled to present Disneyland Resort tickets to once-struggling readers at the nonprofit’s annual gala when we made the exciting announcement.

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“This gift enables us to reach even more at-risk youth,” said Sue Grant, executive director of Literacy Project Foundation. “For many years, the Disneyland Resort has supported us with ticket donations and materials for our participants, and this donation is certainly one for the books!”

The Million Dollar Dazzle Crew will continue to surprise local nonprofits with $60,000 each month of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. I look forward to sharing the next recipient soon on the Disney Parks Blog!

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Celebrating HBCUs – Disney Style

posted on September 8th, 2015 by Belinda Wilson, Community Relations Manager


One of the many things I love about being a Disney cast member is our company’s commitment to supporting diversity and education in Central Florida. It was evident this past weekend with the West Lakes Family Day and other events related to the 11th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, which featured two football teams from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in an early season match up.

South Carolina State Bulldogs vs Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions college football action at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Florida

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge kicked off Thursday at Evans High School in Orlando with the ESPN 101 career panel. Fellow cast member Latonya Johnson was one of five panel members who shared their career paths in the sports industry. Hundreds of students were encouraged to dream, set goals, discover educational opportunities and explore career possibilities.

On Saturday in Magic Kingdom Park, HBCU pride was on full display as the bands from South Carolina State University (SCSU) and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (UAPB) high-stepped their way through the park, along with their school presidents who were grand marshals for the day.

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Prior to Sunday’s football game at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, Disney teamed up with local nonprofit LIFT Orlando to host West Lakes Family Day, showcasing the heritage of six historic African-American neighborhoods near the stadium. During the community event, neighbors and new friends enjoyed food and entertainment, along with a special visit from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Even though the SCSU Bulldogs defeated the UAPB Golden Lions 35-7 before thousands of spectators in the rain, we all had a great time celebrating diversity and education.

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Calling All Orange County, Calif., High School Students: Applications Now Open for the First Class of Disneyland Resort Dreamers & Doers

posted on September 8th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


As I mentioned earlier this summer, Disneyland Resort is looking for exemplary Orange County, Calif., high school students driving positive change in their homes, schools or communities to represent our very first class of Dreamers & Doers this fall. 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.

This new program inspired us to seek out some of these influential students who captured their stories in action. From stuffed animal drives for homeless children to clogging classes for the disabled, I was overwhelmed by the amazing things these young people are accomplishing. Take a look at this video and find out what they DREAM about and what they DO to make their dreams come to life!

If you or someone you know is making a difference by conserving nature, inspiring others to be creative, live healthfully or bring hope and happiness to the community, apply now to be a Dreamer & Doer by submitting a completed application to your high school’s main office through November 20. Each Orange County high school will have the opportunity to select up to two Dreamers & Doers.

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Disneyland Resort Million Dollar Dazzle Crew Hits the Road, Surprises Next $60,000 Recipient

posted on August 27th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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You may remember that on July 17 we announced a special philanthropic program in honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration called Million Dollar Dazzle. Once a month during the celebration, our Million Dollar Dazzle Crew is surprising local nonprofits with $60,000, amounting to more than $1 million.

Last weekend, the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew showed up to a regularly scheduled Disney VoluntEARS event at the Orange County Food Bank with the surprise $60,000 for the nonprofit that runs the food bank, Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC).

Disney VoluntEARS were in place packing food boxes when Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto and the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew came in and announced that our second Million Dollar Dazzle gift was to benefit CAPOC’s Family Resource Centers, offering services from homework assistance for children to free lunches for senior citizens.

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“We have a really difficult time fundraising for our Family Resource Centers,” said Buddy Ray, executive director of CAPOC. “It’s easier to raise funds for the food bank because everyone understands what that is. This makes a world of difference for our entire nonprofit. Families are getting quality services that make a difference in their lives.”

Disney VoluntEARS from the Disneyland Resort have supported CAPOC since the early 1990s with quarterly food packing events. This gift represents a new way in which the Disneyland Resort is supporting CAPOC. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog to see which local nonprofit will be surprised next by our Million Dollar Dazzle Crew!

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Walt Disney World Resort Donates $866,000 Worth of School Supplies to Central Florida Students

posted on August 20th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


Being married to a high school algebra teacher, I completely understand how much work it takes to get ready for school. I also know that unfortunately, some of my husband’s students don’t have all the supplies they need. But some of my fellow cast members are doing what they can to help.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Disney VoluntEARS have been picking up extra folders, pencils, pens, composition notebooks and more to help more than 100,000 Central Florida students begin the school year successfully.

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Through this Back-to-School Supply Drive, students will receive over $866,000 worth of school supplies, including more than 60,000 backpacks. All of the supplies will be distributed locally by A Gift For Teaching (AGFT), which is a nonprofit organization that provides free school supplies to local students to help their students in need.

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In addition to donating school supplies, hundreds of cast members spent countless hours sorting pens, crayons, notebooks and other school items at AGFT’s warehouse in South Orlando. They also answered phones during a telethon hosted by WKMG Local 6 to raise funds for the nonprofit’s supply efforts.

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All supplies donated will ensure students, families and teachers can focus on the same goal: a successful start to the 2015-2016 school year!

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