Walt Disney and Mickey Statue at Cinderella Castle

Thirty Disney VoluntEARS Help Build a Classroom in Ecuador

posted on November 22nd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last week, thirty Disney VoluntEARS from across The Walt Disney Company traveled to Ecuador for Disney’s first ever Global Service Project in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS.

Among them were cast members Dave Smith, Agar Yanulaytis, Rachelle Allen and Mohammad Jaffrey from Disneyland Resort and Ian Craig and Toshia Mcgoldrick from Walt Disney World Resort. The group helped build a classroom for a Quichua community in the upper Amazon.

DaveSmith

“In Quito, we piled into buses for a seven-hour ride down from the highlands and into the Amazonian jungle,” Dave, pictured above, said. “At the end of a long, gravel road we finally came to the Napo River where we loaded our gear into motorized canoes and headed down the river. By the end of the week, we had completed much of the foundation work, painted an inspiring mural and learned a lot about the Quichua culture and the community’s desire to find ways to get their children the education they need.”

Photo 2 - Agar

Agar, above left, said, “At the beginning of each day, the children were so happy to see us, play games, sing songs and work with us.” Rachelle, bottom right, added, “The kids spoke a combination of the local Quichua language and Spanish, but as soon as they saw the Disney VoluntEARS Vinylmation I brought with me, they got huge smiles on their faces and yelled ‘Mickey Mouse!’ Mickey Mouse is all it took to break the language barrier and that warmed my heart.”

Photo-3---Rachelle

Mohammad, pictured below, said, “I was presented the challenge of a mural and asked the local children what they would like it to be. They wanted nature, music, books, soccer, and mathematics. I worked hard to make sure that the mural was their mural. The leaves on the tree include the handprints of all 30 Disney VoluntEARS and the locals.”

Photo-4--Mohammad

“It was amazing to be able to work directly with children and families in Ecuador”, said Ian, pictured bottom right. “We did a little bit of everything, from collecting gravel and digging holes to mixing and pouring concrete. Building this classroom helps provide better access to education for many kids and I certainly will cherish this trip forever.”

Photo-5---Toshia-and-Craig

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Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

posted on November 18th, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Children in Cocoa, Fla., have a great new place to play, thanks to the efforts of nearly 250 volunteers from Disney Cruise Line, KABOOM! and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, who over the weekend joined forces to build a fully assembled playground in just six hours. The playground is open to the public and located on the site of a brand new Boys & Girls Clubs facility scheduled to open next month to serve the needs of children in the area.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

All day Saturday, Disney VoluntEARS, which included crew members from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship in port for the day and shoreside cast members, took part in everything from bolting together and hoisting brightly colored play pieces to mixing cement and hauling mulch.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

Planning for the playground began at a Design Day event held in August. Local children and community leaders met with organizers from Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Disney and KaBOOM! to design their dream playground. The children’s drawings were then used to create the final playground design.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

This is the second playground Disney Cruise Line has helped build near its homeport in Port Canaveral and one of the many ways we give back in our port communities around the world throughout the year.

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Disneyland Resort Helps Build Fifth KaBOOM! Playground in Orange County

posted on October 22nd, 2013 by Michael Colglazier, President, Disneyland Resort


Kaboom-Build-1

Yesterday more than 100 Disney VoluntEARS and I joined folks from the city of Anaheim and the Anaheim Family YMCA for a KaBOOM! playground build at Modjeska Park. This was the fifth Orange County KaBOOM! project that the Disneyland Resort has been part of since 2011.

It is easy to see why these projects are a favorite among our Disney VoluntEARS. I think they remind us of the reason Disneyland was built nearly 60 years ago … as a place where children and their parents can play and spend quality time together.
Kaboom-Build-2

It is amazing what a group of determined volunteers can accomplish in such a short amount of time. In just a matter of hours, a play area was filled with colorful, brand new equipment that children will be able to enjoy for years to come. And as we put the finishing touches on the slides and swing sets, I could already imagine the smiles and laughter that will soon fill this park.

KaBOOM! has a goal to build a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, and Disney has a dream of helping children and families create magical memories that last a lifetime. It’s a perfect match and a great win for our community. It was a hard, but fun day’s work for all who volunteered, and a lasting gift that will make this neighborhood a better place to live.

I’m so proud of our Disney VoluntEARS for donating their time for this terrific project … and grateful to have an organization like KaBOOM! to lead the way!

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Apply for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy Through October 31

posted on October 4th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Have you heard about Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine?

The program has the goal of inspiring and fueling the dreams of teens and helping them prepare for the future. Each year, 100 students are chosen from thousands of applicants to travel to the Walt Disney World Resort to participate in exclusive career workshops in a wide range of career paths, networking sessions and fun in the parks.

For more, check out this video, in which “E! News” co-anchor Terrance Jenkins shares what he loves about being involved in the program.

The application period is currently underway for the 2014 class. Learn more here: www.disneysdreamersacademy.com.

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Disneyland Resort Cast Members Grant $820,000 to Southern California Nonprofits

posted on September 23rd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast members are giving 114 Southern California nonprofit organizations a total of $820,000 in grants through the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund!

The program is funded entirely by cast members through regular payroll deductions or one-time donations. Those who contribute during the year have the opportunity to nominate an organization for a grant up to $5,000.

This year, in honor of the 30th anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS, 10 of those organizations each received an additional $25,000, including the Esperanza Entertainment Unit at Esperanza High School in Anaheim. See their reaction in this video!

Other organizations that received the special $30,000 grants include:

  • Beckstrand Cancer Association, Newport Beach
  • Boys and Girls Club of Tustin, Tustin
  • California Women’s Recovery/The Lynn House, Costa Mesa
  • The Children’s Bureau of Southern California, Huntington Beach
  • Ontario USO, Ontariov
  • Orange County Educational Arts Academy, Santa Ana
  • Orange County High School of the Arts, Santa Ana
  • Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, Downey
  • San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team, San Dimas

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Disneyland Resort, Wyland Help Launch Adopt A Channel Program

posted on September 13th, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort, Wyland Help Launch Adopt A Channel Program

At the Disneyland Resort and throughout our parks and resorts worldwide, it is important to us to find new ways to sustain our environment and conserve our natural resources. That’s why earlier this week, Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier and Director of Environmental Affairs Frank Dela Vara joined Marine Life Artist Wyland and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach to help unveil Adopt A Channel, a new, countywide program that promotes environmental stewardship to keep our waterways clean!

Throughout Orange County, Calif., more than 350 miles of regional flood control channels provide a vital service of protecting life and property from flooding hazards. Unfortunately, these channels collect trash, debris and other pollutants, which, if not removed, end up in the Pacific Ocean.

Over the last year, the Disneyland Resort piloted the program, adopting a two-mile section of the Anaheim-Barber City Channel that flows west of the Disneyland Resort to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. To date, nearly 600 pounds of trash and 12,000 square feet of graffiti have been removed.

OC Public Works is now expanding Adopt A Channel countywide to give other organizations and individuals an opportunity to Adopt A Channel in Orange County and keep our ocean healthy!

Watch this video and visit http://ocwatersheds.com/programs/waterways/adopt_a_channel to learn more.

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Disney Sponsors Panel to Give Students Sports Business Career Advice

posted on August 29th, 2013 by Bernadette Davis, Manager of External Communications at Walt Disney World


Hi, I’m Bernadette, Manager of External Communications at Walt Disney World and a fan of HBCU football. Ever since my college days, I’ve loved watching the bands, spending time with my family and cheering my favorite team.

For the past few months, I’ve been part of the team preparing for the 9th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, which gets underway this weekend. Televised on ESPN and tied to the start of college football season, the game will feature a gridiron battle between the Florida A&M Rattlers (MEAC) and Mississippi Valley State Devils (SWAC) at the Citrus Bowl in Downtown Orlando. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:45 a.m.

While the game is certainly at the center of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, it really is more than just a game.

The four-day celebration includes a full weekend of activities, ranging from a Legends Reception that recognizes Historically Black College and University alumni to a Bands Showcase at Epcot. What I love most about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge is how it underscores the importance of diversity and higher education.

Today, Evans High School got the first taste of MEAC/SWAC activities with the ESPN 101 Career Panel. More than 900 students received career advice from prominent sports personalities and executives who had one clear message: “You don’t have to be ‘on’ the field to be successful ‘in’ the field of sports.”

Disney Sponsors Panel to Give Students Sports Business Career Advice

Panelists, including Jay Harris from ESPN and Latonya Johnson from Walt Disney World Resort shared their personal stories and advice on how students who are passionate about sports can pursue a career in sports business, journalism and broadcasting, among others.

Disney Sponsors Panel to Give Students Sports Business Career Advice

Read on for additional posts about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge:

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Join Me at the 23rd Annual CHOC Walk in the Park at the Disneyland Resort

posted on July 31st, 2013 by Michael Colglazier, President, Disneyland Resort


Our founder, Walt Disney, left us with an amazing legacy of making dreams come true, not only for our guests in our parks but also for those who live in our community. One of his most meaningful contributions was supporting the development of CHOC Children’s Hospital in the early 1960s, and it is with tremendous pride that we continue our support for CHOC more than five decades later. As the new president of the Disneyland Resort and a new CHOC board member, I’m looking forward to participating in my first CHOC Walk in the Park and welcoming thousands of walkers, cast members and volunteers to the Disneyland Resort on October 13.

Join the 23rd Annual CHOC Walk in the Park at the Disneyland Resort on October 13

To date, this event has raised more than $21 million, funding health care programs, education and research projects that bring comfort and new hope to families throughout Southern California. If you haven’t participated with us before, and you’re going to be in the neighborhood in mid-October, sign up and walk with us. Just imagine the sight of so many people walking the entire Disneyland Resort (both parks and the Downtown Disney District) for such a great cause. Of course, we’ll add some special Disney touches along the route that will make the event even more fun.

Registration for this year’s CHOC Walk in the Park is open and teams have already begun to form. There is more information at www.chocwalk.org. Thanks for your support – and see you there!

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Fun Abounds When Kids, Disney Parks Cast Members and Animals Connect During Hospital Visits

posted on June 26th, 2013 by Allyson Atkins, Education Manager, Disney's Animals, Science and Environment


It’s fantastic being a Disney cast member, and no days are better than when a group of us get to take some of the animals from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to visit with the kids at three local Florida hospitals (the third was just added this year).

Fun Abounds When Kids, Cast Members and Animals Connect During Hospital Visits

Each month, with the support of Walt Disney World Resort Community Relations, Disney’s Animal Programs and Entertainment cast members partner to bring some wonderful programs to kids, ranging from toddlers to teenagers. The programs include educational presentations, interactive activities, animal encounters and special appearances by Disney characters. And for kids who are unable to leave their rooms to attend a program, we make individual room visits to bring the fun to the kids.

The kids really get into trying to figure out which animal is the fastest, strongest, largest, etc., during our “Awesome Animals” program. And they are amazed at what animals can be found right in their own backyards during our “Backyard Buddies” program. Another favorite is the “Caring for Animals” program – there are nods of understanding all around when kids learn that our animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom undergo many of the same procedures when they are cared for by our veterinary team as the kids do when they receive care from the hospital medical team.

Fun Abounds When Kids, Cast Members and Animals Connect During Hospital Visits

During these visits, it’s hard to say who has the better time, us or the kids!

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AquaDucky Derby on Disney Ships Benefits Make-A-Wish International

posted on June 6th, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Duckies, duckies everywhere! Thousands of ducks decorated by Disney Cruise Line guests and crew members on all four ships swirled through the ships’ pools and water coasters recently to take part in the first “AquaDucky Derby” rubber duck races to raise nearly $14,000 for Make-A-Wish International.

Aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, rubber ducks were placed at the top of the AquaDuck and with the crowd counting down and the sounds of “Wipe Out” playing over the sound system, 10,000 gallons of water rushed into the flume sending the ducks racing through the water coaster’s tunnel and around the ship’s upper decks before splashing down at the finish line.

Aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, guests and crew voted using applause for the unofficial best decorated duck while One Direction’s song, “That’s What Makes You Beautiful,” played in the background. For the official race, guests and crew splashed and kicked a current to carry the critters to the opposite side of the Goofy pool.

All funds raised from the duck sales are being donated to a very worthy cause – Make-A-Wish International, an organization that grants wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions in 48 countries outside of the U.S. Since the first-ever official wish experience 32 years ago, Disney has helped grant more than 81,000 wishes globally and is involved in nearly 50 percent of the wishes granted each year.

The events saluted the 30th anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program, which provides opportunities for Disney cast and crew members to donate their time to worthy causes around the world. Events like this are just a small part of Disney’s commitment to give back to local communities through in-kind donations and the efforts of Disney VoluntEARS. In 2012, Disney Cruise Line cast and crew members completed 75 community outreach projects and donated more than 4,500 hours of personal service to nonprofit organizations, working both onboard the ships and in communities across Central Florida, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. Additionally, Disney Cruise Line provided more than $640,000 in charitable and in-kind donations to organizations supporting children, families and the environment.

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