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Yakitori House Restaurant at Epcot


posted on January 21st, 2010 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort

Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of just how much creativity has been expressed within This Company…Literally, three of my service award sculptures frolic atop my desk 24/7, in the characters of Tinkerbell, Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio. How could one not be inspired by the presence of such endearing and cherished role models?

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Filed: Disney Differences

Walt Disney World Moms Panel Welcomes New Members

posted on January 4th, 2010 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Hi everyone! Due to the increasing popularity of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel web site, we’re welcoming back 22 panelists from 2008 and 2009 and adding 21 more new panelists for the largest ever group of Disney-savvy vacation gurus. And they begin answering your questions today!

“Walt Disney World is so much more than a theme park and being on the Moms Panel allows me to help people discover all that Disney has to offer. I’ve been traveling to Walt Disney World for over 35 years and even after making countless trips there, my family still finds something new to experience,” said 2010 panelist Amanda Allen of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Chris Gildea a teacher from Boston, Massachusetts feels that planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort can be a once in a lifetime event and he has been helping people plan those kinds of trips for years. “Being a part of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel allows me a greater platform to expand the magic to others!”

The panelists work from home helping answer guest’s vacation planning questions. Many panelists feel that in some ways they are helping spread Disney pixie dust all over the world. Florida resident Maria Marquez says, “I love knowing I help other families relax and take in the Disney magic and joy on their trips. I get to share my own perspective and it brings me that much more happiness!”

To meet the newest panelists, view their video here. To ask the panel your vacation planning questions, visit

The 2010 Moms Panel Photo Composite

The vacation planning “Fairy Godmothers” are,

2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panelists

Amanda Allen; Raleigh, N.C.
Suzannah DiMarzio; Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Dorothy Drakos; Dundas, ON
Bernie Edwards; Columbia, Md.
Kathie Flood; Greer, S.C.
Portia Gadson;Cleveland, Ohio
Chris Gildea; Boston, Mass.
Diane Gonzales; San Antonio, Texas
Kaylene Jablecki; Cape Cod, Mass.
Joel Kennedy; Milwaukee, Wis.
Jonas Lehmann-Karp; Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Marc Lorenzo; Corning, N.Y.
Maria Marquez; Doral, Fla.
Terry McKinney; Charleston, S.C.
Dannée Neal; Indianapolis, Ind.
Amanda Pursch; Austin, Texas
Amy Rueffert; Talking Rock, Ga.
Andi Sims; Birmingham, Ala.
Allison Valdes; Johns Creek, Ga.
Amanda White; Atlanta, Ga.
Maribel Zambrana Garcia; San Juan, PR

Alumni Walt Disney World Moms Panelists

Kara Bacon; Omaha, Neb.
Kay Belin; Valparaiso, IN
Bret Caldwell; Evanston, Ill.
Diane Campagna; Bristol, R.I.
Beth Choisez; Floral Park, N.Y.
Margaret Fries; Oak Lawn, Ill.
Jodi Grundig; Natick, Mass.
Doug Ingersoll; Carmel, IN
Diane Luba; Plymouth, Conn
Darcie Maranich; Vail, Ariz.
Tanya McNally; Basking Ridge, N.J.
Michelle May; Lebanon, N.J.
Joanne McCabe; Ottawa, ON
Heather Murry; Social Circle, Ga.
Brigitta Noer; Nanoose Bay, BC
Whitney Pickering; Laurel, Miss.
Karen Prince; Plymouth, N.H.
Heather Roberts-Nault; Louisville, Ky.
Cathy Schikowski; Richfield, Ohio
Anna Skamarakas; Bellmawr, N.J.
Jennifer Wilkes; Acworth, Ga.
Erin Foster; Scarsdale, N.Y.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey’s 60th Birthday Celebration – 1988

posted on January 4th, 2010 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort

Birthday Mickey Flies Over Niagara Falls
In 1988 the Company celebrated Mickey’s 60th birthday with a brand new hot air balloon that made appearances and flights throughout the country. One of the highlights of that celebration was the balloon flight over Niagara Falls, an event I will never forget.

Birthday Mickey was launched early that morning from a schoolyard on the Canadian side, and I was in a helicopter that had been granted special permission to fly low, documenting the flight of the balloon. The wind was brisk, and there was tremendous excitement surrounding what was to be a remarkable adventure.
Birthday Mickey Flies Over Niagara Falls
As balloon pilots David Justice and Bob Carlton flew over Horseshoe Falls and dipped low into the river gorge, they were hanging off the gondola, waving their arms and celebrating every second! They landed safely a few miles downstream on a golf course, creating quite a stir among the warmly dressed golfers who could barely believe their eyes.

The photo of Mickey going over the falls was widely published around the world.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Disney History

Disney Parks Launches ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’

posted on January 1st, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

UPDATE: Hats off to each of the one million volunteers!

Thank you to all who have participated. The last day to use the free Disney Theme Park tickets distributed in this program was December 15, 2010.

Although you can no longer use a free Disney Theme Park ticket received in connection with this program, you can still continue to give back to your community by signing up for volunteer opportunities through HandsOn Network.

If you have additional questions please contact customer service.

And don’t forget to share your Disney Parks memories!

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day

Beginning today, Disney Parks is officially launching “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” — perform a day of volunteer service at a participating organization in 2010 and you’ll receive a free, one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park.

If you recall, we announced the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program on The Disney Parks Blog in September. Now, you can participate. It’s simple — just sign up, volunteer and redeem.

— First, visit or, search for a volunteer activity and sign up. TThe opportunities are being coordinated by HandsOn Network, the nation’s largest volunteer network. And as you’ll notice, many of the available activities offer opportunities for families to volunteer together.

— Next, you complete the volunteer activity selected.

— Finally, when the completed day of volunteer service has been verified by HandsOn Network, you’ll print out a voucher online (instructions will be included in a follow-up e-mail from Disney Parks) before redeeming it at a Disney Park — in California at Disneyland Resort or in Florida at Walt Disney World Resort – for a one-day, one-park ticket. If a guest determines that they won’t be able to visit a Disney park (vouchers must be redeemed and tickets used by Dec. 15, 2010), they can donate the ticket to a charity designated by Disney: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern California; Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida; Dreams Take Flight Canada.

Keep checking The Disney Parks Blog for updates on “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day.”

There are also some official details you should know about: You must pre-register and sign up for eligible volunteer opportunity at Ticket quantities for this program are limited. Must be at least age 6 to participate. Other terms and conditions apply. For details, see in the United States and Puerto Rico. In Canada, see

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Best of 2009 – Disney Pins Edition

posted on December 31st, 2009 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

As 2009 draws to a close, I asked my fellow Cast Members in product development, Disney Design Group, planning, merchandise marketing and operations to select their favorite Disney Pin released this past calendar year. For some, this request was like me asking them to pick their favorite child (okay maybe that was only a challenge for me).

The pins they selected were about as varied as their corresponding reasons. I’ve chosen several pins to spotlight here. For the complete “Best of 2009” recap, please visit the What’s HapPINing? Blog on on December 31.

Without further ado, let the trip down memory lane begin!
Have a Disney Day Pin

Julie Young – Product Developer for Open Edition pins and Accessories
“I selected the ‘Have a Disney Day’ pin. It features a simple design and wonderful message. I think everyone should have a Disney day! What’s more fun than that?”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on December 20th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Cast members worldwide mourned the loss of Roy E. Disney this week. He was a Disney Legend who played an important role in many of our lives. We shared some images you may have missed in our “Remembering Roy E. Disney” post.

Remembering Roy E. Disney

Also this week, we announced the return of Captain EO at Disneyland Resort. Heather Hust Rivera confirmed that the classic musical spectacular will return for an exclusive, limited engagement at Disneyland park beginning in February 2010. Here are some of our other most popular posts of the week:

Top 10 Proposal Ideas at Disney — December is the busiest month of the year for proposals, so Korri McFann shared some tips about the top 10 places to propose at Disney.

One-of-a-Kind Disney Instruments to Benefit Music Education — we offered a first look at one-of-a-kind Disney artwork — one of several instruments designed and painted to benefit music education in schools.

Holiday Fireworks — Valarie Sukovaty shared a holiday tradition that she began last year: watching “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks at Disneyland park.

Congas, Zendrum Create Unique Holiday Music at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — We featured a five-piece percussion band called The Village Beatniks.

Lincoln: Looking Back and Moving Forward — We posted new video of the figure being programmed.

Did you miss it? Davy Crockett’s Window in Frontierland — Have you seen the window in Frontierland dedicated to Fess Parker, the man known to millions of baby-boomers as legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett?

Zooming Down Main Street, U.S.A. — Walt Disney World Photographer Gene Duncan shares a castle image that’s “a little different” than you usually see.

Snow-Capped Mountains Behind Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle — Paul Hiffmeyer, the chief photographer at the Disneyland Resort, captured an amazing photo of the Castle.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Did you miss it? Davy Crockett’s Window in Frontierland

posted on December 18th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Have you seen the window in Frontierland dedicated to Fess Parker, the man known to millions of baby-boomers as legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett?

Fess Parker, as Davy Crockett, receives a tribute window

Five years ago this week, Fess Parker received the highest honor Disneyland Resort bestows when the park unveiled a tribute window. Parker’s salute included an entirely rethemed building facade which paid tribute to Parker’s portrayal of Davy Crockett, along with his sidekick Georgie Russel, played by the late actor Buddy Ebsen. Parker and Ebsen were featured stars at the grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.

In his role as Davy Crockett, Fess Parker helped promote and open Disneyland Park. In the photos below, you’ll see Davy Crockett walking through a yet-to-be finished Disneyland park and later with Walt Disney riding a horse on Main Street, U.S.A.

Fess Parker with Walt Disney walking through a yet-to-be finished Disneyland park

Fess Parker riding horses with Walt Disney

The tradition of honoring individuals with a personalized decorative window was started on Main Street by Walt Disney himself and has continued throughout Disney parks worldwide.

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Roy E. Disney, Key Figure in Revitalizing The Walt Disney Company, Disney’s Animation Legacy, Dies at Age 79

posted on December 16th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Roy Edward Disney, son of Disney Studios co-founder Roy O. Disney, and nephew of Walt Disney, passed away today (12/16/09) at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, following a year-long battle with stomach cancer. He was 79 years old. Disney was a successful businessman, philanthropist, filmmaker, and award-winning sailor, who played a key role in the revitalization of The Walt Disney Company and Disney’s animation legacy. He was associated with the Company over a 56-year period, and from 1984 – 2003, served as vice chairman of the Company’s board of directors, and chairman of the Studio’s Animation Department. In recent years, he held the title of director emeritus and consultant for the Company.

As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the Studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.” He personally executive produced “Fantasia/2000,” a sequel to the 1940 Disney classic, and served in a similar capacity on a number of recent animated shorts, including the 2004 Oscar®-nominated “Destino,” based on storyboards and original art by the iconic artist Salvador Dali. In the area of live-action films, Disney and his wife, Leslie DeMeuse Disney, most recently executive produced the 2008 feature documentary, “Morning Light,” which followed a group of young sailors as they competed in the grueling Transpac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

His philanthropic activities included sponsorship of the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center, part of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, is scheduled to open in spring, 2010.

Commenting on the announcement, Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, “On behalf of everyone at Disney, we are saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Roy E. Disney. He was much more than a valued 56-year Company veteran – Roy’s true passion and focus were preserving and building upon the amazing legacy of Disney animation that was started by his father and uncle. Roy’s commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of his greatest contributions to Disney’s past, present and future.”

John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, added, “I first met Roy when I was still an animation student at CalArts. Not only did I consider him a personal friend, but he was a great man who believed deeply in the art of animation. He put his heart and soul into preserving Disney’s legendary past, while helping to move the art of animation into the modern age by embracing new technology. Roy was a visionary and passionate supporter of the art form, and he was all about quality. I was always impressed that he would make time for someone like me when I was fresh out of college, and he continued to support and encourage me throughout my career.”

Stanley Gold, president, Shamrock Holdings, said, “Roy and I enjoyed a 35-year friendship and partnership that was simply special. We faced many business challenges together, had fun in the process, and enjoyed a wide variety of professional successes. Roy was a man who was steadfastly loyal to his principles and to his friends. He was a gracious, humble gentleman who could make the tough decisions life sometimes requires. He carried the torch high and proud, and the world is a better place for his tireless efforts. I will miss him greatly.

Roy Edward Disney was born in Los Angeles on January 10, 1930 to Roy O. Disney and Edna Francis Disney. His father and his uncle, Walt Disney, co-founded the Disney entertainment business in 1923.

After attending Harvard School and Pomona College, Disney launched his entertainment industry career in 1952, working as an assistant film editor on the “Dragnet” TV series.

He joined The Walt Disney Studios in 1953 as an assistant film editor, where his credits included the landmark Academy Award®-winning True-Life Adventures features, “The Living Desert” and “The Vanishing Prairie.” As a writer and production associate, he received Oscar® nominations for his work on the short subject, “Mysteries of the Deep” in 1959, and in 2003 for his work as executive producer for “Destino.”

Disney produced and directed some 35 other TV and theatrical production, including the landmark 1968 documentary, “Varda, the Peregrine Falcon,” before leaving in 1977 to become an independent producer and investor.

In 1978, Disney founded Shamrock Holdings, Inc., a wholly-owned family enterprise headquartered in Burbank, California, which specializes in private equity, real estate, and public equities investing. He served as chairman of the company, which has approximately $1.5 billion of capital committed to funds.

An avid competitive sailor, Disney holds several elapsed-time records for offshore races in the Pacific Ocean, including multiple wins in the 2,225-mile Transpac.

Among his many professional and philanthropic activities, Disney served on the board of trustees of California Institute of the Arts, the advisory board of St. Joseph Medical Center, and the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Inc. Additionally, he was an advisory member of the board of directors of the United States Committee for UNICEF, chairman emeritus of the board of directors of the Peregrine Fund, a member of the board of trustees of Ronald McDonald House charities, and a member of the board of trustees of the American Ireland Fund.

In 1993, he received the Winsor McCay Award (a special “Annie Award”) from ASIFA-Hollywood (The International Animated Film Society). The McCay Award is for lifetime achievement in animation. In 1997, Disney was awarded the first “Mort Walker Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cartoon Industry,” by the Boca Raton International Museum of Cartoon Art.

Disney received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from his alma mater Pomona College in 1998. In 2002, he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Mercy College in New York. The following year, he was presented with the Trustees’ Award and honorary Doctor of the Arts degree from CalArts.

Among his other honors, Disney was named a recipient of the 1999 National Catholic Education Association Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to children and education. In April 1999, Disney received the Henry Bergh Humane Award from the ASPCA, and in spring 2000, he was awarded the Inaugural Environmental Leadership Award from the Audubon Society.

Disney is survived by his wife, Leslie, and four children from his marriage to Patricia Dailey Disney – Tim Disney, Roy Patrick Disney, Abigail Disney, and Susan Disney Lord. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private, followed by cremation. His ashes will be scattered at sea. Plans for a Life Celebration will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Disney History

Decorate Your Home with Lights like a Disney Expert

posted on December 10th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

If you’re responsible for millions of holiday lights, you’re going to learn a few tricks. That’s the case with Walt Disney Entertainment lighting designer Mark O’Conner — and he’s sharing some tips for decorating your home.

Mark’s first tip is to use more LED lights. He says the lights last at least 10 years if you treat them well and offer vibrant colors. Also, if you have a big display, you’ll notice a difference in the electric bill. Mark also suggests getting ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against water or moisture. Here are more tips:

Mark’s final tip is for January — on storing your holiday lights for next year. It’s pretty simple. When you remove light strings, tape the end to a paper towel tube and simply start winding. The process helps prevent the giant ball of lights I’ve faced for so many years.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on November 28th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

The Disney Parks Blog featured several holiday-related posts this week, including a feature on a group of people who spend each Thanksgiving living in tepees at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. If you missed it, here’s a look:

We also asked for your thoughts on historical images on the Blog and what makes spending the holidays at Disney Parks so special. Here is the list of our most popular posts:

Now and Then: Photos Taken Outside Walt’s Apartment — Featured a photo of Walt Disney outside his apartment in 1956.

Your Favorite Part About Celebrating The Holidays at Disney Parks Is… — You shared your unique experiences at Disney Parks.

Ahoy Sailor Mickey — A behind-the-scenes look at the Sailor Mickey balloon before it’s maiden voyage at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Unique Centerpieces Created by Disney Parks Florist — We showed how to make four holiday centerpieces.

Thanksgiving Day Parade at Disneyland Park — Video showed the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Thanksgiving Parade.

Disneyland Resort Remembers — Forty six years ago this week, America lost its 35th president, John F. Kennedy. We found a photo showing Disneyland park closed its gates on November 23, 1963, in honor of the president.

National Thanksgiving Turkey Settles into New Home at Big Thunder Ranch — The Turkeys, Courage and Carolina, are now in their new home at Big Thunder Ranch at the Disneyland Resort.

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Filed: Disney Cruise Line, Disney Differences, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort