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Thanksgiving Tepees at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

posted on November 25th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Thanksgiving Tepees at Disney's Fort Wilderness

For many of us, it’s turkey and football on Thanksgiving. But have you seen what happens this time of year at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort? It’s an experience – they celebrate in tepees.

Every November, a few hundred people travel to Walt Disney World Resort to build tepees and then spend the holiday weekend living inside. Many say they’ve never done Thanksgiving any other way.

Walt Disney World Guest Linda Hawley of Jacksonville is part of the group. She says building a tepee is tough work but certainly worth it because “the history just pours in on you.” Others describe spending Thanksgiving in a tepee as “romantic.” Take a look and judge for yourself:

A big part of the gathering called the Lodge Owners Rendezvous is Thanksgiving dinner — and it’s remarkable. To pull it off, about 24 turkeys are put into a large pit lined with aluminum foil. The food is surrounded by charcoal and then covered with giant lids. When it’s ready, the group sits down to what’s believed to be one of the largest sit down, family-style meals in the southeast. And then it’s back to the tepees.

By the way, the tepee experience at Creekside Meadow is invite-only. You need to either own a tepee at the Lodge Owners Rendezvous or be a family member or friend. How about you? Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

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Filed: Disney Differences, Walt Disney World Resort

The Blessing of the Four Directions at Walt Disney World

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

Something unique happens this time of year at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – a ceremony performed in the lobby called the Blessing of the Four Directions.

As you may know, November is Native American Heritage Month and every year visiting interpreters James Hansen (Black Wolf) and Anita Hansen (Quick Silver) perform a short ceremony, symbolically driving out negative energy and purifying the resort for the year ahead.

The Hansens also tell stories and answer questions for guests about Native American culture. If you haven’t seen it, here’s video:

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Filed: Disney Differences, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Blog Exclusive: First Video of the Most Sophisticated Audio-Animatronics Technology Yet

posted on November 17th, 2009 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company

Taking you the behind the scenes and giving you a sneak peek at new attractions is one of our goals on the Disney Parks Blog.

Today’s video gives a first glimpse of the new Abraham Lincoln figure that will be the main attraction in the returning “The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” show. The new, advanced figure features Disney’s most sophisticated Audio-Animatronics technology, with incredibly lifelike facial features and expressions.

The new, fully-electric head allowed Imagineers to add new technology and functionality to a figure that has entertained Disneyland guests since 1965. The previous Lincoln head and face had seven functions, and the new and improved head and face has a total of 20 functions. Lincoln can now purse his lips, smile, grimace and form an “O” with his lips. Don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.

The classic attraction is scheduled to re-open at Disneyland Park in December. The fascinating figure – along with new and classic show elements – continue the Disney tradition of merging great storytelling with breathtaking technical innovation. The rich and moving show provides a patriotic tribute to our nation’s 16th president.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney Differences, Disneyland Park, Walt Disney World Resort

Sleigh Rides Offered for First Time at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

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

Florida Sleigh Ride

If you say “sleigh ride” — thoughts of Florida rarely follow. But this holiday season, there’s a new experience that may just change that. For the first time, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is offering horse-drawn sleigh rides through the woods at Walt Disney World Resort.

Beginning on November 29, a fire-engine red sleigh with garland and holiday lights will take you through parts of the 700-acre backwoods resort. The magic-makers at the resort’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch have equipped sleighs with tires for rides around property. Four adults or two adults and three children should be able to ride on each sleigh.

You’ll depart from the Blacksmith’s Shop near the Settlement area inside Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and travel into the forest on each 25-minute ride. It’ll cost $60 for one group to ride and children ages 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Sound fun? Let us know in the comments. You can also book the experience by calling 407-WDW-PLAY.

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Celebrating Veterans at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on November 11th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

It’s Veterans Day and we’re celebrating at Walt Disney World. At Magic Kingdom Park, a daily flag ceremony includes an honor guard of Walt Disney World Security Officers, The Main Street Philharmonic marching band, The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet (singing “God Bless America”), and announcements by The Mayor of Main Street. As the Philharmonic marches down Main Street to John Philip Souza’s “The Liberty Bell,” a honored veteran carries the folded flag. Here’s video of the flag retreat ceremony:

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Mobile Magic – First Disney Parks Mobile App Now Available

posted on November 11th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

It’s here. Our first official Disney Parks mobile application is now available and you’re invited to check it out.

Trying Mobile Magic is simple. Verizon Wireless customers can download the application for $9.99 for 180 days.   Just go to the Media Center to “Browse & Download,” then “Get New Applications.” You’ll then find Mobile Magic in the “Travel & Navigation” folder.  The app can also be found by texting Magic to 2777 later today.

You should know that there’s a 24-hour free trial available for a limited time if you’d like to test it out. In either case, download and message charges may apply. Airtime or megabyte data charges may also apply when browsing, downloading and using certain applications. You can access the Disney Parks mobile web site by going to either or on your mobile web browser.

Mobile Magic Mobile Magic
Mobile Magic Mobile Magic
Mobile Magic Mobile Magic

The application is ready to use but the team will be fine tuning it until January. Mobile Magic is bringing FASTPASS return times, attraction wait times for the park you are in, extensive information on character locations and more for Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks to your Verizon Wireless phone. And, even if you are not a Verizon Wireless subscriber, you can still use your mobile phone to access select park information and on the Disney Parks Mobile web sites.

Here’s the list of phones that the app is currently available on:

    – LG Glance
    – LG VX Chocolate
    – LG Chocolate 3
    – LG Decoy
    – LG VX 8700
    – LG Venus
    – Moto Adventure
    – Nokia 7205
    – Samsung Renown
    – Moto 325
    – Samsung 540
    – Samsung 550
    – LG 5500
    – Nokia 6205
    – Moto 755
    – UT Starcom 8950
    – UT Starcom GC1-c711
    – GZ1 – S Boulder
    – Moto K1 -M
    – Moto – L7c
    – LG 8350
    – Samsung Trance
    – Moto V3m
    – Moto Barrage
    – Moto VU204
    – LGE VX-8360
    – Motorola RIZR Z6TV
    – Motorola VU30 (Rapture)
    – Motorola Z6c
    – Samsung SCH-A990
    – Samsung SCH-U620
    – Samsung SCH-U900 Flipshot
    – LG VX 9100 – enV2
    – LG VX 9200 – enV3
    – LG VX 8300
    – LG VX8370
    – Motorola V9M
    – Motorola W766 Harmony
    – Motorola VE
    – Samsung U640 Buddy
    – Samsung SCH – U650 (Sway)
    – Casio Hitachi Exilim C721

Update: New Phones Added

    – Nokia 6315i
    – Nokia 2705 Shade
    – CDM – 8975
    – LG VX 8600
    – LG VX9400
    – LG VX9800 V
    – LG VX9900 enV
    – Nokia Twist 7705

The Following Touch-Screen Devices Added

    – LG VX8575 – Chocolate Touch
    – LG VX 9600 – Versa
    – LG VX 9700 – Dare
    – LG VX 10000 – Voyager
    – LG VX 11000 – enV Touch

The list of Verizon Wireless phones that Mobile Magic will be available on is expected to grow to include “touch” handsets and smartphones in the upcoming weeks.

Here are some more screenshots:

Mobile Magic Mobile Magic
Mobile Magic Mobile Magic

There are even more screen shots below:
Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Differences, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney Company Investing $7M in Projects to Protect World’s Forests

posted on November 3rd, 2009 by Beth Stevens, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to combat climate change and protect threatened wildlife is to preserve the world’s forests?

Together with Conservation International, Disney’s investments will help protect forests in the Congo Basin to reduce carbon emissions and benefit habitat for a wide-variety of species including the endangered gorilla.

That’s why as part of our company commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect diverse habitats we’re making a major investment in projects to protect forests in the Amazon, the Congo, the Lower Mississippi River valley and Northern California.

In partnership with leading conservation groups Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund, we’re investing $7 million to support projects that use a variety of strategies including avoided deforestation, reforestation and integrated forest management to get the job done.

Working with The Nature Conservancy, Disney’s investment will support the development of an innovative reforestation project in the Lower Mississippi Valley to plant trees and restore up to 2,000 acres of former forest land.

These efforts supplement what we are already doing across the company to cut down on fossil fuel use, to switch to cleaner forms of energy and to educate kids and adults alike about being better environmental stewards. (If you don’t yet know about Friends for Change: Project Green or Disney’s Planet Challenge, you better check it out…)

Protecting forests is critical because they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Each year, about 50,000 square miles of forest disappear around the world, equal to the size of Pennsylvania. The burning and clearing of tropical forests is responsible for nearly 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution, or more than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined!

If you are interested in learning more, visit our partners’ websites. They are doing some fantastic and innovative work that we are really proud to support.

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Filed: Behind the Scenes, Disney Differences, Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey and Minnie Halloween Costumes

posted on October 29th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Mickey & Minnie's Edwardian Inspired Halloween Costumes

One glance at Mickey and Minnie and you know it’s Halloween Season. But unless you take a closer look, you’ll miss the amazing attention to detail Disney Parks designers have put into the costumes.

For Halloween, the silhouettes of their costumes are Edwardian inspired. The scalloped edge on Minnie’s peplum and Mickey’s cape are reminiscent of the wing edges of friendly bats found in the belfries of Haunted Mansions around the globe. And all are accented with iridescent piping inspired by the welcoming candlelight glow of a front-porch pumpkin.

There’s also a mixture of rich eggplant hued velvets, satins and organzas, accented by vibrant pumpkin shade brocades, sheers and suedes, according to senior designer Diana Kuriyama.

To set off Mickey’s waistcoat, you’ll notice a dash of pumpkin-stem green with a vest that is tone-on-tone brocade with a hidden pumpkin leaf pattern.

On Minnie, sequin embroidery in a pumpkin vine pattern accents her puff sleeves and peplum along with Mickey’s lapels and cape lining. You may also notice the interesting velvet on Minnie’s hat and bodice.

The costumes can be seen in several parks, including Disneyland Resort Paris. Here’s the list:

Disneyland Resort – Disneyland Park Town Square during normal park operating hours during the Halloween season.

Walt Disney World Resort – Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights.

Hong Kong Disneyland – Regular Park meet-and-greet in Town Square during the Halloween Season.

So, do you have a favorite Mickey and Minnie costume?

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Disney Tips For Designing Your Jack-O-Lantern

posted on October 23rd, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

If you’re looking for ideas on how to design your Halloween jack-o-lantern, we’ve got 182 of them – and they all can be found on Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park.

It’s not the usual squares and rectangles for pumpkins at Walt Disney World Resort this season – they’re unique. Different designs and shapes include a hot dog pumpkin over Casey’s Corner and my favorite snowman pumpkin. There’s even a pumpkin featuring a spilled ice cream cone.

The Magic Kingdom Park hand-carved pumpkins on the buildings and in windows are redesigned with different designs and shapes, according to David Hartmann, an art director with Walt Disney Entertainment. Disney’s Event and Decorating Support then took David’s sketches and made them real. Check out some of David’s best in a quick video.

If you’re carving your own jack-o-lantern in the next few days, here’s some advice from the people who make Main Street, U.S.A. so unique this time of year:

Pick your pumpkin – Before you buy, put your potential pumpkin on the floor or ground and make sure it sits straight. If you can “see” where the face should go, it’s the right pumpkin for you.

Start sketching on paper – Once you start cutting into the pumpkin, it’s too late to go back. First, draw your design on a piece of paper (grocery bag, old wrapping paper, newspaper) the same size as your pumpkin. Once you’ve got your design just how you want it, you’re ready to move the design to your pumpkin. Disney’s Event and Decorating Support used an overhead projector and a black marker, but you can just as easily use a toothpick or fork. Hold your pattern to the pumpkin and poke a tiny hole through the paper every half-inch or so. When you take the paper away, you’ll have a dotted outline to follow.

Carve the lid at an angle – If you cut up-and-down around the pumpkin’s stem, your cap could fall through. Don’t worry if you don’t carve a perfect circle. That will actually help you find the “right” way to put the lid back on.

Skip the candle – All of the pumpkins along Main Street, U.S.A use LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Much safer than an open flame, LEDs don’t get hot. The also last longer than a candle and won’t blow out in the wind. New LEDs even flicker like a real flame.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Weddings Interview: David Tutera

posted on October 22nd, 2009 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

Today we’re continuing our series from New York City with celebrity wedding planner David Tutera. He’s answering some of the most asked questions from Disney brides and sharing some secrets about the importance of wedding planning, theming and creativity. David also gives his best advice for your wedding day — be a guest at your own wedding. Check out the full interview.

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Filed: Celebrations, Disney Differences, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Weddings & Honeymoons