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Princess Tiana Gown Now Available For Brides

posted on October 21st, 2009 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

We’re in New York City this week for Bridal Market. It’s fashion week for bridal market the premier showcase of designer bridal gowns and we have a special surprise.

We met with Kirstie Kelly, couture designer for Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings bridal gowns including the long-awaited Princess Tiana gown. The elegant Tiana dress is available for brides but don’t worry, a child version can be found at Disney Parks. Here’s a peek at Kirstie’s latest designs.

For more info and updates, be sure to follow @DisneyWeddings on Twitter.

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

Disney Weddings In NYC: Bridal Market Trends

posted on October 20th, 2009 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings team has left the parks and is in New York City this week for Bridal Market, the premier showcase of designer bridal gowns.

It’s fashion week for Bridal Market and we’re talking with creators of the magical gown designs as well as wedding experts like editor in chief of, Carley Roney.

Here’s video of Carley explaining what’s special about weddings at Disney Parks and why destination weddings remain popular.

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

What Is the Most Popular Disney Pin?

posted on October 19th, 2009 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

One of the more challenging questions I’m often asked is, “What is the most popular Disney pin?” The question isn’t necessarily a challenge to answer but getting consensus on an answer is a different story. If I asked 50 people this same question, I would get 50 different answers (at this point something about beauty, eye and beholder comes to mind). In the merchandise division, we use historical sales record to determine popularity. Sales records are an easy and efficient method to identify popular pins, but they are lacking one thing – storytelling.

Telling stories is an essential part of trading or collecting Disney pins, and I’ve heard a lot of them over the years! One common thread is people define popularity as the most cherished pin in their collection (which is not necessarily based on perceived value or sales record). One Guest told me that he loved an open edition Mickey Mouse pin because it was the first pin he was given. Another Guest took great pride explaining what it took to trade for a complete set of 10, red Doombuggies from Disney Summer Pin Festival 2009. Both Guests have popular pins – Mickey Mouse is a popular fellow, and there are only 40 complete red Doombuggy sets in the world.

For our 10th Anniversary of Disney Pin Trading, we wanted a pin collection that featured popular pins released during the past ten years. Thus, unique Tribute Collections were created for the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. When choosing the pins for the collections, I turned to the stories I’ve heard during my time as Trading Manager (sorry Pin of the Day, you didn’t make the cut). My hope is that Guests will showcase the original pins next to their newer cousins, the Tribute pins.

Some pins were easy to identify such as Flubber 2000 (who doesn’t want to wait in the rain for pins?). Another popular favorite was Wet Paint – a much discussed surprise pin from the early days. One pin I thought was a must was released on January 1, 2004 – the monorail surprise pin. The pin contains the one and only Spanish sentence that I know (say it with me) – “Por Favor Mantengase Alejado De Las Puertas.” Other pins selected included the Fantasmic! Hidden Mickey pin (just how difficult was it to trade for that pin?), and the gorgeous jumbo-sized pin designed by Disney Design Group artist Monty Maldovan titled “Celebration Surprise.” The latter was released in February 2006 for the Happiest Celebration On Earth. All of the pins selected for these collections have great stories attached.

So now it is your turn. What is the most popular Disney pin?

For more information about these pins and other things related to the 10th Anniversary of Disney Pin Trading, visit

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Filed: Disney Differences, Walt Disney World Resort

Glass Art Remains Unique at Disney Parks

posted on October 19th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Right now, someone’s admiring glass art at Disney Parks. Yeah, glass is global — it’s available in our international parks. But there’s something special happening in front of a furnace at Walt Disney World Resort. Glassblowing and storytelling are combined to create a Disney Difference you shouldn’t miss.

Heat, gravity and human breath create art during glassblowing shows in the Crystal Art Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom Park. It’s mesmerizing. Glowing molten glass is gathered on the end of a blowpipe and then manipulated by hand by a master artist until it’s finished.

It’s as special now as it was when Walt Disney originally spotted it. Walt saw the potential of having glass art in a theme park, according to Rudy Arribas, president of Arribas Brothers. It’s the reason why the Arribas Brothers family business exclusively creates inside Disney Parks.

In talking with Rudy, it’s clear that Walt knew what he liked and he loved the work they were doing. Rudy says he wanted glass to be “special and unique” like the rest of Disney. So, he asked if they’d consider only doing business within Disney.

Now, guests watching and interacting with an Arribas Brothers artisan like Brandon Price usually end up wanting the piece he’s working on. They’re part of its creation, Brandon says. Personalization keeps it special.

Arribas glass shops can be found in Disneyland Park in California, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris in France and Disneyland Hong Kong. And they’re all different.

By the way, the Walt Disney World location was recently refurbished. Walt Disney Imagineering’s vision of the Arribas Brothers and their past is now on the walls. Be sure to stop in and enjoy this Disney Difference.

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Filed: Art of Disney, Disney Differences, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Greeter Inspires Guests

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

Imagine never having a bad day at work. Walt Disney World Cast Member Art Lark says he hasn’t had one in 16 years — so, it’s not too surprising that guests from around the world look forward to seeing him. What’s surprising is how many there are and what they’ll do to see him.
Art Lark, Greeter, Walt Disney World

Art’s job is to make sure you have a good day when visiting Disney’s Beach Club Resort. And judging by the amount of people who are inspired to exchange online stories about him, share photos and even plan trips to say hello — he’s pretty good at what he does. The resort greeter has a growing online following that he just recently found out about.

“Art is a legend,” Walt Disney World Cast Member Lynde Dodge says. “He has kept Walt’s promise to our Guests and made memories for so many that last generations.”

The 63-year-old started at the resort’s front desk until a manager asked if he’d like to greet Guests. He said he didn’t think he’d like it but quickly realized that it was a perfect fit — like a glove, he says.

“When you’re doing something that you truly enjoy and are truly passionate about and when you’re given an opportunity — it’s easy,” Art says. “It humbles you because, to know that you’re thought of in that regard by so many people, it makes you want to make sure you don’t do anything to disappoint. I’m the one who has been blessed.”

He says his secret to success is being authentic. “People can pick up when you’re phony or pretending,” he says. “Find something you’re passionate about and do it.”

You should know that during my last visit with Art, he announced that he’s retiring. When asked what he’ll miss most, he smiled and said, “everything.”

Art is a “Disney Difference” and the first of an ongoing series featuring selected Cast Members.

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Disney Differences, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Cinderella’s Coach for Disney Weddings

posted on October 14th, 2009 by Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing & Business Development Director, Weddings & Honeymoons

Many of you know that Disney’s most treasured pumpkin is Cinderella’s Coach, her transportation to and from the royal ball. Over the years it’s become an icon that brides dream about – a symbol of dreams coming true.

The pumpkin coach debuted more than 25 years ago at Magic Kingdom Park and is used for parades and photo opportunities at Disney parties. Built in Burbank, Calif., in the early 1980s it was inspired by the 1950 animated classic Cinderella, and has special touches like a glass slipper embossed in the glass and is ideally seated for two.

This coach was used in the 1981 Tencennial parade, Easter and Christmas parades and Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings until it became clear one coach wasn’t enough.

With such a high demand, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings turned to a coach maker for royalty, to produce a second coach. In 1995, it produced a coach fit for a princess, fitting since Bennington Carriages’ normal clients are British royalty. It illuminates at night, has rich cerulean blue cushions and Cinderella detailing that includes a sculpture of two birds perched atop the carriage and Susie the mouse, hitching a ride along the back. Vines interweave along the top and sides of the coach with leaves embossed with gold for an upscale feel. This coach is led by six white Dapper Dan ponies, accompanied by three coachmen and can seat up to four.

See the wedding coach for yourself in this video:

Be sure to stay tuned for upcoming posts on tips, trends, and the latest happenings in the Weddings Industry.

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

‘Chef Remy’ Audio-Animatronics Figure Remains in Epcot

posted on October 14th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Judging by online conversations, there’s some question about whether Chef Remy, one of our newest Audio-Animatronics characters, can still be seen in Epcot. The answer is, yes, you can still enjoy Chef Remy’s culinary talents.

“Bon Appetit from Chef Remy” at Les Chefs de France at Epcot was initially scheduled to end in September but his appearances have been extended.

If you haven’t experienced Remy’s hijinks, you should. The rat-turned-chef made famous in the Academy Award-winning film Ratatouille flirts, dances and entertains several times a week at the France pavilion in Epcot.

Chef Remy

Excitement around Chef Remy begins with his presentation — how he’s revealed. He travels table-to-table on a rolling gourmet food cart. Then a Maitre d’ lifts the lid off a silver-domed cheese platter to begin the show and the smallest Audio-Animatronics character ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering doesn’t disappoint. When Remy recently visited our table at Les Chefs de France restaurant, he didn’t leave until the entire group was laughing.

Check out Chef Remy for yourself in a video we recently created at Disney Parks.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

‘Faraway Look’ – Using Pinhole Cameras

posted on October 7th, 2009 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort

Faraway Look by Gene Duncan

The accompanying photo was made in the late afternoon outside the Reflections of China show, and was designed to capture the wealth of artistic detail and delicate textures, as well as to tell the story of experiencing the beauty and tranquility of a land far away. The structure at right is a stunning scale reproduction of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing that is part of the visually and culturally rich World Showcase at Epcot.

The image was made on 4×5 color negative film using a pinhole camera, which is a box with a hole at one end. No lens, no shutter, no focus. The purity of the image is what strikes me first. This (non) technology of pinhole photography is unique, and requires much patience and educated guesswork. This is my first and only pinhole photo to date.

The image was created for a convention planner magazine ad, touting the wonderful and varied venues available within the Walt Disney World Resorts.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Brooms, Water Create Unexpected Disney Art

posted on October 7th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Water sketch art on the streets of Magic Kingdom Park stops me in my tracks. It always does. And it’ll likely do the same to you if you’re quick enough to spot it. The Florida sun is not a friend to custodial water artwork but it’s amazing while it lasts.

The way the art is created is unexpected. The custodial crew at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Park take the tools of their trade – a broom and water pan – and turn them into instruments to entertain.

I’ve heard Guests call the water sketches of Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and Tinker Bell amazing and “absolutely beautiful.”

During a recent sketch, Shawn Klingensmith, a guest at the Magic Kingdom Park, stopped to stare and told us he shares an appreciation for the short-lived art. “It’s a real treasure because it only lasts a few minutes in the sun,” Shawn said. “It’s just a special thing.”

The inspiration to create the water-sketch characters came from Tokyo Disneyland Park. Operations manager for custodial at Magic Kingdom Park, Kent Krause, said, “Hey, we can do that.”

So, Cast Members from the animation tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios were recruited to train members of the custodial team. Those who were interested and had an artistic flair were taught to make the characters – just like Tokyo Disneyland.

It’s impressive work and yes, true to official Disney character dimensions.

The team’s regular props create unexpected art for Guests. It’s something we call a “Disney Difference.” Expect to see more of these Disney Difference stories in upcoming months.

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Filed: Disney Differences, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Hands, Eyes Convey Emotions For Disney’s Audio-Animatronics Technology

posted on October 6th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

Quick…think about your last face-to-face conversation — how you used facial movements or arm gestures to show emotion. Disney Imagineers know humans often convey emotions with their hands, arms and eyes and tend to focus much of their Audio-Animatronics development work on it.

A first glimpse at how our three-dimensional figures can display emotions came in the Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo. Now, we’ve got more.

Animatronic Hand

Our newest hand prototype has 15 movable joints which is three times greater than a traditional Audio-Animatronics hand. Today, Disney Imagineering works with cutting-edge electronic servo motors to create realistic hands as well as arms. These compact mechanisms are able to move faster and with greater precision. In the past, Audio-Animatronics relied on pressurized air and hydraulics to generate life-like movements.

“Imagineers have been using Audio-Animatronics technology to bring Disney characters to life for over fifty years, and today we’re continuing that legacy of innovation and creativity by constantly creating new wows for the next generation of guests,” says Scott Trowbridge, WDI VP Research and Development.

Creating skin formulations for hands is also a highly scientific process that involves chemists, material scientists and artist. Imagineers often look to other fields for inspiration since a character’s skin must look as good as new after hundreds of thousands of hours of wear and tear.

Animatronic Eye

Imagineers realize that the eyes convey emotions and a two-foot eye prototype showcases our newest concept. It’s a new type of mechanism that uses electromagnets to create realistic eye motions. There is only a single moving part — the eye itself — and no wear points. That means faster, more realistic movement and longer life.

As Disney Parks continues to experiment and innovate, as with our newest Autonomatronics technology, we’ll certainly be talking about it on this blog. Stay tuned.

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