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PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This year’s D23 Expo was chock full of fun for Disney Parks fans, and highlights of the weekend were three special sessions dedicated to honoring Disney’s history and heritage, sharing news on what’s next for Disney Parks around the world, and offering sneak peeks at upcoming Disney films.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

“The Disney Legends Awards Ceremony” was held Friday, August, 14, and honored eight individuals for their unique contributions to the success of The Walt Disney Company. Among them were a few people who have specifically shaped or inspired Disney Parks experiences – or even were a part of our park’s history, including Disneyland’s first ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto, filmmaker George Lucas, and star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise Johnny Depp.

ALAN HORN (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios)

On Saturday, August 15, D23 Expo guests were treated to a “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios” presentation, which gave an overview of upcoming Disney films. Some of these films already have connections to existing Disney Parks attractions – and who knows what future park experiences may be inspired by some of these new films.

JOHNNY DEPP

During this session, several celebrities made surprise appearances in which they talked about their love of Disney Parks and share their enthusiasm for their new films, including Johnny Depp who dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”); Mia Wasikowska (“Alice Through The Looking Glass”); Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie (“Captain America: Civil War”); and Bryce Dallas Howard (“Pete’s Dragon”).

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

“The Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau also appeared with the upcoming film’s castmates, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o and Neel Sethi, and surprised them (and the audience) with a first look at footage from the film. Seeing their reactions was priceless – especially young Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli in the film.

OSCAR ISAAC, JOHN BOYEGA, LUPITA NYONG'O, DAISY RIDLEY, J.J. ABRAMS, HARRISON FORD, ALAN HORN (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios), ROBERT A. IGER (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company)

The new cast of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” also made an appearance with writer/director J.J. Abrams and special guest Harrison Ford. Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger closed the session by announcing plans for Star Wars-themed lands for Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Read more on that here).

BOB CHAPEK (Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts)

Another highlight of this year’s D23 Expo for Disney Parks fans was the “Parks & Resorts Presentation,” at which Disney leaders unveiled plans for Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, details on the Star Wars-themed lands planned for Disney Parks, Soarin’ Around the World, and updates on Shanghai Disneyland.

JON LANDAU, JAMES CAMERON, JOE ROHDE

Filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau joined Imagineer Joe Rohde to announce the official name of the land Pandora – The World of AVATAR, which is currently under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They also shared the name of the land’s major attraction, AVATAR Flight of Passage, which will allow guests to soar on a banshee.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

During the event, superhero mastermind Stan Lee also made a surprise appearance to help Imagineer Ted Robledo announce plans for The Iron Man Experience for Hong Kong Disneyland.

Be sure to click through all of the photo galleries above for a look inside each presentation.

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VIDEO: Disney Parks Announces Expansions and Enhancements at D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


It was a big weekend for Disney fans! The D23 EXPO 2015 was packed with news from across The Walt Disney Company, including major announcements from Disney Parks. New 14-acre Star Wars-themed lands at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland park, Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot and Disney California Adventure park and many more exciting announcements have kept fans buzzing for days. Take a look back!

Check out all the Disney Parks news from D23 EXPO 2015:

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Julie Reihm Casaletto Honored as a 2015 Disney Legend at D23 EXPO

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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Julie Reihm Casaletto, who was selected to be Disney’s first Ambassador in 1965, was honored as a 2015 Disney Legend at the D23 EXPO, along with eight other beloved contributors to the Disney Legacy. Julie was one of five finalists in the fall of 1964 competing to become Miss Disneyland Tencennial for the park’s 10th anniversary, when the Disney Ambassador program was introduced to help Walt Disney represent Disneyland park throughout the world.

During her tenure, Julie was featured in a special 1965 TV episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” in which she appeared alongside Walt Disney as he showed viewers upcoming concepts for Disneyland attractions. “Working with Walt was a super learning experience,” Julie shared. “His creative genius often came with a boy-like excitement of discovery.”

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When it came time to decide whether the Disney Ambassador program would continue, Julie shared her thoughts with Walt. Both agreed the program was a special opportunity for future emissaries of goodwill to share the joy and magic of Disneyland with the world. Today, the Disney Ambassador program has been introduced across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Julie has become the model upon which decades of Disney Ambassadors have patterned themselves.

“My purpose was to share the joy, hope and happiness of Disneyland to communities around the world,” Julie said. “Those unforgettable experiences have continued to influence my life and career. For decades, Disneyland has been the pixie dust of my life. I consider Disneyland and all of its wonder to be home.”

Learn more about the 2015 Disney Legends here.

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Star Wars Enhancements, New Experiences Coming Soon to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

posted on August 15th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


From a new Star Tours adventure to Star Wars Launch Bay and Season of the Force, guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will soon be able to step into the Star Wars galaxy like never before!

Star Wars Launch Bay Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park

Star Wars Launch Bay will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park. Also at Disneyland park, Star Wars Launch Bay will share the space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ, featuring opportunities to meet and take photos with Super Heroes like Captain America and Thor, as well as experience the returning Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries. Both experiences will be available for guests later this year.

Hyperspace Mountain Coming for Season of the Force at Disneyland Park

Season of the Force, a new seasonal event beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. In Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, guests will explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment throughout the land, themed food locations and more. Guests also will also climb aboard Hyperspace Mountain, a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction, in which guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.

Later this year, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy.

Finally, Jedi Training Academy – a favorite of younger fans – will be reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series, “Star Wars Rebels.”

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Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

posted on August 15th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger Announces Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

Today at the D23 EXPO 2015, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced to an audience of more than 7,500 fans that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., allowing Star Wars fans to step into the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever at 14-acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

Artist Concept Shows Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

Artist Concept Shows Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.

Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more news coming out of D23 EXPO 2015 this afternoon from the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation.

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Disneyland Nights: Suggestions for Nighttime Fun During D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 12th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


I’m looking forward to attending the D23 EXPO 2015 this week at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Expo will be held August 14-16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. After spending the daytime immersed in all things Disney, I can’t wait to visit Disneyland Resort at night. Here are some of my favorite places, in case you are looking for something to do as the sun sets in the California sky.

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Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar
My number one nighttime destination is Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. While I love finding hidden treasures inside the bar area (look for a hidden Orange Bird figure), I also enjoy sitting outside on the torch-lit lanai listening to live music. If you are hungry, try the Ahi Poke or the Slow-roasted Kālua-style Pork Sandwich. For beverages, I highly recommend the HippopotoMai-Tai or, if you are sharing, the Uh Oa!, named after the tiki goddess of disaster.

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Beignets and Live Music at Downtown Disney District
I like strolling through Downtown Disney District after picking up some beignets and coffee from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express. From 6-10 p.m. this month at Downtown Disney District, each night of the week will be devoted to a different musical style . During the D23 EXPO 2015 weekend, look for these performances:

  • Friday, August 14 – Tupua Polynesian variety show
  • Saturday, August 15 – Phat Cat Swinger (I love that swing dancing is still a tradition!)
  • Sunday, August 16 – Top 40 Music Jam features Dead Ringer

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Carthay Circle Lounge on Buena Vista Street
The little details on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure park are fantastic (see my fellow author Tyler Slater’s article for a sampling). I also like Carthay Circle Lounge, which offers handcrafted cocktails by mixologists who use unique glassware, gourmet garnishes and drink-specific ice (try the Manhattan as seen in this video).

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Dole Whips in the Enchanted Tiki Garden at Disneyland Park
There is nothing greater than enjoying a Dole Whip while sitting in the Enchanted Tiki Garden at Disneyland park. I love watching the Tiki gods of the garden come to life as seen in this video.

Do you have a favorite hangout in Disneyland after dark? Please share in the comments below.

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Popular Disney Theme Park Attractions Inspire New ‘Disney Attractionistas’ Dolls

posted on August 11th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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In January 2015, I shared a first look at some new dolls created especially for Disney Parks called “Disney Attractionistas.” I’m happy to report that the first four dolls in this collection were recently released at Disney Parks. I spoke with Victoria Hamilton, merchandiser for dolls and plush, to learn more about these Disney Parks-inspired items.

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“Disney Attractionistas are special friends that love to be together at Disney Parks every chance they get,” explained Victoria. “As the story goes, each Attractionista wished to be part of their favorite attraction, and that it could be a part of them. Once their wishes came true, they were magically transformed with attire inspired by those various attractions. These 12-inch fashion dolls come with detailed clothing, a special animal sidekick and a fun story on the back of the packaging about things each doll enjoys. I think these dolls make great companions for any guest who loves Disney Parks.”

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The first four Attractionistas were inspired by classic Disney attractions such as Mad Tea Party (Maddie), Space Mountain (Celeste), The Haunted Mansion (Gracey) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Pearl).

Two additional dolls will arrive this fall including Carrie, who was inspired by King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Resort and Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Walt Disney World Resort; and Nellie whose looks were inspired by the world famous Jungle Cruise.

Disney Design Group artist Mike Sullivan created the designs for the dolls while Dave Keefer designed the packaging.

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The Attractionistas will be carried in select merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, and they will be found on our Disney Parks online store.

We will be holding a special Attractionistas party on Friday, August 21 in Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace in Florida. From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., Mike and Dave from Disney Design Group will be meeting with guests and signing dolls.

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Official Disneyland App Now Available for Download

posted on August 7th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


The official Disneyland App is available for download now from the App Store and on Google Play. This new app provides useful info, special features and more right at your fingertips.

Official Disneyland App Now Available for Download Official Disneyland App Now Available for Download Official Disneyland App Now Available for Download

Find the fun faster with maps of attractions, restaurants and shops. Check attraction wait times, Character appearance schedules and entertainment show times. You can even purchase park tickets instantly from your phone or mobile device!* Simply show the barcode at the gate for admission when you first arrive — no ticket booth lines to stand in or e-tickets to print out.

Annual Passholders can also link their Annual Passports to the Disneyland App to check Blockout Dates and use the app’s virtual Pass feature to enter the parks (actual Annual Passport must be presented to obtain Disney FASTPASS tickets or to receive Passholder discounts).

Download the official Disneyland App now at disneyland.com/magic and make every Disneyland Resort visit even more magical!

*Mobile app ticket sales are available for U.S. and Japan Residents only.

Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Google Play is a trademark of Google, Inc. Message, data and roaming rates may apply. Availability subject to handset limitations and features may vary by handset or service provider. Coverage and app stores not available everywhere. If you’re under 18, get your parents’ permission first.

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A Unique Point of View: Monstro Looms Over Fantasyland at Disneyland Park

posted on August 5th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


One of my favorite features of Fantasyland at Disneyland park is Monstro the whale. Looming over Storybook Land Canal Boats, Monstro can also appear to be chomping down on other parts of Fantasyland, depending on your point of view.

Here he is, huge teeth reflected in the canal as you begin your voyage into Storybook Land.

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Seen from Mad Tea Party, Monstro looks like he is munching on some of the oversized foliage surrounding his neighboring attraction.

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Back at Storybook Land Canal Boats, he appears to be taking a bite out of the manicured hedges at the beginning of the attraction.

What is your favorite feature in Fantasyland?

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Show Operations Host

posted on August 3rd, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast member Adam Rieders helps create a smooth experience for guests watching the “Paint the Night” parade and “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular. You may have met Adam already if you have been to Disneyland park recently to watch these new nighttime shows for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, especially if you showed up early to choose your spot.

Adam says while his role can be challenging, he is lucky enough to experience these shows nearly every night, and one of his favorite parts is watching the reactions of guests. Now it’s your turn to watch Adam in this “Every Role a Starring Role!”

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