Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort

Disneyland Resort Awards Orange County, California Students $75,000 in Scholarships

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Ten extraordinary high school seniors were each surprised at their Orange County, California schools with an in-class visit from Disney Ambassador Megan Navarette – and a $7,500 scholarship from Disneyland Resort! Along with demonstrating academic excellence and leadership skills, this year’s scholarship recipients were chosen for a combined 7,000 hours of community service.

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Since 2005, the Disneyland Resort Scholarship Program has granted more than half a million dollars to graduating Orange County high school seniors, who are selected by a distinguished panel of community leaders for their passion for volunteerism, academic excellence and contributions to the community. Learn more about this year’s Disneyland Resort Scholarship recipients here!

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Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Bill Evans

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Jon Storbeck, Vice President, Disneyland Park


In the early 1950s, “green-thumbed” brothers Morgan (known as Bill) and Jack Evans were hired to landscape the grounds of Walt Disney’s Holmby Hills home and the gardens surrounding his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific. In 1954, they received the ultimate challenge when Walt asked, “How about you fellows landscaping Disneyland for me?”

With little time and money, the brothers were creative when transforming the 80 acres of orange groves in Anaheim, Calif. “Walt told me we were all out of loot and that the time had come to put Latin names on the weeds,” said Bill. They also salvaged trees that were slated for removal during construction of the new freeway system in Southern California and planted them in Disneyland.

Sadly, Jack suffered a heart attack two weeks after Disneyland opened and subsequently passed away three years later. Bill went on to become the director of landscape architecture, working on additions to Disneyland and the master plan for Walt Disney World Resort and Epcot Center in Florida.

Born on June 10, 1910, in Santa Monica, Calif., Bill was a third-generation horticulturist. His first botanical classroom was his father’s three-acre garden that was filled with exotic plants, including 150 varieties of hibiscus. In 1928, Bill joined the Merchant Marine. Upon his return from duty, Bill went to Stanford University where he majored in geology. In 1931, he helped transform his father’s garden into a nursery business – Evans and Reeves Landscaping. Their inventory of rare and exotic plants soon caught the attention of Hollywood celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and, ultimately, Walt Disney.

Bill Evans Surveys Construction at Jungle Cruise

Bill was known not only for using unusual plants, but for using plants in unusual ways. As Imagineer Terry Palmer explained, “In the Jungle Cruise, there’s a group of orange trees that most people would never recognize because Bill planted them upside-down. He decided the gnarled roots of the orange trees looked like suitably exotic jungle branches.”

In 1975, Bill retired but continued to consult on landscape design for Tokyo Disneyland. He consulted on the schematic designs for Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Discovery Island, Typhoon Lagoon, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. He also helped select plants for Disneyland Paris and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Morgan "Bill" Evans

Bill was honored with a window on Main Street, U.S.A., above the Opera House, in 1990. The window reads: Evans Gardens, Exotic & Rare Species, Freeway Collections, Est. 1910, Morgan (Bill) Evans, Senior Partner.

Bill was named a Disney Legend in 1992. He died on August 16, 2002, at the age of 92. He was posthumously awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal for his lifetime of achievements.

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on May 5th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Intocable El Gato Radio

Earlier today we looked back on the 10th anniversary of one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland Resort, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For 10 years, guests have been dropping into the fifth dimension at Disney California Adventure park. Having experienced the attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort, I anxiously awaited the opening of the attraction on this coast. I was so excited that I was here for the opening event on May 4, 2004. In honor of the anniversary, let’s continue “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” by checking in at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

As with many Disney Parks stories, we begin with a legend. The Hollywood Tower Hotel opened in 1928 and quickly became a “star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite.” But on October 31, 1939, lightning struck the Hollywood Tower Hotel and an elevator carrying five guests mysteriously vanished, along with a large portion of the hotel itself. No staff or guests could determine what happened to the guests inside the missing elevator, so everyone vacated the hotel immediately and the building sat abandoned for years.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Then, in May 2004, the hotel opened its doors again, offering tours of its historic and glamorous facilities. Despite the layers of dust, cracked walkways and overgrown weeds, the hotel looked the same as it did the night it closed – except the elevators. Behind the “Out of Order” sign, the elevator doors appear to be severely damaged and bent – clues from that mysterious incident.

So what exactly happened here? As a visiting guest to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you are invited into the Library to find out. A lost episode of “The Twilight Zone” tells the story of what happened on that fateful night and invites you to step aboard a service elevator that is still in operation. Of course, what happens on that elevator is a mystery you’ll have to experience for yourself!

I will confess that after my first stay, I screamed so loudly, I lost my voice for the rest of the day (from being excited, not scared, of course.)

And fans of “The Twilight Zone” should keep an eye out for props from iconic episodes throughout the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Two of my favorites are a gold thimble (from “The After Hours” episode) in the glass display case outside the Library and a pair of broken spectacles (from the “Time Enough at Last” episode) inside the Library.

What is your favorite detail inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel? Leave your answer in the “Comments” section!

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on May 5th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“Tonight’s story on ‘The Twilight Zone’ is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction … ”

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Ten years ago today, Disney California Adventure park guests were invited to fall into the fifth dimension aboard one of the only remaining working elevators in the Hollywood Tower Hotel – a onetime “star in its own right, and a beacon for the show business elite.”

Inspired by the genius of Rod Serling and the creators of the iconic anthology series “The Twilight Zone,” The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror recalls the disappearance of five unlucky souls on a gloomy Halloween night in 1939 Hollywood “amid the glitz and glamour of a bustling young movie town at the height of its golden age.”

The night before the attraction’s official opening, we hosted a red carpet premiere in Hollywood Land to celebrate.

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Several Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhops were on-hand to escort celebrity guests down the red carpet.

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Actress and filmmaker Nia Vardalos was one of the celebrities who “dropped in” for some fun that night.

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Of course, Mickey and Minnie were also there to help celebrate the opening.

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The opening ceremony was hosted by the Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhop (nicknamed “Buddy”) you may remember from many of the television commercials created for the attraction in 2004. He was joined during the ceremony by Rod Serling’s wife, Carol Serling, who told the audience how thrilled her late husband would be with the attraction. She then invited everyone to “step into a ‘lost episode’ of ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park A Look Back: Grand Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Looking back, “the time is (still) now, on an evening very much like the one we’ve just witnessed. We invite you, if you dare, to step aboard. This elevator travels directly to … ”

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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Disney Racers Get a Makeover with New Looks and Items Coming to Disney Parks

posted on May 5th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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One of my favorite gifts to give my son is a die-cast metal car as it was something my parents gave me while growing up. For nearly 10 years now, Disney Theme Park Merchandise has offered some die-cast cars called Disney Racers. I first discussed these awesome cars on the Disney Parks Blog in December 2010 for their fifth anniversary. Soon, Disney Racers will relaunch at Disney Parks with all new packaging and several new things.

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“We felt it was time for an updated look for [Disney Racers],” explained Dan Vega, merchandiser for toys and games. “Disney Racers have been very popular item with guests since being introduced at Disney Parks in 2005. We will continue introducing new cars along with other new items like a car launcher and a transport truck. I’m excited for what the next few years will bring.”

To update the Disney Racers packaging, Dan turned to the Disney Design Group. I spoke with graphic designer Thomas Scott about his involvement with the new look.

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“I collaborated with my fellow artists Quynh Kimball and Billy Davis on the redesign,” said Thomas. “Quynh worked on the packaging layout while Billy provided the background art. I designed the new logo as I love any opportunity to create custom lettering. The lettering was inspired by racing graphics such as numbers found on race cars. I wanted the logo to evoke the feeling of movement while maintaining a unique look for this Disney Parks exclusive brand.”

Some of the first Disney Racers to have this new look will be found at the upcoming Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting May 16. Additional Disney Racers in new packaging will follow toward the beginning of summer.

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The most exciting things Dan shared with me were three new concept images for upcoming Disney Racers (hello, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit!).

He also said to stay tuned as guests will have an opportunity to help select the next Disney Racer coming to a galaxy far, far away. I’ll share details in a future Disney Parks Blog story.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on May 4th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs announced the date many of you have been waiting for – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park officially opens on May 28.

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Tom made the announcement during a special dedication ceremony in New Fantasyland where he was joined by Disney Princess Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to celebrate the addition of the final component to New Fantasyland.

And if you just can’t wait to take a trip aboard Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then check out this week’s full ride-through video of the attraction.

You can learn more about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and see more images from the ceremony in our original blog story.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park – Learn the legend of Big Thunder Mountain, and don’t forget to ride the newly reopened Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland park!

The Doc is In! Doc McStuffins Visits Disney California Adventure Park Starting May 5 – Meet Doc McStuffins in Hollywood Land near “Disney Junior Live on Stage!” for a limited time, starting tomorrow.

Little Ones Enjoy Makeovers at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – Spa Director Lucia Rodriguez gives a tour of the luxurious Laniwai Spa and what’s offered for the little ones in your family.

A Shopper’s Guide to Mother’s Day at Disneyland Resort – Have you gotten your Mother’s Day gift yet? Get some suggestions from of our resident experts at Disneyland park.

Time-lapse Video of Disney Cruise Line in Europe – See some spectacular sights that are part of Disney Cruise Line Destinations in the Mediterranean.

‘Festival of The Lion King’ To Return To Disney’s Animal Kingdom in June – This show-stopping production is returning to a new location in Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom this June.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Marks 25 Years – Check out how we celebrated Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ silver anniversary earlier this week!

– Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders: Enter for Chance to Attend Advance Screening of Disney’s ‘Million Dollar Arm’ Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! This is your last day to enter for a chance to win two tickets to a special advance screening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm.” Click through for details.

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Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders: Enter for Chance to Attend Advance Screening of Disney’s ‘Million Dollar Arm’

posted on May 1st, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! We’ve got a special opportunity to share with you today. From now until May 4, you can enter here for a chance to win two tickets to a special advance screening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at AMC 12 Theaters in the Downtown Disney District and a special reception at the ESPN Zone Sports Arena. All entrants and their guests must be current Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders.

Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” tells the inspirational true story of J.B. Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm), a struggling sports agent who goes on an unlikely and incredible journey to India to discover baseball’s next great pitching star. Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” opens in theatres on May 16.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open only to persons, who have a valid Disneyland® Resort Annual Passport as of May 1, 2014, are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry and are legal residents of, and physically located within the 50 United States and D.C. (both at the time of entry and on the date of the event). Sweepstakes starts 12:01 PM (PT) on 5/1/14 and ends 11:59 PM (PT) on 5/4/14. See Official Rules for details. Prize must be redeemed on May 10, 2014.

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Merchandise Presentation Manager

posted on May 1st, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort Merchandise Presentation Manager Quincy Strattman enhances Disney storytelling by creating exciting shopping environments and displays at merchandise locations throughout Disney California Adventure park and the Downtown Disney District. In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” see how Quincy helps inspire guests to take home a souvenir of their visit!

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A Shopper’s Guide to Mother’s Day at Disneyland Resort

posted on April 30th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


The pressure to find mom the perfect gift for Mother’s Day is on! So I hit the ground running and stopped by some of our Disneyland park locations to find out what’s made the top of the list from some of our resident experts!

I’m pretty sure I know what I’m getting my mom! How about you?

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

posted on April 30th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


“The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” is one of my favorite Disney Parks Blog series, so I’m excited to take the reins from my fellow author, Erin Glover. And I’m even more excited to begin with one of my favorite attractions, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

When we announced that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was reopening at Disneyland park a little over a month ago, it was absolutely amazing to see the excitement on the Disney Parks Blog and I, too, was thrilled for the return of the “wildest ride in the wilderness.” Now that the miners are back at Big Thunder Mountain, I knew the next installment of “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” had to be about this classic attraction. So, are you holdin’ onto your hats and glasses? Ye-howdy, here we go!

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According to legend, a supernatural force has dwelled deep within Big Thunder Mountain and would be angered by any trespassers. Many believed these ghostly tales were what largely kept the area uninhabited for many years. But when an old prospector found some gold nuggets along the mountain’s slopes in the late 1860s, miners rushed to the town of Rainbow Ridge for their own chance to strike it rich.

For several years, Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company produced a large quantity of gold and the myths of a supernatural force remained simply legend. However, by 1883, the miners were forced to blast deeper and deeper into the mountain to continue producing profits. Shortly after the explosions began, strange things started happening: eerie noises echoed through the new shafts, cave-ins became frequent and equipment would mysteriously fail. As soon as the mine trains began rolling out of the station on their own, people started fleeing the area.

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Today, the Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company welcomes guests to hop aboard a train, but beware – you just may experience the mountain’s more supernatural forces and perhaps even stumble upon an explosive mine shaft.

Next time you hop on board Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, keep an eye out for the horseshoe at the entrance to the first mine shaft; you’ll notice it hangs right-side-up to keep the luck inside. Nearing the end of the attraction, you’ll enter another mine shaft with a “Keep Out” sign in front. There, you’ll see another horseshoe, however this time, it is upside-down.

Have you had a chance to ride the newly reopened Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? What is your favorite part? Leave your answers in the “Comments” section below!

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