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Top 10 Things I Discovered at the D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 18th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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The D23 EXPO 2015 was a blast! There were incredible announcements of upcoming projects throughout the Walt Disney Company (the seven year old me can’t believe that Star Wars Land will be a real place). Besides those major announcements, I wanted to share the top 10 things I discovered during my visit this year.

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I Need to Step Up My Aloha Shirt Collection
Being a long time fan of Aloha shirts, I loved seeing John Lasseter’s Studio Collection on display. In 1999, designer Reyn Spooner created a custom shirt for John featuring art and characters from Disney-Pixar’sToy Story 2.” The tradition continues today with shirts for the newest animated features including “Inside Out.”

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Incredible Displays
Located nearby the shirt display, I found this wall of Pixar balls (above). The décor found throughout the Expo was over-the-top. I’d love to recreate something like this wall in a future home.

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DisneyNature “Born in China”
Ever since I was an attraction manager at China Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot, I’ve dreamed of visiting China. I look forward to seeing DisneyNature “Born in China” coming soon to theatres. You can see the trailer here

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Caring at the Disney Citizenship Pavilion
I loved watching Disney fans make care kits at the Disney Citizenship Pavilion. This pavilion showed what Disney is doing to inspire kids and families to think creatively, live healthier, conserve nature, and strengthen our communities.

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Disney Infinity 3.0
I’m beyond excited for Disney Infinity 3.0 which debuts on August 30 this year. I loved seeing a full size image of Sam Flynn from Disney’s “TRON: Legacy” that will be a new figure released later this month. Stay tuned for additional details about an early launch party at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace on August 28.

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Gravity Falls Mystery Shack
There was a full scale recreation of the Mystery Shack from Gravity Falls. I wanted to take everything home with me. A brand new episode debuts on Monday, August 24 at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD. I can’t wait!

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Quest for Trading Cards
Since I spent 7 ½ years as Project Manager for Disney Trading, I was delighted to see trading cards at the D23 Expo. They were part of a Trading Card Quest presented by Disney Visa Card. Fans received a starter pack of cards, and could search for opportunities to collect different cards from locations all over the show floor. I even watched Disney Fans trading cards in my hotel lobby.

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Disney Dream Store
I visited the Disney Dream Store a few times. The 3-foot Vinylmation Haunted Mansion-inspired figure by artist Javier Soto was impressive.

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D23 EXPO Design Challenge
I was also impressed with the D23 EXPO Design Challenge that my fellow author Jeffrey Epstein first discussed in March 2015. In honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, artists were invited to craft their own interpretation of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The image above contains just a few pieces I enjoyed seeing.

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The People Who Make the Dream a Reality
My favorite thing I learned attending the D23 EXPO 2015 is Disney fans are incredible people! While I enjoyed seeing a Nav’i from the upcoming Pandora – The World of AVATAR coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I loved meeting people who love Disney as much as me. The costumes some fans wore, such as the one my friend Mary Jo made to honor newly inducted Disney Legend Julie Reihm Casaletto, were outstanding. Stay tuned for a closer look at some of those costumes in a future Disney Parks Blog article.

What was your favorite part of the D23 EXPO this year? Please share in the comments below.

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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.

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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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Enjoying Early Morning Skies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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


It sure looks like a peaceful morning here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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The resort’s four savannas, which are home to more than 200 zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos, are still just waking up for the day.

Have a great Monday!

For more from the “Good Morning” series, visit the posts below:

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New Details Released on ‘Rivers of Light,’ Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 16th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


We just shared new details on nighttime entertainment experiences coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including the nighttime show “Rivers of Light” and Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris.

'Rivers of Light' Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

New details on “Rivers of Light” were just unveiled, telling guests more about the show that will take place on Discovery River at the park, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. The entertainment experience will combine live performers with floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery.

“This is going to be a ceremonial event that will happen on our lake,” said Imagineer Joe Rohde. “It takes the idea of the special nature of the animals that are in this park and turns it into a celebration of the beauty of these animals. It starts simply and humbly, continues to unfold and grow as bigger and more elaborate lanterns appear, and then huge curtains of water and light emerge from the water with animals within them. And ultimately it takes off into the sky.”

New details were also shared on Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris, a new nighttime adventure that will allow guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun.

Guests visiting the attraction after dark will also discover two species on the savanna: African wild dogs and hyenas.

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Pandora – The World of AVATAR will be New Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 16th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


The new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that’ll immerse guests in the mystical world of Pandora from the blockbuster film AVATAR just received a name – Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

Pandora – The World of AVATAR Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

Pandora – The World of AVATAR is a key part of the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and will feature awe-inspiring floating mountains, a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants as well as an amazing new attraction called AVATAR Flight of Passage. This e-ticket attraction will allow guests to experience what it’s like to fly with banshees.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek shared the update on Pandora – The World of AVATAR at the D23 EXPO 2015. During the session, Imagineer Joe Rohde said one of the things that has made work on this project so special has been the collaboration with the Oscar-winning team behind the film – James Cameron, Jon Landau and the rest of the Lightstorm team.

“We’ve been working side-by-side with Jim and Jon to make sure that what we do is true to the story, characters and vision for the beautiful, mythical, epic land of Pandora,” Joe said. “We’re creating a transformational experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for updates on Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

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Plan Your Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Vacation Now

posted on August 12th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Are you considering taking a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during the holiday season? Today we’re excited to share our list of holiday happenings with you. Read on.

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Magic Kingdom Park
The holidays will return to Magic Kingdom Park on November 8, with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This year the park will host 20 party nights: November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 29; and December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18. Parties begin at 7 p.m. and include Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Dance Party, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks and much more. Buy tickets now at Disneyworld.com/Christmasparty.

Epcot
Epcot’s Holidays Around the World and Candlelight Processional will return to the park November 27-December 30. Holidays Around the World brings the international pavilions alive with holiday cheer, including a Christkindlmarkt in the Germany pavilion and performances by Joyful! gospel. The Candlelight Processional, a show that combines the reading of traditional scripture with live music, is performed three times nightly at 5, 6:45 and 8 p.m.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will return to the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from November 6, 2015 through January 3, 2016. This holiday offering transforms this part of the park with millions of glittering lights, mobile displays and holiday music. It’s also included in theme park admission.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
During the holiday season, guests will be able to take holiday photos with Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost at the park. Mickey and Minnie will be dressed in their holiday best, which makes for the perfect Christmas card image.

If you’re planning a visit during the holiday season, don’t forget to check out our latest offers. The Magic Together Fall Vacation Package is a 4-day/4-night room and theme park ticket package in a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Resorts for a family of four starting at $1,701. For more information, visit DisneyWorld.com/special-offers/fall-together.

Families can also save up to 25 percent on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels most nights October 4 through November 24, 2015 and November 28 through December 23, 2015. For more information, visit DisneyWorld.com/special-offers.

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Our Top 5 Walt Disney World Resort Favorites for National S’Mores Day Aug. 10

posted on August 10th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Ah, summertime, the perfect excuse to celebrate the ultimate campfire dessert: delectable layers of crunchy graham crackers, warm chocolate and roasted marshmallows. In honor of National S’Mores Day on Aug. 10, we’ve chosen our Top 5 creative takes on this ooey, gooey treat.

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  1. Gibson’s S’mores Baked Alaska at The Boathouse, Disney Springs. This newcomer features a ginormous dessert – chocolate ice cream studded with marshmallows in a graham cracker crust, frosted with marshmallow cream. This hybrid sweet feeds a family of four. Or more.
  2. This one has a lot of fans – the Wagon Wheel Chocolate S’mores from Whispering Canyon Café with warm dark chocolate sauce and marshmallow gelato. If you prefer to sip your s’more, step next door for a S’mores Latte from Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge – a marshmallow-chocolate drink you can order hot or over ice.
  3. Campers are only steps from the Trail’s S’mores at Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, a creation with warm chocolate cake, graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow gelato – but you can only get it at lunch. (Or make your own s’mores with supplies from Chuckwagon near the Meadow Swimming Hole around the campfire when the sun goes down.)
  4. The S’mores Chocolate Tarte from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort takes a simple approach with a chocolate tart, graham cracker crust, a dab of marshmallow and chocolate sauce.
  5. Just for little ones, Savanna S’mores are a favorite on the kids’ menu at Sanaa at Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: layers of chocolate pudding, marshmallow fluff and toasted graham crackers. Oh to be young again.

Share your favorite Disney s’more!

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Caption This: It’s Dino Time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on August 10th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This tiny dinosaur may look familiar to you if you’ve been through DinoLand, U.S.A., at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He tops off the TriceraTop Spin attraction.

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He sure is up high. What caption would you give this photo? Leave yours in the comments section below!

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#CoolestSummer Ever: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cool

posted on August 7th, 2015 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


There are more ways to enjoy the coolness of Disney’s Animal Kingdom than simply standing in the shadow of an elephant (and we can’t promise you can do that). Here are a few more refreshing options:

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Finding Nemo—The Musical. This is my personal favorite thing in the whole Park. Before they wrote the Oscar and Grammy-winning music for Disney’s “Frozen“, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez were already treating Walt Disney World Resort guests to their catchy, clever, melody-rich songs in this marvelous show, featuring a multi-talented cast of performers and delightful puppetry. Best of all, there’s an original cast album you can purchase in select Park and Resort shops or download on iTunes.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug! This 3-D comedy romp isn’t as flashy as some other attractions—mostly because it’s tucked beneath the Tree of Life—so like Alice, you have to wander down curious passageways to get to this buggy wonderland. It’s based on Disney•Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life“, so you’ll see good ol’ Flik along with as bad ol’ Hopper. The posters in the queue area are a hoot—spoofs of Broadway shows with insect twists If you listen carefully, you can name the tunes sung by the little tiny creature chorale.

DINOSAUR. This is my kids’ favorite Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction. To them, no visit is complete without their taking a wild ride through time, dodging more dinos than Captain Caveman. We’re a Doctor Who fan family and appreciate being able to go back in time without a Tardis (though it’s fun to pretend that the phone booths at the Epcot U.K. pavilion are, like the Tardis, bigger on the inside than on the outside).

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Festival of the Lion King. If you haven’t seen this magnificent show since it moved into a nice “new house” in Harambe Village, it’s cooler than ever in more ways than one. The exuberant performers, high-flying acrobatics and the Lion King characters make this an experience that is not only cool, but downright spirit-lifting.

Kali River Rapids. Getting splashed and spritzed with water is nature’s way to refresh and renew in the warm summer months. On Kali River Rapids, as you go bobbing along through the rapids where you get along swimmingly, your fellow park guests, perched upon strategically located bridge areas along the way, often add to the liquid sunshine by spraying you with water. It’s people helping people helping people. Isn’t that nice?

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Summertime Update About Retail MagicBands and Accessories at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 7th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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As the “Coolest Summer Ever” continues at Walt Disney World Resort, I wanted to give you an update about several new retail MagicBands and accessories. These items are a great way to show your Disney Side during your vacation. Here is a look at some of my favorites.

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The open edition retail MagicBands featuring Steamboat Willie and characters from Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” are currently available in select merchandise locations.

On August 14, we will release two additional open edition retail MagicBands. One will have Winnie the Pooh while the other will feature Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Open edition retail MagicBands have a retail of $19.95 each. Like all other retail MagicBands, these open edition items can be linked later making them great gifts.

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At the beginning of the year, we released a retail MagicBand with an image of Cinderella Castle from Magic Kingdom Park. Later this month, we will have three additional open edition retail MagicBands for Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’m thrilled to see Figment on the Epcot-themed MagicBand!

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Some of the coolest MagicBand accessories I’ve seen are the attraction-themed MagicSliders. These small rectangular images easily slide onto the side of a MagicBand. They are a great way to either showcase your favorite Disney attractions or to keep track of which ones you’ve experienced.

Attraction-Themed MagicSliders Available at Walt Disney World Resort Attraction-Themed MagicSliders Available at Walt Disney World Resort

There are three attraction sliders per MagicSlider pack. Look for three different packs of Magic Kingdom Park attractions, and two packs each for attractions at Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Each pack has a retail of $6.95.

Finally, we are now offering some of the Disney character MagicBands including Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck on our Disney Parks online store. You can find them along with select MagicBand accessories by visiting this page.

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