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Costa Does It Again at the Walt Disney World Marathon

posted on January 10th, 2016 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort


Fredison Costa is only about 140 pounds soaking wet, but he said he felt very heavy on Sunday. Maybe it was from the weight of five – count them, five – Walt Disney World Marathon medals he now has in his possession.

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Costa, the Brazilian runner who trains at Walt Disney World Resort, continued to pile on the victories Sunday morning, winning his third straight Walt Disney World Marathon and his fifth in the last six years.

Costa’s win, along with Natasha Yaremczuk’s victory in the women’s division (2:52:23), capped the 23rd Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. The signature runDisney event drew more than 100,000 runners and fans for races of all levels, a Health & Fitness Expo and the first-ever runDisney Race Director Series for race executives from around the world.

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Costa, 38, provided the perfect punctuation to the weekend and is quickly gaining on Adriano Bastos for the title of winningest runner in Walt Disney World Marathon history. With his fifth victory, Costa is only three behind Bastos, who is an eight-time winner.

It’s been anything but easy, especially Sunday. His win – he crossed the finish line in 2:33:24 – was the slowest of his five victories, roughly 15 minutes slower, in fact, than his winning time last year (2:18:06). That’s because he was coming off a recent calf injury that forced him to suspend his training for 10 days. And it didn’t help that it was a warm and wet morning, which also zapped some of his speed as he navigated the 26.2-mile course through all four Disney theme parks.

Nevertheless, Costa said he achieved the one thing he wanted more than anything. He won.

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“I was not happy with my time,’’ said Costa, who trains with former Olympic track & field coach Brooks Johnson at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. “But I’m the happiest man on earth.’’

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on January 10th, 2016 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


We kicked off the first week of the year with stories about some new experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort in 2016, including special dining opportunities and new ways to experience some of your favorite attractions.

E.P. Ripley, One of the Steam Engines of the Disneyland Railroad Premium Tea Party at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel Beginning Jan. 22

Erin shared that while the Disneyland Railroad is temporarily closed this year, guests at the Main Street and New Orleans Square Train Stations will be able to get up-close with the historic steam engines that have circled Disneyland park for decades. Guests will be able to learn about the trains firsthand from our own train engineers and even take a picture with an engine.

There are other special opportunities around the world-famous Jungle Cruise and limited-time experiences aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia throughout the year at Disneyland park. Check out our original story for all of the experiences.

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And we welcomed a new member to the family at Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – a baby marmoset. Two 3-year-old marmosets are the proud parents, and Dr. Mark Penning let us know that both are demonstrating great parenting skills. Check out Mark’s original story for video of baby and more details.

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

California Farm Prepares New Home for Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm Animals – As we prepare to wish our Disneyland goats a fond farewell, we’re happy to announce that they have found a wonderful forever home on a farm in Murrieta, Calif.

VIDEO: Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Float Dazzles in the 2016 Rose Parade – We kicked off the new year in Pasadena, Calif., with the “Disneyland Diamond Celebration – Awaken Your Adventure” float appearing in the Rose Parade on January 1!

A Very Special Afternoon Tea Begins January 22 at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel – Steakhouse 55 is hosting a mid-day tea from noon to 3 p.m. beginning January 22, bringing the rich tradition of a royal afternoon respite to Disneyland Resort guests where they can enjoy sweets, savories and a grand selection of a dozen special teas.

Southern California Residents Can Enjoy Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration and More with Limited-Time Special Tickets – As the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration continues into 2016 and Season of the Force takes guests into the Star Wars galaxy in Tomorrowland, Disneyland Resort starts the new year with a special ticket offer for Southern California residents.

New Dishes Highlight Indian-African Flavors at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village – Sanaa is one of Disney’s top table-service restaurants, but many still consider it a well-kept secret (and a Cast Member favorite).

Disney Parks After Dark: Main Street Electrical Parade Lights Up Magic Kingdom Park – With the holidays behind us, the “Main Street Electrical Parade” is again the centerpiece of nighttime entertainment at Magic Kingdom Park, shown here in a photo snapped of the Partners Statue.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 9th, 2016 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


I’m sharing a dose of cuteness this weekend.

Get ready to say say, “awwwww…”! This Week in Disney Parks Photos, here he – or she – is: a Geoffrey’s marmoset baby.

New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our animal care experts have yet to provide the baby’s first neonatal check-up, but say the proud parents are doing great with their new addition.

What animals do you enjoy seeing when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

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#DisneyTweens: Thrills and Adventures Await Your Tweens at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 8th, 2016 by Raquel Giorgio, Public Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Hi! I’m Raquel Giorgio, Public Relations Manager at Walt Disney World Resort, and the mother of one very adorable and enthusiastic Tween. My nine-year-old daughter is just starting to yearn for independence … but still wants to know her family is within arm’s reach. Sound familiar to you?

I want to welcome you to the latest series on the Disney Parks Blog. It’s all about … you guessed it … Tweens! While we know that Walt Disney World Resort is a favorite vacation destination for families with younger children, I’m here to tell you that Walt Disney World Resort is also the perfect place to bring your older kids! Thrilling and adventurous experiences in all FOUR of our Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, TWO water parks and Disney Springs await them! Now that they are older, Tweens can do and experience so much more! They’re taller and height restrictions may no longer apply to them. And they may be up for more adventure now!

Just check out brothers Graeme and Corbin as they try to one-up each other with a challenge to go on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park.

Whenever I bring my daughter to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’s mandatory that the family ride Expedition Everest three times … in a row! She just loves it! And then she’ll exit the ride to search out a chance to meet Mickey and Minnie in their trendy safari outfits!

What are some of your favorite thrill rides here at Walt Disney World Resort that you’d like to share with your older kids? Is it Space Mountain, Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park? Perhaps Test Track at Epcot or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below.

For more information on planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort with your Tween, check out www.disneyworld.com/Tweens.

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#DisneyKids: New ‘Lion Guard Adventure’ to Debut at Animal Kingdom February 7

posted on January 8th, 2016 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Attention Disney Channel and Disney Junior fans! Watchers of “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” the hit TV movie that just debuted on Disney Channel in November, will soon be able to become honorary members of the Lion Guard in a brand new Disney’s Animal Kingdom experience called The Lion Guard Adventure.

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The fun starts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on February 7. This interactive experience will allow young guests to explore the park in search of five main characters from “The Lion Guard” – Kion, Bunga, Fuli, Beshte, and Ono, who are represented as colorful statues that are perfect for a kid-sized photo-ops. Like the movie, the experience encourages interest in protecting animals and caring for nature. Once they complete the adventure, each child can take a special pledge to become an honorary member of “The Lion Guard” and receive a special button.

The experience will be offered in Disney’s Animal Kingdom through late March, as one of many activities celebrating the debut of “The Lion Guard” series on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

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What’s New in Walt Disney World Resort Dining: 16 for 2016

posted on January 7th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


2015 was full of culinary news for Walt Disney World Resort, and 2016 promises to be equally exciting, especially at Disney Springs. From new restaurants to more fun with Disney characters, here’s a look ahead at 2016.

  1. Sunday brunches are the hot weekend ticket. Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a new one, and Brunch at the Top debuts February 7 at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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  1. Get over to the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom Park and try a rice noodle bowl, sustainable local farm-raised shrimp in chili-garlic sauce, or the Kungaloosh!, an African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas with cashew-caramel ice cream. This is an all-new menu for the Disney chefs.
  2. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expands to 90 days, March 2 to May 30 (from 75 days last year). Fresh garden produce, savory bites and sweet treats will be abundant at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, returning for a fourth year with guest favorites and new food and beverage offerings.

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  1. Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring foods from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling).
  2. Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge will feature hand-crafted cocktails using the art of mixology with African, Asian and South American flavors, beers and wines from those regions, and a selection of specialty non-alcoholic beverages in addition to small bites.
  3. Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk will temporarily close the end of January, then reopen in the fall with a whole new look – and while the kitchen is working on new menu items, Chef Tim Keating promises that potato-wrapped snapper and the popular New York strip steak will be back. Stay tuned for details.

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  1. Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’’s Hollywood Studios debuted in 2015, but guests can look forward to new themes coming in 2016, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine and Minnie’s Halloween Dine.

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  1. Let’s start 2016 with a taste of the chocolate at The Ganachery at Disney Springs – the proprietary blend of chocolate and cream made right in the shop is not to be missed. The lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.
  2. Coming to Disney Springs in early 2016 is STK, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building, including a main level and a rooftop-dining area with incredible views of Disney Springs.
  3. Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, will serve up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies at Disney Springs in 2016. Their innovative Cupcake ATM will satisfy sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
  4. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza also comes to Disney Springs in 2016, a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant will feature an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh toppings.

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  1. Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine will showcase the cuisine of Chef Art Smith at Disney Springs when it opens in Summer 2016. Smith, who was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., on the Florida-Georgia border, will feature farm-to-fork cuisine that showcases the bounty of Florida, and design inspired by turn-of-the century Florida architecture of the late 1800s.

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  1. Also opening in Summer 2016 at Disney Springs, Frontera Fresco by Chef Rick Bayless will showcase the gourmet Mexican cuisine that has made Chef Bayless a culinary legend. The restaurant will feature authentic Mexican specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all prepared from time-honored recipes with natural, locally sourced ingredients. Frontera Fresco also will serve an extensive selection of margaritas, cocktails and craft beers and wine.
  2. Look for a re-imagined Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs as the flagship venue is transformed into a star-themed Planet Hollywood Observatory to match the look and feel of Disney Springs. As part of the makeover, the venue will add a new outdoor terrace and bar space called Stargazers and feature live entertainment.
  3. Also at Disney Springs, new Disney quick-service locations and kiosks will be blooming this spring. Perfect for a quick bite. Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for more information on these locations.
  4. Two new Disney cookbooks for 2016: a new Delicious Disney: Sweet Treats book due out in the fall, and one celebrating both the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (dates still TBD for the food & wine fest when the book will debut).
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Wildlife Wednesday: Baby Marmoset Born at Rafiki’s Planet Watch!

posted on January 6th, 2016 by Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


There’s a new, high-pitched call coming from Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it’s creating excitement among our cast members and guests. You’ll be surprised to learn this loud call is coming from a tiny animal, weighing only a few ounces!

Please help us welcome a new Geoffrey’s marmoset baby! Two 3-year-old marmosets are the proud parents, and we are happy to tell you that they are demonstrating great parenting skills. You can often see the baby riding mom or dad’s back.

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Because the parents are keeping a close eye on the baby, we have been unable to identify whether the baby is a male or female. We are very comfortable with the level of parental care and are monitoring closely as we await the baby’s first neonatal check-up in a few weeks.

These marmosets are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), program coordinated through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP is meant to strengthen long-term species-survival efforts by helping AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums manage species’ genetic diversity through detailed records of individual animals.

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In the wild, marmosets face threats of habitat infringement and being hunted for the pet trade. Although they are cute and very small – adults weighing 6-12 ounces – they have social needs that are difficult, if not impossible, to meet in a human family setting, and should not be considered when choosing a domestic pet.

Marmosets are closely related to cotton-top tamarins, which you’ve probably read about in our Wildlife Wednesday series. Both monkeys have claws that help them gouge tree trunks and branches for tree sap, one of their favorite foods.

Learn more about some of the other animals you can visit at Walt Disney World Resort at DisneyAnimals.com.

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ALEX AND ANI to Retire Mickey, Minnie and Pluto Character Bangles at Disney Parks

posted on January 5th, 2016 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


The new year is here, and new styles and designs from ALEX AND ANI are on their way. In order to make room, for the very first time, the following character silhouette ALEX AND ANI bangles will retire beginning January 11, 2016.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ALEX and ANI Bangles Will Retire Beginning January 11, 2016 Mickey Mouse and Pluto ALEX and ANI Bangle Will Retire Beginning January 11, 2016

If you’re looking to add one of these bangles to your collection or someone else’s, be sure to get them before they’re gone! Look for these ALEX AND ANI pieces and more online and in stores at:

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Which character silhouette is your favorite?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Springs, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Top Five Most-Watched Disney Parks Blog Videos of 2015

posted on December 30th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


This year the Disney Parks Blog team got to cover so many amazing events on video – from Disney Parks Blog meet-ups, to exciting attraction announcements, to the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney Springs – it’s impossible to pick our favorite.

That said, here were the top five most-watched Disney Parks Blog videos this year.

  1. Disney Parks Blog Readers Enjoy ‘Inside Out’ Meet-Up | Walt Disney World Resort
    More than 6 million Disney Parks fans enjoyed this video, which offered a look inside our “Inside Out” meet-up. The event gave a group of Disney Parks Blog readers a sneak peek at the film and a surprise meet and greet with Joy and Sadness from the film.
  2. #DisneyKids: First Disney Campfires | Walt Disney World Resort
    Who doesn’t love celebrating their kid’s “firsts” at a Disney Park or resort? This video shows what a kid’s first Disney campfire is like.
  3. Bringing the World of AVATAR to Life | Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    Head backstage for a look at the model of Pandora – The World of AVATAR, coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  4. How to Draw Joy from ‘Inside Out’ | Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    Can’t get enough “Inside Out”? Learn how to draw Joy from the film in this step-by-step tutorial.
  5. ‘Frozen’ Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios | Walt Disney World Resort
    Frozen Fireworks highlighted Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the summer. Take a look back at the show.
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Wildlife Wednesday: Take a Peek at Some of the Baby Animals Born This Year

posted on December 30th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


What an amazing year it has been! Disney’s Animal Kingdom is seeing unprecedented growth – and I don’t mean the park expansion. I mean baby animals! We have enjoyed quite a baby boom at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the last year. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Seas with Nemo & Friends have also seen a number of births.

Everyone loves to see baby animals, right? So, we thought we would close this year’s Wildlife Wednesday series with just a handful of the baby animals that joined our family this year.

Beginnings can be an exciting time, and I am embarking on one myself. I have decided to retire following an 18-year Disney career. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to share with you these stories of conservation projects, education, the environment, science, nature and the animals that bring so much joy to our lives. It has been a privilege to work with the Disney company, and I am so proud of the work Disney does to care for animals here and around the world.

Mark Penning, Ph.D., someone you have heard from many times in this Wildlife Wednesday series, will lead the team in my place. I know his stories will continue to inspire and enlighten.

Thank you for your continued support of our goals and our dreams to make a real difference in the world.

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