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Disney Billboards: More than Meets the Eye

posted on July 30th, 2014 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


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When was the last time you looked at a billboard — I mean really looked? Ever spot a facet of one that you missed at first glance? Something that made it pop?

When it comes to Disney theme park billboards, bet you didn’t realize all that’s entailed into making them so exceptional, filled with sly references and artfully hidden gems. Well, those creative whizzes at Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group know how to ensure they don’t just look amazing and enticing, but also tell a story. But why go the extra mile?

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“We hope to remind guests of how much fun they had on the attractions or that they create a sense of anticipation to want to go on them if they haven’t,” explains Yellow Shoes Senior Art Director Steve Carsella. “Having all the details in the billboards is in line with a Disney theme park experience by adding something special wherever you look.”

For instance, on one of the latest Expedition Everest billboards, subtle yet oh-so-clever tidbits include the Yeti’s footprints in what looks like random texture in the snow, an authentic Tibetan carving embedded in the “T” in the word “EVEREST” and the Yeti’s shadow disguised as a rock cropping. Meanwhile, a new Twilight Zone Tower of Terror board includes a falling brick that is actually an old-timey radio that’s a prop from the attraction’s queue and a Hidden Mickey stamped on another brick.

Disney Billboards: More than Meets the Eye Disney Billboards: More than Meets the Eye
Disney Billboards: More than Meets the Eye Disney Billboards: More than Meets the Eye

When designing and implementing billboards, there are general creative tenets that are taken into consideration, of course. Does it accurately depict the attraction? Is it readable? Does it feel cinematic? Are there strong details that don’t impede the message? But it takes that Disney magic of adding just enough originality and ingenuity that assures they are always surprising, dynamic and uncommon.

“I think it follows in the steps of Walt himself to pay attention to the details and to offer our guests something out of the ordinary,” Steve says.

So now that you know, maybe next time you’ll take the time to appreciate all the thought and effort that go into Disney billboards. Just wait until it’s safe to check them out!

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Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – August 2014

posted on July 28th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Wondering what merchandise events are headed your way this August at Walt Disney World Resort? Take a look!

July 30 – August 3: Looking for the opportunity to meet artist Greg McCullough? Greg will be appearing at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, July 30 – August 3 and again from August 20 – 24. Planning to visit Epcot, August 13 – 17? Great! Look for additional appearances by Greg at their Art of Disney, throughout the day. Learn more.

August 7 - Meet Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” director/co-writer Bobs Gannaway from 3 – 4 p.m. at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace, as he signs some of the new “Planes: Fire & Rescue” merchandise available at Disney Parks. Learn more.

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August 7 – 11: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

August 14 – 17: Keep an eye out! Renowned artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection! Learn more.

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August 14 – 17: It’s time for you to check out the latest releases from international artist Larry Dotson, who will be appearing throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park. Learn more.

August 23: Keep an eye out for spellbinding commemorative T-shirts and more as part of the “Villains Unleashed” event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Remember, a separate ticket is required to attend this event. If you are thinking of going, purchase tickets now at www.DisneyVillainsParty.com or by calling 407.939.1933.

August 29: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tinker Bell: An Evolution, a full biography about everyone’s favorite fiery fairy by author Mindy Johnson. Mindy will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3 – 4 p.m., alongside special guest and Disney Legend, Alice Davis. Tip: Also being released during the event is Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man. Learn more.

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Here are a few other things to keep in mind. Artists Brian Blackmore and Greg McCullough will be appearing during Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Learn more.

It’s also your last chance to get your ticket to Disney Trade Celebration 2014 – Imagination Gala taking place at World ShowPlace in Epcot, September 5 – 7. A limited number of tickets are still available, so sign up for the Pin and Vinylmation Showcase Packages today! Tip: Keep watching www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com as we release details about this year’s Silent Auction lots. Learn more.

There’s one last thing I couldn’t resist showing you. Here is a sneak peek at the next hand-painted Ink & Paint Cel debuting at the Animation Gallery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 27, 2014. This limited release titled “Summertime Pals” is so cool, you won’t be able to resist it. Not able to make it to the event? Disney Event Services is taking pre-orders via www.disneyurl.com/CelPreOrder now through September 25, 2014 at 5 p.m. EDT. Learn more.

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Are you ready for these events and more?

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Filed: Art of Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Harambe Nights Heats Up Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 12th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Earlier this week, Disney Parks Blog author Shawn Slater reminded us that there are only a few more weeks to enjoy Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Harambe Nights Heats Up Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Harambe Nights includes “The Lion King Concert in the Wild,” a retelling of “The Lion King” that features a celebrity narrator, live orchestra, choir and more. The evening event also features a welcome reception and the post-show street party that features Afro-pop music, performers, a buffet and more. Check out the gallery above for some additional photos we’ve never shared from the event.

Have you enjoyed Harambe Nights this year? If so, tell us what you liked about it in the “Comments” section below!

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Don’t Let Time Run Out! Experience Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 10th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


We’re halfway through the 10-week run of Harambe Nights, our new special event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrating the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” Guests have been raving about the African-inspired cuisine, the street party entertainment, the celebrity narrators, and the live orchestra and choir for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

New Harambe Nights Evening Spectacular at Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of "The Lion King"

Held inside the newly built Harambe Theatre, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is a 55-minute theatrical experience created exclusively for Harambe Nights and completely different from the “Festival of the Lion King” show presented during the daytime. In fact, today we have for you a unique look at how the Harambe Theatre is transformed from day to night, as our Entertainment team sets the stage for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

From Viola Davis to David Alan Grier, each celebrity narrator who has participated in “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” has brought his or her own unique talent and passion to the performance. The lineup of narrators features stars from movies, TV, and Broadway. Scheduled to appear on upcoming nights are*:

  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

The first five weeks of Harambe Nights were all sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Your ticket includes parking, a welcome reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” show, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and an abundant dinner buffet. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

For an even more in-depth look at “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” follow the links below to our previous stories here on Disney Parks Blog.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Wildlife Wednesday: Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

posted on July 9th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


It’s no secret that a highlight of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the opportunity to see plenty of beautiful animals! Over the years, a commonly shared “tip” has been to get to the park early because animals are more likely to be seen in the morning. Our Science Operations Team set out to test that tip by recording animal visibility throughout the day.

Hypothesis (Myth): Animals are more likely to be seen in the morning.

Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals

The researchers separated the park into five areas to include Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride, Discovery Island/Tree of Life, Oasis Gardens, Pangani Forest Trail, and Maharajah’s Jungle Trek. In these areas, they collect visibility data at several different times of the day on almost all of the animals including Giant Anteater, White Stork, Giraffe, Ostrich, Tiger, Elephant and Gorilla. The research team has been monitoring animal visibility in this fashion since the park opened in 1998 and they now have an amazing archive of information on how the animal viewing experience in the park has changed over the years.

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For this analysis, the team’s observational data were recorded and used to calculate an “average visibility” for each species at each time of day. These statistics were then compared to determine if there was in fact an increased chance of animal visibility at a certain time during the day. Analyses of data from the past several years all reveal the same finding…

Conclusion (and myth busted): Time of day does not significantly change the probability of spotting animals.

Translation — You can sleep in and still have a great, animal-filled day!

**On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to pick up an Animal Guide to help you discover the animals in each area of the Park. You can even become a Wilderness Explorer by completing challenges and earning adventure badges throughout your day!

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The Disney Side of Alex and Ani ‘Charmed Arms’ at Disney Parks

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


It’s time to show us your Disney Side with your “charmed arms” from Alex and Ani! Not only do we want to see which Alex and Ani bangles from our Disney collection have made it onto your arms, but we also want to see them in front of some of your favorite characters, attractions and icons at Disney Parks.

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I know that many of you were eager to know if Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” would be making a splash at Disney Parks, and I’m here to tell you, she is, along with Rapunzel from “Tangled.” Here’s your first look!

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Joining them will be a few of everyone’s favorite Disney pals, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck.

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Look for these bangles to debut July 14 at the following Disney Parks & Resorts locations and Online.

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Online – Shop Now!

What’s next? I can tell you this much, you will either find it a nightmare or you will consider it really cool.

Now I invite you to share your Disney ‘charmed arms’ with us! Use #DisneySide and #charmedarms across our social channels, including Twitter, Vine, Google+, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest. If you tag your Instagram photos using #DisneySide #charmedarms we may just feature it on the @Disneyland, @WaltDisneyWorld or @AlexandAni Instagram feeds.

Will you add any of these new Alex and Ani Disney Collection bangles to your wrist?

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

Finish That Disney Parks Sign: Finding Directions to Harambe

posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s Disney Parks sign is a newer one that can be found in the Harambe section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Do you remember the missing words here? Where can you find fresh water and clean beds? If you remember, tell us in the “Comments” section below. The post will be updated later today with the answer!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wildlife Wednesday: When You Think of Elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. . . Think Big!

posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Kathy Lehnhardt, Curator of Education, Disney’s Animal Programs


Elephant care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a big job! Elephants are intelligent, social, and complex animals so meeting all their care requirements means lots of work and dedication, especially when the herd consists of eight unique individuals to look after. Our Animal Care Team provides daily baths, facility cleaning, foot care, feeding, record keeping, advanced training and enrichment programs all completed in an environment that is safe for both elephants and people. Our Veterinarians are able to perform many medical procedures without tranquilization as a result of effective training, so the elephants actually assist in their own health care. And of course there is plenty of time for elephant social interactions in not one, but three large habitats spanning about seven acres.

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As you can imagine, elephants are big… really big! In fact, they are the largest land animal on our planet. But it’s hard to imagine just how big they are until you stand next to an African bull [male] elephant. Since this is an opportunity very few people have the chance to experience, the Elephant Care Team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked with Disney Imagineering to simulate the experience by adding three life-sized silhouettes of elephants on the elephant house:

1. An adult bull at 11 feet tall
2. An adult cow at 8 feet tall
3. A newborn calf at 3 feet tall

Guests participating in the Backstage Safari program now have the chance to safely measure themselves next to an elephant –an elephant silhouette that is – for a real height and size comparison. Day guests onboard the Wildlife Express Train at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can also view the elephant silhouettes as the train passes the backstage elephant house.

To further enhance the area and share our commitment to elephants, both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in the wild, the team also added an inscription to the elephant house that proudly declares: “Dedicated to Elephant Care and Conservation.”

Conserving elephants in the wild is also a big job! It is currently estimated that each day, 96 African elephants are killed for various reasons including their ivory tusks. Only by working together can we help protect elephants from illegal poaching.

Walt Disney said it best, “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people, it’s a matter that concerns all of us … If we will use our riches wisely, if we will protect our wildlife, and preserve our lakes and streams these things will last us for generations to come.”

To learn more about how you can get involved in elephant conservation, visit: www.elephantconservation.org, www.Savetheelephants.com or the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign, at www.96elephants.org.

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Happy July 4 Week! Our Top 10 All-American Eats at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on July 1st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


July 4 is all about celebrating the red, white and blue. If you’re spending July 4 at Walt Disney World Resort, here are our Top 10 All-American eats:

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  1. We’re starting with a cocktail, as it’s only available on July 4 – “red, white and blue” mojitos (red berry, classic and blueberry-lemon). You’ll find them at bars throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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  1. Also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can order the Famous All-American Picnic Burger at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. It’s an Angus burger topped with a grilled hotdog, sautéed onions, sauerkraut and a pickle. Yum!
  2. Head to Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom Park for a hit list of American baseball favorites: hot dogs, nachos, corn dog nuggets, French fries, cotton candy and Cracker Jacks. Grab a seat outside and listen to the all-American ragtime piano player.
  3. Step back to the days of Colonial Williamsburg at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom Park. For lunch, try the Liberty Boys BLT with slow-roasted pork, fresh greens and tomatoes on house-made bread with caramelized shallots and a mushroom-mayo spread.
  4. Sip a Liberty Swirl Slush (Fanta Strawberry and Blue Raspberry) at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square, or maybe an All-American Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – vanilla and chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, peanut butter drizzle, whipped cream and a cherry on top.

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  1. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, what’s more all-American than a half slab of St. Louis ribs from Flame Tree Barbecue, served with baked beans and cole slaw – picnic tables and lots of napkins make it easy to be messy.
  2. The New England-style lobster roll at Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (and check out the new red, white and blue costumes the servers will be wearing, just in time for the holiday). On a butter-toasted Parker House roll, it’s a classic New England recipe.
  3. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is our go-to for fancy, super-fresh all-American seafood. Tuck into a 2-pound steamed Maine lobster, crispy Rhode Island calamari, pan-seared George’s Bank day boat scallops, and/or Alaskan wild-caught halibut.
Shrimp Po Boy from Olivia’s Café Shrimp and Grits from Olivia’s Café
  1. For a taste of the South, it’s Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort: shrimp and grits or a shrimp po boy are our favorites.
  2. And just one more burger – the All-American Bacon Cheeseburger at ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. Nothing fancy, just Cheddar cheese and bacon on an Angus burger. Add a draft beer, and you’ve got the quintessential July 4 meal.
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Celebrating Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 30th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


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Independence Day is coming up, and the parks at Walt Disney World Resort are planning to celebrate with some star-spangled salutes to America in honor of our nation’s 238th birthday!

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort for the 4th of July, here is some of what you can look forward to:

  • Magic Kingdom Park – “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” rockets into the air above Cinderella Castle. This special, fireworks spectacular will be presented two nights in a row, at 9 p.m. on both July 3 and 4.
  • Epcot – On July 4, enjoy a special concert of great American songs by Voices of Liberty at America Gardens Theater, where they’ll be performing at 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3 p.m. You can also meet some favorite Disney characters in patriotic attire outside The American Adventure, and catch the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps at the pavilion at 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. That evening, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” joins the celebration at 10 p.m., with a heart-pounding, pyrotechnic grand finale.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A “Rockin’ 4th of July Celebration” at the Sorcerer’s Hat Stage on July 4, features the “Rock Your Summer Side” Dance Party, with a DJ and live band. The Hollywood Rockers will take you on a rock ‘n roll road trip across America that culminates with the band playing live during that night’s fireworks spectacular. The celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. and continues through 11 p.m., with fireworks at 10:15 p.m.

Looks like the 4th of July is going to be a blast all across Walt Disney World Resort!

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