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Japan Pavilion at Epcot

Video Captures the Royal Experience of the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 26th, 2015 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Recently in a kingdom not so far away, more than 24,000 Princesses and Princes made a 13.1-mile journey through Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot at the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Some runners took just over an hour to complete their journey, and for others it took a little longer. No matter their ability they all followed the same path, triumphantly ran through Cinderella Castle, celebrated at the finish line, earned the coveted Disney Princess Tiara Finisher Medal and created runDisney memories that will last a lifetime.

What was their experience like?

With the help of 6 photographers from the Disney Yellow Shoes team, 13 cameras and tens of thousands of images, we can share their journey in just over two minutes.

Once upon a time ……

A special thanks to Disney photographers David Roark, Matt Stroshane, Kent Phillips, Ryan Wendler, Chloe Rice, Todd Anderson, and editor Bryan Smoker for their creativity in bringing this story to life.

For more information on runDisney event weekends, I invite you to visit runDisney.com.

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Exclusive Sneak Peek of Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ Coming to Disney Parks in April

posted on March 26th, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


What if there was a place … a secret place where nothing is impossible?

You wanna go? Well, soon you can, when Disney’s riveting mystery adventure “Tomorrowland” makes its debut in theaters. In the meantime, visitors to Tomorrowland at the Disneyland Resort and Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort can catch an exclusive preview of scenes from the movie.

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For a limited time, a sneak peek of “Tomorrowland” will be presented with special in-theater effects at the Imagination Pavilion theater at Epcot and the Tomorrowland Theater at Disneyland park.

Directed by Oscar® winner Brad Bird and starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney, “Tomorrowland” tells the story of a jaded scientist and an optimistic teen who embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space. “Tomorrowland” features a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen.

The Disney Parks-exclusive “Tomorrowland” sneak peek begins in mid-April at Epcot and Disneyland park. With every second that ticks by, the future is running out, so be sure to take advantage of this special opportunity before “Tomorrowland” opens in theaters on May 22, 2015.

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Days of Past: Food Rocks at Epcot

posted on March 26th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Today, back in 1994, Food Rocks opened at The Land Pavilion at Epcot. Hosted by Fūd Wrapper, food items sang the virtues of eating healthy. Trying to crash the healthy party were the hard rockers, The Excess, who liked to shout about the best parts of an unhealthy lifestyle in their song “Give Us Junk.”

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Following The Excess performance, Fūd Wrapper reminded everyone that sugary snacks are OK to eat in moderation. The Get-The-Point Sisters sang about this during their hit “Respect.”

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Although Food Rocks no longer jams at The Land, that’s no excuse for poor eating habits!

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Filed: Disney History, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Art In The Garden Returns to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 27-29, 2015

posted on March 25th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I’m happy to announce the return of Art in The Garden to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. This annual artist showcase will be held from March 27-29 in several areas throughout World Showcase. Here is a brief listing of which artists will be featured during this year’s event.

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Guests can meet David Doss and Greg McCullough on the World Showcase Promenade from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. David will release one of his newest images featuring Olaf enjoying summer, while Greg will have artwork featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends.

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In the Puffin’s Roost at Norway Pavilion, guests can meet Larry Dotson from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. I love his artwork featuring the Stave Church from the World Showcase Pavilion.

Artist Reinhard Herzog will be in Glas Und Porzellan at Germany Pavilion from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day. Known for creating amazing glass-blown keepsakes, Reinhard will release two new ornaments that resemble a bride and groom. He will also have other glass-blown items available for personalization during the event.

Finally, while not art related, I encourage you to attend the free cooking demonstrations held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Port of Entry at the entrance to World Showcase. The 15-minute demos begin at 3:00 p.m. each day and offer guests an opportunity to meet a Disney chef.

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En Vogue To Appear at the Garden Rocks Concert Series at Epcot March 20-22

posted on March 20th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The Garden Rocks Concert Series at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has a few newbies this year, including this weekend’s group – En Vogue. I own a couple of their CD’s, and have sung along with their hits including “Free Your Mind”, “Don’t Let Go” and “My Lovin”. The trio has a new album coming out later this year. I had a chance to chat with Rhona Bennett about their festival debut – it’s a homecoming, of sorts, for her!

En Vogue to Perform at "Garden Rocks" Concert Series

Victoria: Welcome to Walt Disney World Resort, and your first Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!

Rhona: I haven’t attended the festival before, so I’m looking forward to this. Disney has a knack for creating enchanting environments.

Victoria: You’re already kind of part of the family – I read you were on the “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club”. What can you tell us about that time?

Rhona: I gained so much from my experience at Disney … I had a great time exploring the fine arts (dancing/singing/acting/interviewing/recording/etc..) on such a platform and with such a talented group of kids. And … I frequented Space Mountain, ‘The World’ at Epcot and the splendor of the night lights at the Magic Kingdom [Park].

Victoria: What can you share with us about the new album coming out? Any flowers or garden themes in it (smile)?

Rhona: We’re all pretty silly, so we had a good time being creative and recording the forthcoming album. There were funny writer’s block moments where we would break out into song and dance while passing the time … And, although we don’t have any songs with a flowers or garden theme, we do have a song called, ‘Blue Skies’, that could compliment them.

Victoria: What attractions, characters, food or experiences are “must do’s” during your time with us?

Rhona: I would love to visit Downtown Disney again. I heard that it has continued to expand with greater attractions and places to eat. I will definitely take another stroll through ‘The World’ at Epcot. And, I wonder what’s in place of ‘Horizons in Future World’. I used to love that ride!

I sure hope Rhona isn’t disappointed Horizons was closed back in the late 1990s! Maybe she should take a spin on Test Track Presented by Chevrolet or Mission: SPACE instead! What attraction would you recommend for her first time back in a while?

You can catch her with En Vogue this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as part of the Garden Rocks Concert Series at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m.

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Disney Parks Blog Time Capsule: March 2013

posted on March 19th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Two years ago this month, we were looking forward to exciting things at Disney Parks, but we were also looking back at some memorable milestones. Take a look at these three trips back in time that we took our readers on in March 2013.

“Today

Today in Disney History: Journey Into Imagination Opens at Epcot
Jennifer took us back to March 5, 1983, for the opening of Journey Into Imagination at Epcot.

The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom Under Construction in January 1997

Vintage Walt Disney World: Building an Animal Kingdom
Nate took us back in time for a look at the construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“Opening

A Look Back: 1958 Opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland Park
George shared these rare photos of Walt Disney at the 1958 opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama.

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Filed: Disney History, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms with Help from Bees, Disney Gingerbread Houses

posted on March 13th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Do you remember our “over-the-top” gingerbread creations during the holidays? Well, those delicious works of art are creating quite a buzz during the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Your favorite Disney gingerbread houses from the Walt Disney World Resort are shared with bees to help pollinate the spectacular flowers blooming right now at Epcot.

And we “Spring into Spring” today with special programs and food celebrating longer days, warmer weather, and St. Patrick’s day in our first extended weekend of the festival. Check out the details and menus at this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

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Two New Culinary Favorites at This Year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on March 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What fun to make our rounds on the World Showcase Promenade and taste all the new creations from Executive Chef Gregg Hannon and his team at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. We love the blooms, but the food gets most of our attention.

Chef Gregg agreed to share two brand-new recipes this year, one savory, one sweet. The Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash from The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews takes a little time, but, oh, it’s worth it. “Burnt Ends,” by the way are the crunchier outside pieces of leftover brisket – so you get to enjoy a beef brisket, then make this fabulous hash for another meal. And the Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart from the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen takes advantage of blueberry season in the Sunshine State.

So if we don’t see you on the promenade between now and May 17, we hope you’ll try these recipes at home. For two great Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen recipes back by demand this year, check out the Watermelon Salad and Shrimp and Grits.

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash
Serves 4-6

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 cup sliced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

White Cheddar Cheese Fondue

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño pepper

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium white potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño peppers
  • 3 cups cubed smoked beef brisket
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For pickled jalapeno:

  1. Place sliced onions and jalapeños in a medium-sized glass bowl.
  2. Combine white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and coriander in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat until mixture boils.
  3. Pour brine over onions and jalapeños. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

For white cheddar cheese fondue:

  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  2. Add flour, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes. Do not allow mixture to brown.
  3. Add cream, salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until simmering. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes, until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Add hot sauce. Slowly add cheese, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes, until cheese melts and is creamy.
    Add diced jalapeño peppers. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For burnt ends brisket hash:

  1. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium for 5 minutes, or until oil is shimmering.
    Carefully add potatoes. Cook potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes, until potatoes are golden and cooked through.
  2. Add remaining vegetables. Cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

  1. Evenly divide burnt ends brisket hash among plates. Top with white cheddar cheese fondue. Garnish with pickled jalapeño peppers.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tarts
Makes 6 tarts

Lemon Pastry Cream

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Vanilla Tarts

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 teaspoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Blueberry Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blueberry Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pureed blueberries

For lemon pastry cream:

  1. Whisk cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a medium bowl; set aside.
    Combine milk, vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat.
  2. Remove 1 cup of hot milk and slowly pour into the cornstarch/egg mixture, whisking briskly, so eggs do not cook.
  3. Stir cornstarch/egg/milk mixture back into remaining hot milk.
  4. Return saucepan to medium-low heat, stirring constantly so eggs do not curdle or scorch on bottom of pan; cook until cream thickens.

  5. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until completely blended. Stir in lemon juice.
    Pour mixture into a heat-proof container, cover with plastic wrap placed in contact with surface of cream to avoid forming skin. Refrigerate until chilled.

For vanilla tarts:

  1. Mix egg yolk, water and vanilla together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture using pastry cutter or 2 knives until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Butter pieces should be no larger than small peas.
  4. Add egg mixture; mix with fork just until dough pulls together.
  5. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  6. Transfer dough onto lightly floured work surface; pat into a ball and flatten. Cut dough into 6 equal portions.
  7. Roll out each portion into a circle about 2 inches larger than the diameter of each tart pan.
  8. Place dough into tart pans without stretching. With fingers, snugly press dough into sides and bottom. Press along top edge of pans to remove excess dough. Prick bottom and sides of each tart.
    Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

For blueberry filling:

  1. Prepare an ice water bath to accommodate a medium saucepan.
  2. Combine 1 cup blueberries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  4. Add cinnamon and remaining cup of blueberries, continue to cook until entire mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place pan in ice water bath to cool.

For blueberry meringue:

  1. Whip egg whites in a large glass or metal bowl until foamy.
  2. Add cream of tartar, then gradually add sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold in blueberry puree.

To serve:

  1. Cover bottom of each tart with blueberry filling.
  2. Layer lemon pastry cream on top of blueberry filling.
  3. Place meringue in piping bag with a wide opening decorator tip (so blueberries in meringue do not clog tip). Garnish each tart.

Chef’s note: For the tart, a stand mixer with a flat beater can be using instead of mixing dough by hand. Mix flour, sugar and salt at low speed. Add butter, beat on medium-low speed until texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add egg yolk, water and vanilla mixture, beat just until dough pulls together.

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Giant Sand Castle in the Snow Announces 24-Hour Party, ‘Coolest Summer Ever’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 11th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As you may have seen on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” we shared some true Disney magic in winter-weary Boston by creating a warm summer scene, inspired by Olaf’s “In Summer” dream, to officially announce that the “Coolest Summer Ever” is coming to the Walt Disney World Resort. And it all begins with a Disney Parks Blog reader favorite – a 24-hour event at Magic Kingdom Park – during Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff to summer.

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Olaf, who is the official host of our “Coolest Summer Ever,” surprised Bostonians near historic Faneuil Hall with a 20-foot wide beach that included a Cinderella Castle made of sand, beach chairs, beach balls and other reminders of summer fun at Walt Disney World Resort. Check out how it all came together in the video below.

We’re kicking off the summer with an all-night party at the Walt Disney World Resort. Magic Kingdom Park will be open to guests for 24 hours of nonstop fun from 6 a.m.-6 a.m. May 22-23. Guests are invited to dress to show their Disney Side while a selection of favorite attractions, entertainment, merchandise, food and beverages will be on tap all night long to celebrate the start of the “Coolest Summer Ever” at Walt Disney World Resort.

For the “Coolest Summer Ever,” we’re already planning experiences you won’t want to miss. Here’s an early look at some of the highlights:

There’s more to come, so keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog or visit Disneyworld.com/CoolestSummerEver for future details and information.

Also, later this morning, Erin will be sharing a special announcement from Disneyland Resort right here on the blog.

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Filed: Disney Vacation Club, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Performers: Jon Secada

posted on March 10th, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Take one look at Jon Secada’s résumé and it’s no wonder he’s been so successful. One of the first Latin crossover stars, he’s a Grammy winner who’s sold over 20 million records. Also an accomplished performer, songwriter and producer, Jon’s starred on the Broadway stage and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business—from Gloria Estefan to Frank Sinatra. He even performed for Pope John Paul II.

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Lucky for us, he took time out of his busy schedule to chat about his upcoming debut at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (running March 4–May 17, 2015), his career and also his history with Disney.

RUSS: What will it be like to grace the Garden Rocks Concert Series stage for the first time?

JON: Looking forward to it! This will be a different experience because I’m used to playing Epcot in the fall. It should be a lot of fun to experience the park at a different time of year.

RUSS: So what can audiences expect?

JON: The hits. Everything that people know me for over the past 20-plus years. My show’s going to incorporate a little bit of everything that’s a part of my career. But for the most part, it’s a high-energy show with a concentration on the up-tempo stuff in my repertoire. That’s what I like to do. Keep the people moving. Everybody’s walking around and being active. So I like to be active as well.

RUSS: Will you have the same set list for each show, or mix it up?

JON: There are certain songs that stay the same. But the rest, I kind of mix and match with different recordings that I’ve done. So for each set, the fans will get the core songs that people know me for, and then they’ll also get a taste of something different. Maybe a couple of songs that they didn’t hear in the last set. That way, it draws people who maybe saw the last show. You can go knowing that you’re not going to experience the exact same set.

RUSS: How would you describe your music?

JON: It’s pop but with a fusion of different flavors. I grew up listening to R&B, rock, Latin music and jazz. I also studied jazz music. So my music has been kind of a fusion that’s integrated so many styles. There are melodies, hooks and lyrics that you remember and can sing along to. So that’s always been kind of the essence of my career and my recordings.

RUSS: I’m glad you brought up your different influences. How does it make you feel being one of the biggest bilingual crossover stars in the world?

JON: I was very fortunate in the early ’90s when my career got off the ground because I was one of the first artists to have success in both languages. And it created a wave of colleagues, friends and other artists who followed during that decade. It’s been the difference maker in my career. And I’m very proud of my heritage, very proud to be Hispanic-American.

RUSS: Will you be bringing your family?

JON: Yeah, they’ll be coming with me. They love the opportunity every time that I perform to enjoy the parks. We take advantage of maybe spending an extra day or so, whether it’s before or after the shows, to hang out and enjoy all that Disney has to offer.

RUSS: What do you hope people get out of your shows?

JON: Hopefully a strong, very organic, very transparent performance. There’s not a lot of sequencing going on. I truly sing live. I just love leaving it all on stage and being just as high energy and passionate as possible.

RUSS: Your admiration and respect for your fans is obvious.

JON: I owe everything to my fans. It’s the reason I have a career. They’ve really followed me through all the different paths that I’ve taken. And so I really appreciate that.

RUSS: You have a new book, “A New Day,” out. Tell us about it.

JON: Yeah. It was released in both English and Spanish a few months ago. It’s a memoir reflecting on my life and 25 years in the business, incorporating who I am as a Latino. I was very humbled, very flattered when I was approached to do this book.

RUSS: One last question. Just how big a Disney fan are you?

JON: (laughs) I’m a huge fan. My children grew up going to the parks. But I’ve also done a lot of work for the Walt Disney Company through the years. My first big project was the “Pocahontas” soundtrack; I did a duet with Shanice called “If I Never Knew You (End Title)”. And we sang it in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I did the Christmas Day Parade here at Walt Disney World Resort a few years ago. Yeah, so, I’ve had a 20-plus year experience doing different things for Disney along the way. A lot of memories there. Plus, I’d say I go the parks at least twice a year. And my kids, they’re growing older but they still love that experience!

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