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“it’s a small world” Holiday at Disneyland Park

Wildlife Wednesday: 9 Intriguing Animals You Don’t Want to Miss at Walt Disney World Resort – No FastPass Required!

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to rush through the day and miss the beauty all around you. In my role, I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of animals and I wanted to share just a few hidden gems. You might have to slow down a bit to find them, but I promise they will be worth a look on your next trip to Walt Disney World Resort. In no particular order:

1. & 2. Red kangaroos & Longnose Gar – Discovery Island Trails & Oasis, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Did you know animals could be found on your way into Disney’s Animal Kingdom? As you enter the park, adventure awaits around every corner, if you take the time to look for it. The longnose gar can be found on the path that crosses through the center of the Oasis just after you enter the park. The red kangaroos can be seen from vantage points at the front of the Tree of Life.

See the Red Kangaroos on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom See the Longnose Gar on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

3. & 4. Ruppell’s griffon vulture & Nyala – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is more than a resort. It’s home to more than 200 animals including the Ruppell’s griffon vulture and mesmerizing Nyala. All guests are welcome to enjoy the animals at the resort and if you’re looking for lunch plans, up to 12 guests can Dine with Animal Specialists at Sanaa to learn more about all the animals on the savannah!

Visit Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Visit the Nyala at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

5. Argus Pheasant – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Maharajah Jungle Trek is home to more than tigers and bats. Don’t bypass the aviary on your next visit or you’ll miss the beautiful Argus pheasant.

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6. Eld’s deer – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Eld’s deer are an endangered species that can also be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. On your next visit, take a look at their large floppy ears that can turn independently of one another. Those ears allow the Eld’s deer to hear predators from long distances.

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7. Shetland ponies – Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is home to plenty of outdoor activities from horseback rides to carriage rides, and even pony rides! The Shetland ponies are located just a few feet from Pioneer Hall at the Tri-Circle-D Farm. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Draft Horse Barn where you can see a variety of breeds and see a display on the many horses in Disney history.

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8. Pineywoods cow – Affection Section, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Affection Section is a hidden gem in itself. Guests have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few different animals and learn from animal experts and keepers. Pineywoods cattle are a critically endangered breed of “heritage” livestock, so pay this gal a visit. If you’re feeling really inspired, you can contribute to conservation efforts around the world through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

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9. Asian brown tortoise – Dinoland, U.S.A., Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Dinoland, U.S.A. is home to many animals (most are extinct). But it’s in a little island between The Boneyard and Restaurantosaurus that you can find the last animals on our list today. One side of the island is home to the American crocodile, but don’t forget to walk around and say hello to the Asian brown tortoises.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Holiday Scenes from Our Parks

posted on December 13th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week on the Disney Parks Blog, we shared many great photos of the different holiday celebrations that are taking place now at our parks around the globe.

Disney Parks After Dark: ‘Holiday Wishes’ at Magic Kingdom Park

For example, “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” is underway during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties at Magic Kingdom Park.

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Holiday Scenes from Our Parks This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Holiday Scenes from Our Parks

Disney Parks Blog author Jonathan Frontado gave us a look at the holiday fun guests are having aboard Disney Cruise Line this month during their Very Merrytime Cruises.

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Erin Glover also shared a look at the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! celebration that’s taking place at Disney California Adventure park, which features live music, appearances by the Three Caballeros, the “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party,” folk dancing, food and fun.

Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort

And who can take their eyes off of this gingerbread masterpiece at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa? Read all the details about this 7 ½ feet-tall sweet structure in Erin’s original post.

Which holiday celebration interests you the most? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Room with a View: ‘Safari View’ Suite at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on December 12th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Last month, Thomas Smith kicked off a new series on the Disney Parks Blog we’re calling “Room with A View.” It’s a fun way to take a peek inside some Disney resorts that offer amazing views of Walt Disney World Resort.

Today, I want to take you into another favorite view – the savannah room on the second floor of the Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

From the savannah room, you can see African animals and tropical birds on the nearby savannah. There’s actually 30 species of African wildlife including giraffe, zebra and greater kudu that roam right before your eyes.

It’s so serene and exotic – unlike any other resort in Orlando. And the view inside this room is pretty amazing too. It feels authentic and captures the artistry of African craftsmanship with hand-carved woodwork and rich colors woven in textured fabrics.

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You can book this room now at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. To find prices and availability, visit our Disneyworld.com page.

There are so many views to share with you so stay tuned to the next resort we showcase in our Disney Parks Blog Room with a View series.

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Gingerbread House Wows at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort

posted on December 12th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Last month, Rachel Brent gave us a sneak peek at the new, enormous gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at the Disneyland Resort. Today, I’ve got photos to share with you from this 7 ½ feet-tall and 12 feet-wide wonder.

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The house is made of more than 500 pounds of gingerbread and took a team of 25 artists, engineers and bakers to create. But it’s not just there for looks! Guests can purchase gingerbread shingles, assorted holiday cookies, holiday cookie-decorating and gingerbread house kits, and specialty hot chocolate and cider at this gingerbread house.

Check it out before Holidays at the Disneyland Resort ends January 6!

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New Details Announced for Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

posted on December 11th, 2014 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


You’ve probably heard about the exciting re-imagining taking place at one of the original Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and today we have more news to share about Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.

Check out this just-released rendering of the new Disney Vacation Club Bungalows, the first of their kind on any Disney property. The 20 Bungalows will sleep up to eight guests each in a home-like setting reminiscent of the South Pacific. My favorite feature though has to be the plunge pool overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon, and the view of the fireworks over Magic Kingdom Park.

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Adding to the excitement, we are opening the largest Deluxe Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. The 360 Deluxe Studios will sleep up to five guests each and have the ability to connect to another Deluxe Studio, the first time we have done this at a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Similar to Disney Cruise Line ships and The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the rooms will each have a bathroom separated into two areas, one with a shower and sink and the other with a sink and tub/shower. Plus, they also will have kitchenettes and enhanced storage space for convenience and comfort.

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Another great part? Like all Disney Vacation Club Resorts, all rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are available for rent by guests when not in use by Disney Vacation Club Members!

The addition of Disney Vacation Club to this beloved resort is part of an overall renovation. A re-imagined Great Ceremonial House will welcome guests to a tropical destination where Disney magic meets South Seas hospitality. Also included is an enhanced feature pool and new food and beverage offerings, including Pineapple Lanai where Members and guests can get their favorite Dole Whip treats and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which will feature exotic cocktails and Polynesian-themed small plates. Earlier this year, the resort opened a brand-new children’s activity center called Lilo’s Playhouse.

New details Announced for Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows New details Announced for Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

The first phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows is scheduled to open in 2015. Stay tuned as we continue to share more news in the coming months!

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Spread Holiday Cheer with Tasty Treats at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 11th, 2014 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


There’s no place like Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays. From Holidays Around the World at Epcot to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park, there is so much to do and so many treats to try. Today, I’m spreading some holiday cheer by sharing some of my favorite holiday treats.

Guests Can Decorate Gingerbread Cookies in the Lobby of Jambo House Guests Can Decorate Gingerbread Cookies in the Lobby of Jambo House

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests can decorate gingerbread cookies in the lobby of Jambo House. The suggested $5.00 donation goes to Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. While you’re there, stop by their holiday treat table, where you’ll find all kinds of scrumptious goodies including peppermint bark, chocolate and pistachio crackle cookies, gingerbread cookie animals, butternut crunch bark, coconut cream cupcakes and house-made chocolate hazelnut spread. The African hot chocolate is made from scratch using Ghanaian milk and Tanzanian dark chocolates, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles—perfect to sip by the resort’s fire pit on a cool evening.

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The gorgeous gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is a Walt Disney World Resort holiday season staple, but just outside the main entrance of the resort’s lobby, you’ll find “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” from noon – 6 p.m. At the Garden View Tea Room, look for festive indulgences like holiday-inspired tea blends, gingerbread scones, apple butter and cranberry trifles. Gasparilla Island Grill is serving up a seasonal holiday turkey sandwich, piled high with traditional fixings like stuffing and cranberry.

BoardWalk Cupcake

Still craving the sweet stuff? BoardWalk Bakery has a specialty chocolate-peppermint cheesecake cupcake decorated to look like a Christmas Tree.

DHS Cupcake

If you are looking for some festive in-park treats, be sure to stop by Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a specialty gingerbread cupcake. Adults can take in the beauty of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights with Yuletide cheer in the form of one of several specialty Christmas cocktails available throughout the park, such as the Gumdrop with Stoli Razberi vodka, Chambord, Sprite, pineapple and cranberry juices garnished with candy gumdrops. There’s also a Winter Berry and Torched Holiday Cider and my favorite, the Very Merry Cherry. At Pizza Planet Arcade, you’ll find The Claw—Sauza Gold Tequila, Disaronno, triple sec, and sweet-and-sour served with a souvenir glow cube. Catalina Eddie’s on Sunset Boulevard is the home of Very Berry Lemonade, and at ABC Commissary, you’ll find Holiday Delight—Bacardi Razz rum, blue curacao, orange juice and a splash of Sprite with a souvenir glow cube.

These holiday offerings are only around for a limited time, so be sure to check them out while you can!

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‘Tis the Season at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on December 10th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


The merriest time of year has arrived at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai`i! With temperatures averaging 78 degrees, it’s no surprise that Aulani is a favorite destination for families this holiday season. Today, I’m going to share some of the entertainment programs and offerings taking place now through the end of December to help you plan your vacation in a Hawaiian winter wonderland.

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  • Holiday Entertainment on the Halawai Lawn: Your entire ‘ohana won’t want to miss the Holiday Starlit Hui taking place several times a week through the end of the year! This iconic entertainment offering at Aulani has added some seasonal touches that are sure to have everyone in the holiday spirit. Also taking place on the Halawai Lawn, the ‘Ohana Disney Movie Nights will screen holiday films under the twinkling stars every Tuesday and Friday. Check The Daily ‘Iwa for more information on both of these festive favorites.
  • Seasonal Crafts at Aunty’s Beach House & Pau Hana Room: Children ages 3-12 will enjoy holiday-themed coloring sheets and crafting activities in Aunty’s Beach House. If you have tweens and teens in your ‘ohana, be sure they stop by the Pau Hana Room for special seasonal crafts as well!
  • Aulani Christmas Day Dinner: In addition to wishing everyone a Mele Kalikimaka on Christmas Day, your ‘ohana can enjoy a savory buffet feast and live entertainment! Learn more about the menu and book a reservation for the joyous meal here. Your ‘ohana can also enjoy a special 3-course prix fixe menu featuring fresh-caught seafood and prime rib at ‘AMA‘AMA! Update: The Aulani Christmas Day Dinner is now sold out.

And be sure to look out for some of your favorite Disney characters that have decided to don their best holiday Disney Side outfits for the occasion! Look for Mickey and the gang in the Waikolohe Valley or on the Halawai Lawn daily.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season at Aulani? Tell us in the comments below!

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PHOTO GALLERY: The Holidays Arrive at Disneyland Resort Paris

posted on December 10th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Just when you can’t possibly imagine Disneyland Resort Paris becoming any more beautiful than it usually is, the holidays arrive! The park’s celebration, Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, is well underway, with special holiday decor, festive entertainment and much more ready and waiting for guests.

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The Disneyland Resort Paris Christmas Parade is delighting guests with appearances by Santa Claus, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Donald, Daisy (and even nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, among many others!).

This year’s Christmas tree measures more than 78 feet tall and boasts more than 1,000 glittering decorations. And of course, the tree just marks the start of a slew of festive decor that stretches down Main Street, U.S.A.

Check out the gallery of images above from photographer Tom Bricker that show just how merry the parks are during this time of year. Holiday fun will continue at Disneyland Resort Paris through January 7, 2015.

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Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses

posted on December 4th, 2014 by Jean Volante, Manager of Dream Making, Disney Floral & Gifts/DEG


When you were little, did you dream of being a Princess? I did. Actually, truth be told, I remember dressing up in oversized gowns, my mom’s high-heeled shoes and Grandma’s old jewelry. Then, once in full costume, I could be found “performing” in front of my bedroom mirror. What an imagination I had … and even more so … the concern I created for my parents (lol). Now as a grown-up I get the opportunity to channel this imagination with new Disney gifting experiences that help make your dreams come true such as being proclaimed a princess at Walt Disney World Resort perhaps? Intrigued? Then read on …

While we spruce up Cinderella’s Royal Table, we are offering a magical experience at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & SpaCinderella’s Dining at Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses from January 8 – March 3, 2015. Cinderella will welcome each guest upon arrival, and the Disney Princesses will greet each table during the dining experience for photos and autographs. You will be able to join in an interactive “Magical Wishing Ceremony” with Cinderella and the Disney Princesses–complete with “wishing wands” and “wishing swords” for the children. Sounds amazing, right?! There’s more …

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What if you could add on to the experience with a personalized Princess Proclamation just for your little one. This over–the-top gifting surprise provides the extravagant fairy tale treasures that make her dream a reality. Take a look. Waiting for her on the table when you arrive at Cinderella’s Dining could be “My Disney Fairytale Proclamation.”

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Included is a personalized proclamation, signed by a favorite fairy tale princess, a pink plush princess cape (which transforms into a blanket as well), a gemstone tiara and an almost life-size crystal light-up slipper. Imagine your little one receiving these keepsakes at Cinderella’s Dining at Cítricos! And yes, there’s more!

Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses
Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses Cítricos–Breakfast and Brunch with the Disney Princesses

For those who want to enhance the experience even more, you can add on First Wish, to commemorate her memory made during the magical wish ceremony.

Take a look …

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This exclusive keepsake includes a pixie-dusted wishing rose wand and silver wish charm bracelet featuring a Swarovski crystal “wishing star.” After she makes her wish, celebrate the memory by placing the bracelet on her wrist as a reminder to believe. Over the years, collect charms to add to her “wish bracelet” that symbolize dreams come true, such as getting a part in a school play, overcoming a challenge etc…and it all began at Disney.

So here’s how this works. Simply book a reservation for Cinderella’s Dining at Cítricos (407-939-DINE) and let a cast member know you’re interested in My Disney Fairytale Proclamation or First Wish, then they will connect you to a Disney Floral & Gifts Dream Maker to add this gift. Or, if you already have a reservation, order through the links above or call a Dream Maker at 407-WDW-GIFT. Once your gift is ordered, our Basketeers will create your surprise, and then deliver it to the restaurant to be placed on your table prior to seating. There’s one catch … like any limited time offer, you’ll want to check out Cinderella’s Dining at Cítricos and these add on gifts sooner rather than later. They’re available now. This is definitely one of those “before the clock strikes midnight” opportunities … an experience that includes fairy tale Princess keepsakes vs oversized clothing and Grandma’s jewelry … just sayin. ☺

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Think Outside the Box for New Year’s Eve Celebrating at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 4th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Early birds are already making their New Year’s Eve plans, and reservations go fast for many Walt Disney World Resort restaurants. But we’ve got some offbeat ideas for ringing in 2015 that don’t require a reservation (except for one).

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If you’re at Epcot, you can still make a reservation for early dining at lovely Monsieur Paul upstairs in the France Pavilion (one of our top spots for fine dining). It’s a treat to lunch at Monsieur Paul, as it’s usually just open for dinner: there are still seats available at 11:45 a.m., noon, 2:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. This gracious experience ($85 per person plus tax and gratuity), starts with Cassolette d ’escargots Cauderanaise (escargot cassolette with white wine, bacon, shallots); a salad with Roquefort cheese, pear and caramelized pecans, or mussels soup with saffron and light fennel cream. Entrées include chicken with morels mushrooms and white sauce; broiled Maine lobster casserole, or beef short ribs braised in red wine with Parisian gnocchi with herbs. The sweet ending is a delectable French dessert.

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If you can’t snag a reservation, another favorite is Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion, a cozy spot to sip Bellinis or martinis, or choose from a solid wine list. Small plates include pastas, Tuscan-style pork ribs, paninis, charcuterie and imported cheeses. La Cava Del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion doesn’t take reservations either – try a flight of tequilas (more than 100 to choose from) and pair with chips and guacamole or a shrimp cocktail for a light bite.

If you prefer to watch Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from afar, grab a seat in the lounge at Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The expansive wine and cocktail list pairs nicely with small bites from the kitchen like arancini (crispy risotto with sweet Italian sausage and mozzarella), Prince Edward Island mussels or slow-roasted Berkshire pork belly.

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You can also see Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from Disney’s Contemporary Resort where The Wave . . . of American Flavors lounge (ages 21 and older) offers signature cocktails, beer and wine along with seasonal tastes such as steamed Florida Cedar Key clams, lump crab, Florida rock shrimp cakes and a sustainable fish taco.

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At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge offers prime outdoor seating with wine, beer and cocktails and a substantial menu – yes, you can get the famous Cobb Salad as well as Wagyu beef sliders, artisinal cheeses and charcuterie and Maine mussels (we love the desserts too, like the warm blueberry cobbler with crème fraîche and orange blossom honey).

Another tucked-away spot that’s got a view of Epcot fireworks from along the BoardWalk at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is casual Crew’s Cup Lounge – beer fans highly recommend the Sam Adams beer flight, but there’s a bounteous selection of other brews, cocktails and wine. The menu runs the gamut from a New England-style lobster roll to pappardelle pasta with braised short ribs.

And if fireworks aren’t an important part of your year-end celebration, for a lovely spot head to Victoria Falls Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can sip a Coconut Elixir (non-alcoholic), a truffle olive martini or a fabulous South African wine while listening to live music. The menu is one of our lounge favorites: tandoori-spiced chicken wings, peri peri scallops, pork wings, crispy chick pea bites and artisanal cheeses. For guests looking for a heartier meal, Boma Flavors of Africa still has reservations available on New Year’s Eve.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2015!

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