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Shutters at Old Port Royale: A Hidden Disney Dining Gem

posted on February 27th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Recently, I was lucky to have Chef Scott Tosh at Shutters at Old Port Royale guide me through dinner at the beachy restaurant located at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

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The appetizers brought a taste of the islands: barbecue shrimp and grits, chicken wings, braised beef and pepper jack cheese empanada. Of course, I had to try Chef Scott’s favorite dish on the menu—pan-seared crab cakes. The mango mayo is one of his personal recipes.

Barbecue Shrimp and Grits from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Chicken Wings from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Pan-Seared Crab Cakes from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort

The entrees I sampled were like a tropical getaway: Caribbean-spiced pork, osso buco, island pasta with shrimp, garlic-lime-seared chicken breast, today’s sustainable fish, and the char-crusted 10-oz New York strip. The outer crust of the New York strip seals in the juices and enhances the flavor with the chimmichurri sauce and smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese.

Osso Buco from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Char-Crusted New York strip from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Sustainable Fish Dish from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Island Pasta with Shrimp from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort

By now, you’re probably aware that I have quite the sweet tooth, so it should be no surprise to learn that I had to sample every dessert on the menu. The decadent Shutters chocolate cake served with a rich chocolate pate, the vanilla cheesecake topped with a banana brûlée, the tres leches cake topped with toasted coconut, and my favorite—the warm cinnamon white chocolate bread pudding.

Tres Leches Cake from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Warm Cinnamon White Chocolate Bread Pudding from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort Vanilla Cheesecake Topped with a Banana Brûlée from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort No Sugar Added Mango and Vanilla Custard from Shutters at Old Port Royale at Walt Disney World Resort

For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine, or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel Nominated for 2015 James Beard Award

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Congrats to Chef Scott Hunnel, a semi-finalist for the prestigious Best Chef award for the South Region by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Hunnel leads the team at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (already a AAA Five-Diamond winner).

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He’s among 20 chefs from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico nominated for the honor. The final ballot will be announced on March 24, with chefs chosen by regional judges. Winners will be announced in Chicago on May 4.

With only 53 coveted seats in the dining room, plus the opulent (and even smaller) Queen Victoria’s Room and private Chef’s Table in the kitchen, Chef Scott sources the freshest seasonal ingredients from around the globe in a menu that changes daily.

Good luck, Chef Scott!

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Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrate Animals and Nature throughout the Year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot

posted on February 25th, 2015 by Allyson Atkins, Education Manager, Disney's Animals, Science and Environment


In addition to celebrating with us as at our Spring Forward event, don’t forget to mark your calendars for more fun wildlife and nature inspired events heading your way!

Earth Day/Party for the Planet: April 22
Back by popular demand – it’s a “Party for the Planet” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends where we will be hosting an Earth Day celebration. Discover how you can help animals by creating wildlife-friendly spaces in your backyard. Explore ways to protect and care for marine life through engaging activities. Learn more about sustainable living and how to make great choices every day to benefit both your family and our planet! Join us and don’t forget to grab your exclusive Earth Day 2015 merchandise.
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International Migratory Bird Day: May 9
Spring is all about the birds as we celebrate our winged friends on International Migratory Bird Day. Become an “honorary bird” and discover how you measure up in size and color to nearly 350 species of wild birds while also learning about the great care we provide for our birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Discover what the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is doing to ensure our skies stay filled with the many colored feathers of these amazing animals. From what they eat, to where they fly, you’ll learn all you care to know about birds—and that’s nothing to squawk at!

World Turtle Day: May 21
While visiting Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in turtle life as you try on a replica turtle shell or get up-close with some of our turtles and tortoises including seeing our veterinarians in action with these unique animals. At The Seas with Nemo & Friends, discover how to help turtles overcome threats they face in the wild while taking part in hands-on activities that let you experience life as a turtle–all while turtles swim gracefully in the background throughout our 5.7-million-gallon aquatic habitat!
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Tour de Turtles: August 1
Hundreds of sea turtles lay their nests on the beaches of Florida every year and on this special day we invite you to join us at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort for the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles” event. Two turtles who have made their nests at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort will be equipped with satellite transmitters which allow sea turtle fans to follow the marathon migration of these turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. The turtles had been fitted with satellite transmitters to help with conservation efforts as they swim to raise awareness about the threats that sea turtles face. Join us for the race to the ocean where you can participate in beachside activities while learning ways you can help sea turtles!
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Keep an eye out for these events and more! Here are a few more dates to look forward to:

  • World Oceans Day: June 3
  • Pollinator Day: June 11
  • Big Cat Day: July 30
  • Primate Day: August 20
  • Elephant and Rhino Day: September 24
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Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are Designed with Your Needs in Mind

posted on February 25th, 2015 by Amanda Adler, Public Relations Manager


So far I’ve offered you a look at the pull-down bed feature, as well as the spacious interior, of the Deluxe Studio villas at the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, which is currently under construction. Now I’ll show you some ways in which these accommodations will go beyond simply sleeping your family comfortably, but also make getting ready a relative breeze (depending on just how much time your loved ones spend in front of the mirror) thanks to their ingenious split bath design.

Those of you who have sailed with Disney Cruise Line, or had the pleasure of staying at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, are no doubt familiar with the concept of split bathrooms. At Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, the Deluxe Studios will offer a bathroom separated into two areas, each offering a sink and a shower (one with a walk-in shower, and the other with a tub/shower combo). And yes, of course the bathroom will offer a toilet (singular) as well.

Split Bathrooms in the Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Split Bathrooms in the Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

The split bath design will allow multiple members of your party to get ready at one time, leaving you more time to enjoy the theme parks, delight in a Dole Whip from the resort’s Pineapple Lanai or a drink from (the still under construction) Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, or relax in the resort’s revamped Lava pool (scheduled to open this Spring).

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Artist rendering

Oh, and while you’re enjoying the comforts of your Deluxe Studio you’ll also be able to make coffee and prepare snacks using the kitchenette.

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For a more detailed look at the resort’s Deluxe Studios you’ll just have to stay there yourself. But don’t worry, I do still have a few more “sneak peeks” in store for you, so stay tuned for more photos from Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows!

To read more about the Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, visit the stories below:

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March 2015 Merchandise Events at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 25th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


If you are planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort this March, here are a few quick tips on some of the merchandise events you don’t want to miss!

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March 7: Add the limited edition hand-painted Ink & Paint cel ‘Jungle High Jinks’ featuring Skipper Goofy to your collection! Ink & Paint artists will be on hand for a special signing from 9–11a.m. at Disneyana, as part of the artist showcase. Note: The cel will be available in a variety of formats including Unframed, Framed, Framed Cel with Postcard and Framed Cel with Postcard and Pin. Learn more here. Not able to make it? Take advantage of a special purchase opportunity now through March 31, 2015. Applicable tax and shipping fees apply. Order now here!

March 7: Join us for a special artist showcase as we celebrate the release of some of the newest pieces by artists Steve Adams, Dave Avanzino, Jeremy Fulton, Daniel Killen, Paul Lopez, Bridget McCarty, Miss Mindy and Larry Nikolai. Meet the artists from 9–11 a.m. at Disneyana on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park. Learn more here.

March 12: Something ‘charm’ing awaits you from the Disney Parks Collection│PANDORA. What, you ask? Keep watching, fellow author Steven Miller will have all the details.

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March 14: Take part in a special artist showcase as we release new pieces by artists Michelle Bickford, Ben Burch, Jeff Granito and Jeremiah Ketner from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more here.

March 14–15: If you have been waiting for just the right time to order one of artist Dave Avanzino’s Custom Letter Plaques, you’re in luck! Dave will be appearing from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., each day, at Disneyana inside Disneyland park. Learn more here.

March 14–15: Join us as we welcome Ben Burch from 2-5 p.m., each day, at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more here.

March 27–29: Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick will be on hand from noon to 10 p.m., each day, at World of Disney Store in the Downtown Disney District, as we celebrate the release of her Spring collection, among other fan favorites! Learn more here.

March 27 – April 5: We have ‘egg’-citing news. But you’ll have to wait and see. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog.

March 28: Are you a fan of Ridley Pearson? Be among the first to pick up two of his newest releases from the Kingdom Keepers series The Return: Disney Lands and The Syndrome. Meet Ridley from 10 a.m. – noon at Disneyana on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park or from 2–4 p.m. at World of Disney Store in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more here.

March 28–29: Meet ACME Archives artist Steve Barton, who will be on hand for a special appearance and signing of his latest pieces from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., each day, at Off the Page in Disney California Adventure park. Learn more here.

Which events have made your list of things to do?

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Happy National Margarita Day!

posted on February 21st, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


With National Margarita Day just around the corner on February 22, I wanted to share some of my favorite unique margaritas across Walt Disney World Resort.

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At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, head over to The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, where you can enjoy the ‘Citizens Take Flight’ tasting of three margaritas on the charming patio. These sips have character! Sample Bucky Greenhorn’s Derby Margarita, Melivan Macheezmo’s Mango Margarita, and Ready Freddy Fiddlesticks Pomegranate Margarita.

While Cava del Tequila will be a popular spot on National Margarita Day, I enjoy gazing out at World Showcase lagoon at La Hacienda de San Angel while sipping on an Orange Mango Fire Margarita, premium silver agave tequila, ginger liqueur, orange juice, mango puree, fresh lime juice and a hint of Tabasco sauce, served on the rocks with a Tajin chili powder rim. Another delightful take on the margarita is the Italian Margarita found at Gelati in the Italy Pavilion, crafted with frozen limoncello and grappa.

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Parks aren’t the only places you can find one of these satisfyingly sour sips, pick up a drink at BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas for a leisurely stroll around the BoardWalk on a hot day.

Relax after a day in the parks at Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Their Margarita Flight lets guests sample their five handcrafted margaritas: mango blueberry basil, classic, hibiscus, pineapple and jalapeno.

At Whispering Canyon Cafe, you can sip on a Moonshine Margarita made with Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice and agave nectar topped with soda water.

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Across property, try the Grand Margarita, with Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and sweet-and sour, available at most pool bars. Another popular sip is the Habañero Lime Margarita, on the menu at several lounges and restaurants.

In the “spirit” of National Margarita Day: Coming this spring, look for a new place to enjoy an adult beverage while watching the sunset at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

How will you celebrate National Margarita Day?

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‘I Do!’ Memorable Proposals at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 13th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Everyone has their own special memories of the Disneyland Resort – for some, it’s a first visit or a favorite show, and for many, it’s celebrating the beginning of an exciting journey with a loved one. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m excited to share stories of three memorable proposals stories recalled by cast members from some of our most romantic restaurants – who were able to make these special moments even more magical.

Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, Disney California Adventure Park

When this guest took his girlfriend to the Disneyland Resort for the first time, he decided to propose to her in front of the wishing well at Snow White Grotto. He even presented the engagement ring in a glass slipper! Later that night, the couple celebrated their engagement in a private dining room at Carthay Circle Restaurant, where the cast members had “his & hers” ear hats waiting for them. The bride-to-be was in tears, and so were the cast members at Carthay Circle Restaurant!

Blue Bayou Restaurant, Disneyland Park

Cast members at Blue Bayou Restaurant were able to make a sweet moment even sweeter for one newly engaged couple. After the groom-to-be proposed (to applause from the entire restaurant), Blue Bayou Restaurant cast members presented the couple with special treats and sparkling cider flutes to celebrate.

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Napa Rose, Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa

The Napa Rose team was very excited to help with this unique proposal! One prince charming created a View-Master-like disc for his girlfriend, with slides showing moments throughout their relationship, ending with a very important question on the last slide: “Will you marry me?” Cast member, Wendy, delivered chocolate truffles to celebrate the moment. Other guests even joined in the celebration … the couple sitting next to the newly engaged guests was so touched by the surprising event, they paid for the couple’s dinner.

Where would you pop the question at the Disneyland Resort? Do you have a Disneyland Resort proposal story of your own? Share with us below! And happy Valentine’s Day!

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Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Offers Up Comfort and Extra Space

posted on February 13th, 2015 by Amanda Adler, Public Relations Manager


I recently shared with you photos of the hidden pull-down bed that will be found in the accommodations at the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, which is currently under construction. This nifty pull-down bed feature, along with the pullout couch, means the Deluxe Studio rooms at this resort will comfortably sleep up to five guests. And I stress the word “comfortably” here because, once completed, these 360 Deluxe Studios will be the largest at Walt Disney World Resort.

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Model rooms shown. Floor plans and furnishings subject to change.

The rooms are designed to be flexible, allowing for lounging during the day – indoors and out on your private balcony or patio – and cozy sleeping at night (or during that mid-day naptime, which is always a must in my book).

Adding to the “comfy” factor of these accommodations are the convenient storage options. In addition to serving up plenty of closet space, guests will be delighted to find that the coffee table opens to reveal storage inside and the bed is designed to accommodate luggage underneath (fun surprise: you’ll even find a storage drawer tucked under there as well).

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Of course it wouldn’t be a Disney resort without all those playful design touches that truly make you feel as if you’re vacationing in a Polynesian paradise.

Playful Design Touches in the New Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Deluxe Studio at Walt Disney World Resort Playful Design Touches in the New Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Deluxe Studio at Walt Disney World Resort

Plus, these Deluxe Studio villas will offer a really great feature that will allow families tons of comfort while they’re getting ready to hit the theme parks, or the resort’s soon-to-be-completed revamped feature pool, each morning. But I’ll save that reveal for my next post.

Stay tuned for more details and photos from Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows!

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New ‘Cooking Safari With Mickey’ Cookbook Debuts This Spring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 12th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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It was so much fun to work with the chefs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to put together “A Cooking Safari With Mickey,” a collection of recipes showcasing the flavorful cuisine of South Africa and India.

We know that our guests are well traveled and love exploring new tastes, and sharing these recipes is a treat. Here’s a sneak peek of the cookbook, with one of our favorite recipes from Sanaa in Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We like it a little spicy, so add more jalapeños and chili powder. And cardamom pods can be found in Indian grocery stores – -some stores call them seeds, rather than pods. (Each pod is about the size of a dried cranberry and contains 17 to 20 tiny seeds.)

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Spicy Durban-Style Chicken
Serves 4

Dry Masala

  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder

Chicken and Curry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Course salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Basmati rice, for serving

For dry masala:

  1. Toast star anise, cumin seeds, bay leaves, and cardamom pods in a heavy, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring until spices begin to brown and are fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Grind spices in a blender or coffee grinder into a fine powder.
  3. Combine spice mixture with cinnamon, chili powder, ancho chili powder, Madras curry powder, and turmeric powder. Toast in heavy, dry skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until fragrant. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.

For chicken and curry sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Trim fat from chicken and cut into 1-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken in skillet and brown for 8 to 10 minutes, turning to evenly cook. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add onions and jalapeños to skillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add ginger and garlic, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Mix in dry masala mixture with a rubber spatula and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and increase heat to high for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Return chicken to skillet, add water, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until sauce slightly thickens. Stir in cilantro. Serve immediately over basmati rice.
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Window Shopping at Disney Parks Around the World: See What’s in Store!

posted on February 11th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Who doesn’t enjoy a little retail therapy? This particular ‘window’ shopping trip shouldn’t cost you a thing – unless, of course, you are planning a visit to one of our many parks or resorts around the world. Take a look at some of the exciting new offerings and what our resident experts had to share.

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Traveling to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? Keep an eye out for the Dated 2015 collection at Kalepa’s Store. This year’s playful art featuring signature characters and icons lends itself to an array of items including adult and kid’s tees, souvenirs, mugs and ornaments that are easy to pack. Travelers Tip: If your trip is booked for later this spring, keep watching the Disney Parks Blog. I will be releasing details on several new collections set to debut this April which are guaranteed to make a splash! Now, off to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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“We invite you to spread cheer and happiness this year,” said Fion Lai, “and celebrate Chinese New Year with us at Hong Kong Disneyland.” You’ll find special themed merchandise including apparel, plush (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Duffy the Disney Bear and ShellieMay), festive candy boxes and biscuits as well as Disney-themed Lai See red packets and Fai Chun. Let’s keep traveling – next stop: Tokyo Disney Resort!

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Our family and friends at Tokyo Disney Resort have cooked up something special as they celebrate a Sweet Duffy event through March 20, 2015. “This unique celebration is a recipe for success, says Director of Merchandise,” Gary LaTouche. “Our Disney fans love Duffy the Disney Bear, ShellieMay and Gelatoni, we have found that they can ‘bear’ly contain their excitement for some of the new offerings including plush, accessories, cooking essentials and sweet treats.” Where to next? How about Disneyland Paris?

Disneyland Paris Product Developer Regis Alart shared details with us about several new collections that have been added to Art on Demand at Disneyland Paris. “Some of my favorites include the Theatrical Mickey Mouse posters, reminiscent of the Fantasyland attraction, Meet Mickey Mouse,” Regis explains, “as well as the Circus inspired pieces designed for the Disney & Co. boutique on Main Street, U.S.A.; ‘Frozen’ and Disneyland Paris character art, designed by members of our merchandise art department.”

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How does Art on Demand work? It’s easy! Simply find a kiosk (available at select art/collectible locations) and peruse the selections until you find what you’re looking for. Categories include characters, attractions, concept drawings and pieces by various Disney and Disney-inspired artists. Next, select the size and medium (canvas or paper), make your payment and within two to three weeks it will be delivered straight to your home.

Art on Demand is currently available at Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort. Tip: Fans of Marc Davis and “Frozen,” you’ll be glad to know … selections from Snow Queens – Art of Ice exhibit (currently on display in The Disney Gallery) are now available at the Disneyland Resort!

Where would you travel to?

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