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Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Begins Tomorrow, Celebrating 60 Years of the Happiest Place on Earth

posted on May 21st, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Tomorrow begins a celebration 60 years in the making … the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. Featuring a glittering parade, street-to-sky fireworks and an all-new “World of Color,” it will be a celebration of the innovation and wonder for which the Disneyland Resort and Disney Parks around the world have become known.

“It’s amazing to contemplate all that Disneyland has come to mean to so many people around the world,” said Tom Staggs, COO of the Walt Disney Company. “For 60 years, millions of guests have come here to celebrate their special occasions, and now we’re excited to invite everyone to share the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration with us. And, of course, none of this would be possible without our exceptional cast members who bring the magic to life.”

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At Disneyland park, the new “Paint the Night” parade will bring some of the most innovative floats, vibrant costumes and dazzling special effects ever presented at the Disneyland Resort. This new, state-of-the-art nighttime parade floods Main Street, U.S.A., with stunning color and more than 1.5 million LED lights.

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Also at Disneyland park, the new “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular will be a sky-high celebration featuring sparkling pyrotechnics, immersive projections and effects that transform the park right before your eyes. “Disneyland Forever” envelops you in an enthralling, breathtaking journey like never before, leveraging the largest installation of projection mapping technology in a Disney park and surprising special effects.

Disney California Adventure park will present a special edition of the popular “World of Color” show, hosted by award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris. In “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney,” Mickey Mouse and Neil take guests on a journey through the imagination of Walt Disney, exploring his decades-long legacy of memorable animated moments and the dream of Disneyland.

The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration will also bring dazzling decor and special surprises throughout both parks, the Downtown Disney District and the Disneyland Resort hotels. Make plans now to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrate and Learn More About Turtles at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Blair Witherington, Senior Sea Turtle Biologist


Tomorrow is World Turtle Day®! To celebrate, we’ll have activities to satisfy your curiosity and inspire conservation of these magnificent animals.

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At Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can try on a turtle shell, see how biologists find gopher tortoises in their underground burrows, learn how to best keep turtles as pets, attempt to untangle a plush sea turtle from fishing line using only your “flippers” and much more! At the Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, you’ll be able to step through a turtle-excluder device. TEDs are special devices fishermen use in a trawl net to allow turtles an escape route if they are accidentally caught. You can also play interactive games to learn about the threats turtles face, while our sea turtles swim behind you in our 5.7 million-gallon tank. At both locations, you will have opportunities to ask specialists about our turtles and what they need to survive.

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In honor of the holiday, we have an exclusive Disney Parks Blog update from our Conservation Team. Many of you may remember last year’s Tour de Turtles at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort during which we attached satellite transmitters to two female loggerhead sea turtles that came ashore at the resort to lay their eggs. Affectionately named Anna and Elsa after our favorite “Frozen” Arendelle royals, the two ladies have been travelling hundreds of miles since we watched them return to the sea last summer.

Anna, the smaller of the two, had healed scars on her shell from an old boat-propeller injury. Ever resilient, Anna was able to swim in the Tour de Turtles. Because each turtle in Tour de Turtles is connected to an issue that threatens sea turtles, Anna swam to raise awareness about the threat of light pollution. Bright beachfront lighting from buildings and streetlights can deter nesting females and draw hatchling turtles away from the ocean, which is very dangerous for them.

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With a crowd of well-wishers cheering her on, Anna crawled down the beach at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and back into the Atlantic Ocean. For about a week, Anna swam and drifted within Florida’s coastal waters and then headed south along the coast of eastern Florida. This means that the nest she made in late July was her last of the season. If Anna was like most loggerheads, this would have been her fifth nest!

Anna’s travels south took her to Key West, where she looped around the island and settled into a beautiful shallow seagrass pasture just north of the popular tourist destination. (Perhaps it reminded her of Arendelle?) Anna’s journey has totaled 661 miles!

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Elsa, the larger of the two female loggerheads, has a 40-inch long shell—that’s the height of an average 4-year old human! Elsa is swimming to raise awareness about the troubling amount of plastic debris in our oceans that many turtles mistake for food.

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After Elsa left Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, she drifted for a few weeks within Florida’s offshore waters and eventually headed south. Like Anna, Elsa also swam toward Key West, but soon found her own path. She turned south to cross the Florida current toward Cuba. The strong, Gulf Stream current must have diverted her to the east, which put her on course for the Cay Sal Bank, a rich area of shallow seagrass between the United States and Cuba. This is where Elsa stayed for several months, until just recently when she looped closer to Cuba and back toward Cay Sal. Elsa’s journey has totaled 1,929 miles! That’s the distance from Orlando to Nova Scotia!

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Want to learn more about turtles and our work to help conserve them? If you’re staying at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort this summer during nesting season, you can participate in a turtle night walk, during which you may see a female sea turtle lay her eggs on the beach! You can also check out our next Tour de Turtles event August 1 at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and don’t forget to celebrate turtles for World Turtle Day and every day at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and The Seas with Nemo & Friends!

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A Home Away From Home at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: 2-Bedroom Villa

posted on May 18th, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


With temperatures starting to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about your summer vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa! Not too long ago, I wrote an article on the Disney Parks Blog about the benefits of staying in a 1-Bedroom Villa in the first “A Home Away From Home” installment. Today, I’m excited to continue the series with an inside look at the 2-Bedroom Villas at Aulani!

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First and foremost, the 2-Bedroom Villa is the perfect option for larger families to relax, hang out and of course, sleep! I recommend picking up a few grocery items when you arrive from Kālepa’s Store and preparing a meal or two in the kitchen. Also, the cozy living room is the perfect spot to curl up with your ‘ohana and watch a Disney classic film like “The Lion King” rented from the Pau Hana Room.

The spacious Villa offers over 1,100 square feet and comfortably sleeps up to nine guests. At the end of the evening, your family can head to Never Land with these sleeping arrangements: two resting in the master bedroom’s king bed, four sleeping in the second bedroom’s two queen beds and in the living room, three more guests stretching out in the queen sleeper sofa and the sleeper chair!

Like the 1-Bedroom Villa, don’t worry about packing extra clothes because a washer and dryer is available inside the room! Other amenities available in a 2-Bedroom Villa include: a whirlpool tub, 3 flat-panel televisions and DVD players and every kitchen appliance needed to prepare a home-cooked meal!

Are you ready for your Hawaiian getaway?

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Moms Panel Monday: Need Recommendations on Dining at Walt Disney World Resort?

posted on May 18th, 2015 by Jamie Langdon, Social Media Manager


Food can be a big and very fun part of the Walt Disney World Resort experience, and for this issue of Moms Panel Monday our panelists offer dining suggestions to a guest who is visiting this summer.

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Each panelist provides personal insight — such as favorites of their kids’ like 50s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, to signature dining establishments like California Grill and Flying Fish Cafe, and even not-to-be-missed indulgences like waffle-based sandwiches at Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom Park or the addictive Zebra Domes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Does your family have any favorite places to grab a bite at Walt Disney World Resort?

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

California Grill Celebrates 20 Years at the Top at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

posted on May 15th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Has it really been 20 years since California Grill put Walt Disney World Resort dining on the culinary map? May 15, 1995, the date that the beautiful space was unveiled on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort with stellar cuisine and an equally spectacular bird’s-eye view of Magic Kingdom Park and Walt Disney World Resort. Reimagined in 2013 with new interiors and a new onstage kitchen and menu, the restaurant has not rested on its laurels.

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While there’s no big ta-dah planned for the turning 20, Chef Brian Piasecki focuses on beautiful produce, so spring is one of his favorite times of the year. “Soft shell crabs, local heirloom tomatoes, Delta asparagus, spring onions, West Coast halibut, morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, baby artichokes, Zellwood corn, fava beans, English peas,” says Chef Brian, ticking off the list of amazing ingredients he’s working with in the kitchen for the 20th anniversary.

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“And don’t forget Copper River salmon season opens May 12,” he says. “We’re serving the salmon ‘a la plancha’ [grilled on a metal plate] with Zellwood sweet corn yeast cakes, baby shiitake mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns and pickled ramps, topped with spiked milk-stout maple syrup.”

Then there’s more fresh seafood, the BLT heirloom tomato flatbread with house-smoked bacon, and more local sweet corn, says Chef Brian, who has been at the helm at California Grill since 2009.

“To create the wow experience is the greatest feeling,” he says. “I have the opportunity to create amazing food with an incredible team.”

The most-ordered dish on the menu is the fork tender, oak-grilled filet of beef, right now paired with heirloom tomato risotto, a rich tomato-butter sauce, micro basil and a dash of aged balsamic vinegar. But if you ask Chef Brian for his favorite dish has says he’s partial to the tempura-fried soft shell crab with an espelette (red pepper) aioli and local red watercress salad.

And the beverages are as finely tuned as the food, thanks to area manager Michael Scheifler, who keeps a close eye on trends. “For spring and summer was are rolling out a seasonal beer menu, including the new Napa Smith Cool Brew from the only brewery in Napa Valley” says Michael. “We’re also adding a ‘Super Premium Spirit Page’ with offerings such as Bunnahabhain Single Malt Scotch, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and Hennessy Richard.”

So raise a glass. Happy 20th, California Grill, cheers to 20 more!

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Chef Mickey’s Opens for Brunch Starting May 31 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

posted on May 15th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Reservations open May 22 for what promises to be a popular new addition to Walt Disney World Resort dining – mid-day brunch daily at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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The popular restaurant, with the Monorail breezing by overhead, has been open for breakfast and dinner, and is one of the very best spots for an audience with Chef Mickey and his pals, who make a stop at each table during dining service.

For brunch, the menu of breakfast favorites expands with soup; salads including Caesar; seafood, fresh broccoli, antipasto, chicken and Caprese, and hot dishes such as barbecued ribs, seafood étouffée and baked salmon. (And, yes, the famous Mickey waffles are on the brunch menu.) The ice cream bar and Contemporary bakery sweets also will be part of the expansive buffet.

Hours for brunch are 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Breakfast is still 7-11:30 a.m. and dinner 5-9:30 p.m.) Meals are one table-service entitlement on the Disney Dining Plan. For reservations, visit www.disneyworld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Scientists Provide Great Care for Animal Moms and Babies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 13th, 2015 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


Giraffes, white rhinos, sable antelopes, gorillas and a red river hog were among the animals that celebrated their first Mother’s Day this past Sunday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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The Science Operations team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is hard at work helping provide great care for our animal moms and babies. Our team performs pregnancy tests almost every day for animals in the park and at the Lodge. We can predict the mother’s due date to help animal keepers prepare for the delivery, and in some species we can even determine whether the baby will be a girl or a boy!

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How do these tests work? By doing tests to measure an animal’s hormone levels. We share our findings with other scientists by publishing them in scholarly journals, and our endocrinologists mentor scientists here at Disney and advise others at zoos around the world on our techniques.

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You can see our scientists in action at the Science Center at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

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Did you know?

  • Endocrinologists at Disney’s Animal Kingdom perform 20,000 hormone tests each year!
  • Giraffe are 6 feet tall at birth.
  • White rhinos are pregnant for 17 months.
  • Newborn sable antelope are born with a light, sandy brown coat that will gradually darken as they mature.
  • A newborn gorilla is able to cling to its mother’s front with a very powerful grip from both its hands and feet.
  • Red river piglets “play possum” when they get scared. This means they pretend to be unconscious when approached by a potential predator.

Congratulations to our mothers here at Disney and all over the world!

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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Makahiki: The Bounty of the Islands

posted on May 13th, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


So far, the “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series has shared the magic behind iconic locations at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, like ‘Alohi Point, Menehune Bridge and Pu’u Kilo. Today we continue with an inside look at Makahiki: The Bounty of the Islands and how this delicious restaurant enhances the Aulani story for guests vacationing in Hawai’i.

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Aulani Cultural Advisor Kahulu De Santos shared with me that the traditional Hawaiian Makahiki season is actually during the fall months. “The sunset rising of the beautiful open star cluster Makali‘i (Pleiades), followed by the first visible crescent moon appearing at dusk, heralds the beginning of the Makahiki season,” she explained.

The story of the Makahiki season comes to life inside Aulani’s popular buffet restaurant in a series of artistic executions. A mural by leeward artist Solomon Enos highlights the powerful imagery and ancient protocols associated with the sacred time of the year. The colorful imagery gives Aulani guests a glimpse of the ceremonies and offerings presented to Lono-i-ka-Makahiki, the god of peace, rain and agriculture in order to bring fertility and prosperity to the land.

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There are other notable design elements for guests to discover in the buffet area itself. For example, the curving walls are embedded with tiles made of coconut fiber that lend a natural and organic backdrop for the art. Look up and you’ll also see this Hawaiian treat used in another design element. In fact, the entire ceiling consists of coconut tiles, augmented by a scattering of mirrored glass mosaic tiles. Return to Makahiki in the evening hours – the design is very reminiscent of a starry night.

Let’s not forget about the delicious food offerings, too! Your ‘ohana will enjoy items like sliced island fruits, Asian-inspired entrées and more! Make reservations to say hello to some of your favorite Disney characters at “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki” or have a delectable dinner in this one-of-a-kind restaurant with lots to discover here.

Do you have a detail at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, you’d love to know more about? Let us know in the comments below!

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POLL: Eat What You Want Day With Disney Parks Blog Authors

posted on May 11th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


What would you eat if you could eat anything you want from Disney Parks and Resorts? This is a question I asked a few Disney Parks Blog authors for Eat What You Want Day (which is my new favorite food holiday). Keep reading to find out the authors’ picks:

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Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort
I chose the 32-ounce Dry Aged Tomahawk Rib Chop from The BOATHOUSE, the newest restaurant at Downtown Disney. The $115 cut is meant for two guests but I actually shared mine with two friends and Executive Chef Bob Getchell. On “Eat What You Want” Day (and any other special occasion!), this is the perfect splurge.

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Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort
I’m so excited that Critter Country at Disneyland park is open again following its recent refurbishment, because it means I can enjoy my favorite lunch again … the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Hungry Bear Restaurant!

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Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort
I chose a Mickey Pretzel – it’s something I remember since my first theme park visit. It’s a perfect treat to enjoy while walking through the park and even better dipped in cheese!

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Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center
I love food is ‘character’ themed in our parks – so fun. When I went to “Frozen Fun” at Disney California Adventure park a couple of weekends ago, I tried something new. I had an Olaf marshmallow pop and then got to meet Olaf.

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Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer
A beautiful plate of pristine sushi at California Grill – probably a crispy crab roll.

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Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment
One of our favorite treats when visiting any Disney Park is the popcorn. The regular popcorn tastes great, but the unique flavors available in certain places make for a special treat. The Buffalo Blue Cheese Flavored Popcorn in Future World at Epcot is definitely one of my favorites, while my boys each have a preference for the cheddar and the sour cream and chive flavors available there. Whether it’s these at Epcot, honey-flavored popcorn at Tokyo Disneyland or dill pickle flavor from the Cozy Cone Motel at Disney California Adventure park, flavored popcorn is an indulgence we can’t resist!

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Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations
I chose the Chinese Chicken Salad in a Sourdough Bread Bowl from Pacific Wharf Café. There is nothing like walking through Pacific Wharf at Disney California Adventure park and smelling freshly baked bread. Then, you add a healthy and delicious salad INSIDE it? Truly, a match made in heaven. (I always ask for extra dressing on the side for some “dipping” sauce for my bread.)

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And me? I chose a Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle Refreshments in Magic Kingdom Park. Dole Whip has been my go-to for years, it makes me feel like a pineapple princess, and there’s something about enjoying it in Adventureland that makes it even more magical!

Let us know what you would choose to eat on Eat What You Want Day; vote for your pick in our poll below!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resort

Stay Refreshed During Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend With These Special Buffets at Downtown Disney District and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

posted on May 8th, 2015 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations


It’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort (along with Mother’s Day, of course). Runners along with their friends and family supporters will find plenty at the Downtown Disney District and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel to sustain them both before and after the race.

Stay Refreshed During Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend With These Special Buffets at Downtown Disney District and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Stay Refreshed During Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend With These Special Buffets at Downtown Disney District and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Stay Refreshed During Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend With These Special Buffets at Downtown Disney District and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

ESPN Zone opens early, at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, and will serve breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. both mornings. Select TVs at the Zone will be playing a live feed of the race. Throughout the weekend, ESPN Zone also will be offering runner-inspired special buffets – 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday – featuring a wide selection of salads, entrees, sides and desserts along with a build-you-own pasta station and a carving station offering pork loin with peach bourbon sauce. Adults (perhaps with the exception of those in training) are invited to try the Pixie Punch, served with a glow cube and made with vodka, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and sour apple. Space is limited. Buffet reservations are taken at 714-300-3776.

Naples offers a Tinker Bell Half Marathon Buffet as well, from 4 to 9 p.m. today (Friday) and Saturday, with salads, pasta, pizza and cookies. You’ll also find a choice of pasta dishes on the Catal menu for Friday and Saturday dinner. And La Brea Bakery is adding a protein bowl to their menu, along with strawberry pie and shortcake.

Meanwhile, PCH Grill at nearby Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel offers its own Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Dinner Buffet Friday and Saturday evening, with salads, a pasta station, carving station with herb marinated roast au jus plus a special kids buffet featuring hot dog sliders, macaroni and cheese, green beans and tater tots.

Feel the burn!

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