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Hong Kong Disneyland Breaks Ground on Disney Explorers Lodge

posted on January 6th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


On Monday, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort broke ground on its third hotel named Disney Explorers Lodge, marking another exciting milestone in the continued development of the resort as a world-class travel and entertainment destination. The 750-room hotel is slated to open in early 2017.

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New design concepts, key features of the hotel and a story explaining the hotel’s exploration theme were revealed. The story takes place in the grand era of exploration in the 1920s and tells of four explorers who built a lodge based on their adventures around the world, adding their own artifacts and specimens gathered during their lifetime of travels. The hotel is inspired by the explorers’ travels to an African savannah, a South American rainforest, a Polynesian island paradise and an area inspired by the natural beauty of Asia.

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Guests at Disney Explorers Lodge will enter a new world full of discovery, nature and exotic cultures. They will enjoy the hotel’s exploration theme throughout the hotel’s guest rooms, four distinct gardens, three restaurants, a shop and a large outdoor swimming pool. The four gardens include: the South American Garden, the Polynesian Garden, the Asian Garden and the African Garden.

Disney Explorers Lodge will be different from the two existing hotels at the resort in terms of its theme and design. Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel has lavish Victorian elegance and the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel is marked by its Art Deco architecture. Disney Explorers Lodge will embrace the spirit of exploration and adventure.

Disney Explorers Lodge joins the list of other expansion projects and upcoming offerings at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort such as the themed area based on “Iron Man.”

We are excited for guests to come explore the hotel and experience the Disney magic at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort!

For more on the expansion projects at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, visit the posts below:

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A Bowl of Comfort: Clam Chowder from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

posted on January 2nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Just in time for chilly weather, Chef David Hutnick from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is sharing the recipe for their popular clam chowder. With chopped clams, clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a fresh taste of the ocean in every warm bite. (Plus a little bacon for rich flavor.)

Fresh seafood from around the U.S. is one of the specialties at Captain’s Grille – steamed mussels, lump crab cake, lobster roll, buttermilk-fried rock shrimp, seared tuna, blackened corvina, salmon, snow crab legs and scallops are on the menu, but carnivores will also find a Cabernet-braised short rib and pan-seared chicken on the dinner menu.

Captain’s Grille is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For reservations, visit disneyworld.com/dine or visit 407-WDW-DINE.

Clam Chowder
Makes 6 cups

Chive Oil
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup chives

Clam Chowder
1/3 cup chopped bacon
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced celery
18 ounces chopped clams in juice
3 cups heavy cream
24 ounces (3 cups) bottled clam juice
1 cup diced white or gold potatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound fresh clams, well scrubbed

Bacon-Chive Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

For chive oil:

  1. Cut chives into 1-inch pieces. Place in a fine-mesh sieve and place under very hot running water for about 3 minutes (this avoids a “grassy” flavor).
  2. Combine chives and oil in a blender. Blend on low until well combined, then blend on high for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; pour chive oil into sieve. Do not press on solids; let oil drip through sieve into bowl, discarding solids.

For chowder:

  1. Heat a stockpot over medium heat; add bacon, cooking until golden and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion and celery, stirring to combine. Cook until onion is translucent and celery softens, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add clams with their juice, stirring to combine. Add cream, clam juice, and potatoes. Simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender and soup has thickened slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Heat wine in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat until simmering. Add clams, cover pan, and cook until clams open, about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve chowder garnished with cooked whole clams and a drizzle of chive oil.

For bacon-chive biscuits:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using fingers or a pastry cutter, blend in butter until mixture resembles wet sand.
  3. Stir in buttermilk; fold in chives, cheese, and bacon, just until combined.
  4. Roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness, then use a small round cutter to cut 8 biscuits.
  5. Whisk together egg and water in a small dish. Brush tops of biscuits with egg wash.
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
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Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa!

posted on January 1st, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


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Cast members from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, wish you and your ‘ohana and wonderful start to 2015!

What are you looking forward to most this year? Tell us in the comments below!

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Fifteen Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2015

posted on January 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s a new year – do you have a Disney Parks vacation on your bucket list for 2015?

Whether it’s new dining experiences, sports milestones, holiday celebrations or the return of annual theme park festivals, there’s a lot to look forward to at Walt Disney World Resort in 2015. Here are 15 reasons you should consider planning a trip this year.

Trattoria al Forno Brings the Italian Countryside to Disney's BoardWalk

1. Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk – The newest Disney restaurant just opened its doors a few days ago. The menu features authentic Italian cuisine and wines – and is now an option on the Disney Dining Plan. Yum!

Exposition Park Opens for Disney Food Trucks at Downtown Disney

2. Exposition Park Food Trucks – While we’re on the topic of food, 2015 will give you time to check out the recently opened food trucks at Downtown Disney. This dedicated outdoor area also has live entertainment at night (subject to change, of course).

3. 2015 runDisney Races Are Off & Running - Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will take place January 7-11. (Check out a sneak peek at the merchandise that will be sold at this year’s event here). Space is still available in the Kids Races!

4. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – This nightspot is based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, and is set to open here in spring. Trader Sam’s will offer tiki cocktails served in souvenir mugs, as well as smaller food offerings. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more on this fun new location.

5. Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic – Soccer fans can get their kicks at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic February 1-March 1 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In it, eight pro teams, including six Major League Soccer squads, will compete in 16 games.

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6. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Returns – This princess-themed weekend of running events returns to Walt Disney World February 19-22.

7. Starbucks to Open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A new Starbucks location will open at the park in February, 2015. The new location, dubbed The Trolley Car Café, will be themed to a classic trolley car along Hollywood Boulevard and offer a unique experience for coffee lovers visiting the park.

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8. The Atlanta Braves Return For Spring Training – The Braves will return to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for their 18th consecutive year of spring training. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or visiting ticketmaster.com, as well as at the sports complex box office.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

9. The 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: A Spring Tradition Returns March 4-May 17 – Character topiaries, home gardening seminars, floral displays and much more will return to the park’s festival in 2015.

10. Star Wars Weekends Returns – This annual event will return to delight fans of the Force and the Empire May 15 – June 14 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

11. “Tomorrowland” Debuts In Theaters May 22 – While it isn’t a theme park offering, how could any Disney Parks fan possibly miss out on seeing this one? AMC Downtown Disney 24 at Downtown Disney may be the perfect location. The trailer looks amazing!

12. Annual Events – 2015 means the return of our favorite annual events, including The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and more. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for news and dates on our 2015 special events.

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13. New Eats at Downtown Disney – The area continues to evolve into Disney Springs, and in 2015, The Landing, the first of four interconnected neighborhoods will open to guests. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more dates and details on the openings of Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando, three restaurants planned for the area, as they come available.

14. Another Year of #DisneySide Fun - Guests loved showing their Disney Side – that side each one of us has that isn’t afraid to have fun and show our silly sides – at our parks in 2014. This year we’ll continue the fun by encouraging all of you to show your Disney Side at our parks (and at home) throughout 2015.

15. Your Family Vacation – If this is the year for your family’s vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, then there’s nothing to look forward to more than your family’s special time together. If you visit our parks in 2015, we hope you have a wonderful time.

Which event or new offering are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

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

Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrating Animal Births at Walt Disney World Resort in 2014!

posted on December 31st, 2014 by Dr. Mark Penning, Director of Animal Operations, Disney Parks


Earlier this year, avid Disney Parks Blog readers joined us as we celebrated the arrival of two Western lowland gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Western Lowland Gorilla Baby #1 and Mom Western Lowland Gorilla Baby #2 with Mom. Look For the Entire Family Group on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Those births were a very exciting time for our Animal Programs team, but we’ve had plenty of excitement throughout the year with hundreds of births and hatchings! (You are probably thinking, “Where are they keeping all of these baby animals?!”, but keep in mind that this large number includes invertebrates that can have 100 offspring at a time!) While we don’t have the space here to feature all of our new babies, the Animal Programs team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge have helped compile a quick list of some of the baby animals we welcomed this year.

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Just around the corner from the gorilla families on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, you can find a maze of slender-tailed meerkat burrows, and might even catch a glimpse of this baby meerkat or one of its nine siblings! The adults can be seen sitting upright as they keep watch over the newly extended family, and an alarm chirp sends them all scurrying into the safety of the burrows.

Great Blue Turacos Nest in the African Aviary at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Black Cheeked Lovebird Hatchlings Weigh Only 5 grams (About the Weight of a Quarter) at Hatch Look For the Beautiful Black Cheeked Lovebirds on Your Next Visit to the African Aviary on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

A short walk from the meerkats, the African Aviary on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is also home to new babies. These offspring weren’t born, they hatched! The Great blue turaco is the largest of the 23 types of turacos found only in Africa. They are primarily fruit eaters, and although they can fly very well, they prefer to run and scamper about the tree limbs, almost like a squirrel. This beautiful bird and recent hatchling can be seen in the Africa Aviary.

Also in the African Aviary, you can find a colony of Black cheeked lovebirds – a vulnerable African species of parrot. Only two zoos in the United States care for this species. The hatchlings weigh in at only ~5 grams (about the weight of a quarter) and reach only 4 inches in length when they are fully grown.

A wallaby joey is one of the many interesting species you don’t want to miss at the Oasis Exhibits as you begin your adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He is most active during the cooler parts of the day, mornings and after late day rains. If you didn’t see his birth announcement on the Disney Parks Blog, you can check it out here.

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Kilimanjaro Safaris, an open-air vehicle tour of a lush African savannah, is now home to this cute springbok calf, along with three other calves and their families. The springbok is able to run alongside its mother within an hour after birth, but of course it tires quickly, and will then flatten itself into the long grass and hide from predators.

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In 2014, the team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was delighted to welcome three Thomson’s gazelles, which are very similar in appearance to the springbok. The newest addition, pictured here, is a girl who was born in October. Although she’s resting in this photo, she often leaps and tears around the savannah. Thomson’s gazelles are some of the fastest antelope in Africa, and combine their incredible speed with agile jumps and maneuvers. They are often able to outrun cheetahs and other predators.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is also home to a Red river hog sow and her three piglets, born in May. This is her second litter and the entire family, including dad and aunt, can be found on the Pembe savannah.
(Did you know a female hog is called a “sow”? You did? “Sow” did I!)

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All of our births and hatchings are celebrated because many animals, including the Western lowland gorilla and Black cheeked lovebirds, need our help for their species to survive. Several species are a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). Look for other baby animals and their families throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We look forward to the New Year as we continue to protect wildlife and wild places around the world.

Happy New Year from all of our families to yours!!

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2014: A Delicious Year for Walt Disney World Disney Dining

posted on December 31st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


From food trucks to new dining rooms, 2014 was a busy year for the Walt Disney World Resort chefs. Here’s a look at the top stories for Walt Disney World Resort Dining:
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  • DISNEY SPRINGS – The first two restaurants were announced for Disney Springs, an entertainment-dining-retail district re-imagined from Downtown Disney. Opening in summer 2015 at The Landing in the heart of Disney Springs, Chef Masaharu Morimoto is teaming up with Patina Restaurant Group to debut Morimoto Asia, the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience. Also coming to The Landings in spring 2015 is The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats. The BOATHOUSE restaurant will immerse guests both on land and on water with live music and Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian water taxi featuring Champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. There also will be guided Amphicar rides that launch from land, entering the water with a splash, taking guests on a 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney.

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  • TRATTORIA AL FORNO (December 2014) – The newest Walt Disney World dining experience is Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk, featuring authentic flavors of Italy’s diverse regions – wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, hand-crafted mozzarella, imported charcuterie and cheese and a 100 percent Italian wine list. Trattoria al Forno is open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan.
  • EXPOSITION PARK (December 2014) – The Disney food trucks got a new home at Downtown Disney West Side – Exposition Park, where guests will always find one or more of the trucks, along with visiting food trucks. Nightly entertainment, plenty of seating. Hours may vary during peak times and special events, but daily hours are 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
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  • EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL EXPANDS (September 2014)The festival was expanded to a record 53 days – that’s a whole extra week to take in the marketplaces, cool concerts and some very special dinners.

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  • NEW SMOKEHOUSE AT HOUSE OF BLUES (January 2014) – Popular House of Blues opened their new Smokehouse, a quick-service window where it’s easy to grab a generous smoked beef brisket sandwich, pulled pork or chicken sandwich, smoked turkey leg, St. Louis half-rack of ribs or an all-beef hot dog. That’s the menu, short and sweet. The Smokehouse opens at 11:30 a.m. daily, with closing around 10 p.m.

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  • SPICE ROAD TABLE (January 2014) – Spice Road Table opens in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, featuring regional flavors from the Mediterranean with small plates such as a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes and caramelized onion; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce baked in an earthenware tagine pot, and Moroccan merguez sausage with a fresh tomato salad. Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, there are 120 outdoor terrace seats and 60 seats inside with a scenic view of World Showcase lagoon.

We’re looking ahead to 2015!

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Look Ahead to New Disney Parks Merchandise Arriving in 2015

posted on December 31st, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


With the beginning of a New Year, I wanted to give you a look at new merchandise coming to Disney Parks. It was no easy task selecting these items as there are many great things coming in 2015. Here’s my list of favorites in no particular order.

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – I can’t wait to add the mini-figurine created especially for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to my tiki collection. This statue was inspired by the figure that will be found inside the Great Ceremonial House. The coolest part is that the torches have lights that flicker.

Dooney & Bourke – We will continue introducing new handbags from Dooney & Bourke in 2015. I love the black and white bicycle artwork in the top image from Disney Design Group Artist Paola Gutierrez.

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Orange Bird – If you’re an avid reader of the Disney Parks Blog, you know that I’m obsessed with the Orange Bird. This year, look for a new 7-inch plush; salt and pepper shakers; a towel set and more.

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Disney Attractionistas – The concept artwork above was created by Disney Design Group Artist Mike Sullivan and features two dolls from a new line called “Disney Attractionistas.” Coming this summer, the dolls were inspired by attractions found at Disney Parks.

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Disney Parks Online Store Shirts – I’m thrilled to give you a preview of new shirts coming to the Disney Parks online store. This year, we are featuring some fan favorites from Disney Parks such as the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. or the classic Disneyland park attraction, Adventures Thru Inner Space. Look for the 40th Anniversary of Carousel of Progress tee online from January 15-18 at DisneyStore.com/ParkEvents.

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Pirates of the Caribbean – Avast! Thar be pirates sailin’ in 2015! Building on the success of the Haunted Mansion Authentic program, we will be introducing new Pirates of the Caribbean attraction products. The artwork above shows a few designs from a master style guide created by Disney Design Group.

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Character Nutcrackers – Later in 2015, we will release nutcrackers inspired by themed lands and attractions at Disney Parks. These limited release items were designed by Disney Design Group Artists such as Alex Maher (Main Street, U.S.A.), Costa Alavezos (Tomorrowland) and Natalie Kennedy (“it’s a small world”).

Which items will you add to your Disney collection? Please share in the comments below.

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Top Ten Disney Parks Moments that Will Go Down in History from 2014

posted on December 30th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


We sure had a lot to celebrate at Disney Parks in 2014, and some of the milestones we experienced this year were memorable ones, with “Frozen” fun debuting at our parks, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening and much more.

That said, here are my top 10 picks for moments that will go down in Disney history for 2014.

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  1. Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort – Thousands of guests dressed as their favorite superhero joined the mad dash through the Disneyland Resort as a part of the very first Avengers Half Marathon. Did you #SmashTheHalf?

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  1. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Announces First-Ever Disney Ambassador – For the first time in history, Aulani welcomed their first Disney Ambassador to represent the resort and engage our guests, cast and community. Janelle Sanqui, Aulani’s first Disney Ambassador, worked in Workforce Management at the resort and was born in Hawaii.

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  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland ParkBig Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened at Disneyland park back in March. The enhanced attraction debuted with upgraded track, a restored Rainbow Ridge Mining Town and other surprises.

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  1. Themed Hotels Announced for Shanghai Disneyland – In November, we announced that two new themed hotels are planned as a part of Shanghai Disney Resort – the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.

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  1. Downtown Disney Announcements – Several announcements were made for new restaurants coming to the shopping, dining and entertainment area at Walt Disney World Resort, including three new restaurants – Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando.

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  1. “Frozen Summer Fun” Debuts At Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The first official “Frozen” entertainment offerings made their debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in July. The fun included “Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome” procession, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – and a whole lot of excited guests!

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  1. L’Aventure Totalement Toquee De Remy (Ratatouille) Attraction Opens At Disneyland Park (Paris) – This attraction, and its surrounding La Place de Rémy Courtyard, officially opened July 10, 2014.

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  1. Oswald Begins Greeting Guests At Disney California Adventure Park – This historic Disney character made his first ever appearance at a Disney Park this year. Oswald was one of Walt Disney’s first major animated characters ever developed. Learn more about him here.

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  1. “Disney Festival Of Fantasy Parade” Steps Off at Magic Kingdom Park – March 10 marked the arrival of a wonderful new daytime parade at Magic Kingdom Park. A fire-breathing Maleficent, anyone?

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  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opens at Magic Kingdom Park – The final New Fantasyland attraction made its debut at the park on May 28. Have you seen these amazing Audio-Animatronics figures?

Which moment was your favorite? Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in the “Comments” section below!

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Supports Toys for Tots

posted on December 26th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This holiday season, Disney VoluntEARS continued the 60-year tradition of supporting the Toys for Tots campaign by collecting gifts for children around the globe.

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort VoluntEARS supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive. These cast members donated more than 6,000 hours of service to help sort donations and distribute toys to families in need. Disney Cruise Line hosted toy drives onboard their ships, at their homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida and in their shore-side offices. VoluntEARS at Disneyland Paris hosted “Mission Noel.” At this event, they wrapped gifts for children from local communities who were invited to the park for Christmas Eve brunch. In total, our cast members donated more than 40,000 toys, books and games.

Toys for Tots is just one example of how we at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts enrich the lives of kids and families around the globe. Through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteerism, we help make lasting and positive change in the world. To learn more about citizenship at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, visit http://aboutdisneyparks.com/citizenship.

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Christmas Trees at the Resorts of Walt Disney World

posted on December 25th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Christmas Trees at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We thought Christmas Day would be the perfect day to continue our ongoing series featuring beautifully decorated trees from around Disney Parks.

Christmas Trees at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

This year, we’re focusing on the trees specifically found at the resorts during a visit to Walt Disney World. Each year, my family visits as many of our resorts as we can to see these trees and the amazing holiday decorations.

Christmas Trees at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Do you have a favorite resort to visit during the holidays? Let’s us know in the comments.

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