Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney Characters Have A Ball Warming Up For The 2014 FIFA World Cup

posted on May 8th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12, and everyone is getting into the spirit – even the characters and cast members we have here at the Walt Disney World Resort!

Check out this new video, which celebrates the fun spirit of competition.

NOTE: If you’re visiting Walt Disney World during the World Cup and wish to catch a game, you can catch it at these on-property viewing locations:

You can also follow along with the World Cup at the Odyssey Center and the Festival Center at Epcot, select bars and restaurants at Downtown Disney, as well as ESPN Club and Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s BoardWalk!

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Point of View: Rainbow Reef at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator

Recently my fellow Disney Parks Blog author, Erin Glover, went under the sea in Rainbow Reef at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, to try the Supplied Air Snorkeling (S.A.S.) experience. Today, I invite you to visit the only private snorkeling lagoon on O`ahu again, but this time from the point of view of one of the nearly 50 different types of sea life that live in the reef!

I also want to pass along this helpful tip I learned about Rainbow Reef: You can purchase a one-day experience or, if your ‘ohana wants to explore the lagoon throughout your vacation, a length-of-stay experience is also available.

And here’s a bit of trivia for you … at one point in the video above, we spot the state fish of Hawai`i. Do you know its Hawaiian name? Leave your answers in the “Comments” section!

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Filed: Aulani, Disney Vacation Club, Hotels & Resorts

Book Walt Disney World Resort Fall/Winter Vacations Now For Free Dine Offer

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

Are you considering a trip to Walt Disney World Resort this fall or winter? If so, then this just might make you bite – our popular Free Dine offer is back!


Guests will get a free dining plan when they buy a non-discounted six-night/seven-day Magic Your Way Package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. To be eligible, guests must book by August 8, 2014. The offer is valid for arrival most nights:

  • August 31 to October 3, 2014
  • October 26 to November 1, 2014
  • November 9 to November 20, 2014
  • December 12 to December 23, 2014

In case you haven’t dined on the plan before, the Disney Dining Plan is honored at more than 100 select Walt Disney World Resort restaurants, while the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan (available for packages that include a stay at Disney Value Resorts) includes meals and snacks at more than 50 dining locations.

For more information on this and other current offers, click here.

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Plans for a Re-Imagined Disney’s Polynesian Resort Include a Nostalgic Name Change

posted on May 2nd, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Earlier today, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis announced some news about one of our most iconic resort hotels – Disney’s Polynesian Resort. As part of a complete re-imagining, Disney’s Polynesian Resort is returning to its original, 1971 opening day name: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.


The sweeping renovation, happening now, also includes a new food and beverage experience opening for guests next year, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto — based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. There’s going to be lots more updates on this beachside family favorite, so stay tuned.

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Little Ones Enjoy Makeovers at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on April 29th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator

Getting pampered at the Laniwai Spa was by far one of my favorite experiences at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. During my visit, I met with Spa Director Lucia Rodriguez and she gave me a tour of the wide variety of offerings available for the entire ‘ohana. Some of the most magical treatments I learned about were the options available for the keiki, or little ones! As with any Disney experience, little touches of magic are pixie-dusted throughout the Kids’ Services at the Laniwai Spa, and they also include some aloha style! After all, this is a Hawaiian vacation. Take a look for yourself!

Have you or your keiki had a chance to visit the Laniwai Spa? If so, what was your favorite part of the experience?

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Filed: Aulani, Disney Vacation Club, Hotels & Resorts

Florida Produce, Seafood on Walt Disney World Dining Tables

posted on April 28th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Walt Disney World Resort may serve more than 54 million meals every year, but rest assured, attention to detail isn’t lost as chefs look for new ways to wow their guests. And the trend for sourcing locally brings beautiful tastes to fine-dining restaurants.

Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk heads to local farms for veggies and pork, and to both coasts for seafood. “Beets, turnips, radishes, kale and chard from Palm Beach County, citrus from local groves, tiny greens from a farm in Mt. Dora, tomatoes from Florida – we love our local growers,” says Chef Tim Keating. Chef Tim serves pork from Ocala, clams from Cedar Key and Royal Red shrimp from the Atlantic.


California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort reaches out for local pork, seafood, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Chef Brian Piasecki serves Atlantic flounder with Florida citrus and tomatoes, and his Gulf Coast white shrimp dish includes local arugula, watercress and tomatoes. “Local sourcing means we get ingredients at their peak of flavor,” says Chef Brian. “And we love to share with our guests the great diversity that Florida has to offer – and, in turn, we feel more connected to our community.”


Also at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Chef Frank Brough at The Wave … of American Flavors features products from 21 local and regional farms, such as their rock shrimp and blue crab cake using Florida seafood, eggs, avocados, sweet peppers, corn and micro greens. Over the last three years, The Wave … of American Flavors has hosted more than 20 local farmers in monthly farm-chef dinner.


At AAA Five-Diamond Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Chef Scott Hunnel features a poached local chicken egg wrapped in fresh pasta, garnished with lardons from local pork. “Sourcing local is important to sustain our farmers and our community,” says Chef Scott. “And it’s wonderful to be able to visit the farm and discuss what produce we can showcase.”

Next door to Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Phillip Ponticelli at Cítricos sources Florida pink shrimp and local tomatoes for his signature shrimp with feta and tomatoes appetizer. “Fresh shrimp is abundant in Florida, and we’re supporting our local fishermen,” says Chef Phillip. “And the fresh shrimp is tender as butter.”

Also at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Chef Dennis Thompson at Narcoossee’s is using Florida sweet corn with both the halibut and lobster, and wild Florida shrimp is the star of Chef Dennis’ shrimp and grits with cherrywood smoked bacon and a green tomato chow-chow made with Florida tomatoes. Local citrus goes with poached shrimp, and pairs with local berries in the Plant City strawberry salad.

“It’s such a pleasure to cook with Florida seafood and produce,” says Chef Dennis. “We buy local whenever possible.”

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15 Years in a Row: AAA Five-Diamond Award for Victoria & Albert’s

posted on April 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Only 15 restaurants in North America have this distinctive honor: 15 consecutive years as AAA Five-Diamond Award winners. And Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa is in one of those coveted spots.

For 2015, just 59 restaurants made the Five-Diamond list – 47 in the U.S., six in Canada, four in Mexico and one in the Caribbean. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.2 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. Victoria & Albert’s is the only one in Central and South Florida, and one of only two in Florida.

So we again congratulate Chef Scott Hunnel, Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Perez and their team for earning the coveted award for the gem of a restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Chef Scott is in his 20th year with Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Erich has been there for 19 years, and Israel is starting his 10th. And the rest of the team gets kudos, too: Chef Aimee Rivera, Chef Tom Hill, Chef Mathew Sowers, and Manager Vivian Altesor.

“The backbone of Victoria & Albert’s continues to be the wonderful, loyal culinarians, dedicated servers and devoted reservationists,” says Israel. “They are the pillars that support our uncompromising commitment to greatness.”

AAA Five Diamond restaurants reflect the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. Add cutting-edge menus, the finest ingredients and “food prepared in a manner that’s highly imaginative and unique” and you’ve got the extraordinary combination that defines a winner. But beyond the kitchen, the maître d’ must lead an expert service staff “that exceeds guest expectations by attending to every detail in an effortless and unobtrusive manner.”

15 Years in a Row: AAA Five-Diamond Award for Victoria & Albert’s

Victoria & Albert’s wows guests every single night of the year with a fabulous “Contemporary-American” menu and refined touches such as Italian Sambonet silver, fine Bernardaud china, and Italian Frette tablecloths (hung, not folded, to avoid creases). Women get a small stool for handbags – and if you’re chilly, they’ll offer a cashmere wrap.

The restaurant offers three dining experiences: the dining room, the elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862). Visit for more information. Dining room is $135 per person for six courses and $65 for wine pairings. Chef’s Table and Queen Victoria’s Room are $210 for 10 courses and $105 for wine pairings.

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Inside the Signature Suites of the Disneyland Hotel

posted on April 25th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

I love the Disneyland Hotel – it completely surrounds guests with the magic and nostalgia of Disneyland park, creating an experience that is unique among our Disney resorts. While all of the hotel’s guest rooms feature magical Disney touches, the Signature Suites are where guests can be fully immersed in the magic of Disneyland. We recently stepped inside these amazing suites to bring you an insider’s look.

PLEASE NOTE: The interactive mirror shown in the Mickey Mouse Penthouse is no longer offered.

If I had to choose, I think I’d stay in the Adventureland Suite. I mean, the Stone Grotto – who could resist that? Which is your favorite Disneyland Hotel Signature Suite? Tell us in the comments!

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a Great Place to be Green

posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Malama means to care for, to protect and to maintain. April is Earth Month, and Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii, has many ways to practice malama. Last week, Aulani was recognized for those efforts by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

At its annual awards banquet, ARDA presented Aulani with four awards, including the Green Sustainable Program within a Resort and the ACE Project of Excellence Award for being the “best of the best.”


During Earth Month, we celebrate these awards and touch on the green, sustainable programs at Aulani. As we announced last year, Aulani became the first Hawaii resort to be LEED certified, achieving Silver Certification. The effort began from day one, as much of today’s success started with the planning of Aulani back in 2007. As we continue into our third year of providing a deep Hawaiian cultural experience to our guests and Disney Vacation Club Owners, our efforts continue around energy savings, recycling and being good stewards of the aina – the land.

A few final notes on being green at Aulani:

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Features Local Ingredients in Luscious New Desserts at ‘AMA ‘AMA

posted on April 16th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

When you cook on an island paradise, using delectable local ingredients only makes the food taste better. And Chef Ron Viloria at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai’i, gets creative with sweets on his new dessert menu at beachside ‘AMA ’AMA – Contemporary Island Cooking restaurant.


“We’re using native mamaki tea for the panna cotta, and lavender with tart kalamansi (a citrus fruit also known as calamondin) for the semifreddo,” says Chef Ron. The fragrant lavender comes from Ali’i Kula lavender farms in Maui, and the kitchen also is sourcing local honeycomb for the semifreddo, a “semi-frozen” dessert.


Cocoa is another Hawaiian product, and Chef Ron is using Kokoleka chocolate for his “Chocolate with Aloha” dessert that’s made with chocolate from Waialua Estate (cacao and coffee beans) on O’ahu’s North Shore, where the nutrient-rich volcanic soil, abundant rainfall and plentiful sunshine produce some of the world’s best cacao.


Chef Ron also added a modern representation of Hawai’i’s traditional mochi cake, a tender, soft, chewy dessert made with rice. And he’s using lemongrass and coconut in the lemongrass crème Catalana, an island version of the classic French crème brûlée made with fresh coconut.

“Of six desserts on the menu, five are new,” says Chef Ron. (He kept the popular chocolate cake, now called “Mocha Chantilly Cake.”) Guests seems to love the lemongrass crème Catalana too, he says. Hopefully you’ll get to visit Aulani soon – Chef Ron changes the desserts about every six months.

“It was so much fun sourcing products locally to make some delicious desserts for our guests at ‘AMA ‘AMA,” says Chef Ron. “Giving diners a taste of Hawai’i makes their vacation extra special.”

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