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Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members Rally To Reunite Guest With Beloved Bear

posted on February 20th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Disney cast members often go the extra mile to reunite guests with items that have been lost at the Walt Disney World Resort – but we’ve never heard of a story quite as emotional as this.

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Let’s back up. When Brooklyn Andrews was 3 years old, her father, Tony Andrews gave her, her sister and brother, Courtney and Jessy, very special teddy bears. A member of the United States National Guard, Tony had just been called up to serve a one-year tour of duty in Iraq and purchased the bears as special gifts that his daughters and son could cuddle when missing him during their separation. He even left a voice message within each bear so that his children could hear his voice at any time reminding them that “Courtney, Brooklyn and Jessy, I love you all.”

After Tony’s tour of duty ended, the family (also including mom, Marsha) celebrated by purchasing Annual Passes to Walt Disney World Resort and took three memorable family trips – with Brooklyn’s bear, Toby, joining them on each one.

Then in 2006, Tony suddenly passed away from a heart attack. Brooklyn was then 6 years old and clung to her Toby bear for comfort, each night pressing the bear’s paw to hear her father’s “I love you” message.

In January 2014, the Andrews family again returned to the Walt Disney World Resort – with Toby in tow – as Brooklyn, now 14, competed in the Disney Family Fun Run 5K and Mickey Mile. Upon returning home, the family was hit with the awful realization that the treasured bear had somehow been left behind. Marsha called Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa to see if the bear could be located, but Toby hadn’t been turned in at the Lost & Found. So, Marsha turned to social media and the story of the lost bear spread quickly – eventually to the ears of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa General Manager Sonya Deese-Byrnes.

“We went out to the building where the family had stayed. A housekeeper had found [Toby] and turned him in to a satellite office. We touched the paw and heard the message, and knew this was definitely the bear,” said Sonya.

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The resort’s cast then sprang into action to make some additional magic for the family, taking Toby on a whirlwind tour of the Walt Disney World Resort. When he arrived safely back at the Andrews family home, the family also received a photo album stocked with pictures of Toby’s adventures at the Walt Disney World Resort. Be sure to click through the images above to see some of Toby’s highlights, which included meeting Disney “bears”, visiting the Country Bear Jamboree, and much more.

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Valentine’s Day Is All About Chocolate at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on February 11th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Imagine a 6-foot-long, chocolate-coated table (it takes 10 pounds of chocolate just to top) with edible chocolate signs (white, dark and milk chocolate plus fondant), showcasing everything from African hot chocolate to fondue for two and a bottle of bubbly.

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It’s a Valentine’s dream come true in the Jambo House lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge from 4-9 p.m. February 9 – 15. Surprise your sweetheart with a trip to see the animals on the savanna, but start with a stop in the lobby to pick out your indulgence.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Graham Beck sparkling wine ($23.95)
  • Godiva caramel, white chocolate and dark chocolate cordials ($8.50)
  • African hot chocolate ($2.99)
  • Fondue for two with orange-chocolate fondue in an edible white chocolate cup with chocolate brownie bits, pineapple, strawberries and yogurt-covered pretzels ($6.49)
  • Chocolate-dipped tuxedo strawberries ($5.99 for two)
  • Five white-chocolate-covered sandwich cookies ($14.99)
  • 5 mini-cupcakes ($4.59)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your sweetheart.

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Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake from Napa Rose at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 5th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Red roses are nice, but a home-baked sweet says love in a special way. Pastry Chef Jorge Sotelo from Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa artfully shows us the way it’s done with his mini-chocolate truffle cakes, and we share his recipe below.

Just give yourself plenty of time to wow your Valentine. You can make the ganache a day ahead, as it needs plenty of time to cool. The truffle cakes are best straight from the oven, served warm with your favorite ice cream (they serve it with cherry vanilla at Napa Rose). Just make sure you use a good-quality dark chocolate for a taste to remember.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Truffle Cakes with Ganache
Serves 8

Ganache

  • 4 ounces Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Truffle Cakes

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (extra for ramekins)
  • 6 1/2 ounces Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided (extra for ramekins)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Favorite ice cream, for serving

For ganache:

  1. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour boiling cream over chopped chocolate. Slowly stir in a circular motion with a rubber spatula until all chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
  2. Let sit at room temperature until ganache cools to 70°F. Meanwhile, make truffles cakes.

For chocolate truffle cakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly butter bottom and sides of 8 individual (3/4 cup) ramekins. Coat thinly with sugar and shake out excess. Set aside.
  2. Prepare a double boiler and bring water to a simmer over low heat. Place butter and 6 1/2 ounces chocolate in the top of the double boiler and gently stir until melted.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth and slightly thickened. Stir in flour.
  4. Ladle a small amount of melted chocolate into egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Add another ladle of chocolate into egg yolk mixture and continue to whisk. Once the temperature of the egg yolk mixture has been warmed, add remaining chocolate to egg yolks and vigorously whisk. Set aside.
  5. Combine egg whites and 1 tablespoon sugar in stand mixer; whip on medium speed until soft peaks form.
  6. Slowly add an additional 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar while continuing to whip egg whites. Increase speed to high and slowly add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Whip another 3 to 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, being careful not to overwork mixture.
  8. Divide batter equally among prepared ramekins, filling 3/4 full. Place on baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until tops are puffy, but center still soft. Do not overbake.
  9. While cakes are baking, make the ganache: Finely chop remaining 4 ounces of chocolate.
  10. Cut around edges of cakes using a small knife to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto a serving plate. Top each with 1 generous tablespoon of ganache and serve immediately with favorite ice cream.

Cook’s Notes:

  • If you cannot find Scharffen Berger Chocolate, you may substitute Valrhona Manjari chocolate or a high quality 58 percent bittersweet chocolate.
  • Make sure your small metal bowl is very clean and dry before attempting to whip egg whites to stiff peaks.
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This Bitter Storm at Napa Rose Will Warm You Right Up at Disneyland Resort

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


While brisk winter weather blankets much of the country, it’s still pretty balmy here in Southern California – where the only “Bitter Storm” is at Napa Rose restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

The bartender layers sweet and sour tastes from bourbon to cherry liqueur, adds a splash of lemon juice and tops the cocktail with a tart sliver of grapefruit peel. It’s a sunny sip of California that can take you away even if you’re shoveling snow.

Bitter Storm
Serves 1

  • ¾ ounce Bulleit Bourbon
  • ¾ ounce Fernet-Branca
  • ½ ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
  • ½ ounce Poire William brandy
  • ½ ounce Orgeat syrup
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • Grapefruit peel, for garnish
  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker; fill with ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a tall chilled glass filled with ice. Garnish with grapefruit peel.

For more about dining at the Napa Rose, read these posts:

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Hotels Receive ‘Best Hotels’ Awards

posted on February 4th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


If you haven’t heard, eight Walt Disney Parks and Resorts hotels were recently named Silver Badge Winners by U.S. News & World Report. All of the winning Disney Parks hotels ranked as one of the best in their market.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa Disney's Grand Californian Hotel Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

We’re especially thrilled about the awards because they recognize the creativity and heart of our cast members who create Disney magic and deliver the great guest service that the company is known for. Here’s the breakdown of winners:

In California, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel was named one of the Best Hotels in Anaheim and in Hawaii, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa ranked as one of the Best Hotels in Honolulu – Oahu.

Six hotels at Walt Disney World Resort were also named Best Hotels in Orlando, including:

The hotels were ranked by travel experts and guests through online reviews and ratings and a complete list is posted online.

Congratulations to all of our “Best Hotels” winners.

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Kicky Ribs from Storyteller’s Café at Disneyland Resort are Perfect for the Big Game

posted on January 30th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The big game calls for a plate of delicious ribs to share (with plenty of napkins). Grillmasters, however, settle back and enjoy the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos because this recipe comes together on the stovetop and gets finished in the oven.

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The chefs at Storyteller’s Café at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa created this kicky sauce with spicy chipotle and sweet tamarind glaze. We go light on the glaze to let the flavor of the tender, meaty pork shine through.

Serve it with the crunchy red cabbage slaw and some crisp garlic bread. The restaurant adds fresh broccoli and mashed potatoes, but you can save that rendition for another day. With a cold brew, this is down-home deliciousness.

Chipotle and Tamarind-glazed Ribs with Red Cabbage and Golden Raisin Slaw
Serves 4

Chipotle and Tamarind-glazed Ribs

  • 1 (2-pound) rack pork ribs
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup root beer
  • 1/4 cup minced chipotles in adobo
  • 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Red Cabbage and Golden Raisin Slaw

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives

For chipotle and tamarind-glazed ribs:

  1. Place ribs in a large stockpot. (Cut ribs in half widthwise if needed to fit.) Add enough cold water to cover ribs by 1 inch. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cut a 6-inch square piece of cheesecloth; place pickling spice in the center. Pull edges up and tie into a bundle with a piece of kitchen twine. Add spice bundle to cooking liquid.
  2. Turn stove to medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 1/2 hours, or until ribs are very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, cooking until golden and very tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, cooking until fragrant and tender, about 2 to 4 minutes more. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, root beer, chipotles, tamarind pulp, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring very frequently to prevent burning, until well combined and slightly thickened. Set aside.
  4. Preheat broiler. Remove ribs from cooking liquid and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Coat both sides of ribs with prepared sauce; broil 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbly.

For red cabbage and golden raisin slaw:

  1. Whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, shallots, cilantro, garlic, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add cabbage and carrots, tossing to coat. Stir in raisins and chives. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
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Pro Bowl Players Get in the Aloha Spirit at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on January 26th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


On Friday, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, welcomed NFL players preparing to compete in today’s Pro Bowl game. Players were invited to bring their families to enjoy an afternoon of Disney magic, with special guests Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

NFL Pro Bowl Running Back Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs with Mickey Mouse at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, of the Kansas City Chiefs, was the first to visit with Mickey Mouse upon arriving at the event.

NFL Pro Bowl Tight End Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys with Minnie Mouse at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Tight end Jason Witten, of the Dallas Cowboys, visited with event hostess Minnie Mouse.

NFL Pro Bowl Running Back LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles with Mickey Mouse at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

And Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, of the Philadelphia Eagles, stopped to shake a shaka with Mickey Mouse on his way into the event.

Please join me in wishing all the Pro Bowl players luck in today’s game!

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2014 Merchandise Debuts at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Who doesn’t love the idea of a tropical getaway? So any time that I can share details about what’s happening in the world of merchandise at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – I’m in. Let’s be honest, I feel like I’m already there!

If you are looking to commemorate your stay at the resort, consider our 2014 Program which is available at Kālepa’s and features Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Stitch, Chip n’ Dale and Duffy the Disney Bear. You will find elements of the art in some form or fashion on vast array of merchandise including tees for kids and adults, a mug, frame, magnet, keychain, ornament, jumbo pencil, pen and D-Tech phone case. Here’s your first look!

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Vacation is a time to get away, so I encourage you to embrace your aloha Disney Side while you’re at Aulani with one of our four new tees.

Aulani T-shirts

Now, one thing that I hope you have planned during your stay is a trip to Laniwai Spa. I actually haven’t been myself, but I am looking forward to the opportunity of experiencing the massages and skin care treatments they offer. What I have been lucky enough to try is some of the amazing product that is used in many of the exquisite treatments. One of these great product offerings is the Laniwai collection, a luxurious skin care line, embodying the roots of Hawai‘i while providing natural and botanical benefits.

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I was a bit curious about what made it so special, so I inquired with my friend and merchandiser, Emilio Martinez, who had this to share: “The Laniwai collection commits to providing luxurious natural products made from organic ingredients, from the most serene tropical wonders that Hawai‘i has to offer. If you choose the body polish, body cream or body wash, you will find that it provides the perfect combination of exfoliation, nourishment and hydration; giving you the relaxed and natural glow one seeks.” So if you long to re-live your stay at Aulani or perhaps an amazing spa treatment at Laniwai, take the Laniwai collection home with you, and recapture the natural beauty Hawai‘i has to offer.

For details on Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa merchandise, artisan signings with Aunty Lorna May Pacheco (Lauhala Plaiting) and Dalani Tanahy (Kapa Printing), and more visit www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com.

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It’s the Year of the Horse — What Better Time to Share News From the Tri-Circle-D-Ranch at the Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


The Chinese New Year will be celebrated at the end of this month, and it’s the Year of the Horse — what better time to share some news from the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at the Walt Disney World Resort, where horses are celebrated every year and all year-round.

Our team at the ranch is excited to report that two new Clydesdale horses have just joined the ranch family. Named Gates and Rookie, they each weigh about 1,800 pounds and are 18 hands tall. A hand, which was originally based on the breadth of a human hand, equals 4 inches.

The two new Clydesdales will be starting their training program this week. Soon after that, guests will be able to meet Gates and Rookie during wagon rides, which depart from the front of Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, and carriage rides, also at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort as well as Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.

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The team is excited to welcome these two new horses to our herd of more than 90 horses and ponies at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.

During your next visit to the Walt Disney World Resort, be sure to make time for a wagon ride, carriage ride, pony ride, or take the reins yourself for a horseback trail ride through the natural wonders of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Trail rides are offered daily (weather permitting). Pony rides are offered just feet from Pioneer Hall, where guests also can watch a blacksmith shoe our horses and take a stroll through the Draft Horse Barn. To find out more about the trail rides, carriage rides, pony rides and more click here.

Did you know:

  • Walt Disney loved horses! This was apparent from his recreational activities to his countless action movies and animated classics that feature horses.
  • Clydesdales are a breed of heavy draft horse. They originated from Scottish farm horses over 200 years ago.
  • Cinderella’s ponies, who participate in many magical weddings by pulling Cinderella’s Carriage, also make their home at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
  • The cast members at the ranch are members of the Disney’s Animal Programs team, which includes the cast members who care for our animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
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Caption This: Goofy’s Day on the Water

posted on January 21st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Today’s “Caption This” photo was snapped at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in 1996. Sure looks like Goofy is set for a day on Seven Seas Lagoon in his snazzy swimsuit.

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Is Goofy water skiing a good idea? You tell us. Go ahead and “Caption This!” in the comments section below.

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