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

Enjoy a Spring Vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa with a Special New Offer

posted on January 20th, 2014 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

UPDATE 3/4/14: This offer has been extended! Book now through May 14, 2014, for stays most nights April 23 through June 16, 2014.

Hale means house, and when you come to visit us at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, we have some great options for your vacation home. When you are immersed in all of our great recreational and entertainment activities, you may overlook the benefits and wide variety of the resort’s spectacular villas.

Our one-bedroom and two-bedroom villas are specifically designed with families in mind. Each is equipped with kitchens and a dining table that make it the perfect opportunity for families to connect over home-made meals. Families can stretch out in comfort as these villas come with a separate living room, or step outside onto a private lanai to enjoy the gentle trade winds and peaceful moments of Hawaiʻi. The comforts and conveniences also feature flat panel televisions in the living room and each bedroom, a whirlpool tub, stacked washer-dryers and elegant furnishings inspired by the fine arts of ancient Hawaiʻi, all with a touch of Disney magic. These amazing home-like amenities blended with a Hawaiian style make our villas an ideal vacation hale for any family size traveling together.


Bring your family to bask in these wonderful accommodations, and reward yourself even more with a $500 resort credit when you purchase a minimum four-night stay in a one or two-bedroom villa. This special offer can be booked now through May 15, 2014 March 31, 2014 for stays most nights April 23 through June 16, 2014. Your resort credit can be applied to indulge at Laniwai Spa, experience exciting island excursions, enjoy beach rental activities, and partake at Aulani’s amazing dining options.

To book your next family vacation in an Aulani villa, visit here, or for more information visit

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Décor, Menu Makeovers for Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

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

We’ve long been a fan of bright, airy Captain’s Grille, a getaway of sorts where you often can grab a table in a quiet corner for breakfast, lunch or dinner and enjoy some of the best seafood-centric food at Walt Disney World Resort.


Now this classic American grill just off the lobby at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has a new look, says area leader Ashley Call – with new tables and chairs, wallpaper and paint, and a redesigned menu that still features longtime favorites but adds more than three dozen new dishes to the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.


“Guests tell us we’re a hidden gem,” says Ashley. For years, we’ve headed to Captain’s Grille for lunch, and recently tried the new hand-cut salt and vinegars fries with roasted shallot mayo – good enough for a stand-alone treat, though delicious paired with the recently added lump crab cake with fire-roasted corn succotash and lemon emulsion. The kitchen, under Chef David Hutnick, turns out solid fare with a sophisticated touch, like house-made potato-cheese gnocchi with toasted walnuts, julienne pears and truffle butter, or rosemary-brined pork tenderloin with braised pork belly, pears and apples. And you’ll find one of the best sandwiches at Walt Disney World Resort here: the simple New England-style lobster roll on a butter-toasted Parker House roll.

One of the most-requested breakfast dishes is the butter-poached lobster omelet with asparagus, chive cream and hash browns. At dinner, the hottest sellers are the classic New York strip steak and snow crab legs with new potatoes and corn on the cob, but Chef David says the cabernet-braised short ribs are tops (braised for six hours to buttery perfection).


And guests love their sweets, like the hazelnut gianduja chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce and chocolate crispies or the gluten-free angel food cake with berry compote and almond croutons, served with lavender-infused panna cotta.

Other standouts added to the menu over the last several months:

For breakfast:

  • Citrus-scented French toast made with challah bread with lavender-infused strawberry compote and white chocolate ganache
  • Dark chocolate waffles with dried cherry compote, espresso-mascarpone cream and chocolate shavings
  • Lemon-ricotta hotcakes with blueberry compote, lemon curd and hash browns

For lunch:

  • New England clam chowder served with bacon and chive biscuits
  • Salad of arugula and frisée with celery-almond purée, roasted grapes, crumbled chèvre, endive, and shallot vinaigrette
  • Seared tuna salad with cucumber, tomato, haricots verts, pickled watermelon, greens, red pepper coulis, and verde sauce
  • Fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwich with chopped arugula vinaigrette on toasted sea salt focaccia

For dinner:

  • Buttermilk-fried rock shrimp with chipotle rémoulade, citrus cream, and chilled cucumber salad
  • Chef’s “vegetarian inspiration” – right now its sweet potato tortellini with cranberry relish, spice almonds and brown butter rosemary beurre blanc
  • Desserts such as no sugar added and gluten-free angel food cake and s’mores tart with graham cracker crust and chocolate sauce

Wine flights are now offered with lunch and dinners, says Ashley, and guests say they enjoy sampling new tastes like a sparkling wine and a merlot both from North Fork of Long Island. And the Captain’s Grille teams says to watch for even more changes in 2014.

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Ten Things You May Not Know About Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

posted on January 8th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations

The beauty of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is that it is truly timeless. Inspired by the Victorian-era beach resorts built along Florida’s east coast during the turn of the century, the Grand remains the crown jewel at Walt Disney World Resort. The luxury resort opened in 1988, but like a fine wine it improves over time. It magically blends the new – like the Disney Vacation Club Villas, and Senses, a Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – while remaining true to its opulent theming and heritage we all know and love. I am sure there are plenty of things you already know about this magical and memorable resort. As part of our resort series, here’s a look at the top 10 things you may not know about Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Here’s to making new memories in 2014!

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Stellar Wine Cellar at Napa Rose at Disneyland Resort

posted on January 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Walking through the door at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, you know you’re in for a treat with all five senses engaged. Dining is about so much more than taste.

The restaurant’s show-stopping wine cellar is part of the experience – just past the check-in podium, glimpse inside the on-stage room where the wines are stored, about 1,000 bottles in all, mostly from California’s Napa Valley. You’ll see an entire wall of magnums, and dozens of uncorked bottles of reds that are served by the glass. (And check out the cool Fender Guitar that’s part of the décor.)

In case you can’t make it to the restaurant, here’s a quick video of the wine cellar. And if you’ve got a dinner reservation at Napa Rose, a staff of sommeliers will make choosing wines easy.

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Ring in the New Year With Delectable Treatments at Disney Spas

posted on December 31st, 2013 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations

Recharge, Reenergize and Reconnect
The flavors of the season – Champagne, strawberries and chocolate mousse — are just a few of decadent ingredients in the new spa offerings at Senses – a Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. From January 1- February 28, these tasty treatments debut just in time for the new year at both Senses spa locations. I guess I have always reserved Champagne for New Year’s Eve, but it’s time to indulge. These fabulous treatments will really tantalize your taste buds and all your senses. There’s Chocolate and Strawberry Facial to tone, tighten and detoxify, a Mimosa Champagne Scrub and Body Wrap that hydrates and refines and a Mimosa Champagne and Chocolate Pedicure to give your tootsies some pampering. My mouth is watering over the Chocolate Truffle Body Wrap, created to reduce wrinkles and hydrate with rich chocolate. Yummy. It’s a perfect refresh for the new year after the stress and tension of the busy holiday season. I can see a radiant, revitalized and sweeter “new me” as I am wrapped in chocolate from head to toe. What a treat! Check out the site for a menu of offerings.

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R5 Performs ‘Pass Me By’ at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

I first became acquainted with the music of R5 and their continually growing popularity from my two kids. R5 is made of up Disney Channel star Ross Lynch, his sister Rydell, brothers Riker and Rocky, and their close friend Ratliff. I then had the special privilege to hang out with the Lynch family for a couple of days here at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, as the group took to the beach to perform their song “Pass Me By.” I shared a bit of Hawaiian culture with their ‘ohana, and they returned the favor by playing bit of their mele – music – for all of us. And a special “ALOHA!” to Ryland, the one sibling who doesn’t play in the band, but who certainly kept the fun going for the ‘ohana on the slides, in the pool, on the beach volleyball court, and everywhere throughout the resort. Check out the video of all the great moments they had here at Aulani.

Catch five unplugged versions of R5 songs from their new album, Louder, during Take 5 with R5 Night – tomorrow, December 21, starting at 5 p.m. Eastern – only on Disney Channel.

And don’t let an Aulani vacation opportunity for you and your ʻohana pass you by! Visit to book your warm winter vacation and enjoy a 4th night free along with free breakfasts each morning (for two adults) at Ulu Cafe with a consecutive four-night stay purchase.

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A Holiday Indulgence from Pastry Chef at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

posted on December 10th, 2013 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Just in time for the holidays, here’s a decadent sweet ending that you can make with just four ingredients (plus water). This Chocolate Pudding Cake is on the menu at California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and they serve a fancy version you can check out in the video that’s adorned with Nutella, silky ganache, mint whipped cream, and mini house-made marshmallows and chocolate meringue kisses. Watch Pastry Chef Jeff Barnes work his magic!

This recipe is simply the dense chocolate cake. You could add the extras, but we love it with nothing more than a generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Pudding Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray with flour; set aside.
  2. Combine water and 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar melts. Bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; slowly add chocolate, stirring until completely melted. Stir in butter, a few pieces at a time, until completely melted.
  3. Combine eggs and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer until pale yellow and very frothy.
  4. Slowly stream chocolate-butter mixture into egg mixture, stirring until smooth and satiny.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan inside of a larger roasting pan; pour hot water around cake pan until water reaches halfway up sides of cake pan. Carefully transfer pans to oven.
  6. Bake 28 to 30 minutes until just firm.
  7. Remove cake pan from roasting pan and let cool 30 minutes. Carefully invert cake onto a large plate before serving, or serve directly from pan.

Cook’s note: Cake can be served with mint flavored marshmallows, chocolate meringue kisses, a spread of Nutella, or mint whipped cream.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on December 4th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs

The 2013 sea turtle nesting season is over, and the results are in. This year, we had a record number of sea turtle nests on the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort!

Three species of sea turtles nest on the beach at the resort: loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles. In 2013, we broke our record for the most nesting green sea turtles on the stretch of beach monitored by the Disney’s Animal Programs team. An amazing 569 green sea turtle nests were documented. And it was our second highest year on record for loggerhead nesting, with 1,077 nests counted. We also counted 8 nests for the huge leatherback turtle. The number of nests is great news for the conservation of these endangered sea turtles.

Speaking of conservation, we also now have the results from the 2013 Tour de Turtles, a wonderful sea turtle conservation and research program. Two Disney-sponsored turtles, Carrie and Claire, both loggerheads, took part in the race.

Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

Carrie came in fourth place, but she came in first place in the “Causes Challenge” — she was swimming to raise awareness about the threat of light pollution on the beach. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources. In another first, Carrie came ashore twice in the same year to nest near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Her two nests resulted in 161 hatchlings each, for a total of 322 hatchlings!

Claire was not far behind, placing sixth in the Tour de Turtles and receiving an honorable mention in the “Causes Challenge” for raising awareness about the dangers of sea turtles ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris. Claire’s nest had 99 hatchlings.


What an exciting year! And here’s to a successful 2014 sea turtle nesting season — we’ll be sure to tell you how it goes!

Remember, all of us can help sea turtles by taking action to reduce, reuse and recycle; by making sure that we dispose of trash properly; by turning off unnecessary lights that may be visible on nesting beaches; and by observing turtles and other wildlife from a safe distance, taking care not to disturb them or their habitats. To find out more about Disney’s conservation efforts, visit

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Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar Gets in the Spirit of Holiday Season at the Disneyland Hotel

posted on November 26th, 2013 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What do you get when you cross a thirsty zebra with a bottle of rum? Yule find out when you sip the Red-Nosed Zebra at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel – a chilly concoction of aged rum, strawberry puree, lemon and lime juices.


If the holidays are making you go ape, try the Gorilla Nog with honey-flavored whiskey, Sam’s Gorilla Grog, ginger and orange liqueurs.


For a sweet sip, try the Mele Kaliki-Mocha – “the jungle java that Sam sends to you from the land where lions prey.” The combo of iced coffee, cream of coconut and coffee liqueur is topped with whipped cream to make it snowy white.

The three specialty drinks are available only until January 5, 2014. The Red-Nosed Zebra is $9.50, Gorilla Nog $10.75 and Mele Kaliki-Mocha is $10.75. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar welcomes children (Sam’s No-Booze Brews will enchant half-pint headhunters), but is restricted to guests 21 and older after 8 p.m.

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Among First Green Lodges, Disney Florida Resorts Once Again Receive This Eco-Friendly Honor

posted on November 20th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Nearly 10 years ago, when the State of Florida began its Green Lodging program, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort were among the first hotels in the state to receive this honor. The rest of our resorts soon followed. I’m proud to report that The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently renewed the Green Lodging designation for all the Disney-owned and operated resorts in Florida.

This three-year distinction is a way to recognize hotels that help protect Florida’s natural resources through efforts that reduce waste, conserve water and energy, improve air quality, and raise awareness of environmental conservation. Here are a few of the ways we are working to conserve resources at our resorts:

  • Recycling in guest rooms and resort public areas, and printing in-room guest information on recycled paper.
  • Creatively using energy-efficient lighting, monitoring thermostats, and turning off lights and equipment when not in use.
  • Collecting for recycling by Clean the World used soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions, which are then reprocessed and distributed by this nonprofit organization to impoverished people with a goal of preventing millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses. In 2012 alone, cast members collected more than 128,000 pounds of hygiene products that were reprocessed into 393,000 soap bars.
  • Through the Disney Harvest program, collecting unused prepared foods from resort kitchens that is distributed through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. More than 1,000 local children are fed weekly through this program.

Ways in Which Disney Florida Resorts Promote Conservation Ways in Which Disney Florida Resorts Promote Conservation

A big thank you goes out to our guests, who join us in conserving resources, including by recycling, switching off lights, TVs and ceiling fans, and adjusting thermostats when they leave their resort rooms.

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