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Add Some Fa La La to Your Holidays with a Sleigh Ride at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 18th, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group

It may still be on the warm side here in Central Florida, but it’s never too early to be thinking about the holidays! So when you make your seasonal to-do list, check it twice. And make sure a horse-drawn holiday sleigh ride at Disney’s Fort Wilderness & Campground is on it.

Sleigh Ride2

The sleighs—festively festooned with lights, garland and bows, and brimming with cheerful holiday music—take you on a 25-minute trek that glides you through the woodsy landscape and past the campsites of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground all decked out in their holiday finery. Well, you don’t exactly “glide,” as Jay Sanderson, Assistant Animal Operations Manager, Tri-Circle-D Ranch, explains. But that doesn’t make it any less magical.

“Our sleighs are different from our horse-drawn carriages. They are specifically designed to cut through the thick layers of ice and snow that hit Central Florida in December. Okay, scratch the ice and snow part. But they are indeed sleighs that are retrofitted with wheels for our guests’ and horses’ comfort and convenience.”

Brought to you by the same folks who provide the horse-drawn carriage rides the rest of the year, these memorable outings are perfect for a snuggle-up-close romantic rendezvous or an adventure for the whole family. Each sleigh fits four adults or two adults and three children. Larger parties can book more than one sleigh. This fun, distinctive experience replaces carriage rides at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for the month of December.

According to Jay, it’s not at all unusual to hear, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh … Hey! Jingle bells! Jingle bells!” coming from the sleighs as they wind their way through Mother Nature’s own holiday green. These rides have become a popular annual tradition for couples and families alike.

And you’ll be presented with a special limited-edition pin created specifically for this event at the conclusion of your ride. Then you can stroll through the barn to check out where the horses live and get up close and personal with these gentle giants that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Discover what they eat, how they travel from place to place throughout Walt Disney World Resort and other fun facts. Just keep in mind that the sleighs do go out in a light rain, but your ride may be canceled during inclement weather.

So why not make it a season of joy and memories with a horse-drawn holiday sleigh ride? These magical encounters tend to sell out quickly, so an early reservation is highly recommended.

Holiday sleigh rides run from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and are open to all (in other words, you don’t have to be a registered guest of a Disney Resort hotel), with no minimum age requirement. Call 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529) to book today.

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Enjoying Early Morning Skies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

It sure looks like a peaceful morning here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.


The resort’s four savannas, which are home to more than 200 zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos, are still just waking up for the day.

Have a great Monday!

For more from the “Good Morning” series, visit the posts below:

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Summertime at the Hotels of the Disneyland  Resort

posted on August 13th, 2015 by Michael Ramirez, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations

As you’re enjoying the last few weeks of summer, I hope there’s a trip planned to Anaheim to experience the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration! And if you’re staying overnight (or two!) at one of our three hotels, there is plenty of fun in store for your stay.


Whether you are looking to cool down or simply relax, here are three unexpected ways to enjoy summertime as a guest of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort:

  1. Pool Parties: Enjoy fun in the sun with a pool party at any of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort. These seasonal parties occur daily in the afternoon and include games, music and dancing!
  2. Magical Night at the Movies: For a relaxing evening, cozy up with a favorite Disney film on select nights under the stars. Movie screenings take place at all three hotels, and guests are encouraged to bring snacks for the show!
  3. Cabanas: If you’re interested in lounging by the pool all day, consider reserving a private, poolside cabana. Available for a half-day or full-day, stretch out under a shaded cabana equipped with everything you need to relax. To make a reservation at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa or the Disneyland Hotel for an additional fee, call (714) 635-2300 or visit the Guest Services desk inside either hotel.

What’s your favorite summertime activity at the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort?

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Disneyland Nights: Suggestions for Nighttime Fun During D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 12th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

I’m looking forward to attending the D23 EXPO 2015 this week at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Expo will be held August 14-16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. After spending the daytime immersed in all things Disney, I can’t wait to visit Disneyland Resort at night. Here are some of my favorite places, in case you are looking for something to do as the sun sets in the California sky.


Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar
My number one nighttime destination is Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. While I love finding hidden treasures inside the bar area (look for a hidden Orange Bird figure), I also enjoy sitting outside on the torch-lit lanai listening to live music. If you are hungry, try the Ahi Poke or the Slow-roasted Kālua-style Pork Sandwich. For beverages, I highly recommend the HippopotoMai-Tai or, if you are sharing, the Uh Oa!, named after the tiki goddess of disaster.


Beignets and Live Music at Downtown Disney District
I like strolling through Downtown Disney District after picking up some beignets and coffee from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express. From 6-10 p.m. this month at Downtown Disney District, each night of the week will be devoted to a different musical style . During the D23 EXPO 2015 weekend, look for these performances:

  • Friday, August 14 – Tupua Polynesian variety show
  • Saturday, August 15 – Phat Cat Swinger (I love that swing dancing is still a tradition!)
  • Sunday, August 16 – Top 40 Music Jam features Dead Ringer


Carthay Circle Lounge on Buena Vista Street
The little details on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure park are fantastic (see my fellow author Tyler Slater’s article for a sampling). I also like Carthay Circle Lounge, which offers handcrafted cocktails by mixologists who use unique glassware, gourmet garnishes and drink-specific ice (try the Manhattan as seen in this video).


Dole Whips in the Enchanted Tiki Garden at Disneyland Park
There is nothing greater than enjoying a Dole Whip while sitting in the Enchanted Tiki Garden at Disneyland park. I love watching the Tiki gods of the garden come to life as seen in this video.

Do you have a favorite hangout in Disneyland after dark? Please share in the comments below.

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Plan Your Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Vacation Now

posted on August 12th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

Are you considering taking a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during the holiday season? Today we’re excited to share our list of holiday happenings with you. Read on.


Magic Kingdom Park
The holidays will return to Magic Kingdom Park on November 8, with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This year the park will host 20 party nights: November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 29; and December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18. Parties begin at 7 p.m. and include Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Dance Party, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks and much more. Buy tickets now at

Epcot’s Holidays Around the World and Candlelight Processional will return to the park November 27-December 30. Holidays Around the World brings the international pavilions alive with holiday cheer, including a Christkindlmarkt in the Germany pavilion and performances by Joyful! gospel. The Candlelight Processional, a show that combines the reading of traditional scripture with live music, is performed three times nightly at 5, 6:45 and 8 p.m.


Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will return to the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from November 6, 2015 through January 3, 2016. This holiday offering transforms this part of the park with millions of glittering lights, mobile displays and holiday music. It’s also included in theme park admission.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
During the holiday season, guests will be able to take holiday photos with Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost at the park. Mickey and Minnie will be dressed in their holiday best, which makes for the perfect Christmas card image.

If you’re planning a visit during the holiday season, don’t forget to check out our latest offers. The Magic Together Fall Vacation Package is a 4-day/4-night room and theme park ticket package in a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Resorts for a family of four starting at $1,701. For more information, visit

Families can also save up to 25 percent on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels most nights October 4 through November 24, 2015 and November 28 through December 23, 2015. For more information, visit

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Discover With Me: Mickey-Shaped Treats at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on August 11th, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations

I love treats. Not just at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, but at all of our Disney Parks. There is something about a sweet or savory snack that has Joy bouncing around my Headquarters. As an avid Disney fan, I wanted to discover just what scrumptious Mickey-shaped treats could be found at Aulani. Today, the “Discover With Me” series continues with a look at some of these treats available in this Hawaiian paradise, including a typical Hawaiian snack like the Spam musubi. If you’re wondering, it’s delicious!

For more from the “Discover with Me” series, visit the posts below:

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Our Top 5 Walt Disney World Resort Favorites for National S’Mores Day Aug. 10

posted on August 10th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Ah, summertime, the perfect excuse to celebrate the ultimate campfire dessert: delectable layers of crunchy graham crackers, warm chocolate and roasted marshmallows. In honor of National S’Mores Day on Aug. 10, we’ve chosen our Top 5 creative takes on this ooey, gooey treat.


  1. Gibson’s S’mores Baked Alaska at The Boathouse, Disney Springs. This newcomer features a ginormous dessert – chocolate ice cream studded with marshmallows in a graham cracker crust, frosted with marshmallow cream. This hybrid sweet feeds a family of four. Or more.
  2. This one has a lot of fans – the Wagon Wheel Chocolate S’mores from Whispering Canyon Café with warm dark chocolate sauce and marshmallow gelato. If you prefer to sip your s’more, step next door for a S’mores Latte from Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge – a marshmallow-chocolate drink you can order hot or over ice.
  3. Campers are only steps from the Trail’s S’mores at Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, a creation with warm chocolate cake, graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow gelato – but you can only get it at lunch. (Or make your own s’mores with supplies from Chuckwagon near the Meadow Swimming Hole around the campfire when the sun goes down.)
  4. The S’mores Chocolate Tarte from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort takes a simple approach with a chocolate tart, graham cracker crust, a dab of marshmallow and chocolate sauce.
  5. Just for little ones, Savanna S’mores are a favorite on the kids’ menu at Sanaa at Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: layers of chocolate pudding, marshmallow fluff and toasted graham crackers. Oh to be young again.

Share your favorite Disney s’more!

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on August 9th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Regular readers of the Disney Parks Blog know we’ve been testing a breakfast experience at the popular Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park. This week, we shared the update that what was originally a test, is now a permanent offering.


Reservations for breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant began this week for dates October 4 and beyond. We also got a sneak peek of the artwork that will be on new kid’s souvenir cups, debuting in October. Check out Rachel’s original story to see the artwork and to make reservations.


We also shared a story this week about a special robot that visited Walt Disney World Resort and amazed guests at Disney’s Contemporary Resort by drawing a giant portrait of Walt Disney.

Disney Research Zurich teamed up with a group of undergraduate students from a Swiss engineering school to build the Beachbot robot from scratch. The team wanted to do something nobody has ever done before and create a machine that could make spectacular art alongside beachgoers.

Our original story has a behind-the-scenes video and more details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

QUIZ: How Well Do You Know ‘World of Color – Celebrate!’ at Disney California Adventure Park? – How well do you know the new nighttime spectacular in Disney California Adventure park? Take our quiz and find out!

Video Rewind: Point-of-View Videos from Disneyland Resort Attractions – Need to fill that time between your last ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the next? Miss that view from the front of the Disneyland Resort Monorail? Good news – Shannon, one of our fabulous video pros, has you covered!

A Unique Point of View: Monstro Looms Over Fantasyland at Disneyland Park – Looming over Storybook Land Canal Boats, Monstro the whale can also appear to be chomping down on other parts of Fantasyland, depending on your point of view.

Official Disneyland App Now Available for Download – The official Disneyland App is available for download now from the App Store and on Google Play. This new app provides useful info, special features and more right at your fingertips.

#CoolestSummer Ever: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cool – There are more ways to enjoy the coolness of Disney’s Animal Kingdom than simply standing in the shadow of an elephant (and we can’t promise you can do that). Click through for a few more refreshing options!

Reservations Now Open for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine – Even though we’re in the middle of summer, some of us have started to have visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads. If you’re wondering about holiday dining plans at Walt Disney World Resort, we’ve just added one more option.

Disney Parks Online Store Releasing New Shirts in August 2015 – This month, the Disney Parks online store will continue its series of specially designed limited release shirts!

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Robot Creates Giant Sand Portrait of Walt Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

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


An autonomous “entertainment” robot that can create large scale sand art called Beachbot recently visited Walt Disney World Resort and amazed guests at Disney’s Contemporary Resort by drawing a giant portrait of Walt Disney.

Disney Research Zurich teamed up with a group of undergraduate students from a Swiss engineering school to build the Beachbot robot from scratch. The team wanted to do something nobody has ever done before and create a machine that could make spectacular art alongside beachgoers.

“This is a new kind of area really, which is entertainment robots – that’s what Beachbot is,” Paul Beardsley, principal research scientist at Disney Research Zurich said. “It could be that you go to your local beach and look over and you see – presto, there’s a drawing being made by a robot.”

The students considered different designs when creating Beachbot and ultimately decided to make it in the shape of a turtle and then added a rake mechanism to carve the designs into the sand. Smart software is used to transform images into the art and control Beachbot’s movement, according to the project’s site.

Beardsley said Beachbot can make many different types of drawings but one of the things it’s really good at is drawing face images. The robot created earlier images on the beaches of the North Sea before visiting the Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney Research Zurich is part of a network of labs that make new technologies for the company.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Tour de Turtles 2015: The Race is On!

posted on August 5th, 2015 by Blair Witherington, Senior Sea Turtle Biologist

We celebrated our eighth annual Tour de Turtles last Saturday with lots of enthusiastic Disney Vacation Club Members and guests at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. It was a huge hit! Excitement rose as researchers from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Sea Turtle Conservancy attached satellite transmitters to two loggerhead sea turtles, Tinker Bell and Marina. Cheers rang out later as the two conservation-marathon contestants crawled down the beach to begin their ocean journey.

The race is on!

While we were waiting for the sea turtles to start their migration marathon, guests took part in activities that helped them understand the many threats sea turtles face. Each turtle competitor in the Tour de Turtles is swimming to raise awareness for a specific threat that affects sea turtle populations. This year, Tinker Bell is raising awareness about light pollution on sea turtle nesting beaches. Little sea turtle hatchlings require starlight and moonlight to navigate to the ocean after hatching and can become disoriented in the presence of artificial light. Who would know better about using natural starlight to navigate than Tinker Bell, right? Our second turtle, Marina, is swimming to raise awareness about plastic debris in the world’s oceans. As a water fairy, she knows firsthand the benefits of keeping our oceans clean for all the creatures that live there!

The Tour de Turtles event is a favorite among guests and cast members alike because it allows them to connect with nature and learn how they can make a difference in sea turtle conservation efforts! And, the best part about Tour de Turtles is that the fun continues long after the turtles return to the sea! Because Tinker Bell and Marina, along with the other turtles in the race, were equipped with satellite transmitters, we can all follow them on their long trip back to their foraging waters. The satellite data also allow scientists from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Sea Turtle Conservancy to learn where our turtles are spending most of their time so that we can protect them long into the future.

Check out the slideshow and video for more sights and sounds, and don’t forget to track Tinker Bell and Marina on!

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