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Past, Present and Future Galactic Stars Shine at Star Wars Weekends 2014

posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Here’s a little trivia: did you know former “Cheers” star and the Disney•Pixar “lucky charm” John Ratzenberger once appeared on the silver screen in the Star Wars saga? Before he frequented the watering hole where everybody knew his name, he braved the frigid planet Hoth in a minor role in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Next stop for Ratzenberger (or, as he may be known to Star Wars fans: Major Bren Derlin) will be Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends 2014.
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Today, we’re pleased to announce the full talent lineup for this year’s event. Celebrities scheduled to attend include Star Wars actors and actresses from the past (from the Star Wars film saga), present (from the popular animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and even the future (from the eagerly anticipated Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels).

As we previously announced, acclaimed voice actor James Arnold Taylor is the official celebrity host of this year’s event. We’re pleased to announce today that Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars, a former Walt Disney World Resort parade performer and now a successful fangirl fashion designer, will be the host of a special “Behind The Force” show each weekend. This year, “Behind The Force” will showcase some of the main cast members from Star Wars Rebels.

Also of note: Weekend V will feature the most Star Wars celebrities to appear at one time in the event’s history.

Here’s the lineup (*subject to change):

Weekend I: May 16-18

Ahmed Best: Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi; Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend II: May 23-25

Warwick Davis: Wicket W. Warrick (Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Wald (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Capt. Jeremoch Colton (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith)

Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend III: May 30-June 1

Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

John Ratzenberger: Major Bren Derlin (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back)

Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend IV: June 6-8

Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi); Darth Bane (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)

Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian (Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)

Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

Weekend V: June 13-15

Dee Bradley Baker: Captain Rex/the Clones, Bossk and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Cat Taber: Padmé Amidala and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Tom Kane: Yoda, the series’ narrator and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Matt Lanter: Anakin Skywalker and several additional characters (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Steve Blum: Zeb Orrelios (Star Wars Rebels)

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Vintage Walt Disney World: Past Epcot International Flower & Garden Festivals

posted on April 17th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Celebrating its 21st year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom. My favorite part of the festival is all the topiaries throughout the Park. Here’s a look at a past topiary from the 1998 festival – Phil. (Hercules’s trainer)

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There are almost 100 topiaries at Epcot this year with 79 character topiaries to enjoy. What’s your favorite topiary past or present from the festival? Tell me in the “Comments” section below!

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Filed: Disney History, Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

New Options for Star Wars – D-Tech Me Returning to Star Wars Weekends Starting May 16, 2014

posted on April 9th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I recently shared with you a first look at new merchandise coming to Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning May 16. Today, I’m thrilled to announce that the Star Wars – D-Tech Me experience will return this year with a few new options for guests. This year, the experience will be located inside Darth’s Mall, located in Soundstage 1 between Studio Backlot Tour and Toy Story Midway Mania.

For those unfamiliar with Star Wars – D-Tech Me, this 10-minute experience uses the world’s highest-resolution, single-shot 3D face scanner created by our Imagineering scientists with Disney Research labs. The captured image is later sent to a high resolution 3D printer to create the figurine. My fellow author Gary Buchanan has a cool, behind-the-scenes video about the experience as seen in this story.
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This year, two returning favorites – Carbon-Freeze Me and Stormtrooper – will be joined by two new figurines – Alderaan Princess and X-Wing Pilot. There are both male and female options offered for X-Wing pilot, Carbon-Freeze Me and Stormtrooper figurines. For children, Alderaan Princess and Carbon-Freeze Me figurines will be available in more youthful appearances.
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For the first time, we are introducing a 16-inch figurine. While a wise Jedi Master once said “size matters not,” you can see the size differences of the Stormtrooper figurines in the above image.
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Additionally, we will share details starting May 16 on DisneyParksMerchandise.com about how you can have your image from last year added to a new figurine this year. An example of this is shown above with a Stormtrooper figurine image from last year applied to the new X-Wing Pilot figurine.

The Star Wars – D-Tech Me 7-inch figurines are $99.95 each, plus shipping and applicable sales tax. For the 16-inch figurines, retail is $1,499.95 each, plus shipping and applicable sales tax. All participants will receive a specially designed button.

Completed figurines will arrive within 7-8 weeks after the experience if shipping domestically (it takes a little longer if shipping internationally).

To book your experience, please call 407-WDW-TECH (407-939-8324). We will only offer the experience during Star Wars Weekends 2014 (May 16 – 18, May 23 – 25, May 30 – June 1, June 6 – 8, and June 13-15).

Finally, guests attending the Rebel Rendezvous event on May 15 will be some of the first individuals to experience Star Wars – D-Tech Me this year. Registered event guests should look for an email soon that will explain how to sign up. If you still want to go to the Rebel Rendezvous event, we’d love to have you! Please see DisneyParksMerchandise.com for more details.

Please note: Separate theme park admission required for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No discounts apply unless otherwise noted. Guests must be at least three (3) years of age to participate. A valid accepted credit card number is required at time of booking. No-shows or in the event a reservation is cancelled within 48 hours of scheduled experience will result in such credit card being charged a $25 cancellation fee. The experience, due to its personalized nature, is non-refundable and not eligible for an exchange. Children must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age or older during the entire experience. Certain restrictions may apply. All prices, components and information are subject to change without notice.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Night of Joy 2014 Tickets – On Sale Tomorrow

posted on March 30th, 2014 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


Wow! I can’t believe it’s almost April. As we go into spring, it’s a great time for a Night of Joy update.

Tickets for this year’s event will go on sale tomorrow (March 31)! As usual, we’re very excited about this year’s event.
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Single-night tickets are $59 plus tax in advance and $69 plus tax on the days of the show. There is also a two-night ticket option, which is $108 for both nights and includes a 1-day admission to one of Disney’s two water parks or DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park if you purchase them through August 5.

Fans can purchase tickets at NightofJoy.com or by calling 407-W-DISNEY starting tomorrow morning.

Disney’s Night of Joy is a special ticket event at Magic Kingdom Park featuring the top names in Christian music. This year’s lineup showcases a stage-load of talent on each night.

Friday, September 5, 2014:

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matthew West
  • for KING & COUNTRY
  • Mandisa
  • Building 429
  • Matt Maher
  • The Neverclaim

Saturday, September 6, 2014:

  • Casting Crowns
  • MercyMe
  • Israel Houghton & New Breed
  • Britt Nicole
  • Colton Dixon
  • Rhett Walker
  • We As Human
  • 1 Girl Nation

As always, tickets are subject to availability and entertainment is subject to change without notice. Night of Joy admission is a special ticket event and is not included in any other form of ticket media. Tickets are valid during specific event hours only.

Group tickets will go on sale April 8. For more information about the event and the benefits of coming as a group, check out NightofJoy.com.

And don’t forget to check back to the Disney Parks Blog for more updates on the event.

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Filed: Magic Kingdom, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

May the Fourth Be With You! Two New Star Wars-Themed Character Dining Experiences May 4-June 15 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on March 28th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


The Force is strong this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

As Gary Buchanan has been sharing with everyone here on Disney Parks Blog, there’s a galaxy full of fun and excitement planned for this year’s Star Wars Weekends. Now there’s even more Star Wars fun coming your way with two new, out-of-this-world character dining experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests will be able to start their day with the “Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast” at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. Inside, it’s a long time ago in a drive-in far, far away, where out-of-this-world breakfast delicacies are accompanied by thrilling movie moments from the Star Wars saga. Guests may encounter Darth Vader and other Star Wars film characters as they appear to step right off the screen to join the fun.

At dinner, famous Disney pals get dressed up as their favorite Star Wars characters for “Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine.” Wearing his very own Jedi robe, Mickey joins a host of characters at guests’ tables for an intergalactic celebration of the saga, complete with Star Wars music, interactive moments and a delectable dinner buffet.

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Best of all, these exciting new character dining experiences won’t just be offered during Star Wars Weekends event days. Both experiences start May the 4th (known informally by many fans around the globe each year as “Star Wars Day”) and will continue to be offered daily through June 15, 2014.

Price of the breakfast experience is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. The dinner experience is $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for children, or as part of the “Fantasmic!” Dinner Package at a price of adults $59.99 and $36.99 for children. Both experiences include a digital photograph. (Taxes and gratuity are not included in these prices.)

To book these experiences, guests can call 407-WDW-DINE or online at disneyworld.com/spring.

I can’t wait to take my boys to this. Who else is making reservations?

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – April 2014

posted on March 28th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


There’s a lot happening at Walt Disney World Resort, here’s a glimpse of what’s headed your way from the world of Disney Theme Park Merchandise events. Before we jump into April, here’s a quick peek at two events that you won’t want to miss!

March 28 – 30: How many of you have already checked out the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, as well as this year’s commemorative merchandise? I’m definitely jealous! Whether you have already been or are making plans to go, I hope you can join us for Art in the Garden Weekend with special appearances and signings by many of our beloved Disney artists, including Steve Barton, Annick Biaudet, Carlos Cuba, David E. Doss and Larry Dotson. Tip: Also keep an eye out for Greg McCullough who will be appearing the same weekend at Art of Disney in Epcot. Learn more.

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Secondly, I have to ask … have you signed up for the Rebel Rendezvous event? Check out the link for exciting info on this May 15 event, leading up to Star Wars Weekends 2014! Early shopping access to Darth’s Mall, specially designed merchandise available only to Rebel Rendezvous attendees, and exciting meet & greet opportunities are just a few reasons why you’ll want to be sure to reserve your spot!

Now, on to April!

Now – April 6: Be sure to check out the newest Fairy Houses being built by select artists on the promenade around World Showcase in Epcot. Learn more.

Now – May 18: Representatives from Rinse Bath and Body Co. will be on hand throughout the day to help you select the product that is right for your skin. My favorite? Definitely, the lip balms. You should check them out, they’re amazing! Learn more.

April 4 – 6: Look for a special appearance by Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot. Learn more.

April 7 – 20: Renowned artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily on the promenade around World Showcase in Epcot. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection! Learn more.

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April 9 – 13: Artist Greg McCullough returns April 9 – 13 to Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace and will appear later in the month from April 23 – 27 at Art of Disney in Epcot. Be sure to stop in and say hello! Learn more.

April 10 – 13: Look for special appearances by artist Larry Dotson, April 10 – 13 at Art of Disney in Epcot and April 21 – 25 at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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April 21 – May 4: Meet representatives from Kumquat Growers and Tropical Blossom Honey Co. who will be on hand from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., each day on the promenade around World Showcase in Epcot. Learn more.

Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for information on special Earth Day artist appearances at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Which events are you most excited to attend?

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Filed: Art of Disney, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Muppets Celebrate Their New Film & Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Topiary

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


Have you visited the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival yet? The festival, which runs through May 18, features a bevy of characters in topiary form – including this year, Kermit and Miss Piggy, to celebrate the opening of their new film “Muppets Most Wanted,” which debuts in theaters today.

From the video, Miss Piggy sure is proud of her appearance at the festival this year.

And here’s the finished topiary. Sure looks like it’s easy being green for Kermit!

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What do you think about their topiary? Will you stop to see it on your next visit to the park? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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Filed: Epcot, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, to Make Historic First Appearance at Star Wars Weekends

posted on March 20th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


His most famous film character has destroyed the Death Star, received the Medal of Bravery following The Battle of Yavin and resisted a turn to the dark side, so what is he going to do next?

He’s going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!

No wait, wrong answer. He’s going to Disney World!

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For the first time in event history, Mark Hamill, the actor who brought Luke Skywalker to the silver screen in the Star Wars saga, will appear at Star Wars Weekends. Hamill will be one of the celebrity guests for Weekend IV, June 6-8, 2014. Fans can see him in the daily “Legends of the Force” Star Wars-themed motorcade and in a featured talk show.

Hamill’s appearances will most likely be a very popular gathering place for members of the Empire and the Rebellion, so be sure to arrive early.

More details about the event have been placed into the memory systems of an R2-unit and we’ll soon reveal them, but we wanted to share this Force-filled news with you today.

Stay updated with the latest event news here, StarWars.com and the event’s official website, DisneyTheForce.com. You also can join the conversation online with the official event hashtag, #DisneyTheForce.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Special Events, Walt Disney World Resort

Don’t Miss the Mighty Family Fun Zone at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on March 13th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival is in full swing and family fun abounds! One of my favorite highlights from this year’s event is The Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted.” Here, guests can enjoy Muppets mayhem, complete with music, games and activities for the whole family.

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Inspired by the upcoming film, guests of all ages can pose for Muppets-themed photo ops, learn to draw a Muppets character, let loose at a DJ Dance Party and collect Muppets character trading cards featuring Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Constantine, Beaker and Animal. Of course, guests can get a stamp for their Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Passport, too!

For a sweet bite, look for special Muppets Rice Crispy Treats at the Downtown Disney Food Trucks.

Visit the Mighty Family Fun Zone presented by “Muppets Most Wanted” at Downtown Disney West Side, located between Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues, from 5pm-9pm through 3/14, then enjoy extended hours, from 12pm-9pm, 3/15-3/17/14.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted,” an international crime caper starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and the whole Muppets gang, hits theaters on March 21, 2014. (Obviously, I plan to see it at AMC Downtown Disney 24!) For more information about The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival, click here.

In the meantime, I think even Kermit would have to agree with me … through March 17, it is easy being green!

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Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort Goes St. Patrick’s Day Green This Weekend

posted on March 13th, 2014 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations


St. Patrick’s Day is this coming Monday, which means if you’re Irish – or just wish you were – you have an entire weekend to celebrate in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort.

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Saturday through Monday, you can put a jig in your step with special Downtown Disney District entertainment: The Molly Condon Irish Dance Company, and Irish hammer dulcimer musician Scott Williams.

And starting Friday, traditional Irish fare – corned beef and green beer – will be offered at several Downtown Disney District locations: Catal & Uva Bar, House of Blues, La Brea Bakery and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. ESPN Zone will offer green beer and a signature St. Patrick’s Day cocktail Friday through Monday, and will add corned beef and cabbage to the menu on Monday only.

Friday through Monday, Catal & Uva Bar will offer St. Patrick’s Day specialties such as Guinness Beer and Irish Cheddar dip, potato leek soup with Dubliner grilled cheese and whiskey-scented crème fraiche, Black and Tan battered fish and chips, corned beef on rye with Irish potato salad and whiskey bread pudding with stout gelato and Jameson crème anglaise. Uva Bar offers a Beer Special (Blue Moon Witbier with Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur) and Green Jello Shots in assorted flavors.

At House of Blues, it’s “Shamrock ‘n Roll” time. The VooDoo Lounge menu for the weekend through Monday features corned beef and cabbage, fish ‘n chips, and specials on Guinness, Jameson and green beer along with the traditional full menu.

La Brea Bakery will offer a special corned beef hash and eggs breakfast. Their lunch specials will include a Reuben on rye with corned beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island slaw, or a classic corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Erin go bragh!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District, Special Events