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Set a Course for Star Wars Weekends This Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Our Star Wars Weekends event for 2015 is well under way and better than ever! And this week, the incomparable Warwick Davis is among the celebrity guests visiting from that galaxy far, far away.

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Warwick portrayed lovable Ewok Wicket from the forest moon of Endor and has brought to vivid life several beloved characters beyond the worlds of Star Wars. In fact, one of my favorite shows during Star Wars Weekends is “An Ewok’s Tale: My Short Story,” Warwick Davis’s hysterical one-man show through which he shares his adventures as only he can. It’s definitely not to be missed!

Of course, Warwick is just one of the stars of the saga joining us May 22 – 24. You can also see and hear from actors whose characters have inhabited the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the Theed Royal Palace of Naboo and the grasslands of Lothal:

  • Event Host James Arnold Taylor: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels)
  • Warwick Davis: Wald, Wicket the Ewok (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
  • Silas Carson: Ki-Adi-Mundi, Nute Gunray (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
  • Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)
  • Ashley Eckstein: Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels)

No matter what part of the galaxy you hail from, you’ll want to make Star Wars Weekends your destination. With all the celebrities, Star Wars characters, special shows, fireworks and more, it is as close to the Force as you can get!

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on May 17th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Star Wars Weekends 2015 began this week at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and we’re celebrating here on the Disney Parks Blog with new artwork, images and stories.

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Through June 14, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature some of your favorite Star Wars characters as well as the “Legends of the Force” celebrity motorcade, the all-new “Star Wars: Rebels” show at Theater of the Stars, “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks and much more.

Shawn shared a few more experiences not to be missed this year, including a visit to the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience. Check his original story for more details and list of character appearances.

Star Wars Weekends continues Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 14, 2015.

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We also announced the names of several new high-profile tenants coming Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort, including fashion retailers Uniqlo, Zara, Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer.

When work is completed in 2016, Disney Springs will have expanded to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, including four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers . We have the complete list of the tenants in our original blog story.

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

First Look: Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Souvenir Vintage Stein – This stunning souvenir vintage stein features whimsical representations of favorite lands and attractions, and is topped with Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Stars Shine Bright at the Disneyland Resort for World Premiere of ‘Tomorrowland’ – Hear from the stars on the red carpet, including the film’s star, George Clooney, about the excitement of being at the Disneyland Resort for the premiere!

Behind the Scenes: Hatbox Ghost Reappears in Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park – Last weekend, one of the 999 happy haunts in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park reappeared after decades in hiding. Take a look!

Complete List of Special Eats for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration 24-Hour Event, May 22-23 – Get a look at the ultimate foodie guide to specialty food offerings during the 24-Hour event at the Disneyland Resort.

24-Hour Event Merchandise Sparkles at the Disneyland Resort – Get a sneak peek at the artwork for the 24-hour event tees, a limited release pin and a very specially created cupcake!

Kicking Off the ‘Coolest Summer Ever’ with 24-Hours of Entertainment at Magic Kingdom Park – Next week, Magic Kingdom Park is going to stay open from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, to 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, to celebrate the beginning of the “Coolest Summer Ever!” Get a look at all the entertainment and plan your visit!

Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – Sleeping Beauty Castle – Part One – Disney Parks Blog author George Savvas shares some of the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park.

Chef Mickey’s Opens for Brunch Starting May 31 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Reservations open May 22 for what promises to be a popular new addition to Walt Disney World Resort dining – mid-day brunch daily at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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Star Wars: Force For Change Coming to Star Wars Weekends This Year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 16th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


I’m excited to announce Star Wars: Force For Change is coming to Star Wars Weekends this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Starting May 15, we will offer T-shirts for adults, women and kids featuring a stormtrooper from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

During the final weekend, June 12-14, we will offer a limited edition stormtrooper pin at Darth’s Mall, located near Streets of America across from Studio Catering Company.

Twenty-five percent of the retail sale price of this product will be donated to U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF Kid Power, an innovative new program that uses the world’s first Wearable-For-Good to get youth physically active to provide lifesaving, nutrition-rich food packets to kids in need around the world.

The shirts will premiere during Star Wars Weekends and can be found in the following locations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Darth’s Mall, Tatooine Traders, Prop Shop, Beverly Sunset and Mickey’s of Hollywood.

These items are the first products for Star Wars: The Force Awakens released by Disney Parks. They are also the first character products released for the upcoming film which arrives in theatres on December 18, 2015.

To learn more about Star Wars: Force For Change, please visit www.StarWars.com/ForceForChange.
May the Force Be With You!

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF does not endorse any brand or product. No portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible.

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Build Your Own Butterfly Garden with Tips from Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 16th, 2015 by Eric Darden, Area Manager, Horticulture, Walt Disney World Resort


One of my favorite things at Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival is the Butterflies on the Go garden in Future World, where you can see up to 10 colorful species of butterflies. Some mornings, when the butterflies emerge and their wings are drying out, I like to show kids how to hold them on their fingers so parents can get pictures – it’s a really special moment.

Want to try creating a butterfly habitat that you can enjoy at home? It’s easier than you might think.

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  • At your local garden center, find native plants with nectar-producing flowers like butterfly bush and canna lily. Make sure that you have several different species to insure something is always blooming. These plants vary depending on where you live.
  • Plant blooms of different colors, as different butterfly species are attracted to different colors.
  • Though many butterflies love the sun, some species do like shade, so it’s a plus if you can create a mix of sun and shade in your garden.
  • For best results, you’ll also want to provide plants where butterflies can lay their eggs. Most butterflies are species specific when it comes to laying their eggs. Monarch butterflies must have milkweed, Zebra Longwings (the Florida state butterfly) need passion flower, the Cloudless Sulphur lays eggs on Cassia plants, and Pipevine Swallowtails choose, what else? Pipevine!
  • Of course, once the eggs hatch, you’ll have caterpillars, which feed on plants. So if you want to have a fully functioning butterfly garden, you’ll need to tolerate some insect damage on your plants. It’s worth it!
  • Don’t forget that butterflies also need water. There are several different ways to provide water — even a birdbath can work. They often prefer a puddle on the ground, so consider creating a bare, low spot in the garden to keep wet.
  • Most important – never use insecticide, which will harm butterflies!

It’s not too late to visit our Butterflies on the Go garden as we celebrate our final week of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 17. Pick up more ideas, then start creating your own butterfly wonderland. Bambi would approve!

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Star Wars Weekends Starts Today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 15th, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


You are as close to the Force as you can get! The opening scroll on Star Wars Weekends 2015 is rolling at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All weekend long, there will be dozens of Star Wars characters appearing throughout the park, the “Legends of the Force” celebrity motorcade, the all-new “Star Wars: Rebels” show at Theater of the Stars, “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks and so much more!

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And what’s this…? The Emperor is coming here?!

That’s right! Ian McDiarmid, the actor who portrayed Emperor Palpatine (aka the Sith Lord Darth Sidious) in the Star Wars films, has made his first hyperspace jump to our system as a celebrity guest for Weekend I of Star Wars Weekends. You’ll want to double your efforts to be here and see him, along with the other stars of the saga appearing this weekend. Here’s the complete list:

  • Event Host James Arnold Taylor: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels)
  • Ian McDiarmid: Senator/Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
  • Amy Allen: Aayla Secura (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
  • Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)
  • Ashley Eckstein: Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels)

Also new and not to be missed at Star Wars Weekends this year is Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience and the Darth’s Mall complex on Streets of America, where you will find the droids (and T-shirts and other great merchandise) you’re looking for!

So who’s coming out this weekend? Let us know in the Comments section, and share the excitement on social media using the hashtag #SWW2015. If you can’t make it this weekend, Star Wars Weekends continues every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 14.

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Walt Disney Archives Presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit at D23 EXPO 2015

posted on May 12th, 2015 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing


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With the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration about to get underway, the Walt Disney Archives just announced it will be saluting the 60th anniversary of the world’s first theme park at D23 EXPO 2015 with Walt Disney Archives presents – Disneyland: The Exhibit.

The display — the largest ever presented by the Archives at the Expo — will showcase more than 300 props, costumes, Audio-Animatronics figures, attraction vehicles, photographs, pieces of artwork, and memorabilia from six decades of the resort’s rich history.

Costumes from the Mickey Mouse Club to be Displayed at Walt Disney Archives Presents - Disneyland: The Exhibit at D23 EXPO 2015 Audio-Animatronics from Disneyland to be Displayed at Walt Disney Archives Presents - Disneyland: The Exhibit at D23 EXPO 2015

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Included in the dazzling exhibit is the #1 Ticket to Disneyland purchased by Roy O. Disney on July 18, 1955, as well costumes from the Mickey Mouse Club (as the Mickey Mouse Club Circus opened in November 1955 at the park). Plus, there will be many items that have never been displayed previously by the Archives including a prototype for vehicle for the Alice in Wonderland attractions, the Abominable Snowman from the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and a Disneyland pitch portfolio used to help sell investors on the East Coast on Walt’s dream for the park.

D23 EXPO 2015 runs August 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, directly across the street from Disneyland Resort. Tickets are available now.

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How to Grow Amazing Container Gardens Seen at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 8th, 2015 by Eric Darden, Area Manager, Horticulture, Walt Disney World Resort


During the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, guests often ask our gardeners and cast members how Disney creates the spectacular, multi-hued container gardens displayed across the park.

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If you’ve been wishing upon a star for a green thumb this spring, here’s how you can decorate at home with colorful pots of blooms that look like they were grown at Walt Disney World Resort. We don’t mind sharing our secrets!

  • Be creative with containers – even a galvanized bucket, wheelbarrow or dry fountain will work, but be sure it has good drainage. Plants will drown without a drain hole, so drill one if needed.
  • Use high-quality potting soil. Avoid products like top soil or garden soil, and skip the compost when planting a container.
  • Choose healthy plants at the garden center. If plants are turning yellow or spindly, don’t use them. Pull a plant from its container to check the roots – if you don’t see white roots, choose another one.
  • Have some fun with your plant choices. Don’t be afraid to mix bright colors like orange and purple for a hot spot of color. Try cool, blue blooms to build a soothing container of calm. Or combine herbs and vegetables with flowering plants – a pot of petunias mixed with fennel can be striking and useful in the kitchen when your recipe calls for an herb.
  • Remember this rhyme popular with savvy gardeners to create a striking pot of color: Thriller, filler and spiller. Your “thriller” is the plant that really pops as the star of the container; “filler” adds color surrounding the star blooms; and “spiller” is planted around the container’s edges to spill over the sides, adding additional drama.
  • Add a good, slow-release fertilizer. And, after you complete the planting, fertilize it with a water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks. This tip may be the most important if you want your plants to have that pixie-dusted quality.
  • Don’t water too often. Use your finger to test the soil. If it’s damp, there’s no reason to add water.
  • Know your plants and whether the plants you choose like full, partial or no sun, then place the container where it will live happily ever after.

Visit the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 17 to get container-garden design ideas for your home. Maybe I’ll see you in Italy!

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Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience Coming to Star Wars Weekends

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Guests attending Star Wars Weekends will be able to find shelter and sustenance in the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience. Reports have been made that this location was once a known hangout of Rebel pilots, aliens and smugglers; with the immersive environment and stellar bites—I understand why!

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Look for a menu full of Star Wars-themed food and beverage offerings that are out of this world:

  • Pilot’s Pomme Frites – these are tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley with a garlic aioli for dipping
  • Ensalada Naboo – seared chicken breast, bibb lettuce, grape tomatoes, watermelon radish, almond frica, and a parmesan-peppercorn ranch dressing
  • Lightsaber Bites – hand-dipped corn-battered knockwurst sausages with house-made chips and mustard dipping sauce
  • The Dark Fried – Chicken and Darth Vader waffles served with maple syrup and sweet barbecue sauce
  • Trio of Thermal Detonators – spicy pork wings topped with spicy piquillo-pepper sauce and slaw
  • Slider Sampler featuring “The Sith” barbecue-braised brisket with cole slaw and “The Jedi” with barbecued pulled chicken with arugula
  • Fruit and Cheese “Sabers” featuring Tillamook cheddar, Brie, goat cheese, pickled vegetables, crostini, cheddar crackers, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew melon, strawberry, olives and gherkins
  • Chips & Sith – hummus with red pepper coulis, black sesame dust, and corn tortilla chips
  • Yoda Key Lime Cake
  • Trio of Star Wars mini cupcakes, including Mini Darth Vader (chocolate-peanut butter), Mini Yoda (chocolate-hazelnut), and Mini Jabba the Hutt (salted caramel latte) served in the Han Solo Carbonite Souvenir Box

A new drink menu will also be available:

  • Imperial Blue – Maker’s Mark Whisky, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, sweet and sour, topped with Sprite
  • Tatooine Sunset – Stoli vanilla, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, pineapple juice with grenadine
  • Rebel Red – Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, sour mix and a splash of grenadine
  • Dagobah Swamp Juice – Midori, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, sweet and sour, topped with lemon-lime foam
  • The Dark Side – Stoli vanilla vodka, Bailey’s liqueur, crème de cocoa and brownie garnish
  • Alderaan Ale

The Jabba the Hutt and Yoda cupcakes will also be available at Tusken Fridge Raiders, Trolley Car Café, Starring Rolls Cafe, and Backlot Express. The Darth Vader cupcake will be available at all quick-service locations, including Starring Rolls Cafe, and Trolley Car Cafe and Tusken Fridge Raiders at Darth’s Mall.

For Reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

May the food be with you!

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Behind the Scenes: Creating Anna & Elsa Topiaries for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 4th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


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Have you taken your photo yet with the Anna and Elsa topiaries at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? It’s this year’s must-have selfie or photo spot. And we have two former Horticulture interns to thank. Let me explain …

When our creative experts in Horticulture decided to design Anna and Elsa in plant and flower form, they needed models to help create the frames that serve as the foundation for the topiaries.

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Sarah Lanners, a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and Jordan McGee, a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University, worked with our Horticulture team during the summer. They were asked to be the pose models for the royal sisters.

“I was absolutely thrilled to represent the ‘Frozen’ princess,” Sarah said.

“I was thrilled! I love ‘Frozen’!” Jordan told me. “I have always been partial to Anna. She may not have super powers, but … she has a beautiful amount of faith in herself and her sister.”

You can see from the photo how Sarah and Jordan had to pose in a Horticulture workroom. You can imagine, a lot of technology and steps go into concept, to creation of a model, to the creation of a topiary – and both Sarah and Jordan told me they found the whole process fascinating.

“In my own geeky horticulture way I instantly thought about how I would inadvertently be a Disney Princess in the most coolest way possible and that as long as this topiary is a part of Disney then so am I,” Sarah said. “This is something that most would consider a dream come true.”

“I was thrilled to do my small part in supporting ‘Frozen,’” Jordan said. “Being sculpted in plants is the coolest thing ever!”

Head to the entrance to World Showcase and check out the royal sisters from Arrendelle … and thanks Sarah and Jordan, and the Horticulture team!

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Commemorative ‘May the 4th’ Items Coming to Disney Parks for Star Wars Fans on May 4

posted on May 4th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Being a long-time fan of Star Wars, I love visiting Disney Parks on May 4. This annual, fan-proclaimed “Star Wars Day” is a great day to ride Star Tours – The Adventures Continue with other fans who grew up in the Star Wars universe like I did. Here is a quick look at some commemorative items we’ve created to celebrate this day-long celebration at Disney Parks on May 4.

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This year, fans will find two T-shirts – one with Jedi Mickey for “May the 4th” and one with Goofy dressed as Darth Vader for “Revenge of the 5th.” The same artwork was used on two limited edition pins. A matching water bottle will be released in Florida only.

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A new 9-inch plush of an Ewok named Teebo will be released in both California and Florida that day.

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Guests in Florida will find two open edition MagicBands at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with stylized images of Luke Skywalker and a Stormtrooper. Each will have a retail of $19.95; they both can be “linked later” making them great gifts.

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I’m also excited to share that we will release the Second Edition Star Wars headphones by SMS Audio, the official headphones of Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. This second series depicts fan favorite themes such as Tie Fighter, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader. These headphones will only be found at Tatooine Traders in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Finally, we will release an “I Am Your Father’s Day” shirt on the Disney Parks online store from May 4-10 at DisneyStore.com/ParkEvents. Please allow 3-5 weeks for delivery.

At Disneyland Resort, guests should look for the T-shirts, pins and plush at Little Green Men Store Command in Disneyland park and at Disney’s Pin Traders in Downtown Disney District. The T-shirts and plush will also be offered at D-Street.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort, guests should visit the following locations to find select items: Tatooine Traders, Mickey’s of Hollywood, Beverly Sunset and Studio Prop Shop.

May the 4th Be With You!

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