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Mark Hamill Makes His Star Wars Weekends Debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Weekend IV

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Womp rats, you’ve been warned. Luke is in town.

Actor Mark Hamill, who portrayed farmboy-turned-galactic-hero Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, makes his debut appearance at Star Wars Weekends today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. He is scheduled to appear today, tomorrow and Sunday.

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Activities where guests can see the acclaimed actor include the “Legends of the Force” motorcade and a star conversation about his career and role in the original Star Wars trilogy. To enable more guests to see and hear this special edition talk show, entitled “A Conversation with Mark Hamill,” the Star Wars Weekends event team has made arrangements for a simulcast at various locations throughout the park. Be sure to ask a cast member when you arrive for viewing locations.

We caught up with Mark at the theme park while he was doing final walk-throughs with the Disney Parks Entertainment team. After posing for a few photos with Jedi Mickey Mouse, he spoke with us about the Star Wars legacy, his childhood visits to Disneyland and what makes Star Wars fans special to him.

For more info. about Star Wars Weekends and to download an event guide, head to disneyworld.com/starwarsweekends. Also, join the conversation online by using the event’s hashtag, #SWW2014.

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‘Villains Unleashed’ Event Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios August 23

posted on June 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


A record number of Disney villains – more than 50 in all – will invade Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 23 as a part of the park’s new separate ticket event, “Villains Unleashed.”

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This one-night party will feature everything that fans of Disney villains could ask for – up close encounters with some of the most popular Disney villains, “Hades Hangout & Dance Party,” “Oogie Boogie’s Variety Show,” a Star Wars villain zone, a new “Villainy In The Skies” fireworks spectacular, a villain-inspired pre-show to “Fantasmic!”, face painting, specialty food & beverage, event merchandise and more. Favorite Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions, including The Twilight Zone – Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania! and Star Tours – will also be available to enjoy.

In addition, ticketed party guests will be permitted to dress up and show their Disney villain side.*

The party (similar to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) requires a separate ticket for admission. Adult tickets cost $67 plus tax and children ages 3-9 cost $62 plus tax. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can book their tickets now. All other guests can book beginning June 9. To book, call 407-939-1933 for APs and 800-800-9800 for DVC Members.

Join the conversation online with the hashtag #VillainsUnleashed.

*All costumes must adhere to any guidelines as determined solely by Disney. Please choose costumes that are not obstructive, offensive or violent. Guests’ eyes must be visible at all times.

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More Details to Make You Hungry for Fun at 19th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on May 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


You have a while, but it’s never too early to start planning for Disney’s finest culinary extravaganza, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which kicks of September 19 and runs a record 53 days this year, through November 10.

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Longtime fans will want to know what’s new, but for neophtyes, here are the basics: food fans love the stroll around World Showcase to nosh and sip from more than 25 ethnic and specialty marketplaces (get your free festival “passport” stamped along the way). But there’s so much more: three nightly Eat to the Beat concerts, the fantastic Party for the Senses on select Saturday nights, signature dinners, the remarkable Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, a new “Back to Basics” Festival Center series and a new Friday morning celebrity chefs cookbook event called “Food for Thought.” All in all, you can taste the creations of more than 270 chefs and culinary pros from Disney and across the U.S.

We’re excited to see our favorite Saturday morning Parisian Breakfast back this year, and a new Sunday morning event called “Sunday Mornings With …” that will be a plated brunch with a noted pastry chef or baker crafting three fabulous desserts for guests.

What else is new for 2014?

  • Patagonia Marketplace will merge the flavors of Argentina and Chile in dishes like sustainable roasted Verlasso salmon with quinoa salad drizzled with a kicky arugula chimichurri. You can pair that with a couple of great Chilean wines: Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier or Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé.
  • Farm Fresh Market replaces last year’s Florida Local Marketplace, with a perfect “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) dish: “Bacon and Eggs,” with applewood-smoked, pepper-coated bacon, sweet corn, potatoes, Hollandaise and pickled jalapeños. Or try the griddled “yard bird” (chicken) with braised greens. Happy to see Orlando Brewing Company’s I-4IPA on the menu, as well as trendy Ba Ba Black Lager from Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company.
  • Brazil Marketplace is back with that wildly popular crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro, but chefs also are adding mocequa de pescado (tilapia with coconut lime sauce and steamed rice), pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and cocadas (Brazilian coconut candy).
  • The Poland Marketplace switches up the popular pierogi with a new sauerkraut pierogi and pork goulash.

That’s just a little taste of what’s to come; stay tuned for more details as the weeks sail by.

Free with Epcot admission: Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment. Festival hours extend to 10 p.m. each weekend.

You’ll need reservations/additional fee: Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378). Information and reservations for select programs will be at epcotfoodfestival.com.

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Harambe Nights Street Party to Bring Out Your ‘Wild Side’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 22nd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


The citizens of Harambe, the African village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, are preparing to welcome you this summer to a special event like none ever held before. Among other things, Harambe Nights will feature an all-new show, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King” with a live orchestra, choir, dancers, animation, special effects, and a celebrity guest narrator.

I’ll have an update soon on everything happening behind the scenes to bring “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” to life. While this theatrical experience will certainly be a highlight of the evening, once the show comes to its dramatic conclusion, the celebration is just getting started!

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Following the show, everyone is invited into the village for the Harambe Nights Street Party, a festive gathering of music and fun with a delicious, all-inclusive African-inspired menu.

“Harambe Nights Street Party is a totally immersive experience,” said Show Director Forrest Bahruth. “There will be opportunities for guests to get involved, to dance, to be entertained or just to relax and enjoy the evening.”

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The Harambe Nights Street Party fills the village streets with Afro-pop music from the Harambe Nights Band and DJ Khalifa, beloved Disney characters, stilt walkers, and specialty performers, encouraging everyone to join in and “Go wild!” You can even show your true wild side with some cool, glow-in-the-dark face painting and other opportunities to join in the fun.

“Our guests are going to come away from Harambe Nights, not only with memories of the 20th anniversary of ‘The Lion King,’” said Forrest, “but also the tastes and excitement of Africa and a feeling that they are a part of the great ‘Circle of Life.’ It’s going to be fantastic!”

Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 – August 9, 2014, with a Welcome Reception starting at 7 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. show time for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Great seats are still available for all nights, but capacity is limited. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

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New Merchandise Coming to Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Starting June 7

posted on May 22nd, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Harambe Nights T-Shirt Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The opening scene to Disney’s “The Lion King” is one of the best sequences I think Disney has ever created (I can still remember seeing it in a theatre nearly 20 years ago). My favorite character from the film is Zazu as he shares the latest news from the kingdom (plus he talks a lot, just like me). My fellow author Pam Brandon recently discussed the fantastic menu of global flavors coming to Harambe Nights, the special Lion King-themed events taking place every Saturday from June 7 – August 9, 2014 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Her article inspired me to write this “Merchandise Report” that highlights new items coming to the events like the T-shirt shown above.

New Merchandise Coming to Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Featuring Puzzle, Pins and D-Tech on Demand Phone Cases

For Harambe Nights, the Disney Pin Team will release a Lion King-themed mystery pin set. There are 10 puzzle pins (900 edition size each) and two chaser pins (600 edition size each) in this set. One randomly selected pin is included in each mystery box. Once all the pins are acquired, you can place them together to form a picture.

Speaking of puzzles, the toy team recently introduced a new Disney Signature Puzzles. You may recall seeing the first of these puzzles at Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The next 1,000 piece puzzle in this collection contains some beautiful artwork by Disney Design Group artist Darren Wilson.

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Other items will include two D-Tech on Demand cases for the iPhone 5/5S and a specially designed timepiece.

New Merchandise Coming to Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Featuring Passholder Coin

For Annual Passholders, we will introduce a 39mm silver plated coin that also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the film (edition size of 2,014).
These items will be found at Mombasa Marketplace located in Harambe Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park during the events.

On June 7, you can meet Disney Design Group artist Costa Alavezos who designed some unique artwork for the event. He will meet with guests at Mombasa Marketplace during the evening. Future events will feature other Disney artists (keep watching DisneyParksMerchandise.com for additional details).

Capacity is limited for Harambe Nights, so you’ll want to plan ahead and get your tickets by visiting Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or calling 407-939-1319.

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Creating Art for Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 16th, 2014 by Will Gay, Creative Director, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Star Wars Weekends is here once again. It is definitely one of my favorite times of year as a Star Wars fan because that means here at Yellow Shoes Creative Group we get to create some awesome new images for the event. It has become one of our favorite things to “work” on each year.

There seems to be endless great ideas around the combination of our favorite Star Wars characters in situations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These photo shoots are always a lot of fun as well, giving direction to a Wookiee — who could ask for more?

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Anyway, I am excited to share with you today one of our latest images for this year. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it and see you at Star Wars Weekends!

Which image is your favorite? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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Grab Tickets Now For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on May 16th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s party time! Well, almost – tickets have just gone on sale for the special holiday parties at Walt Disney World Resort.

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In case you’ve never attended before, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a hard-ticket event that allows you to enjoy Magic Kingdom Park attractions, special Halloween-themed entertainment (parade and fireworks), the Disney Villains Mix & Mingle stage show, special character meet and greets, trick-or-treating throughout the park and much more.

This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties will be held from 7 p.m.-midnight on September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26 and 28, and October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. Click here for more information on ticket prices.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties offer up holiday cheer in November and December, including lights on Cinderella Castle and other amazing holiday decor, a special holiday parade and fireworks, exclusive entertainment, Santa Claus sightings and more. Dates for this year’s parties are November 7, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21 and 30, and December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 19. For information on ticket prices, click here.

Entrance to either party requires a separate ticket (in addition to your park ticket or pass). For more information click here.

Also, if you’re planning a fall/winter vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort, be sure to check out our Free Dine offer here.

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Star Wars Weekends 2014 Disney Gift Cards

posted on May 13th, 2014 by Virginia Scanlon, Manager Alliance Management, Disney Gift Card Services


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For this year’s Star Wars Weekends we have four new unique Star Wars-themed Disney Gift Card designs to introduce! This year, Minnie has joined the boys as Princess Leia. These special new designs can be found at Darth’s Mall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends May 16 – June 15, 2014. Last year’s Star Wars Weekends Disney Gift Card designs can be found online at DisneyGiftCard.com.

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Darth Vader Rules the Galaxy (and the Bakery) as Star Wars Weekends Takes Cupcakes to the Dark Side

posted on May 12th, 2014 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


As we continue our countdown to Friday’s launch of Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, work continues non-stop behind the scenes to prep the park for the galactic gala. Photo locations are being constructed, merchandise is being sorted and Donald Duck is shining his stormtrooper armor as everyone pitches in to make sure this is the best Star Wars Weekends yet.

One of the tastiest gems of the event includes a special snack offering, a delicious Darth Vader cupcake.

Have you ever wondered what would happen in the pastry display case if the Darth Vader cupcake was consumed by the dark side? In a video produced by the award-winning team at Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group, we take a look at how that scenario just might play out. (And Star Wars fans take note: there’s an “Easter egg” in this video that ties it back to a common theme from the Star Wars saga.)

Star Wars Weekends takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 16 – June 15, 2014. Most event activities are included in regular theme park admission.


Click through the following posts for more Star Wars Weekends videos:

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2014 Eat to the Beat Concert Lineup Announced for Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on May 9th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will return to the park September 19 – November 10, and we just received the list of performers who will participate in the Eat to the Beat concert series.

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New acts coming this year include the Jo Dee Messina, Fuel and Los Lonely Boys. There are also several returning favorites, including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Boyz II Men.

Check out the full schedule below.

  • Sept 19-21 – Jo Dee Messina
  • Sept. 22-23 – The Pointer Sisters
  • Sept. 24-25 – Rick Springfield
  • Sept. 26-27 – Christopher Cross
  • Sept. 28-29 – Hanson
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 2 – Air Supply
  • Oct. 3-5 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct. 6-8 – Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 9-10 – Fuel
  • Oct. 11-12 – Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 13-14 – Richard Marx
  • Oct. 15-16 – Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 17-19 – Night Ranger
  • Oct. 20-22 – Smash Mouth
  • Oct. 23-24 – Jim Brickman
  • Oct. 25-26 – Los Lonely Boys
  • Oct. 27-28 – Wilson Phillips
  • Oct. 29-31 – Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX
  • Nov. 1-2 – 38 Special
  • Nov. 3-5 – Boyz II Men
  • Nov. 6-7 – David Cook
  • Nov. 8-10 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
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