Via Napoli Restaurant, Italy Pavilion at Epcot

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.

New Merchandise Coming to Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom - Timepiece

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

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

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 – The Commodores
  • 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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Caption This: Ducks Hit Up The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s “Caption This” image was shot at a previous Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Who are these curious ducks off to see? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!

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Less Than a Month Left to Savor Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on April 28th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Time for another lap around World Showcase to taste more of the creative flavors in the Outdoor Kitchens – with 11 different stops, it’s nearly impossible to get a bite of everything before the festival ends on May 18.

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We caught up with Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann for the 411:

We had to try the turkey rib – what, exactly, is it?

Chef Jens: The turkey rib at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews [at American Adventure] is a brand-new item, and we’re pleased to be the first to feature it at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s actually a turkey wing that is split in half, dry rubbed, slow cooked in the oven for about two hours, then slightly smoked in our on-stage smoker for another 45 minutes. The meat is moist, tender and full of flavor.

Which new dish has been the hands-down crowd favorite?

Chef Jens: It has to be the Piggylicous Bacon Cupcake with maple frosting and pretzels, also at The Smokehouse. It was a big hit from day one and a true must-try. Second would be the Ghost Pepper-Dusted Tilapia at Urban Farm Eats.

Which returning dish is the biggest hit?

Chef Jens: This is a three-way tie between the Pulled Pig Slider at The Smokehouse, Shrimp and Grits at Florida Fresh and the Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare at Buttercup Cottage in the United Kingdom.

Any surprise favorites?

Chef Jens: The Eggplant Scallop at Urban Farm Eats is popular, as guests seem to enjoy the meat-like texture of slowly cooked eggplant with classic Romesco (sweet red pepper) sauce and spaghetti squash.

Marianne Hunnel, the festival’s libations expert, chimed in with the most popular drinks this year: Watermelon Passion Fruit Slush and Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria at Florida Fresh, the frozen Desert Violet Lemonade in Pineapple Promenade and the Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade in the Buttercup Cottage.

And our new finds:

  • The divine duck confit at Fleur de Lys in France, a stack of buttery duck, potatoes and caramelized onions;
  • Lemon scones with strawberry preserves and crème fraîche at Buttercup Cottage (swirl the two toppings together and dip in the scone);
  • Beijing-style Candied Strawberries at Lotus House in China;
  • And, perhaps our most favorite, the Sweet Potato-Cinnamon Waffle with Pineapple Soft Serve at Pineapple Promenade. Perfect serving size – a warm waffle with ice cream. Now that’s a happy ending.

For more information about the 21st Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

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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