Via Napoli Restaurant, Italy Pavilion at Epcot

Disney Brings HBCU Alumni and Advocates Together to School Local Students in Higher Ed Opportunity

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Belinda Frazier, Manager, Corporate Citizenship


As an alumna of Clark Atlanta University, one of our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), I was proud to take part in a unique college fair today at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The HBCU College Information Fair brought together 100 students from Orlando’s Edgewater High School, HBCU advocates and Disney cast members who attended HBCUs.
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The event – which is part of the 10th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney – began with a presentation by United Negro College Fund Development Director Sherry Paramore, who outlined the value of an HBCU education, as well as how to prepare for college and secure scholarships. And though they’ll be rivals at Sunday’s MEAC/SWAC football game, representatives of North Carolina A&T State and Alabama A&M shared the stage amicably as they provided tips on making your college application stronger and applying for financial aid.
Local Students to Attend College Fair at Disney

After the presentations, I joined fellow cast members who attended HBCUs in sharing my college experiences with students browsing the fair. As I explained how my academic experiences prepared me for a career at Walt Disney World Resort, I told them that enrolling at an HBCU is more than just being a student at a university. It’s becoming part of a network of future business and community leaders who share in the legacy of achievement.
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As we talked, I was inspired by their hopes, dreams and vision for the future. I hope they were inspired, too … and that I see some of them again one day as fellow Disney cast members!

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365 (Consecutive) Days of Walt Disney World Resort Magic

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


When one of my Downtown Disney partners told me about Brent Dodge, an Annual Passholder who visited the four Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks every day for 365 consecutive days, I couldn’t believe it. While I love the parks, just the idea of visiting every day while working full time has me exhausted!

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I wanted to find out more, so I spoke with Brent myself to find out why he did it. First things first, he confessed that he hadn’t really passed through the turnstiles (or, in our new era of MyMagic+, ventured through the main entrance touch points) for a full year, “there were actually three days that I didn’t visit a park. I was on a Disney Cruise” he shared. Well, 365 days of Disney attractions, then. Consider me impressed.

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Brent has been a Passholder since 2009, and currently carries the “Premier” pass, which also grants him access to Disneyland park. (I’d say he’s getting his money’s worth!) This Peter Pan’s Flight lover has visited the place where dreams come true since he was an infant, and when pressed for the “why” behind his latest all-year-long endeavor, he simply states, “Cause I’m a Disney nerd! If I live this close to Walt Disney World Resort, why wouldn’t I go every day? Especially when others are saving up thousands of dollars to go once in a lifetime.” Okay, he had me there.

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The “official” milestone was reached on August 13; of the estimated 2,200 days Brent has spent at the parks over his lifetime, that day ranks among his all-time-top Disney memories. “A friend surprised me with a custom t-shirt from Disney Design-a-Tee at Downtown Disney; it features my favorite character, Scrooge McDuck. A few other friends met me at Magic Kingdom Park with signs to celebrate, and we had a great view of the parade. We got to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, followed by another beloved attraction, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – three times!”

I’ll admit, it does sound pretty magical. While most of my days are spent at the Downtown Disney area, now that fall is fast-approaching, I plan to spend more time following in Brent’s footsteps and enjoying all that Walt Disney World Resort has to offer.

How about you … can you imagine a daily visit to the parks?

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Disney Tails Pet Products Coming to Disney Parks in Spring 2015

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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Dogs have been on my mind lately. I recently met my daughter’s new dog, Gracie, whom she found at a local shelter upon returning to college. I also read Tom Smith’s story about the Disney Side Dog’s Day at Magic Kingdom Park on August 30. Both things sparked a flood of memories about the two dogs I had growing up. I know pets are important members of many families, so I’m delighted to announce the return of pet products to Disney Parks. Coming in spring 2015, guests will find a small assortment of dog items as part of a new program called “Disney Tails.” I spoke with Nicole Brann, merchandiser for souvenirs, about this new line.

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“We know our guests love their pets,” said Nicole. “Guests may remember the pet products that we carried at Disney Parks in the mid-2000s. I’m excited to reintroduce some of those popular items under this new product line called ‘Disney Tails.’ For the initial small assortment, we will only focus on dog products, including bowls, squeak toys and apparel. I hope these new items will be another fun way that guests and their pets can show their Disney Side at home.”

Nicole shared with me concept artwork for some new items. I, of course, love the Haunted Mansion-
themed bow tie for dogs. All of the products in this line will feature packaging with the Disney Tails logo.

Look for these items in select merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts next year. I’ll share additional updates as final samples arrive at our Disney Theme Park Merchandise headquarters.

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While my traveling lifestyle makes me more of a cat person today, I miss my first dog Charlie, as seen here in 1978.

I’d love to hear a “tail” about your favorite pet, so please share in the comments below.

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Starbucks to Open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Early 2015

posted on August 29th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Today, we’ve got an update to share about a new Starbucks location coming to Walt Disney World Resort. Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to enjoy a new Starbucks location inside the park beginning in February of 2015. The new store, The Trolley Car Café, will be themed to a classic trolley car station along Hollywood Boulevard and offer a unique experience for coffee lovers visiting the park.

 Starbucks to Open at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Early 2015

There will also be Disney baked goods and Starbucks La Boulange™ pastry items at the store.

The store will be the third in-park location serving Starbucks products at Walt Disney World Resort. You’ll recall last year we opened locations at Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot, as well as at Downtown Disney.

Be sure to check the Disney Parks Blog for updates on this new location as well as a look inside the store when construction finishes in February.

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Disney Parks After Dark: Future World Lights Up at Epcot

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image is of a place that appeals to the inner child in just about all of us – the light-up walkway through Future World at Epcot.

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Exiting through this part of the park at night always makes me smile. How about you?

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Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – September 2014

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


Wondering what merchandise events are headed your way this September at Walt Disney World Resort? Take a look!

September 3 – 7: Artist Greg McCullough will be appearing this month at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, September 3 – 7 and September 17 – 21. Learn more.

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September 7: A limited number of tickets to the Vinylmation Showcase for the Disney Trade Celebration 2014 – Imagination Gala taking place at World ShowPlace in Epcot, are still available. Get yours today! Learn more.

September 8 – 11: Meet international artist Larry Dotson, who will appear be appearing this month at Walt Disney World Resort. Find him September 8 – 11 at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace and September 18 – 28 at Art of Disney in Epcot. Learn more.

September 12 – 13: Join Master Sculptor Hiko Maeda as he introduces an all-new Disney Showcase Collection figurine and ornament, only available at Disney Parks. This new piece titled, “Let Your Light Shine” is available as a figurine for $50, plus tax, and as an ornament for $28, plus tax. Look for special appearances by Hiko Maeda, September 12 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park and September 13 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 – 5 p.m. at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Not able to make it to the event? No problem! A limited number of signed pieces will be available for pre-order through Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 5 p.m. EDT. Learn more.

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September 18 – 22: Look for the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist, Linda Rick, including her newest collection inspired by “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Linda will appear throughout the day (each day), September 18 – 21, at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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September 27: The next hand-painted Ink & Paint Cel, titled “Summertime Pals,” is set to debut at Animation Gallery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 27, 2014. Meet the artists from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.– 5 p.m. on the day of release. Not able to make it to the event? Disney Event Services is taking pre-orders via www.disneyurl.com/CelPreOrder now through September 25, 2014 at 5p.m. EDT. Learn more.

Which event are you most excited about?

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Filed: Art of Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Latin Flavors Shine During Hispanic Heritage Month at This Year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

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


Fabulous flavors and the vibrant music of Puerto Rico, Patagonia and Mexico brighten up World Showcase for an extended celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month September 19 – November 10, during the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase.

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How about Puerto Rico’s Ensalada de Carrucho (Caribbean conch salad with onion, tomato and cilantro with Medella Light Beer; or Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco (slow-braised beef with Puerto Rican-grown rice) with a frozen San Juan Breeze? Patagonia marketplace will showcase the tastes of Argentina and Chile with dishes such as sustainable Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri; Grilled Beef Skewer with Cimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée, paired with Chilean Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier and Argentinean Terrazas Reserva Malbec. The Mexico marketplace features three popular dishes: Shrimp Taco with Fried Shrimp, Pickled Habanero Pepper and Onions on Flour Tortilla; Rib Eye Taco with Marinated Ribeye, Roasted Chipotle Salsa and Grilled Scallions on a Corn Tortilla, and Sweet Corn Cheese Cake. Sip a Dos Equis Beer, Sangria or a Mango-Strawberry Margarita – or get a lesson in tequila with a flight of diverse vintages.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is officially September 15 – October 15, but the celebration will continue throughout the Epcot festival. Celebrating Hispanic and Latino Americans’ contributions to the United States since 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month is steeped in the centuries-old traditions that reflect the ethnic and cultural customs of their communities.

The festival also will present Hispanic and Latin culinary stars hosting dining events and demonstrations.

At the festival’s Puerto Rico experience and marketplace, guests will be transported against a colorful backdrop of Old San Juan created by Walt Disney Imagineering as the festival’s first two-story marketplace. There, guests can explore the history and culture of Puerto Rico. More tastes will include Frituras Sorullitos (sweet polenta fries), Bolitas de Queso (cheese fritters with mayo ketchup) and FlanCocho (vanilla caramel custard with chocolate coffee cake).

Puerto Rico also will host “Experience Puerto Rico – The All Star Island” gala, a premium event in the park’s World ShowPlace pavilion at 7:30 p.m. on September 20. Guests can enjoy the foods, beverages and entertainment of Puerto Rico during the island’s premier dining celebration.

More than 25 festival marketplaces in the park’s World Showcase will feature flavors of six continents. Culinary demonstrations and beverage seminars at the Festival Center in Future World will present recipes and beverages from many cultures, including Puerto Rico, Argentina and Chile. The lineup of notable chefs includes Puerto Rico’s Maira Isabel, who will create a variety of recipes with Puerto Rican ingredients at scheduled culinary demonstrations and during the September 20 gala.

Some Festival Center activities and all Eat to the Beat concerts and park attractions are included with Epcot admission. Premium wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to make reservations. Information and reservations for select programs are available at www.epcotfoodfestival.com.


For more about this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase, visit the posts blow:

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Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Begins September 2

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Leanne O'Regan, Director, Social Media, Disney Parks


In my many years with Disney Parks, I’ve been fortunate to work on many amazing projects. One project near and dear to my heart will always be the creation and launch of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel in 2008.

The panel, made up of everyday moms and dads from around the globe, have answered hundreds of thousands of questions over the years – covering just about every Disney vacation topic imaginable. Their knowledge of Disney Parks and their passion to help our guests shines in their answers. In fact, you’ve met quite a few of them here on the Disney Parks Blog.

The panel became so popular that several years ago it was expanded to include other Disney Parks vacation experiences. The name was officially changed to the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

September has traditionally been a special month for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. It’s when we search for new panelists to join the team for the next calendar year. It’s a rigorous and thorough process, consisting of multiple rounds, that determines who will be selected to represent the panel and answer vacation questions from guests around the globe.

Thousands will apply for a small number of spots on the panel. But please, don’t let that be a deterrent. The most recent panelists to join the team include several who have applied every year, a few who applied for the very first time, and those in between. Dreams really can come true.

This year, applications will open at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, and will remain open until noon ET on Friday, September 5, 2014.

If you know a mom, dad or grandparent who is your “go-to” person for advice about a Disney Parks vacation and loves to help others plan their trips, encourage them to apply for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. (Be sure to check the rules and regulations on the application to insure eligibility.)

More information about becoming a panelist can be found here.

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New Entertainment Experiences Coming to World Showcase at Epcot

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


Today, we have news about some updates coming to World Showcase at Epcot. One of the best parts of the World Showcase experience is feeling fully immersed in the culture of each country, and the live entertainment presented in the international pavilions plays a large role in creating that atmosphere. Beginning this fall, we will be refreshing the atmosphere entertainment around World Showcase with the addition of new acts and enhancements to some existing performances.

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New experiences debuting over the next several months will contribute to the rich mix of entertainment at Epcot, and provide fresh experiences for our guests. In the near future, you can look forward to enjoying a traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a corps of dynamic flag-waving performers in Italy, a thrilling lumberjack-inspired show in Canada, a Celtic folk music ensemble at the United Kingdom, and more.

As we embark on this enhancement of World Showcase entertainment, we bid a fond farewell to Mo’Rockin’, Off Kilter, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and World Showcase Players. We thank these performers for all they’ve done to make the Epcot guest experience enjoyable and memorable, and we invite you to come out and see them in their farewell performances over the next few weeks.

More details will be shared, as they become available, about the timing of certain transitions, as well as each of the exciting new entertainment additions coming to World Showcase.

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Top 5 Reasons Not to Miss ‘The Great Irish Hooley’ at Raglan Road

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Recently, Pam Brandon shared details about one of my favorite Raglan Road events, The Great Irish Hooley. I like it because it’s authentically Irish – outside of the Emerald Isle, you rarely have the chance to experience this sort of spectacle, unless of course, you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of the Downtown Disney Area during Labor Day weekend!

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Though it was hard to pick my ‘Top 5,’ I think I’ve done it. Below, in no particular order, are the things you just can’t miss:

  1. Scythian – Haven’t heard of this ultra-talented band? One listen, and you’ll never forget them! The group includes a trio of classically trained fiddle players, a jazz percussionist, and an accordion and banjo player. Currently promoting their new album ‘Jump at the Sun,’ they’ll be taking the Raglan Road stage nightly at 9:30pm.
  2. ‘A Knights Brunch’ & ‘The Rollicking Raglan Brunch’ – Whether you’re cheering for UCF or Penn State, football fans from far and wide are invited to watch the Croke Park Classic football season opener taking place in Dublin, Ireland on August 30th at 8:30am. (Yes, brunch starts at 8:00am that morning, with Guinness, Bloody Marys and more on the menu! The venue is no longer accepting reservations, but walk-ins are welcome.) On Sunday, you can book Raglan Road’s traditional Irish Brunch offering, starting at 11am.
  3. ‘From Our Roots to Riverdance’ – We’re all familiar with ‘Riverdance,’ right? Ronan McCormack, the original choreographer, will trace the origins of Irish dance from early jigs to the modern era in this energetic and entertaining event, taking place daily at 6pm on the outside patio (weather permitting). Bonus: Guest participation is encouraged.
  4. Master Chef Kevin Dundon’s Amazing Menu – If you like traditional Irish fare or a more modern twist on Irish cuisine (like me!), you’ll find something special on the menu, created with only the finest ingredients sourced from the best suppliers. The gluten-free fish ‘n’ chips continues to get rave reviews – and they have gluten free onion rings, too. Who knew?
  5. The Great Irish Ceili – I’m always awed by the Raglan Road dancers and this event puts the spotlight on their fancy footwork. Guests are invited to take part in the ceili, a traditional form of group folk dancing, on Saturday, Sunday at Monday at 3:00pm.

Farewell, summer. Hello, fall fun, ushered in the way only the Irish can do it!

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