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Baseball at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

A Secret Sleeper Bed at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

posted on January 29th, 2015 by Amanda Adler, Public Relations Manager


As we gear up for the scheduled spring opening of phase 1 of the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, we couldn’t help but share with you a couple “sneak peek” images of what some of the rooms will look like.

Currently under construction, the 360 Deluxe Studios will be the largest at Walt Disney World Resort. This flexible space will comfortably sleep up to five guests each thanks to a hidden pull-down bed tucked away in a very clever spot – beneath the television!

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Here’s a closer look at the adorable artwork inside.

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These rooms offer other great features that make them ideal for families craving space and top-notch amenities. Stay tuned as we continue to share more details and photos of this beautiful resort!

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Disney Sports Style: How To Show Your #DisneySide

posted on January 29th, 2015 by Aubrey Hang, Sports Marketing Community Manager, runDisney


Hello! My name is Aubrey Hang and I’m the Sports Marketing Community Manager for runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. I am thrilled to be the newest author on the Disney Parks Blog, sharing updates on the amazing fashion seen during the eight runDisney race weekends and other events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

First of all, everyone has a different sports style. Guests love to show their Disney Side by incorporating a character’s style into their own fashion. We have athletes who might just add a touch of Disney, to those who are “DisneyBound” and finally those who wear full costume from head to toe. We see people of all ages dress up for the occasion with many wearing group and family coordinated outfits. The creativity put into these outfits is unbelievable and so much fun to watch cross the finish line.

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We’ve teamed up with Leslie Kay of DisneyBound to help put looks together for upcoming events and speak at our runDisney Health & Fitness Expos. My favorite outfit Leslie recommended so far was for the Dopey Challenge. Using pieces from Champion and New Balance, she put together a look to resemble Dopey!

In this blog series, I will focus on fashion recaps from our past events as well as ideas and inspiration for upcoming ones. I’m excited to give tips on how to create fun looks for runDisney races, as well as share with you the fashion seen at our ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex events! Here’s a sneak peek at some of my favorites from past runDisney events:

Have you shown your #DisneySide during a runDisney event? Which character inspired your look? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Wildlife Wednesday: 11 Facts That Show There’s Something for Everyone on the ‘Treks & Trails’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Katie Marini, Education Manager, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Although I’m a big fan, the Wild Africa Trek isn’t the only trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In my role as an education manager, I love to see and participate in the unique interactions that guests have with cast members on 3 self-guided animal areas. I like to call these areas “Treks & Trails” and they include Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Africa and last, but certainly not least, Rafiki’s Planet Watch (a member of the “trails” family). These areas provide a great opportunity for guests to find additional animals, but also offer something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Check out the list below and let me know what you think!

1. For the Hidden Mickey enthusiast: Did you know there are Hidden Mickeys on murals on Maharajah Jungle Trek and Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Take your time as you search (or ask a friendly cast member for assistance)! Can you find the Hidden Mickeys in the photos below?

A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural Just After the Tiger Exhibit on Maharajah Jungle Trek A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural at Conservation Station

2. For the cultural aficionado: Cultural Representatives create an authentic atmosphere in both Africa and Asia. Cultural representatives have a unique role because their main assignment each day is to share information about themselves. While chatting with a cultural representative, guests can learn about their culture, home and leisure activities, food and more! You’re bound to learn something and you might even be inspired to take a trip around the world.

3. For the artistic eye: World Showcase at Epcot isn’t the only place to find beautiful works of art almost identical to the models in their respective countries and continents. The unique murals, carvings and structures are also amazing and definitely worth a look. The attention to detail is amazing!

Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek

4. For those who like to have the “inside scoop”: Get an “authorized” peek backstage!
Whether you’re interested in the backstage animal areas (if so, the Backstage Safari might be the perfect tour for you!) or you’re wondering what “reimagining this area for your future enjoyment” really means, The Wildlife Express Train provides the best of both worlds. Guests get a backstage look at animal areas on their way to Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On the way back to the Village of Harambe, guests can get a quick glimpse of the work being done to expand offerings in the land of Africa.

5. For the animal lover: Tigers, okapi and snakes, oh my! Multiple viewing areas in Maharajah Jungle Trek help you find tigers all around! Don’t let the water fool you! Tigers are excellent swimmers contrary to popular belief based on their domesticated cousins, the housecat. Can you spot the hidden okapi? They’re not called the “Ghosts of the Forest” for nothing, so keep an eye out for their striped hind legs strolling between the trees. Let’s not forget our cold-blooded friends. Get up close through the amphibian, reptile and invertebrate windows filled with tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes, lizards, eels and snakes! Find these animals and more along your way!

Tigers Can be Found on Maharajah Jungle Trek Look for Okapi on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail Snakes and Other Animals Can be Found at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

6. For those whose motto is “slow and steady wins the race”: Take your time! The treks and trails are self-guided tours, so you can stop and enjoy nature for as long as your heart (or the leader of your herd) desires!

7. For the prospective Wilderness Explorer: Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is no easy task! Only the diligent can proudly claim this title, and even then, it takes many more than one day to earn over 30 badges! 14 badges can be earned along the 3 treks and trails, so if becoming a Wilderness Explorer is your goal, we’ll see you soon!

Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom

8. For the aspiring conservation hero: As their names imply, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station are all about conservation education. Did you know some domestic animals are endangered? Did you also know that by donating to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund you’re helping protect wildlife and wild places around the world?!

9. For the mythical creature believer: Dragons! Komodo dragons that is. Did you know the Komodo dragon can track his prey up to a mile away and eat 80 percent of its body weight?! They can be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek (weather permitting) and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Would you believe me if I told you we also had mermaids at Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Technically we do! Greater sirens can be found in this area as well. Although they don’t look like the mermaid you were probably thinking of, in Latin, the word “siren” means mermaid, so take a look on your next visit and let us know if you see the resemblance.

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek Greater Siren at Disney's Animal Kingdom

10. For the Character fanatic: Meet Chip & Dale, Rafiki and more! Chip & Dale love the trails and are frequently found ready to explore in their adventure gear. Rafiki has been spotted near his equally wise counterpart, Grandmother Willow in Conservation Station as they share conservation messages to save their homelands. Who else have you found along the trails?

11. For the future veterinarian or zoo keeper: Watch live animal procedures and talk to animal keepers after live shows at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Animal keepers are actively caring for the animals throughout the day, so they are a great source of information if your paths cross!

The Veterinary Treatment Window at Rafiki’s Planet Watch The Stage Show 'It All Started with a Mouse' at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

These are just some of the amazing reasons the “Treks & Trails” should be on your must-do list during your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once you take time to explore, you’ll find much more to do, see, hear and explore!

See you real soon

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New Merchandise Artwork Sparks Fond Memories of First Disney Parks Vacation

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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As time passes, my memories of my first visit to Walt Disney World Resort in July 1983 become more like something from a dream. I remember the Speed Room from If You Had Wings in Tomorrowland, the warm lights of Main Street, U.S.A. at night, and the dinosaurs in Universe of Energy at EPCOT Center. The essence of those dreamy images was recently captured in new merchandise found at Disney Parks. I caught up with Disney Design Group Creative Director Eric Caszatt to learn more.

“Each year, we create an art program that we call ‘Storybook,’” explained Eric. “That art traditionally features many characters grouped together around icons from Disney Parks. This year, we took a different design approach. Unlike the dated 2015 artwork that has characters showing off their Disney Side, we wanted to capture the feelings guests may have when first visiting Disney Parks. We internally called this program ‘Project Fairytale’ as it captures the emotions, the fantasy, and the wonder that guests may experience during a Disney vacation.”

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Disney Design Group artist Ron Cohee was the lead character artist on the project. He created two beautiful main images and a few smaller vignettes for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. Each vividly colorful image melds together attractions, icons and experiences from Disney Parks. The images are similar in design layout for each coast, yet they feature things specific to each Disney destination.

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The finished artwork was added to a style guide for all merchandise categories to use. The artwork was then applied to various items such as apparel, home décor, souvenirs, plush and more. Elements from the artwork that Ron created were sometimes combined to make unique images (best seen on some of the apparel items).

Here is an image gallery of other products that you can currently find in select merchandise locations at Disney Parks. You can also find some items on our Disney Parks online store – http://www.DisneyParks.com/Store.

I’d love to hear about your memories from your first visit to Disney Parks. Please share in the comments below.

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Disney’s Night of Joy 2015: Artist Update

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


As we usher in the New Year, I wanted to give you an update on Disney’s Night of Joy 2015.

We are excited to announce the 33rd year for this special event will take place Friday and Saturday nights September 11 and 12 at Magic Kingdom Park.

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Next year’s group of talented artists includes four recent Grammy nominees, who each received two nominations: Night of Joy stalwarts MercyMe, brother duo For King & Country and Central Florida’s own Francesca Battistelli in the “Best Contemporary Christian Performance/Song” and “Best Contemporary Christian Album” categories and Pop Urban Gospel sensation Lecrae for “Best Gospel Performance/Song” and “Best Contemporary Christian Performance/Song.”

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Night of Joy veterans like TobyMac, Skillet and Jeremy Camp will fill the park with masterful melodies along with some great up-and-coming artists like: Seventh Time Down, I Am They, and Veridia, who are all new to the event.

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2015’s full lineup includes: (entertainment subject to change)

  • Friday, September 11 - ­ TobyMac, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Colton Dixon, Big Daddy Weave, Francesca Battistelli, Rend Collective, and I Am They
  • Saturday, September 12 -­ Skillet, Lecrae, For King & Country, Mandisa, Matt Maher, Jamie Grace, Seventh Time Down, and Veridia

It should be two fantastic nights!

Tickets will go on sale in the Spring. Keep checking back to the Disney Parks Blog and NightofJoy.com for all the info.

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New Merchandise Kiosks Set the Bar High at Downtown Disney

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Unlike most people, I’m at Downtown Disney five days a week. I get to see the property transform before my very eyes on a pretty regular basis, and I can honestly say that one of my favorite signs of progress is the opening of new venues.

With gifts galore and barware to please every beverage connoisseur, two new kiosks at Downtown Disney have put a big smile on my face; and I’m not the only one … they’ve been hugely popular with guests since their opening late last fall. Aptly named “Sublime” and “Set the Bar,” both venues are located at the recently remodeled Riverboat Square, between Fulton’s Crab House and Portobello.

Find a Unique Gift and More at Sublime

Need to find a unique card with just-the-right sentiment? Or gift a candle that will remind your recipient of you every time she lights it? Searching for a magnet that will make you chuckle? Or a book that’s sure to inspire? Find this and more at “Sublime.” In just a few short months, it’s already become one of my “go-to” stores when I need to find something fun and fanciful.

And while there are also gifts aplenty at “Set the Bar,” I think I’ll opt to keep most of what I buy there for myself, thank you very much. From bottle openers to flasks, shot glasses to copper mugs, this is a perfect perch to find the latest “must-haves” to transform your Saturday-night at-home-cocktail-hour into a truly sensational soiree. (Feel free to add me to your guest list!)

Have you had the pleasure of purchasing at these new retailers yet? If so, let me know which products you loved most … I’m almost due for another shopping spree and I could use a few ideas!

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Finish That Disney Parks Sign: Cupcakes at the Confectionery

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


If you have a sweet tooth for treats at the Confectionery at Magic Kingdom Park, you just may get the answer correct in this week’s “Finish That Disney Parks Sign” challenge.

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One word on this sign, about the shop’s yummy cupcakes, is blurred out. Do you know the missing word? Tell us in the comments section below. We’ll update the post later today with the answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic Merchandise Drops Into Disney Parks on February 13, 2015

posted on January 26th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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Last summer, I gave you a first look at a new merchandise collection called “Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic” that was inspired by the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney Parks. Today, I’m excited to announce that this line will drop into Disney Parks starting Friday, February 13 (what a perfect day!). These new products will be found inside Tower Hotel Gifts in both Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. I recently visited the merchandise presentation offices at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where I found a display of several new items.

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The merchandise presentation team set up a display to show what Tower Hotel Gifts may look like when the product is set. They told me they will be making adjustments to props, fixtures and lighting in the shops to complement the new merchandise.

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Disney Design Group artists were inspired by the Haunted Mansion Authentic program released last year when designing this artwork. You will notice similar design elements such as the use of vintage advertisements. The Hollywood Tower Hotel logo was also included on several items that could have been sold in the hotel gift shop before that one stormy night long ago.

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I love the tote bag that looks like vintage luggage and the bellhop cap is perfect! I was glad to see the bell was updated with new artwork (you can see the difference in this story from July 2013).

Guests will also find new apparel items for adults and kids. My son will be beyond thrilled that there will be a kid’s T-shirt with a character from his favorite episode.

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In addition to apparel and other souvenirs, the Disney pin team will release some new open edition pins as part of this collection.

Finally, I invite you to meet some of the Disney Design Group artists behind this collection on Friday, February 13. This event will be held at Tower Hotel Gifts inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Disney Artists Tyler Dumas, Brian Blackmore, Richard Terpstra and Quynh Kimball are scheduled to attend.

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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Caption This: Disney Characters Take Flight at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 26th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Back in 1988, two hot air balloons named Ear Force One (Mickey) and Zippity Doo Duck (Donald) took flight here at Walt Disney World Resort.

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This photo just begs for a caption. They look pretty excited for their journey. What’s on their minds? You tell us. Go ahead and “Caption This” in the comments section below.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on January 25th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


This week, we featured several popular “Frozen” stories on the Disney Parks Blog, including a special announcement that Olaf is coming to all four Disney Cruise Line ships along with information about brand-new Disney Cruise experiences being planned for the entire family beginning this summer.

Land of “Frozen” Coming to Disney Cruise Line in Summer 2015

Jonathan included highlights of some of the new experiences in his original story. And he’ll be sharing more right here on the Disney Parks Blog over the next several weeks.

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We also continued our “Learn to Draw” series with a special guest this week – actor Josh Gad. Josh, who voiced Olaf in the “Frozen.” film, stopped by The Magic of Disney Animation to test his own skills at drawing his animated friend.

Check out Jenn’s original post to see more tutorials on drawing your favorite Disney characters.

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

Disneyland Resort Circle D Corral Now Zero Waste Certified – Thanks to efforts begun four years ago by cast member Andrea Raney, Circle D Corral is now gold-level Zero Waste certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, with 99 percent of its waste repurposed, composted or recycled!

Splitsville Hits a High Note with New Saturday Night Bands at Downtown Disney West Side – Have you heard the live music on Saturday Nights at Splitsville? Disney Parks Blog author Darcy Clark shares her impression, and details a number of improvements coming to Splitsville in 2015.

Vote to Name Our New Baby Goats at the Disneyland Resort – See some pictures of the new kids at Circle D Corral, and don’t forget to vote for their names!

Video Rewind: Caring for Classic Disneyland Park Attractions – Take a look back at some behind-the-scenes videos we showed you in years past here on the Disney Parks Blog to see how we care for our classic Disneyland park attractions.

Tweens Make New Friends at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – Learn all about the ways tweens can hang loose during a vacation at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.

Nick Arciniaga Wins First-Ever Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort – Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon, and to the more than 23,000 runners who participated!

A Unique Point of View: Mad Tea Party at Disneyland Park – Get a look at these unique images from Disneyland Chief Photographer Paul Hiffmeyer.

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