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10 Million & Counting: MagicBands a Hit with Walt Disney World Resort Guests

posted on January 30th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


If you enjoy MagicBands and all they can do as much as my family does at Walt Disney World Resort then you’re probably not surprised that we’re already celebrating a significant milestone – 10 million MagicBands distributed.

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Since our original announcement, MagicBands have become a favorite way for guests to make their visit easier, more personal and magical. The colorful MagicBands link your entire MyMagic+ experience together and can serve as a theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card as well as a room key for Disney Resort hotel guests. You travel lighter with MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort.

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Recently, MagicBand was named one of Fortune Magazine’s “26 Coolest Gadgets of 2014.” MyMagic+ was also honored with an “Innovation by Design” award by the popular magazine and website, Fast Company. It received the top spot in the “Experience Design” category when Fast Company revealed the 10 best designs of the year at their annual “Innovation by Design” Awards and Conference in New York City.

As regular Disney Parks Blog readers know, you receive a MagicBand if you stay at a Disney Resort hotel or you are a Walt Disney World Passholder. If you are not staying at a Disney Resort hotel and are not a Passholder, you receive a card when you purchase park admission—and you have the option to purchase a MagicBand online or at select retail locations at Walt Disney World Resort.

Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog in future weeks for some new ways you can personalize and show your Disney Side with MagicBands.

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Filed: FastPass+, Hotels & Resorts, MagicBands, My Disney Experience, MyMagic+, Walt Disney World Resort

Trend Spotting: Our Favorite Walt Disney World Resort Restaurants for Charcuterie

posted on January 30th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Charcuterie, the fancy French term for preserved meats, is an age-old food preparation that’s popping up on lots of Walt Disney World Resort menus. The newest at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk made us want to try them all.

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We love that Trattoria al Forno features cured Italian meats on the breakfast menu with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and cheese with fonduta (an Italian melted cheese made with Fontina cheese). What a way to start the day with a press pot of good coffee. For dinner, the restaurant pairs the charcuterie with house-pickled peppers, rich olives, caponata (eggplant) and grilled bread.

On the dinner menu at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park, the charcuterie for two includes assorted cured meats and sausages with tart cornichons, pickled onions and a toasted baguette. Pair this one with a crisp white wine to enhance the flavors.

Over at Epcot, we head to two spots: Chefs de France in the France pavilion, and Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion. The dinner menu at Chefs de France include assiette campagnarde, a rustic assortment of French patés and charcuteries that is trés authentique. At Le Cellier, the generous platter of meats comes with grilled sourdough and buttery Italian Robiola cheese.

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At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, stop by the al fresco Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge for the artisanal cheese & charcuterie board for two that features salami Calabrese, salami Toscano, duck rillette (similar to paté), imported prosciutto and paté de campagne. Relax with a Champagne or martini flight, or one of the craft cocktails or wines by the glass.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa features charcuterie at both Cítricos and adjacent Mizner’s Lounge, a beautiful wooden board piled with prosciutto di Parma, sopressata, dry pork coppa, beef bresaola, Palacios chorizo, domestic artisanal salame, Pecorino Romano, Medjool dates, bread-and-butter pickles and Marcona almonds. That’s dinner!

At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, California Grill starts with handcrafted charcuterie with seasonal accompaniments. Downstairs at The Wave … of American Flavors, American-crafted cheeses, country-style paté and artisan cured meats are the stars of the charcuterie board.

Others on our list: Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort mixes it up a bit with cured meats, olives, aged goat cheese, house-made bread and fruit compote on both the lunch and dinner menus. Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort kicks it up with suckling pig, country sausage, lardo and boar terrine on the charcuterie platter.

We’ll end over at cozy Territory Lounge at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the “Northwest Charcuterie” include cured meats such as venison and bison sausage, liverwurst; artisan cheeses like creamy Rogue River Blue, cranberry-mustard, sweet pickles and walnut bread. This calls for a Moosehead!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – February 2015

posted on January 30th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


This February, fall in love with some of the latest releases debuting at Walt Disney World Resort!

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February 5 – 23: Meet representatives from Precious Moments Dolls at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace as we celebrate the release of the Valentine’s themed collection. Or make a special stop February 20 – 22 and meet creator and designer Linda Rick. Learn more.

February 9 – 15: Artist Greg McCullough returns this month with special appearances and signings at Art of Disney in Epcot. Be sure to stop by and see what’s ‘in store’ for you! Learn more.

February 12 – 16: Meet renowned international artist Larry Dotson this month at The Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace and add a new piece to your collection. Learn more.

February 13: Drop in if you dare, as we celebrate Friday, the 13th with a special artist showcase featuring Brian Blackmore, Tyler Dumas, Quynh Kimball and Richard Terpstra from 4 – 6 p.m. at Tower Hotel Gifts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as we celebrate the release of some of their new pieces in the Hollywood Tower Hotel authentic collection. Keep an eye out, Steven Miller will be sharing more details on this new collection on the Disney Parks Blog in the coming weeks. Learn more.

February 19 – 22: Beloved artist David E. Doss will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace February 19 – 22 and again February 26 – March 1. Be sure to stop in and say hello! Learn more.

Which artist are you most excited to see?

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

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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Filed: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

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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Filed: Downtown Disney, Top Stories, Walt Disney World Resort

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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Filed: Disney Dining, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort