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Disney Characters Stay for Dinner at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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Tusker House Restaurant in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been a popular spot for breakfast or lunch with favorite Disney characters, and starting March 8, 2015 the lovable bunch is staying on for dinner.

Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Donald Duck Dressed in his Safari Best at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests will find Donald Duck dressed in his safari best, and other favorite Disney pals Daisy Duck, and Goofy at the restaurant daily, with a lively celebration about once every hour. As you dine, Disney characters visit your table for laughs, photos and autographs.

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This is one of our favorite Disney buffets with the flavors of Africa offered along with all-American tastes. At breakfast, for instance, you can have bacon and eggs, waffles, cereal, fresh fruit and pastries – but also try beef bobotie (spiced minced meat with egg) or fruit chutneys.

Lunch and dinner offer an abundance of savory and sweet tastes, such as spit-roasted chicken, carved beef and Kenyan coffee BBQ pork loin; sides like vegetable samosas, curried rice, tandoori tofu and saffron-infused veggies; classic African tastes such as peri peri salmon, curry chicken and tamarind seafood stew, and pita and lavosh breads. Add chutneys, hummus and tabouli – so many interesting flavors to try. (Youngsters get their own buffet with corn dog nuggets, mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes and assorted meats and cheeses.)

And save room for the warm banana-cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce (even at breakfast), chocolate fudge volcano cake, cherry-apple cobbler or a bite of passion fruit tart. Breakfast is 8 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and dinner starts at 4 p.m. Cost is $29.99, $16.99 ages 3 to 9 for breakfast, $34.99 and $17.99 for lunch and $41.99 and $19.99 for dinner.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or visit disneyworld.com/dine.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Top Stories, Walt Disney World Resort

Wildlife Wednesday: 9 Intriguing Animals You Don’t Want to Miss at Walt Disney World Resort – No FastPass Required!

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to rush through the day and miss the beauty all around you. In my role, I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of animals and I wanted to share just a few hidden gems. You might have to slow down a bit to find them, but I promise they will be worth a look on your next trip to Walt Disney World Resort. In no particular order:

1. & 2. Red kangaroos & Longnose Gar – Discovery Island Trails & Oasis, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Did you know animals could be found on your way into Disney’s Animal Kingdom? As you enter the park, adventure awaits around every corner, if you take the time to look for it. The longnose gar can be found on the path that crosses through the center of the Oasis just after you enter the park. The red kangaroos can be seen from vantage points at the front of the Tree of Life.

See the Red Kangaroos on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom See the Longnose Gar on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

3. & 4. Ruppell’s griffon vulture & Nyala – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is more than a resort. It’s home to more than 200 animals including the Ruppell’s griffon vulture and mesmerizing Nyala. All guests are welcome to enjoy the animals at the resort and if you’re looking for lunch plans, up to 12 guests can Dine with Animal Specialists at Sanaa to learn more about all the animals on the savannah!

Visit Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Visit the Nyala at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

5. Argus Pheasant – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Maharajah Jungle Trek is home to more than tigers and bats. Don’t bypass the aviary on your next visit or you’ll miss the beautiful Argus pheasant.

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6. Eld’s deer – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Eld’s deer are an endangered species that can also be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. On your next visit, take a look at their large floppy ears that can turn independently of one another. Those ears allow the Eld’s deer to hear predators from long distances.

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7. Shetland ponies – Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is home to plenty of outdoor activities from horseback rides to carriage rides, and even pony rides! The Shetland ponies are located just a few feet from Pioneer Hall at the Tri-Circle-D Farm. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Draft Horse Barn where you can see a variety of breeds and see a display on the many horses in Disney history.

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8. Pineywoods cow – Affection Section, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Affection Section is a hidden gem in itself. Guests have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few different animals and learn from animal experts and keepers. Pineywoods cattle are a critically endangered breed of “heritage” livestock, so pay this gal a visit. If you’re feeling really inspired, you can contribute to conservation efforts around the world through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

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9. Asian brown tortoise – Dinoland, U.S.A., Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Dinoland, U.S.A. is home to many animals (most are extinct). But it’s in a little island between The Boneyard and Restaurantosaurus that you can find the last animals on our list today. One side of the island is home to the American crocodile, but don’t forget to walk around and say hello to the Asian brown tortoises.

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New Retail MagicBands Arriving in December at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 16th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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You may recall that my top gift items this year from Disney Parks are retail MagicBands. We recently introduced the “link-it later” option for all retail MagicBands, making them great gifts for guests who may want to show off their Disney Side while visiting Walt Disney World Resort. This month, we are introducing some new open edition, graphic MagicBands on the dates listed below.

  • December 12 – Sorcerer Mickey
  • December 14 – Minnie Mouse’s iconic polka dots
  • December 17 – Stitch
  • December 22 – Disney Princesses

These graphic MagicBands will retail at $19.95 each.

Guests should look for these items in select locations at the four theme parks and Downtown Disney.

You can also find solid color MagicBands and select accessories on our Disney Parks online store by visiting http://www.DisneyStore.com/MagicBands

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, MagicBands, MyMagic+, Walt Disney World Resort

Room with a View: ‘Safari View’ Suite at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on December 12th, 2014 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Last month, Thomas Smith kicked off a new series on the Disney Parks Blog we’re calling “Room with A View.” It’s a fun way to take a peek inside some Disney resorts that offer amazing views of Walt Disney World Resort.

Today, I want to take you into another favorite view – the savannah room on the second floor of the Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

From the savannah room, you can see African animals and tropical birds on the nearby savannah. There’s actually 30 species of African wildlife including giraffe, zebra and greater kudu that roam right before your eyes.

It’s so serene and exotic – unlike any other resort in Orlando. And the view inside this room is pretty amazing too. It feels authentic and captures the artistry of African craftsmanship with hand-carved woodwork and rich colors woven in textured fabrics.

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You can book this room now at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. To find prices and availability, visit our Disneyworld.com page.

There are so many views to share with you so stay tuned to the next resort we showcase in our Disney Parks Blog Room with a View series.

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Spread Holiday Cheer with Tasty Treats at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 11th, 2014 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


There’s no place like Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays. From Holidays Around the World at Epcot to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park, there is so much to do and so many treats to try. Today, I’m spreading some holiday cheer by sharing some of my favorite holiday treats.

Guests Can Decorate Gingerbread Cookies in the Lobby of Jambo House Guests Can Decorate Gingerbread Cookies in the Lobby of Jambo House

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests can decorate gingerbread cookies in the lobby of Jambo House. The suggested $5.00 donation goes to Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. While you’re there, stop by their holiday treat table, where you’ll find all kinds of scrumptious goodies including peppermint bark, chocolate and pistachio crackle cookies, gingerbread cookie animals, butternut crunch bark, coconut cream cupcakes and house-made chocolate hazelnut spread. The African hot chocolate is made from scratch using Ghanaian milk and Tanzanian dark chocolates, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles—perfect to sip by the resort’s fire pit on a cool evening.

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The gorgeous gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is a Walt Disney World Resort holiday season staple, but just outside the main entrance of the resort’s lobby, you’ll find “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” from noon – 6 p.m. At the Garden View Tea Room, look for festive indulgences like holiday-inspired tea blends, gingerbread scones, apple butter and cranberry trifles. Gasparilla Island Grill is serving up a seasonal holiday turkey sandwich, piled high with traditional fixings like stuffing and cranberry.

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Still craving the sweet stuff? BoardWalk Bakery has a specialty chocolate-peppermint cheesecake cupcake decorated to look like a Christmas Tree.

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If you are looking for some festive in-park treats, be sure to stop by Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a specialty gingerbread cupcake. Adults can take in the beauty of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights with Yuletide cheer in the form of one of several specialty Christmas cocktails available throughout the park, such as the Gumdrop with Stoli Razberi vodka, Chambord, Sprite, pineapple and cranberry juices garnished with candy gumdrops. There’s also a Winter Berry and Torched Holiday Cider and my favorite, the Very Merry Cherry. At Pizza Planet Arcade, you’ll find The Claw—Sauza Gold Tequila, Disaronno, triple sec, and sweet-and-sour served with a souvenir glow cube. Catalina Eddie’s on Sunset Boulevard is the home of Very Berry Lemonade, and at ABC Commissary, you’ll find Holiday Delight—Bacardi Razz rum, blue curacao, orange juice and a splash of Sprite with a souvenir glow cube.

These holiday offerings are only around for a limited time, so be sure to check them out while you can!

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

Listen To ‘Carol of the Bells’ By Chakranadi At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 8th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Of all the musical performances we’ve ever shared on the Disney Parks Blog, this has to be one of the most unique – and emotionally stirring – that I’ve ever heard.

As part of the park’s “Festival of All Seasons” celebration, Chakranadi performs seasonal tunes on the sitar and tablas.

Check it out for yourself.

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Wildlife Wednesday: New Disney Animals Fact-Filled Pages Debut Online

posted on December 3rd, 2014 by Dr. Jill Mellen, Education & Science Director


Do you know why rhinos roll around in the mud or what elephants can do to lower their body temperature? Did you know that one shark can have as many as 30,000 teeth during its lifetime?

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There’s a fun new way to find these answers and learn a lot more about some of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot and what we are doing to protect them in the wild! The Walt Disney World Resort website has introduced a new Disney Animals section that provides a wealth of information about 10 species that are a very special focus for us.

You can go to DisneyAnimals.com to read about African lions, Asian tigers, rhinos, African elephants, Western lowland gorillas, sharks, cotton-top tamarins, sea turtles, coral reef and migratory birds. While it’s not a complete list of all the animals you can see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or at The Seas with Nemo at Epcot, it represents 10 conservation species Disney is working to protect and provides a valuable connection to nature. We hope this fun animal information inspires you to action! All of the species you read about are endangered, which makes it even more important for us to understand them and to learn more about what we can do to help save the species. You also can read a bit of behind-the-scenes information about how we care for these animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot, as well as some fun facts like the ones that appear at the beginning of this story. Speaking of those, do you know the answers?

  • Rhinos roll in the mud to keep themselves cool, get rid of parasites and prevent sunburns.
  • Elephants can flap their ears to lower their body temperature.
  • Sharks can have as many as 30,000 teeth over their lifetime because their teeth are not rooted in their jaws or gum lines. They can lose teeth when they take a powerful bite out of their prey. But don’t worry! New teeth can grow in just two to eight days.
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Now it’s your turn. Pop quiz! Here are a few questions, and the answers can be found by reading our new Disney Animals pages. When you’re finished, you can check your answers here.

  1. How many lions typically make up a family group, or pride?
  2. Guests can see a critically endangered Sumatran tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. How many of these tigers exist in the wild?
  3. How can you tell the difference between a black rhino and a white rhino? (HINT: It’s not the color of their skin; both are gray.)
  4. Other than humans, elephants do something that few other animals are known to do. What is it?
  5. Gorillas share 98.3 percent of humans’ DNA. However, gorillas have two things humans do not. What are they?
  6. How many species of sharks are there in the world?
  7. Where do cotton-top tamarins live in the wild?
  8. How do female sea turtles choose where to lay their eggs?
  9. Corals provide a home for what percentage of the oceans’ fish?
  10. Name a significant threat to migratory birds. How many birds are killed each year because of this threat?
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New ALEX AND ANI Bangles Debut in Time for the Holidays at Disney Parks

posted on December 3rd, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


As you all know, I’m an avid fan of ALEX AND ANI! So, when I see new bangles on the horizon that are what I consider ‘must-haves’ for the holidays, I want to share them with all of you. Here’s your first look at some of the new styles headed to Disney Parks.

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Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you! It All Started With A Mouse and Hakuna Matata are the first pieces in a new collection, Words Are Powerful, inspired by Disney sayings. These bangles will be available in Shiny Silver and Yellow Gold finishes beginning December 15. Also debuting is the 2015 Dated bangle featuring Mickey Mouse, a perfect way to commemorate your visit to the parks next year! This bangle will be available beginning December 15 in Rafaelian Gold and Rafaelian Silver finishes.

Look for these new bangles at locations throughout the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

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Charmed? I know I am! Which bangle will you add to your collection this holiday season?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney District, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Vintage Walt Disney World: Tree of Life

posted on November 26th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Symbolizing the interconnected nature of all living things, the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom rises up from the center of Discovery Island at the park. Soaring over 140 feet into the air, the Tree of Life hadn’t “grown” any of its 100,000+ leaves yet in January 1997.

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The 14-story tree is 50 feet wide at its base with roots that spread 170 feet in diameter. More than 8,000 branches make up the foliage that spreads 160 feet over the park below.

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Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on November 19th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


Science fans might recognize the quote in the title from the theme song of television show Bill Nye, the Science Guy. The popular educational show showcased science topics through interactive, applied science projects. Bill Nye, the Science Guy was for TV what the newly renovated Science Center is for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Like the show, applied science is exactly what Guests will have the opportunity to see and learn about as one of the many subjects showcased in the area.

You might be thinking, isn’t this WILDLIFE Wednesday? What does applied science have to do with wildlife?… Much more than you think!

Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Science Center, previously known as the Wildlife Tracking Center, is home to the Science Operations team – a team of scientists and animal care professionals who partner with various teams within Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, to provide outstanding care for the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The new name reflects this as a location that is fun, interactive and inspiring, highlighting science using applied means, which is precisely what the Science Operations team is all about. Guests have the opportunity to view behavioral husbandry cast members coordinating animal training and enrichment programs, animal behavior scientists analyzing behavioral data, endocrinologists monitoring pregnancies and hormone cycles of animals within the park, and/or the population biologist working on animal management plans that help us determine which animals should be put together for breeding.

Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

You might be able to find Bill Nye, the Science Guy in a science classroom near you, but the science experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be found working in their lab at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. We hope to see you soon!

Did you know that…?

  • Members of the Science Operations team have published dozens of scientific articles advancing the field of zoo animal care.
  • Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, endocrinologists in the Science Center have conducted over 100,000 hormone tests!
  • The behavioral husbandry cast members on the Science Operations team coordinate the training of animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as tiny as a mouse to as tall as a giraffe.
  • Not only are members of the Science Operations team working to take care of the animals here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but they also are working to promote the conservation of species in their natural habitats, including gorillas, Micronesian kingfishers, and coral reefs.

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