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Wildlife Wednesday: Animals Love Pumpkins!

posted on November 25th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

We are thankful to care for these amazing animals every day … and, recently, the animals showed us they are thankful for pumpkins!

Our animals love enrichment, including toys, scents and special food treats, including pumpkins! Enrichment is stimulating and fun for the animals, and it’s an important part of their care. Different types of enrichment enable the animals to make choices about their environment and encourage natural behaviors.

Here are just a few of our animals recently enjoying some fall enrichment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Get To Know 7 Disney Parks Dinosaurs

posted on November 25th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

In honor of today’s release of the film “The Good Dinosaur,” we wanted to give shout outs to seven of our other Disney Parks dinosaurs.

Gertie the Dinosaur at Disney's Hollywood Studios
1. Dino Gertie at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A landmark at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since the park opened in 1989, Gertie is both a nod to Gertie the Trained Dinosaur, one of the first popular animated characters in film. Although the character was not developed by Walt Disney, she’s a symbol of animation history – and at the park, serves up mighty good ice cream.

2. Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot – The original version of this attraction introduced me to some of Disney Parks’ first-ever dinosaur Audio-Animatronics figures back in the mid-1980s – and I was mystified!

DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

3. DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – A quick trip on a Time Rover takes us back 65 million years ago to visit Alioramus, Velociraptors and more. Better make it a real quick trip if you don’t want to get caught by that treacherous Carnotaurus!

4. TriceraTop Spin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Okay, this dino draw is more my speed, with it’s colorful herbivores ready to take to the skies.

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park – This guy is perhaps the oldest resident of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, preserved for all to see.

6. The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – What trip to DinoLand, U.S.A., at Disney’s Animal Kingdom would be complete for little ones without a trip through the Boneyard? Here, kiddos can help excavate the bones of a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, explore rope bridges and more.

7. T-REX Restaurant at Disney Springs – For the ultimate dinosaur experience, head to T-Rex at Disney Springs. The food is terrific and every few minutes diners get to experience a meteor shower. Ultimate dino fans can also create their own dinosaur at the Build-A-Dino station in the adjacent merchandise shop.

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Filed: Disney Springs, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

The Disney Conservation Fund Honors 2015 Conservation Heroes

posted on November 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

All over the world, there are thousands of dedicated people working day in and day out to protect wildlife and wild places, and to educate and engage local communities in conservation. Each year, the Disney Conservation Fund invites conservation nonprofit organizations to nominate people from communities where they work – people whose passion and dedication makes conservation possible – and we’re proud to honor them as Disney Conservation Heroes. They are heroes because they have gone above and beyond. They have identified needs in their communities, overcome obstacles and persevered, sometimes at great personal sacrifice, to make their communities and our planet a better place.

Let’s meet a few of the 22 honorees:

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Nurzhafarina Othman
Nominated by the Houston Zoo

Nurzhafarina’s passion for the Bornean elephant led her to become one of the first women in the field of elephant research in Sabah, Malaysia. Nurzhafarina works with communities to help increase tolerance toward elephants during human-wildlife conflicts. Her research on elephant herd social structure, migration patterns and human-elephant conflict led to the development of an elephant conservation management plan that will help better protect elephants and local communities.

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Revocatus Magayane
Nominated by the African People & Wildlife Fund
Revo works with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) to implement education programs for more than 6,000 youth and adults spanning 12 villages and two districts in Tanzania. He manages wildlife clubs and summer camps for youth and co-teaches adult seminar courses on natural resource management. He has also helped graduates of these courses start their own community conservation projects. Revo is known for representing the voice of conservation while always considering the needs of the community where he works.

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Greenhouse Alumni Team: Brian Young, Joanna Ruacho, Joyce Realegeno and Bryan Payes (left to right)
Nominated by Los Angeles Audubon Society
Once high school student participants in the L.A. Audubon Society’s Greenhouse Program, these dedicated students now work for the Greenhouse Alumni Team to assist with habitat restoration, environmental education and endangered species conservation in the urbanized Ballona Creek Watershed of the Los Angeles Basin. Their diverse skills have allowed them to effectively connect with communities and teach others about conservation issues related to species like the Western snowy plover and California least tern. Their time, talent and motivation have been invaluable to the L.A. Audubon Society, and they serve as living examples of what the organization hopes to achieve through their environmental education programs for inner-city students in Los Angeles – young adults with a strong connection to nature, who are committed to conservation and who serve as environmental leaders within their community.

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Sean Lee & Tahambay Smith
Nominated by Fauna & Flora International
For the past eight years, Sean and Tahambay have volunteered nearly all of their spare time to protect and conserve the critically endangered Antiguan racer snake and other rare and endemic wildlife on Antigua’s offshore islands. After their day jobs, they travel each weekend, first by bus and then fishing boat, to the offshore islands to maintain trails, monitor wildlife and educate visitors. Their passion for wildlife has led them to become highly skilled conservation biologists now called upon to help train other local conservationists and inform legislation to formally protect the Antiguan racer.

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Tungalagtuya Khuukhenduu
Nominated by Snow Leopard Conservancy
While conducting research in Mongolia, Tunga recognized that local people had no access to environmental education and collaborated with conservation organizations to create “Nomadic Nature Trunks” (NNT). This program provides travelling classrooms for school students and three weeks of interactive lesson plans on environmental stewardship and conservation of Mongolia’s ecosystems. In 2010, Tunga helped expand the program to include education programming for adults and turned NNT into an organization called Nomadic Nature Conservation.

Everyone you’ve read about is a true Conservation Hero – proving that one person can make a difference and inspire us all to help make a difference in our own communities to make the world a better place. You can read about the other 2015 Conservation Heroes by visiting

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New Details Unveiled on Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s ‘Rivers of Light’

posted on November 20th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

When our new nighttime experience “Rivers of Light” opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’ll be one of the most memorable and emotionally stirring shows in the park’s history. And today we’re sharing a sneak peek at some of the amazing sights the show will offer when it debuts in spring 2016.


The show will take place on Discovery River between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest – take a close look and you can you see the Tree of Life in the background. In “Rivers of Light,” a pair of mystical hosts come to the river bearing gifts of light. During the show, the hosts set out from the shore on elaborate lantern vessels for a dramatic dance of water and light to summon animal spirits. With the storytellers as your guides, the wonders of “Rivers of Light” builds to a stunning crescendo.


In addition to the show, you’ll also notice the park’s iconic Tree of Life will undergo an amazing awakening as the animal spirits of the tree are brought to “light” by magical fireflies, revealing moments of wonder and enchantment.

To create “Rivers of Light,” Imagineers and Creative Entertainment partnered with the talents of master puppet designer Michael Curry, composer Mark Mancina and the filmmakers at Disneynature. According to Imagineer Joe Rohde, in an interview excerpt from the latest Disney Vacation Planning DVD, the addition of “Rivers of Light” to the park’s offerings will serve as that huge “wow” moment that ends a guest’s visit to the park.

We look forward to sharing even more about the new nighttime experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the coming months, right here on Disney Parks Blog.

For more information on planning a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, click here.

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Tiffins Signature Restaurant Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016

posted on November 20th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

As we previously announced, new experiences like the “Rivers of Light” and Kilimanjaro Safaris are planned to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016. Today, we’re thrilled to share a first look at another new addition to the park that is sure to please guests – Tiffins restaurant.


Tiffins will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring a diverse menu drawing from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner, Tiffins will also include waterfront views from comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas. And if you’re wondering about the story behind the name, “tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling.

So, what do you think? Will you add Tiffins to your must-do list for 2016?

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Digging Up Merchandise at Disney Parks for Disney•Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

posted on November 20th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


This week, we are celebrating “Dino Week” in honor of the upcoming release of Disney-Pixar’sThe Good Dinosaur” which arrives in theaters on November 25. I recently visited the appropriately themed Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures in Dinoland, U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to survey merchandise being offered at Disney Parks for this film.


For the release of this film, we have a small assortment of toys and apparel for kids. Guests may also find adorable plush resembling Arlo the Apatosaurus and his unlikely human friend Spot. Look for them on an open edition two-pin set as well.


My favorite item is a kids’ zipper jacket that looks like the Tyrannosaurus Rex named Butch. I love the little arms that stick out from the front of the jacket.


In the mix, we included some toys created by our partners from the Disney Store.


Guests should also look for a limited release logo pin that opens to reveal an image of characters from the film.

Finally, we are hosting special signing events at Disney Parks this weekend.

For guests visiting Once Upon a Toy in Disney Springs Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort, filmmakers, Pete Docter and Jerome Ranft will be appearing from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on November 21. Jay Ward will be appearing at the location from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on November 22. They will be meeting with fans and signing select Pixar-themed merchandise during their appearances.

At Disneyland Resort, Disney artists Joey Chou and Jerrod Maruyama will be on hand for a signing event on November 21 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney District. You can see some of their artwork in the top image. This artwork will also be released in Florida this weekend.

You can find select items from “The Good Dinosaur” online at Select items may also be found using the free Shop Disney Parks mobile app.

Check out all of the exciting activities happening at Disney in celebration of Dino Week at

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Wildlife Wednesday: Cast Members Help Bring ‘The Lion Guard’ to Disney Junior

posted on November 18th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

For the last year and a half, members of our Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team have spent lots of time with animated hippos, lions, hyenas and more on the colorful savanna of Disney’s “The Lion Guard,” which continues the epic storytelling of “The Lion King” and introduces Kion, Simba and Nala’s second-born cub, as he assumes his role of leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands.

Wanting to ensure a level of authenticity in the animal world, the Disney Junior team asked us to assist and advise on the characteristics, behaviors and habitats of the African animal species featured in both the primetime television movie debuting this Sunday, November 22 on Disney Channel and the upcoming television series premiering on Disney Channel and Disney Junior in early 2016.


Led by Dr. Jill Mellen, who oversees our scientific and education efforts, our team has reviewed scripts and made suggestions that more accurately illustrate the personalities and preferences of the animals we care for each day, as well as ones in the wild. The animated characters speak, of course, and although that’s not something we see on the savannas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, otherwise, the behaviors of Kion and his friends – Beshte, Ono, Fuli and Bunga – are representative of the natural behaviors of these animals.


Dr. Jill and a number of our ASE cast members just returned from the red-carpet premiere of “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar” held last weekend at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA, where they enjoyed another opportunity to introduce more children to the beauty of the animal world and the magic of nature.

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Journey to Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Tips from Disney Parks Mom Panelist

posted on November 13th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations

Straight from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, here’s the second of the four-part series Fun With Little Ones, featuring insider tips from Disney Parks Moms Panelist Crystal B. She takes you on an adventure thru Disney’s Animal Kingdom and highlights don’t miss experiences like The Boneyard and Wildlife Express Train, just right for wee ones.

For more from the “fun with Little Ones” series, visit the post below:

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New 360 Video of Walt Disney World Resort Debuts on Facebook – You Control the Experience

posted on November 12th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations

We’re excited to share a new video experience that takes you into all four Walt Disney World Resort Parks right from your mobile device. And the coolest part: you control what you’re seeing.

It’s called spherical video technology, or 360 Video. You can find it posted today on the Walt Disney World Facebook page:

As you can see, Goofy leads us through a helpful – if a bit accidental – tour, with a glimpse of thrilling heights, stunning sights, and a few familiar friends. You control the full-circle scenes across Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios by simply moving your device to see the angles you want. You can also place your finger on the screen and move it in the direction you’d like to see. It’s an all-new way to explore The Most Magical Place on Earth, and the next-best view to visiting us in person!

The Walt Disney World Resort 360 Video was developed and produced in collaboration with Littlstar Media Inc., a Disney Accelerator company.

What was your favorite part of Goofy’s tour?

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Wildlife Wednesday: Hyenas have arrived at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on November 11th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

We are proud to share that two spotted hyenas have been introduced to the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! The hyenas were first introduced to the savanna last week and appear to enjoy their new home.

Because the area is so new to the duo, they have only been out for short periods of time so far. Their time on the savanna will increase as the days go by.

If you watched Disney’s The Lion King, you will remember the villainous hyenas. The hyenas were the bullies of the savanna, often confronting Simba and his friends.

In reality, hyenas are an incredibly interesting and powerful species, and I can guarantee you they are not all villains.

Groups of Hyenas are referred to as clans. The clans sometimes come together to hunt and defend their territory, but most activities are done solo or in small groups. In the wild, they hunt their own food and – contrary to public opinion – do not often scavenge another animal’s meal.

The ranking of hyenas’ social structure and clans are also very important to a hyena’s way of life. Females are the leaders of the clans, with the lowest-ranking female ranking above the highest-ranking male. The low-ranking males will often be found on the outskirts of the clan and only participate in hunting or fights.

Although hyenas are doing better than many species in the wild, because of their wide range and large population, they are still facing a population decline. Loss of habitat is a significant threat, as well as local communities treating them as pests and hunters poaching them.

By having hyenas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we hope to show our Guests that the misconceptions about this species are not true. These animals deserve our consideration, and I’m confident you will enjoy learning more about them.

Visit to learn more about some of the animals at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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