Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park

Enjoy ‘The Ultimate Day of Thrills’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Want to receive the full VIP treatment on your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort? You’re in luck, because two new tours, The Ultimate Day of Thrills – A VIP Tour Experience and The Ultimate Day for Young Families – A VIP Tour Experience, are now available at the Walt Disney World Resort.
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Both tours last six to seven hours and include experiencing a certain number of attractions at Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Toy Story Midway Mania! and Expedition Everest. (The Ultimate Day for Young Families – A VIP Tour Experience offers attractions that are specifically accessible to young children, as well). Both tours also include a meal at a Disney table-service restaurant. These tours will be offered Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and cost $299 per person. Disney Vacation Club Members, Disney VISA Cardholders and Annual Passholders receive a 15% discount.

Call 407-WDW-TOUR for more information.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout

posted on June 25th, 2014 by Allyson Atkins, Education Manager, Disney's Animals, Science and Environment


Summer is a perfect time to get outside and spend time exploring nature with friends and family. Whether you are here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom getting close to hippos on the Wild Africa Trek, discovering the Alaskan wilderness with Disney Cruise Line or spending time in your own local park, you are part of making the outdoors the new “in” place to be! Even Disney Channel star Olivia Holt is on board and spreading the word!

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At Disney we are committed to connecting families and kids with nature through both Disney experiences, as well as support for other nature-related resources. If you are looking for a fun way to get outside this weekend, you can join thousands of families across the country by taking the pledge to be part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout on June 28. In your own (or a neighbor’s) backyard, local park or campground, spend the evening together looking at the stars, telling campsite stories or making animal shadows in your tent with a flashlight. The Great American Backyard Campout site features great information to help get you started, from camping tips to things you may need on your camping trip. Make sure to check out the fun ideas for camping games and activities as well as tasty meal ideas and recipes to make the evening even better. And remember, your night under the stars can make a real difference for wildlife.

Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout

Not only is it fun to spend time together outdoors, there are studies that show time in nature can help improve academic performance, promote imagination and creativity and even lead to better health and well-being! On top of that, you are helping inspire the next generation to care about the planet, leading to positive actions for nature as adults.

So check it out, get outside and have a wild time!

Want to learn more about how you can connect with nature and help people, communities and the planet? Spread the word by sharing this blog post with your friends and family. Learn more about Disney’s conservation efforts both locally and around the world at WDWnews.com/about/environment/ and Disney.com/conservation. Experience more of our conservation work by participating in our guest offerings, such as Wild Africa Trek and Backstage Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Seeing Stars During Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 23rd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


“The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” the incredible theatrical experience produced for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, celebrates the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” This all-new show is a 55-minute retelling of Simba’s story as never seen before, combining music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions.

In “The Lion King,” Simba’s father, Mufasa, invites him to look to the stars. “The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars,” he says. “So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you, and so will I.”

This and other wonderful messages and moments from that classic film have resonated with people the world over, including the stars participating as celebrity narrators for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” For the opening night performance earlier this month, we were honored to be joined by Viola Davis, Tony award winner and Oscar nominated star of “The Help,” “Doubt,” and the upcoming ABC drama “How to Get Away with Murder.” She shared with us her impressions of the performance, as well as her personal connection to one of the main messages of the film.

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014. The lineup of celebrity guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 28 David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color” – SOLD OUT
  • July 5Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy” – SOLD OUT
  • July 12Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Every event night so far has sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Oscar-Winning ‘Frozen’ Songwriters Enjoy a Heart-Warming Visit to Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 21st, 2014 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


They’ve been called “Cutest Couple Ever.” They’ve won the Academy Award for “Let it Go,” part of a musical score that has already become the stuff of legend. The New York home of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez is laden with awards — including the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy (making Bobby an “EGOT,” a person who has won all four awards).

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So, what did they want to do next? Go to Disney Parks!

Kristen and Bobby are firm on a very important point. No amount of fame and acclaim can compare with the love of friends and family (they just welcomed a little nephew into the fold last month). Clearly they’re having as much fun seeing their daughters react to Disney magic as they’re enjoying it themselves (I feel the same way about my kids, just like my father did about me).

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As Kristen says in the video, “We’re Disney people!” They’ve got an especially warm attachment to the first stage musical they worked on together, Finding Nemo—The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — as well as The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, which features their song, “In the Big Blue World.” They told me about their Disney fandom in this interview.

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By the way, have you checked out the Limited-Edition color 12” vinyl LP album version of the “Frozen” soundtrack?. It’s available here. I love to shine the two blue discs and the crystal engraved disc up to the light — that is, when I’m not listening to them!

You can find the compact disc soundtrack of “Frozen,” as well as the Finding Nemo — The Musical cast album at select Walt Disney World Resort shops (or by calling Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477).

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Olaf Celebrates ‘First Day of Summer’ on the Disney Parks Blog

posted on June 21st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s summer! – or at least that’s how I imagine Olaf, the lovable snowman from Disney’s “Frozen”, would shout it.

Since today is officially the first day of summer, what better way to celebrate than with a Disney Parks Blog takeover by one of our favorite pals from “Frozen”. If you remember in the film’s song, “In Summer,” Olaf dreams of all the things that his first summertime could bring – to him, that means “bees that buzz, kids that blow dandelion fuzz” and a host of other fun things.

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At Disney Parks, summertime means that guests who are traveling here for their summer vacations will have the opportunity to experience a whole lot of new offerings. Check out some of what’s new this summer below.

At Walt Disney World Resort

At Disneyland Resort

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‘It All Started With a Mouse’ at the New Animal Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 18th, 2014 by Jerry Brown, Animal Operations Manager, Conservation Station, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


With so much to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, planning ahead is the key to an action-packed, fun-filled day! One of the newest animal experience destinations, “It All Started with a Mouse,” is located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and makes a great addition to the itineraries of animal lovers of all ages.
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It All Started with a Mouse” showcases Walt Disney’s lifelong love of the animal world and his belief that “what everyone will learn who studies it is a renewed sense of kinship with the earth and all its inhabitants.”

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During the show, Conservation Station’s “animal ambassadors,” including sheep, parrots, porcupines, birds of prey and Kunekune pigs help tell stories and make appearances in, around, and even above the audience, as the cast members share natural history fun facts, conservation messages and inspiring (and fun) calls-to-action.
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After the show, guests have an exclusive opportunity to meet and talk to some of the stars of the show and are encouraged to capture once-in-a-lifetime memories with plenty of photographs.

When you plan your visit, allow at least 15 minutes of travel time to and from Rafiki’s Planet Watch via the Wildlife Express train and enjoy the 20-minute show which is currently performed once a day, at 11:30 a.m.
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During your visit to see the new show, don’t miss the chance to explore Conservation Station, the center of The Walt Disney Company’s global commitments to the environment and to animal conservation all around the world. It’s a great place to learn, laugh and leave believing as Walt Disney did that, “the wonders of nature are endless”!

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Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ Marks 20 Years

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s a big weekend for Simba – it’s the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King.

The film, which debuted in theaters in 1994, tells a coming-of-age tale of the young lion cub and his friends, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon.

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There are many places you can enjoy Disney’s “The Lion King” at the Walt Disney World Resort, including watching film-inspired segments in “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and at Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom Park and “Festival of the Lion King,” the newly reopened stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There’s also the Lion King wing of resort rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

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Over at the Disneyland Resort, guests can spot Simba and friends in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.

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First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 9th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Over the weekend, Disney’s Animal Kingdom played host to the first of 10 Harambe Nights special events, and it was incredible! From the mouthwatering menu and that super addictive Lion Chow to DJ Khalifa and the Harambe Nights Band, with so many wonderful parts of the evening it could be difficult to pick a favorite. For me, though, it is hands-down “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This 55-minute retelling of “The Lion King” story is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Animated sequences on screens in the theater ebb and flow seamlessly with music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions. In one moment, a classic scene from the film plays out to a live underscore provided by a 25-piece orchestra. In another, a 16-voice choir of Harambe villagers steps up to sing as spirit dancers gracefully assume the roles of animals and other characters to help carry the tale forward. And it doesn’t get any more authentic than when Sangoma, the mystic shaman, commands the stage speaking in his native African tongue.

“One by One” and “He Lives in You” gave me goose bumps, and Mufasa’s death scene affected me more profoundly than it has since I first saw it on screen 20 years ago. All I can say is, “Wow”! You simply have to experience this for yourself!

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014, from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Each night, a celebrity narrator joins the villagers of Harambe for their performance of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” The lineup of guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

A limited number of tickets is still available for each of the remaining nights. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Harambe Nights Debuts This Saturday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Harambe Nights, a new special event that celebrates the story of “The Lion King,” will officially debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this Saturday night.

Harambe Nights at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Harambe Nights includes a 55-minute theatrical extravaganza called “The Lion King Concert in the Wild,” which features a celebrity narrator, a live orchestra and choir, and special effects that together present the story of Simba like never before. The event also includes a welcome reception and a post-show street party that will feature musicians and a buffet of culinary creations keep the party going through the evening.

The event takes place from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. every Saturday, from June 7 – August 9. Celebrity narrators scheduled to appear include*:

  • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Doubt,” “How to Get Away with Murder” – SOLD OUT
  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”
  • Tickets cost $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9 (plus tax). For more information on tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

    (*Entertainment subject to change)

    To read more on Harambe Nights, visit the posts below:

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    Behind the Scenes of ‘The Lion King – Concert in the Wild’ for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    posted on June 4th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


    Back in 1998, I had the good fortune to be part of the opening team in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Thanks to the impressive work of the Imagineers who created it, the park’s fictional village of Harambe became a very real place to us, with a rich history and vibrant population. The village took its name from the Swahili word “harambee,” which is roughly defined as “pulling together to create something greater than its parts.” For Harambe Nights, the new special event debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week, the citizens of Harambe village are doing just that to create an epic theatrical celebration of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

    “On this grand occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, the people of Harambe have pulled together to present the beloved ‘Lion King’ story to visiting guests in a new way,” said Show Director Marsha Jackson-Randolph. “The village storyteller hosts, the Harambe choir sings, the best dancers dance, and the Sangoma shaman works his mystical powers as iconic scenes of the film appear to come to life in the authentic African tradition of a ‘Story Circle.’ And there’s more excitement! Harambe’s Town Council has invited a 25-piece guest orchestra and a celebrity guest narrator to join them each night.”

    During a recent rehearsal, Marsha gave us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the tremendous work going into the staging of this all-new show, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” and her close collaboration with noted South African Choreographer Warren Adams, whose impressive credits include Broadway’s “Motown the Musical,” the Hong Kong production of “The Lion King,” “Of Mice and Men” with James Franco, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris.

    I got goose bumps just watching the cast rehearse and can’t wait to see all the elements of the show come together in the Harambe Theatre. Of course, the only way to experience “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” for yourself is to get a ticket to Harambe Nights, and they’re going fast!

    Harambe Nights takes place from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. every Saturday, June 7 – August 9, 2014. The celebrity narrators scheduled to appear each night as part of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” include*:

    • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Doubt,” “How to Get Away with Murder” – SOLD OUT
    • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
    • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
    • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
    • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
    • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
    • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
    • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
    • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
    • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

    Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, the 55-minute theatrical experience, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and amazing food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

    (*Entertainment subject to change)

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