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Today in Disney History: ‘The Lion King’ Steps Into Theaters

posted on June 24th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Today in 1994, “The Lion King” was released in theaters. This coming-of-age story of Simba, the future king of the Pridelands, is still a hugely popular film with Disney fans both young and old. I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to get over Mufasa’s death 21 years later.

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The memorable music from “The Lion King” is highlighted in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom show Festival of the Lion King preformed daily at Harambe Theater. This energizing show features classic characters from the movie with live action performers – most notably the tumble monkeys.

Simba can also be spotted in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade atop a drum while Zazu flies near by at Disneyland park in California.

“The Lion King” won two Academy Awards for best song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and best score. The musical version is still on Broadway in New York City where it will celebrate it’s 18th year this November.

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Say ‘Wingapo!’ to Pocahontas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 23rd, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


As we mark the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “Pocahontas” today, fans of the Powhatan princess now have a lovely new spot to meet her, just around the riverbend.

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Pocahontas has made the journey down river to the Discovery Island Character Landing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where she has stepped ashore to meet friends old and new. You can find her there throughout the day, in a setting filled with details inspired by her adventures.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the only place to meet Pocahontas at Walt Disney World Resort, and the park is also the exclusive home to several other popular characters who can’t be found anywhere else. During your next visit, look for Tarzan, Rafiki from “The Lion King,” Dug and Russell from Disney•Pixar’sUp” and Baloo and Louie from “The Jungle Book.”

Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments!

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Zuri’s Sweets Shop Now Open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Zuri’s Sweets Shop recently opened its doors in Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to showcase a bevy of new animal-inspired treats.

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The location features 80 new items, including decorative candy apples, uniquely flavored chocolate bars, African-spiced popcorn, animal-shaped lollipops, animal crackers, chocolate mini crocodiles and other treats. Zuri’s Sweets Shop will also offer African spice rubs, a gourmet cocoa set and Flame Tree Barbeque sauce.

Which item are you most excited to try? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species

posted on June 19th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Beginning today, guests can enjoy Starbucks beverages at Creature Comforts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom while supporting conservation efforts for the cotton-top tamarin – a critically endangered species of monkey that resides in South America.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks Opens, Flat White Lattes To Help Endangered Species

The menu will include regular Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages, Frappuccino blended beverages, breakfast sandwiches and pastries, as well as treats crafted by Disney chefs. A portion of the sale of each Starbucks Flat White Latte at the reopened Creature Comforts will benefit conservation programs already underway to help preserve the cotton-top tamarin in Colombia. This drink was specifically selected from other menu choices because of the cotton-top tamarin’s fluffy white crests that appear on their heads.

Located on Discovery Island area of the park, Creature Comforts will reflect the theming of the park with African design elements such as geometric designs and carvings, warm colors, African maasai shield designs and hand-painted coffee beans.

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Beat the Heat with Cool Treats at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 16th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


With summer quickly approaching, temperatures are on the rise. If you’re looking for treats that will help you beat the heat beyond the Mickey ice cream bar and Dole Whip, I’ve got a few suggestions for you:

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Aw, shucks! Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort has a Mickey Gelato Sundae that is as cute as it is delicious. Looking for a dairy-free option? Try one of their tasty new slushes. Flavors change—so be sure to try them all! You can even bring home some of the magic with a can/bottle holder imprinted with the resort’s logo.

Chocolate Waffle with Espresso Mousse from Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Double Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream Sandwich from Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a new menu filled with frosty treats. Choco-holics will love the Double Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream Sandwich. My favorite on the new menu? The Chocolate Waffle with Espresso Mousse—the combination of the hot waffle and chilled semifreddo is simply wild!

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At Epcot, Liberty Inn just added Apple Pie a la Mode to their menu. Cool and creamy ice cream makes this hand-held treat a patriotic way to cool down.

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Cooling off at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park? Take a break from Summit Plummet and cool down with a unique brrr-everage like Frozen Hot Cocoa at Lottawatta Lodge. Over Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, try the shaved ice at Lowtide Lou’s.

How do you stay cool on hot days at Walt Disney World Resort?

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It’s a Great Morning at Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 15th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


The skies are bright at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this morning.

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Who’s up for a first ride aboard Expedition Everest? Braving a yeti first thing Monday morning should make the rest of the week pretty easy!

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Delicious Treats Coming to Zuri’s Sweets Shop at Disney’s Animal Kingdom This June

posted on June 12th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I’m excited to give you a first look at delicious treats coming to a new shopping experience in Disney’s Animal Kingdom called Zuri’s Sweets Shop. This location will be found at Harambe Market starting June 17. I caught up with Patrice Guy, a merchandiser at Disney Theme Park Merchandise, to learn what guests can expect.

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“We have created approximately 80 new items that range from decorative candy apples to uniquely flavored chocolate bars to delicious popcorn,” explained Patrice. “With Zuri’s Sweets Shop, we wanted to offer highly-themed goods inspired by the sights, sounds and flavors of Africa. Many of the items will be unique to this location making them delicious gifts for loved ones, or something special to enjoy during a visit to the park.”

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Guests will find three distinct art programs for these new treats. The first program uses characters from Disney’s “The Lion King” including Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa. Guests will find a lollipop shaped like Simba’s paw, animal crackers, and, my favorite, chocolate mini crocodiles.

Colorful patterns and whimsical animals inspired the second art program. Items will include Rice Krispies treats with nods to the animal world, or Mickey Mouse-shaped creamy, chocolate-dipped coconut patties. The five chocolate bar set includes flavors such as milk chocolate with spicy cinnamon and banana chip.

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Patrice let me try African Spice popcorn that has a hint of cardamom. It was fantastic (she had to take the bag away from me).

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Finally, the location will offer African spice rubs and a gourmet cocoa set. The item I can’t wait to use is a bottle of Flame Tree Barbeque sauce at home! Patrice worked with chefs from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in order to correctly capture the sweet and spicy flavor.

Stay tuned for additional looks inside the shop in the coming weeks.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Praise for Pollinators at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on June 10th, 2015 by Katie Marini, Education Manager, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Tomorrow is Pollinator Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Pollinators are an essential part of our lives as their everyday work ensures full harvests, healthy plants and beautiful flowers. Did you know there are more than 200,000 different species of pollinators? Many you may see in your own backyard! Bees, beetles, ants, butterflies, hummingbirds and even bats are all pollinators!

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Here are a few quick and easy tips you can do to help these animals keep our world beautiful and healthy:

  • Plant for pollinators! Ask your local nursery what kinds of plants attract certain animals. Want butterflies? How about bees? You have experts in your very own community that can help you determine what to grow in your area to attract your local pollinators and give them food and homes.
  • Reduce your impact by minimizing or eliminating your use of potentially harmful pesticides. If pesticides are necessary in your area, apply them at night when most pollinators aren’t active.
  • Create your very own watering hole. A suspended milk carton with a pinhole in the bottom is sufficient for some insects. Other species, like butterflies, need a small container of water. Refill these containers as often as you can.
  • Get connected with nature! Take a walk, experience the landscape and look for pollinators in sunny, planted areas.

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we will play interactive games, answer trivia questions and highlight how we can help pollinators all over the world. Join us at the “Elephants and Bees” display to learn how Dr. Joseph Soltis, research scientist for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, and teammates are using the knowledge gained from studying our elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to help humans, bees and elephants live in harmony in Kenya. Our smaller guests can transform into human-sized bees during “Build-a-Bee,” and we will show clips from Disneynature’sWings of Life” film. If we are lucky, we may even catch some of our pollinating pals in action!

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Pollinators are truly “buzzworthy” workers that provide us with one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat (including chocolate!) and give us a bright, beautiful, colorful world. Celebrate with us at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and show appreciation for pollinators every day. You can learn even more about pollinators and plants in your area by visiting pollinator.org.

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Rhino Kiama Makes Her Big Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Earlier this year, thousands of you voted to name our female baby rhino Kiama. She has been growing rapidly – gaining about three or four pounds a day – and now you can see her during your next adventure on Kilimanjaro Safaris!

Wildlife Wednesday: Kiama Makes Her Big Debut Wildlife Wednesday: Kiama Makes Her Big Debut

The young white rhino just stepped on to the savanna for the first time. Kiama weighs about 400 pounds, while her mom Kendi is closer to 4,000 pounds! Kendi was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1999.

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Kiama stays close to her mom, and sometimes breaks away to play in the dirt or investigate different noises. Then, she playfully runs back to the safety of her mom. They are a joy to watch, and I hope you have the opportunity to see them exploring the savanna soon! You can help rhinos in the wild by purchasing only “wildlife-friendly” products and never buying products made from rhino horns. You also can support organizations like the Disney Conservation Fund and the International Rhino Foundation, which are both active in rhino research and conservation. Learn more about rhinos and other animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot at DisneyAnimals.com.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Reports from the Field: GRACE

posted on May 27th, 2015 by Rachel Daneault, Primate-Carnivore Zoological Manager


Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team takes outstanding care of the animals at Walt Disney World Resort. You may have seen some of them in action at the Vet Hospital at Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or explaining some of the studies they are conducting at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. But did you know that these same cast members often travel the world to help animals and support conservation projects in the wild?

Dr. Natalie Mylniczenko and vet tech Matt Runnells recently traveled to Africa to complete health exams on some of the gorillas at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

At GRACE, Grauer’s gorillas who are orphaned (typically because poachers killed their parents for the exotic animal trade or bushmeat) receive the care they need and learn the skills needed for reintroduction back into the wild. Our cast members have played many roles with GRACE including designing the facility, engaging in hands-on construction, helping move gorillas and training Congolese staff to care for gorillas. In addition to gorilla care, Disney staff also help promote conservation education among the local residents.

During the most recent trip, Dr. Natalie and Matt worked with the GRACE staff to immobilize two gorillas by hand-injecting the gorillas to anesthetize them. This is a huge accomplishment for the staff, as it is a very complex behavior to train and shows their dedication to the work they do.

Both gorillas were given complete physicals, and both needed tooth extractions. The exams went very well, and GRACE staff members learned a great deal from Dr. Natalie and Matt. Sharing resources, knowledge and expertise is one way our team supports animals in the wild. Click through the gallery below for images from their latest trip.

Wildlife Wednesday: Reports from the Field: GRACE

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