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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 9th, 2016 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


I’m sharing a dose of cuteness this weekend.

Get ready to say say, “awwwww…”! This Week in Disney Parks Photos, here he – or she – is: a Geoffrey’s marmoset baby.

New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom New Baby Marmoset at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our animal care experts have yet to provide the baby’s first neonatal check-up, but say the proud parents are doing great with their new addition.

What animals do you enjoy seeing when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

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#DisneyTweens: Thrills and Adventures Await Your Tweens at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 8th, 2016 by Raquel Giorgio, Public Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Hi! I’m Raquel Giorgio, Public Relations Manager at Walt Disney World Resort, and the mother of one very adorable and enthusiastic Tween. My nine-year-old daughter is just starting to yearn for independence … but still wants to know her family is within arm’s reach. Sound familiar to you?

I want to welcome you to the latest series on the Disney Parks Blog. It’s all about … you guessed it … Tweens! While we know that Walt Disney World Resort is a favorite vacation destination for families with younger children, I’m here to tell you that Walt Disney World Resort is also the perfect place to bring your older kids! Thrilling and adventurous experiences in all FOUR of our Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, TWO water parks and Disney Springs await them! Now that they are older, Tweens can do and experience so much more! They’re taller and height restrictions may no longer apply to them. And they may be up for more adventure now!

Just check out brothers Graeme and Corbin as they try to one-up each other with a challenge to go on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park.

Whenever I bring my daughter to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’s mandatory that the family ride Expedition Everest three times … in a row! She just loves it! And then she’ll exit the ride to search out a chance to meet Mickey and Minnie in their trendy safari outfits!

What are some of your favorite thrill rides here at Walt Disney World Resort that you’d like to share with your older kids? Is it Space Mountain, Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park? Perhaps Test Track at Epcot or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below.

For more information on planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort with your Tween, check out www.disneyworld.com/Tweens.

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#DisneyKids: New ‘Lion Guard Adventure’ to Debut at Animal Kingdom February 7

posted on January 8th, 2016 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Attention Disney Channel and Disney Junior fans! Watchers of “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” the hit TV movie that just debuted on Disney Channel in November, will soon be able to become honorary members of the Lion Guard in a brand new Disney’s Animal Kingdom experience called The Lion Guard Adventure.

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The fun starts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on February 7. This interactive experience will allow young guests to explore the park in search of five main characters from “The Lion Guard” – Kion, Bunga, Fuli, Beshte, and Ono, who are represented as colorful statues that are perfect for a kid-sized photo-ops. Like the movie, the experience encourages interest in protecting animals and caring for nature. Once they complete the adventure, each child can take a special pledge to become an honorary member of “The Lion Guard” and receive a special button.

The experience will be offered in Disney’s Animal Kingdom through late March, as one of many activities celebrating the debut of “The Lion Guard” series on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

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What’s New in Walt Disney World Resort Dining: 16 for 2016

posted on January 7th, 2016 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


2015 was full of culinary news for Walt Disney World Resort, and 2016 promises to be equally exciting, especially at Disney Springs. From new restaurants to more fun with Disney characters, here’s a look ahead at 2016.

  1. Sunday brunches are the hot weekend ticket. Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a new one, and Brunch at the Top debuts February 7 at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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  1. Get over to the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom Park and try a rice noodle bowl, sustainable local farm-raised shrimp in chili-garlic sauce, or the Kungaloosh!, an African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas with cashew-caramel ice cream. This is an all-new menu for the Disney chefs.
  2. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expands to 90 days, March 2 to May 30 (from 75 days last year). Fresh garden produce, savory bites and sweet treats will be abundant at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, returning for a fourth year with guest favorites and new food and beverage offerings.

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  1. Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring foods from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling).
  2. Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge will feature hand-crafted cocktails using the art of mixology with African, Asian and South American flavors, beers and wines from those regions, and a selection of specialty non-alcoholic beverages in addition to small bites.
  3. Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk will temporarily close the end of January, then reopen in the fall with a whole new look – and while the kitchen is working on new menu items, Chef Tim Keating promises that potato-wrapped snapper and the popular New York strip steak will be back. Stay tuned for details.

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  1. Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’’s Hollywood Studios debuted in 2015, but guests can look forward to new themes coming in 2016, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine and Minnie’s Halloween Dine.

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  1. Let’s start 2016 with a taste of the chocolate at The Ganachery at Disney Springs – the proprietary blend of chocolate and cream made right in the shop is not to be missed. The lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.
  2. Coming to Disney Springs in early 2016 is STK, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building, including a main level and a rooftop-dining area with incredible views of Disney Springs.
  3. Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, will serve up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies at Disney Springs in 2016. Their innovative Cupcake ATM will satisfy sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
  4. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza also comes to Disney Springs in 2016, a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant will feature an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh toppings.

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  1. Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine will showcase the cuisine of Chef Art Smith at Disney Springs when it opens in Summer 2016. Smith, who was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., on the Florida-Georgia border, will feature farm-to-fork cuisine that showcases the bounty of Florida, and design inspired by turn-of-the century Florida architecture of the late 1800s.

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  1. Also opening in Summer 2016 at Disney Springs, Frontera Fresco by Chef Rick Bayless will showcase the gourmet Mexican cuisine that has made Chef Bayless a culinary legend. The restaurant will feature authentic Mexican specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all prepared from time-honored recipes with natural, locally sourced ingredients. Frontera Fresco also will serve an extensive selection of margaritas, cocktails and craft beers and wine.
  2. Look for a re-imagined Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs as the flagship venue is transformed into a star-themed Planet Hollywood Observatory to match the look and feel of Disney Springs. As part of the makeover, the venue will add a new outdoor terrace and bar space called Stargazers and feature live entertainment.
  3. Also at Disney Springs, new Disney quick-service locations and kiosks will be blooming this spring. Perfect for a quick bite. Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for more information on these locations.
  4. Two new Disney cookbooks for 2016: a new Delicious Disney: Sweet Treats book due out in the fall, and one celebrating both the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (dates still TBD for the food & wine fest when the book will debut).
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Wildlife Wednesday: Baby Marmoset Born at Rafiki’s Planet Watch!

posted on January 6th, 2016 by Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


There’s a new, high-pitched call coming from Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it’s creating excitement among our cast members and guests. You’ll be surprised to learn this loud call is coming from a tiny animal, weighing only a few ounces!

Please help us welcome a new Geoffrey’s marmoset baby! Two 3-year-old marmosets are the proud parents, and we are happy to tell you that they are demonstrating great parenting skills. You can often see the baby riding mom or dad’s back.

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Because the parents are keeping a close eye on the baby, we have been unable to identify whether the baby is a male or female. We are very comfortable with the level of parental care and are monitoring closely as we await the baby’s first neonatal check-up in a few weeks.

These marmosets are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), program coordinated through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP is meant to strengthen long-term species-survival efforts by helping AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums manage species’ genetic diversity through detailed records of individual animals.

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In the wild, marmosets face threats of habitat infringement and being hunted for the pet trade. Although they are cute and very small – adults weighing 6-12 ounces – they have social needs that are difficult, if not impossible, to meet in a human family setting, and should not be considered when choosing a domestic pet.

Marmosets are closely related to cotton-top tamarins, which you’ve probably read about in our Wildlife Wednesday series. Both monkeys have claws that help them gouge tree trunks and branches for tree sap, one of their favorite foods.

Learn more about some of the other animals you can visit at Walt Disney World Resort at DisneyAnimals.com.

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ALEX AND ANI to Retire Mickey, Minnie and Pluto Character Bangles at Disney Parks

posted on January 5th, 2016 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


The new year is here, and new styles and designs from ALEX AND ANI are on their way. In order to make room, for the very first time, the following character silhouette ALEX AND ANI bangles will retire beginning January 11, 2016.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ALEX and ANI Bangles Will Retire Beginning January 11, 2016 Mickey Mouse and Pluto ALEX and ANI Bangle Will Retire Beginning January 11, 2016

If you’re looking to add one of these bangles to your collection or someone else’s, be sure to get them before they’re gone! Look for these ALEX AND ANI pieces and more online and in stores at:

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Which character silhouette is your favorite?

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Top Five Most-Watched Disney Parks Blog Videos of 2015

posted on December 30th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


This year the Disney Parks Blog team got to cover so many amazing events on video – from Disney Parks Blog meet-ups, to exciting attraction announcements, to the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney Springs – it’s impossible to pick our favorite.

That said, here were the top five most-watched Disney Parks Blog videos this year.

  1. Disney Parks Blog Readers Enjoy ‘Inside Out’ Meet-Up | Walt Disney World Resort
    More than 6 million Disney Parks fans enjoyed this video, which offered a look inside our “Inside Out” meet-up. The event gave a group of Disney Parks Blog readers a sneak peek at the film and a surprise meet and greet with Joy and Sadness from the film.
  2. #DisneyKids: First Disney Campfires | Walt Disney World Resort
    Who doesn’t love celebrating their kid’s “firsts” at a Disney Park or resort? This video shows what a kid’s first Disney campfire is like.
  3. Bringing the World of AVATAR to Life | Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    Head backstage for a look at the model of Pandora – The World of AVATAR, coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  4. How to Draw Joy from ‘Inside Out’ | Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    Can’t get enough “Inside Out”? Learn how to draw Joy from the film in this step-by-step tutorial.
  5. ‘Frozen’ Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios | Walt Disney World Resort
    Frozen Fireworks highlighted Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the summer. Take a look back at the show.
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Wildlife Wednesday: Take a Peek at Some of the Baby Animals Born This Year

posted on December 30th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


What an amazing year it has been! Disney’s Animal Kingdom is seeing unprecedented growth – and I don’t mean the park expansion. I mean baby animals! We have enjoyed quite a baby boom at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the last year. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Seas with Nemo & Friends have also seen a number of births.

Everyone loves to see baby animals, right? So, we thought we would close this year’s Wildlife Wednesday series with just a handful of the baby animals that joined our family this year.

Beginnings can be an exciting time, and I am embarking on one myself. I have decided to retire following an 18-year Disney career. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to share with you these stories of conservation projects, education, the environment, science, nature and the animals that bring so much joy to our lives. It has been a privilege to work with the Disney company, and I am so proud of the work Disney does to care for animals here and around the world.

Mark Penning, Ph.D., someone you have heard from many times in this Wildlife Wednesday series, will lead the team in my place. I know his stories will continue to inspire and enlighten.

Thank you for your continued support of our goals and our dreams to make a real difference in the world.

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15 for ’15 – What a Year for Walt Disney World Resort Dining!

posted on December 29th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


New restaurants open, one closes (to reopen in 2016) – here are 15 top Walt Disney World Resort culinary stories for 2015. Up next: 16 for 2016.

Starting in March, the Outdoor Kitchens expanded at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. It was the third year for the culinary addition at the festival, with the new Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions with treats like cachapas with farmer’s cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and seafood ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado.

Also in March, the new breakfast started at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park. The quick-service breakfast menu has a decidedly French touch, with everything from assorted cured meat and cheese served with marmalade, fresh fruit and a toasted baguette to eggs Florentine served in a puff pastry shell with country ham and roasted plum tomatoes.

Late March saw the opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s a popular spot, and guests ooh and ah over more than 1,200 pieces of memorabilia. The hand-crafted cocktails are delicious (order an Uh-Oa! and see what happens with the special effects).

Beginning April 1, new allergy-friendly menus debuted in 2015 at more than 100 quick-service and table-service locations at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, along with more ways to make the special-diet-request process easier.

In May, the much-anticipated Harambe Market opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where food plays a starring role with African-inspired street food at four walk-up windows and plenty of shaded seating. Skewered chicken and kabob flatbreads, beef and pork sausage fried in a curried corn batter (like a corn dog), spice-rubbed karubi ribs and South African wines are a home run. Or try tikka masala chicken, the newest addition to the menu.

April saw the opening of The BOATHOUSE, the first all-new dining spot at Disney Springs – not a bad view in the house with all of the dining rooms with waterfront views or on the water. Seafood is the star (try the lobster roll). Then take a ride in the dream boats from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s (or watch for free from the dock).

The new Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise, debuted in September, the perfect way to experience Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from a spot on Seven Seas Lagoon. The decks are laden with delectable sweets, plenty of ice cream and beverages (with and without alcohol) in souvenir glow glasses. Enjoy this sweet ending to your day, then settle to watch the spectacular Wishes nighttime spectacular overhead, the largest fireworks display ever at Walt Disney World Resort.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival expands for first time into Future World (Sept. 25-Nov. 16) with four new food and beverage marketplaces. Starting along the Rose Walk between Future World and World Showcase, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese festival area featured the Cheese Studio (offering a cheese sampler to pair with wines) and Wine Studio with premium wines on tap. The new Next Eats area included Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab marketplaces inspired by ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning lifestyle series “The Chew.”

Late September was the opening of the much-anticipated Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar along the waterfront at Disney Springs. With 150 seats inside and out, the bar cleverly features salvaged equipment, spare airplane parts and mementos from Jock’s travels.

For the first time ever, “The Chew,” ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning daytime show, broadcasted from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival October 7-9. Hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall filmed segments across Walt Disney World Resort in addition to taping before a live audience. Episodes aired October 12-16, 2015.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine added to Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With five distinct dining experiences depending on the season, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine, Minnie’s Halloween Dine, and Minnie’s Holiday Dine. Festive new costumes and seasonally themed eats make this dinner fun for the whole family.

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Morimoto Asia also opened in November, the newest to join the line-up at Disney Springs. It’s the newest venture for Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and his first restaurant featuring Pan-Asian cuisine, including the signature Morimoto Peking Duck, carved and roasted in house.

New Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen opened in December in the Magic Kingdom. Diners can set off on a culinary adventure at a new eatery in Adventureland featuring “World Famous Jungle Cuisine.” Just steps from the legendary Jungle Cruise attraction you can enjoy the bold, flavorful tastes of Asia, South America and Africa at this new 222-seat table-service restaurant staffed by the wisecracking crew of the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd.

The Ganachery opened in December at Disney Springs, a jewel box of a shop that’s showcases the beauty of chocolate. The star of the show is a custom-made ganache, Disney’s own recipe for a luxurious mixture of melted chocolate and cream. Stepping inside this shop is reminiscent of an apothecary of another era, a lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ends the year on a high note by winning the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award – that’s 16 years in a row, putting the restaurant in an exclusive tier of dining experiences. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.4 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. The restaurant also was once again honored as one of the top restaurants in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards (No. 6 of 25). And Time Magazine named Victoria & Albert’s to its Top 100 list of U.S. restaurants.

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Hear Chakranadi’s ‘Carol of the Bells’ from Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


The Anandapur area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom has come alive with the “Festival of All Seasons” for the holidays. And one group you can find providing live entertainment is Chakranadi, the land’s virtuoso sitar and tabla duo.

Listen as Chakranadi plays “Carol of the Bells.”

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