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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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Disney Days of Past: Celebrating DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 21st, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


This week in 2000 the film “Dinosaur” was released. “Dinosaur” stars an iguanodon, Aladar, who should be familiar to fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the attraction DINOSAUR in DinoLand, U.S.A.

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When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, this attraction went by the name Countdown to Extinction. In fact, on the Time Rovers you can still see CTX written on the vehicles.

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Another attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened before the movie debuted. Know what attraction I’m referring to? Share your expertise knowledge in the comments section below!

How well do you know DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Take our quiz now!

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Behind the Scenes: Building Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Harambe Market, a new area that will serve-up African-inspired street food, is set to open May 23 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today, we’re excited to share with you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at just how the team is currently working together to bring this new area to life.

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Check out the video below to hear how members of the project team traveled to Lamu, Kenya to study architecture, learn how African foods and spices inspired parts of the area’s storyline, and much more.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrate and Learn More About Turtles at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Blair Witherington, Senior Sea Turtle Biologist


Tomorrow is World Turtle Day®! To celebrate, we’ll have activities to satisfy your curiosity and inspire conservation of these magnificent animals.

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At Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can try on a turtle shell, see how biologists find gopher tortoises in their underground burrows, learn how to best keep turtles as pets, attempt to untangle a plush sea turtle from fishing line using only your “flippers” and much more! At the Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, you’ll be able to step through a turtle-excluder device. TEDs are special devices fishermen use in a trawl net to allow turtles an escape route if they are accidentally caught. You can also play interactive games to learn about the threats turtles face, while our sea turtles swim behind you in our 5.7 million-gallon tank. At both locations, you will have opportunities to ask specialists about our turtles and what they need to survive.

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In honor of the holiday, we have an exclusive Disney Parks Blog update from our Conservation Team. Many of you may remember last year’s Tour de Turtles at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort during which we attached satellite transmitters to two female loggerhead sea turtles that came ashore at the resort to lay their eggs. Affectionately named Anna and Elsa after our favorite “Frozen” Arendelle royals, the two ladies have been travelling hundreds of miles since we watched them return to the sea last summer.

Anna, the smaller of the two, had healed scars on her shell from an old boat-propeller injury. Ever resilient, Anna was able to swim in the Tour de Turtles. Because each turtle in Tour de Turtles is connected to an issue that threatens sea turtles, Anna swam to raise awareness about the threat of light pollution. Bright beachfront lighting from buildings and streetlights can deter nesting females and draw hatchling turtles away from the ocean, which is very dangerous for them.

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With a crowd of well-wishers cheering her on, Anna crawled down the beach at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and back into the Atlantic Ocean. For about a week, Anna swam and drifted within Florida’s coastal waters and then headed south along the coast of eastern Florida. This means that the nest she made in late July was her last of the season. If Anna was like most loggerheads, this would have been her fifth nest!

Anna’s travels south took her to Key West, where she looped around the island and settled into a beautiful shallow seagrass pasture just north of the popular tourist destination. (Perhaps it reminded her of Arendelle?) Anna’s journey has totaled 661 miles!

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Elsa, the larger of the two female loggerheads, has a 40-inch long shell—that’s the height of an average 4-year old human! Elsa is swimming to raise awareness about the troubling amount of plastic debris in our oceans that many turtles mistake for food.

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After Elsa left Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, she drifted for a few weeks within Florida’s offshore waters and eventually headed south. Like Anna, Elsa also swam toward Key West, but soon found her own path. She turned south to cross the Florida current toward Cuba. The strong, Gulf Stream current must have diverted her to the east, which put her on course for the Cay Sal Bank, a rich area of shallow seagrass between the United States and Cuba. This is where Elsa stayed for several months, until just recently when she looped closer to Cuba and back toward Cay Sal. Elsa’s journey has totaled 1,929 miles! That’s the distance from Orlando to Nova Scotia!

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Want to learn more about turtles and our work to help conserve them? If you’re staying at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort this summer during nesting season, you can participate in a turtle night walk, during which you may see a female sea turtle lay her eggs on the beach! You can also check out our next Tour de Turtles event August 1 at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and don’t forget to celebrate turtles for World Turtle Day and every day at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and The Seas with Nemo & Friends!

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