Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park

Wildlife Wednesdays: World Turtle Day Celebrated May 20 at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 14th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Guests can find out all kinds of fascinating information about turtles — including sea turtles like Crush and Squirt — and participate in a variety of activities for the whole family on May 20 when Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot celebrate World Turtle Day.

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At Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests may see a turtle getting a veterinary exam, try on a replica of a turtle shell, get an up-close look at some of the turtles and tortoises that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and talk with cast members about the conservation work they are doing to help turtles and tortoises that live on conservation land right here at the Walt Disney World Resort and in springs, rivers and oceans around the state.

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At The Seas with Nemo & Friends, children can climb through a full-size model of a turtle excluder device, used on fishing boats to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in nets. Families also can watch a sea turtle swimming gracefully by in the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater main aquarium, and play games that help them learn about the many threats turtles face, like getting entangled in trash and fishing line.

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Starting on World Turtle Day and continuing through the nesting season, guests visiting Conservation Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Seas at Epcot, and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort can help turtles by adopting a sea turtle nest. Guests receive an adoption certificate complete with the date of adoption, the date the nest was laid, the species of sea turtle, and the nest number so they can track their nest online, a Squirt keychain and a Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) hero button.

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Disney guests have adopted nearly 700 turtle nests so far, resulting in nearly $18,500 contributed to sea turtle conservation in Florida. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has contributed more than $1.2 million to sea turtle conservation around the world.

Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • June 4: World Ocean Day
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‘Festival of the Lion King’ Cast Get a First Look at the New Harambe Theatre

posted on May 8th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


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The Harambe Theatre is nearing completion in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When it opens in June, the theater will be the new home for the immensely popular show, “Festival of the Lion King.” We tagged along recently, as the cast of “Festival of the Lion King” got a first look at their new theater, both onstage and backstage.

The cast is busy rehearsing in the Harambe Theatre now, getting everything ready for the triumphant return of this thrilling, musical extravaganza in just a few weeks!

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Colorful Macaws Take Flight in New Experience Coming This Summer to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Dr. Mark Penning, Director of Animal Operations, Disney Parks


I am thrilled to share first with Disney Parks Blog fans news about a new animal experience coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Stars of the show are flocks of macaws in a kaleidoscope of colors flying over and around the heart of the park — Discovery Island. Brought to you by the fantastic team that inspires and delights guests at our Flights of Wonder show in collaboration with Disney Creative Entertainment, “Winged Encounters — The Kingdom Takes Flight,” will debut this summer.

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The macaws, with wingspans up to 60 inches, are now making short flights in the early morning hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in preparation for the debut of the new experience, which features six types of macaw: hyacinth, green-winged, blue and gold, scarlet, blue-throated and military.

In addition to seeing these colorful birds in flight, during up-close encounters, avian experts will share conservation stories about the macaws, the majority of which are endangered in their native Central and South America.

Be sure to watch Disney Parks Blog for more information about this new experience in the coming weeks.

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In Search of Yeti at the Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


More than 5,000 runners came in search of the Yeti during the Expedition Everest Challenge this past weekend. Participants braved the elements and conquered their fears as they ran 3.1 miles throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The nighttime adventure included obstacles like jumping over hay bales and crawling under nets. After completing the 5K runners went back into the theme park for a scavenger hunt. Once participants solved four clues they were allowed to cross the finish line and receive their commemorative Compass finisher medal. It was a real “wild” night.

With the exception of few participants dressed as Yetis, there were no actual confirmed reports of a “real” Yeti sighting, and all runners are accounted for. We call that a success.

Here is a look at this year’s Expedition Everest Challenge and we hope to see you at next year’s event.

If you didn’t get the chance to join us this year and are interested in experiencing Disney in a whole new way by participating in events like these, you can visit runDisney.com and sign-up for the runDisney email and receive notifications about upcoming events. We also invite you to follow us on runDisney Facebook, Twitter @runDisney and on runDisney Instagram for exciting news and future opportunities.

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“Rivers of Light” Nighttime Spectacular Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 2nd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


As we’ve shared here on Disney Parks Blog, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is about to undergo the largest expansion in the park’s history. Among other exciting projects, the years ahead will see the addition of all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular.

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“Rivers of Light” promises to be an innovative show unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show will magically come to life on the broad, natural stage of the Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest, delighting our guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We look forward to sharing more details on the Disney Parks Blog in the future – about “Rivers of Light” and other new entertainment experiences coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Celebrate the Grandest Tales and Tastes of Africa During Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 2nd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


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Where were you when “The Lion King” came out in 1994? I was a tour guide at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where several sequences featuring young Simba had been animated. It’s hard to believe, but this summer marks the 20th anniversary of that now-classic film. In honor of the epic tale of “The Lion King,” Disney’s Animal Kingdom is prepared to stage a special celebration event like no other.

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It all begins with a Welcome Reception in the park’s Harambe Village, including mouth-watering appetizers and African-inspired wine and beer. Then it’s time for the ‘mane’ event! Take your seat inside the newly built Harambe Theatre for an unforgettable performance of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” This all-new, never-before-seen theatrical experience features a live orchestra and choir, dancers, digitally projected movie moments, and dramatic lighting and scenic elements – all hosted by a celebrity guest narrator. The show brings to life the humor, heart, and stirring emotional power of Simba’s journey to find his place as the Lion King.

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The lineup of celebrity narrators for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” features stars from movies, TV, and Broadway. Those scheduled to appear each night of the event include*:

  • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Ender’s Game”
  • June 14 – TBD
  • 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”

After the show, the celebration continues with the Harambe Nights Street Party, filled with music, characters, and live performers, encouraging everyone to join in and “Go wild!” You can enjoy an all-inclusive buffet of sophisticated and flavorful African cuisine and gourmet desserts. Exclusive Lion King merchandise and collectibles will be available for purchase during the event, and you’ll want to stick around for a special finale to bid “kwaherini” to a magical evening that could only happen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 – August 9, 2014, with the Welcome Reception starting at 7 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. show time. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Tickets with premium floor seating are $134 for adults, $94 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Capacity is limited, so you’ll want to go ahead and get your tickets by visiting Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or calling 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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‘Festival of The Lion King’ To Return To Disney’s Animal Kingdom in June

posted on May 2nd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Are you a fan of Disney’s “The Lion King”? If so, we have some great news to share with you today. “Festival of the Lion King,” the musical show that tells the tale of Simba through song, dance and aerial acrobatics, will return in a new location in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom this June.

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Here’s a first look at what the new theater, which will be located in the left side of the Africa section, will look like.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Birds of All Kinds of Feather Flock Together at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on April 30th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Every day is for the birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where guests can see a variety of birds when they visit walk-through aviaries on both the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek, see the fantastic bird show Flights of Wonder, and encounter birds large and small throughout the park. On May 6, however, birds truly take center stage when we celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

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Kids can get “banded” (which scientists do to gather data for bird conservation), becoming “honorary birds” for the day, and discover how their “feather color” (clothing), “wing span” (arm length), and height compares with various bird species. Families can play a diet-matching game and learn about the many different foods that our birds eat here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They may even get to see a bird examined by our veterinarians at the animal hospital.

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Families also can talk with Cast Members about conservation work they are doing to protect birds, including the purple martin, the piping plover, and the whooping crane, and find out how the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) supports bird conservation. The DWCF, for example, has supported Operation Migration’s work on behalf of the rare whooping crane every year since the program’s inception in 2000.

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Did you know?

  • International Migratory Bird Day focuses on the nearly 350 species of birds that migrate from breeding areas in North America to winter homes in Central and South America and the Caribbean. These birds face many challenges as they migrate thousands of miles, including loss of habitat along their migration routes, finding food and avoiding predators. International Migratory Bird Day helps educate people about the threats to migratory birds and what we can do to help—including planting native trees and shrubs, keeping cats indoors, and sup­porting conservation organizations.

Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 4: World Ocean Day

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Tammar Wallaby Baby at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Bids Guests “G’day”

posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom may get a special treat during a visit to the Oasis. Our Tammar wallaby is carrying a baby (called a “joey”) in her pouch, and the joey (the team doesn’t know yet whether it’s a girl or a boy) often pops its head out to take a look around. The new baby, mom Adelaide and dad Tucker, share their habitat in the Oasis with Australian wood ducks.

The tammar wallaby is the smallest species of wallaby, and is native to the southern and southwest coastal areas of Australia. These wallabies grow to about two feet tall, with males weighing about 16 pounds and females about 12 pounds. Just like kangaroos, the Tammar wallaby will use its hind legs to kick in defense when threatened.
The gestation period is 128 days, and the newborn weighs less than one gram when it makes its way into the pouch unassisted. It will remain in its mom’s pouch for eight or nine months.
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Tammar wallabies are herbivores that feed on grasses. Although they are not threatened in the wild, increases in domestic livestock have reduced the natural grassland vegetation available for wallabies. Introduced non-native species also can cause problems for native wildlife, like the wallaby, by creating competition for already scarce food and resources. This can be a problem for native wildlife in all parts of the world. We can do our part by preventing pets from bothering wildlife, and never releasing unwanted pets into the wild.

To find out more about Disney’s conservation efforts, please visit www.disney.com/conservation

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; More Earth Day Fun at The Seas with Nemo & Friends

posted on April 9th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


In what has become a beloved annual tradition, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is hosting a Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day (April 22). Guests can find out what they can do to make their backyards wildlife-friendly and discover other ways to connect with, and conserve, wildlife and nature. They also can learn about some very special wildlife — brown bears in Alaska — in celebration of the release of “Bears,” Disneynature’s newest theatrical release.

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As guests enter the park, they can stop by a display in the main entrance area featuring wildlife-friendly backyard habitats and pick up a Party for the Planet postcard.

The fun continues at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where families can play a supermarket game and learn how their purchases can make a big difference for wildlife and wild places, discover new ways to spend time in nature, talk to cast members who work on conservation projects around the world, participate in a variety of nature activities—including activities focused on brown bears — and find out more about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

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Face painters and caricature artists will be extending into Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and featuring bear-themed and other animal designs.

Special merchandise will be available at locations throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and, through April 30, a Safari-costumed Duffy the Disney Bear will be sold at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. One dollar from each sale will be donated to the National Park Foundation through Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund to celebrate Disneynature “Bears.”

At Epcot, Earth Day will be celebrated at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, where children can find out (by trying it!) how turtle excluder devices protect sea turtles, and learn about conservation efforts to protect coral reefs, manatees, sharks and the many other amazing creatures that inhabit our oceans. At VISION House in Innoventions at Epcot, a ground-breaking green show home exhibit, guests can learn about sustainable living, and on Earth Day, also can play the supermarket game to learn how their purchases can help wildlife and nature.

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Be on the lookout for other Earth Day activities at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Did you know?

  • Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears” arrives in theaters April 18, just in time for Earth Day. See the movie during its opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature will make a donation to the National Park Foundation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to protect wildlife and nature.
  • Bears are one of the featured animals in the new free Disneynature Explore app. Click here to download Disneynature Explore free on the App Store.

Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day
  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 4: World Ocean Day
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