Via Napoli Restaurant, Italy Pavilion at Epcot

Recent ‘American Idol’ TV Show Singers Performed at The American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 24th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Since opening in February 2009, “The American Idol Experience” attraction at Walt Disney World Resort has provided thousands of performers the opportunity to audition before Disney producers and directors and perform on-stage inside a 1000+-seat theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. This experience has no doubt been valuable to many performers who audition for the “American Idol” television show during one of its regional auditions.

In fact, in just this season (season 11) alone of the TV show, five of the show’s final 13 contestants had previously performed on-stage at “The American Idol Experience” attraction. One of those performers, Hollie Cavanagh, was one of the final four contestants remaining on the show before she was eliminated May 10.

“Recent

Cavanagh, the 18-year-old songstress from McKinney, Texas, came in second place in the theme park audience voting when she performed Miley Cyrus’ hit tune “The Climb” at “The American Idol Experience” on July 15, 2010. In fact, “The Climb” is the same song she performed on the “American Idol” TV show this season that drew rave reviews from both judges and fans alike.

*AMERICAN IDOL® is a registered trademark of 19 TV Ltd. and FremantleMedia North America, Inc.

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You Asked, the Galactic Senate Listened: Larger Star Wars Weekends Images Now Available

posted on May 23rd, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


As featured in earlier Star Wars Weekends posts here on the Disney Parks Blog, the Yellow Shoes Creative Group works with Lucasfilm Ltd. each year to bring the very best in creative promotional images for the annual galactic celebration at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (And, as you’ve seen, the team branched out this year and produced some wonderful behind-the-scenes promotional video peeks at the 2012 event.)

This promotional campaign blends the worlds of Disney Parks with the galaxies of Star Wars for a “mash-up” that features famous icons and characters in single images.

When the four still images for 2012 debuted, we had requests for larger versions that could be used as desktop wallpapers. Today, we’re happy to offer those to to you.

Star Wars Weekends Wallpapers Star Wars Weekends Wallpapers Star Wars Weekends Wallpapers Star Wars Weekends Wallpapers

Note: These images, in their entirety, might not fit your screen(s) perfectly, but we want to provide them in their full frame to show every part of the artwork that the artists wanted to feature when they created them.

Be sure to check out the terms of service about using the wallpaper before you download it.



*Lucasfilm, STAR WARS™, and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: What Does Tom Sawyer Island Have to do With Star Tours – The Adventures Continue?

posted on May 23rd, 2012 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


One hundred and thirty-five years ago, Mark Twain dreamed up the world of Tom Sawyer, inspired by his fabled life on the Mississippi. Eighty years later, Walt Disney designed Tom Sawyer Island as an outdoor playground based on Twain’s characters and adventures—and his own playful imaginings as a child in Missouri.

“Walt

This week marks the 40th birthday of the Magic Kingdom version of the only Disney Parks attraction that was single-handedly created by Walt himself. In a sense, when exploring Injun Joe’s Cave, journeying through the Magnetic Mystery Mine or finding the secret escape tunnel (my favorite) at Fort Langhorn, anyone can be a kid again, living heroic imaginings as Walt intended.

“The general shape of the island, the way it curves and so forth, was Walt’s idea,” Disney Imagineer Marvin Davis told historian Jim Korkis. Although Marvin and several other legendary Imagineers had offered island designs, their efforts didn’t match what Walt had in his mind’s eye (and childhood memories), so he took the project home for a one-man, all-night session.

“Walt worked for hours in his red barn workshop at his house in Holmby Hills,” Jim chronicles in his book, The Vault of Walt. “The next morning, he laid tracing paper on Marvin’s desk and said, ‘Now, that’s the way it should be.’ The island was built according to Walt’s design.”

“Motion

The Walt Disney World Resort version of Tom Sawyer Island which has delighted us for four decades opened in May, 1973. In March of the same year, a highly-acclaimed musical version of Tom Sawyer opened in theaters. It was the first film in which Disney Legends Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman provided a masterful screenplay as well as the memorable songs. Appearing in the film were Disney’s Napoleon and Samantha co-stars, Johnny Whittaker and Jodie Foster.

Might seem like a Disney movie, right? Like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang before it, there were people who thought Tom Sawyer was a Disney film, though both were produced through United Artists. Imagine how puzzled some folks might have been only a couple of months later, when the Tom Sawyer Island attraction opened at Magic Kingdom Park! Incidentally, the Disney Studios finally did release a Tom and Huck movie in 1995.

“John

Okay, so what about Star Wars? Well, the Sherman music in 1973’s Tom Sawyer was supervised, arranged and conducted by the out-of-this-world John Williams. This was just four years before he conquered the musical galaxy with his Star Wars score—which of course, contains the stirring theme of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You also hear his music at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland park.

For his film scores and adaptations, John Williams won five Academy Awards and over 40 nominations, including one for last year’s War Horse—and his work with the Sherman Brothers on Tom Sawyer. In the Walt Disney Pictures feature documentary, The Boys: The Story of the Sherman Brothers, John describes the latter film as “One of the beacons of American 19th century literature translated by the Shermans into something wonderfully viable musically.”

“Their music is known and remembered and loved and appreciated by millions of people,” he says of the Sherman Brothers. “That is a tremendous achievement.”

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Take 5: Star Wars Weekends Returns to Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 19th, 2012 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


R2-D2 at Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Weekends is officially underway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And if you’ve been following our coverage here on the Disney Parks Blog, you know there’s a lot to see and do over the next few weekends. Today, we’re sharing five stories you need to check out before heading to the park.

Take 5: Star Wars Weekends Returns to Walt Disney World Resort

  1. More Visiting Celebrities, Details & Tips Announced for Star Wars Weekends 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort – Check out more details, tips and the scheduled celebrity lineup for Star Wars Weekends 2012 in this post!

  2. D Street in Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort Unveils a Galaxy of New Star Wars Art – ACME Archives released a new collection of Star Wars-themed art. Check it out on D Street in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort!

  3. Shopping in ‘Darth’s Mall’ for Star Wars Weekends 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort – Disney Parks Blog author Steven Miller shared a few of his favorite items coming soon to “Darth’s Mall,” a massive shopping location created just for Star Wars Weekends.

  4. Cast Yourself in Carbonite with the Carbon-Freeze Me Experience During Star Wars Weekends 2012 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – See how you can cast your likeness as a three-dimensional, eight-inch figurine at the Carbon-Freezing Chamber at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

  5. Build Your Droid at the Droid Factory Coming to Tatooine Traders at Disney’s Hollywood StudiosStar Wars fans can now build and name their own R-series Astromech droid action figures at the Droid Factory at Tatooine Traders.

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Galactic Food Fun at Star Wars Weekends: This is the Droid You’ve Been Looking For!

posted on May 18th, 2012 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


There are some tasty treats at Star Wars Weekends 2012 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with R2-D2 being “the droid you are looking for” each weekend.
“Darth

Darth Vader is featured on a special cupcake, which goes to the “dark side.” This chocolate confection is $4.99 and is available at Darth’s Mall (the special merchandise location set up just for Star Wars Weekends 2012), ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co., Pizza Planet and Starring Rolls Cafe.
“Churros

Known for carrying secret plans in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, R2-D2 carries some yummy treats for Star Wars Weekends. The loveable droid is featured with his own bucket that holds churros with chocolate dipping sauce available at the Herbie’s Cart, Fantasmic! and the churro cart in front of The Great Movie Ride.

“Corn “R2-D2

In the mood for something savory? Try a corn dog and chips served in an R2-D2 Bucket from Herbie’s Cart, or treat your little Padawan or Jedi to an R2-D2 Kids’ Power Pack from Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co, ABC Commissary, Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare or Rosie’s All-American Café.

“Frozen “Frozen “Chocolate

R2-D2 also can be spotted holding frozen lemonade in a special souvenir cup from Anaheim Produce, filled with a tasty shake at Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner and 50’s Prime Time Café, or stuffed with a hot fudge sundae at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.

Check out these posts for more of the latest on Star Wars Weekends 2012:

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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: A Frog, a Pig and a Dream

posted on May 16th, 2012 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Do something completely madcap today to celebrate. Why? Two decades ago, Muppet*Vision 3D opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and a new dimension in deliciously demented daffiness was born — in an attraction that blended Fozzie’s “cheap 3-D tricks” with Audio-Animatronics characters, a live-in-person loony, little tiny bubbles and great big explosions. In other words, the perfect Muppet storm!
Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Muppet*Vision 3D was also the grand finale project to benefit from the creative touch of Jim Henson himself. “Jim was involved in every aspect,” Emmy-winning writer Jim Lewis says. “He worked with all of us and directed the film. After Jim’s passing, Frank Oz came in to help put the finishing touches on it.”

The West Coast version of Muppet*Vision 3D opened almost a decade later at Disney California Adventure park. The two attractions differ mostly by the almost endless little gags that abound inside and outside. “In California, there’s a Swintrek spaceship crashed outside the show building,” said Jim. “But Florida’s the only place where you can find the net full of jello!”

Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

“That’s my favorite gag of all,” says acclaimed writer Craig Shemin, who is today Vice President of The Jim Henson Legacy. Craig was a key member of the creative team, along with Jim H., Jim L., scriptwriter Bill Prady (co-creator of TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”) and Jim Henson Productions Creative Director Michael Frith. “A few feet from the theater doors, if you look up, you’ll literally see a net full of jello. If you say it fast, it can make you giggle.” (Hint: It’s the name of our own Queen of Walt Disney World Resort.)

Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Muppet*Vision 3D also ushered in one of the pioneering advances in computer-generated animation, the spirit of 3-D himself, Waldo C. Graphic. Fun facts: Waldo made his debut on The Jim Henson Hour in 1989.One of his Muppet*Vision 3D co-stars, Bean Bunny, first appeared in the 1986 TV special, The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (thanks to Fred from CA for helping me get my Muppetology right!).

Muppet*Vision 3D is also a treasure in that it combines talent and artistry from both Jim Henson Productions and Walt Disney Imagineering. “What an incredible, brilliant, creative individual Jim Henson was!” recalls Kathy Rogers, Senior Show Producer-Director, Walt Disney Imagineering. “He always acknowledged everybody’s value and talent around him, while he always kept the focus going forward. I was in awe of that.”

For more Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks, see below:

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A Mouseketeer Homecoming Lets ‘New Mickey Mouse Club’ Member Share New Memories with Her Family at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 16th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Many generations have grown up with “The Mickey Mouse Club.” From its debut on black-and-white television in the 1950s through the pop-driven cast of the late-80s and early-90s (when the cast also called Disney’s Hollywood Studios “home”), the show has long been a part of our world’s rich culture.

In the late-1970s, “The New Mickey Mouse Club” hit the TV airwaves and featured segments shot at both Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Recently, Julie Piekarski, one of the Mouseketeers from the show’s 1970s revival, vacationed at Walt Disney World Resort — a visit that was loaded with fond memories of her days in the club that’s made for you and me.

And while the series was short-lived (Julie would go on to star on the premiere season of “The Facts of Life”), her memories are ones she re-lives each and every time she visits a Disney theme park. And she still even remembers the lyrics to a song she and her fellow Mouseketeers sang about “River Country.”

We caught up with Julie and asked her about her memories of the show. Be sure to keep a lookout for some classic Mickey Mouse Club memorabilia, as well as a few special guests who pop in to be a part of the homecoming.

One special guest even misses a cue and I give him some good-natured ribbing about it. But don’t worry, while he’s been known at times to lose his cool, he knew I meant it all in good fun.

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New Fantasyland Model Goes on Display at One Man’s Dream May 16 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 15th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


The model for the New Fantasyland expansion, which was last on display for media during the Summer to Remember press event and for Disney fans at the 2011 D23 Expo, is currently being placed into the One Man’s Dream exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests can view this model in all its detail beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, May 16, at One Man’s Dream, an exhibit that highlights some of Walt Disney’s biggest dreams come to life. Could there be a better place for the model to be on display?

Here are the first photos of the model in its new location.

New Fantasyland Model Goes On Display At One Man’s Dream May 16 Imagineers Jackie Herrera and Laura Mitchell with the New Fantasyland Model At One Man’s Dream
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The Sequel: Debuting More Behind the Scenes Videos, Photos for Star Wars Weekends 2012 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 11th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Queen Amidala at Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios

One week from today, Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will officially launch its 2012 edition. To celebrate the countdown to the event, we’re debuting two more videos that take a lighthearted look at some of the planning that goes on throughout the year. Also, we’re pleased to premiere two brand-new promotional images being featured this year.

R2-D2 at Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios

In yesterday’s post, we unveiled the first videos and promotional images for Star Wars Weekends 2012.

The videos and images were produced by Yellow Shoes Creative Group, in partnership with Lucasfilm, Ltd., and are featured on the new mobile website for Star Wars Weekends. The site is a great, “on-the-go” resource for the event and can be accessed on your mobile device at disneytheforce.com.

Keep checking here at the Disney Parks Blog, the new mobile website, the Star Tours Facebook page, the Star Wars Weekends event page on DisneyWorld.com and StarWars.com for all the Force-filled information about the Star Wars Weekends and the entire Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars Weekends takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 18-June 10. We hope you’ll join us!

For more Star Wars Weekends updates, see the posts below:

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Learn to Draw Phineas and Ferb at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on May 11th, 2012 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


It seems like Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb are popping up everywhere around Walt Disney World Resort these days. In addition to meet-and-greets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the soon-to-open Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure at Epcot, now guests can learn how to draw Phineas, Ferb and Agent P (among other Disney characters) as part of The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Magic of Disney Animation is an eye-opening attraction where guests of all ages discover the art of how Disney characters are created and get a hands-on opportunity to create their very own Disney character sketch. Disney artists teach guests to draw one of more than 20 beloved characters including Mickey, Stitch, Goofy – and now Phineas, Ferb and Agent P. Sessions run continuously throughout the day, with each session drawing a different character.

Disney Artist Don Shane Creates Agent P in Front of Classroom at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Gracie Kitterman, 10, and Her Dad Draw Agent P at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney Artist Don Shane Shows Off Finished Drawing at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios Jason Kitterman and Daughter Gracie Show Off Their Agent P Sketches.

Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” March met with some of the Disney artists from the attraction recently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Dan and “Swampy” shared secrets from the early days of their creations and gave tips on how the characters have evolved.

Fans of the show can also enter for a chance to be one of 26 winners, plus three guests each (104 people) who will receive a Walt Disney World Resort vacation to make unforgettable summertime memories and can celebrate the end of summer and party with Phineas and Ferb! Disney Channel and Target present the “Phineas and Ferb Summer to Remember Sweepstakes.” No Purchase Necessary. For official rules/details and to enter: Disney.com/SummerToRemember.

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