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Morimoto Asia Opens Sept. 30 at Disney Springs

posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


If you’re keeping an eye on construction at Disney Springs, you may have noticed the 36-foot-tall building going up along the waterfront – it’s Morimoto Asia, set to open Sept. 30, a creative collaboration between world-famous Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group.

New Morimoto Asia Restaurant to Open in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

It’s the first “pan-Asian” dining experience for Chef Morimoto, and includes his eclectic take on his favorite Asian flavors including moo shu pork, Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, and spicy kung pao chicken. Weekends, dim sum will be served during brunch, with dumplings, shumai, bao, spare ribs and more. (Don’t worry there’s plenty for kids, such as chicken ramen, kakuni pork bao, and karaage fried chicken.)

The sushi bar, sculpted from hundreds of pieces of hand-selected ash wood that’s backed with a wall of hammered copper, has just 14 coveted seats, with global inspiration from toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, salmon and more – whatever is freshest. If you’re in the lounge or dining rooms, a selection of specialty rolls and sushi platters will be available.

The restaurant will serve sake, including the Morimoto signature line, wines from around the globe, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Beers, bottled and draft, will be mostly Asian, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales. (Beer fans, the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will be available.)

The expansive restaurant includes beautiful lounges, dining spaces, open kitchen and a two-story outdoor terrace overlooking the water. The main entrance features a three-story glass corner, and the sculptural bar is one of the largest in the world, more than 270 feet long, connecting the grand dining room on the ground floor with the upper level Forbidden Lounge as it wraps around the staircase. Look for custom glass beaded chandeliers and glass mosaics based on ancient Japanese prints.

Morimoto Asia will begin to accept reservations on Sept. 16 through Open Table. Or beginning Sept. 30, you can make reservations through the restaurant at 407-560-6686. Reservations through 407-WDW-DINE begin Nov. 1. Hours are daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2 a.m. serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

By the time it’s complete in 2016, Disney Springs will double the number of shops and restaurants currently found at Downtown Disney and grow to more than 1 million square feet, including 350,000 square feet of new leasable space. Disney Springs will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options. Sophisticated restaurants will provide experiences for families and convention-guests alike.

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Force Friday Midnight Event at Disney Parks Now Open to All Guests on September 4, 2015

posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


We have an exciting update about the midnight Force Friday event at Disney Parks. Due to overwhelming guest demand, the Force Friday event on September 4, 2015 is now open to Star Wars fans of all ages – and will no longer be a ticketed event.

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Guests who attend this midnight release party will be some of the first to find new Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Awakens themed merchandise. In addition to items guests may find at The Disney Stores and select national retailers, we will be releasing several items found only at Disney Parks including apparel, pins, toys, retail MagicBands (Walt Disney World Resort only), Vinylmation figures, and more. Please note that purchase limits will apply.

Two merchandise locations – World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort and Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort – will join stores around the world opening their doors at midnight for a special celebration of all things Star Wars.

Beginning September 3, fans across the world will get a sneak peak of new product inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens via the world’s first-ever global live toy unboxing event on the Star Wars YouTube channel. The live stream kicks off with the first unboxing in Sydney, Australia at 7:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, September 3 (5:45 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 2), and concludes with a grand finale at Lucasfilm in San Francisco at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, September 3.

Guests are encouraged to document their experience using the hashtag #ForceFriday.

Looking forward to seeing you at Disney Parks!

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Preview Disney Infinity 3.0 at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace on August 28-29

posted on August 27th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I’m delighted to announce we are holding special preview days for the new Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition on August 28-29 at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. This all day event will give guests a first opportunity to see and play Disney Infinity 3.0 before its official release date on August 30.

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Throughout the day, guests will be able to play Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition at the location. I know my son and I can’t wait as there are several new figures including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and characters from
Disney•Pixar’s
Inside Out.” I’m most excited about the Sam Flynn and Quorra figures from “TRON: Legacy.” I’m also looking forward to trying the “Tomorrowland” Power Disc Pack as I loved the film!

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Finally, guests will have an opportunity to meet a few individuals involved with the game’s development. Special guests will include:

  • Senior Producer Ryan Rothenberger who has worked on the Disney Infinity franchise since the very beginning. Currently, he is the Game Director overseeing the creation and development of all new heroic Play Sets for Disney Infinity 3.0.
  • Senior Producer Michael Schneider who oversees the development and execution of the console versions of Disney Infinity and helps make sure the game launches on time worldwide.
  • Associate Producer David Mayernik who has been with the Disney Infinity team since the first game where he held the position of Product Support Specialist. Here he worked as a liaison between the Guest Experience Support Team and Production.

On Friday, August 28, Allison Petrek, Lead Community Manager for Disney Infinity, will be meeting with guests from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. You can catch her weekly as a host of Disney Infinity Toy Box TV where the team shares all of the latest game news including new releases, contests, events, and more.

I hope to see you there!

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Force Friday Merchandise Event Details Released

posted on August 26th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


There’s been an “awakening” in the force, have you felt it?

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New Star Wars™ themed merchandise and more will land in our galaxy at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts on September 4, 2015 at 12:01 AM (Midnight). Set your hyperspace coordinates and come to this merchandise ticketed event to gather supplies and other acquisitions in preparation of the highly anticipated film release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.

Tickets to the Force Friday merchandise event include:

  • The opportunity to be among the first to purchase new Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Awakens themed merchandise, including Disney Theme Park Merchandise exclusives and licensed products. Purchase limits will apply.
  • Amenity gift

Which “side” will you choose? No matter where your alliances fall, here are the details on where the events will take place.

Tickets for the Force Friday merchandise release are $50 per person and are limited to availability. No discounts apply.

Reservations for the Force Friday merchandise ticketed event will be accepted only via www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com beginning August 26, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Time)/ 2 p.m. (Eastern Time).

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Find ‘Fancy Footwork’ with Customized TOMS at Curl by Sammy Duvall at Downtown Disney West Side

posted on August 25th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Whether you have one pair or a hundred, shoes are some of our most important accessories. Every good stroll requires a good pair, and more and more, shoes have become a reflection of our own personal, unique styles. Walk the West Side at Downtown Disney and you can find a one-of-a-kind, custom-painted-just-for-you pair of TOMS at Curl by Sammy Duvall. A team of talented artists creates inspired art, using the shoes as their canvas. And the best part? When you purchase any pair of TOMS shoes, the company will donate a second pair to someone in need.

Check out the video below to get some ideas for your next pair, or feel free to come up with your own suggestions for the TOMS customization team at Curl!

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Enter ‘The Chew’s’ Sweepstakes for a Chance to Win a Trip to 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on August 19th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Want a chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during our most delicious time of year?

We’re thrilled the Emmy award-winning ABC hit show “The Chew” is joining us for the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – and they are giving you (and three of your guests) a chance to win a visit too.

The Chew’s Magical Culinary Adventure Sweepstakes includes a visit to Walt Disney World Resort during the week of October 8-12, 2015, the opportunity to attend a live taping of The Chew, a stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort (within walking distance of Epcot), and a chance to dine at one of our newest restaurants in Downtown DisneyThe BOATHOUSE. You’ll even get to ride an amphicar.

More than 30 marketplace experiences will be served up for this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, including new tasting areas in Future World. That’s where you’ll sip, savor and sample in the Sustainable Chew Marketplace, which will offer dishes inspired by the show. At Chew Lab, food and science meet to create hot culinary tech trend treats like the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.

Also on the menu for the Festival’s 53 days (September 25-November 16), we’re bringing back some guest favorites from the two decades of the event, the Dominican Republic Marketplace returns, and you can rock out to live music during the Eat to the Beat concerts.

You have until September 18th to enter.

What better combination than food, foodies, and fans of food and foodies to celebrate 20 delicious years?

Good luck!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 9/18/15. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 years of age or older. Grand Prize winner must travel between October 8 – 12, 2015. See Official Rules for full details including entry requirements, eligibility restrictions, prize description & limitations. Void where prohibited.

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Top 10 Things I Discovered at the D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 18th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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The D23 EXPO 2015 was a blast! There were incredible announcements of upcoming projects throughout the Walt Disney Company (the seven year old me can’t believe that Star Wars Land will be a real place). Besides those major announcements, I wanted to share the top 10 things I discovered during my visit this year.

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I Need to Step Up My Aloha Shirt Collection
Being a long time fan of Aloha shirts, I loved seeing John Lasseter’s Studio Collection on display. In 1999, designer Reyn Spooner created a custom shirt for John featuring art and characters from Disney-Pixar’sToy Story 2.” The tradition continues today with shirts for the newest animated features including “Inside Out.”

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Incredible Displays
Located nearby the shirt display, I found this wall of Pixar balls (above). The décor found throughout the Expo was over-the-top. I’d love to recreate something like this wall in a future home.

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DisneyNature “Born in China”
Ever since I was an attraction manager at China Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot, I’ve dreamed of visiting China. I look forward to seeing DisneyNature “Born in China” coming soon to theatres. You can see the trailer here

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Caring at the Disney Citizenship Pavilion
I loved watching Disney fans make care kits at the Disney Citizenship Pavilion. This pavilion showed what Disney is doing to inspire kids and families to think creatively, live healthier, conserve nature, and strengthen our communities.

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Disney Infinity 3.0
I’m beyond excited for Disney Infinity 3.0 which debuts on August 30 this year. I loved seeing a full size image of Sam Flynn from Disney’s “TRON: Legacy” that will be a new figure released later this month. Stay tuned for additional details about an early launch party at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace on August 28.

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Gravity Falls Mystery Shack
There was a full scale recreation of the Mystery Shack from Gravity Falls. I wanted to take everything home with me. A brand new episode debuts on Monday, August 24 at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD. I can’t wait!

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Quest for Trading Cards
Since I spent 7 ½ years as Project Manager for Disney Trading, I was delighted to see trading cards at the D23 Expo. They were part of a Trading Card Quest presented by Disney Visa Card. Fans received a starter pack of cards, and could search for opportunities to collect different cards from locations all over the show floor. I even watched Disney Fans trading cards in my hotel lobby.

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Disney Dream Store
I visited the Disney Dream Store a few times. The 3-foot Vinylmation Haunted Mansion-inspired figure by artist Javier Soto was impressive.

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D23 EXPO Design Challenge
I was also impressed with the D23 EXPO Design Challenge that my fellow author Jeffrey Epstein first discussed in March 2015. In honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, artists were invited to craft their own interpretation of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The image above contains just a few pieces I enjoyed seeing.

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The People Who Make the Dream a Reality
My favorite thing I learned attending the D23 EXPO 2015 is Disney fans are incredible people! While I enjoyed seeing a Nav’i from the upcoming Pandora – The World of AVATAR coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I loved meeting people who love Disney as much as me. The costumes some fans wore, such as the one my friend Mary Jo made to honor newly inducted Disney Legend Julie Reihm Casaletto, were outstanding. Stay tuned for a closer look at some of those costumes in a future Disney Parks Blog article.

What was your favorite part of the D23 EXPO this year? Please share in the comments below.

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The ‘Great Irish Hooley’ Returns to Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant This Labor Day Weekend

posted on August 18th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


The “Great Irish Hooley” signifies that we’re half-way to St. Patrick’s Day, and this year we celebrate the fourth installment of this authentically Irish weekend that only Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant could deliver!

If you’ve missed the last three years, let me bring you up to speed: it’s a lively mix of top Irish bands, step-dancing, craft beers, stellar Irish cuisine, and Celtic face-painting, all rolled into one fantastically fun festival.

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For the music lovers in your group, the line-up will not disappoint. Screaming Orphans, a quartet of talented Irish sisters with a passion for original pop/rock, is headlining. A new Raglan Road house band, The Raglan Roots Coalition, will keep the crowd moving. Other bands including JigJam, The West Coast Trio, The Blaggards and Cooney & Ryan, are set to provide a mix of bluegrass, folk, and traditional Irish tunes. And keep an eye out for The Blarney Stones; if lead singer Hannah Carr looks familiar, don’t be surprised – she’s a former Raglan Road Irish Dancer.

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Think you might need a few libations before you try authentic step dancing? Four limited-edition craft beers brewed especially for the Hooley by Ireland’s Rye River Brewing company will be available: a Raglan Road Saison, a citrusy Raglan Road Fruit Salad Weiss Beer, a refreshing McGargles Jims CO2 Stout and a McGargles Francis Tropical American IPA. Of course, they’re in addition to the beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails that will be featured throughout the weekend. (So yes, you can still have your Guinness.)

To polish off the party, save room for Irish fare from celebrity chef Kevin Dundon. The beer-battered fish and chips is a standout, as is the Shepherd’s pie with a contemporary twist. The seafood and gluten-free entrees also gain high marks from guests, but I can honestly tell you that I’ve never had a bad meal here … no matter what you order, you’re in for a treat.

Of course, the above is best enjoyed when you look the part, so consider getting your face painted; artists will be on hand Saturday though Monday to paint kids and kids-at-heart.

The rockin’ long weekend will also commemorate the pub’s 10-year anniversary – a decade of Raglan Road is definitely worthy of celebrating, so make plans to take part!

Click here for full event details.

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Back to School Shopping Ideas from Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 13th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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As summer is quickly fading into fall, it’s time for back to school shopping. I can’t believe my children will return to school in just a couple of weeks. I recently spent a morning at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World Resort searching for back to school shopping ideas. Here is a quick look at some of the items I found for those who want to add a splash of Disney to their backpacks.

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World of Disney and Mickey’s Fun Finds at Downtown Disney Marketplace both offered assortments of pens, pencils and other cool school tools. I liked the colorful Mickey Mouse-inspired pens and the zipper cases are something I wish I had growing up.

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I found some fun apparel items for girls in the Zoey & Pickles boutique inside the Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace. They also carried a sweet backpack decorated with images of Mickey Mouse-shaped candies.

Once Upon a Toy store has a new shirt featuring “Miles from Tomorrowland,” the hit Disney Junior animated series.

At Downtown Disney West Side, D-Street had some Oswald the Lucky Rabbit t-shirts, while the Super Hero Headquarters shop carried plenty of apparel options for super heroes of all ages.

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Finally, I visited Curl by Sammy Duvall where I found a small assortment of the popular Disney Vans shoes along with clothing and accessories for girls and boys. Next door, Fit2Run, The Runner’s Superstore, has a perfect selection of athletic footwear and more. Both of these shops now open at 10:00 a.m. daily in Downtown Disney West Side.

Here’s a quick shopping tip I learned after my visit – all Downtown Disney shops now open at 10:00 a.m. which includes Downtown Disney West Side. This is a great time to visit as parking is usually plentiful and it’s easier to get in and out of shops.

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Popular Disney Theme Park Attractions Inspire New ‘Disney Attractionistas’ Dolls

posted on August 11th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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In January 2015, I shared a first look at some new dolls created especially for Disney Parks called “Disney Attractionistas.” I’m happy to report that the first four dolls in this collection were recently released at Disney Parks. I spoke with Victoria Hamilton, merchandiser for dolls and plush, to learn more about these Disney Parks-inspired items.

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“Disney Attractionistas are special friends that love to be together at Disney Parks every chance they get,” explained Victoria. “As the story goes, each Attractionista wished to be part of their favorite attraction, and that it could be a part of them. Once their wishes came true, they were magically transformed with attire inspired by those various attractions. These 12-inch fashion dolls come with detailed clothing, a special animal sidekick and a fun story on the back of the packaging about things each doll enjoys. I think these dolls make great companions for any guest who loves Disney Parks.”

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The first four Attractionistas were inspired by classic Disney attractions such as Mad Tea Party (Maddie), Space Mountain (Celeste), The Haunted Mansion (Gracey) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Pearl).

Two additional dolls will arrive this fall including Carrie, who was inspired by King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Resort and Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Walt Disney World Resort; and Nellie whose looks were inspired by the world famous Jungle Cruise.

Disney Design Group artist Mike Sullivan created the designs for the dolls while Dave Keefer designed the packaging.

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The Attractionistas will be carried in select merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, and they will be found on our Disney Parks online store.

We will be holding a special Attractionistas party on Friday, August 21 in Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace in Florida. From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., Mike and Dave from Disney Design Group will be meeting with guests and signing dolls.

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