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Luck O’ Irish for These Five Cooks, With a Little Help From Raglan Road Chef Kevin Dundon

posted on June 4th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

We got a sneak peek of Raglan Road’s 10th birthday celebration, thanks to a clever contest that the Downtown Disney restaurant sponsored asking amateur cooks to come up with their perfect three-course Irish meal, via a two-minute video, to celebrate 10 years.


Chef Kevin Dundon (of American Public Television’s “Kevin Dundon’s Back to Basics” series) selected the top five and invited them to travel, all expenses paid, to his own Dunbrody Country House Hotel and Cookery School in beautiful Wexford County, Ireland. (We got to join the winners for this spectacular trip of a lifetime.) Take a look at these photos by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins that give a taste of the incredible experience.

From a pint of Guinness in Dublin to gorgeous Dunbrody House on Ireland’s dramatic Hook Peninsula, the winners got an inside look at Raglan Road’s roots, from the farms where Dundon sources his food for his restaurant at Dunbrody House (and perhaps Downtown Disney in the near future) to the rollicking deck of a fishing boat on the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone got a chance to improve culinary skills under Dundon’s oft-humorous tutelage in the estate’s Cookery School.

All five winners – Janice Epaillard of Mount Dora, Fla.; Aaron Van Swearingen of Winter Park, Fla.; Colleen Kerney of Orlando; Heather McBroom Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Linda Rohr of Darien, Conn. – will be back in the kitchen at Raglan Road in October to work with the culinary team to create a dish for a special 10th birthday dinner.

Seeing the real deal on the Emerald Isle makes Raglan Road all the more special, with its dining rooms of aged walnut and mahogany wood furnishings from old Irish bars and churches that were shipped to Orlando to build the restaurant almost a decade ago. And Dundon’s Irish cuisine translates beautifully in his Walt Disney World Resort restaurant, where he spends several weeks each year working with the chefs to perfect classic dishes such as Irish Mist-glazed loin of bacon, fish and chips, Guinness and bangers and Granny Dundon’s Famous Steamed Orange Pudding.

After the whirlwind visit, we appreciate even more the live Irish bands and The Raglan Road Dancers every night of the week (and during weekend brunch) that bring the spirit of the Emerald Isle across the ocean.

Stay tuned for more details for the 10th birthday celebration!

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‘NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort’ Coming to Disney Springs

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

As we approach tip off for the 2015 NBA Finals, we wanted to share some exciting details on a new, extraordinary entertainment experience for guests of all ages coming to Disney Springs called The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort.


The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort is going to be a one-of-a-kind destination featuring hands-on activities that put families and guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. You’ll be able to explore inside the world of professional basketball with numerous interactive experiences and enjoy a restaurant and retail store.


The Walt Disney Company and the NBA just made the joint announcement and also shared that initial development work has just begun. “We’re excited to join the NBA in offering this unique form of family entertainment,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It will be a terrific addition to the world-class lineup of shops and restaurants coming to Disney Springs.”

The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort will be one of more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues at Disney Springs.

Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for more details about The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort as Downtown Disney continues its expansion into Disney Springs.

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Vivoli Gelateria to Open Soon at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 2nd, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to travel to Florence, Italy, chances are you’re familiar with Vivoli Gelateria. I’ve never been myself, but when I searched “Florence Must-Dos” online, Vivoli appeared on every list; wedged between art galleries and chapels, it was the only food venue mentioned in National Geographic’s City Guide to Florence, so you know it must be pretty spectacular!

No immediate plans to visit Italy? No worries. The family-run gelato shop will open its second storefront – and the first outside of Italy – later this month at The Landing, the newest neighborhood to debut as part of the future Disney Springs.

I recently had the chance to connect with Silvana Vivoli, the granddaughter of Raphael Vivoli, one of the company’s founders, to learn more about the gelateria. Founded in 1932 by Raphael and his two brothers, Vivoli Gelateria started out as a dairy – at that time, it was not easy to find raw materials such as milk, eggs and sugar and there were no gelato machines and freezers. After World War II, technology enabled the brothers to follow their passion and produce gelato every day – a far cry from the early recipes that relied on barrels filled with ice and snow from the nearby mountains to keep their concoctions frozen.

Silvana’s father, Piero, learned to make gelato from his father. Silvana learned the craft from him, “keeping the same old tradition,” she shared.


When I asked Silvana why they decided to open a location at Downtown Disney, the answer flowed freely, “Good gelato. In a fantastic place. With fun and family and a sunny destination? It’s a nice combination. Like vanilla and chocolate!”

According to Silvana, the gelato at Vivoli is made with fresh, top-quality ingredients using the exact same recipes from the original shop. The artisans plan to use local and seasonal products, with cocoa powder, hazelnut and pistachio imported from Italy. “There are ingredients not easy to buy,” muses Silvana, “these are love and passion … when you fall in love with your job, you have these for free – they’re the final ingredients that make everything so special.”

For a special gelato experience that will give you the “feeling of being in Italy for ten minutes,” make plans to try Vivoli Gelateria during your next visit to Downtown Disney. Not sure which flavor to order? I asked Silvana one final question: which is her favorite? “It depends on how I get up in the morning! But really, I cannot do without rice pudding gelato.”

In addition to their signature gelato, Vivioli Gelateria will also serve traditional Italian panini, biscotti, espresso and tarts. For a mouth-watering look at what you can expect, check out the gallery below.

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Walt Disney World Event Snapshot: June 2015

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

See what’s happening in the world of Merchandise Special Events this June at Walt Disney World Resort!


June 5 – 6: Join us as we welcome artist Joey Chou to WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Take part in a special artist showcase and signing from June 5 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and June 6 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Special Tip: Joey will also be appearing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends. Learn more.

June 10 – 14: Artist Greg McCullough returns this month with special appearances and signings June 10 – 14 from Noon – 8 p.m. at Art of Disney in Epcot and June 26 – July 1 from 1 – 9 p.m. at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

June 11 – 22: Representatives from Precious Moments dolls will be on hand for the debut of the Patriotic Collection. Meet the representatives and see the dolls throughout the day, each day, June 11 – 22 and June 26 – July 20 at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Artist Appearance Tip: Look for a special appearance by designer and artist Linda Rick, June 13-14. Learn more.

June 13: Join us as we welcome back artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith to WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Take part in a special artist showcase and signing from 4 – 7 p.m. Learn more.

June 18 – 21: Meet artist Larry Dotson throughout the day from 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. at Main Street Cinema at Magic Kingdom Park. Learn more.

June 18 – 23: Stop in and find some of the latest releases by artist David E. Doss from 1 – 9 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.


June 19: Take part in Trading Night from 6 – 9 p.m. in Veracruz A at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Register online now. Learn more.

June 20 – 21: Humor columnist and author, Dave Barry will be on hand for a special appearance and signing of his newest book, “The Worst Class Trip Ever.” Meet Dave, June 20 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and June 21 from 4 – 5 p.m. at Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

June 20: A new hand-painted limited edition Ink & Paint cel, titled Ariel and Friends, will make a splash at the Animation Gallery at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Look for appearances by the artists from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 – 5 p.m. on the day of release. Not able to make it? A special pre-purchase opportunity will be available now through June 18, 2015. Learn more.

June 24 – 27: Meet Fragrance Designer Geir Ness throughout the day at Puffin’s Roost in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.

June 26 – 27: Meet artist Kristin Tercek from 5 – 8 p.m., each day at WonderGround Gallery in Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

Quick Reminder: Tickets to this year’s GenEARation D Pin Trading event taking place Sept. 11 – 12 are going quickly and are in limited supply. Don’t miss out! Find out all the details and get a peek inside the merchandise catalog for the event. Learn more.

Which event are you most excited for?

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Disney Parks Blog Readers Enjoy #Disney24, ‘Tomorrowland’ Screening

posted on May 27th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

The Disney Parks Blog team kicked off the Coolest Summer Ever here at Walt Disney World Resort last Friday by holding a special event for 500 of our readers, which included breakfast at Magic Kingdom Park and a special opening-day screening of the new film, “Tomorrowland.”

PHOTOS: Step Inside Our Disney Parks Blog ‘Tomorrowland’ Breakfast & Screening

During the event, our guests had a private breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and participated in a exclusive photo op featuring a jet pack and suit used in production of the film. They were then shuttled to AMC Downtown Disney 24 for a private screening of the film. Afterwards, our guests were made honorary Tomorrowland recruiters and were sent back to Magic Kingdom Park with special Tomorrowland pins to give away.

Check out the video above for a look inside the event.

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Join Us for Breakfast, ‘Tomorrowland’ & 24-Hours at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 19th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

We’re kicking off this year’s 24-hour celebration in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort with a special sweepstakes – a chance to win a prize that’ll include admission to 24 hours of fun at Magic Kingdom Park, a special breakfast and a screening of Disney’s “Tomorrowland” film on the same day it’s released in theaters, May 22, 2015.


The Disney Parks Blog-hosted event begins at 6 a.m. on May 22 at Walt Disney World Resort. We’ll start with an early breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park that’ll include photo opportunities.

After breakfast, attendees will have the opportunity to see Disney’s mystery adventure movie “Tomorrowland” at AMC Downtown Disney 24 (transportation from Magic Kingdom Park to Downtown Disney will be provided). In Disney’s riveting mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” a jaded scientist and an optimistic teen embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space. Directed by two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird, “Tomorrowland” stars Academy Award® winner George Clooney as scientist and former boy-genius Frank Walker and Britt Robertson as Casey Newton. Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.

Please read the official rules before you enter the sweepstakes. Now, to enter, send us an email titled “24 Hours in the Park,” your complete name and if you will be bringing a guest to, and we’ll select 250 winners. Only one guest is permitted.

Also, there are a few things you should know:

  • All winners must be US residents and 18 years or older, but guests do not need to be 18 or older as long as the winner is the parent or legal guardian of the guest who is under 18.
  • Disney’s “Tomorrowland” is rated PG.
  • Park admission to Magic Kingdom Park for May 22, 2015 will be provided as part of the prize.
  • Limit one guest per winner.
  • We will send an email to individuals who are selected as winners to confirm their attendance for the event.
  • If confirmed, it will be necessary for the winner and guest to check in at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC), adjacent to Magic Kingdom Park parking, at 5 a.m. for access to the event. The confirmation will include those details.
  • Valid photo I.D. will be required at check-in.
  • Prizes are non-transferrable and have no cash value.
  • Prize will be for the winner and guest.
  • If you do not receive an email from us notifying you that you are a winner, then you have not won the prize.
  • The event is subject to change or cancellation.

Also, here are some other things you should know:

  • Please arrive early. No one will be admitted late.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C who are 18 years of age or older (or age of majority), as of entry. Sweepstakes starts 1:00 PM (ET) on 5/19/15 and ends 3:00 PM (ET) on 5/19/15. Limit one entry per person/email address. See Official Rules for details. Prize must be redeemed on 5/22/15. Prize does not include travel to or accommodations at Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, FL.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on May 17th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Star Wars Weekends 2015 began this week at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and we’re celebrating here on the Disney Parks Blog with new artwork, images and stories.


Through June 14, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature some of your favorite Star Wars characters as well as the “Legends of the Force” celebrity motorcade, the all-new “Star Wars: Rebels” show at Theater of the Stars, “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks and much more.

Shawn shared a few more experiences not to be missed this year, including a visit to the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience. Check his original story for more details and list of character appearances.

Star Wars Weekends continues Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 14, 2015.


We also announced the names of several new high-profile tenants coming Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort, including fashion retailers Uniqlo, Zara, Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer.

When work is completed in 2016, Disney Springs will have expanded to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, including four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers . We have the complete list of the tenants in our original blog story.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

First Look: Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Souvenir Vintage Stein – This stunning souvenir vintage stein features whimsical representations of favorite lands and attractions, and is topped with Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Stars Shine Bright at the Disneyland Resort for World Premiere of ‘Tomorrowland’ – Hear from the stars on the red carpet, including the film’s star, George Clooney, about the excitement of being at the Disneyland Resort for the premiere!

Behind the Scenes: Hatbox Ghost Reappears in Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park – Last weekend, one of the 999 happy haunts in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park reappeared after decades in hiding. Take a look!

Complete List of Special Eats for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration 24-Hour Event, May 22-23 – Get a look at the ultimate foodie guide to specialty food offerings during the 24-Hour event at the Disneyland Resort.

24-Hour Event Merchandise Sparkles at the Disneyland Resort – Get a sneak peek at the artwork for the 24-hour event tees, a limited release pin and a very specially created cupcake!

Kicking Off the ‘Coolest Summer Ever’ with 24-Hours of Entertainment at Magic Kingdom Park – Next week, Magic Kingdom Park is going to stay open from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, to 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, to celebrate the beginning of the “Coolest Summer Ever!” Get a look at all the entertainment and plan your visit!

Building the Dream: The Making of Disneyland Park – Sleeping Beauty Castle – Part One – Disney Parks Blog author George Savvas shares some of the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park.

Chef Mickey’s Opens for Brunch Starting May 31 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Reservations open May 22 for what promises to be a popular new addition to Walt Disney World Resort dining – mid-day brunch daily at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

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Announcing New Retail, Dining Experiences Coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 15th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Since unveiling plans for Disney Springs, we’ve been sharing regular updates as we reimagine and reinvent this corner of the Walt Disney World Resort. Today, we’re thrilled to share the names of 13 new high-profile tenants coming to the area, including fashion retailers Zara, Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, UNIQLO and PANDORA.


Here’s a list of the 13 new retail and dining experiences announced for Disney Springs:


  • Zara
  • Tommy Bahama
  • Lilly Pulitzer
  • UGG
  • L’Occitaine en Provence
  • Edward Beiner


  • Edison
  • Sprinkles
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Vivoli Gelateria
  • Tea Traders by Joffrey’s Tea


Announcing New Retail, Dining Experiences Coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort Announcing New Retail, Dining Experiences Coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

When work is completed in 2016, Disney Springs will have expanded to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The area will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options – and sophisticated restaurants.

We have more information on the retail and dining experiences here. Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for more details in the future as Downtown Disney continues its expansion into Disney Springs.

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Twenty Eight & Main Collection for Discerning Gentlemen Coming This Year to Disney Parks

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


One of the merchandise programs I’m most excited about this year is called Twenty Eight & Main. This Disney Theme Park Merchandise exclusive collection of quality goods was designed for the discerning gentleman who enjoys visiting Disney Parks (hey, that’s me!). When I first saw artwork last summer, I couldn’t wait to tell the world just how awesome it looks. I caught up with Bobby Bongiorno, merchandiser for graphic apparel, to learn more about what other gentlemen like me can expect later this year.


“Twenty Eight & Main will be known for quality and attention to detail,” explained Bobby. “We intend to use unique fabrics and washes for many items. We will also include embellishment techniques such as light weight embroidery, patches and appliqués to create items that will be functional and will fit great. The look will be classic, yet stylish and modern in every sense.”

The collection will contain apparel items such as short and long-sleeved shirts, vintage-style T-shirts, hats and more. There will also be accessories including drinkware, D-Tech phone cases and other travel items.


The thing I love the most about this collection is the artwork! I like the subtle nods to attractions, shops, shows, characters and experiences at Disney Parks.


The Arts & Collectibles team used some of the Twenty Eight & Main artwork at the small kiosk called The Sign Shop in the Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

I asked Bobby about the inspiration behind the program’s name.

“The name was inspired by the year of Mickey Mouse’s debut and the timeless Main Street, U.S.A.” replied Bobby. “The lion reaching towards the star symbolizes Walt Disney’s pursuit of his dreams. The same lion can be found on the coat of arms featured on iconic Disney Park castles.”

Twenty Eight & Main will debut this fall in select merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional details about shirts coming to the Disney Parks online store this summer.

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Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar to Open this Fall at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 12th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

Tucked in between the soon-to-be-expanded Paradiso 37 and recently opened BOATHOUSE restaurant, a new Disney owned and operated Food & Beverage offering has been taking shape. Today, I’m thrilled to share more details on this aviation-themed lounge, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.


With a prime location along Lake Buena Vista and seating for 150, the venue will feature unique cocktails – such as the “Hovito Mojito” with Barsol Quebranta Pisco, fresh lime juice and simple syrup – and small plates such as “Air Pirates Everything Pretzels” with house-made mustard and beer cheese fondue.

The design team has gone to great lengths to ensure that every element – from the propeller-based ceiling fans and diving bell “booth” to the “Rolling Boulder Meatballs” on the menu – fits within the storyline.


And just what is that story? Ardent fans of the “Indiana Jones” films may recognize Jock Lindsey as Indy’s frequent pilot; he’s also the owner of a pet snake named Reggie – an important detail, trust me on this! In the main room, guests will discover an expansive bar, aviation decor filling the room, vintage travel posters covering the walls and correspondence between Jock, Indy and their fellow adventurers on display. Guests can eat, drink and be merry outside as well, in Jocks’ old steamboat, now in permanent dry dock and aptly named “Reggie;” and in nearby seating on the adjacent deck.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is set to open this fall at Downtown Disney. If you’re as excited about this next adventure as I am, let me know in the comments below!

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