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Wildlife Wednesday: 11 Facts That Show There’s Something for Everyone on the ‘Treks & Trails’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Katie Marini, Education Manager, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Although I’m a big fan, the Wild Africa Trek isn’t the only trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In my role as an education manager, I love to see and participate in the unique interactions that guests have with cast members on 3 self-guided animal areas. I like to call these areas “Treks & Trails” and they include Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Africa and last, but certainly not least, Rafiki’s Planet Watch (a member of the “trails” family). These areas provide a great opportunity for guests to find additional animals, but also offer something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Check out the list below and let me know what you think!

1. For the Hidden Mickey enthusiast: Did you know there are Hidden Mickeys on murals on Maharajah Jungle Trek and Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Take your time as you search (or ask a friendly cast member for assistance)! Can you find the Hidden Mickeys in the photos below?

A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural Just After the Tiger Exhibit on Maharajah Jungle Trek A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural at Conservation Station

2. For the cultural aficionado: Cultural Representatives create an authentic atmosphere in both Africa and Asia. Cultural representatives have a unique role because their main assignment each day is to share information about themselves. While chatting with a cultural representative, guests can learn about their culture, home and leisure activities, food and more! You’re bound to learn something and you might even be inspired to take a trip around the world.

3. For the artistic eye: World Showcase at Epcot isn’t the only place to find beautiful works of art almost identical to the models in their respective countries and continents. The unique murals, carvings and structures are also amazing and definitely worth a look. The attention to detail is amazing!

Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek

4. For those who like to have the “inside scoop”: Get an “authorized” peek backstage!
Whether you’re interested in the backstage animal areas (if so, the Backstage Safari might be the perfect tour for you!) or you’re wondering what “reimagining this area for your future enjoyment” really means, The Wildlife Express Train provides the best of both worlds. Guests get a backstage look at animal areas on their way to Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On the way back to the Village of Harambe, guests can get a quick glimpse of the work being done to expand offerings in the land of Africa.

5. For the animal lover: Tigers, okapi and snakes, oh my! Multiple viewing areas in Maharajah Jungle Trek help you find tigers all around! Don’t let the water fool you! Tigers are excellent swimmers contrary to popular belief based on their domesticated cousins, the housecat. Can you spot the hidden okapi? They’re not called the “Ghosts of the Forest” for nothing, so keep an eye out for their striped hind legs strolling between the trees. Let’s not forget our cold-blooded friends. Get up close through the amphibian, reptile and invertebrate windows filled with tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes, lizards, eels and snakes! Find these animals and more along your way!

Tigers Can be Found on Maharajah Jungle Trek Look for Okapi on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail Snakes and Other Animals Can be Found at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

6. For those whose motto is “slow and steady wins the race”: Take your time! The treks and trails are self-guided tours, so you can stop and enjoy nature for as long as your heart (or the leader of your herd) desires!

7. For the prospective Wilderness Explorer: Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is no easy task! Only the diligent can proudly claim this title, and even then, it takes many more than one day to earn over 30 badges! 14 badges can be earned along the 3 treks and trails, so if becoming a Wilderness Explorer is your goal, we’ll see you soon!

Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom

8. For the aspiring conservation hero: As their names imply, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station are all about conservation education. Did you know some domestic animals are endangered? Did you also know that by donating to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund you’re helping protect wildlife and wild places around the world?!

9. For the mythical creature believer: Dragons! Komodo dragons that is. Did you know the Komodo dragon can track his prey up to a mile away and eat 80 percent of its body weight?! They can be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek (weather permitting) and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Would you believe me if I told you we also had mermaids at Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Technically we do! Greater sirens can be found in this area as well. Although they don’t look like the mermaid you were probably thinking of, in Latin, the word “siren” means mermaid, so take a look on your next visit and let us know if you see the resemblance.

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek Greater Siren at Disney's Animal Kingdom

10. For the Character fanatic: Meet Chip & Dale, Rafiki and more! Chip & Dale love the trails and are frequently found ready to explore in their adventure gear. Rafiki has been spotted near his equally wise counterpart, Grandmother Willow in Conservation Station as they share conservation messages to save their homelands. Who else have you found along the trails?

11. For the future veterinarian or zoo keeper: Watch live animal procedures and talk to animal keepers after live shows at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Animal keepers are actively caring for the animals throughout the day, so they are a great source of information if your paths cross!

The Veterinary Treatment Window at Rafiki’s Planet Watch The Stage Show 'It All Started with a Mouse' at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

These are just some of the amazing reasons the “Treks & Trails” should be on your must-do list during your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once you take time to explore, you’ll find much more to do, see, hear and explore!

See you real soon

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New Merchandise Artwork Sparks Fond Memories of First Disney Parks Vacation

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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As time passes, my memories of my first visit to Walt Disney World Resort in July 1983 become more like something from a dream. I remember the Speed Room from If You Had Wings in Tomorrowland, the warm lights of Main Street, U.S.A. at night, and the dinosaurs in Universe of Energy at EPCOT Center. The essence of those dreamy images was recently captured in new merchandise found at Disney Parks. I caught up with Disney Design Group Creative Director Eric Caszatt to learn more.

“Each year, we create an art program that we call ‘Storybook,’” explained Eric. “That art traditionally features many characters grouped together around icons from Disney Parks. This year, we took a different design approach. Unlike the dated 2015 artwork that has characters showing off their Disney Side, we wanted to capture the feelings guests may have when first visiting Disney Parks. We internally called this program ‘Project Fairytale’ as it captures the emotions, the fantasy, and the wonder that guests may experience during a Disney vacation.”

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Disney Design Group artist Ron Cohee was the lead character artist on the project. He created two beautiful main images and a few smaller vignettes for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. Each vividly colorful image melds together attractions, icons and experiences from Disney Parks. The images are similar in design layout for each coast, yet they feature things specific to each Disney destination.

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The finished artwork was added to a style guide for all merchandise categories to use. The artwork was then applied to various items such as apparel, home décor, souvenirs, plush and more. Elements from the artwork that Ron created were sometimes combined to make unique images (best seen on some of the apparel items).

Here is an image gallery of other products that you can currently find in select merchandise locations at Disney Parks. You can also find some items on our Disney Parks online store – http://www.DisneyParks.com/Store.

I’d love to hear about your memories from your first visit to Disney Parks. Please share in the comments below.

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Exciting Ways to Explore Italy with Adventures by Disney

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Amanda Adler, Public Relations Manager


I am the type of traveler who loves to explore new places. But if there is one place I feel like I could keep going back (and back again) to endlessly it’s Italy. From the ruins of Pompeii to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the to-die-for pizza pretty much everywhere, it’s hard for me to choose my favorite spot in this beautifully diverse country. Thankfully Adventures by Disney understands that, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, exploring Italy’s treasures can be quite a daunting task. That’s why they offer several distinct vacations to this boot-shaped region.

How do you figure out which Adventures by Disney Italy vacation is right for you (and who’s saying you have to pick just one)? The first step is understanding what makes each trip unique. Here’s a snippet about what each vacation offers to help you get started. (WARNING: You will want to experience them all!)

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Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany)
When you think of Italy you probably envision strolling through ancient ruins in Rome, marveling at the beauty of the rolling hills of Tuscany and gliding along Venetian canals. This trip offers all that (and so much more) as you travel through this Old World country steeped in rich traditions, history and unparalleled culture.

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Italy with the Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Florence, Tuscany, Lucca, Pisa, Siena)
When it comes to charm it’s pretty hard to top the Adventures by Disney Italy with the Amalfi Coast vacation. Picture yourself on a private cruise around the enchanted island of Capri, dive into the Mediterranean, explore the medieval city of Siena, peruse masterpieces in Florence and experience a way of life unchanged by the centuries on this breathtaking tour.

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Italy and Switzerland (Lake Como, Lucerne, the Alps, Zermatt)
Northern Italy offers diverse settings, including the serenity of the Lake District and the majesty of the Alps. This Italy and Switzerland tour offers a boat cruise on Lake Como, the Baroque beauty of Isola Bella, and adventures throughout the Italian and Swiss Alps. Here you’ll have a chance to feast on rich Swiss fondue. Sign me up!

Which Adventures by Disney Italy vacation do you want to try first?

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Follow Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Unveiling Live on Disney Parks Blog

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Two hundred lucky Disney Parks Blog readers will join us tomorrow evening as we unveil some of what is in store for the upcoming Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration! And today, I’ve got details on how you can follow along with the excitement at home.

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Disney’s Night of Joy 2015: Artist Update

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


As we usher in the New Year, I wanted to give you an update on Disney’s Night of Joy 2015.

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New Merchandise Kiosks Set the Bar High at Downtown Disney

posted on January 27th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Unlike most people, I’m at Downtown Disney five days a week. I get to see the property transform before my very eyes on a pretty regular basis, and I can honestly say that one of my favorite signs of progress is the opening of new venues.

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Filed: Downtown Disney, Top Stories, Walt Disney World Resort

Finish That Disney Parks Sign: Cupcakes at the Confectionery

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


If you have a sweet tooth for treats at the Confectionary at Magic Kingdom Park, you just may get the answer correct in this week’s Finish That Disney Parks Sign challenge.

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Tastes of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Tropical Mai Tai at The `Olelo Room

posted on January 26th, 2015 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


A visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, has so many unforgettable experiences. With this in mind, we are starting the “Tastes of Aulani” series so you can bring some of the memorable flavors of Hawai`i back with you. Today you can try your bartending skills at one of the signature cocktails featured at The `Olelo Room, Off the Hook and Waimana Pool Bar!

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Time for Tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter at Disneyland Park

posted on January 26th, 2015 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


As you probably already know, January is National Hot Tea Month! To celebrate this very merry “unholiday” we sat down with Alice and the Mad Hatter for a game of musical chairs at Disneyland park.

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Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic Merchandise Drops Into Disney Parks on February 13, 2015

posted on January 26th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Last summer, I gave you a first look at a new merchandise collection called “Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic” that was inspired by the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney Parks. Today, I’m excited to announced that this line will drop into Disney Parks starting Friday, February 13 (what a perfect day!).

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Resort, Top Stories, Walt Disney World Resort