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Summer Celebrity Roundup at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on August 31st, 2015 by Anne Macklin, Talent Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Actors Anthony Mackie and Ty Simpkins, American pop/rock band OneRepublic, singer Monica, and “Dancing with the Stars” siblings Julianne and Derek Hough were among the latest celebrities to enjoy a little summer vacation here at Walt Disney World Resort.

Here’s a look:

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“Superhero” Anthony Mackie celebrated the opening box office success of his latest film by taking his family to Walt Disney World Resort. We caught him flying high on the Astro Orbiter attraction at Magic Kingdom Park.

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What do Anthony Mackie and child actor Ty Simpkins have in common? They both love to vacation at Walt Disney World Resort! Ty celebrated his 14th birthday with family, friends and favorite Disney character – Peter Pan at Magic Kingdom Park on August 6.

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OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Bryan Willett love their thrill attractions! The rock duo popped into Magic Kingdom Park during a break from touring. They made sure to make a stop at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

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R&B singer Monica Brown surprised her kids with a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort to reward their good behavior over the summer. Pictured with Monica is her daughter Laiyah, with brothers Rodney and Romelo behind, flying high in the sky on TriceraTop Spin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

And “Dancing with the Stars” siblings Julianne and Derek Hough also showed off their mad dance skills with Princess Aurora and Prince Philip at Cinderella Castle.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Three Baby Giraffes Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 29th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week was a big one for three young residents of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Mara, Milo and Lincoln, 3-, 4- and 5-month-old baby giraffes made their way out onto the savanna for the very first time.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Three Baby Giraffes Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Three Baby Giraffes Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Three Baby Giraffes Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Will you stop to visit them on at Kilimanjaro Safaris on your next visit?

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Wildlife Wednesday: Welcome our Baby Giraffe to the Savanna!

posted on August 26th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Big news for the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – our newest giraffe calves have ventured out onto the savanna for the first time. Mara, Milo and Lincoln are 3-, 4- and 5-months old, respectively, and are doing very well in their new home.

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Although on our savanna, the giraffe don’t have to be concerned with predators, we want to make sure they are old enough to follow their mothers and family, so our animal keepers keep them backstage until they are old enough to feel secure. In the wild, giraffe calves have to learn how to follow their mothers in case there is danger.

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Of the nine subspecies of giraffe, Masai giraffe are the amongst most populous in the wild at about 35,000, but sadly reports of increased poaching for their meat, hide and tails are leading to significant reductions. Two of the other subspecies are already critically endangered. When you see them on the savanna, note their spots – Masai giraffe have leafy, uneven spots. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you will find reticulated giraffe that have smooth-edged spots.

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Giraffe are very curious, observant animals that like to survey their land very carefully. This makes “every day a new day” for giraffe. They will notice if there are any new additions to the savannah, including other animals or changes to the landscape. This is true in the wild as well; because giraffe are so tall and pay such close attention to their surroundings, other animals use them as safety indicators.

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The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we hope you see Lincoln, Milo and Mara on the savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris. They will probably be close to their moms, learning all they need to know to grow to adulthood.

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Happy National Waffle Day from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

posted on August 24th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Happy National Waffle Day from Disney Parks Food and Beverage! What better way to indulge on this delicious holiday than with one of our top 8 waffles from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts:

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  1. Mickey Waffles
    Look for these breakfast classics are resort hotels across property, and at Plaza Inn at Disneyland park.
  2. Buffalo Chicken Waffle Slider from Trilo-Bites at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    This fiery new snack is simply wild!
  3. Waffle Cone from Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream at Disney California Adventure park
    Cool down with this sweet, hand-scopped treat.
  4. Waffle Sandwiches from Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom Park
    Go sweet with the fruit and Nutella waffle sandwich, or try one of the savory lunchtime waffle sandwiches—either way you can’t go wrong.
  5. Waffle Fries at Golden Oak Outpost in Magic Kingdom Park
    Creative toppings make these waffle fries a tasty meal.
  6. Sweet and Savory Waffles from the Belgium Global Marketplace at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
    Try the Belgian waffle topped with berries or chocolate ganache and whipped cream for dessert or the Potato and Leek Waffle with beer-braised beef and smoked gouda cream for a hearty snack when the festival returns on September 25.
  7. Maple Waffle Breakfast Cone from BoardWalk Bakery
    A practically perfect breakfast on the go.
  8. Buffalo Chicken and Cornbread Waffles from the Fantasy Fare Food Truck at Downtown Disney
    This sweet and spicy treat is sure to satisfy.

What’s your favorite Disney Parks waffle? Let us know in the comments below!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Special Events, Top Stories, Walt Disney World Resort

Sunrise at the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 24th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s a beautiful morning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in this photo, which was snapped just moments before sunrise.

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The park is so incredibly still and serene – I love it!

For more from the “Good Morning” series, visit the posts below:

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@WDWToday Twitter Account Connects Guests With Walt Disney World Resort Cast During Vacations

posted on August 24th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Would you like suggestions for the best places to catch the 3 p.m. parade at Magic Kingdom Park or where to get a photo with Goofy at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

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Today we are announcing the launch of a new Twitter account designed specifically for guests to use during their Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

Similar to @DisneylandToday for guests visiting the Disneyland Resort, @WDWToday provides tips and suggestions, as well as responses to questions during regular park hours.

The next time you visit Walt Disney World Resort, don’t forget to follow @WDWToday on Twitter and tweet us your questions.

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Michael Strahan & Chris Rock Visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 21st, 2015 by Anne Macklin, Talent Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Best buds Michael Strahan and Chris Rock recently vacationed together with their families at Disney’s Animal Kingdom where they ran into other longtime buddies, Chip & Dale. Both families are taking full advantage of these last few days of summer fun in the Disney Parks before the school year starts again. Michael was anxious to get back to riding Expedition Everest a few more times! He and his daughters had been on the attraction four times already before pausing to take a photo in front of the Tree of Life.

Chris mentioned he was excited for lunch at Teppan Edo in Epcot. The hibachi grill style restaurant is a family favorite.

Chris Rock and Michael Strahan visit Walt Disney World Resort

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A Peek Inside the AVATAR Exhibit at D23 Expo

posted on August 19th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Over the weekend, Disney fans visiting the D23 Expo had the chance to learn more about Pandora – the World of AVATAR in a special walk-through exhibit. Here, guests could examine the model up-close and look at posters for the A.C.E. (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) travel company that will soon usher guests from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Pandora.

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Be sure to check out the gallery of images above for a look inside.

For more on AVATAR at Disney Parks, check out these posts:

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Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrate Primate Day, Baby Gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on August 19th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Tomorrow, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate Primate Day with a variety of activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Guests can experience what a day is like for a cotton-top tamarin and learn how chimpanzees use tools they find in the wild to make their lives easier. Guests can even interact with the keepers who care for our primates at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

If you are in need of a coffee break, you can continue the celebration at Discovery Island. Purchasing the Starbucks Flat White Latte at Creature Comforts helps support conservation programs for the cotton-top tamarin with every cup (and not just on Primate Day!).

Don’t forget to swing by our other primate friends throughout the park. There are siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons in Asia, mandrills on Kilimanjaro Safaris, cotton-top tamarins on Discovery Island and more.

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Celebrating Primate Day gives us a terrific opportunity to say happy birthday to our baby gorillas on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. The two youngsters are celebrating their first birthday, and to honor them, we thought we would look back at their first year of life.

Meet Cory. Cory is a master climber, and while he likes to stay close to his mother, Azizi, he spends lots of his free time exploring the tree tops and climbing in low-lying bamboo and vegetation. Before Cory was born, keepers used positive reinforcement training to help Azizi prepare for the responsibilities of motherhood. The team continued to work with Azizi on her parenting skills as Cory grew, and she blossomed into the gorilla mom we know today. Cory is now perfectly on track socially and intellectually, and he is thriving in his home.

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This is Flint. Flint is independent and tends to venture far away from his mother, Kashata. He seems to enjoy following his dad, alpha male Gino. Flint also likes to play “airplane” with his older sister, Lilly. Lilly will prop Flint on her feet and “fly” him up and down. You will often see him display a “play face” when she does this. He opens his mouth slightly, showing his teeth and displaying what looks like a large, toothy smile.

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Flint was born just a few weeks after Cory, and they love to wrestle and chase each other. They like to swing from bamboo and flip and climb on their toys and enrichment. They are both skilled foragers and like to taste all sorts of different foods—if the adults feel like sharing!

What does the future look like for these rambunctious little guys? They will continue to become more independent, exploring their habitat without their mothers and climbing even higher in the trees and bamboo around them. They will both begin to interact more with their dad Gino, and learn their social roles in the hierarchy of the group.

Visit Cory, Flint and their family on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail on your next visit and learn more about how Disney helps orphaned gorillas in Africa at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) at the Disney Conservation Fund website.

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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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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort