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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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PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This year’s D23 Expo was chock full of fun for Disney Parks fans, and highlights of the weekend were three special sessions dedicated to honoring Disney’s history and heritage, sharing news on what’s next for Disney Parks around the world, and offering sneak peeks at upcoming Disney films.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

“The Disney Legends Awards Ceremony” was held Friday, August, 14, and honored eight individuals for their unique contributions to the success of The Walt Disney Company. Among them were a few people who have specifically shaped or inspired Disney Parks experiences – or even were a part of our park’s history, including Disneyland’s first ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto, filmmaker George Lucas, and star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise Johnny Depp.

ALAN HORN (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios)

On Saturday, August 15, D23 Expo guests were treated to a “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios” presentation, which gave an overview of upcoming Disney films. Some of these films already have connections to existing Disney Parks attractions – and who knows what future park experiences may be inspired by some of these new films.

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During this session, several celebrities made surprise appearances in which they talked about their love of Disney Parks and share their enthusiasm for their new films, including Johnny Depp who dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”); Mia Wasikowska (“Alice Through The Looking Glass”); Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie (“Captain America: Civil War”); and Bryce Dallas Howard (“Pete’s Dragon”).

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

“The Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau also appeared with the upcoming film’s castmates, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o and Neel Sethi, and surprised them (and the audience) with a first look at footage from the film. Seeing their reactions was priceless – especially young Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli in the film.

OSCAR ISAAC, JOHN BOYEGA, LUPITA NYONG'O, DAISY RIDLEY, J.J. ABRAMS, HARRISON FORD, ALAN HORN (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios), ROBERT A. IGER (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company)

The new cast of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” also made an appearance with writer/director J.J. Abrams and special guest Harrison Ford. Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger closed the session by announcing plans for Star Wars-themed lands for Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Read more on that here).

BOB CHAPEK (Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts)

Another highlight of this year’s D23 Expo for Disney Parks fans was the “Parks & Resorts Presentation,” at which Disney leaders unveiled plans for Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, details on the Star Wars-themed lands planned for Disney Parks, Soarin’ Around the World, and updates on Shanghai Disneyland.

JON LANDAU, JAMES CAMERON, JOE ROHDE

Filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau joined Imagineer Joe Rohde to announce the official name of the land Pandora – The World of AVATAR, which is currently under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They also shared the name of the land’s major attraction, AVATAR Flight of Passage, which will allow guests to soar on a banshee.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo PHOTO GALLERY: Best Images from the 2015 D23 Expo

During the event, superhero mastermind Stan Lee also made a surprise appearance to help Imagineer Ted Robledo announce plans for The Iron Man Experience for Hong Kong Disneyland.

Be sure to click through all of the photo galleries above for a look inside each presentation.

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Enjoying Early Morning Skies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on August 17th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It sure looks like a peaceful morning here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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The resort’s four savannas, which are home to more than 200 zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos, are still just waking up for the day.

Have a great Monday!

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

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New Details Released on ‘Rivers of Light,’ Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 16th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


We just shared new details on nighttime entertainment experiences coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including the nighttime show “Rivers of Light” and Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris.

'Rivers of Light' Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

New details on “Rivers of Light” were just unveiled, telling guests more about the show that will take place on Discovery River at the park, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. The entertainment experience will combine live performers with floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery.

“This is going to be a ceremonial event that will happen on our lake,” said Imagineer Joe Rohde. “It takes the idea of the special nature of the animals that are in this park and turns it into a celebration of the beauty of these animals. It starts simply and humbly, continues to unfold and grow as bigger and more elaborate lanterns appear, and then huge curtains of water and light emerge from the water with animals within them. And ultimately it takes off into the sky.”

New details were also shared on Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris, a new nighttime adventure that will allow guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun.

Guests visiting the attraction after dark will also discover two species on the savanna: African wild dogs and hyenas.

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Pandora – The World of AVATAR will be New Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 16th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


The new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that’ll immerse guests in the mystical world of Pandora from the blockbuster film AVATAR just received a name – Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

Pandora – The World of AVATAR Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

Pandora – The World of AVATAR is a key part of the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and will feature awe-inspiring floating mountains, a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants as well as an amazing new attraction called AVATAR Flight of Passage. This e-ticket attraction will allow guests to experience what it’s like to fly with banshees.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek shared the update on Pandora – The World of AVATAR at the D23 EXPO 2015. During the session, Imagineer Joe Rohde said one of the things that has made work on this project so special has been the collaboration with the Oscar-winning team behind the film – James Cameron, Jon Landau and the rest of the Lightstorm team.

“We’ve been working side-by-side with Jim and Jon to make sure that what we do is true to the story, characters and vision for the beautiful, mythical, epic land of Pandora,” Joe said. “We’re creating a transformational experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for updates on Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

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Live Updates from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Presentation at 2015 D23 EXPO

posted on August 15th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


UPDATE: 4:30 PDT
The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation at the 2015 D23 EXPO has concluded! Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog over the next few days for more details on these new and exciting experiences.

The Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation at the D23 EXPO 2015 is underway! We’re excited to share the news as Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announces new attractions and entertainment, part of the unprecedented growth at Disney Parks around the world. While the guests inside Hall D23 will be the first to hear the news, we will provide live updates here. Keep an eye on this space!

UPDATE: 4:15 PDT

Guests at Epcot in Florida and Disney California Adventure in California will journey to far-flung lands, fly above some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and soar over man-made wonders when the new Soarin’ Around the World makes its debut next year.

UPDATE: 4:00 PDT

Iron Man Experience Coming to Hong Kong Disneyland

Iron Man just landed for a special appearance at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation! Soon Hong Kong Disneyland guests will have the opportunity to meet and take photos with the Super Hero himself when Iron Man Experience opens in 2016.

UPDATE: 3:45 PDT

As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will invite guests into the world of AVATAR, and the entire park will transform after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, offering guests longer days than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.

Pandora – The World of AVATAR Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

  • Pandora – The World of AVATAR – Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests will journey into the magnificent world of Pandora at this new AVATAR-themed land.
  • AVATAR Flight of Passage – The centerpiece of Pandora – The World of AVATAR, brings guests into one of the most thrilling scenes from the film, in which they will soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world.
  • “Rivers of Light” – Expected to open next spring, “Rivers of Light” will be an innovative show unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live performers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery.
  • Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris – This popular attraction will be extended for a new nighttime adventure next spring, where guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

UPDATE: 3:30 PDT

The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with the all-new 11-acre Toy Story Land. Guests will become part of the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard, including two new Disney Parks attractions and one expanded favorite.

Toy Story Land Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort

  • Family-friendly roller coaster – This coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes guests on a thrilling, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land on the back of Slinky Dog.
  • Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers.
  • Toy Story Mania! – Guests glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds an additional track to this popular attraction.

UPDATE: 3:20 PDT

Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek just reminded fans in Hall D23 of the all-new Star Wars-themed lands that are coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, announced by Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger earlier today. Chapek also shared more information about new Star Wars experiences coming to both resorts, some starting late this year.

The worlds, stories and characters of the Star Wars galaxy will come to life through new and enhanced experiences at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California.

Star Wars Launch Bay Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park

Star Wars Launch Bay – Opening later this year, this interactive experience will take guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disneyland park in California into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as the first six films in the Star Wars saga.

Season of the Force – This new seasonal event, beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both coasts. In Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, guests will explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment, themed food locations and Hyperspace Mountain – a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction in which guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies on weekend nights.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Later this year, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disneyland park in California will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Inside the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion at the D23 EXPO 2015

posted on August 14th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


The D23 EXPO 2015 is underway! In the video below, we take you inside the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion for a look at some of the new and exciting things coming at Disney Parks around the world. See what makes Shanghai Disney Resort “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese” and get a peek at the world of AVATAR, coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort!

Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more coverage from D23 EXPO 2015 and join the conversation with the hashtag #D23EXPO.

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Plan Your Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Vacation Now

posted on August 12th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Are you considering taking a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during the holiday season? Today we’re excited to share our list of holiday happenings with you. Read on.

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Magic Kingdom Park
The holidays will return to Magic Kingdom Park on November 8, with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This year the park will host 20 party nights: November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 29; and December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18. Parties begin at 7 p.m. and include Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Dance Party, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks and much more. Buy tickets now at Disneyworld.com/Christmasparty.

Epcot
Epcot’s Holidays Around the World and Candlelight Processional will return to the park November 27-December 30. Holidays Around the World brings the international pavilions alive with holiday cheer, including a Christkindlmarkt in the Germany pavilion and performances by Joyful! gospel. The Candlelight Processional, a show that combines the reading of traditional scripture with live music, is performed three times nightly at 5, 6:45 and 8 p.m.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will return to the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from November 6, 2015 through January 3, 2016. This holiday offering transforms this part of the park with millions of glittering lights, mobile displays and holiday music. It’s also included in theme park admission.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
During the holiday season, guests will be able to take holiday photos with Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost at the park. Mickey and Minnie will be dressed in their holiday best, which makes for the perfect Christmas card image.

If you’re planning a visit during the holiday season, don’t forget to check out our latest offers. The Magic Together Fall Vacation Package is a 4-day/4-night room and theme park ticket package in a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Resorts for a family of four starting at $1,701. For more information, visit DisneyWorld.com/special-offers/fall-together.

Families can also save up to 25 percent on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels most nights October 4 through November 24, 2015 and November 28 through December 23, 2015. For more information, visit DisneyWorld.com/special-offers.

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Our Top 5 Walt Disney World Resort Favorites for National S’Mores Day Aug. 10

posted on August 10th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Ah, summertime, the perfect excuse to celebrate the ultimate campfire dessert: delectable layers of crunchy graham crackers, warm chocolate and roasted marshmallows. In honor of National S’Mores Day on Aug. 10, we’ve chosen our Top 5 creative takes on this ooey, gooey treat.

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  1. Gibson’s S’mores Baked Alaska at The Boathouse, Disney Springs. This newcomer features a ginormous dessert – chocolate ice cream studded with marshmallows in a graham cracker crust, frosted with marshmallow cream. This hybrid sweet feeds a family of four. Or more.
  2. This one has a lot of fans – the Wagon Wheel Chocolate S’mores from Whispering Canyon Café with warm dark chocolate sauce and marshmallow gelato. If you prefer to sip your s’more, step next door for a S’mores Latte from Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge – a marshmallow-chocolate drink you can order hot or over ice.
  3. Campers are only steps from the Trail’s S’mores at Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, a creation with warm chocolate cake, graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow gelato – but you can only get it at lunch. (Or make your own s’mores with supplies from Chuckwagon near the Meadow Swimming Hole around the campfire when the sun goes down.)
  4. The S’mores Chocolate Tarte from Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort takes a simple approach with a chocolate tart, graham cracker crust, a dab of marshmallow and chocolate sauce.
  5. Just for little ones, Savanna S’mores are a favorite on the kids’ menu at Sanaa at Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: layers of chocolate pudding, marshmallow fluff and toasted graham crackers. Oh to be young again.

Share your favorite Disney s’more!

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