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Moms Panel Monday: Planning Your 2016 Unforgettable Disney Vacations

posted on December 28th, 2015 by Leanne O'Regan, Director, Social Media, Disney Parks


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With Christmas behind us and the new year fast approaching, if your family is like mine, the kitchen conversation starts leaning towards spring and summer vacation decisions. Knowing that a Disney destination is top of mind for many people, our Disney Parks Moms Panelists are ready to start helping folks narrow down the choices to a perfect Disney get-away.

Aparna from Ontario will be taking her family on their very first Disney vacation in May 2016 and asks what dining options are best for her three young children. Moms Panelist Whitney gave her some great advice including one of my favorites, Flame Tree Barbecue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is delicious!

Matthew from Illinois will be here with his family also in May and asks about transportation options to get from his Disney hotel to their dining reservation at a different Disney resort. Moms Panelist Lauren knew exactly how to help.

Cari from Ohio wonders about renting personal watercraft during her stay as something different to do. Moms Panelist Susan helped her based on her own experience with the water recreation activities.

And Moms Panelist Ashley helps a new mom from Tennessee plan their November 2016 traveling with an infant. Ashley’s own experience vacationing at Disney Parks with a baby came in very handy as she offers great advice including sticking to a routine, utilizing portable cribs and visiting the Baby Care Centers located in each Disney theme park.

Make sure you visit the Disney Parks Moms Panel as you start planning your 2016 Disney vacations. Our panelists have a wide range of experience and are here to help your vacations be unforgettable and magical.

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Hear Chakranadi’s ‘Carol of the Bells’ from Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


The Anandapur area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom has come alive with the “Festival of All Seasons” for the holidays. And one group you can find providing live entertainment is Chakranadi, the land’s virtuoso sitar and tabla duo.

Listen as Chakranadi plays “Carol of the Bells.”

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Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks Now Open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 22nd, 2015 by Rachel Bshero, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Nestled in the imposing shadow of Mt. Everest, Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks is the perfect place for tired and hungry travelers to stop in for a quick bite to eat or a refreshing beverage. For climbers who are returning from their ascent, a stop at the bar is considered tradition.

The Trek Snacks menu varies throughout the day, with delicious pastries in the morning and more substantial bites like sushi and sandwiches in the afternoon and evening. Pastries include assorted muffins and Danish, croissants and an indulgent chocolate twist.

Healthful snacks like fresh fruit, crudité and hummus, edamame and an Asian noodle salad are available. The Smoked Turkey Sandwich, Bahn Mi (roasted pork topped with pickled vegetables, cilantro and sriracha dressing), Som Tam (Thai shrimp, green papaya salad, crushed peanuts and chilis) and sushi are a perfect meal for the weary traveler. For dessert, cookies, brownies and ice cream treats (including the popular Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar) are on the menu.

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At Thirsty River Bar, look for specialty cocktails such as the Khumbu Icefall (guava rum blended with coconut and raspberry puree), Himalayan Ghost (Snow Leopard vodka, guava, and Odwalla lemonade) and the Durbar Margarita. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available, like the Flying Yak (mango puree blended with coconut water and pineapple juice) and the Pink Lotus (strawberry puree, lychee and Odwalla lemonade).

The bar represents the kind of cultural collision that has become of hallmark of the villages that serve as base camps for Everest trekkers. Originally the home for a popular Sherpa family, mementos have been tacked on the walls by travelers, but the rest of the décor is sparse and functional aside from the stable tack.

Will you be visiting Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks during your next adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

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Moms Panel Monday: Making Magic for All In the Family at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 21st, 2015 by Leanne O'Regan, Director, Social Media, Disney Parks


Today’s Moms Panel Monday shares different Moms’ Views on planning a large family vacation. Lauren from England asked the Disney Parks Moms Panel about traveling with 12 family members of all ages to Walt Disney World Resort in May. She wants to make sure everyone in the family has a magical vacation. Our Moms Panelists to the rescue! A dozen Panelists stepped up with some really unique and fun ideas for the entire family.

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Moms Panelist Brenda suggests experiencing the live entertainment offerings so the whole family can have fun together, like Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot and Enchanted Tales with Belle at Magic Kingdom Park.

Susan suggests attractions that are top picks for her family including Festival of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Living with the Land at Epcot.

Panelist Andrea shares some “off the beaten path” ideas like exploring Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom Park or becoming a Wilderness Explorer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

And Moms Panelist Whitney made me laugh with her advice based on her own large family gathering experience in the parks.

You can find this question with the all the panelist’s answers as well as other helpful questions and answers on the Moms’ Views section of the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Wildlife Wednesday: Disney Conservation Director’s Pioneering Work with Cotton-Top Tamarins Honored

posted on December 16th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


In this Wildlife Wednesday series, you have heard from our conservation director Anne Savage, Ph.D., about our commitment to conservation and the projects we lead globally to help save species from becoming extinct.

I am very proud to share with you that Anne just received an extremely prestigious award in the field of conservation. Anne has been named one of this year’s Lowell Thomas Awardees from The Explorers Club. This esteemed award “celebrates explorers who exhibit excellence and innovation in conservation, with emphasis on emerging techniques and technologies that meaningfully contribute to our knowledge of the world and how we protect it.”

Whether helping educate guests at Walt Disney World Resort or contributing to wildlife and habitat protection around the world, Anne has helped lead Disney’s bold environmental approach as conservation director for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment.

Anne has been the recipient of past awards, but with this new honor, she joins a century’s old society of celebrated pioneers and legendary explorers, including President Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and Sally Ride. Wow.

Anne is very deserving of this exceptional award. She has been integral in the protection of cotton-top tamarins, a critically endangered primate found only in the tropical forests of Colombia. She has worked with the Colombian conservation group Proyecto Tití (a Disney Conservation Fund grant recipient) to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to protect wild cotton-top tamarins – arguably one of the best and well-rounded conservation programs in the world.

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As part of this more than 25-year program, Anne and her team have helped inspire a national movement to save this small monkey. She her team have developed education and sustainable income-generating programs for the rural communities surrounding the tamarins’ forest habitat. Her team has been instrumental in establishing Aug. 15 as a Colombian national holiday known as “Day of the Cotton-Top.” And she has successfully worked with the government to establish protected areas that will help this species.

Have you seen the cotton-top tamarins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? They are about the size of a squirrel with a large poof of white hair on their heads. The next time you visit, be sure to visit them on Discovery Island and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You can even have a Starbucks flat white beverage at Creature Comforts right next to their habitat on Discovery Island – for every purchase, a donation is made to the Disney Conservation Fund!

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Moms Panel Monday: Need Dinner Recommendations?

posted on December 14th, 2015 by Leanne O'Regan, Director, Social Media, Disney Parks


When it comes to planning a Disney vacation, very few people can offer better advice than the Disney Parks Moms Panel. Their knowledge and experience makes them the best source for planning tips. For Moms Panel Monday, we asked our panelists to share their favorite questions from the year.

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A guest from Alabama wanted to know what dining options were available before her family headed to the Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Moms Panelist Anne gave great recommendations on all the delicious and entertaining options available including feasting on a picnic to-go or enjoying a classic singing and dancing family dinner show.

Another guest from West Virginia asked for suggestions on how to surprise her daughter with the news they were going to a character breakfast. Moms Panelist Rachel offered a very special and creative idea that she used with her own children. This answer will melt your heart for sure!

And Moms Panelist Sue gives splendid advice about all the fun and unique things to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The question came from a mom traveling with her six kids and the grandparents and wanted more information about this exquisite resort. Sue said this was just a fun question to answer.

Do you have a question about planning a Disney vacation? Be sure to ask the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Painted Dogs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on December 9th, 2015 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


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We introduced painted dogs to the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna earlier this week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Everyone in Animals, Science and Environment is thrilled to have this unique species join the family.

The name “painted dog” originates from their scientific name Lycaon pictus, which means “painted wolf-like animal” in Greek and Latin. Painted dogs, also known as African wild dogs, are known for their large round ears (They look a lot like Mickey Mouse ears!) and multi-colored fur coats. Each individual dog has unique paint-like splotches on their coat that are similar in their distinctiveness to a human fingerprint. Most also have bushy white-tipped tails.

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Painted dogs are among the most endangered species in Africa. By introducing painted dogs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we hope to raise awareness of the species and the threats they face, including human-habitat infringement and illegal hunting. The Disney Conservation Fund has been supporting painted dog conservation work in the wild since 1996 and has given more than half a million dollars to support painted dog conservation and research organizations.

Painted dogs are fascinating in their social behaviors. They operate as a family unit with all members of the pack caring for each other. They will even share food with ailing members of their pack or nursing mothers. The entire pack cares for pups after they are born. Both males and females will stay back with them as “babysitters” during hunting excursions.

When you’re on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna, I hope you can catch one of their elaborate greeting ceremonies. Each dog tries to interact with every other dog in the pack each time they wake up or return to the pack. Their yips and squeals are vocalizations that are unique to each dog and help others identify them.

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The painted dogs and hyenas will share the same spot of the savanna, but at different times of the day and evening. As always, guests will experience a different safari every time they ride.
Learn more about some of the animals you can visit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at DisneyAnimals.com.

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16 Reasons 2016 Will Be An ‘Unforgettable’ Year at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 4th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


With innovative attractions and entertainment set to debut at Walt Disney World Resort in 2016, plus new dining locations and inaugural sporting events on the horizon, the year 2016 is shaping up to be truly Unforgettable for our guests.

If you’re considering planning a Disney vacation in 2016, be sure to check out our 16 reasons why the new year should be the year for your visit!

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  1. Experience The Newest Offerings, Like Jungle Skipper Canteen & More – The new year is the perfect time to explore the latest and greatest guest offerings that will debut in late 2015, including the Jungle Skipper Canteen restaurant at Magic Kingdom Park; Club Disney at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and the Ganachery candy shop at Disney Springs.

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  1. Wonder at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Through January 3 – The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will end its holiday run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on January 3, 2016. Enjoy this holiday offering in its finale season while you can.

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  1. Enjoy “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” Fireworks – Disney’s Hollywood Studios will debut its latest Star Wars-inspired experience with the addition of “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks, beginning December 18. (And don’t forget the newly launched Star Wars Launch Bay experiences, pictured above).

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  1. runDisney Events – The 2016 runDisney racing season kicks off January 6-10 with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This will be the first of four racing weekends held at the resort in 2016. Visit the official runDisney site for more information.

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  1. Experience Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Grown-up guests can party with the Disney Villains in a soiree led by Dr. Facilier at the new Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The fun starts January 16.

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  1. Experience The Magic of Nature With “Rivers of Light” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Starting this spring, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will come alive at night with the new Rivers of Light show. This innovative show will feature entertainers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery in a performance that truly brings the animal kingdom to life at night.

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  1. Explore The Kilimanjaro Safaris After Sunset – Kilimanjaro Safaris will expand operating hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, allowing guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun. Look for it this spring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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  1. Dine at Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – The park’s newest eatery will open its doors this spring to offer a menu inspired by the places the Imagineers traveled when developing the park.

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  1. Enjoy Springtime Events at Walt Disney World Resort – Dates have already been released for fun springtime events, including the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March 2-May 30); and Raglan Road’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival (March 17).

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  1. Experience Frozen Ever After at Epcot – The new “Frozen”-inspired attraction will open its doors in Epcot’s World Showcase this spring. In it, guests will be transported to the Winter in Summer Celebration where Queen Elsa creates a special day for the kingdom. Guests will also travel to Elsa’s Ice Palace, the ice-blue world of the North Mountain, and the Bay of Arendelle.

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  1. Stop By The New Frozen Character Greeting Location at Epcot – Meet the royal sisters Anna and Elsa at Epcot at a new dedicated character greeting location starting in spring.

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  1. Celebrate The Invictus Games at ESPN Wide World of SportsThe Invictus Games will come to the United States for the first time ever in 2016. The games celebrate our wounded servicemen and women from around the world competing in a variety of sports events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex May 8-12.

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  1. Remember Magic Kingdom Park’s 45th Anniversary – Magic Kingdom Park, the first Disney park to open at Walt Disney World, will mark its 45th anniversary on October 1. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more information.

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  1. Share An Unforgettable Fall – A new year means the return of our favorite fall events, including The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties.

Disney characters dressed in their holiday finest parade down Main Street, U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom during "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade." The festive processional is one of the happy highlights of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, a night of holiday splendor with lively stage shows, a unique holiday parade, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season nighttime fireworks, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. The special-ticket event takes place on select nights in November and December in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Ryan Wendler, photographer)

  1. Celebrate The Holiday SeasonMickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and more. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for news and dates on our returning special events.

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  1. Try New Dining Offerings at Disney Springs – Disney Springs will continue to grow in 2016, with plans to add new eateries like STK Orlando, plus the opening of Town Center, which will feature Zara, Lilly Pulitzer, UGG, UNIQLO and many others. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more information and opening dates.
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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney Springs, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Behold the Beautiful Christmas Trees Across Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 1st, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


If there were ever a contest for trimming trees, our Walt Disney World Resort holiday team would be tough to beat. They work almost year-round to design, maintain and decorate the themed Christmas trees you’ll find across the resort.

It’s not just the trees’ enormous size (the tree at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is 70-feet tall!), but the detail in the decorations such as handcrafted baskets and masks, sketches of Pixar favorites, and handstitched garland that make them such a sight.

Until you visit in person, here’s our top 11 Walt Disney World Resort Christmas trees that dazzle during the holidays.

Christmas Tree at Disney's Contemporary Resort


Which tree is your favorite? Have these inspired your tree decorations?

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Top Holiday Gifts For 2015 from Disney Parks

posted on November 30th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


With the holiday season returning to Disney Parks, here are my top gift items created especially for Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resorts. To make holiday shopping even easier this year, try using the free Shop Disney Parks mobile app to order and ship select item listed below to your home.

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Disney Parks Castle Play Set – All new for this holiday season, this Play Set was inspired by Disney Parks Castles from around the world. Twenty-two new Action Figure Play Sets will also being introduced throughout the coming months. Check out this Disney Parks Blog Unboxed video for more details.

Retail MagicBands and Accessories Available at Walt Disney World Resort Stylish Apparel and Accessories from Disney Parks

Retail MagicBands and Accessories – For guests at Walt Disney World Resort, give the gift of a personalized retail MagicBand that’s decorated with favorite Disney characters or icons. Look for several pre-printed graphic MagicBands that can be linked-later to a My Disney Experience account. Guests may also create their own unique MagicBand at the Retail MagicBand on Demand station in Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. at Magic Kingdom Park.

Stylish Apparel and Accessories – The Disney Boutique and Twenty Eight & Main collections offer stylish assortments of fashion-forward apparel, accessories and more for guests who love Disney and Disney Parks.

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Made with Magic – Light up the night with a colorful collection of magical accessories! Four sensational items – the Mickey Ear Hat, Minnie Mouse Headband, Mickey Mouse Glove and the Sorcerer Mickey Wand – have each been programmed to light up at key moments during select nighttime spectaculars at Disney Parks.

Decorative Designer Nutcrackers and Disney Attractionista Dolls Available at Disney Parks Disney Parks Merchandise Pieces by PANDORA Jewelry, Dooney & Bourke or Vera Bradley

Decorative Designer Nutcrackers – Disney Design Group artists have created a limited release series of nutcrackers based on the themed lands and attractions from Disney Parks.

Disney Attractionista Dolls – Inspired by the themed lands and attractions found in Magic Kingdom Park, Disney Attractionistas are special friends that love to be together at the Disney Parks every chance they get. Each doll has wished to always be part of their favorite attraction, and that it could be a part of them. Now all their wondrous wishing has come true with six different fabulous 12″ fashion dolls.

Classic Collaborations – Disney Parks Merchandise has collaborated with popular designers such as PANDORA Jewelry, Dooney & Bourke or Vera Bradley to offer fantastic accessories all with a Disney twist.

2016 Disney Parks Attraction Poster Calendar and Disney Tails Items Available at Disney Parks Delicious Treats From Disney Parks

Disney Tails – Disney Tails is a new line of pet products for dogs that includes several colorful leashes with matching collars, Disney Parks-inspired food toys, and a handful of apparel items like bandanas or bow ties.

2016 Disney Parks Attraction Poster Calendar – This oversized 2016 calendar include attraction posters from Disney Theme Parks around the world. Each poster is suitable for display in a standard 12-inch by 18-inch frame, with perforations above and below each poster for easy removal after its calendar month.

Delicious Treats From Disney Parks – Give sweet and delicious treats created especially for Disney Parks. Snacks with Character, a line of better for you snacks, is great for guests looking for dietary alternatives related to food allergies or lifestyle choices. Other options include offer highly-themed goods inspired by the sights, sounds and flavors of Africa found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom, MagicBands, My Disney Experience, MyMagic+, Walt Disney World Resort