Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

‘It All Started With a Mouse’ at the New Animal Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 18th, 2014 by Jerry Brown, Animal Operations Manager, Conservation Station, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


With so much to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, planning ahead is the key to an action-packed, fun-filled day! One of the newest animal experience destinations, “It All Started with a Mouse,” is located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and makes a great addition to the itineraries of animal lovers of all ages.
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It All Started with a Mouse” showcases Walt Disney’s lifelong love of the animal world and his belief that “what everyone will learn who studies it is a renewed sense of kinship with the earth and all its inhabitants.”

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During the show, Conservation Station’s “animal ambassadors,” including sheep, parrots, porcupines, birds of prey and Kunekune pigs help tell stories and make appearances in, around, and even above the audience, as the cast members share natural history fun facts, conservation messages and inspiring (and fun) calls-to-action.
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After the show, guests have an exclusive opportunity to meet and talk to some of the stars of the show and are encouraged to capture once-in-a-lifetime memories with plenty of photographs.

When you plan your visit, allow at least 15 minutes of travel time to and from Rafiki’s Planet Watch via the Wildlife Express train and enjoy the 20-minute show which is currently performed once a day, at 11:30 a.m.
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During your visit to see the new show, don’t miss the chance to explore Conservation Station, the center of The Walt Disney Company’s global commitments to the environment and to animal conservation all around the world. It’s a great place to learn, laugh and leave believing as Walt Disney did that, “the wonders of nature are endless”!

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Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ Marks 20 Years

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s a big weekend for Simba – it’s the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King.

The film, which debuted in theaters in 1994, tells a coming-of-age tale of the young lion cub and his friends, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon.

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There are many places you can enjoy Disney’s “The Lion King” at the Walt Disney World Resort, including watching film-inspired segments in “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and at Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom Park and “Festival of the Lion King,” the newly reopened stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There’s also the Lion King wing of resort rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

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Over at the Disneyland Resort, guests can spot Simba and friends in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.

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First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 9th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Over the weekend, Disney’s Animal Kingdom played host to the first of 10 Harambe Nights special events, and it was incredible! From the mouthwatering menu and that super addictive Lion Chow to DJ Khalifa and the Harambe Nights Band, with so many wonderful parts of the evening it could be difficult to pick a favorite. For me, though, it is hands-down “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This 55-minute retelling of “The Lion King” story is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Animated sequences on screens in the theater ebb and flow seamlessly with music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions. In one moment, a classic scene from the film plays out to a live underscore provided by a 25-piece orchestra. In another, a 16-voice choir of Harambe villagers steps up to sing as spirit dancers gracefully assume the roles of animals and other characters to help carry the tale forward. And it doesn’t get any more authentic than when Sangoma, the mystic shaman, commands the stage speaking in his native African tongue.

“One by One” and “He Lives in You” gave me goose bumps, and Mufasa’s death scene affected me more profoundly than it has since I first saw it on screen 20 years ago. All I can say is, “Wow”! You simply have to experience this for yourself!

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014, from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Each night, a celebrity narrator joins the villagers of Harambe for their performance of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” The lineup of guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

A limited number of tickets is still available for each of the remaining nights. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Harambe Nights Debuts This Saturday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Harambe Nights, a new special event that celebrates the story of “The Lion King,” will officially debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this Saturday night.

Harambe Nights at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Harambe Nights includes a 55-minute theatrical extravaganza called “The Lion King Concert in the Wild,” which features a celebrity narrator, a live orchestra and choir, and special effects that together present the story of Simba like never before. The event also includes a welcome reception and a post-show street party that will feature musicians and a buffet of culinary creations keep the party going through the evening.

The event takes place from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. every Saturday, from June 7 – August 9. Celebrity narrators scheduled to appear include*:

  • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Doubt,” “How to Get Away with Murder” – SOLD OUT
  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”
  • Tickets cost $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9 (plus tax). For more information on tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

    (*Entertainment subject to change)

    To read more on Harambe Nights, visit the posts below:

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    Behind the Scenes of ‘The Lion King – Concert in the Wild’ for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    posted on June 4th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


    Back in 1998, I had the good fortune to be part of the opening team in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Thanks to the impressive work of the Imagineers who created it, the park’s fictional village of Harambe became a very real place to us, with a rich history and vibrant population. The village took its name from the Swahili word “harambee,” which is roughly defined as “pulling together to create something greater than its parts.” For Harambe Nights, the new special event debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week, the citizens of Harambe village are doing just that to create an epic theatrical celebration of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

    “On this grand occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, the people of Harambe have pulled together to present the beloved ‘Lion King’ story to visiting guests in a new way,” said Show Director Marsha Jackson-Randolph. “The village storyteller hosts, the Harambe choir sings, the best dancers dance, and the Sangoma shaman works his mystical powers as iconic scenes of the film appear to come to life in the authentic African tradition of a ‘Story Circle.’ And there’s more excitement! Harambe’s Town Council has invited a 25-piece guest orchestra and a celebrity guest narrator to join them each night.”

    During a recent rehearsal, Marsha gave us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the tremendous work going into the staging of this all-new show, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” and her close collaboration with noted South African Choreographer Warren Adams, whose impressive credits include Broadway’s “Motown the Musical,” the Hong Kong production of “The Lion King,” “Of Mice and Men” with James Franco, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris.

    I got goose bumps just watching the cast rehearse and can’t wait to see all the elements of the show come together in the Harambe Theatre. Of course, the only way to experience “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” for yourself is to get a ticket to Harambe Nights, and they’re going fast!

    Harambe Nights takes place from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. every Saturday, June 7 – August 9, 2014. The celebrity narrators scheduled to appear each night as part of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” include*:

    • June 7 – Viola Davis: “The Help,” “Doubt,” “How to Get Away with Murder” – SOLD OUT
    • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
    • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
    • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
    • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
    • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
    • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
    • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
    • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
    • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

    Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, the 55-minute theatrical experience, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and amazing food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

    (*Entertainment subject to change)

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    Alex and Ani Add ‘Character’ to the Disney Parks Collection

    posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


    UPDATE 6/4: Exciting news Disney fans! We actually just got news that the Disney Collection by Alex and Ani bangles just arrived!  Look for them starting today at the locations listed below.

    I adore Alex and Ani bangles from Disney Parks! Curious as to what Alex and Ani is all about? Before I started collecting them, I was too.

    Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, Creative Director and Chief Executive Officer of Alex and Ani, hails from a family of jewelers where mastering their craft was not only an aspiration, but a family tradition. For more than 10 years, the lifestyle company, named after her first two daughters, has helped spread positive energy across the globe with its hand-crafted, eco-conscious and Made in America products. The Alex and Ani Disney Collection, featuring signature expandable (yes, they are adjustable for the perfect fit) wire bangles with Disney icons and characters are truly the perfect combination of pixie dust and positive energy.

    Alex and Ani Add ‘Character’ to the Disney Parks Collection

    How could the collection, currently made up of more than eight different Disney symbols, birthstones and initials, get any better? Perhaps something to complement the Disneyland park Sleeping Beauty Castle and Magic Kingdom Park Cinderella Castle bangles? New bangles with signature icon charms inspired by Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will debut at Walt Disney World Resort beginning June 5. Joining that list in late June is Mickey’s Fun Wheel from Disney California Adventure park.

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    Or if, like me, you choose to embrace your Disney Side and live your life full of character, take note of what I’m about to show you. Also debuting June 5 is the one and only Tinker Bell, as well as a Dated 2014 bangle.
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    Something else to keep on your radar are new bangles, featuring Aurora, Belle and Cinderella, releasing June 30 online and at Disney Parks.

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    Are you as excited as I am? Then be sure to check back to learn about even more additions to the Disney Collection by Alex and Ani. I know you want me to tell you now, but where’s the fun in that? If I have to wait, so do you!

    A fashion essential, these Alex and Ani bangles, available in both Rafaelian Gold and Rafaelian Silver finishes are the ideal keepsake for fans of all ages and are sure to evoke magical memories for years to come!

    Tip: You can wear just one, or layer them together, truly making the look your very own.

    So where are the best places to find them?

    Disneyland Resort

    Walt Disney World Resort

    Online – Shop Now!

    Which ones have you added to your collection, or are you most excited to get? Don’t even get me started with my list.

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    Sneak Peek at First-Ever Nighttime Party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    posted on May 31st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


    Harambe Nights kicks off in just about a week on June 7, and we got a taste of the amazing celebration that stretches Disney entertainment and dining to new heights.

    Early in the evening, the new Harambe Theatre and “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is the center of attention, with emotional music performed by a live choir and 25-piece orchestra, the back-up for such talented performers – we were mesmerized as we watched scenes from the blockbuster film come to life in a whole new way.

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    The Walt Disney World Resort chefs are hard at work too – after the performance, Harambe Village lights up with a lively street party where the food takes center stage. The menu took weeks of planning by Chefs Robert Gilbert and Leonard Thompson, working in symphony with Chef David Njoroge at Sanaa restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a native of Kenya who embraces true African-style cooking.

    Before the show gets started, you get a little taste of the African and Indian cuisine with small bites such as Moroccan beef kefta with tamarind glaze and a mini-cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli. And just for fun, as you watch the show, there’s a cute little container of “Lion Chow,” a mix of pretzel chips benne (sesame) crumbles, cardamom candied pecans, raisins, cherries and ginger.

    The evening is a culinary journey with aromatic spices – you’ll smell the lamb cooking, and get a taste of warm naan bread hot off the griddle. The aromatic spice of Africa create a mélange of amazing tastes – so be adventurous if you haven’t tried something like eggplant tikka masala or crispy pappadum crackers. But you’ll find plenty of familiar flavors too, as the cuisine of America’s South borrows plenty of tastes from Africa, such as barbecued pork (served with a delicious polenta) or simple roast chicken.

    With all those diverse bites, naan, an Indian flatbread, is the perfect accompaniment. We can almost guarantee you’ll wish for another taste once you are home, so we’re sharing the recipe without the traditional tandoor oven – just use a pizza stone in the oven or your grill. Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 through August 9. The welcome reception begins at 7 p.m., showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 407-939-1319 or visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights.

    Naan Bread
    Makes 5 (8-inch) breads

    3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon coarse salt
    1/2 tablespoon baking soda
    1/2 cup milk
    2/3 cup warm water
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    4 tablespoons butter, melted

    1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir to combine.
    2. Combine milk, water, and oil in a medium bowl; whisk to combine.
    3. With the mixer running, pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. As soon as the mixture comes together, switch attachment to a dough hook, and mix until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Do not over-mix.
    4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
    5. Place a pizza stone on a top rack of the oven, positioned approximately 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.
    6. Divide dough evenly into 5 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.
    7. Turn oven to broil. Carefully slide one circle of dough onto the preheated pizza stone, and broil until bread is bubbled and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as the bread can burn very quickly. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Brush the warm bread with melted butter, and serve immediately.
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    Disney Parks After Dark: The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    posted on May 29th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


    This week’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image was snapped at the Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Is this one of your child’s favorite places to explore during the day? The dino skeleton at night sure looks pretty cool, too.

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    ‘Festival of the Lion King’ Returns To Disney’s Animal Kingdom June 1

    posted on May 29th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


    Festival of the Lion King,” the popular musical stage show that originated at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998, will debut at the brand-new Harambe Theatre in the Africa section of the park on June 1.

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    In case you aren’t familiar, the show tells the tale of Disney’s “The Lion King” through acrobatics, dance, music and puppetry. The show is a daily park offering and is performed multiple times a day (check your My Disney Experience App or the park’s Times Guide for showtimes. Entertainment is subject to change).

    Are you a longtime fan of “Festival of the Lion King”? What do you love most about this show? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

    For more on “Festival of the Lion King,” click the links below:

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    Summertime is Underway at Disney Parks

    posted on May 24th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


    We just wrapped up the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event here at Disney Parks – our big kick-off to summer! There’s so much to see and do at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts this summer … here’s a peek:
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    At Walt Disney World Resort, the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opens on May 28. The crowning jewel of New Fantasyland, the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom Park history, this new attraction takes guests on a rollicking musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”

    Also at Magic Kingdom Park, the new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade features innovative parade floats, vibrant costumes and an original soundtrack that includes songs from favorite Disney films along with a new parade theme song.

    At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the popular “Festival of the Lion King” returns this summer in the new Harambe Theatre. The park will offer Harambe Nights on Saturday evenings, June 7 through August 9, featuring a dazzling theatrical experience and energetic street party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Disney’s film, “The Lion King.”
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    At the Disneyland Resort, guests can enjoy the newly reopened and enhanced Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, along with dazzling summer entertainment that, beginning in mid-June, will include “Frozen” characters in a special pre-parade float for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. The pre-parade unit features Queen Elsa, Princess Anna and snowman Olaf.

    Other summer entertainment in Disneyland includes daily performances of “Mickey and the Magical Map,” nightly performances of both “Fantasmic!” and “Magical” fireworks spectacular and a variety of new entertainment daily in Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. At Disney California Adventure park, guests continue to enjoy Cars Land and the popular nighttime offerings, “World of Color” and Mad T Party.

    What are you looking forward to this summer at Disney Parks? Let us know in the comments!

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