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Don’t Let Time Run Out! Experience Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 10th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


We’re halfway through the 10-week run of Harambe Nights, our new special event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrating the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” Guests have been raving about the African-inspired cuisine, the street party entertainment, the celebrity narrators, and the live orchestra and choir for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

New Harambe Nights Evening Spectacular at Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of "The Lion King"

Held inside the newly built Harambe Theatre, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is a 55-minute theatrical experience created exclusively for Harambe Nights and completely different from the “Festival of the Lion King” show presented during the daytime. In fact, today we have for you a unique look at how the Harambe Theatre is transformed from day to night, as our Entertainment team sets the stage for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

From Viola Davis to David Alan Grier, each celebrity narrator who has participated in “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” has brought his or her own unique talent and passion to the performance. The lineup of narrators features stars from movies, TV, and Broadway. Scheduled to appear on upcoming nights are*:

  • 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”

The first five weeks of Harambe Nights were all sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Your ticket includes parking, a welcome reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” show, two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and an abundant dinner buffet. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

For an even more in-depth look at “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” follow the links below to our previous stories here on Disney Parks Blog.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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Wildlife Wednesday: Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

posted on July 9th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


It’s no secret that a highlight of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the opportunity to see plenty of beautiful animals! Over the years, a commonly shared “tip” has been to get to the park early because animals are more likely to be seen in the morning. Our Science Operations Team set out to test that tip by recording animal visibility throughout the day.

Hypothesis (Myth): Animals are more likely to be seen in the morning.

Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals

The researchers separated the park into five areas to include Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride, Discovery Island/Tree of Life, Oasis Gardens, Pangani Forest Trail, and Maharajah’s Jungle Trek. In these areas, they collect visibility data at several different times of the day on almost all of the animals including Giant Anteater, White Stork, Giraffe, Ostrich, Tiger, Elephant and Gorilla. The research team has been monitoring animal visibility in this fashion since the park opened in 1998 and they now have an amazing archive of information on how the animal viewing experience in the park has changed over the years.

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For this analysis, the team’s observational data were recorded and used to calculate an “average visibility” for each species at each time of day. These statistics were then compared to determine if there was in fact an increased chance of animal visibility at a certain time during the day. Analyses of data from the past several years all reveal the same finding…

Conclusion (and myth busted): Time of day does not significantly change the probability of spotting animals.

Translation — You can sleep in and still have a great, animal-filled day!

**On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to pick up an Animal Guide to help you discover the animals in each area of the Park. You can even become a Wilderness Explorer by completing challenges and earning adventure badges throughout your day!

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Finish that Disney Parks Sign: Finding Beauty at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Check out this unusual barbershop sign, which can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Have you seen this new one yet? Who should you ask for? If you remember, please tell us in the “Comments” section below. We’ll update the post later today with the correct answer!

The answer is: Barber Michael

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The Disney Side of Alex and Ani ‘Charmed Arms’ at Disney Parks

posted on July 8th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


It’s time to show us your Disney Side with your “charmed arms” from Alex and Ani! Not only do we want to see which Alex and Ani bangles from our Disney collection have made it onto your arms, but we also want to see them in front of some of your favorite characters, attractions and icons at Disney Parks.

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I know that many of you were eager to know if Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” would be making a splash at Disney Parks, and I’m here to tell you, she is, along with Rapunzel from “Tangled.” Here’s your first look!

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Joining them will be a few of everyone’s favorite Disney pals, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck.

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Look for these bangles to debut July 14 at the following Disney Parks & Resorts locations and Online.

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Online – Shop Now!

What’s next? I can tell you this much, you will either find it a nightmare or you will consider it really cool.

Now I invite you to share your Disney ‘charmed arms’ with us! Use #DisneySide and #charmedarms across our social channels, including Twitter, Vine, Google+, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest. If you tag your Instagram photos using #DisneySide #charmedarms we may just feature it on the @Disneyland, @WaltDisneyWorld or @AlexandAni Instagram feeds.

Will you add any of these new Alex and Ani Disney Collection bangles to your wrist?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney District, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Finish That Disney Parks Sign: Finding Directions to Harambe

posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s Disney Parks sign is a newer one that can be found in the Harambe section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Do you remember the missing words here? Where can you find fresh water and clean beds? If you remember, tell us in the “Comments” section below. The post will be updated later today with the answer!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wildlife Wednesday: When You Think of Elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. . . Think Big!

posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Kathy Lehnhardt, Curator of Education, Disney’s Animal Programs


Elephant care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a big job! Elephants are intelligent, social, and complex animals so meeting all their care requirements means lots of work and dedication, especially when the herd consists of eight unique individuals to look after. Our Animal Care Team provides daily baths, facility cleaning, foot care, feeding, record keeping, advanced training and enrichment programs all completed in an environment that is safe for both elephants and people. Our Veterinarians are able to perform many medical procedures without tranquilization as a result of effective training, so the elephants actually assist in their own health care. And of course there is plenty of time for elephant social interactions in not one, but three large habitats spanning about seven acres.

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As you can imagine, elephants are big… really big! In fact, they are the largest land animal on our planet. But it’s hard to imagine just how big they are until you stand next to an African bull [male] elephant. Since this is an opportunity very few people have the chance to experience, the Elephant Care Team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked with Disney Imagineering to simulate the experience by adding three life-sized silhouettes of elephants on the elephant house:

1. An adult bull at 11 feet tall
2. An adult cow at 8 feet tall
3. A newborn calf at 3 feet tall

Guests participating in the Backstage Safari program now have the chance to safely measure themselves next to an elephant –an elephant silhouette that is – for a real height and size comparison. Day guests onboard the Wildlife Express Train at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can also view the elephant silhouettes as the train passes the backstage elephant house.

To further enhance the area and share our commitment to elephants, both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in the wild, the team also added an inscription to the elephant house that proudly declares: “Dedicated to Elephant Care and Conservation.”

Conserving elephants in the wild is also a big job! It is currently estimated that each day, 96 African elephants are killed for various reasons including their ivory tusks. Only by working together can we help protect elephants from illegal poaching.

Walt Disney said it best, “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people, it’s a matter that concerns all of us … If we will use our riches wisely, if we will protect our wildlife, and preserve our lakes and streams these things will last us for generations to come.”

To learn more about how you can get involved in elephant conservation, visit: www.elephantconservation.org, www.Savetheelephants.com or the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign, at www.96elephants.org.

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Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – July 2014

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Here are the merchandise events headed your way this July at the Walt Disney World Resort!

June 20 – July 3: Artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection! Look for David again July 24 – 27. Learn more.

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June 26 – July 7: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Look for special appearances by Linda each day, July 3 -6. Visiting later in the month? Stop by July 17 – 28. Learn more.

July 1 – 4: Renowned international artist Larry Dotson will be appearing throughout the day at Art of Disney in Epcot, July 1- 4. Look for Larry again, July 17 – 20 at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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July 4 – 11: Meet artist Greg McCullough this month at the Walt Disney World Resort. Greg will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, July 4 – 11 as well as July 30 – August 3. Look for additional appearances by Greg at Art of Disney in Epcot, July 16 – 20 and July 23 – 27. Learn more.

July 25: Get an early jump on your holiday shopping and celebrate Christmas in July with us and Disney artists, Costa Alavezos, Cody Reynolds and Derrick Lirette from 6 – 8p.m. at Disney’s Days of Christmas in Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Have you signed up for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Keep an eye out for specially themed merchandise and special appearances by artists Brian Blackmore, Larry Dotson, Greg McCullough and Darren Wilson. Learn more.

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Finally, a limited number of tickets to Disney Trade Celebration 2014 – Imagination Gala taking place at World ShowPlace in Epcot, September 5 – 7 are still available, so sign up for the Pin and Vinylmation Showcase Packages today! Learn more.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout

posted on June 25th, 2014 by Allyson Atkins, Education Manager, Disney's Animals, Science and Environment


Summer is a perfect time to get outside and spend time exploring nature with friends and family. Whether you are here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom getting close to hippos on the Wild Africa Trek, discovering the Alaskan wilderness with Disney Cruise Line or spending time in your own local park, you are part of making the outdoors the new “in” place to be! Even Disney Channel star Olivia Holt is on board and spreading the word!

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At Disney we are committed to connecting families and kids with nature through both Disney experiences, as well as support for other nature-related resources. If you are looking for a fun way to get outside this weekend, you can join thousands of families across the country by taking the pledge to be part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout on June 28. In your own (or a neighbor’s) backyard, local park or campground, spend the evening together looking at the stars, telling campsite stories or making animal shadows in your tent with a flashlight. The Great American Backyard Campout site features great information to help get you started, from camping tips to things you may need on your camping trip. Make sure to check out the fun ideas for camping games and activities as well as tasty meal ideas and recipes to make the evening even better. And remember, your night under the stars can make a real difference for wildlife.

Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout Wildlife Wednesday: Get Outside This Weekend by Participating in the Great American Backyard Campout

Not only is it fun to spend time together outdoors, there are studies that show time in nature can help improve academic performance, promote imagination and creativity and even lead to better health and well-being! On top of that, you are helping inspire the next generation to care about the planet, leading to positive actions for nature as adults.

So check it out, get outside and have a wild time!

Want to learn more about how you can connect with nature and help people, communities and the planet? Spread the word by sharing this blog post with your friends and family. Learn more about Disney’s conservation efforts both locally and around the world at WDWnews.com/about/environment/ and Disney.com/conservation. Experience more of our conservation work by participating in our guest offerings, such as Wild Africa Trek and Backstage Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Seeing Stars During Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 23rd, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


“The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” the incredible theatrical experience produced for Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, celebrates the 20th anniversary of “The Lion King.” This all-new show is a 55-minute retelling of Simba’s story as never seen before, combining music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions.

In “The Lion King,” Simba’s father, Mufasa, invites him to look to the stars. “The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars,” he says. “So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you, and so will I.”

This and other wonderful messages and moments from that classic film have resonated with people the world over, including the stars participating as celebrity narrators for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” For the opening night performance earlier this month, we were honored to be joined by Viola Davis, Tony award winner and Oscar nominated star of “The Help,” “Doubt,” and the upcoming ABC drama “How to Get Away with Murder.” She shared with us her impressions of the performance, as well as her personal connection to one of the main messages of the film.

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014. The lineup of celebrity 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 28 David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color” – SOLD OUT
  • July 5Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy” – SOLD OUT
  • July 12Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Every event night so far has sold out, but great seats are still available for each of the remaining dates in July and August. You’ll need to act fast, though! 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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Oscar-Winning ‘Frozen’ Songwriters Enjoy a Heart-Warming Visit to Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 21st, 2014 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


They’ve been called “Cutest Couple Ever.” They’ve won the Academy Award for “Let it Go,” part of a musical score that has already become the stuff of legend. The New York home of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez is laden with awards — including the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy (making Bobby an “EGOT,” a person who has won all four awards).

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So, what did they want to do next? Go to Disney Parks!

Kristen and Bobby are firm on a very important point. No amount of fame and acclaim can compare with the love of friends and family (they just welcomed a little nephew into the fold last month). Clearly they’re having as much fun seeing their daughters react to Disney magic as they’re enjoying it themselves (I feel the same way about my kids, just like my father did about me).

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As Kristen says in the video, “We’re Disney people!” They’ve got an especially warm attachment to the first stage musical they worked on together, Finding Nemo—The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — as well as The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, which features their song, “In the Big Blue World.” They told me about their Disney fandom in this interview.

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By the way, have you checked out the Limited-Edition color 12” vinyl LP album version of the “Frozen” soundtrack?. It’s available here. I love to shine the two blue discs and the crystal engraved disc up to the light — that is, when I’m not listening to them!

You can find the compact disc soundtrack of “Frozen,” as well as the Finding Nemo — The Musical cast album at select Walt Disney World Resort shops (or by calling Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477).

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