Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

‘Once Upon a Parade’ – Bonus Feature – ‘Sleeping Beauty’

posted on October 7th, 2014 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing


To call “Sleeping Beauty” a classic is certainly an understatement. With its extraordinary story and unforgettable characters, it’s thrilled generations of filmgoers. Of course, at Disney Parks, it inspired the Imagineers to build our very first castle at Disneyland park. And it continues to inspire magic in our parks to this day, including many elements of our brand new, “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” at Magic Kingdom Park.

So, we’re excited that a brand new Bonus Feature, “Once Upon a Parade”, all about the creation of “Festival of Fantasy”, is making its debut on the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray of “Sleeping Beauty” today! (It’s available in Digital HD, too.)

Some of my favorite projects here have been collaborating on other Bonus Features for titles such as “The Jungle Book” and “The Little Mermaid.” So, we were so excited to again have the opportunity to work with our friends at the Walt Disney Studios.

It’s a behind-the-scenes look, of course. But, this time, the filmmakers are showing you a whole different kind of magic – something you’ve never seen before! Who better to create a Disney Parade than the citizens of Fantasyland themselves – and this film will show you how they did it!

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As you know, we love to give you a little “backstage” look at our filmmaking process – so, here goes: This film utilized two tons of hay, plus smoke, thunder, lightning effects, half a ton of feathers, a snow machine … and every frame of it was shot inside Magic Kingdom Park.

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“Once Upon a Parade” stars the amazing Sarah Hyland from ABC’s “Modern Family”, and we had a fantastic time working on the project. I’m not certain I know a bigger fan of the Disney Parks than Sarah – she might know more Disney trivia than any of us! Check out the video, where Sarah talks about the project, her passion for all things Disney … and even gives you a sneak peek at the Bonus Feature, too!

“Sleeping Beauty” releases today, for the first Time on Diamond Edition Blu-ray and Digital HD. Go get your copy!

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Behind the Scenes: Adding ‘Fantasia’ Magic to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

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


The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival features the creative talents of many different departments here at Walt Disney World Resort, including our excellent Food & Beverage team. But did you know that Walt Disney Imagineering and Horticulture also play an important part in getting the park ready for the festival?

Check out this video, in which our Walt Disney Imagineers and Horticulture cast members work together to transform the park’s Entrance Planters with “Fantasia”-inspired graphics and topiaries – in just eight hours.

Drawing inspiration from the film, the graphics and horticulture designs illustrate Chef Mickey orchestrating “magical forks” to spread flavor throughout the festival. This theme is carried out throughout the park’s other graphics and horticulture displays.

What is your favorite part of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Time-Lapse Video: Haunted Mansion Holiday Gingerbread House Installed at Disneyland Park

posted on October 1st, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Halloween Time is upon us, and that means the return of seasonal fan favorite, Haunted Mansion Holiday. Each year, Jack Skellington takes over the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park, transforming the iconic attraction in honor of “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” One of the signature details of Haunted Mansion Holiday is the enormous gingerbread house, which changes each year. Our video team documented the installation of this year’s creation … take a look in this time-lapse video!

Have you seen the new gingerbread house inside Haunted Mansion Holiday this year?

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What’s This? Disneyland Resort Entertainment Team Shares Top Pics for Haunted Mansion Holiday

posted on September 16th, 2014 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


Every August, the Disneyland Resort Entertainment team begins helping Jack Skellington take over the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park to create Haunted Mansion Holiday. To see them in action is quite a treat. There’s always something new and different to discover, so I thought I’d ask the talented team to show me their favorite parts of Skellington’s magical makeover.

My favorite feature is seeing all of the spooky stockings; I can only imagine what’s inside of them! What’s your favorite part of Haunted Mansion Holiday?

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Sneak Peek at Much-Anticipated Gingerbread Creation for Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park

posted on August 28th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Check out the sketch of this year’s gingerbread creation for Haunted Mansion Holiday, the masterful work of a year-long collaboration between Disneyland Resort chefs, the Entertainment team and Walt Disney Imagineering. The masterpiece debuts when Haunted Mansion Holiday opens at Disneyland park on September 12.
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“The Ghost Host of Haunted Mansion Holiday always says, ‘even a gingerbread house can be scary,’ and we’ve definitely taken the design towards scary this year,” says Tim Wollweber, Graphic Designer/Sculptor.

Of course, the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house adds a little whimsy with a hapless gingerbread zombie trapped inside – and those frightening spikes are very sharp, red-and-white candy canes. The gingerbread house also will feature opening and closing doors and lights.

The wood foundation is wired, then sent to the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery for a 3-week layover to apply 200 pounds of gingerbread, 200 pounds of royal icing, 150 pounds of fondant, and all sorts of other sticky treats. The gingerbread house stands at almost 7 feet tall.

There’s plenty of time to take it all in – Haunted Mansion Holiday goes through January 6, 2015.

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Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park: Building Trust

posted on August 22nd, 2014 by Donna Fisk, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


In the second of a series of videos designed to go backstage at Circle D Ranch at Disneyland park, you’ll see Lead Equine Trainer, Jennifer Gable, working on groundwork skills. Consistent groundwork is important to build trust between the horse and trainer, and it also allows for new concepts to be introduced to the horse in a safe way. Another important idea behind groundwork is acknowledging the horse’s instincts. As a herd animal, horses naturally look toward the herd leader for guidance and safety. As the horse’s trainer, the goal is to take on the role of the leader, resulting in a horse that’s respectful, responsive and relaxed.

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Training the Horses of the Circle D Ranch at Disneyland Park

posted on June 17th, 2014 by Donna Fisk, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort


Our horses at Circle D Ranch have come to the Disneyland Resort from a variety of backgrounds, all with the training to do their previous jobs. However, since the work of a Disneyland horse is so specific, each new horse undergoes a lengthy training process before becoming an official equine cast member. Our human cast members also come from varying backgrounds, which is why Circle D Ranch training emphasizes uniformity and consistency – not only for the horses, but also for the cast members who work with them.

In this video, you’ll see Lead Equine Trainer Jennifer Gable working with one of our Circle D horses in a training exercise called “Round Pen.” Note that the stick she holds in her hand is not a whip, but rather a training tool used to focus the horse’s attention. You’ll also see that by working with the horse’s natural herding instincts, the exercise provides mental stimulation and builds an atmosphere of trust between horse and trainer.

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The Magic Behind Merchandise at Disney Parks: Creating Elsa’s ‘Frozen’ Dress

posted on June 13th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


I know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the ever-popular Elsa dress (from the Disney animated hit “Frozen“) at Disney Parks, so I wanted to bring you this special behind-the-scenes look at how merchandise at Disney Parks & Resorts is created. Let me start by asking you this important question: Do you want to build a snowman, costume?

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Much like producing a film or designing theme park attractions, creating a memorable item requires careful planning, creativity, attention to detail and, of course, teamwork. The entire development process for a single item can take anywhere from six months to over one year. With the help of our talented team from Disney Theme Park Merchandise, I uncovered all the details on what makes the Elsa dresses from “Frozen” so special and the magic behind the merchandise. So, let’s get started!

What does it look like?

The artist reviews artwork, which allows them to see the original dress from multiple angles and understand the overall color scheme and design. For this particular dress, Disney Design Group artist Cody Reynolds worked closely with Walt Disney Animation Studios to capture the most recognizable elements of the dress from the animated film to translate into a wearable costume.

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What makes it special?

According to Cody, the next step is for the artist and the merchandiser to work together to finalize and approve the costume concept prior to production. The team explores a variety of fabric swatches in an effort to find the perfect match and examines how the fabrics will comfortably fit on an actual person. The final materials chosen were able to emulate a delicate, icy and sheer appearance. Here’s a quick look at the some of the fabric swatches used to create the dress.

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When I asked Cody and merchandiser Katie Patton about their favorite part of the development process, here’s what they had to share. “It’s seeing the first sample for the first time,” said Cody, “when something that has been in your head actually comes to life.”

Of course there’s a lot of logistical planning that goes hand in hand with all of the creative development, buying the dress, figuring out which store will offer them and determining how they’ll get there. Once the dress arrives in the location, our Merchandise presentation team goes to work, ensuring that the item fits the look, feel and the story.

For nearly 60 years, it has been the mission of Disney Theme Park Merchandise to provide an experience that goes far beyond your expectations and extends the storytelling into your homes.

What’s my favorite part of the process? It’s easy! It’s that moment when you see a child smiling and beaming as they exclaim to Elsa, “I’m wearing a dress just like yours!” As you can tell, it’s a rather integrated process that involves collaboration throughout The Walt Disney Company.

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While I know that our “Frozen”-inspired merchandise at Disney Parks is quite popular and often hard to find, I encourage you to keep an eye out for returning favorites and more to come. Shipments from Arendelle continue to arrive, so be sure to check with us on your next visit.

Quick Tip: Purchasing limits apply

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Behind the Scenes at the Disneyland Resort Monorail Roundhouse

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


As we get closer to the 55th anniversary of the Disneyland Monorail this Saturday, we’ve been bringing you unique looks at this iconic Disney Parks attraction. Today we’re taking you behind the scenes for an insider’s look at the Disneyland Resort Monorail Roundhouse. Electrician Peter Gonzalez gives us the scoop on how the monorail works and what his team does to keep the highway in the sky running every day.

See more Disneyland Monorail stories here:

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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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