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It’s Disney Cruise Line Week on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

posted on December 9th, 2013 by Tony Shepherd, Producer, Broadcast Marketing

Starting tonight, it’s “Disney Cruise Line Week on Wheel of Fortune” and we hope you’ll tune in, because there’s a lot of hijinks on the High Seas ahead!

To whet your appetite for what’s to come, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the preparation and the filming of this fantastic week of shows!

I always tell you that I have the best job at Disney and this latest adventure was no exception! I had the extremely difficult and arduous task of having to sail not once, but TWICE aboard the beautiful Disney Dream. (Okay – I lied. Sailing twice in a month? Awesome!)

First, we sailed with some of “Wheel’s” brilliant filmmakers to film scenes of both the spectacular ship and our breathtaking private island paradise, Castaway Cay. Look closely at the backgrounds – you’ll see behind the contestants all week on the show, and you’ll see their stunning work. Here’s a picture of their crew filming on the island.

Castaway Cay

I mentioned hijinks – well, when you hear that word, you probably think there were some, ahem, goofy things going on, and you’d be right. We filmed some very fun vignettes on our second sailing. (Here’s a shot of me giving some “direction” to the Boss – talk about intimidating!)

Tony directing MM

Then, of course, it was time to head out to Hollywood to film at “Wheel of Fortune’s” studio. You’ll see how we worked with their fantastic art director – a former Imagineer, by the way – to recreate Castaway Cay right on their Sound Stage!

We’re excited to share a few photos: First, the finished set – don’t these ships look ready to sail?

Disney Cruise Line on the Set of 'Wheel of Fortune' Disney Cruise Line on the Set of 'Wheel of Fortune'

Mickey “overseeing” the Production.

Goofy and Donald trying to steal “ears” from unsuspecting audience members…

And the gang arriving for work at the Sound Stage.

We were also thrilled that a number of cast members from Disneyland Resort attended the tapings, and here they are posing for a picture in front of the famous puzzle board.

Everything went flawlessly – except for a couple of not-to-be-named chipmunks who were late for their close-ups due to a post-lunch nap. But, we caught up, and we think you’ll love what you see.
Chip and Dale

Enjoy these behind-the scenes outtakes that never made the “final cut,” then tune in to “Wheel of Fortune” all this week – and, buy a vowel!

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Top Five Behind-The-Scenes Looks at Walt Disney World Resort Holidays

posted on November 29th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

We love sharing behind-the-scenes looks with you here on the Disney Parks Blog. Some of our most interesting holiday content from years past have included backstage glimpses of how Walt Disney World Resort readies for the holiday season, whether it’s decorating overnight or building larger-than-life gingerbread structures.


Here are some of our best behind-the-scenes looks at the holidays at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Did you know that some departments work year-round to plan holiday fun? John Graham takes you behind the scenes at our Holiday Services department and Holiday Merchandise showroom to sneak a peek at how we start planning months in advance.

Did you know that Magic Kingdom Park is decorated for the holidays just a few days after Halloween is over? Check out this timelapse video to see how our “elves” transform the park from “Halloween Spooky” to “Holiday Sparkle” in a matter of hours.

Cinderella’s Holiday Wish and Castle Dream Lights lights up Magic Kingdom Park throughout the season. Check out this video with Entertainment’s Reed Jones on what it takes to string lights on Cinderella Castle.

Are you a fan of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Check out this video, in which Entertainment’s John Phelan tells the story of how this holiday spectacle came to be.

Have you seen the creative gingerbread houses (and other sugary structures) that decorate our resorts each season? Check out this behind-the-scenes timelapse of the gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

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Behind the Scenes: Creating a Very Merry Ad Campaign For Magic Kingdom Park

posted on November 25th, 2013 by Will Gay, Creative Director, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Have you ever wondered what makes Mickey’s Christmas Party “very merry” and not just normal merry? Well, for the first time ever, the creative team here at Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group found the answer.

The idea behind this year’s holiday campaign revolves all around the name of Mickey’s Christmas Party – which you can see in a new VERY merry logo and over-the-top merry scenes. Since the party is a classic Christmas party at Magic Kingdom Park, the style and tone of the campaign – from the hand-drawn logo to a traditional animated short – was inspired by the classic Disney shorts and vintage holiday greeting cards.

One of the most exciting pieces to work on was an original 30-second animation featuring Mickey and the gang getting ready for the very-est, merriest party of the year. The commercial was traditionally animated in the style of the Disney classic cartoons of the late 1930s and 1940s. The sound design was really fun, too. We love the narrator’s ‘Goofy How-To’ vibe and the character voices throughout. The soundtrack, a jazzy rendition of Jingle Bells, was also inspired by a 1940s big band and recorded by a live orchestra.

The entire campaign was sparked by a fun Christmas story that explains the origins of Mickey’s first Very Merry Christmas Party. The story is a great way to get your kids excited for the Christmas Party. And, even if you’re not going this year, it’s just really fun to ad-lib Donald Duck’s not-so-merry outbursts. You can download the full story by clicking the image below.


You can also expect to see very merry billboards, banner ads, and hear radio spots leading up to the party, which is happening select nights now through December 20. (Tickets are on sale now at

And, since no Christmas would be complete without a gift or two, we made some very merry wallpapers just for our Disney Parks Blog readers. Be sure to check out the terms of use about using the wallpapers before you download it.


Have a VERY merry Christmas!

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PIXAR Brings ‘Toy Story Nutcracker’ to Life for ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on October 21st, 2013 by Steven Davison, Imagineer, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment

To put together a show like “World of Color – Winter Dreams,” it takes an army, or in our case “Green Army Men”! For this new, full-length original show we have enlisted the help of our friends from PIXAR Animation Studios. We went to them with a wild idea: what if “Toy Story” characters decided to perform Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”?

In the original ballet, Clara’s Christmas tree grows and the audience shrinks to this size of a toy beneath the tree. This became our inspiration. The “World of Color” technology was perfect for this effect, because we can make the tree grow in front of your eyes. Then, below the tree is where the magic really happens. Beneath the tree we find Woody, the show’s director. Over the summer he has put together the toys’ version of the ballet. Of course, they have their own special spin on it. Each musical piece we used – Miniature Overture, Trepak (Russian Dance), Tea (Chinese Dance) and Waltz of the Flowers – took on a life of its own. We gave them all special arrangements to match the characters; for instance, the Trepak dance became western to fit Woody and Jessie’s duet.

Another great example of putting a new spin on the classic is Tea (Chinese Dance). We took our inspiration from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” and the Mushroom scene. We replaced the Mushrooms with Little Green Men and the baby Mushroom with Rex in at tutu. The result is pure magic!

It’s wonderful when we can synergize and partner with great artists like PIXAR and let everyone’s creative energy flow together into the idea. It grows and grows like Clara’s Christmas tree, becoming an exciting new work of art with each pass. And in the end, our audiences get to see the magic that great partnerships can make.

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It’s Freaky Friday – Time to Open Another Door on the Gingerbread House Inside Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park

posted on October 11th, 2013 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland park makes Friday even more fun: it’s the day to open another door on the “13 Faces of Jack” Advent Calendar Mausoleum. Behind every door is another likeness of the infamous Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the inspiration behind the cool seasonal décor at the Haunted Mansion.

“It’s the biggest yet,” says Brian Sandahl, Senior Designer at Disney Creative Entertainment. The mausoleum measures 8 feet wide and 13 feet tall and sits imposingly on the table in the ballroom of the Haunted Mansion.

The over-the-top decorations are the result of a year-long collaboration between Disneyland Resort chefs, the Entertainment team and Walt Disney Imagineering. Here’s a look back at the making of this year’s gingerbread creation.

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Behind the Scenes: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Car Completes Drop Test at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on September 23rd, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Earlier today, Imagineers and Design & Engineering marked a milestone in the construction of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park.


Last week, the team completed the car’s first push/pull test, and today marked the first time the train ran under its own gravity and completed its first drop out of the station.

As a reminder, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is set to debut in 2014.

For more on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, read the posts below:

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Creating the Magic of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park

posted on September 18th, 2013 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

In celebration of the 13th season of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland park, I set out to talk to some cast members whose jobs are to help Jack Skellington and his buddies take over the Haunted Mansion each year. Edward, Richard and Lindsey have worked a combined 32 spooktakular seasons creating the magic, and as you’ll see in this video, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Check out more posts about Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort:

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Celebrating 13 Frightfully Fun Seasons of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park

posted on September 13th, 2013 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment

What’s This? The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park reopens today as Haunted Mansion Holiday, with the classic attraction taken over by the citizens of Halloween Town for the 13th year in a row.

This year, in honor of that unluckiest of anniversaries, several new surprises have been added to the mix. Of course, Jack Skellington and company couldn’t do it all alone. They got some help from the Creative Entertainment team, including Creative Director Steven Davison and Senior Designer Brian Sandahl.

Brian recently took us behind the scenes at Haunted Mansion Holiday to share how they’ve brought the attraction to life for 13 seasons.

So head on over to Haunted Mansion Holiday to see what’s new for this year, and be sure to check back on the Disney Parks Blog later this month, when we reveal additional surprises coming as part of “Limited Time Magic!”

Read more about Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort on the Disney Parks Blog:

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Behind the Scenes: New Custom Animation for ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on September 11th, 2013 by Steven Davison, Imagineer, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment

Happy Holidays! ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ is coming up faster than you can imagine. This new holiday water spectacular is going to be visually breathtaking!

As part of show, we are working closely with our partners at Walt Disney Animation Studios. This outstanding group of artists is going out of their way to bring new and amazing animation to the show. From classics like “Bambi,” to new characters like Olaf from the upcoming animated feature “Frozen,” all are being customized for the “World of Color” fountain/projection stage.

To tell you a little bit more about it and give you a look behind the scenes, here’s a video with Dave Bossert, Producer and Creative Director of Special Projects for Walt Disney Animation Studios. He’s going to chat about about the custom work they are doing for the all-new show.

Season’s Greetings!

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VIDEO: Disney Dream Portraits by Annie Leibovitz – Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Hudson as Tiana

posted on August 23rd, 2013 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Yesterday we revealed the newest Disney Dream Portrait by Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks featuring the amazing Jennifer Hudson as Tiana. Today we’re going behind the scenes to the town of Patterson, NY, where last May, Annie Leibovitz and her skilled team of artists and technical wizards created a photo set in the middle of an actual swamp. This beautiful location, known as the Great Swamp, was just perfect for a shoot featuring characters from “The Princess and the Frog.”

This video really captures the fun atmosphere on the set and Jennifer’s deep connection to Disney Parks. You’ll hear her discuss what this “full circle moment” means to her as a mother and as a former cast member aboard the Disney Wonder. Pay particular attention to her skill at giving directions. Once a Disney girl, always a Disney girl!

Having her son, David, on the set for this special shoot was very meaningful to Jennifer and I don’t think either of them will soon forget it.

Disney Dream Portraits by Annie Leibovitz with Jennifer Hudson as Tiana Disney Dream Portraits by Annie Leibovitz with Jennifer Hudson as Tiana Disney Dream Portraits by Annie Leibovitz with Jennifer Hudson as Tiana

Jennifer, who is also the Godmother of the Disney Dream, loves to visit our parks with her family and she told me that her favorite place to visit at any Disney park is the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She also mentioned that her favorite song happens to be a Disney song. Can you guess which one?

Go behind the scenes of other recent Disney Dream Portraits in the stories below:

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