Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Environmental Integration Representative

posted on April 1st, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Happy Earth Month! This green installment of “Every Role a Starring Role” spotlights cast member Helen Jaco, an Environmental Integration Representative at the Disneyland Resort. Helen helps reduce waste at the Disneyland Resort by working with various departments to increase environmental awareness and help them find creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

From donating at least 50 pairs of shoes per day to Goodwill to recycling seven tons of food scraps per day into animal feed, the Disneyland Resort continues to minimize waste thanks in part to Helen, who tells us more about her role and the programs she supports in this video!

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Disneyland Resort Hotels Earn California’s Top Environmental Certification

posted on March 19th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel & Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel each earned an environmentalist certification from the California Green Lodging program! The environmentalist certification represents the state’s top rating for travelers seeking green lodging. Fewer than 1% of Orange County hotels share this level of certification with the Disneyland Resort hotels.

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State auditors survey topics including water and energy conservation, waste minimization and recycling, and pollution prevention. Disneyland Resort hotels participate in numerous recycling programs, including recycling plastic cards used as guest room keys, cooking oil used to fuel Disneyland Resort attractions, and partially used soaps and bottled amenities that are sanitized and repackaged into hygiene products for children and families around the world in partnership with Clean the World Foundation.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: It’s Time to Spring Forward To Help Frogs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 26th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


It’s that time of year again—spring is just around the corner and, even before that, we’ll be adjusting our clocks forward for Daylight Saving time. It’s also the time of year that we “spring forward” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians.

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When guests visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch on March 4, during a special connecting families with nature event, meet cool amphibians and the animal experts who care for them. They also will be able to make toad abodes (special homes for frogs and toads) for their backyards, try leaping like a frog, listen to frog calls, and examine amphibian adaptations.

Guests can find out about Florida’s native frogs, which are one of the many animals that are part of the Disney’s Animal Programs native wildlife program. Our team monitors animals as varied as amphibians, gopher tortoises and butterflies, as well as dozens of bird species at the Walt Disney World Resort, where nearly one-third of the property has been set aside as a dedicated wildlife conservation area.

Guests also can learn about the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad, which we are raising at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and releasing in their native habitat to re-populate the species in an area where these toads once thrived but are now considered extinct.

Frogs are Being Celebrated at the Connecting Families with Nature Events at Walt Disney World Resort Frogs are Being Celebrated at the Connecting Families with Nature Events at Walt Disney World Resort

Did you know that, according to some estimates, as many as one-third of the known amphibian species are threatened by extinction because of loss of habitat, climate change, pollution and disease? To find out more about Disney conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation

Here’s how to help frogs:

  • Invite a bug-zapping amphibian into your backyard by placing an overturned pot (toad abode) as a home–frogs provide a free pest-control service (they eat billions of harmful insects annually, including mosquitoes and their larvae)
  • Use fewer chemical pesticides on your lawn to keep amphibians healthy
  • Build a pond, plant native shrubs, and leave leaf litter and logs in your yard to create a habitat for frogs
  • Find natural alternatives to household chemicals so these toxins don’t end up in amphibian habitats
  • Plan a family outing to a local pond to hear different species of frogs sing their love songs to one another
  • Take part in a local pond or stream clean-up to ensure that native amphibians will have a clean home

Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • April 22: Party for the Planet for Earth Day
  • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day
  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • April 22: Earth Day
  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 4: World Ocean Day
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Sweethearts ‘Hanging Out’ in Expanded Play Area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 5th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


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When it comes to an expanded outdoor space, human sweethearts might appreciate a new patio for Valentine’s Day where they can enjoy romantic dinners or morning coffee. Our animal sweethearts, the white-cheeked gibbons, on the other hand, are enjoying “hanging out” in a new outdoor space that’s perfect for them—an additional climbing structure that was added to their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom just in time for Valentine’s Day.
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Our white-cheeked gibbons, one of the few species of animals that maintain a monogamous relationship, along with their three offspring, are climbing, playing, and singing (yes—gibbons sing!) on a new structure that was added to their habitat near the Kali River Rapids and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The play area gives guests an even better view of the gibbons as they swing and climb.

The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by to see our gibbon family.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Sweethearts “Hanging Out” in Expanded Play Area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Sweethearts “Hanging Out” in Expanded Play Area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Fun Facts:

  • Gibbons live in small monogamous families, consisting of a mated pair with their offspring. Grooming and playing are important social activities for gibbons, and the couples sing together. Adult pairs sing to advertise the establishment of their territory or to warn off other family groups. The gibbons’ duets help to strengthen pair bonds, and pairs can be identified by their particular song. Single adults will sing to attract a mate.
  • You may think you are looking at two different kinds of apes when you see the gold and the black gibbons, but you are actually seeing a female and a male. The babies are born gold to blend in with mom and then change color around one year old. The males stay black, but the females will change back to the gold color when they are sexually mature.
  • Gibbons produce offspring about once every 2 to 3 years after 7 to 8 months of gestation. Generally, females give birth to a single offspring. Infants have the ability to cling to their mothers immediately after birth, which allows females complete range of motion while locomoting with their offspring.
  • White-cheeked gibbons can be found in the canopy of tropical rainforests of Laos, Vietnam and southern China.
  • Gibbons spend their whole lives in the canopy of the forests. You can help their forest homes by purchasing shade-grown coffee and other forest-friendly products.

To learn about Disney conservation efforts, please visit www.disney.com/conservation

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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Now Available at Disneyland Resort

posted on January 31st, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Twenty ChargePoint charging ports have been installed on the first floor of the Mickey & Friends parking structure for guests with electric vehicles! Guests can begin using them today by scanning their ChargePoint card or by easily registering for a free ChargePoint account at the charging station, or online at http://www.chargepoint.com.

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According to ChargePoint, the Disneyland Resort is now home to one of the largest collections of public EV charging stations in Southern California. Guests arriving at the Mickey & Friends parking structure can ask a cast member for directions to the charging stations. Separate charging stations are also available to cast members for a total of 30 charging ports at the resort. To learn more about our environmental efforts at the Disneyland Resort, click here!

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I have fantastic news from the 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count, which took place last Saturday. We counted a record number of birds and, for the first time, guests joined in the count during Magical Moments.

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Cast Members and their families, guided by Disney’s Animal Programs bird experts, counted more than 24,000 birds representing 119 species at the Walt Disney World Resort and surrounding area. This is a new record for the most birds and the most species observed since we started the bird count four years ago. It’s obvious that our feathered friends enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort as much as our guests do!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

And this year, for the first time, guests joined the count during Magical Moments, some counting birds side-by-side with Walt Disney World Ambassador Rich Tamayo. At Disney’s Pop Century and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts, for example, guests counted hooded mergansers (a colorful member of the duck family) coming in to roost on a pond between the resorts, along with little blue herons, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, and many other birds.

New species that we counted this year included the black-bellied whistling duck, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, American pipit, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow and the beautiful painted bunting.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

Did you participate in a bird count during the past year? If so, tell us about your favorite moment in the comments.

Did you know?

  • Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900. Data collected in bird counts from year to year allow scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas
  • We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.
  • Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6.1 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker and mangrove cuckoo.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 15th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


You asked and we listened! We’ve heard from Disney Parks Blog fans that you’d like to know as early as possible what special events the Disney’s Animal Programs team has planned for the year, so you can include them in your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. Some of our Florida resident guests, for example, make it a point to come to every one of these events — a great compliment to our dedicated cast who are thrilled to welcome them.

The events take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. The goal of each is to provide kids and families with a special opportunity to connect with nature, talk to our animal experts, and learn more about some of the fantastic creatures with whom we share our planet. Here’s the list of our 2014 events. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more detailed posts shortly before each one. We hope to see you at one or more of them!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort

See below for 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • March 4: Spring Forward for Amphibians Day — Just a few days before we adjust our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time, we’re “springing forward” to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians.
  • April 22: Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day — Every day is a Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as guests and cast members join together to celebrate the wonders of nature, but, on Earth Day, there will be even more natural magic. Included is a celebration of the release of Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears,” in theaters April 18, which showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.
  • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day — Time to celebrate of one the wonders of nature – bird migration – and the ways we can help protect birds on their journeys.
  • May 20: World Turtle Day — Turtles are fascinating creatures, and really cool dudes, too – just ask Crush! Both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate turtles with special activities.
  • June 10: Pollinator Day — butterflies, bees and other pollinators are the stars of this celebration.
  • July 29: Big Cat Day — It’s all about the largest cats, like lions and tigers – cats to whom you wouldn’t want to say, “here, kitty, kitty.”
  • August 5: Primate Day — The perfect place to find out what a 400-pound gorilla and a one-pound cotton-top tamarin have in common.
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day — Learn fun facts and important conservation information about magnificent and endangered elephants and rhinos.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • April 22: Earth Day Celebration — It’s an ocean of fun at The Seas on Earth Day as this Earth Day celebration focuses on marine animals.
  • May 20: World Turtle Day — See the magnificent sea turtles swim by in the main aquarium and find out what each of us can do to keep turtles safe in the wild.
  • June 4: World Oceans Day — Join Nemo, Dory, Crush and the rest of the gang in celebrating the wonders of the oceans.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Animals Enjoy Holiday Fun Too at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 8th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Our guests and cast members are not the only ones who experienced special delights during the holidays at Walt Disney World Resort. Our animals did too! This holiday season, the Disney’s Animal Programs Science Operations Team hosted a competition for the animal care teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The goal: craft creative holiday experiences for the animals in their care.

The competition encouraged teams to design holiday “gifts” for their animals to highlight the animals’ natural behaviors, introduce the holiday spirit and provide unique viewing opportunities for our guests. We thought it would be fun to share a few of the many great ideas the animal care staff came up with — so here it goes!

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Bat holiday wreath — One of our Malayan flying foxes enjoys a holiday wreath made of natural grasses and nutritious vegetables on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

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Springbok holiday tree — A pair of springbok investigate a tree ornamented with fresh produce on the savanna of the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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Holiday-themed snack for giraffe — One of our Masai giraffe explores this festive feeding device filled with nutritious treats in view of guests.

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Tiger meets snowman — A tiger makes “friends” with a holiday snowman crafted by the animal care team of holiday-scented paper mache.

Did you know?

A progressive and integrated enrichment program plays a key role in delivering uncompromising excellence in animal care and welfare. Enrichment encourages animals to exhibit their natural behaviors, which is mentally and physically healthy for them, and also enables guests to see the cool adaptations that help the animals survive. You can enrich the lives of wildlife and encourage natural behaviors in your own backyard by adding a bird bath, native plants, log piles and bird houses. Then, sit back and enjoy the fun of watching the wildlife up close! To learn more about Disney conservation efforts, please visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: A Look Back at a Few Baby Animals Welcomed in 2013

posted on December 18th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at a few of the baby animals we welcomed in 2013.

In March, we shared the news about a saddle-billed stork chick hatched at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not only was this chick a first for its parents, but also a first for the park. In the same post, we reported on the birth of a white-cheeked gibbon. This baby joined a family consisting of mom, dad, big sister and big brother.

Saddle-billed stork chick Infant white-cheeked gibbon and its mother

The summer brought word from Proyecto Titi, a conservation organization that receives support from Disney, about an amazing birth. Tamara, a cotton-top tamarin who lives in the forest of Colombia, South America, had just given birth to her 12th litter and 22nd infant.

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In October, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, we welcomed a baby Hartmann’s mountain zebra. The population of this rare species of zebra is teetering at just under 50 animals in the U.S.

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At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, we had a record number of sea turtle nests in 2013 — 1,654 to be exact — which resulted in thousands of baby sea turtles. What fantastic news for conservation!

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I also couldn’t go without mentioning our baby siamang twins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Although they weren’t born in 2013, they began spending lots of time this year in their habitat in the Asia area of the park, always under the watchful eye of their dad Kenny and, of course, our animal care team.

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These new additions represent conservation successes for both species in human care and in the wild. They are a source of inspiration for me, and a reminder to do all I can to protect wildlife and nature. I am proud and thankful that our guests tell us again and again that they are inspired too. Happy holidays!

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Endangered Cotton-Top Tamarins Receive Gift of Protected Forest

posted on December 11th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I am thrilled to report that critically endangered cotton-top tamarins in Colombia, South America, received an amazing gift just in time for the holidays — the gift of an additional area of protected forest. This tiny monkey with the wild hairdo, which guests can see when they visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is native only in Colombia, and there are fewer than 7,500 remaining.

Ctop Holiday Border

An area of forest in Santa Catalina, Colombia, has been officially declared a protected area for the cotton-top by Cardique, a regional environmental protection agency in that country.

Proyecto Titi, a conservation organization in Colombia whose mission is to save the cotton-top tamarin, has been working to call attention to some of the last remaining forested areas for cotton-tops. The newly-protected area has been a long-term field site for the study of cotton-tops by Proyecto Titi.

Last year 900 hectares (over 2,200 acres) in the Atlántico region of Colombia was declared a protected area for cotton-tops, and now another 421 protected hectares (over 1,000 acres) has been added.

The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by to see the cotton-top tamarins. You can see them in a habitat in front of the Tree of Life and also at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

You can find out even more about cotton-top tamarins at www.proyectotiti.com and how the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is helping cotton-tops, other tamarins and wildlife around the world at www.disney.com/conservation.

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