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Sweet Valentine’s Day Offerings at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 9th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Princess Tiana said it best: “My mom always said that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” If that’s the case, love is all around at Walt Disney World Resort! This week, you’ll find specialty sweets throughout the resort; here are some of our favorites:

Red Velvet Waffle Sundae with Cream Cheese Icing and Sprinkles at Sleepy Hollow Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake at Main Street Bakery

Magic Kingdom Park

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Epcot

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

  • Valentine’s Day heart-shaped cheesecakes, fondue for two, and chocolate covered strawberries at The Mara
  • Heart-shaped puff pastry filled with a Champagne mousse and wild strawberry sauce at Jiko – The Cooking Place

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Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort

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Disney’s BoardWalk

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

  • Valentine Trinity Dessert featuring petite double-ganache chocolate cake, Champagne sabayon and raspberry turnover at Artist Point
  • Strawberry-dipped chocolate cupcake at Roaring Fork

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

  • Sweetheart pancakes and Valentine’s-themed dessert buffet at Chef Mickey’s
  • Red velvet pancakes, red velvet cupcake, strawberry-chocolate crème brûlée, and flourless chocolate cake at The Wave … of American Flavors
  • Double-chocolate specialty cupcake at Contempo Café

Which treats will you share with your sweetie with on Valentine’s Day?

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Filed: Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Behind the Scenes: ‘Monkeying Out’ with the Tumble Monkeys at ‘Festival of the Lion King’

posted on February 9th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


One of my favorite parts of my job with the Disney Parks Blog is that I occasionally get to go behind the scenes and try out something that is really amazing, like stunt car driving at “Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show,” or learning stage combat at the “Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.”

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My most recent adventure took me to “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where I was lucky enough to spend some time with a few stars from the show – the fan-favorite Tumble Monkeys.

Behind the Scenes: 'Monkeying Out' With The Tumble Monkeys at ‘Festival of the Lion King’ Behind the Scenes: 'Monkeying Out' With The Tumble Monkeys at ‘Festival of the Lion King’

In case you haven’t seen “Festival of the Lion King,” the show celebrates the story of Simba the lion cub through live music, dance, puppetry, fireknife, and more. The Tumble Monkey scene adds humor into the story when a group of monkeys bounce, climb, flip, jump and swing in a hilarious gymnastics routine.

In reality, the Tumble Monkeys are a group of highly trained gymnasts who studied the sport up through their college years. In reality, I have not done a cartwheel since about age 7. This made it a pretty interesting challenge to go backstage and learn some of their (beginner) stunts. They also shared with me a team secret, which they call “Monkeying Out.” Check it all out below.

You can see “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom several times each day. Check your My Disney Experience app for showtimes during your visit.


For more behind-the-scenes looks, check out the videos below:

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Tree of Life Grows New Roots at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 7th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the park’s iconic Tree of Life has been growing some new roots.

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Tree of Life Grows New Roots at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Tree of Life Grows New Roots at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Construction walls were just removed early this morning to reveal how the tree’s roots have expanded into the central hub area. Within those roots, guests will discover carvings of new animals that make up the circle of life, from tiny bugs to large crocodiles and more. In addition to offering guests a wonderful view of The Tree of Life, the expanded roots will also offer a widened walkway for guests visiting Discovery Island.

The Tree of Life originally debuted as the park’s icon at the park’s opening in 1998, after 12 months of construction. The 145-foot tall structure is covered in more than 103,000 leaves and originally featured more than 325 animal carvings.

What do you think of the enhancements? Tell us in the comments section below!

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Trolley Car Café Opens, Now Serving Starbucks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

posted on February 6th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As an update on our previously announced plans to bring Starbucks locations to our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, we officially opened the newest location this week – The Trolley Car Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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As we shared earlier, the Trolley Car Café is themed to a classic trolley car station and gives guests a sense of atmosphere from early 20th century Hollywood. We have some of the first photos to share from this week’s opening.

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The Trolley Car Café is located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is now serving Disney baked goods and Starbucks La Boulange™ pastry items along with Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages.

The store is the third in-park location serving Starbucks products at Walt Disney World Resort, along with other locations at Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot, as well as at Downtown Disney. In addition to these locations at Walt Disney World Resort, there’s also another along the way.

Starbucks Rendering

Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog this summer for an update on the location at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Creature Comforts is being re-imagined and will also be serving Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages, as well as Frappuccino blended beverages and signature breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Learn How to Protect Wildlife March 5 at the ‘Spring Forward’ Event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 4th, 2015 by Erin Gallagher, Education Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Happy New Year everyone! (Can you believe it’s already February?)

In my role as an Education Manager for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, I have the opportunity to help coordinate fun animal awareness events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We have plenty of exciting events and celebrations coming up this year, so stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details on 2015 events!

The first event of the New Year is coming up next month. As many in the United States will soon prepare to move their clocks an hour forward for Daylight Savings time, we will also “spring forward” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians!

Guests visiting Rafiki’s Planet Watch on March 5 will have the opportunity to learn about various amphibians and participate in fun, amphibian related activities! Hop on by to examine amphibian adaptations, try leaping like a frog, listen to and identify frog calls, and make toad abodes (special homes for frogs and toads) for their backyards.

Wildlife Wednesday: Learn How to Protect Wildlife March 5 at the “Spring Forward” Event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: Learn How to Protect Wildlife March 5 at the “Spring Forward” Event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Can’t make it to the event, but still want to celebrate amphibians?

  • Invite a bug-zapping amphibian into your backyard by placing an overturned pot (toad abode) in your yard as a new 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.
  • Create a habitat for frogs by building a pond, planting native shrubs, and leave leaves and logs in your yard.
  • Take part in a local pond or stream clean-up to ensure that native amphibians will have a clean home.
  • Plan a family outing to a local pond to hear different species of frogs communicate with one another.
Wildlife Wednesday: Learn How To Protect Wildlife March 5 at the “Spring Forward” Event At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: Learn How To Protect Wildlife March 5 at the “Spring Forward” Event At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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? In an effort to help reverse this decline, our animal care experts are raising the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once old enough, tadpoles are released into their native habitat to re-populate an area where these toads once thrived.

These are just some of the many ways our team works to conserve nature by reducing the decline of species in the wild and increasing the time that kids and families spend in nature to instill life-long conservation values. To find out more about Disney conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Hope to see you soon!

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Newest Disney Cookbook Features Best Recipes from Disney Parks & Resorts, Disney Cruise Line

posted on February 3rd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Oh, how Disney kitchens have changed since Disneyland park opened in 1955. Today, we feed guests from around the globe, and our award-winning chefs and sommeliers wow diners with seasonal produce, often sourced locally, and with finds from around the world. More than ever, food is an important part of any vacation experience.

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What a delight it was to work with the Disney chefs to create Kitchen Magic With Mickey, featuring 100 oft-requested recipes (many shared on the Disney Parks Blog). I sipped an elegant Colette Champagne Cocktail at Remy on the Disney Cruise Line, and tried smoked buffalo at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. But equally delicious (and a little more messy) was the Boo-Ya Chili at ESPN Club and cheesy enchilada soup at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café at Disney’s California Adventure park. From high end to family favorites, this cookbook includes a little bit of everything.

The book is divided into traditional chapters, with each recipe tested in a home kitchen. You’ll find classics such as banana bread French toast, scones, and Southern shrimp and grits, and new taste sensations like haupia from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, and spiced tandoori tofu from Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We hope you’ll re-create a vacation memory in your own kitchen. Kitchen Magic With Mickey is available now at Disney Parks, but here’s a recipe to get you started:

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Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Haupia with Mango Compote

Serves 4

If you love coconut, this is the perfect dessert. Chefs at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on beautiful Ko Olina in Hawaii offer guests true tastes of the islands, and haupia, a traditional sweet often served at Hawaiian luaus, is a favorite sweet ending for guests at the Disney Vacation Club resort.

Haupia

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons shredded coconut, toasted

Mango Compote

  • 1 mango, peeled, cut away from pit, and diced small
  • 1 small lime, washed
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom honey, heated until thin

For haupia:

  1. Combine 1/2 cup coconut milk and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Combine remaining coconut milk, water, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Drizzle cornstarch mixture slowly into saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking vigorously (do not let boil), until mixture is very thick and no longer tastes floury, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Pour into 4 (1/2-cup-capacity) ramekins; cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap directly onto surface of coconut milk mixture.
  4. Refrigerate 2 hours. Garnish with toasted coconut.

For mango compote:

  1. Place mango in a medium bowl. Zest lime into bowl; stir to combine.
  2. Stir in honey. Serve with haupia.

Cook’s note: Mangoes have a hard, oblong pit that runs through the narrow center. To easily cube the fruit, cut each round “cheek” away from pit, score with a paring knife, and cut fruit away from peel.

This recipe has been converted from a larger quantity in the restaurant kitchens.
The flavor profile may vary from the restaurant’s version.

All recipes are the property of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc.,
and may not be reproduced without express permission.

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Filed: Aulani, Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Dining, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Wildlife Wednesday: 11 Facts That Show There’s Something for Everyone on the ‘Treks & Trails’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

posted on January 28th, 2015 by Katie Marini, Education Manager, Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Although I’m a big fan, the Wild Africa Trek isn’t the only trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In my role as an education manager, I love to see and participate in the unique interactions that guests have with cast members on 3 self-guided animal areas. I like to call these areas “Treks & Trails” and they include Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Africa and last, but certainly not least, Rafiki’s Planet Watch (a member of the “trails” family). These areas provide a great opportunity for guests to find additional animals, but also offer something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Check out the list below and let me know what you think!

1. For the Hidden Mickey enthusiast: Did you know there are Hidden Mickeys on murals on Maharajah Jungle Trek and Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Take your time as you search (or ask a friendly cast member for assistance)! Can you find the Hidden Mickeys in the photos below?

A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural Just After the Tiger Exhibit on Maharajah Jungle Trek A Hidden Mickey Location on a Mural at Conservation Station

2. For the cultural aficionado: Cultural Representatives create an authentic atmosphere in both Africa and Asia. Cultural representatives have a unique role because their main assignment each day is to share information about themselves. While chatting with a cultural representative, guests can learn about their culture, home and leisure activities, food and more! You’re bound to learn something and you might even be inspired to take a trip around the world.

3. For the artistic eye: World Showcase at Epcot isn’t the only place to find beautiful works of art almost identical to the models in their respective countries and continents. The unique murals, carvings and structures are also amazing and definitely worth a look. The attention to detail is amazing!

Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek Murals and Carvings Are All Around on Maharajah Jungle Trek

4. For those who like to have the “inside scoop”: Get an “authorized” peek backstage!
Whether you’re interested in the backstage animal areas (if so, the Backstage Safari might be the perfect tour for you!) or you’re wondering what “reimagining this area for your future enjoyment” really means, The Wildlife Express Train provides the best of both worlds. Guests get a backstage look at animal areas on their way to Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On the way back to the Village of Harambe, guests can get a quick glimpse of the work being done to expand offerings in the land of Africa.

5. For the animal lover: Tigers, okapi and snakes, oh my! Multiple viewing areas in Maharajah Jungle Trek help you find tigers all around! Don’t let the water fool you! Tigers are excellent swimmers contrary to popular belief based on their domesticated cousins, the housecat. Can you spot the hidden okapi? They’re not called the “Ghosts of the Forest” for nothing, so keep an eye out for their striped hind legs strolling between the trees. Let’s not forget our cold-blooded friends. Get up close through the amphibian, reptile and invertebrate windows filled with tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes, lizards, eels and snakes! Find these animals and more along your way!

Tigers Can be Found on Maharajah Jungle Trek Look for Okapi on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail Snakes and Other Animals Can be Found at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

6. For those whose motto is “slow and steady wins the race”: Take your time! The treks and trails are self-guided tours, so you can stop and enjoy nature for as long as your heart (or the leader of your herd) desires!

7. For the prospective Wilderness Explorer: Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is no easy task! Only the diligent can proudly claim this title, and even then, it takes many more than one day to earn over 30 badges! 14 badges can be earned along the 3 treks and trails, so if becoming a Wilderness Explorer is your goal, we’ll see you soon!

Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer Locations are Located Throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom

8. For the aspiring conservation hero: As their names imply, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station are all about conservation education. Did you know some domestic animals are endangered? Did you also know that by donating to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund you’re helping protect wildlife and wild places around the world?!

9. For the mythical creature believer: Dragons! Komodo dragons that is. Did you know the Komodo dragon can track his prey up to a mile away and eat 80 percent of its body weight?! They can be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek (weather permitting) and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Would you believe me if I told you we also had mermaids at Rafiki’s Planet Watch? Technically we do! Greater sirens can be found in this area as well. Although they don’t look like the mermaid you were probably thinking of, in Latin, the word “siren” means mermaid, so take a look on your next visit and let us know if you see the resemblance.

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek Greater Siren at Disney's Animal Kingdom

10. For the Character fanatic: Meet Chip & Dale, Rafiki and more! Chip & Dale love the trails and are frequently found ready to explore in their adventure gear. Rafiki has been spotted near his equally wise counterpart, Grandmother Willow in Conservation Station as they share conservation messages to save their homelands. Who else have you found along the trails?

11. For the future veterinarian or zoo keeper: Watch live animal procedures and talk to animal keepers after live shows at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Animal keepers are actively caring for the animals throughout the day, so they are a great source of information if your paths cross!

The Veterinary Treatment Window at Rafiki’s Planet Watch The Stage Show 'It All Started with a Mouse' at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

These are just some of the amazing reasons the “Treks & Trails” should be on your must-do list during your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Once you take time to explore, you’ll find much more to do, see, hear and explore!

See you real soon

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Where to Find Flame Tree Barbecue Favorites at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 14th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


I try not to play favorites when it comes to restaurants, but it’s hard to top the savory pulled pork sandwiches and barbecued ribs served up at Flame Tree Barbecue.

While we’re refurbishing Flame Tree Barbecue to add additional seating areas, we’re happy to share that some of your favorite items from the restaurant will be temporarily available at various kiosks throughout the park. I’ve got a handy guide on where you can find your Flame Tree Barbecue favorites during refurbishment.

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Until Flame Tree Barbecue reopens, Mickey-shaped pretzels and jalapeno pretzels will be temporarily located at Isle of Java in Discovery Island, and look for hand-scooped ice cream and sundaes at Dino-Bite Snacks in Dinoland, U.S.A.

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Replay Our Live Stream of The Walt Disney World Marathon

posted on January 11th, 2015 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


This is your chance to share in the excitement of a runDisney start and finish line. You can now watch a replay of your friends, family and thousands from around the world start and finish the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna. The 26.2-mile journey started just outside Epcot on Epcot Center Drive, and took runners through the Magic Kingdom, on the track of the Walt Disney World Speedway, through Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and finished in the shadow of Spaceship Earth outside Epcot.

Below is a choice of two live streams. The first includes the start line, multiple cameras and social media feeds. The second, an uninterrupted stream from the finish line.

You can join in the runDisney social media conversation by using #WDWMarathon.

For more information on the half marathon, marathon and other runDisney event weekends, visit runDisney.com.

Walt Disney World Marathon:

To view the full size version of the Walt Disney World Marathon, click here.

Walt Disney World Marathon Finish Line:

To view the full size version of the Walt Disney World Marathon Finish Line, click here.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Animals at Walt Disney World Enjoyed the Holiday Season with Festive Enrichment Gifts!

posted on January 7th, 2015 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


As many finish packing up the holiday décor (and others resist a few more days), we have one more holiday post to keep the joyous spirit alive.

If you’ve visited Walt Disney World Resort during the holidays, you know the festivities and holiday cheer are all around! But our guests and cast members aren’t the only ones who experienced the holiday spirit … Our animals did too! This holiday season, the Science Operations Team hosted a competition for the animal care teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Animal keepers were challenged to create inventive animal enrichment experiences highlighting specific holiday themes, including wreaths, snow, candy canes, presents, gingerbread and ornaments.

The teams then designed these themed holiday “gifts” for the animals under their care with the goals of highlighting some of their natural behaviors, introducing the holiday spirit, and providing 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!

This Asian-Small Clawed Otter Looks Like he’s Making Snow Balls Cotton-Top Tamarins Experienced Snow on the Rooftop of their Home As Well!

On Discovery Island, Asian-small clawed otters experienced all the fun of snow, a rare occurrence in sunny Florida. Nearby, Cotton-top tamarins experienced a snow-covered roof, icicle treats and a snowman at their home, also on Discovery Island.

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The Western lowland gorillas on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail gather goodies from a tire-swing wreath decorated with edible treats including fruit, vegetables and hay.

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Just around the corner, slender-tailed meerkats on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail seemed eager to explore an oversize wreath of their own. This one is made from grass flats and barley and decorated with pinecones.

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Guests who traveled to Conservation Station had the opportunity to decorate ornaments with conservation messages for the African elephants. The animal keepers then decorated trees with these fun edible creations and delivered them to all members of the elephant herd.

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Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge had the opportunity to work with animal keepers to craft enrichment “presents” for the animals and then stayed to watch as the animals enjoyed their creations. This Roan antelope found a firehouse-cube “gift” complete with a leafy bow under their holiday tree. The tree was made from edible browse and decorated with vegetable ornaments to enjoy.

Did you know?

  • Enrichment is a key part of the animal care program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Enrichment allows animals to make choices about their environment and encourages natural behaviors. These initiatives enable guests to see the cool adaptations that help 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 wildlife up close!
  • To learn more about Disney conservation efforts, please visit: www.disney.com/conservation.

Happy New Year!

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