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Fifteen Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2015

posted on January 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s a new year – do you have a Disney Parks vacation on your bucket list for 2015?

Whether it’s new dining experiences, sports milestones, holiday celebrations or the return of annual theme park festivals, there’s a lot to look forward to at Walt Disney World Resort in 2015. Here are 15 reasons you should consider planning a trip this year.

Trattoria al Forno Brings the Italian Countryside to Disney's BoardWalk

1. Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk – The newest Disney restaurant just opened its doors a few days ago. The menu features authentic Italian cuisine and wines – and is now an option on the Disney Dining Plan. Yum!

Exposition Park Opens for Disney Food Trucks at Downtown Disney

2. Exposition Park Food Trucks – While we’re on the topic of food, 2015 will give you time to check out the recently opened food trucks at Downtown Disney. This dedicated outdoor area also has live entertainment at night (subject to change, of course).

3. 2015 runDisney Races Are Off & Running - Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will take place January 7-11. (Check out a sneak peek at the merchandise that will be sold at this year’s event here). Space is still available in the Kids Races!

4. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – This nightspot is based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, and is set to open here in spring. Trader Sam’s will offer tiki cocktails served in souvenir mugs, as well as smaller food offerings. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more on this fun new location.

5. Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic – Soccer fans can get their kicks at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic February 1-March 1 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In it, eight pro teams, including six Major League Soccer squads, will compete in 16 games.

PRINCESS HALF MARATHON AT DISNEY WORLD

6. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Returns – This princess-themed weekend of running events returns to Walt Disney World February 19-22.

7. Starbucks to Open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A new Starbucks location will open at the park in February, 2015. The new location, dubbed The Trolley Car Café, will be themed to a classic trolley car along Hollywood Boulevard and offer a unique experience for coffee lovers visiting the park.

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8. The Atlanta Braves Return For Spring Training – The Braves will return to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for their 18th consecutive year of spring training. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or visiting ticketmaster.com, as well as at the sports complex box office.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

9. The 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: A Spring Tradition Returns March 4-May 17 – Character topiaries, home gardening seminars, floral displays and much more will return to the park’s festival in 2015.

10. Star Wars Weekends Returns – This annual event will return to delight fans of the Force and the Empire May 15 – June 14 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

11. “Tomorrowland” Debuts In Theaters May 22 – While it isn’t a theme park offering, how could any Disney Parks fan possibly miss out on seeing this one? AMC Downtown Disney 24 at Downtown Disney may be the perfect location. The trailer looks amazing!

12. Annual Events – 2015 means the return of our favorite annual events, including The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and more. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for news and dates on our 2015 special events.

Morimoto Exterior (1)

13. New Eats at Downtown Disney – The area continues to evolve into Disney Springs, and in 2015, The Landing, the first of four interconnected neighborhoods will open to guests. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more dates and details on the openings of Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando, three restaurants planned for the area, as they come available.

14. Another Year of #DisneySide Fun - Guests loved showing their Disney Side – that side each one of us has that isn’t afraid to have fun and show our silly sides – at our parks in 2014. This year we’ll continue the fun by encouraging all of you to show your Disney Side at our parks (and at home) throughout 2015.

15. Your Family Vacation – If this is the year for your family’s vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, then there’s nothing to look forward to more than your family’s special time together. If you visit our parks in 2015, we hope you have a wonderful time.

Which event or new offering are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

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

Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on August 24th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We’ve relaunched our popular “All in the Details” series on the Disney Parks Blog and this time we’re featuring Disney Springs. It’s a destination that’s being expanded to include more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. And to kick off the series, Walt Disney Imagineering introduced us to the project and their role in it.

Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more behind-the-scenes looks at the progress happening as Downtown Disney transforms into Disney Springs.

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Also, did you see that this is the last week to share your Disneyland Resort memories for a chance to win a trip to the kick-off of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration in spring 2015. You only have until midnight on Wednesday, August 27, to enter.

This week, in addition to your memories from the past 60 years, we’re looking for your memories from 2000 to the present. Check Erin’s story for more details and complete rules.

No purchase necessary. Entries must be received by 8/27/14. 18/age of majority+, 50 US/DC only. Void where prohibited. See Rules for details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Disneyland Resort Summer Tips: Relaxing at the Disneyland Resort – The Disneyland Resort Summer Tips series continues with a few great locations to unwind during your visit.

Dateline Adventureland: Final Shipments Arrive at Adventure Trading Company at Disneyland Park – Venture into Indiana Jones Outpost to hunt for Juju before shipments run out!

Elsa & Anna’s Boutique and More Thrilling Transformations Coming to the Disneyland Resort – Learn about the newest location coming to the Downtown Disney District and some other exciting updates at Disneyland Resort.

Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Menehune Adventure Trail – The “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series continues with a guide to Menehune statues hidden throughout Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Adventures in St. Lucia with Disney Cruise Line – Venture ashore this famous volcanic island, the second stop on Disney Cruise Line’s 7-Night Southern Caribbean Cruises.

Learn To Draw Ray the Firefly at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Take some tips from Animation Academy’s Heather Worley on how to illustrate Ray the Firefly in this video tutorial.

Setting Off on a ‘Frozen’ Journey with Adventures by Disney – Read up on Disney Parks Blog author Amanda Adler’s visit to Norway with Adventures by Disney!

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Festival of the Masters Update

posted on August 20th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


If you’ve been to Downtown Disney or read our Blog lately, you know changes are coming. The area is undergoing the largest expansion in its history. As we prepare for Disney Springs, much of the area that traditionally houses the Festival of the Masters is unavailable due to expansion work and unfortunately we will not be able to host the event.

We appreciate the enthusiastic support we’ve received from the arts community, both locally and nationally, which has contributed to the long-running success of the Festival. Walt Disney World Resort is a strong supporter of the arts and we remain committed to nurturing the arts.

We ask for your patience and understanding during this time of growth and look forward to building new memories with you at Disney Springs.

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A Beautiful Day to Debut a New Bridge and Boat Dock at Downtown Disney

posted on August 19th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Ninety degrees, clear blue skies and the sort of fluffy white clouds you see in magazine advertisements – it was a perfect morning to officially open the new Marketplace Boat Dock and Saratoga Bridge at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Earlier today, I joined Vice President of Downtown Disney, Keith Bradford, along with cast members and guests who had gathered to celebrate the milestone- one of many that will ultimately take place as the property undergoes the largest expansion in its history, as it transforms to Disney Springs.
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The newly-opened bridge offers a pedestrian-friendly connection between Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and more than 70 shopping, dining and entertainment offerings available at Downtown Disney. In addition, the Marketplace Boat Dock, now conveniently located near the Marketplace Bus Loop, provides easy access to the West Side and Pleasure Island. Guests aboard the complimentary water taxi may even learn more about what’s on the horizon (literally!) as they travel from district-to-district.

One of my favorite views of Downtown Disney is from this new vantage point; with a view of the entire complex, it’s a great reminder of how much there is to see and do (which, I’ll admit, I sometimes take for granted, since I’m here every day)!
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Want to experience it for yourself? The Marketplace Boat Dock operates daily starting at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting. Take a ride, then let me know what you think in the comments below!


For more on Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, read the posts below:

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All in the Details: Imagineers Unveil the Storyline of Disney Springs

posted on August 19th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


How does Walt Disney Imagineering re-imagine an area of Walt Disney World Resort that guests have enjoyed for more than 40 years?

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That’s the creative challenge our Imagineering team, including Executive Creative Director Theron Skees, has been tasked with – to transform the area currently known as Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, a destination that’s being expanded to include more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. From an Imagineering perspective, this means developing a storyline and creating a sense of time and place that influences everything from the architecture to the costumes.

We were also excited to share that our Imagineers will continue to share updates here in our “All in the Details” series in the coming months as their work progresses. Here’s the first piece, in which Theron introduces the Disney Springs project and Imagineering’s role in it.

The first “neighborhood” in Disney Springs – the opening of The Landing – is set for 2015. Construction on Disney Springs will continue into 2016, so be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more behind-the-scenes looks at the progress happening as Downtown Disney transforms into Disney Springs.


For more about Disney Springs, visit the stories below:

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New Renderings Offer A Glimpse at the Future Access to Disney Springs

posted on July 23rd, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


If you’ve visited Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort lately, you’ve most likely noticed the many changes underway as the area transforms into Disney Springs – it’s the largest expansion in Downtown Disney history and, when completed, will double the area’s number of dining and retail options. Through this expansion, guests can continue to enjoy more than 70 themed and immersive shopping, dining and entertainment venues day and night. One of my personal favorites is the new Marketplace Co-Op, which has unique Disney boutique shops and has been featured several times here on the Disney Parks Blog.

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The surrounding roadways and parking areas at Downtown Disney are growing too and will eventually offer easier access to the area. Today we have two new renderings to share with you that showcase the work that is already underway, which includes widening Lake Buena Vista Drive from seven to 10 lanes and constructing two multilevel garages (the first of which, pictured above, is set to open by late 2014 to offer 4,000 parking spaces). Two pedestrian bridges are also planned that will help lead guests into Disney Springs near the current Marketplace side, while the other will offer access in through the West Side.

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As you can see above, the changes will also include a new I-4 interchange that will offer guests direct access to Disney Springs.

All of this work is part of the area’s transformation into Disney Springs, which will continue into 2016. The first phase of the expansion, an area called The Landing, will open in 2015 to offer lakefront shopping and dining. In the meantime, if you are planning to visit Downtown Disney for activities with set times, such as Cirque du Soleil performances, concerts or movies, early arrival is suggested.

Be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for future updates.

For more on Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, click the links below:

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Connecting All That’s New at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 19th, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


If you’ve visited lately, you know that the largest expansion in Downtown Disney history is well underway. The transformation to Disney Springs was announced in March; since that time, changes – both big and small – have been happening throughout our property.
New Walkway Now Open at Downtown Disney

One of the newest, and most visible, is the addition of a new pedestrian walkway that connects the West Side and Pleasure Island. This temporary addition will help with guest traffic flow and should make it easier to move from one district to the other. My favorite part? The beautiful boardwalk meanders along Village Lake, offering guests a spectacular waterfront view. (The Pleasure Island Boat Dock is here too, and I’ve found myself enjoying a few extra boat rides recently!)

Last week, the bridge officially opened. And what perfect timing, because there is so much going on right now! Below, a quick snapshot of the latest:

  • Fit2Run, the Runners Superstore, opened earlier this month. The store features Premier footwear, apparel, GPS, performance sunglasses and more. It may be a coincidence that this location opened just in time for holiday shopping, but the athletes on your gift list will appreciate it.
  • The first of four themed Food Trucks made its debut during Festival of the Masters. Featuring a variety of delectable meatballs, the Superstar Catering Truck was a hit with guests. Additional trucks will continue to roll in over the next several weeks. (I’ve had the chance to sample many of the menu items and I can tell you this … you won’t be disappointed!)
  • Valet Parking is available on the West Side through January 1, 2014; starting at 4 p.m. daily, the $15 service offers guests another parking option. (Bonus: the valet parking attendants couldn’t be nicer!)
  • Festival of the Seasons is happening now, with Santa Claus making appearances daily through Christmas Eve. (5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. until November 21; 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. from November 22 – December 24, 2013). Hope you’ve been good this year!

Will you be checking out the newest offerings at Downtown Disney? If so, be sure to connect to all of them via the new pedestrian walkway; entrances are located near Characters in Flight and Paradiso 37. To me, it’s a sign of progress and I can’t wait to see what’s next! You?

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Flying High at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 21st, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Hey everyone. I’m Darcy, former Community Manager for the Walt Disney World Resort Facebook page and the newest Disney Parks Blog author, sharing updates from the heart of Downtown Disney. (Literally, my office is smack-dab in the middle of the property. I love my job!) Just over a month ago, I accepted a brand-new position here, and with the recent Disney Springs announcement by Tom Staggs, I couldn’t have come at a better time.

From day #1 in my new role, I knew I wanted to share some of the “hidden gems” of Downtown Disney with all of you. I’m discovering many of them alongside you, so we’ll be finding fun from the West Side to the Marketplace – and everywhere in between – together. Additionally, as there are new updates on Disney Springs, check back here on the Disney Parks Blog.

Flying High With Characters in Flight at Downtown Disney

First up? Characters in Flight, Operated by Aerophile. I’ve seen the balloon in the sky a million times, but I never tried it. Until last week. And you know what? It was way cooler than I expected. I naively thought I wouldn’t be able to see ‘that much’ from the sky, but I was wrong. And I loved every minute of it. Here’s why:

I got lucky and went up on a really clear day. No joke, I could see from the top of La Nouba all the way to the outskirts of Disney property. Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, The Contemporary. – I saw them all, and from a totally different vantage point. (After 10+ years at Disney, I thought I had seen the parks from every angle but boy, was I wrong!)

Flying High With Characters in Flight at Downtown Disney

The ride wasn’t scary at all; it was actually sort of calming. When I got all the way up to 400 feet, I felt like I was taking a short break from reality. Even though it was a full flight, it was really quiet up there, and peaceful. You know that feeling you get when you’re in an airplane and you look down to see tiny houses and highways – like you’re part of it but somehow removed? – It was like that, but instead of a strange town, I was looking at one of my favorite playgrounds.

It was just the right amount of time. My flight lasted about 10 minutes and it was perfect – I got to walk around and check out the 360 degree view, plus had a few minutes to snap some photos (digital photography is one of my hobbies!). I didn’t feel rushed, which is always a nice feeling when you wait in line for something you’re excited about.

Flying High With Characters in Flight at Downtown Disney

One of these days I’d love to go up at night. Maybe start with a margarita from Paradiso 37, take a ride, and then top off the evening with a sweet treat from Candy Cauldron. (And if you’re more of a morning person, you’ll be excited to hear that right now – when you purchase tickets and ride before 10 a.m. – you pay only $10!)

Have you experienced Characters in Flight? Tell me how you liked it in the comments below – it’s always fun to compare notes!

For a daily dose of Downtown Disney news, follow @WDWDowntown on Twitter.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 17th, 2013 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We shared several big announcements on the Disney Parks Blog this week, including exciting plans for Disney Springs, our multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 12, 2013 – Downtown Disney is undergoing a multi-year transformation, representing the largest expansion in its history. The renamed Disney Springs (as shown in this conceptual model) will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences, and feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands.

When work is complete, Disney Springs will expand from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants. Check Tom Staggs’ original story for more Disney Springs details, including information about each planned district.

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And we also announced Opa! A Celebration of Greece, that’ll feature music, dance, art, food, history and more at “it’s a small world” Mall in Disneyland park and Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure park. The festivities begin May 25 at the Disneyland Resort. Erin’s original Opa! A Celebration of Greece story has a nice rundown of what’s planned.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

‘Limited Time Magic’ Disney Character ‘Egg’ Hunt Begins Next Week at Disney Parks – “Limited Time Magic” brings a special “egg” hunt to Disney Parks next week!

Explore the Musical Worlds of Disney When ‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ Opens at Disneyland Park May 25 – An all-new live show, “Mickey and the Magical Map,” is set to open May 25 at the Fantasyland Theatre in Disneyland park.

A Villain and Hero Highlight ‘Star Wars’ Weekends 2013 in Weekend I and Weekend II and a First Look at the 2013 Event Logo – Gary Buchanan shares the 2013 Star Wars Weekends logo and several celebrity appearances for this year.

Vote Now to Decide Which Long-Lost Disney Friends Visit the Disneyland Resort for ‘Limited Time Magic’ – Vote now on the Disney Parks Blog for which long-lost Disney characters you want to meet at Disneyland park as part of “Limited Time Magic!”

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Fantasy Faire Now Open at Disneyland Park – Fantasy Faire opened this week at Disneyland park! Take a look at all the fun and magic waiting for you in this post.

It’s Baaack! Taste of Hollywood to Go with Fantasmic! Seats March 25-April 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Taste of Hollywood to Go returns for spring break! Find out how you can have a quick, delicious meal and reserve seats for Fantasmic! too.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Fantasy Faire Debuts at Disneyland Park, Plans for Disney Springs Unveiled at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 16th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week, we saw a lot of new things unveiled at Disney Parks – from Fantasy Faire, which opened March 12 at Disneyland park, to the first official looks at Disney Springs, a major expansion coming to Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort.

One shot that I think sums up this week at Walt Disney World Resort is this lovely photo, which was taken at Magic Kingdom Park and shared on our Walt Disney World Facebook page earlier this week.
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Click through the gallery to see other key moments of the week that were captured and shared on the Disney Parks Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter.

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