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A Rare Behind the Scenes Look at ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 7th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


As a longtime fan of “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil, I’ve always wondered what happens behind the scenes. How much practice do the performers need? What time do they start doing make-up? Who helps them with their costumes?

I never dreamed I’d get the chance to peek behind the curtain, but recently, I had the chance to do just that. And the best part? Photographer Matt Stroshane joined me and captured several rarely-seen moments to share with you.

On the day we visited, one of my favorite acts, fondly referred to as “the diabolos,” were working on their routine. The young quartet from China practices five to seven hours a week (and it’s not uncommon to see some of the other talent working out nearby). It was dizzying to watch them balance, flip and spin just a mere few feet away. Check out the photo below – if you look closely behind my shoulder, you’ll see one of the girls is in mid-air, halfway through her backflip dismount. Even in sweats and messy buns, their nearly flawless performance left me breathless. Most of the girls will spend one to two years as part of the show and some may return for a second stint. My favorite new fun fact? The current coach was part of the first diabolo team who originally opened “La Nouba.”

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Also getting in some pre-show practice were a few of the trampoline artists. And yes, we got to witness that, too! Looking down from the rafters, we got a bird’s eye view of them for an entirely new perspective.

The backstage area was a flurry of activity as the curtain call neared. We ducked into the dressing room and caught principal performers putting on their show make-up. We also saw a glimpse of the costuming team in action, fitting one of the aerialists, putting finishing touches on hand-painted sneakers and sewing on glittering rhinestones. (The wardrobe room was a utopia of color, filled with fabric, sequins, wigs, props, and more costumes than I could count!) All the while, technicians supporting everything from lighting to audio were hard at work, prepping for the performance.

Now that I’ve seen what it takes to make “La Nouba” a success, I appreciate it even more. After browsing the gallery below, hopefully you will, too!

Interested in seeing the show for yourself? Click here for tickets and more information.

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April 2015 Merchandise Events at the Disneyland Resort

posted on March 31st, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Are you planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort this April? Here are a few quick tips on merchandise events you don’t want to miss!

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April 3-5: Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick will be on hand from 12-10 p.m., each day, at World of Disney Store in the Downtown Disney District, as we celebrate the release of her Easter collection, among other fan favorites! Learn more here.

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April 4-5: Join us as we welcome Jere Dean from Urban Octopus, April 4 – 5 and 25 – 26, from 1-4 p.m., each day, at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more here.

April 17: Prepare to assemble for the new Vinylmation limited edition set! What is it? I can simply say it’s ‘smashing.’ Disney Design Group artist Thomas Scott will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 10 a.m. – noon at D Street in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more here.

April 17: Artists Joey Chou and Jerrod Maruyama will appear from 7–9 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Don’t miss out! Learn more here.

April 18: Join us as we welcome back artist J. Scott Campbell who will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 7–9 p.m.at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District as we celebrate the release of his new and out-of-this-world artwork. Learn more here.

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April 25: Join us as we celebrate the release of “The Hidden Mickeys of Disneyland” book by Bill Scollon. Bill will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 9–11 a.m. at Disneyana inside Disneyland park. Learn more here.

Artist in Residence: Appearing at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District throughout the month is artist Matt Spangler. Look for artist showcases on the following dates: April 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 19, 24, 25, 26 from 6-10 p.m., and April 17–18 from 1-5 p.m. Learn more here.

Which events have made your list of things to do?

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District

Walt Disney World Event Snapshot: April 2015

posted on March 31st, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


See what’s happening in the world of Merchandise Special Events this April at Walt Disney World Resort!

April 1 – 5: Artist Greg McCullough returns this month with special appearances and signings at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, April 1 – 5 and 15 – 19 from 1 – 9 p.m. Not able to make it? It’s okay! Greg will return April 29 – May 3 with special appearances each day from Noon – 8 p.m. at Art of Disney in Epcot. Learn more.

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April 6 – 14: Be sure to stop in and check out some of the latest releases by artist David E. Doss from 1 – 9 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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April 10 – April 12: Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick will be on hand for special appearances and signings of her new Easter collection throughout the day, each day, at Heritage Manor at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot. Not able to make it? No problem! Representatives from Precious Moments Dolls will be on hand now – April 12 at Heritage Manor at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot, and now – April 27 at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

April 16 – 18: Renowned international artist Larry Dotson is scheduled to appear April 16 – 18 and 23 – 26 at Art of Disney in Epcot. If you are unable to make it, find him, April 30 – May 3 at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

April 17: New creations take form as Disney Pins! Be among the first to ‘assemble’ at Disney’s Pin Traders in Downtown Disney Marketplace for these new releases and meet artists Tim Loucks and Erica Virgin who will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 11 a.m. – Noon.

April 17: Take part in Trading Night from 6 -9 p.m. p.m. in Veracruz A at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Register online here. Learn more.

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April 18 – 22: Celebrate Earth Day with us! Take part in special artist showcases with Bushman (April 18-19), Just Plumerias (April 18 – 22), Elemental Nursery (April 18 – 22) and William Silvers (April 20 -22), at select locations throughout at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Learn more.

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April 24 – 25: Join us as we welcome artist Matt Hawkins to WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Take part in a special artist showcase and signing April 24 from 4 – 7 p.m. and April 25 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Learn more.

April 25: There’s something special happening at Cherry Tree Lane at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Keep watching for details from fellow author Steven Miller.

April 25: Meet artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith at WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 4 – 7 p.m. Learn more.

Which event are you most excited for?

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

Spring Time Treats at the Disneyland Resort

posted on March 30th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Spring is here! Flowers are in bloom, eggs will soon be hidden and you may even find yourself catching a glimpse of a bunny or two. We did! These magnificent treats will debut in candy kitchen locations around the Disneyland Resort this April, so be sure to “hop” by!

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If you’re curious as to how these creations came to life, I have the inside scoop. The Bunny apples are dipped in caramel, then, are intricately dressed with mini marshmallows to create the effect for the mouth and tail. Dip them in white chocolate, add a little sanding sugar (especially on the top of the marshmallow ears). The final touch, a few well-placed (and sometimes colorful) chocolate candies that create the eyes and nose.

Of course, the egg pops are a treat in themselves! The egg-shaped cake pops have been dipped in white chocolate and dressed with milk chocolate discs to create the ears. Finally with the help of some (colorful pixie dust) sanding sugar, and some simple decoration, they’re set!

If you’re curious what gourmet apple will line the shelves, it will once again be the dark chocolate raspberry apple. That’s right Disney fans, it’s back!

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The apples will be smothered in caramel, enrobed in dark chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate and raspberry infused white chocolate. You want more? Great! We literally have you covered from top to bottom. How? The top of the apple, as well as the bottom third of the apple have been encased with a mixture of white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and chopped roasted almonds.

Look for all of these treats and more at Candy Palace in Disneyland park; Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure park; and Marceline’s Confectionery in the Downtown Disney District!

Which one will you try?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District

Bird’s-Eye View In a Rustic Retreat at Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 27th, 2015 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations


As part of our new “Room with A View” series, we’re heading into the woods for a special look at our “over the treetop” accommodations at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Perched 10 feet off the ground in a lush landscape, sit the beloved Treehouse Villas, part of the Disney Vacation Club. I treasure the peaceful stillness of the landscape and the tranquil views of the Sassagoula River. It takes you to a quiet place and makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from the theme parks, when you are actually just a boat ride away from Downtown Disney. There are 60 rustic, home away-from-homes with lots of privacy and extra space ideal if you’re traveling with a large family, or have an extended stay. And who doesn’t love the idea of sleeping in a treehouse? I was so psyched when they opened in 2009, I took my family there for a weekend getaway. Imagine staying at a lakeside cabin in an upstate New York state park – albeit a fancy cabin with four TVs and granite counters. The experience is a nice pause from the hectic pace of daily life.

Inside the three-bedroom villas (photos and video from villa 7026), earth-tone colors, wood accents and natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows complement the rustic retreat. Nature is woven in the artwork and furniture in creative ways — like a tree branch as the base for a lamp, leafy pillows and a family-size wooden kitchen table, bench and chairs. A Hidden Mickey can be spotted in an end table created by three tree stumps. All the treehouses have two guestrooms with two queen-size beds each, and a room for the kids with bunk beds. There’s also a full kitchen in case you want to cook, contemporary amenities and a nice-size living area, which really makes it feel like home. The oversized porch is another gem and the ideal place to kick back, watch the sunset and take in the amazing view.

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Found Photo: Orange Bird Visits Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park, 1971

posted on March 25th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


As a part of my job I occasionally get to spend some time sorting through our photo archives here at Walt Disney World Resort, and every time I do, I seem to stumble upon something I just have to share with you Disney history fans. Such was the case when I came upon this rare photo of Orange Bird at Magic Kingdom Park. Over the years, we’ve released several pictures of Orange Bird in his native environment of Adventureland (and during his brief stint at Downtown Disney), but what’s unique about this photo is that it was snapped on June 11, 1971 – several months before the park’s October 1 opening. You can see that construction on Tropical Serenade (now Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room) was still underway in the background. Maybe he was looking for the perfect place to build his own birdhouse?

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After the park opened, Orange Bird greeted families near Sunshine Tree Terrace for several years, where guests could also buy citrus drinks and Orange Bird merchandise. Orange Bird also once had his own record, which was released in 1971 to feature a tune called “The Orange Bird Song” that was composed by the Sherman Brothers (of “Mary Poppins” fame).

Orange Bird returned to Magic Kingdom Park in April 2012, when an Orange Bird statue was retrieved from the WDI Sculpture Studio in California and returned to the land’s Sunshine Tree Terrace. Today, guests can still find Orange Bird cups and merchandise at Magic Kingdom Park.

For more Orange Bird, check out the posts below:

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New Pedestrian Bridge Will Soon Open at the Downtown Disney Area at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 24th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


My office is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Disney Marketplace, so I have a front row seat to all the enhancements coming to the property as we transform into Disney Springs. Some days, the progress is subtle, but last week, there was no denying that change was in the air (literally). Towering above Buena Vista Drive, a new pedestrian bridge was installed in the early morning hours of March 19 – when I came to work on Thursday, there it was, extending from the Team Disney area across the roadway to Downtown Disney.

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Our friends at Reedy Creek Improvement District worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney Springs Project Team on this impressive piece of infrastructure. Upon completion, the bridge will weigh 190 tons (or as much 50 average-sized elephants!). While there is still work to be done, it’s expected to be open to guests and cast members later this spring. A second pedestrian bridge, located near Hotel Plaza Boulevard, will open later this summer.

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Have you visited the Downtown Disney area lately? With new retail locations now open, the Village Causeway now fully accessible, and a new restaurant – The BOATHOUSE – set to open next month, this pedestrian bridge is just one more sign of what’s to come. Which one are you most excited about? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to know!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Days of Past: Downtown Disney Marks a Milestone

posted on March 22nd, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Downtown Disney turns 40 today. Guests visiting today have quite a different experience than the shopping experience back in 1975 when the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened.

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Home to shops like the Pottery Chalet, Posh Pets Etc., Toys Fantastique, and Gourmet Pantry (yep, it’s 40 years old too!), the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village was made up of shops in what we know today as the Marketplace. Pleasure Island didn’t welcome guests until 1989 and the West Side didn’t open until 1997.

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Even at 40, Downtown Disney continues to transform and grow at Walt Disney World Resort. Through 2016, the property will welcome over 75 new venues as it undergoes its largest ever expansion, transforming into Disney Springs.

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Cinderella Coach is a Magical Treat at Disney Parks

posted on March 16th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Who’s seen Disney’s “Cinderella,” now in theaters? If you haven’t yet, move it to the top of your list! My fellow Disney Parks Blog author, Steven Miller, recently shared some of the exciting new “Cinderella” merchandise headed your way, but i have a special treat for you … actually I have two!

Debuting this month at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort is a Cinderella Coach inspired apple. It’s safe to say that candy makers got a little ‘carried away’ with this concoction. The apple has been dipped in caramel as well as edible shimmering white chocolate and comes complete with carriage-looking wheels. What are they made of? I guess you’ll have to try one to see!

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Another fun way to celebrate the film’s release is with our Cinderella Coach krispy treat, sure to be a fan favorite for any movie-goer.

Here’s a list of locations where you can find them!

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

These special treats are only available for a limited time, so don’t miss out!

Will you try both?

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney District, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Two Restaurants Expand as Downtown Disney Evolves Into Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 12th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Look for big changes at Planet Hollywood and Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney, with Paradiso 37 wrapping up its expansion in summer 2015, Planet Hollywood in spring 2016.

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Paradiso 37’s expansion capitalizes on its beautiful waterfront setting. “We’re nearly doubling the seating, adding more terrace dining, a new outdoor performance stage and expanding to add a greater presence on the new Disney Springs promenade,” said Rashid Choufani, chief executive officer of Paradiso 37.

The menu, a “Taste of the Americas,” will continue to offer a culinary tour of North, Central and South America, with popular dishes including ceviche, jalapeño burgers, Argentinian skirt steak, whole crispy chicken and Chilean-style salmon. Beverages include wine, beer, and specialty rum and tequila cocktails inspired by the cuisine. (The restaurant takes its name from the 37 countries in the Americas.)

Paradiso 37 will remain open while undergoing renovations.

Planet Hollywood gets a complete makeover – you may not recognize the place as it’s transformed into a four-story stargazing observatory to match the design aesthetic of Disney Springs. While the exterior is turn-of-the-century, the interior will feature spherical, planet-shaped lighting fixtures and stylish finishing to create a welcoming atmosphere for fans to celebrate a new generation of superstar entertainers. And the memorabilia from movies stays, a perfect fit to “Dine Amongst the Stars.”

A new outdoor terrace and outdoor bar space called Stargazers will feature live entertainment while music in the main dining room will include a DJ. Favorites remain on the menu, but look for new tastes too, and a trendy beverage menu – everything from milkshakes and smoothies to wines, bottled and draft beers and cocktails.

Check back for more details!

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Filed: Disney Dining, Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort