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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.

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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.

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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

2014: A Delicious Year for Walt Disney World Disney Dining

posted on December 31st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


From food trucks to new dining rooms, 2014 was a busy year for the Walt Disney World Resort chefs. Here’s a look at the top stories for Walt Disney World Resort Dining:
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  • DISNEY SPRINGS – The first two restaurants were announced for Disney Springs, an entertainment-dining-retail district re-imagined from Downtown Disney. Opening in summer 2015 at The Landing in the heart of Disney Springs, Chef Masaharu Morimoto is teaming up with Patina Restaurant Group to debut Morimoto Asia, the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience. Also coming to The Landings in spring 2015 is The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats. The BOATHOUSE restaurant will immerse guests both on land and on water with live music and Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian water taxi featuring Champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. There also will be guided Amphicar rides that launch from land, entering the water with a splash, taking guests on a 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney.

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  • TRATTORIA AL FORNO (December 2014) – The newest Walt Disney World dining experience is Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk, featuring authentic flavors of Italy’s diverse regions – wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, hand-crafted mozzarella, imported charcuterie and cheese and a 100 percent Italian wine list. Trattoria al Forno is open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and accepts the Disney Dining Plan.
  • EXPOSITION PARK (December 2014) – The Disney food trucks got a new home at Downtown Disney West Side – Exposition Park, where guests will always find one or more of the trucks, along with visiting food trucks. Nightly entertainment, plenty of seating. Hours may vary during peak times and special events, but daily hours are 4-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
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  • EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL EXPANDS (September 2014)The festival was expanded to a record 53 days – that’s a whole extra week to take in the marketplaces, cool concerts and some very special dinners.

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  • NEW SMOKEHOUSE AT HOUSE OF BLUES (January 2014) – Popular House of Blues opened their new Smokehouse, a quick-service window where it’s easy to grab a generous smoked beef brisket sandwich, pulled pork or chicken sandwich, smoked turkey leg, St. Louis half-rack of ribs or an all-beef hot dog. That’s the menu, short and sweet. The Smokehouse opens at 11:30 a.m. daily, with closing around 10 p.m.

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  • SPICE ROAD TABLE (January 2014) – Spice Road Table opens in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, featuring regional flavors from the Mediterranean with small plates such as a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes and caramelized onion; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce baked in an earthenware tagine pot, and Moroccan merguez sausage with a fresh tomato salad. Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, there are 120 outdoor terrace seats and 60 seats inside with a scenic view of World Showcase lagoon.

We’re looking ahead to 2015!

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Year In Review: 2014 Disney Parks Blog Meet-Ups

posted on December 30th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Disney Parks Blog meet-ups are one of my favorite parts of working on our team. Not only do we get to allow some of the biggest Disney fans out there the chance to experience something new at our parks, but we get to meet our readers face to face, as well!

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In 2014, we were able to offer some one-of-a-kind experiences to our fans – from testing out the new Food Trucks at Downtown Disney, to dressing up like favorite superheros for an early screening of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Here’s a look back at the fun we had with our readers in 2014.

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Top Ten Disney Parks Moments that Will Go Down in History from 2014

posted on December 30th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


We sure had a lot to celebrate at Disney Parks in 2014, and some of the milestones we experienced this year were memorable ones, with “Frozen” fun debuting at our parks, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening and much more.

That said, here are my top 10 picks for moments that will go down in Disney history for 2014.

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  1. Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort – Thousands of guests dressed as their favorite superhero joined the mad dash through the Disneyland Resort as a part of the very first Avengers Half Marathon. Did you #SmashTheHalf?

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  1. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Announces First-Ever Disney Ambassador – For the first time in history, Aulani welcomed their first Disney Ambassador to represent the resort and engage our guests, cast and community. Janelle Sanqui, Aulani’s first Disney Ambassador, worked in Workforce Management at the resort and was born in Hawaii.

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  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland ParkBig Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened at Disneyland park back in March. The enhanced attraction debuted with upgraded track, a restored Rainbow Ridge Mining Town and other surprises.

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  1. Themed Hotels Announced for Shanghai Disneyland – In November, we announced that two new themed hotels are planned as a part of Shanghai Disney Resort – the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.

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  1. Downtown Disney Announcements – Several announcements were made for new restaurants coming to the shopping, dining and entertainment area at Walt Disney World Resort, including three new restaurants – Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando.

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  1. “Frozen Summer Fun” Debuts At Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The first official “Frozen” entertainment offerings made their debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in July. The fun included “Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome” procession, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – and a whole lot of excited guests!

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  1. L’Aventure Totalement Toquee De Remy (Ratatouille) Attraction Opens At Disneyland Park (Paris) – This attraction, and its surrounding La Place de Rémy Courtyard, officially opened July 10, 2014.

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  1. Oswald Begins Greeting Guests At Disney California Adventure Park – This historic Disney character made his first ever appearance at a Disney Park this year. Oswald was one of Walt Disney’s first major animated characters ever developed. Learn more about him here.

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  1. “Disney Festival Of Fantasy Parade” Steps Off at Magic Kingdom Park – March 10 marked the arrival of a wonderful new daytime parade at Magic Kingdom Park. A fire-breathing Maleficent, anyone?

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opens at Magic Kingdom Park – The final New Fantasyland attraction made its debut at the park on May 28. Have you seen these amazing Audio-Animatronics figures?

Which moment was your favorite? Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in the “Comments” section below!

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Shanghai Disney Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Year in Review: Greatest Hits from Disney Theme Park Merchandise in 2014

posted on December 30th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


This year was an exciting time for Disney Theme Park Merchandise. On behalf of my fellow author Michelle Harker and the entire merchandise team, thank you for your feedback! We loved reading your comments as new things were revealed. Below is a brief list of popular items from 2014. I’d love to know your favorite products from this past year, so please share in the comments below.

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Disney Character Mugs – This past spring, we released several new Disney character mugs. This article was one of the most popular stories of the year, particularly on Pinterest.

Disney Parks Collection By PANDORA JewelryIn August, we announced a new partnership with PANDORA Jewelry. We released a collection of hand finished sterling silver and 14K gold charms developed especially for Disney Parks.

Disney’s “Frozen” – Some of the most requested items this past year were inspired by Disney’s “Frozen.” We introduced graphic MagicBands with Anna and Elsa; Olaf-shaped candy apples, unique headware, and, of course, dresses! Guests could also visit Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Anna & Elsa’s Boutique, a make-over destination at Downtown Disney District in California.

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Marketplace Co-Op – In June, we opened the Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. This location is a testing space for new Disney retail concepts, shops and products and contains some of my favorite places to shop like D-Tech on Demand, Disney Centerpiece or Cherry Tree Lane.

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Haunted Mansion Authentic – In the fall, more than 100 new Haunted Mansion-themed products were introduced at Disney Parks. Part of a program titled, “Haunted Mansion Authentic,” these items were inspired by characters, icons and details from this classic attraction. In August, the attraction celebrated its 45 anniversary at Disneyland park. In October, we opened Memento Mori, a Haunted Mansion shop located in Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. The new location is also home to a unique Spirit Photography experience.

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Showing Your Disney Side – Guests showed their Disney Side with products created especially for Disney Parks. We released new colors for the Disney Parks Collection by Vera Bradley. Guests loved combining pixie dust and positive energy with Alex and Ani bracelets. We also released several Dooney & Bourke handbags including some for Disney Cruise Line and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

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Shirts, Shirts and More Shirts – I’m sure I’m not the only one who had to clean out their closets to make room for new Disney Parks apparel. From online only tees to exercise apparel, guests had plenty of choices for attire with nods to Disney Parks.

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Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney District, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Characters Showing Off Their #DisneySide in New 2015 Merchandise

posted on December 26th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I recently spotted some new 2015 merchandise during a visit to Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. This time of year is usually when the new dated merchandise (that is products that have a specific date) arrives at Disney Parks. I noticed something different about the artwork for these items this year – Sorcerer Mickey was nowhere to be found. When I returned to the office, I caught up with Disney Design Group Artist Thomas Scott to learn more.

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“For the 2015 artwork, we imagined the Disney characters were showing off their Disney Side just like our guests do when visiting Disney Parks,” explained Thomas who was one of the lead designers for the 2015 artwork. “We dressed the characters in products we carry such as the Buzz Lightyear costume tee-shirt that Goofy is wearing. Sorcerer Mickey has been included in the dated art program for a few years. This time, we put a Sorcerer’s hat on Mickey Mouse that resembles the hat we carry in our merchandise shops. I thought it was a great nod to that artwork tradition.”

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Work on the 2015 artwork began about 18 months ago. Thomas told me that several Disney artists collaborated on the style guide. Different product categories use the style guide artwork to create a consistent look for all items. I particularly love the artwork by Disney Design Group Artist Mike Sullivan that shows the characters doing things I do when visit Disney Parks (the selfie photo made me laugh as I have taken many of those).

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The dated merchandise is some of our most popular items sold at Disney Parks (a great way to remember the year you visited). We offer apparel items, seasonal ornaments, souvenirs, pins, plush, home goods and much more that uses this artwork. I love the propeller cap, and I thought the scrapbooking kit was pretty neat too.

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These items are available in a variety of merchandise locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. Guests can also find select 2015 items on our Disney Parks online store.

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Walt Disney World Event Snapshot – January 2015

posted on December 22nd, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Are you visiting Walt Disney World Resort this January and are looking for a few other things to check out? Here are a couple of artist showcases that made my list.

January 1 – 4: Artist Larry Dotson will be on hand to kick off the New Year with special appearances and signings at Walt Disney World Resort, January 1 – 4 at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park and January 8 – 11 at Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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Now – January 5: Get dolled up! Stop by Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace and meet representatives from Precious Moments Dolls who will be wrapping up this season’s showcase. Learn more.

January 6 – 8: Fall in love with the latest fragrance, The Essence of Norway, from Laila Inc. Fragrance Designer Geir Ness will be available for a special appearance and signing from Noon to 6 p.m., each day, at The Puffin’s Roost in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. Learn more.

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January 19 – 25: Have you been waiting to meet artist Greg McCullough? Find him this month at Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace. It’s never too late to add a new piece by Greg McCullough to your collection. Learn more.

We have many more events in store for you this year, so keep watching the Disney Parks Blog.

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These Are the Gifts You’re Looking For At Disney Parks This Holiday Season

posted on December 19th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


I know where I will be almost one year from now – sitting in a movie theater with my son as the opening credits roll for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Being a long-time fan of all things Star Wars, it will be the perfect holiday gift to myself next year. I remember receiving many Star Wars-themed gifts growing up in the late 1970s (the Death Star Space Station playset was one of my favorites!). If you are looking for Star Wars holiday gifts this season, I have a few suggestions of items created especially for Disney Parks.

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I love this fun holiday sweater T-shirt featuring Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and other icons (it’s perfect for winter in Florida).

The Disney Pin team released some new holiday pins including a 9-pin mystery set with Star Wars gingerbread characters.

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If you are looking for toys, there are a few different options including the Starspeeder 1000 vehicle playset inspired by Star Tours – The Adventures Continue; a giant Clone Trooper found only at Disney Parks; and Disney Racers die-cast cars which make for great stocking stuffers.

I also like the Star Wars Droid Factory where you can design and build your own Astromech droid action figure. This experience is offered at Tatooine Traders in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace in Florida, and The Star Trader in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park in California.

You can also find other Star Wars items online at DisneyStore.com/StarWars.

May the Holidays Be With You!

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STK Orlando To Open in Disney Springs in 2015

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It was just announced that The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. will open STK Orlando at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in 2015.

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STK Orlando, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge, will open its doors in The Landing area of Disney Springs. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building.

“We are thrilled to join the Disney Springs family with the launch of STK Orlando,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group. “The combination of an innovative menu and high-energy atmosphere has driven the success of STK, and we believe it will be an ideal addition to Disney Springs, and will help further cement its status as a place for friends and family to gather for fine dining and entertainment.”

STK is the latest in a string of restaurants who have announced new locations planned for Disney Springs. Morimoto Asia and THE BOATHOUSE are two other dining options that will open their doors in 2015.

Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more information and news on Disney Springs.


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

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New Retail MagicBands Arriving in December at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 16th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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You may recall that my top gift items this year from Disney Parks are retail MagicBands. We recently introduced the “link-it later” option for all retail MagicBands, making them great gifts for guests who may want to show off their Disney Side while visiting Walt Disney World Resort. This month, we are introducing some new open edition, graphic MagicBands on the dates listed below.

  • December 12 – Sorcerer Mickey
  • December 14 – Minnie Mouse’s iconic polka dots
  • December 17 – Stitch
  • December 22 – Disney Princesses

These graphic MagicBands will retail at $19.95 each.

Guests should look for these items in select locations at the four theme parks and Downtown Disney.

You can also find solid color MagicBands and select accessories on our Disney Parks online store by visiting http://www.DisneyStore.com/MagicBands

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, MagicBands, MyMagic+, Walt Disney World Resort