Via Napoli Restaurant, Italy Pavilion at Epcot

Experience the Ultimate Day VIP Tour at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on August 15th, 2014 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


What could possibly be better than enjoying all there is to enjoy at the acclaimed Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Enjoying it via the Ultimate Day VIP Tour!

Delicious Desserts Tempt the Sweet Tooth

Begin the daylong festivities at the VIP Lounge hidden within the Festival Center at the Wonder’s Retreat. This special tour includes Champagne, a beverage tasting, six-course tapas-style lunch, wine, private backstage tours, time on some of the most popular Epcot attractions, food and beverage pairings with Disney chefs, VIP seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular and more. Whew!

Sip, taste and enjoy as you travel World Showcase at Epcot. You won’t want to miss this extraordinary celebration of all things culinary, the grape and brew as your Disney VIP Guides accompany you throughout, highlighting special moments not everyone gets to experience.

Occurring rain or shine Thursday and Sundays on select dates September through November, this private tour lasts six and a half hours and costs $399 per person (21 and up only). Call 407-WDW-TOUR (939-8687) for reservations. You can also access the online VIP Tour Services brochure here for more info.


For more about the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festive, visit the posts below:

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Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrating Shark Conservation for Shark Week

posted on August 13th, 2014 by Kim Sams, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Conservation Programs, The Walt Disney Company


Summer is usually the time of year that we hear a lot about sharks! Whether it’s a news segment showing aerial video of sharks swimming off popular Florida beaches or a week dedicated to celebrating these unique animals, sharks continue to inspire wonder and capture our imaginations.

Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrating Shark Conservation for Shark Week. Photo Credit: Neil Hammerschlag, R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, University of Miami Wildlife Wednesday: Celebrating Shark Conservation for Shark Week. Photo Credit: Neil Hammerschlag, R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, University of Miami

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is committed to protecting sharks and the marine habitats where they live. Since 1995 the DWCF has:

  • Contributed more than $6.3 million to projects focused on conserving marine ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Supported 27 projects working to protect sharks and rays worldwide.
  • Funded organizations like Conservation International, Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of Florida to advance shark conservation and engage communities in their protection.

Our team recently had the opportunity to visit one of the shark conservation projects the DWCF has supported since 2011 with the University of Miami’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program. This program is an outstanding example of the kind of projects funded through the DWCF’s annual conservation grant program. The research of University of Miami’s faculty, students and volunteers focuses on several shark species in the Atlantic Ocean and is both advancing our understanding and providing leverage to better protect these iconic animals. The program is also a fantastic example of inspiring the next generation of conservationists, and last year brought more than 1,000 students along on their research trips to learn about and participate in shark conservation first-hand! We are happy to debut a video of this great program and thank the many guests whose DWCF contributions have helped initiatives like these.

Interested in discovering more about sharks during your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort? Stop by The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot where you might find Blacknose, Sandbar and Sand Tiger sharks alongside several different types of rays. You can take a photo with Bruce from “Finding Nemo” and explore a maze filled with fun facts about sharks. You can also talk to educators to learn more about these animals, the threats they are facing and how you can be a shark conservationist through simple actions like contributing to the DWCF!

Happy Shark Week!

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New Alex and Ani Disney Bracelets Make Two Seasons Collide at Disney Parks

posted on August 11th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Those of you who visit the Disneyland Resort every holiday season know what happens when holidays collide – in two words … Jack Skellington. So it should be no surprise to find one of our favorite Halloweentown characters on our Alex and Ani bangles.

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So treat yourself, as this is no trick, and get ready for Halloween a little early this year. Look for the new Jack Skellington bangle starting today at the following Disney Parks locations or online.

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Online – Shop Now!

So what comes after fall and Halloween? Winter of course! Just like Elsa, the cold never bothered me anyway, and these “Frozen”-inspired bangles, featuring Anna and Elsa are bound to be hot! Look for them in stores and online beginning September 8.

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Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog and follow us on across our Disney Parks social channels for more details on these new arrivals.

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

Caption This: Snacking at The Universe of Energy at Epcot

posted on August 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


One of my fondest memories of visiting Epcot for the first time in the 1980s was this attraction, the Universe of Energy. I was mystified by these towering dinosaurs who look so unbelievably lifelike and watched us with curiosity as our ride vehicle passed by.

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The attraction opened with the park in 1982 – which means these guys have been snacking on plantlife for more than three decades. What do they think of all the guests who pass by with delicious Disney Parks treats? You tell us – go ahead and “Caption This!”

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Find the Perfect Look for Halloween at the Disneyland Resort

posted on August 5th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


I know summer isn’t quite over yet and I don’t want to be the one to rush things, but Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your costume! It’s never too early.

Not sure where to start? Consider me your “Costume Consultant.”

I personally think our Disney Princess costumes are quite dazzling. Each gown has been replicated in fine detail, appearing almost identical to those worn by some of Disney’s finest royalty. Don’t be afraid to add a tiara, wand, gloves or other accessories to complete the look.

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Find something that puts you ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ above the rest. There’s certainly no shortage of ear hats or novelty headwear at Disney Parks. Find the one that suits you the best, and show your true ‘character.’ Kids and kids-at-heart, keep an eye out for one of this year’s hottest costume accessories, Disney Tails. Keep an eye out for ‘tails’ inspired by the Cheshire Cat, Marie, Tigger and Sulley in the coming weeks. As you can see on a recent visit to our Disney Theme Parks Merchandise east coast office, I found fellow Disney Parks Blog author Steven Miller, having a ‘monster’ous good time lurking about in search of new information to share with all of you.

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If your little crewmates ‘arrggh’ ready to find their costumes and it’s adventure that they seek, some additional choices include Jack Sparrow and the Boney Pirate. For your Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear.

Quick Tip: If you are planning a visit to the Disneyland Resort during the Halloween season or specifically for Mickey’s Halloween Party, be sure to book an appointment for a royal transformation at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or aboard the returning Pirates League.

Are you looking for something a little bit more subtle? This year, I think I’m going to take my inspiration from a recent post about DisneyBounding that my friend and fellow Disney Parks Blog Author, Erin Glover shared as part of the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Event. Create a costume and express your love for Disney through fashion. Not only will you create a trendy, new outfit with clothes you can find in your closet of favorites, but you can also subtly resemble your favorite Disney character.

So where are the best places to find the perfect kids costumes, accoutrements and accessories at the Disneyland Resort?

Halloween Costume stops include:

Those of you located nearer to the Walt Disney World Resort, don’t despair. Here are a few locations for you to check out as well.

Are you ready to trick or treat?

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

Sneak Preview of Merchandise for 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on August 5th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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I’m counting down the hours until I can taste my way around the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This annual event returns to Epcot from September 19 through November 10, 2014. I’m already planning on being at the kick-off weekend to celebrate my birthday week (I’m sure I’m not the only one who celebrates her or his birthday all week long). After reading Pam Brandon’s article about new offerings this year, I caught up with the merchandise events team for a sneak preview of festival merchandise.

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This year, I found two different art programs – “Taste Your Way Around the World” and “Brews Around the World” – that will be featured on a variety of items. Guests should look for several familiar favorites including Chef Duffy the Disney Bear, a coffee mug and apparel items like hats. One of my favorite things is the specially designed food tray that was originally introduced in 2012. This new design includes a place to hold beverages and plenty of space for food.

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The Disney pin trading team created some cool limited edition pins that are presented on recipe cards. One features Jessica Rabbit with a recipe for Carrot Cake, while the other has Mickey Mouse that explains how to make Cheddar Breakfast Potatoes (now I’m hungry!). Speaking of recipes, we will also carry a new cookbook that my fellow author Pam announced in this Disney Parks Blog story.

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Finally, I liked this reusable tote bag that contains both merchandise logos.

Look for these items and more in the Festival Center, which will be located between Universe of Energy and Mission: SPACE pavilions in Future World. Select items may also be found at merchandise kiosks throughout World Showcase once the festival opens in mid-September. We will not be offering merchandise via our Disney Parks online store this year.

I hope to see you at Epcot!


For more about the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festive, visit the posts below:

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Disney Parks After Dark: France Pavilion at Epcot

posted on July 31st, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Here’s one place we haven’t stopped yet on our tour through the parks after dark – it’s the France Pavilion at Epcot.

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Doesn’t this shot of the pavilion’s lush garden look so serene?

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Two New Ways to Enjoy Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

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


How about an after-hours street party, and an Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package to make the 19th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival even more fun?

Delicious Desserts Tempt the Sweet Tooth

Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE! street party will run from 9:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday during the festival between the United Kingdom Pavilion and World Showcase Plaza. The event includes six tastes (food and beverages) from select marketplaces, live music, entertainment, and a DJ. Cost is $79, plus tax. Bringing together the love of food with the love of music, it’s the perfect destination for a delicious final bite. Party is subject to capacity and advance reservations are recommended; to book a spot, call 407-939-3378. We know that Greece, Hawaii and Desserts & Champagne will be showcased, along with others that will change throughout the festival.

*Note: Admission to Epcot is not required after 9 p.m. for guests who have purchased credentials to the event. However, if the guest wants to visit Epcot before 9 p.m., valid theme park admission is required. Alcohol will only be served to guests 21 and older.

Now for some brand-new “Premium” fun! From noon-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday during a select festival period (September 22-November 6), the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package is an opportunity for guests staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel (or the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels) to sip and savor in style. The package includes an in-room gift with wine for guests 21 and older, a festival wine glass, truffles and credential for the Premium Package Areas at the festival – plus an Epcot International Food & Wine Festival MagicBand and a $50 Disney Gift Card to start the fun. The credential gives access to 10 VIP “Premium Package Areas” around World Showcase Promenade where you can order items from Marketplaces and have them delivered to you – no waiting in line. You can also bring your favorite marketplace treats into the Premium Package Areas and just relax. The package also includes one admission to Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE!, which you can attend on Tuesday or Thursday night.

Cost is $199 per guest, plus tax, plus Epcot admission.

For the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package, call 407-939-1889. For more general information on the festival, go to epcotfoodfestival.com.

For more about the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, visit the posts below:

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Walt Disney World Event Snapshot – August 2014

posted on July 28th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Wondering what merchandise events are headed your way this August at Walt Disney World Resort? Take a look!

July 30 – August 3: Looking for the opportunity to meet artist Greg McCullough? Greg will be appearing at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace, July 30 – August 3 and again from August 20 – 24. Planning to visit Epcot, August 13 – 17? Great! Look for additional appearances by Greg at their Art of Disney, throughout the day. Learn more.

August 7 - Meet Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” director/co-writer Bobs Gannaway from 3 – 4 p.m. at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace, as he signs some of the new “Planes: Fire & Rescue” merchandise available at Disney Parks. Learn more.

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE

August 7 – 11: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

August 14 – 17: Keep an eye out! Renowned artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection! Learn more.

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August 14 – 17: It’s time for you to check out the latest releases from international artist Larry Dotson, who will be appearing throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park. Learn more.

August 23: Keep an eye out for spellbinding commemorative T-shirts and more as part of the “Villains Unleashed” event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Remember, a separate ticket is required to attend this event. If you are thinking of going, purchase tickets now at www.DisneyVillainsParty.com or by calling 407.939.1933.

August 29: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tinker Bell: An Evolution, a full biography about everyone’s favorite fiery fairy by author Mindy Johnson. Mindy will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3 – 4 p.m., alongside special guest and Disney Legend, Alice Davis. Tip: Also being released during the event is Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man. Learn more.

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Here are a few other things to keep in mind. Artists Brian Blackmore and Greg McCullough will be appearing during Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Learn more.

It’s also your last chance to get your ticket to Disney Trade Celebration 2014 – Imagination Gala taking place at World ShowPlace in Epcot, September 5 – 7. A limited number of tickets are still available, so sign up for the Pin and Vinylmation Showcase Packages today! Tip: Keep watching www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com as we release details about this year’s Silent Auction lots. Learn more.

There’s one last thing I couldn’t resist showing you. Here is a sneak peek at the next hand-painted Ink & Paint Cel debuting at the Animation Gallery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 27, 2014. This limited release titled “Summertime Pals” is so cool, you won’t be able to resist it. Not able to make it to the event? Disney Event Services is taking pre-orders via www.disneyurl.com/CelPreOrder now through September 25, 2014 at 5 p.m. EDT. Learn more.

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Are you ready for these events and more?

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Filed: Art of Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

New Epcot Cookbook to Feature All Three Festivals

posted on July 21st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


You can’t buy a copy until September, but we wanted to give blog readers a sneak peek at the new Epcot cookbook that debuts just in time for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September 19-November 10). Instead of an annual cookbook just for that festival, the new book – even the title is still in the working stages – will feature, for the first time ever, recipes from Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, winter’s Holidays Around the World and the springtime Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Here’s a picture of Disney photographer Matt Stroshane and stylist Laurel Ainley as they shot the new food photos for the book. Long days and lots of prep create pretty dishes we hope will make you hungry.

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Meanwhile, here’s a few photos from the book and one of our favorite recipes from this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to get you started.

Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri
Serves 6

Salmon
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 (5- to 6-ounce) Verlasso salmon fillets, skin removed

Chimichurri Sauce
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, including stems, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh arugula
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Quinoa Salad Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked per instructions (makes approximately 3 cups cooked), cooled
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

For salmon:

  1. Combine garlic salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in small bowl. Place salmon in large zip-top bag and add liquid, turning fillets to evenly coat.
  2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove salmon from refrigerator at least 10 minutes before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Cover 15 x 10-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon on baking sheet in a single layer, evenly spaced.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until the salmon easily can be flaked apart with a fork.

For chimichurri sauce:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend for about 10 seconds on medium speed or until ingredients are evenly blended. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.

For quinoa salad dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For quinoa salad:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and toss with Quinoa Salad Dressing.

To serve:

  1. Equally divide Quinoa Salad between serving plates, top with salmon fillet and drizzle with Chimichurri Sauce.

Cook’s note: Verlasso salmon is sustainable and farm-raised; you can use any fresh, high-quality salmon in this recipe.

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