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Disney Parks After Dark: ‘IllumiNations’ Lights Up Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

posted on August 6th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Tonight’s “After Dark” image was shot at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot during “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.”

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The color of the fireworks really makes the pavilion’s red torii gate look striking. What’s your favorite pavilion in World Showcase to watch “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” from? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Disney Days of Past: It’s the Dog Days of Summer

posted on August 6th, 2015 by Rose Monahan, Librarian, Walt Disney World Resort


Hello Disney Parks Blog friends! My name is Rose Monahan and I have worked as a librarian at Walt Disney World Resort for 12 years. I am excited to start sharing some posts with you from our from our photography collection here in the Marketing Resource Center.

Here we are in the full swing of summer. The kids are out of school, the sun is shining and we are all looking for ways to cool off, including Goofy! In this snap from 2000, Goofy is keeping cool by playing in the splash pads at Epcot. Ahhhh, that does look refreshing!

Goofy Keeping Cool in the Splash Pads at Epcot in 2000 Goofy Keeping Cool in the Splash Pads at Epcot in 2000
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Disney Days of Past: Transition

posted on August 5th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Over four years ago, I was asked to start writing for the Disney Parks Blog. It all started with a photograph of my favorite Walt Disney World Resort theme park, Epcot, still under construction. In honor of that first post, here’s a look back at Epcot under construction from October 1981.

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After over 200 posts, two all-nighters and getting paid to eat delicious theme park snacks way too often, today’s post is my last. Not to worry, Disney Days of Past will continue on with my friend and colleague, Rose Monahan. Check us out from when she joined me during my first all-nighter in 2012. (Who doesn’t love to dance to Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!)

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I know you’ll welcome her with open arms as she starts to share photographs from the Marketing Resource Center. I can’t thank the Disney Parks Blog team and our readers enough for all the fun. It’s been a pleasure.

See ya real soon!

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Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – August 2015

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


Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort? Be sure to check out these special artist appearances and signings taking place in August 2015!

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August 6 – 17: Representatives from Precious Moments dolls will be on hand for the release of some of their newest dolls, among other fan favorites. Meet the representatives and see the dolls throughout the day, each day, at their new location, Marketplace Fun Finds in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Tip: Artist & Doll Designer Linda Rick will be on hand for a special appearance and signing Aug. 8 – 9. Learn more.

August 6 – 9: Artist William Silvers will be on hand for a special appearance and signing of his newest releases, August 6 – 9 from 12 – 8 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in Epcot. Not able to make it? William will return for additional signing opportunities August 13 – 16 from 1 – 9 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

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August 8: Meet artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith who will be on hand for a special artist showcase and signing from 4 – 7 p.m. in WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

August 10 – 15: Artist Greg McCullough returns this month with special appearances and signings August 10 – 15 from 1 – 8 p.m., each day at Art of Disney in Epcot. Not able to make it? Greg will return later in the month, August 24 – 29 from 1 – 8 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Learn more.

August 13 – 14: A Kit Heath representative will be on hand to show their jewelry collections at The Tea Caddy in the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot. Learn more.

August 14: Take part in Trading Night from 6 -9 p.m. p.m. in Veracruz A at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Register online now!

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August 19 – 21: Meet Fragrance Designer Geir Ness throughout the day at The Puffin’s Roost in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. Learn more.

August 19 – 23: Take part in a special Givenchy fragrance event at Plume et Palette in the France Pavilion at Epcot.

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August 21 – 22: Meet artist Whitney Pollett during a special artist signing at WonderGround Gallery in Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace from 5 – 8 p.m., each day. Learn more.

August 28 – 30: Game on! Be there for the launch of Disney Infinity 3.0 taking place throughout the day, each day, at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Be sure to watch the Disney Parks Blog for more details.

Throughout the month look for other additional appearances and signings at select World Showcase pavilion locations in Epcot, including Le Plume et Palette and La Signature in France, The Tea Caddy in the United Kingdom and Puffins Roost in Norway. Learn more.

Which events will you check out?

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Top 5 Picks for Lunch on the Walt Disney World Monorail

posted on July 28th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


A lunchtime getaway on the monorail is one of our favorite tips for Magic Kingdom Park guests – take a leisurely mid-day break, then return energized to the park for more fun and fireworks.

Here are our five favorite stops, where you should be able to grab a seat without a reservation (though it’s nice to plan in advance).

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  1. Kona Cafe, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Just steps from the resort’s monorail station, this casual spot is the quickest getaway for a table-service lunch. This might be the biggest challenge without a reservation, so best to call ahead (sometimes early or late lunches work best without a reservation). The dish to taste: fish tacos with seared tilapia, tomato salsa and mango mayonnaise, also a great selection of hand-crafted sushi made to order. And, yes, the legendary Kilauea Torte is still on the menu.
  2. The Wave… of American Flavors, Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Jog downstairs to the first floor from the monorail station to this casual table-service restaurant. Again, reservations are nice, but not always necessary. Dish to taste: the build-your-own burger with Florida-raised and grass-fed beef. Add a little candied bacon, caramelized onions, guacamole – lots of delicious toppings. Organic draft beer too.
  3. Grand Floridian Cafe, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The monorail stops on the second floor, so make your way to the lobby to this airy, pleasant cafe where you reservations are preferred but not necessary. Dish to taste: the tuna Niçoise salad with a medium-rare tuna steak with greens, eggs, fingerling potatoes, green beans, Kalamata olive and tomatoes, served with fresh black olive bread. You can always add a glass of wine.

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  1. Contempo Cafe, Disney’s Contemporary Resort. No reservations necessary, and it’s just steps from the monorail station of the resort’s fourth floor. Contempo Cafe is quick service, and a fun diversion from Magic Kingdom Park. The specialty cupcakes and desserts are not to be missed. Dish to taste: the hot smoked turkey sandwich with Brie, arugula, green apple slices, apple butter and honey mustard on challah bread. Fries on the side.

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  1. Epcot. So it’s impossible to choose just one restaurant, and this requires a much longer departure from Magic Kingdom Park, but it’s doable, and reservations are best. While it’s a hike from the monorail stop to the World Showcase restaurants, a quicker stroll is Coral Reef Restaurant in The Seas with Nemo & Friends – and you get a dazzling live show from the fish, sharks, turtles and rays in the giant aquarium. Dish to taste: the divine lobster bisque with tarragon and brandy has been on the menu since Day 1, but the grilled New York strip steak is a crowd pleaser.

Tell us your favorite! For reservations visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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Garden Grill Restaurant Breakfast and Lunch Reservations Open Today

posted on July 28th, 2015 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Tucked into the back of the Land pavilion at Epcot, Garden Grill Restaurant is known for family-style food, unique views of the “Living with the Land” attraction, and fun antics and interactions with our favorite chipmunks — Chip ‘n’ Dale.

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Beginning November 8, Garden Grill Restaurant will begin serving up breakfast and lunch in addition to dinner. The new Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Breakfast Harvest Feast will have all the fixin’s served in an all-you-care-to-enjoy family style. What’s on the menu? Look for breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, Mickey waffles, and their signature item, Chip’s Sticky Bun Bake.

At lunch, look for your all-you-care-to-enjoy favorites from the dinner menu, like “Living with the Land” Harvest-inspired Farmer’s Salad (which utilizes greens from the attraction), char-grilled sliced filet of beef, roasted all-natural sliced turkey breast with freshly-harvested vegetables and scrumptious side dishes.

For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

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First Look at Commemorative Products for 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on July 27th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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The countdown is on to the start of my favorite event at Walt Disney World Resort – the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The festival opens September 25 and runs through November 16, and will feature more than 30 global marketplaces (including some new experiences in Future World.) This year also marks the 20th time this event has been held at Epcot. Here is a first look at some of the merchandise commemorating this milestone anniversary.

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There are three distinct art programs for this year’s merchandise. The World Showcase logo program includes icons from each of the 11 pavilions. The Disney character program will feature Mickey Mouse and, my favorite, Figment dressed as chefs. We will also offer a “Brews Around the World” assortment, a returning favorite from previous years.

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Other returning favorite items include Vinylmation of the Swedish Chef from The Muppets, collectible pins on recipe cards, and three new Dooney & Bourke handbags. Guests will also find drinkware, four different appetizer plates, and some holiday ornaments.

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I love the coffee mug that uses Figment’s tail as the handle. I also thought the bottle opener on the “Brews Around the World” baseball cap was creative. Finally, I was happy to see salt and pepper shaker trash cans which were inspired by items released last year in Disney Centerpiece at the Marketplace Co-Op.

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Stay tuned in the coming weeks for details about a new activity called “Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak” that includes limited release pins.

The best place to find many of these items starting September 25 will be in the Festival Center. This location will be found in Future World between Universe of Energy and Mission: SPACE pavilions. Additional merchandise locations throughout World Showcase will also carry select items. There are no plans at this time to carry these items on our Disney Parks online store.

Do you have a favorite item? Please share in the comments below.

I hope to see you at Epcot this fall.

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#DisneySide Doodles: Ludwig Von Drake Goes ‘Behind the Seeds’

posted on July 27th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s #DisneySide Doodle imagines what would happen if expert-in-all-subjects Ludwig Von Drake visited the Living With The Land attraction at The Land pavilion at Epcot.

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As you can see, he has shown his Disney Side by adding a few aquatic-animal inspired plants to the pavilion’s garden.

Thanks to artist Jason “Tiki” Tackett for the awesome work.


For more from our #DisneySide Doodles series visit the posts below:

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#DisneyKids: First Train Ride at Disney Parks

posted on July 24th, 2015 by Jamie Langdon, Social Media Manager


Walt Disney was a huge train enthusiast, which is why you can find unique railroads for all ages at every Disney Park around the world. There’s something about riding a train that seems to fascinate young children and as the parent of little ones, I appreciate the relaxing downtime a train around the park provides.

It all starts with the Monorail! When staying at some Walt Disney World Resort hotels, you can just pop outside to the Monorail to get to Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot. It’s just a convenient form of transportation, it feels like an attraction in itself.

The iconic Walt Disney World Railroad is a favorite of my family because the 20-minute, 1.5-mile trip aboard an authentic steam-powered train allows you to take in the scenery throughout Magic Kingdom Park. Trains arrive every few minutes so kids won’t need to wait long, and there are convenient nearby stroller parking areas at each stop. Check out this video with one of our preschool-aged guests as he takes his first train ride – his enthusiasm is contagious!

Also at Magic Kingdom Park, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is a breezy, 10-minute tour through Tomorrowland. My kids love the birds-eye view they get from the elevated track.

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, the Wildlife Express Train combines two things kids love – trains and animals. Board the rustic locomotive for a 1.2-mile trip to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where kids can learn more about wild animals, conservation efforts and even meet a few furry friends.

All Aboard!

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#CoolestSummer Ever: Ep-Cool

posted on July 24th, 2015 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


As it’s written in the sage words of many a colorful Walt Disney World Resort brochure, “Epcot is the only place where you can travel the world, voyage to the bottom of the sea and zoom into space — all in one unique park.” It’s also a great place to seek out über-cool fun at it’s über-coolest.

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Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros! This is one of Epcot’s most charming and cheerful attractions – and what a totally Disney way to cool off! As your boat floats amid festive festoonery, Donald Duck, Panchito and José Carioca host a south-of-the-border celebration that seems to have come directly from the Disney animated classics, “The Three Caballeros” and “Saludos Amigos.” Master Disney animator Eric Goldberg directed the flawless animation of our pals, while master Disney art director Susan Goldberg painstakingly crafted the film segments to look like they were created in the glorious Technicolor days of Walt himself.

Impression de France! If this magnificent film had been entered in the Cannes film festival, it might have won the Palme d’Or — at least, that’s what we fans would give it. Arguably the most poetic and evocative five-screen motion picture to appear in a Disney Park, it’s highlighted with Buddy Baker’s stunningly beautiful musical arrangements of such cool composers as Saint-Saëns, Debussy and Ravel — as well as Buddy’s original compositions. C’est si bon!

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Chill out in the primeval past. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is perfect for midday time travel. The attraction tucks you in for a cool and cozy journey. The Audio-Animatronics dinosaurs are always impressive, suggesting the dioramas of Disneyland park and the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and also the skirmish in “Fantasia” between the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus Rex (not to mention a verbal skirmish between Ellen and Judy!). You’ll emerge from it all refreshed and ready to challenge earth, space and everything else at Epcot.

Who needs wings to fly? Get there first thing or just before park closing, or set up a Disney’s FastPass+ reservation as far ahead as you can for the Soarin’ attraction, because it’s mighty popular. But even if you use the standby queue, it’s aaahhh-conditioned. As soon as you start soaring on Soarin’, it’s coolness turned all the way up to eleven.

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Have your dessert and watch it, too. It’s majorly cool to savor gourmet desserts with an excellent view in the glow of moonlight, lasers and fireworks. Our Epcot World Showcase chefs have outdone themselves with their delectable spread of international treats: tiramisu, tarts, cupcakes, baklava and more to munch as, from a special viewing location, you see “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” dazzles the pavilions and paints the heavens with a kaleidoscope of color. This IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party requires an additional cost, and you can make reservations here.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Epcot, FastPass+, Walt Disney World Resort