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Wildlife Wednesdays: World Oceans Day Celebration June 4 at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

posted on May 28th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


On June 4 at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, families can explore, learn and play with a host of special activities in celebration of World Oceans Day.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a sea turtle? Sea turtles face great odds to reach adulthood. See a life-sized replica of a sea turtle nest and learn how hatchlings start their journey, and experience a turtle excluder device, used on fishing boats to keep sea turtles from getting caught in fishing nets.

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Hey dudes and dudettes, you can lend a helping flipper to Crush’s and Squirt’s pals by adopting a sea turtle nest at The Seas. During nesting season, Disney’s Animal Programs cast members monitor the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach for sea turtle nests. You can adopt one of these very special nests and follow the status of the hatchlings online. Receive an adoption certificate complete with the date of adoption, the date the nest was laid, the species of sea turtle, and the nest number so you can track the nest online, as well as a Squirt keychain and a Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund hero button. The adoption fee goes to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida.

You can meet animal care and other experts from The Seas. Talk with these experts about their roles and their day-to-day activities.

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Learn about coral reefs and the critical role they play in our oceans. Did you know that although coral reefs encompass only about 0.2% of the area on our planet, they are home to 25% of the world’s marine animals? These rainforests of the ocean are in danger of extinction due to nutrient pollution and ocean acidification. The Disney’s Animal Programs team at The Seas is committed to coral reef restoration and is currently working on a project in Abaco, The Bahamas. You can talk with Disney scientists and learn about the work they are doing.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund also is helping coral reefs by funding critical projects like one by the Coral Restoration Foundation, which is helping to engage communities in the protection of threatened coral populations in the Florida Keys. Take a look at the video:

On World Oceans Day, and every day, it’s important to remember that no matter where we live we are all connected to the oceans—any action we take that reduces waste (including recycling everything possible), saves water or keeps it clean, protects ocean wildlife or reduces emissions helps our oceans.
Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day
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More Details to Make You Hungry for Fun at 19th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on May 26th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


You have a while, but it’s never too early to start planning for Disney’s finest culinary extravaganza, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which kicks of September 19 and runs a record 53 days this year, through November 10.

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Longtime fans will want to know what’s new, but for neophtyes, here are the basics: food fans love the stroll around World Showcase to nosh and sip from more than 25 ethnic and specialty marketplaces (get your free festival “passport” stamped along the way). But there’s so much more: three nightly Eat to the Beat concerts, the fantastic Party for the Senses on select Saturday nights, signature dinners, the remarkable Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, a new “Back to Basics” Festival Center series and a new Friday morning celebrity chefs cookbook event called “Food for Thought.” All in all, you can taste the creations of more than 270 chefs and culinary pros from Disney and across the U.S.

We’re excited to see our favorite Saturday morning Parisian Breakfast back this year, and a new Sunday morning event called “Sunday Mornings With …” that will be a plated brunch with a noted pastry chef or baker crafting three fabulous desserts for guests.

What else is new for 2014?

  • Patagonia Marketplace will merge the flavors of Argentina and Chile in dishes like sustainable roasted Verlasso salmon with quinoa salad drizzled with a kicky arugula chimichurri. You can pair that with a couple of great Chilean wines: Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier or Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé.
  • Farm Fresh Market replaces last year’s Florida Local Marketplace, with a perfect “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) dish: “Bacon and Eggs,” with applewood-smoked, pepper-coated bacon, sweet corn, potatoes, Hollandaise and pickled jalapeños. Or try the griddled “yard bird” (chicken) with braised greens. Happy to see Orlando Brewing Company’s I-4IPA on the menu, as well as trendy Ba Ba Black Lager from Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company.
  • Brazil Marketplace is back with that wildly popular crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro, but chefs also are adding mocequa de pescado (tilapia with coconut lime sauce and steamed rice), pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and cocadas (Brazilian coconut candy).
  • The Poland Marketplace switches up the popular pierogi with a new sauerkraut pierogi and pork goulash.

That’s just a little taste of what’s to come; stay tuned for more details as the weeks sail by.

Free with Epcot admission: Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment. Festival hours extend to 10 p.m. each weekend.

You’ll need reservations/additional fee: Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378). Information and reservations for select programs will be at epcotfoodfestival.com.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Can You Name These Animals? Hint: They’re All at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or The Seas with Nemo & Friends

posted on May 21st, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 International Day for Biological Diversity. Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot experience amazing biological diversity in the various species of animals that make their homes here.

Below are photos of just six of these animals. Can you identify them? Answers are at the bottom of the post.

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Each of us can help to protect the biological diversity of our planet through our everyday actions. Any action that reduces waste, saves water or keeps it clean, or reduces emissions can help make the world a better place for wildlife and all of us. For information on Disney conservation efforts, please visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wildlife Wednesdays: World Turtle Day Celebrated May 20 at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 14th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Guests can find out all kinds of fascinating information about turtles — including sea turtles like Crush and Squirt — and participate in a variety of activities for the whole family on May 20 when Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot celebrate World Turtle Day.

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At Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests may see a turtle getting a veterinary exam, try on a replica of a turtle shell, get an up-close look at some of the turtles and tortoises that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and talk with cast members about the conservation work they are doing to help turtles and tortoises that live on conservation land right here at the Walt Disney World Resort and in springs, rivers and oceans around the state.

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At The Seas with Nemo & Friends, children can climb through a full-size model of a turtle excluder device, used on fishing boats to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in nets. Families also can watch a sea turtle swimming gracefully by in the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater main aquarium, and play games that help them learn about the many threats turtles face, like getting entangled in trash and fishing line.

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Starting on World Turtle Day and continuing through the nesting season, guests visiting Conservation Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Seas at Epcot, and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort can help turtles by adopting a sea turtle nest. Guests receive an adoption certificate complete with the date of adoption, the date the nest was laid, the species of sea turtle, and the nest number so they can track their nest online, a Squirt keychain and a Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) hero button.

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Disney guests have adopted nearly 700 turtle nests so far, resulting in nearly $18,500 contributed to sea turtle conservation in Florida. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has contributed more than $1.2 million to sea turtle conservation around the world.

Upcoming 2014 events for connecting families with nature (as always, dates subject to change):

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • June 4: World Ocean Day
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Disney Parks Blog Time Capsule: May 2011

posted on May 12th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


From nostalgic looks back to whimsical peeks at Disney Parks, we had lots of fun on the Disney Parks Blog back in May 2011.

Construction on the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot, April 1982

Vintage Walt Disney World: Epcot 1982
Disney Archivist Nate Rasmussen joined the Disney Parks Blog in May 2011, with this look at Epcot from 1982.

Gertie the Dinosaur at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Have You Seen Gertie at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
In May 2011, we learned the story behind Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Nurses
For National Nurses Week, we learned what it takes to be a Disneyland Resort nurse.

Disney Parks Blog Readers Among First to Experience Star Tours at Disneyland Park
On May 20, 2011, Disney Parks Blog readers were among the first guests to experience the newly refurbished Star Tours at Disneyland park. Were you one of them?

Was This a ‘Duckspiracy?’

Getting in the Photo at Disneyland Resort
Disneyland park regulars know that ducks are just as much part of the experience as Space Mountain and corn dogs. This photo from Disneyland Chief Photographer Paul Hiffmeyer is one of my favorites.

Disney Cast Members Create Magic Every Day
Jennifer Fickley-Baker shared a special memory of a Walt Disney World Resort cast member who created a magical moment for her, prompting Disney Parks Blog readers to share experiences of their own.

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Filed: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

2014 Eat to the Beat Concert Lineup Announced for Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

posted on May 9th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will return to the park September 19 – November 10, and we just received the list of performers who will participate in the Eat to the Beat concert series.

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New acts coming this year include the Jo Dee Messina, Fuel and Los Lonely Boys. There are also several returning favorites, including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Boyz II Men.

Check out the full schedule below.

  • Sept 19-21 – Jo Dee Messina
  • Sept. 22-23 – The Pointer Sisters
  • Sept. 24-25 – The Commodores
  • Sept. 26-27 – Christopher Cross
  • Sept. 28-29 – Hanson
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 2 – Air Supply
  • Oct. 3-5 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct. 6-8 – Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 9-10 – Fuel
  • Oct. 11-12 – Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 13-14 – Richard Marx
  • Oct. 15-16 – Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 17-19 – Night Ranger
  • Oct. 20-22 – Smash Mouth
  • Oct. 23-24 – Jim Brickman
  • Oct. 25-26 – Los Lonely Boys
  • Oct. 27-28 – Wilson Phillips
  • Oct. 29-31 – Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX
  • Nov. 1-2 – 38 Special
  • Nov. 3-5 – Boyz II Men
  • Nov. 6-7 – David Cook
  • Nov. 8-10 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
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Caption This: Ducks Hit Up The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s “Caption This” image was shot at a previous Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Who are these curious ducks off to see? Tell us in the “Comments” section below!

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Less Than a Month Left to Savor Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on April 28th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Time for another lap around World Showcase to taste more of the creative flavors in the Outdoor Kitchens – with 11 different stops, it’s nearly impossible to get a bite of everything before the festival ends on May 18.

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We caught up with Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann for the 411:

We had to try the turkey rib – what, exactly, is it?

Chef Jens: The turkey rib at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews [at American Adventure] is a brand-new item, and we’re pleased to be the first to feature it at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s actually a turkey wing that is split in half, dry rubbed, slow cooked in the oven for about two hours, then slightly smoked in our on-stage smoker for another 45 minutes. The meat is moist, tender and full of flavor.

Which new dish has been the hands-down crowd favorite?

Chef Jens: It has to be the Piggylicous Bacon Cupcake with maple frosting and pretzels, also at The Smokehouse. It was a big hit from day one and a true must-try. Second would be the Ghost Pepper-Dusted Tilapia at Urban Farm Eats.

Which returning dish is the biggest hit?

Chef Jens: This is a three-way tie between the Pulled Pig Slider at The Smokehouse, Shrimp and Grits at Florida Fresh and the Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare at Buttercup Cottage in the United Kingdom.

Any surprise favorites?

Chef Jens: The Eggplant Scallop at Urban Farm Eats is popular, as guests seem to enjoy the meat-like texture of slowly cooked eggplant with classic Romesco (sweet red pepper) sauce and spaghetti squash.

Marianne Hunnel, the festival’s libations expert, chimed in with the most popular drinks this year: Watermelon Passion Fruit Slush and Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria at Florida Fresh, the frozen Desert Violet Lemonade in Pineapple Promenade and the Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade in the Buttercup Cottage.

And our new finds:

  • The divine duck confit at Fleur de Lys in France, a stack of buttery duck, potatoes and caramelized onions;
  • Lemon scones with strawberry preserves and crème fraîche at Buttercup Cottage (swirl the two toppings together and dip in the scone);
  • Beijing-style Candied Strawberries at Lotus House in China;
  • And, perhaps our most favorite, the Sweet Potato-Cinnamon Waffle with Pineapple Soft Serve at Pineapple Promenade. Perfect serving size – a warm waffle with ice cream. Now that’s a happy ending.

For more information about the 21st Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or visit www.epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

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Walt Disney World Resort Event Snapshot – May 2014

posted on April 21st, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Here are the merchandise events headed your way this May at Walt Disney World Resort!

Before we jump in, here’s one last event taking place at the end of April that you should definitely check out!

Stop by Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace April 26 -27 for a special Disney Design Group Artist Showcase! Not only do you get the opportunity to add beautiful masterpieces to your own Disney collection, but you also get the chance to meet Disney artists Costa Alavezos, Brian Blackmore, Alex Maher, Randy Noble and Darren Wilson. Check the website for artist appearance times. Learn more.

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Now on to May!

May 1 – 4: Look for special appearances by artist Larry Dotson throughout the day at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Not able to make it? Look for Larry later in the month from May 21 – 24 at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park. Learn more.

May 2: Ahoy there! Meet Disney Design Group artist Casey Jones, who will be on hand to sign the new “Pirates of the CaribbeanVinylmation Series 2 from 5 – 7 p.m. at D Street in Downtown Disney West Side.

May 2 – 3: Find the perfect gift for Mother’s Day during the Chamilia Trunk Show taking place throughout the day at Tren-D in Downtown Disney Marketplace.

May 4: Put some spring in your step with A Perfect Petals Brunch, featuring the Disney Collection by Vera Bradley coming to World ShowPlace at Epcot on Sunday, May 4, 2014. Register now! Learn more.

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May 7 – 11: Artist Greg McCullough returns May 7 – 11 to Art of Disney in Epcot and will appear later in the month from May 21 – 25 at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace and May 28 – June 1 at Animation Gallery at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Be sure to stop in and say hello! Learn more.

May 8 – 12: Meet Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace, May 8 – 11, as we debut her collection inspired by Cinderella. Learn more.

May 10 – 20: 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.

May 17 – 18: Dana and Melanie Harvey from HARVEYS seatbeltbags are headed to Walt Disney World Resort! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to pick up some of the newest silhouettes inspired by their Pop Art Mickey collection and meet Dana and Melanie, May 17 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Tren-D in the Downtown Disney Marketplace; May 18 from 12:00 to 2 p.m. at Uptown Jewelers in Magic Kingdom Park; and May 18 from 5 -7 p.m. at Summer Lace at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Learn more.

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Here are a few other things you don’t want to miss!

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Past Epcot International Flower & Garden Festivals

posted on April 17th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Celebrating its 21st year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom. My favorite part of the festival is all the topiaries throughout the Park. Here’s a look at a past topiary from the 1998 festival – Phil. (Hercules’s trainer)

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There are almost 100 topiaries at Epcot this year with 79 character topiaries to enjoy. What’s your favorite topiary past or present from the festival? Tell me in the “Comments” section below!

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