Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns March 5-May 18

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


This year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will return to the park March 5, with new Muppet-themed topiaries, Outdoor Kitchens, and first-time acts in the Flower Power Concert Series.

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This year’s topiaries will feature Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck celebrating spring with a butterfly hunt at the park’s main entrance, while Kermit and Miss Piggy will appear in World Showcase.

Outdoor Kitchens, which debuted at the festival last year, will return to showcase a slew of new “sweet & savory” and “spring-inspired” menu items.

Earlier this week, Disney Parks Blog author Charles Stovall gave you a look at new HGTV & DIY Network stars who will appear at the festival – but they aren’t the only new entertainers. Two new acts are also on the schedule for this year’s Flower Power Concert Series: Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”) and The Alan Parsons Live Project (“Eye in the Sky”).

Many festival favorites are also returning this year, with daily gardening seminars taking place at the Festival Center, and Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House will again be all a flutter with color.

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

For more information, visit EpcotInSpring.com.

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Caption This: Epcot Robots Are ‘Totally Rad’

posted on January 16th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Did you love visiting Epcot in the 1980s? Then check out this press photo, which was snapped in 1989 in front of Spaceship Earth.

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These teens look super excited to be greeted by one of the park’s robots. What’s making them laugh? You tell us. Go ahead and “Caption This” photo!

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 15th, 2014 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


You asked and we listened! We’ve heard from Disney Parks Blog fans that you’d like to know as early as possible what special events the Disney’s Animal Programs team has planned for the year, so you can include them in your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. Some of our Florida resident guests, for example, make it a point to come to every one of these events — a great compliment to our dedicated cast who are thrilled to welcome them.

The events take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. The goal of each is to provide kids and families with a special opportunity to connect with nature, talk to our animal experts, and learn more about some of the fantastic creatures with whom we share our planet. Here’s the list of our 2014 events. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more detailed posts shortly before each one. We hope to see you at one or more of them!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort Wildlife Wednesdays: Lions, Tigers, Bears and More Celebrated at 2014 Families and Nature Events at the Walt Disney World Resort

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

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • March 4: Spring Forward for Amphibians Day — Just a few days before we adjust our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time, we’re “springing forward” to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians.
  • April 22: Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day — Every day is a Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as guests and cast members join together to celebrate the wonders of nature, but, on Earth Day, there will be even more natural magic. Included is a celebration of the release of Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears,” in theaters April 18, which showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.
  • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day — Time to celebrate of one the wonders of nature – bird migration – and the ways we can help protect birds on their journeys.
  • May 20: World Turtle Day — Turtles are fascinating creatures, and really cool dudes, too – just ask Crush! Both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate turtles with special activities.
  • June 10: Pollinator Day — butterflies, bees and other pollinators are the stars of this celebration.
  • July 29: Big Cat Day — It’s all about the largest cats, like lions and tigers – cats to whom you wouldn’t want to say, “here, kitty, kitty.”
  • August 5: Primate Day — The perfect place to find out what a 400-pound gorilla and a one-pound cotton-top tamarin have in common.
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day — Learn fun facts and important conservation information about magnificent and endangered elephants and rhinos.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:

  • April 22: Earth Day Celebration — It’s an ocean of fun at The Seas on Earth Day as this Earth Day celebration focuses on marine animals.
  • May 20: World Turtle Day — See the magnificent sea turtles swim by in the main aquarium and find out what each of us can do to keep turtles safe in the wild.
  • June 4: World Oceans Day — Join Nemo, Dory, Crush and the rest of the gang in celebrating the wonders of the oceans.
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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

HGTV and DIY Network Stars ‘Crash’ The 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on January 14th, 2014 by Charles Stovall, Public Relations Manager


You could say that this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will be a “crash”-ing good time.

Sponsored once again by our friends at HGTV, they have filled the festival with tons of HGTV and DIY Network experts – including most of the stars we HGTV/DIY insiders call “The Crashers.”

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The Crashers, for those uninitiated into HGTV/DIY fandom, are HGTV/DIY expert designers and contractors who comb home improvement stores for people who need renovation help. Then – in just three days, mind you – they (with an expert crew of helpers) make over the family’s yard, bathroom, kitchen or whatever. Crashers making their very first appearance at this year’s festival are Matt Blashaw from “Yard Crashers,” Matt Meunster from “Bath Crashers” and Alison Victoria from “Kitchen Crashers.” Very exciting!

HGTV/DIY favorites at this year’s festival include Vern Yip, one of the judges of “Design Star,” Florida’s own David “Color Splash” Bromstad and John Gidding from “Curb Appeal.” Also new to this year’s festival are “Renovation Raiders” star Amy Matthews and Chip Wade, who started with Gidding on “Curb Appeal” and now has his own hit show called “Elbow Room.”

Here’s the list (everything subject to change, of course):

  • March 7-9 – Vern Yip, “Design Star”
  • March 14-16 – Chris Lambton, “Going Yard”
  • March 21-23 – Matt Blashaw, “Yard Crashers”
  • March 28-30 – Matt Meunster, “Bath Crashers”
  • April 4-6 – Taniya Nayak, “House Hunters on Vacation”
  • April 11-13 – Amy Matthews, “Renovation Raiders”
  • April 18-20 – John Gidding, “Curb Appeal”
  • April 25-27 – David Bromstad, “Color Splash”
  • May 2-4 – Chip Wade, “Elbow Room”
  • May 9-11 – Genevieve Gorder, “Design Star”
  • May 16-18 – Alison Victoria, “Kitchen Crashers”

For more information on the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, check out disneyworld.com/flower and don’t forget to check back here on the Disney Parks Blog for updates throughout the coming months – both before and during the festival.

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Spice Road Table Soft Opens – Official Opening Date Coming Soon

posted on January 11th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The doors are quietly opening tomorrow at Spice Road Table at the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot, giving the staff time to ease into the new kitchen and iron out details.

The official opening with lively fanfare will be announced soon, and we’ll have details on the blog for the all-new food offerings located along World Showcase Lagoon, featuring Mediterranean small plates, specialty wines, beers and aperitifs from the region.
Spice Road Table Soft Opens – Official Opening Date Coming Soon

Inspired by the outdoor cafés along the Mediterranean, the whitewashed façade of Spice Road Table is accented in icy shades of blue from the famous “Blue City” of Chefchaouen in Morocco’s Rif Mountains. With 120 outdoor terrace seats, the inside will seat 60 with cozy booths, Moroccan light fixtures, tilework, tapestries and art representing Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes is showcased.

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Caption This: Catching Fountains at Epcot

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


On my first trip to Epcot in the 1980s, I was absolutely fascinated by these dancing fountains in Future World. I remember jumping up and trying to “catch” the water over and over again, while my mom tried to keep up and capture the moment on our camera.

Which brings us to today’s “Caption This” image. These kids sure look like they’re having a blast doing the exact same thing. Which of these kids has the best shot? What should their strategy be? You tell us – go ahead and “Caption This” in the comments section below.

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A Year in Dining: The Top Five Milestones at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 30th, 2013 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


With culinary triumphs big (another AAA Five-Diamond award for Victoria & Albert’s) and small (the recent croissant-donut debut at Epcot), there’s been plenty to blog about the wonderful world of food at Walt Disney World Resort. Here are five standouts:

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  1. California Grill: Nothing quite surpasses the re-imagination of the sleek California Grill high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort. New menu, expanded sushi bar, 80 wines by the glass – and the spectacular view is still part of the show.

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  1. Major makeover at France Pavilion at Epcot: On the heels of the opening of Monsieur Paul restaurant in December 2012, the makeover continued with the opening of Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles, a bakery 10 times the size of the old one at the pavilion. Best of all, the bakery opens at 9 a.m., so you can sip a latte with a warm croissant before the rest of World Showcase opens. Next door to the bakery, the new L’Artisan des Glaces Artisan Ice Cream & Sorbet is making ice cream all day long in the true French tradition (simply milk, sugar, cream, eggs and fruit).
  2. Food marketplaces at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: The farm-to-table trend made its way to the festival with “festival farms” around each of the dozen Garden Marketplaces to show how the plants grow that are part of the food and beverages served at the festival. And they’ll be back in 2014.
  3. Disney Food Trucks: Four fun new trucks are now parked at Downtown Disney West Side serving everything from pierogies and kielbasa and tandoori spiced shrimp. Superstar Catering (“favorite of the stars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Namaste Café (“tasty exploration from Disney’s Animal Kingdom”), Fantasy Fare Truck (“delightful dishes from Disney’s Magic Kingdoms around the world”), and World Showcase of Flavors (“the best of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival”) offer something for every taste Wednesday through Sunday.

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  1. Starbucks: The iconic American coffee company debuted in the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom and at Fountain View at Epcot.

There were plenty of little gems, too: more “better for you” goodies in all four theme parks, the al fresco lounge at Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant, all those designer cupcakes, wine in kegs at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival . . . the list goes on.

And 2014 promises lots of big stories that we can’t wait to share.

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

Unbearably Cute Costumes and More for Duffy the Disney Bear Coming to Disney Parks in Early 2014

posted on December 30th, 2013 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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While recently roaming the halls of Disney Theme Park Merchandise headquarters, I visited with Julie Young who is now the merchandiser for dolls, plush and Duffy the Disney Bear. Julie and I have been working together for more than 10 years (much of that time was spent together on the Disney pin team). That day, Julie was particularly happy to share details about new costumes and more coming for Duffy the Disney Bear in early 2014. Here is a brief summary of what you can expect to see in the New Year.

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As in previous years, there will be a new 12-inch, pre-dressed bear celebrating 2014. This art is part of what we call a “global program” as it is used on a variety of hardlines and softlines merchandise. This bear will be joined by a new reversible costume for a 17-inch bear in January. One side of the costume celebrates St. Patrick’s Day while the other side celebrates Easter.

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Additional costumes for 17-inch bears are coming in February. You should look for a Stitch outfit and, one of my favorites, a yellow rain poncho (do you remember those from Disney Parks?). There will also be a deluxe costume inspired by Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio” that comes complete with a small Jiminy Cricket plush.

There will also be two pre-dressed bears released in February including one inspired by Steamboat Willie and one featuring Duffy in a safari outfit.

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Finally, March will see another new costume for the 17-inch bear that looks like Jake from Disney Junior’sJake and the Never Land Pirates”.

The best places to find a great assortment of Duffy the Disney Bear merchandise is at Treasures in Paradise inside Disney’s California Adventure park at Disneyland Resort and at Disney’s Traders near the entrance to World Showcase in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.

Select items will also be carried on our Disney Parks online store in the coming months.

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Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

Enjoy Holiday Entertainment Through Early January at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 26th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Still in the mood for more holiday fun? Several entertainment options at Walt Disney World Resort run as long as January 5. See the list below for end dates for your favorites.

Christmas by Candlelight

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Vintage Walt Disney World: Boxing Day at the Canada Pavilion

posted on December 26th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Today, many countries celebrate Boxing Day including our friends to the North, Canada. As a special Boxing Day treat, here’s a look at the Canada Pavilion still under construction from January 1982.

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If only I could figure out how to wrap up some Canadian Cheese Soup and ship it to myself for Boxing Day. It would be the perfect gift as I visit family up North (although I won’t be quite as far as Canada).

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Filed: Disney History, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort