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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: The BOATHOUSE Docks at Downtown Disney

posted on April 18th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


The BOATHOUSE, the newest eatery to open at Downtown Disney here at the Walt Disney World Resort, officially opened its doors on Monday.

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The restaurant offers a one-of-a-kind waterfront dining experience that includes a menu of steaks, chops, fresh seafood and much more. The BOATHOUSE also showcases a must-see display of rare watercrafts from the 1930s – 1950s, plus a special fleet of 1960s Amphicars. (Check out Darcy’s original blog post to learn how you can take a ride in one of these beauties).

The BOATHOUSE is so unique and visually compelling that we had to share more images with you. Be sure to check out the gallery below.

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Filed: Disney Dining, Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks After Dark: Astro Orbitor Revisited at Disneyland Park

posted on April 16th, 2015 by Paul Hiffmeyer, Chief Photographer for Public Relations, Disneyland Resort


For a photographer, Astro Orbitor is one of those Disneyland park attractions that just keeps giving. I have photographed it many times – shooting photos for use in the media and riding the attraction while photographing celebrities, which is very exciting. But honestly, the most fun is when I’m photographing it for the Disney Parks Blog.

These first two photos are from previous Disney Parks Blog posts, and show motion blur and excitement.

The Astro Orbitor at Disneyland Park The Astro Orbitor at Disneyland Park

The next three photos of the Astro Orbitor show the beauty of the attraction at rest, as opposed to its thrilling side.

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The BOATHOUSE Makes a Splash at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 13th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


Over the past year, The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats has been hoisting up along the Downtown Disney skyline. The venue, open today, is the first of several new restaurants coming to The Landing, a new neighborhood that will be part of Disney Springs.

The BOATHOUSE is an upscale waterfront dining experience showcasing steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar. Built over the water, the 600 seat nautically themed restaurant also features a display of rare dream boats from the 1930s – 1950s, a beautifully crafted water taxi and a fleet of amphibious autos, called Amphicars.

I had the chance to talk with Theron Skees, executive creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering to learn more about how The BOATHOUSE charted its course. Theron shared “It’s been such a team effort between WDI and the Schussler design team; to see Steve’s dream come to life is awesome. It’s been a true collaboration. Guests will experience rooms that represent different time periods in the history of the building, with a focus on a view of the water. Each design element: the height of the restaurant ceiling, the width of the deck, the transparency of the railing, it was all considered so guests would have maximum visibility to the water.”

I got to tour The BOATHOUSE recently, and if stunning water views and impeccable attention-to-detail were what they were aiming for, well, they nailed it!

Earlier today, Pam Brandon shared details on the menu, so now I’m giving you an early look at what else you can expect at this unique location:

Amphicar Rides – Is it a car? A boat? Yes. And yes! Guests can experience the thrill of a Captain’s guided tour aboard a rare Amphicar that drives on land and floats in the water. The $125 price tag includes your own Car Captain and seating for up to three guests. Along the way, you’ll have a great view of Downtown Disney, direct from the water. I tested the Ampihicars last week and had a blast; you literally drive into the lake with a splash – plus, I felt like a celebrity, waving to all the curious guests onshore! This is the only place in the world to ride in these vintage vehicles. Tours are available daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., weather permitting, and will be available soon.

The BOATHOUSE Is Set To Make a Splash at Downtown Disney In Florida

Italian Water Taxi Cruise – The Venezia, a breathtaking 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi also offers a Captain’s guided tour of Downtown Disney; this one is complete with live music, chocolate-covered strawberries and a champagne toast. Tours will be offered hourly from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., weather permitting, starting soon, for individuals and groups of up to 20. The cost is $75 per person or $50 per child under age 13. (Want a more private tour for two? Ask about the Antique Steamboat Tour aboard Lady Rose; the cost is $150 per couple.)

“Floating Art” – I knew they were beautiful, but I had no idea I was looking at a multi-million dollar fleet of rare boats. Gathered from museums, private collectors, and boat shows from around the world, be sure to take some time to stroll the marina. Photos are not only allowed, but encouraged, so have your camera handy.

Interior Décor – Boat motors mounted on the wall. Trophies from regattas of days gone by. Stunning photography and artwork, some historical, some richly modern. It’s all incredible. But perhaps my favorite décor element is the brand-new boat that the team modified so it could include a dining table. (I’ll just say it now, everyone will want to sit there, me included!) Of course, the true visual hero, even from inside the restaurant, is the water. The good news is that every single table has a great view, so there’s no such thing as a bad seat.

Entertainment – Harbor Master festivities take place throughout the day and evening, with flag ceremonies and lively musical performances of beloved bugle songs, performed aboard Lady Rose. Inside, live entertainment takes center stage with a variety of musical styles – during my “sneak peek,” familiar songs were floating through the restaurant.

Check out the gallery below for a glimpse of what you can expect when you visit.

It’s hard to guess what guests will love most about The BOATHOUSE. What are you most excited for? Tell me in the comments below – I’d love to know!

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The BOATHOUSE Opens Today at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats opens today at The Landing at Downtown Disney, the area’s first all-new dining spot featuring spectacular floating artwork: dream boats from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

But of course it’s the food that we want to talk about, so we caught up with Executive Chef Bob Getchell, who’s been on the team more than five months creating the menu for the expansive restaurant that features three distinctive bars and nautically theme dining rooms. The BOATHOUSE restaurant is managed by the award-winning Gibsons Restaurant Group.

“Incredible food with a waterfront view is the focal point,” says Chef Bob. “All of the dining rooms have waterfront views or are on the water.” With 600 seats – 400 indoors, 200 outdoors – there’s not a bad view in the house.

The upscale menu focuses on seafood and steaks, upscale cocktails and a solid wine list. You can get anything from a casual basket of fried clams or big butterflied shrimp to “the best Angus beef burgers in town,” says Chef Bob. (And the fries are hand cut.)

New England Lobster Roll at The BOATHOUSE

Let’s start with the raw bar, serving three to five varieties of oysters on the half shell, colossal wild-caught Baja shrimp cocktail, and the BOATHOUSE lobster cocktail made with a pound-and-a-quarter lobster. Local Anastasia Gold caviar is on the menu from a farm in nearby Pierson, Fla.

Even the salads are notable, like the sirloin steak salad with eight ounces of New York strip steak, seared ahi tuna salad with Asian dressing, and the Buffalo chicken salad with Point Reyes blue cheese and spicy pecans.
The rotisserie chicken is brined 24 hours and stuffed with citrus and fresh herbs, then slow roasted. Cedar plank salmon roasts in an 875°F oven. And you’ll find dayboat fish coming in fresh, like the Cape Canaveral tripletail that’s on the opening day menu, or Florida wahoo.

Back to those steaks – Gibsons sources their meat from small farms in the upper Midwest, and features buttery filet mignon, a 28-ounce Porter house and a 32-ounce long bone rib chop (our favorite).

“We’re famous for our big desserts,” says Chef Bob. Like the S’More Baked Alaska made with one-and-a-half gallons of rocky road ice cream with graham cracker crust, topped with a mountain of meringue and marshmallows, chunks of chocolate on the outside, then torched for the s’mores finish. Meant for sharing, of course. Or the Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake with fresh berries in a whiskey-honey syrup finished with whisked buttermilk cream and whiskey caramel sauce. But Chef Bob admits his favorite dessert is the ice cream float with grape Nehi soda, poured tableside.

Kids’ meals are no afterthought – they’re all homemade, like the Sticks and Stones with chicken breast strips and fish, hand-breaded. Or the Pig in a Blanket wrapped with pretzel dough and baked.

“We’ve got something for everyone on the menu,” says Chef Bob. More than a dining experience, The BOATHOUSE immerses guests with waterfront adventures including live music and romantic Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi, or the 1800s antique steamboat Lady Rose, both featuring champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. Or head to the water for guided Amphicar tours where you’ll enter the water with a splash for a 20-minute tour.

Hours are 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.

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First-Ever Disney Cruise Line Meet-Up Showcases Exciting New Entertainment

posted on April 10th, 2015 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line


Yesterday we hosted our first-ever Disney Cruise Line meet-up! This special event was a sneak peek at exciting new entertainment coming to our ships, and meet-up guests got to go behind the scenes with the creative team who develops our onboard entertainment.

We heard from three show directors about our new series of “Frozen”-inspired experiences, Star Wars Day at Sea and “Tangled: The Musical.” The event was packed full of fun with special appearances by Disney friends like Anna, Elsa and Olaf. We also got a first look at our “Tangled: The Musical” in production, including this never-before-seen artwork of one of the show’s spectacular scenes . . .

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I loved the opportunity to meet hundreds of Disney Parks Blog readers. There were some familiar faces there, too, including friends from “Frozen,” Star Wars and “Tangled.” To be expected, Olaf gave out plenty of warm hugs!

Check out the video and photo gallery below to see highlights from this incredibly fun event. Thanks to all of you who made Disney Cruise Line’s first meet-up a great one!

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Disney Parks After Dark: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blossoms at Night

posted on April 9th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


I know the amazing floral displays and topiaries at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival look amazing during the day, but who would’ve thought they looked this beautiful illuminated at night?

This “Beauty and the Beast”-inspired topiary features Beast, Belle – and Cogsworth in the background.

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Have you visited the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this year? Do you prefer visiting during the day or in the evening?

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A Rare Behind the Scenes Look at ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 7th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


As a longtime fan of “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil, I’ve always wondered what happens behind the scenes. How much practice do the performers need? What time do they start doing make-up? Who helps them with their costumes?

I never dreamed I’d get the chance to peek behind the curtain, but recently, I had the chance to do just that. And the best part? Photographer Matt Stroshane joined me and captured several rarely-seen moments to share with you.

On the day we visited, one of my favorite acts, fondly referred to as “the diabolos,” were working on their routine. The young quartet from China practices five to seven hours a week (and it’s not uncommon to see some of the other talent working out nearby). It was dizzying to watch them balance, flip and spin just a mere few feet away. Check out the photo below – if you look closely behind my shoulder, you’ll see one of the girls is in mid-air, halfway through her backflip dismount. Even in sweats and messy buns, their nearly flawless performance left me breathless. Most of the girls will spend one to two years as part of the show and some may return for a second stint. My favorite new fun fact? The current coach was part of the first diabolo team who originally opened “La Nouba.”

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Also getting in some pre-show practice were a few of the trampoline artists. And yes, we got to witness that, too! Looking down from the rafters, we got a bird’s eye view of them for an entirely new perspective.

The backstage area was a flurry of activity as the curtain call neared. We ducked into the dressing room and caught principal performers putting on their show make-up. We also saw a glimpse of the costuming team in action, fitting one of the aerialists, putting finishing touches on hand-painted sneakers and sewing on glittering rhinestones. (The wardrobe room was a utopia of color, filled with fabric, sequins, wigs, props, and more costumes than I could count!) All the while, technicians supporting everything from lighting to audio were hard at work, prepping for the performance.

Now that I’ve seen what it takes to make “La Nouba” a success, I appreciate it even more. After browsing the gallery below, hopefully you will, too!

Interested in seeing the show for yourself? Click here for tickets and more information.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Celebrate A Grand Opening

posted on April 4th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week at Walt Disney World Resort some of the coolest photos came from the opening of the Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. The grand opening ceremony included performances by fireknife dancers, drummers, and the lighting of special torches that each represented different Polynesian islands.

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Makes its Grand Opening Debut at Walt Disney World Resort

For more on this lovely resort – and the nearby Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – check out the posts below.

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Disney Parks After Dark: Arabian Coast Courtyard at Tokyo DisneySea

posted on April 2nd, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Tonight’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image was shot at Tokyo DisneySea and shows off the park’s lovely Arabian Coast section, which features four attractions: Jasmine’s Flying Carpets, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, The Magic Lamp Theater and Caravan Carousel.

The Magic Lamp Theater, pictured below, features a 23-minute show starring the magician Shaban and Genie from “Aladdin.” Caravan Carousel, at the right, features a variety of exotic beasts that you can take spin on, including camels and mythical griffons.

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Thanks to photographer Tom Bricker for the amazing photo.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates Upcoming ‘Monkey Kingdom’ Film with Giant Sand Sculpture

posted on April 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Have you been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week? If so, you may have noticed a special new addition at the front of the park – a giant sand sculpture that celebrates the upcoming opening of the Disneynature’sMonkey Kingdom.”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates Upcoming ‘Monkey Kingdom’ Film with Giant Sand Sculpture

The film, which opens April 17, follows the adventurous life of Maya, a blonde-bobbed monkey, and her son Kip, through their journeys in the jungles of South Asia. When their home at Castle Rock is taken over by neighboring monkeys, Maya’s entire family retreats. She uses her street smarts to uncover untapped resources amidst her strange new surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim their home.

Our cameras were on-hand to capture the creation of this amazing sand tribute. Check it out below.

For every “Monkey Kingdom” movie ticket sold opening week (April 17-23, 2015), Disneynature will make a donation to Conservation International to help protect monkeys and other endangered species in their natural habitats.

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