Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

Sights & Sounds of Disney Parks: Here, There and Mary Blair

posted on June 16th, 2014 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Raise your hand if you grew up enjoying your Disney favorites through the magic of Golden Books. Did you wear them out like the rest of us did? Have you shared several of them with successive generations?

You’re in good company. So did animation giants such as “Brave” co-director Brenda Chapman, “Toy Story” art director Ralph Eggleston, “Monsters, Inc.” and “Up” director Pete Docter, “Beauty and the Beast” animator Glen Keane and “Lilo and Stitch” director Chris Sanders, as well as master illustrators Peter Emslie and Russell Schroeder.

Like Disney Theme Parks movies and music, you didn’t just stare passively at Disney Golden Books — you entered them and lived in their world. And you can do it now in the new book, The Art of Disney Golden Books.

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In this sumptuously illustrated book, renowned animation author and historian Charles Solomon takes you through decades of fascinating history of Golden Books, including its long association with the Walt Disney Studios. He also lovingly elaborates on the masterful elements that make each selection so outstanding, with exclusive commentary from Disney and Pixar artists, past and present. It’s like taking a tour with a learned guide and a coterie of seasoned experts, who explain the how and why of the tones, colors, textures and other details.

These artists and filmmakers are quick to share their enthusiasm for the “who’s-who” of great Disney artists, including several whose work added magic to Disney movies, books — and even theme park attractions for over 75 years. The paintings of watercolorist Gustaf Tenggren, for example, helped inspire the overall look of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” film in 1937 as well as the attraction, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in 2014!

“I can’t tell you how many times Mary Blair comes up in discussions, or an illustration somebody saw in a Golden Book,” says “Up” Producer Jonas Rivera in this book. “They really are a source of a lot of the color, inspiration and storytelling here at Pixar.”

The beloved Mary Blair seems to become a stronger creative influence with every passing day. You may have read about her on the Disney Parks Blog in connection with the 50th anniversary of her favorite project, “it’s a small world.” Mary illustrated Golden Books too, one of which so enchanted First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy as she read it repeatedly to her daughter Caroline, she wrote to Mary personally expressing sincere thanks.

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In addition to finding The Art of Disney Golden Books in select Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort shops, you’ll also want to pick up the shiny new edition of John Canemaker’s bestseller, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair. This Disney fan favorite tells the story of how Mary captured Walt’s imagination for decades, leading to groundbreaking design and color styling for “Alice in Wonderland“, “Peter Pan“, “Cinderella” and such classic short cartoons as “Susie”, the “Little Blue Coupe” and “The Little House”.

Included in this lovely book are photos of Mary’s eye-popping paintings and collages for “it’s a small world” and even scenes of her creating the famous tile mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. So, that’s two great books available at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World shops, or by calling Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477.

Mary Blair’s artwork is like Disney Parks visits — you can’t get enough of them! So if you are planning to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum at The Presidio in San Francisco, you’ll want to marvel at the massive exhibit Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair, now through September 7, 2014. If you can’t make it out there in person, the next best thing is getting the gorgeous book with the same title. It’s filled with its art treasures selected by exhibit curator John Canemaker and can be found at your favorite book store or online retailer.

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First Look: New Disney•Pixar Custom Character Cars at Walt Disney World Speedway

posted on June 14th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Last month, we let you know that new Piston Cup Racers Aiken Axler & Sage VanDerSpin would be unveiled during this year’s Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort. And today, we have a first look at both custom character cars, as they enter the line-up for the first time at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

First Look: New Disney•Pixar Custom Character Cars at Walt Disney World Speedway

The #28 Aiken Axler and #80 Sage VanDerSpin cars were created by Disney•Pixar “Cars” creative director Jay Ward. Both will be used in the new Piston Cup Junior Ride-Along program for the Richard Petty Driving Experience beginning this weekend. Here’s a taste of what it’ll be like.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the character eyes on the car’s windshields help bring the vehicles to life – but the window wraps do not interfere with the view of the track.

Junior Ride-Alongs do not require reservations and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out more information about program offerings, dates and times by visiting Drivepetty.com or call 800-237-3889.

You can see Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin during Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney. Disney•Pixar “Cars” and “Cars 2″ characters Lightning McQueen, Mater and Finn McMissle will also be stopping by the event for meet and greets.

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This Week In Disney Parks Photos: ‘The Lion King’ at Disney Parks

posted on June 14th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


As we shared earlier, this week marks the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King,” the story of Simba the lion cub, and his friends Nala, Timon and Pumbaa.

In honor of the anniversary, here’s a photo look at all of the places you can spot our favorite lion at Disney Parks (and even our resorts).

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Disney Parks After Dark: A Quiet Cinderella Castle

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image was shot by photographer Tom Bricker at Magic Kingdom Park, after hours. I never get tired of looking at beautiful images of this lovely icon. Doesn’t Cinderella Castle look so calm and serene?

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‘Trucks on the Town at Downtown Disney West Side’ June 21 at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 12th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Get ready to tweet, here’s a brand-new event to share with all your foodie friends: the first-ever food truck festival at Downtown Disney, a mini-theme park for food lovers from 5-10 p.m. June 21. Your biggest challenge will be what to order when you get to the window, as we’ll have 14 trucks dishing out sandwiches, empanadas, pupusas, barbecue, gator bites, seafood, tacos, cupcakes and more.

Presenting the First-Ever Food Truck Bazaar at Downtown Disney

Collaborating with The Daily City.com Food Truck Bazaar, local trucks sharing their delicious tastes at Disney for the first time include:

  • TJ’s Seafood Shack
  • Magic 4 Ur Palate
  • Yum Yum Cupcake Truck
  • Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ
  • La Empanada
  • Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks
  • El Cactus Azul
  • Mayan Grill
  • Med Fresh Taverna

Of course the four Downtown Disney food trucks, along with the ESPN food truck, will be there – Namaste Café with favorites plus some new flavors from Disney’s Animal Kingdom – think butter chicken and tandoor shrimp; Superstar Catering with favorites from Disney’s Hollywood Studios like Margherita flat bread; Fantasy Fare with Magic Kingdom Park goodies like the corn dog and sticky chicken n’ waffles; and World Showcase of Flavors with Epcot tastes from pierogies to grass-fed beef sliders.

A live DJ will create a convivial atmosphere that’s fun for all ages at the event that will be at Downtown Disney West Side on the event lawn near House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil. Best parking is lots O, P and Q behind Cirque due Soleil, via entrance 5. And, sorry, no pets allowed.

Downtown Disney plans to open a permanent food truck park later this summer between Bongos Cuban Café and the new Starbucks at Downtown Disney West Side. Details soon!

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New Clowns Bring Big Laughs to ‘La Nouba’ by Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 10th, 2014 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


“Were you born funny, or is it something you’ve had to work at?” That’s one of the questions I asked the new clown act at “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil. Both named Pablo, the duo didn’t hesitate. “Orange Pablo” shared, “Everybody’s born funny. But if you want to be funny onstage, you have to work. You have to work on the timing of jokes and get a feel for what the audience needs.” “Purple Pablo” chimed in, “It’s genetics, your soul and hard work.” I had the chance to see their performance over the weekend and I’ll tell you this … it didn’t look like they were working at all. They were having far too much fun, and so was the audience.

One of my favorite sounds at Cirque is the pure, unfiltered laughter that comes from the younger kids in the crowd. I heard plenty of that at the show. And already, Pablo and Pablo have gotten fan mail from a dad sharing that he’d never heard his son laugh so much. I think we can all agree that we’ve got a hit on our hands! The new clowns bring a fresh energy to the show, so even if you’ve seen “La Nouba” in the past, well, you haven’t seen it quite like this!

When I asked the Pablos how their performance differs from other clown acts, they didn’t hesitate. They talked about their great respect for Balto and Sergey, their “La Nouba” predecessors, and they also acknowledged their take was much different. “They were like jazz. We’re more ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ with a very fast rhythm. We’re like two kids mocking each other.” Having seen both versions of the show, I think it’s a great analogy. And while I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll share this tidbit: I’ve never seen anyone make piñatas and paper airplanes so entertaining.

The Pablos had some advice for future show-goers: “Arrive early. Forty-five minutes before start time to get a good parking spot and at least 15-minutes early to see our first act. From there, just sit down, relax and enjoy – it’s a wonderful show.”

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Want to experience “La Nouba” for yourself? Next week a special offer hits the market, but Disney Parks Blog readers can book early here.

And though I can’t spill all the details yet, keep an eye out for new news coming from Cirque du Soleil this summer when they debut an all-new offering. (Hint: it’s going to be behind-the-scenes and amazing!)

So … have you seen “La Nouba” by Cirque du Soleil? If so, let me know what you love most about the show in the comments below.

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First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on June 9th, 2014 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Over the weekend, Disney’s Animal Kingdom played host to the first of 10 Harambe Nights special events, and it was incredible! From the mouthwatering menu and that super addictive Lion Chow to DJ Khalifa and the Harambe Nights Band, with so many wonderful parts of the evening it could be difficult to pick a favorite. For me, though, it is hands-down “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.”

First Impressions of Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This 55-minute retelling of “The Lion King” story is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Animated sequences on screens in the theater ebb and flow seamlessly with music, dance, and spoken word, all performed in the spirit and style of African cultural traditions. In one moment, a classic scene from the film plays out to a live underscore provided by a 25-piece orchestra. In another, a 16-voice choir of Harambe villagers steps up to sing as spirit dancers gracefully assume the roles of animals and other characters to help carry the tale forward. And it doesn’t get any more authentic than when Sangoma, the mystic shaman, commands the stage speaking in his native African tongue.

“One by One” and “He Lives in You” gave me goose bumps, and Mufasa’s death scene affected me more profoundly than it has since I first saw it on screen 20 years ago. All I can say is, “Wow”! You simply have to experience this for yourself!

Harambe Nights continues every Saturday evening through August 9, 2014, from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Each night, a celebrity narrator joins the villagers of Harambe for their performance of “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” The lineup of guest narrators features acclaimed and award-winning actors and actresses from film, TV, and Broadway, each bringing their own passion for “The Lion King” story. Scheduled to appear*:

  • June 14 – Avery Brooks: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “American History X”
  • June 21 – Montego Glover: “The Following,” “Memphis”
  • June 28 – David Alan Grier: “Porgy & Bess,” “In Living Color”
  • July 5 – Michael Beach: “ER,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy”
  • July 12 – Harry Lennix: “The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”
  • July 19 – Joe Morton: “Scandal,” “American Gangster,” “The Good Wife”
  • July 26 – Alfre Woodard: “Desperate Housewives,” “Miss Evers Boys”
  • August 2 – Brian Stokes Mitchell: “Ragtime,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Glee”
  • August 9 – Patina Miller: “Pippin,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

A limited number of tickets is still available for each of the remaining nights. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax, and include parking, a Welcome Reception, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” two hours of additional live entertainment during the Harambe Nights Street Party, and abundant food and drinks throughout the evening. For tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

(*Entertainment subject to change)

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Marketplace Co-Op Opens at Downtown Disney

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


One of the most picturesque places to hit up at Walt Disney World Resort this week was the brand-new Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney. As Steven Miller shared earlier, this location includes six boutiques of unique Disney Parks merchandise, including dedicated areas for Beautifully Disney makeup, D-Tech On Demand products, Zoey & Pickles girls’ clothing, and more.

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Be sure to click through the gallery above for a full look inside. Which area are you most excited to explore?

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Marketplace Co-Op Officially Opens in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Marketplace Co-Op Officially Open in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

I’m thrilled to announce that the Marketplace Co-Op is now officially open in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. First announced in November 2013 on the Disney Parks Blog, this new merchandise destination will serve as a testing space for new Disney retail concepts, shops and products.
Marketplace Co-Op Officially Opens in Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort

Located next to Tren-D, Marketplace Co-Op will offer six different boutiques containing a variety of unique, authentic and original merchandise developed especially for Disney Parks, including the following:

  • Beautifully Disney – A beauty destination for women, featuring make-up, fragrances and beauty accessories.
  • Cherry Tree Lane – Accessories for the sophisticated woman with a passion for scarves, shoes, bags and jewelry.
  • D-Tech on Demand – A place to personalize and customize your own electronic accessories.
  • The Trophy Room – Vintage-inspired lifestyle sports apparel and collectibles.
  • Disney Centerpiece – Home product for guests that want a splash of Disney in their room furnishings, textiles and everyday ware.
  • Zoey and Pickles – A girls’ destination containing the latest trends and glamour for the up-and-coming fashionista.

Today, we are also launching an online version of the Marketplace Co-Op via the Disney Parks online store at DisneyStore.com/MarketplaceCoOp. This online boutique will contain select items from Cherry Tree Lane, Disney Centerpiece and Beautifully Disney.

I also invite you to join us on Saturday, June 14 when world-renowned Celebrity DJ Pauly D will be appearing in the Marketplace Co-Op from 12 Noon to 1 p.m. to sign his line of DJ Pauly D™ headphones from SMS Audio.

Here are a few images from this exciting new destination:

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Disney Parks After Dark: Food Trucks At Night

posted on June 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s Disney Parks After Dark photo was snapped at Downtown Disney and features three of the location’s new food trucks – Namaste Cafe, Fantasy Fare and World Showcase of Flavors – just after closing time.

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Have you tried any of the delicious menu items from these trucks? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.

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