Show Disney.com Hide Disney.com
'it's a small world' at Disneyland Park

Bringing the World of AVATAR to Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 26th, 2015 by Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Since we first broke ground last year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we’ve been looking forward to welcoming guests into Pandora, the mythical land based on the blockbuster film AVATAR. We’re having a lot of fun dreaming up ways to bring to life the land’s iconic elements from the magnificent floating mountains to the interactive bioluminescent forest, and even to the soaring banshees.

This creative process has been one of the most dynamic and collaborative ones we’ve ever undertaken. It began when our then-Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts proposed to James Cameron that together we might recreate the world of Pandora at Disney. Since that time, our creative development team, led by Joe Rohde, has been working hand-in-hand with Jim, Jon Landau and their team of artists and designers at Lightstorm on every aspect of this project—from overall design to the smallest—yet crucially important—details. And along each step of this process, Tom, as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger have been actively involved in helping guide the creative vision that is shaping the extraordinary world we’re building.

Image_WDW_AVATAR_2015_02_26

We all recently got together at our offices in Glendale, California and walked through the fantastic progress on the whole land—including the awesome experience of seeing Pandora while riding on a banshee.

When he was with us, Jim said, “I think one of the things that people loved about the movie is that they felt as if they had visited Pandora… now, thanks to Disney’s amazing Imagineers, people are going to truly experience Pandora firsthand. From the details in the plants to the production and design, extraordinary thought and care has gone into this entire world. The teams have really created something special, and it’s not going to be like anything else.”

This project is really pushing the boundaries of what is possible. But one of the things that makes Disney Parks so special is that it takes all of our Cast—across the segment—to really bring these experiences to life. We were glad to be able to share our work with the creative teams and thought you might want to see it, too. Here’s a sneak peek of what we showed them:



For previous AVATAR coverage, see these blog posts:

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , , ,

Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on February 9th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


With a new year comes new beginnings, and I’d like to begin 2015 by reviving one of my favorite Disney Parks Blog series, “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling,” with one of my favorite snack-time spots, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure park.

See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park See Pictures of the Silver Lake Sisters at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe at Disney California Adventure Park

This 1930s-era eatery was established by Dolly, Dottie and Ethel Bounds, known professionally as Fiddler, Fifer & Practical (aka the Silver Lake Sisters). They spent a good part of their lives performing the vaudeville circuit, entertaining the troops in World War I and becoming minor celebrities in nightclubs along the then‐emerging Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

After 20 years of singing, dancing and playing their instruments (Dolly on violin, Dottie on flute, Ethel on piano), the sisters decided to put down roots on Buena Vista Street. The idea came from Ethel, the practical one. She had always handled the trio’s business affairs and was constantly urging her sisters to settle down and open a legitimate business. They finally agreed, joining together to open Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, with its name an homage to their act.

ffffff837904

A wall inside the restaurant features photos, posters and memorabilia from the days when Dolly, Dottie and Ethel performed as Fiddler, Fifer & Practical – the Silver Lake Sisters. You can see them in publicity shots and in photos showing them performing on stage and relaxing or prepping backstage in their dressing rooms. A map of California shows the various places they’ve performed throughout the Golden State, and above the front window, marquee letters, spell out “Silver Lake Sisters.”

So the next time you’re getting a great deal on a square meal at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, take a look around and discover the story of these talented ladies for yourself.


For more from “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series, visit the links below:

Tagged: , , ,

Filed: Disney California Adventure Park, Disney Dining, Disneyland Resort

Video: Step Inside the Story of ‘Peter Pan’ in the Attraction’s New Interactive Queue

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


What fan of the film “Peter Pan” hasn’t dreamed of being one of the Darling children, who get swept off to Never Land for a great adventure with Tinker Bell and Peter Pan?

Step Inside The Story of ‘Peter Pan’ In The Attraction’s New Interactive Queue

Step Inside The Story of ‘Peter Pan’ In The Attraction’s New Interactive Queue Step Inside The Story of ‘Peter Pan’ In The Attraction’s New Interactive Queue

At Magic Kingdom Park, the new interactive queue at Peter Pan’s Flight is doing just that. The queue, which just opened at the park, immediately puts you right in the storyline of “Peter Pan” by allowing you to enter the English home of the Darling family. You then head into the children’s nursery, passing the beds of Wendy, John and Michael, which are surrounded by their belongings and personal treasures. Tinker Bell has already arrived and is busy exploring – and causing a bit of mischief – all around the room. Tink also pulls some friendly tricks on you when your shadow hits the wall. I don’t want to give it all away, but don’t be surprised if your arm’s shadow gets “hooked,” among other fun.

A lot of innovative thinking and work went into creating this magic. We recently went behind the scenes with a couple of Disney insiders! Check out the video below.



For more imagineering stories, check out the posts below:

Tagged: , , ,

Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Sneak Peek: Interactive Queue to Debut at Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on January 16th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


If you’ve experienced the interactive queues at attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom Park, then you’ve seen firsthand the way Disney innovation and creativity are coming together to immerse you in the story well ahead of stepping into a ride vehicle. Today we’re happy to share a sneak peek into a new interactive queue that will debut at Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom Park very soon.

wdwsplh123456

Sneak Peek: Interactive Queue To Debut At Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom Park Sneak Peek: Interactive Queue To Debut At Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom Park

Guests will soon be able to watch Tinker Bell fly around and interact with Wendy, John and Michael’s toys. They’ll also see their own shadows come alive on the wall in the children’s nursery and get a sprinkle of pixie dust before they head off into Never Land with Peter Pan.

What do you think? Will you check it out on your next trip to Magic Kingdom Park? Tell us in the comments section below.

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

In True Disney Fashion, the Story of Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on December 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Opening Dec. 18, Trattoria al Forno is the newest Disney dining experience, and together Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks Food & Beverage Concept Development have crafted a backstory that builds upon the Disney legacy of storytelling and originality. Trattoria al Forno has been a creative collaboration bringing story elements such as authentic food and ingredients, a wine list featuring 100% Italian wines, and décor together to create an exciting new dining experience for Walt Disney World Resort guests.

“The Trattoria al Forno story was inspired by the authentic Italian menu and the rich storytelling of the turn-of-the-century boardwalk setting, says Missy Renard, Walt Disney Imagineering resorts art director. “Working closely with the Food & Beverage Concept Development team throughout the project was critical to the seamless merging of the story, menu and design – it was a shared vision.”

tafcon203948

The story begins with an Italian family that ran a modest tavern and boarding house on the boardwalk, which expanded over the years into a popular restaurant. The menu’s mix of authentic and innovative dishes supports the story of the restaurant being handed down, with each generation adding their own touches to the meals and the restaurant’s design. The color palette throughout is inspired by the fresh ingredients used to make the flavorful dishes.

The new restaurant is arranged as a series of separate rooms, starting with the original Entrata, or entrance, where the story begins. An arched brick wall with an aged keystone medallion anchors the room and introduces the traditional building materials used throughout the restaurant. Along the back wall, a custom wine cabinet displays authentic regional wines offered on the menu. Vintage family photos line the walls and introduce the generational story.

“As the restaurant was growing, boardinghouse rooms were converted into additional dining spaces,” explains Renard. “There are four distinct dining rooms, with furnishings, finishes and lighting relating to the character of each original boarding house room.” The first room, the Cucina, is designed as the eat-in kitchen for the boarding house guests. The forno, or oven, with its rustic wood mantle and copper hood, is the centerpiece. Next is the Sala da Pranzo, the formal dining room, which showcases the family’s fine silver, glassware and eclectic china in a grand hutch, with two crystal chandeliers above in the vaulted ceiling. “The finishes are more opulent – carpet, draperies, settee-style seating and a communal table in front of the show kitchen,” says Renard.

The Sala da Pranzo leads into Salotto, or living room, of the old boarding house, now a dining area with tufted circular booths and upholstered chairs, and photos of vintage Italian market scenes decorating the walls. Finally, the Taverna is a secluded dining area located in the structure’s original tavern, where the mirrored back bar still hangs in front of exposed brick walls.

“The three main dining rooms are open to the show kitchen and to each other, but the styling differences in each create individual dining experiences,” says Renard. “The result is combination of intimate and lively dining spaces with a tailored progression of storytelling.”

  • Share: 

Tagged: , ,

Filed: Disney Dining, Walt Disney World Resort

Time-Lapse Video: Imagineers Install Springs Bottling Co. Marquee at Downtown Disney

posted on November 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Earlier today, we shared updates on several new offerings that are on the horizon for Downtown Disney as it transitions into Disney Springs.

One of those updates was that Walt Disney Imagineering recently installed a Springs Bottling Co. Marquee atop the building that will eventually house the Morimoto Asia restaurant. The marquee, which is now part of Downtown Disney’s illuminated nighttime skyline, helps weave the turn-of-the-century theme of Disney Springs through the area, as this building formerly served as Springs Bottling Co., the town’s bottling company.

Check out this time-lapse video of how our Imagineers installed the new marquee literally over night.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , , ,

Filed: Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort

Digging Up Details About Memento Mori Shop in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World

posted on October 31st, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Memento Mori, the new Haunted Mansion-themed shop, recently opened in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom Park. This location is the destination for new Haunted Mansion Authentic products at Walt Disney World Resort. In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed hearing guests’ reactions and seeing photographs from their visits to the shop. Since it’s Halloween, I caught up with my Walt Disney Imagineering partners to dig up a few interesting details about the shop that you may not know.

mmlpmk011234

You may recall that it is rumored the little shop was the abode of Madame Leota. While she disappeared long ago, many of her belongings are still located in the shop such as a beautiful portrait that was possibly created during the time she lived in the area.

mmswdw021234

The shop’s name was inspired by a gravestone found in the graveyard scene inside the attraction. The Victorian-era phrase “Memento Mori” reminded people of that age “to live life to the fullest as everyone is mortal.”
There are two different signs found outside the shop. The larger sign has an eyeball-like graphic that looks like it follows you when passing by the location.

mmccmk031234

Merchandise cast members wear costumes that are slightly different than the maid and butler costumes from the attraction. I love the unique Madame Leota-inspired broach that female cast members wear (yes, the merchandise team is considering making it a retail item in the future).

mmmwdw041234

The broach also inspired a mirror found on a wall inside the shop. The mirror’s frame is basically a larger replica of the broach.

mmswmk051234

One of the coolest new things in the shop is Spirit Photography, which is another way for Guests to pursue the mysteries of life. This special kind of photography has been known to touch the spirit world, revealing the secrets that lie beyond.

Outside the Spirit Photography room, you will find some recreations of the earliest form of photography known as “daguerreotype.” I also liked the wallpaper found inside the photography area.

mmswdw061234

While visiting the shop to get photographs for this story, I had my portrait taken. After a few moments, I was presented an 8-inch by 10-inch, lenticular image that revealed my spirited Disney Side. No reservations are needed for this experience.

Tagged: , , , ,

Filed: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Special Edition Wildlife Wednesday: What Do Rhinos, Art Auctions and Imagineers Have in Common?

posted on October 29th, 2014 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


World Rhino Day is officially recognized each year on September 22, and provides a great opportunity to share information and raise awareness about the exponential rise in rhinoceros poaching in the wild. While some are aware of the declining numbers of rhinos in the wild, many don’t have the opportunity to take the next step to help reverse the decline. Chad Harmon, a member of the team who works with animals in the Ituri Forest on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, took matters into his own hands. He and his wife started a non-profit organization called The Horns and Heroes Project – an organization that combines the conservation of rhinos around the world with the passion and creativity of the art community.

The organization’s first event, in 2012, invited 50 artists from around the Orlando, Fla. area to decorate cast moldings of rhino horns. These decorated horns were then displayed at an auction event and 100 percent of the $6,000 proceeds were sent to the International Rhino Foundation. The ‘Heroes’ portion of the organization’s title comes in as the money donated supports the front line park rangers patrolling on the ground, risking their lives against armed poachers to keep rhinos safe in the wild.

So, that covers rhinos and art auctions, but where does Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde, fit in?

PTR596381

This year over 70 artists decorated rhino busts that were auctioned off. Joe Rohde learned about the event and showed support by creating his own piece of artwork that was showcased along with members of the Orlando community and Disney’s Animal Programs. A Zoological Manager on the elephant team, Steve Lefave, created the piece of art that produced the highest bid – over $900! The piece, titled “Abbey Normal,” was created using several recycled pieces and depicts a “Frankenstein”-like rhino. When asked about his inspiration for the piece, Lefave said, “If we don’t protect the rhino, we will have to recreate it by some other means.” Lefave also spoke very highly of the organization with admiration that is “through the roof” because he knows all the work to save this species comes from the heart.

PTR596382

Inspired by the guiding principles of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Harmon strives to inspire calls to action by exposing audiences to the subject matter and then provide a way to get involved. Harmon’s intention is to invite art lovers to come in the door, but then leave an art lover who is also a conservationist. The most recent event raised over $23,000 with over 400 people in attendance!

PTR596383THUMB PTR596384thumb

Organizations like this are just one way that Disney cast members are making a difference around the world. Keep an eye out for upcoming events in your area and opportunities to get involved in other conservation programs, organizations and initiatives!

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , ,

Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

999 Happy Haunts: Here Comes The Bride

posted on October 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week our Happy Haunts series is taking a look at the true lady of the house – The Bride. (This character’s storyline varies a bit at Haunted Mansion attractions around the world, so we’ll focus mainly on her appearance at Magic Kingdom Park).

gbgbgb351100

(Art by Morgan Davidson)

Imagineer Ken Anderson developed one of the first storylines for the Bride, who was a young woman named Priscilla set to be wed to a sea captain named Captain Gore. Throughout this version of the attraction – which at first was being developed as a walk-through experience – guests would follow Priscilla as she found evidence that her love was actually a wicked pirate. Priscilla then vanished and was never seen again, although her spirit presence in the mansion was said to have driven the Captain mad. In another version of the Bride’s storyline, Walt Disney himself was set to narrate the attraction (think of Walt as the “Ghost Host”), and was to reference a bride character who had “lost her head” before the big day.

The Bride’s storyline was finally solidified when Imagineers Marc Davis, Claude Coats and X. Atencio were handed the project in the mid-1960s. Set in a creepy, cluttered attic full of shadows and surprises, the Bride waited for guests at the end of the room with a red pulsing heart and a flowing dress. Over the years, her storyline became more prominent, with wedding mementos placed throughout the attic, a louder thumping heartbeat, and the tune of the Wedding March plunked on a harpischord in the background. Later changes indicate that it was the groom that really lost his head inside the mansion: the Bride currently holds an ax, and nearby portraits of the happy couple reveal a headless groom when the lightning flashes.

In the artwork above, artist Morgan Davidson gave the Bride a Halloween twist. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below!

For more Happy Haunts, check out the posts below:

New Disney Kingdoms Series to feature Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

posted on October 18th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


A reader favorite here on the Disney Parks Blog, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, will be the focus of a new Disney Kingdoms series and today we’re thrilled to share a first look at the spectacular cover artwork and details behind the adventure set in the wild Frontier.

BTM698042

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a five-part comic series driven by Walt Disney Imagineering storytelling that’ll include earthquakes, floods and, of course, dynamite-chewing goats. Disney Kingdoms editor Bill Rosemann says, “This action-packed story by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Tigh Walker will feature the never-before-told saga of how the gold mine in Big Thunder Mountain became the haunted legend it is today.”

As readers explore the “wildest ride in the wilderness,” they’ll go back in time to a Gold Rush town where daring men and women were in a daily battle between man and mountain. There will be plenty of surprises and mystery along the way as the series uncovers why Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is more than a rumbling, tumbling train car attraction.

Disney Kingdoms Big Thunder Mountain Railroad series will be on sale in comic shops across the country in the spring of 2015.

  • Share: 

Tagged: , , , ,

Filed: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort