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Closer Look at Nighttime Entertainment and More Coming for Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

posted on April 15th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


During a behind-the-scenes media event at the Disneyland Resort yesterday, we shared a closer look at some of what is in store for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, beginning May 22. In the video below, you’ll hear thoughts from Steve Davison, vice president of Parades and Spectaculars, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, on the new nighttime spectaculars currently in development … and watch to the end for your first look at the “Cars” story from the new “Paint the Night” parade!

Be sure to catch “World of Color: Celebrate!,” “Disneyland Forever” fireworks and “Paint the Night” parade, part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration beginning May 22, and join the conversation with the hashtag #Disneyland60!

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

D23 Asks, When Did It Start For You?

posted on April 9th, 2015 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing


When did you know you first loved Disney? It may not be your first Disney memory—and it may not even be your favorite Disney memory. But when was the first time Disney made your heart sing and your spirit soar?

When did it start for you? That’s the question D23: The Official Disney Fan Club is asking fans, celebrities, Disney luminaries, and even cast members!

Imagineer Vinny Logozio recalls his experience visiting Epcot for the first time when he was just six.

Disney Legend and founder of the Walt Disney Archives Dave Smith remembers going to Disneyland and meeting Walt Disney himself!

These are just a few of the memories people are sharing with us — plus there’s Lance Bass, Disney Legend and animator Floyd Norman, Disney Archivist Kevin Kern, “Cinderella” star Lily James, and a bunch of fan-tastic Disney fans.

And we want to hear your stories too! Post them below and share them on social media using the hashtag #WDIS4U and maybe you’ll see your story on D23.com!

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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