Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park

The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on January 15th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

I love the beach – especially in the summertime – and the first time I visited Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure park, I was captivated by the feeling of being near the shore. When I set out to research this installment of “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling,” I wanted to learn more about how that feeling of warmth and summer that is felt year-round here at the Disneyland Resort (most of which is probably due to the beautiful Southern California weather.) So grab your sunscreen, and let’s have some “Fun In The Sun For Everyone!”

Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure Park

The design and allure of Paradise Pier pays tribute to the classic California coastal amusement parks that populated beaches from Santa Cruz to San Diego from the turn of the 20th century to the 1940s. This “pleasure-filled promenade” recreates the excitement and innocence of those bygone parks of yesteryear. When Disney California Adventure park guests visit Paradise Pier today, the setting is sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s – right around the same time Walt Disney arrived in California. Even though he never built a seaside theme park, the design of Paradise Pier pays tribute to the details Walt would have appreciated had he visited one in its heyday.


Paradise Pier is divided into three distinct neighborhoods: the Boardwalk, Paradise Gardens and Paradise Park. The Boardwalk begins at the entrance to Ariel’s Grotto and continues all the way to Mickey’s Fun Wheel. The defining characteristic of this area is the actual boardwalk beneath your feet. The land then transitions to Paradise Gardens, beginning at Silly Symphony Swings and continuing to Seaside Souvenirs. Legend tells a unique story for both Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and Paradise Garden Grill, the two restaurants found in Paradise Gardens. The story goes that they were both built by an enterprising family of Italian immigrants. To provide patrons a cool and shaded dining area, they began planting trees and building shaded structures just off the Boardwalk. Next along the path is Paradise Park – a large expanse of grassy knolls, pathways and shaded areas stretch to The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. A common feature of many seaside areas is a greenbelt park space where people can enjoy the fun of the beach without all the sand, and for Paradise Pier this area is Paradise Park. Continuing the look and feel of the 1920s, the architecture of the beautiful building that houses The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is inspired, in part, by the “Dragon Gorge” – a scenic railway coaster in Ocean Park, Calif.

We’ve visited many Disneyland Resort lands and attractions so far in this series, so now I want to hear from you! What land or attraction do you want to learn more about? Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll see what I can find out for you.

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Construction Begins For AVATAR-Inspired Land At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on January 10th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Earlier this week, leaders from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Lightstorm Entertainment kicked off the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the park’s new AVATAR-inspired land with blue, Na’vi-inspired shovels.

In this photo illustration, they were joined by Jake Sully, showing the scale of characters from the “AVATAR” film.

The area, which is being designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in partnership with “AVATAR” creator James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, will be unlike anything ever experienced at a Disney park. Guests will experience the wonders of Pandora when they fly with banshees and explore a rich natural environment with mountains that float and interactive plants that glow at night.

Using Na'vi-inspired shovels (left to right) Joe Rohde, creative executive,   Walt Disney Imagineering; Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering;   Jon Landau, AVATAR producer and Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts   celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the largest expansion in Disney’s Animal   Kingdom history.

“Disney’s Animal Kingdom is already home to some of our guests’ favorite attractions,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “With AVATAR, we are adding a spectacular new world and an exciting set of attractions unlike any our guests have experienced. The expansion now under way will make the park a true full-day, must-see experience.”

This week’s milestone is just the first step in a larger expansion for the park that will also include the debut of a new evening spectacular, as well as a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Check out the video below for a look inside the ceremony, and be sure to follow the Disney Parks Blog for future updates on this exciting expansion.

For previous AVATAR coverage, see these blog posts:

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Behind the Scenes: Designing & Painting Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Cars at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on January 6th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

We’re thrilled to start off the New Year with an exciting behind-the-scenes look at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.


Walt Disney Imagineering just shared this new video with us, in which Walt Disney Imagineers Ben VanBeusekon and Mary Mac Eachin explain the creative process behind designing and producing themed cars for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. As they explain, in addition to being a part of the attraction’s innovative new ride system that causes cars to swing back and forth while they travel down the track, the train cars are painted and aged in a way that contributes to the storyline of the attraction. Learn more below.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will debut at Magic Kingdom Park in 2014. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more updates.

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Imagineers Celebrate 60th Anniversary Year with 60 Acts of Community Outreach

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney Imagineering

At Walt Disney Imagineering we’ve just completed the final effort of their “60 for 60” initiative, a pledge during our 60th anniversary year to sponsor or take part in at least 60 outreach efforts in the communities where we operate.

Hundreds of Imagineers at WDI sites in Boston, California, Florida, Hong Kong, Paris, Pittsburgh, Shanghai and Tokyo got involved in their communities throughout 2013. While financial and material gifts were one aspect of the program, the emphasis was mainly on the donation of time and talent. Imagineers found themselves applying a wide range of skills to such projects as painting murals at a Boys and Girls Club, designing and planting a community garden, and helping build affordable housing for underserved families through Habitat for Humanity. Check out the video for highlights of this remarkable year-long effort.

Along with my fellow leader of Imagineering, Craig Russell, we thank our amazing fans and guests for supporting our 60 years in the happiness business and our Imagineers for making a meaningful difference in communities around the world.

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Disney VoluntEARS Around the Globe Bring Happiness to Kids During the Holidays

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

As part of our commitment to be a good corporate citizen, and to give back to the communities we serve, Disney supports efforts around the world that make a positive impact on children and their families. Every year, tens of thousands of cast members make volunteering a priority, building on a tradition Walt Disney himself started when he – along with Disney animators – would visit local hospitals to draw characters for children.

This holiday season, as we continue to celebrate 30 years of the Disney VoluntEARS program, our cast members are donating their time in communities around the world.

As I shared in a previous blog post, Shanghai Disney Resort cast members and Imagineers recently visited a local children’s hospital. Halfway around the world in Hawaii, Disney VoluntEARS from Aulani, Disney Resort and Spa paid a special visit to two local hospitals, bringing Mickey, Minnie and Goofy along to help spread some holiday cheer.

Disneyland Resort held its annual holiday party for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s), a tradition since 2001 for the Disneyland Food & Beverage team. Disney VoluntEARS hosted nearly 400 children and their families at an event that included Orange County’s longest “CHOC-olate” Yule Log, at more than 35 feet long, and a more than 7-foot-tall gingerbread creation based on “it’s a small world” attraction at Disneyland park .


Likewise, cast and crew members from Disney Cruise Line and Disney characters are visiting with more than 900 kids at schools, hospitals and children’s homes throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean this month.

Hong Kong Disneyland VoluntEARS handmade nearly 300 holiday wreaths entirely out of paper. Each one is different and created specifically for children in need. VoluntEARS also turned their monthly storytelling activities at a local public library into a holiday party featuring singers and dancers from the resort performing carols for about 100 children and their families.


At Disneyland Paris, Disney VoluntEARS are welcoming hundreds of underprivileged kids and families to the resort to celebrate the holidays. British Airways flew a group of 100 kids from the U.K. to Disneyland Paris earlier this week. And on Christmas Eve, local kids and families are invited to a themed brunch at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon, followed by a day of face-painting, balloon workshops and fun in the parks.

VoluntEARS from Walt Disney World Resort have been collecting and donating more than 32,000 new toys, games and books to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots to benefit Orange and Seminole counties. They’ve also spent more than 6,000 hours helping to register families, and sort and pack the toys.


And in Burbank, Walt Disney Park & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and his leadership team spent an afternoon at the local Boys & Girls Club, painting buildings, assembling furniture and helping out with other improvement projects. Tom and the other VoluntEARS also spent quality time with club members, decorating cookies, Yule logs and a 300-pound gingerbread house baked by Disneyland Resort Central Bakery chef Christina Orejel and her team.


As part of the Walt Disney Imagineering 60th Anniversary in 2013, Imagineers pledged to take part in at least 60 outreach efforts in communities where Imagineering operates. This month, they completed their work on projects all over the world during the “60 for 60” initiative where they lent their unique talents to local communities by painting murals and designing a community garden.

On behalf of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Disney VoluntEARS everywhere, happy holidays! And check back throughout the month for more details on what Disney VoluntEARS are doing for the holidays.

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Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland Park to Close for Refurbishment January 6

posted on December 13th, 2013 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

UPDATE 2/26/14: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently scheduled to reopen in fall 2014.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

On January 6, 2014, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage will close for an extended refurbishment, to reopen in late 2014. During this time, the 5 million gallons of water in the lagoon will be drained, allowing our teams to perform the refurbishment. The 5 million gallons of water from the lagoon will be treated by the Orange County Sanitation District before going into the local groundwater aquifer.

Draining and refilling a body of water this size is quite an undertaking. It took approximately 50 hours to fill the lagoon in January 2007, at a rate of approximately 12,000 gallons per hour.

When the attraction reopens in late 2014, guests will notice the colorful, more vibrant underwater rockwork and coral. When the attraction was being prepared for its 2007 opening, the rockwork and coral were “painted” with recycled glass, a new technique developed by Imagineers to enhance the undersea environment. More than 30 tons of recycled glass were used in the creation of the lagoon. Imagineers also created more than 40 unique colors for the lagoon area including, Yamber (a cross between yam and amber), Mango Mud, Aqua Jazz, Swamp (dark green and amber), Burning Coal, Phantom and Peritwinkle.

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Imagineers Add a Piece of Snow White’s Scary Adventures to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on December 5th, 2013 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager

Who’s ready for a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train update?

Our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering recently reached another milestone in the construction of the attraction with the overnight addition of a few scenic elements guests will encounter at the top of the mine train’s first lift. When mine cars pull out of the load area, they’ll travel up the track to the top of the mountain, where a jib crane sits topped by two ominous vultures, the latter of which originally appeared in the park’s original Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction. This is the last stop before the mine train’s cars plunge into a mine shaft.

Check out the photos of the recent overnight install below.



Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is set to debut in 2014 in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park. Got questions? Be sure to check out our previous blog posts on the attraction.

To learn more about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, check out these posts below:

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Stories from Magic Kingdom Park Featured in New Children’s Book by Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt

posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


When I was younger, I loved when my parents would read stories to me. I still have my collection of Disney storybooks that I now read to my son. I can’t wait to add the newest book created especially for Disney Parks to that collection. Titled “The Magic Kingdom Storybook,” this incredible 128-page, hardback book was written and illustrated by Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt. You may recall Jason from previous Disney Parks Blog articles about Princess Fairytale Hall in New Fantasyland or the Orange Bird in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park. This book is amazing; it’s easily at the top of my gift list this year! I recently spoke with Jason to learn more about this exciting new book.


Steven: Why did you write this storybook?

Jason: “As a young kid, I loved our parks but knew nothing about Walt Disney Imagineering so I dreamt of being a Disney animator. I watched a lot of cartoons. In particular, I really loved animated shorts because they told a quick concise story and they were just so fun. I spent a lot of time making my own little stories and would draw and create the worlds for them. Our attractions at Disney Parks are often just like these little stories, so the idea of a storybook that uses the Magic Kingdom Park as its setting felt like a really fun idea to pursue.”


Steven: How long did it take you to write and illustrate this book?

Jason: “I’ve been working on this book for almost three years. I would write the stories first then create the illustrations. The Adventureland story titled “Donald’s Wild Bird Chase” was the first one I completed. I jokingly call that one ‘Clown of the Jungle Cruise’ as the original 1947 Donald Duck short heavily inspired me.”

class= Stories from Magic Kingdom Park Featured in New Children’s Book by Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt

Steven: The illustrations in the book are beautiful. How were they created?

Jason: “I wanted the illustrations to be bold and graphic but also feel lush and rich. Ultimately, I wanted to try to create a playful look that hasn’t been seen before. I would draw the images by hand then refine the shapes and color and then digitally paint them. Looking back, the process may not have been the most efficient but the outcome was worth it.”


Steven: Walt Disney Imagineering is known for adding hidden surprises or nods into Disney attractions. Are there any in this book?

Jason: “There are a few nods and familiar characters I added to the story illustrations. Fans of the classic Epcot attraction Horizons should keep an open eye. There are homages to some of my favorite WDI artists, and I even added a little nod to my favorite live action Disney film ‘Snowball Express.’”

The book has a retail of $19.99 plus tax, and will be carried in select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. The book will not be offered online at this point, but you can contact our Merchandise Guest Services team by telephone at 877-560-6477 or by email at to place an order. Please refer to item number 400007803428 when contacting them.

Finally, you can meet Jason at an upcoming appearance inside Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace on December 7. He will be meeting with guests and signing his new book from noon to 2:00 p.m. that day.

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Park

posted on November 18th, 2013 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

“All we ever intended for him or expected of him was that he should continue to make people chuckle with him and at him.” – Walt Disney

Eighty-five years ago today, a legendary mouse popped out of Walt Disney’s mind and onto the screen. Since his debut in “Steamboat Willie” at the Colony Theatre on November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse has captured the hearts of millions, generation after generation. In honor of Mickey’s special day, this “Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” is devoted to his home at Disneyland park, Mickey’s Toontown.
Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland Park

The long-time home of Mickey, Minnie and friends invites guests to enter a cartoon world that looks as if it has just leapt off an animator’s sketchpad. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single straight line throughout the entire land – just like a cartoon! According to legend, Mickey’s Toontown existed long before 1993, when it became an official land at Disneyland park. As the story goes, after Mickey Mouse became a star in 1928, he found the perfect home in a quiet residential Toon suburb away from the hustle of Hollywood. As one would expect, Mickey’s friends also decided they would enjoy this secluded neighborhood and moved in as well! Because of his popularity, Mickey knew he and his friends would continue to film cartoons, so rather than commute to Hollywood, he constructed a small movie barn behind his house so he and all his friends could continue to make their cartoons without leaving their burg!

It is believed that when Walt Disney was looking for the area to build his “amusement enterprise” in the early 1950’s, Mickey Mouse suggested the fields of orange groves surrounding his neighborhood. The only request he had was that Mickey’s Toontown was to be kept secret. They agreed, and Disneyland opened nearby on July 17, 1955. Mickey, Minnie and other Disney characters could say hello to all the families visiting and then retreat back to their homes as soon as the park closed for the day.

Years later, in 1990, the residents of Mickey’s Toontown gathered and made a very important decision. They decided that they wanted to open the gates to their secret hideaway to non-Toon guests. Since 1993, guests of all ages have been able to visit Mickey’s House and meet Mickey Mouse himself in his barn, climb through Chip ‘n’ Dale Treehouse and zip through streets of Toontown on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin!

Help us celebrate 85 years of Mickey Mouse by leaving your favorite memories of him in the comments below.

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VIDEO: Tour the Jingle Cruise at Disneyland Park

posted on November 13th, 2013 by Shannon Swanson, Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

Christmas came early for me last month, when I received a sneak peek of the new Jingle Cruise in Disneyland park during a private tour. Former Jungle Cruise skipper Kevin Lively, who was a consultant on the Jingle Cruise, gave the tour while Imagineer and former Jungle Cruise skipper Wyatt Winter told me about the decorative details. Of course, in the spirit of the holidays, I brought the camera crew so I could share it all with you. You’re welcome!

Tour the Jingle Cruise for yourself this holiday season at both Disneyland park and Magic Kingdom Park.

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