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New Construction Milestone as Golden Spire Tops Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort

posted on May 20th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We are excited to announce that Shanghai Disney Resort celebrated a major construction milestone this week with the topping out of the Enchanted Storybook Castle. Our leaders – Bob Iger, chairman and CEO, and Tom Staggs, chief operating officer – were at the resort to witness the installation of the extraordinary gold finial atop the tallest of the eight towers of the castle.

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New Construction Milestone as Golden Spire Tops Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort New Construction Milestone as Golden Spire Tops Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort

Shanghai Disney Resort is one of the most ambitious projects we’ve ever undertaken at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and the magnificent Enchanted Storybook Castle will serve as its fitting icon. The castle will be the tallest structure at the resort and the most complex and largest Disney castle ever built. It will feature a beautiful winding staircase leading guests on a “Once Upon a Time Adventure” and exciting retail, dining and entertainment. Walt Disney Imagineering was recently recognized by the American Institute for Architects for its successful application of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the design of the castle, showcasing the technology and innovation used in the castle’s development.

A Golden Peony on the Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort A Golden Peony on the Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disney Resort

This castle was designed specifically for the people of China, with input from many collaborative partnerships with international and local experts. The golden finial installed this week was made locally in Shanghai and is topped with a peony – the flower of China – which is placed atop a cascade of Disney stars. Another one of the golden finials has traditional Chinese “lucky” cloud patterns, peonies and lotus and features Magnolia flowers — which represent Shanghai — and a Disney crown to symbolize Disney princesses.

We look forward to bringing timeless Disney stories to the people of China with the opening of the resort next spring. We’ll continue to have more updates here on the Disney Parks Blog!

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Celebrate Earth Day Around the Globe

posted on April 22nd, 2015 by Molly McGranahan, Communications Specialist, WDPR


Happy Earth Day!

Here at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we celebrate Earth Day every day. Across the globe, our cast members work together toward one unified goal: protecting our planet to promise a better tomorrow.

We invite you to take a unique look at what some of our environmental friends across Parks and Resorts are up to in support of planet earth:

Disneyland Resort
The Disneyland Resort took home three top prestigious environmental honors:

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Disneyland Paris
Protection of domestic bees is key at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch at Disneyland Paris. The bees are essential in continuing the quality of the resort’s flowers, trees and meadows, and the park’s landscaping provides what the bees need to produce top-quality honey. The mixed-flower honey that is produced finds its way to the breakfast table of guests at the Disneyland Hotel. How’s that for some Earth Day buzz?

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Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
At Hong Kong Disneyland, all plastic shopping bags from merchandise locations are made from post-consumer recycled plastics. Since launching in 2012, more than three million plastic bags generated from the resort’s daily operation have been diverted from landfill and reused for the production of merchandise bags.

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Shanghai Disney
As development for Shanghai Disney Resort progresses, a common thread throughout the resort’s growth is its commitment to sustainable building design. Various administrative buildings are being built with gearless elevators, automatic heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and exterior stairwells to help minimize the impact of the resort operations on the environment.

Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea utilize multi-waste waste containers. Unlike the standard waste bin, these multi-functional containers are made of several different deposit stations that separate solid from liquid waste and encourage recycling. A single container features combustible trash, plastic silverware, paper cups, beverage carriers and liquid waste stations. The bussing carts for Quick Service Food & Beverage cast members are set up in the same manner, further aligning the cast and guest environmental experience.

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Walt Disney World Resort
Each of the 25 Disney-owned and operated Walt Disney World Resort hotels participate in the Florida Green Lodging program. From distributing in-room materials printed on recycled paper to maintaining the HVAC in unoccupied guest rooms, our resort teams ensure their commitment to the environment comes through in their day-to-day actions.

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Stay tuned for more great environmental stories from Disney Parks and Resorts as we continue to celebrate our planet throughout the year.

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Chinese Zodiac and Disney Characters Combine in ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ at Shanghai Disney Resort

posted on February 19th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Just in time for Chinese New Year, Shanghai Disney Resort shared more details on its “Garden of the Twelve Friends.” A highlight of the theme park’s plans, the garden will recast 12 beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar characters as members of the Chinese zodiac.

The Garden of the Twelve Friends blends Disney storytelling with traditional Chinese culture, while honoring the role the Chinese zodiac plays in local daily life and offering some terrific photo opportunities.

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Twelve Disney characters have been chosen to embody different symbols of the Chinese zodiac, while still showcasing their own distinctive Disney personalities. For example, Remy, who displays cleverness and determination in the Disney•Pixar film “Ratatouille,” will represent the Year of Rat. In honor of this new year, 2015 will be the Year of the Sheep, which will be represented by the “Jolly Holiday” lambs from “Mary Poppins.” As the ancient Chinese saying goes, “San Yang Kai Tai” (or “Three Sheep Bring Good Luck”) these lambs represent elegance, charm and a gentle spirit.

The full list includes:

  1. The Rat: Rémy from Disney•Pixar’s “Ratatouille”
  2. The Ox: Babe The Blue Ox from the short film “Paul Bunyan.”
  3. The Tiger: Tigger from “Winnie The Pooh.”
  4. The Rabbit: Thumper from “Bambie.”
  5. The Dragon: Mushu from “Mulan.”
  6. The Snake: Kaa from “The Jungle Book.”
  7. The Horse: Maximus from “Tangled.”
  8. The Sheep: Jolly Holiday Lambs from “Mary Poppins.”
  9. The Monkey: Abu from “Aladdin.”
  10. The Rooster: Allan-A-Dale from “Robin Hood.”
  11. The Dog: Pluto from various Disney shorts.
  12. The Pig: Hamm from the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” films.

Be sure and check back here on the Disney Parks Blog for more updates.

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UPDATE: First Look: Shanghai Disney Resort Images Revealed

posted on February 3rd, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


We have an update to the story we shared with you earlier today about Shanghai Disney Resort. Just now, on today’s earnings call, Bob Iger, Disney chairman and CEO, shared updates on the project. We wanted to share them with you.

“This is also a dynamic and exciting time for our Parks & Resorts – with another very strong performance in Q1 and plenty to look forward to, including the spectacular Shanghai Disney Resort. I was in China the week before last and saw amazing progress — we just topped off our signature Shanghai Disneyland Hotel… and we’re nearing completion on iconic features throughout the park, including the largest castle we’ve ever built… and we’re getting ready to start casting the hundreds of performers we’ll need to entertain our guests. It’s thrilling to see Shanghai Disney Resort rapidly coming to life. The artistry, complexity….the magnitude…and the detail….it’s all quite astonishing. As you’ll recall, after we broke ground on this incredible resort, we announced an $800 million expansion, significantly increasing both the size of the park and the number of attractions available to our guests on opening day. Even with that expansion, we will complete major construction by the end of this calendar year, and we’re planning a spectacular grand opening in Spring of 2016, which we believe is the optimal time to showcase the full grandeur of this world class destination.” – Bob Iger.

As you know, Shanghai Disney Resort is one of the most ambitious projects we’ve ever undertaken at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and I know that all of you are as excited as I am to see what’s planned for our first-ever theme park resort in mainland China. Just this week, we unveiled a first look at new creative images of both the reimagined attraction based on the world of Pirates and the new hotels under development.

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As we shared on the blog previously, Shanghai Disneyland will be home to the first-ever Pirates-themed land-Treasure Cove-and an E-ticket attraction called Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. The attraction will feature a combination of new technology and innovation and will take guests on a pirate adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Davy Jones, providing an experience unlike anything else in the world.

The resort also released new aerial images of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel. The topping out of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel took place just 12 months after its vertical construction started. With 420-rooms, it will be the signature hotel of Shanghai Disney Resort, featuring an elegant Art Nouveau style with a touch of Disney magic and imagination, and stunning views of Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown and the resort’s central lake.

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Shanghai Disney Resort Unveils Construction Images for the Toy Story Hotel Shanghai Disney Resort Unveils and Artist Rendering for the Toy Story Hotel

The topping out of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel adds to the list of milestones since vertical construction of the resort started 15 months ago, including: the topping out of the resort’s first building in Disneytown in December 2013, the 800-room Toy Story Hotel in January 2014 and most recently Disneyland’s “mountain” feature in December 2014. All of these milestones showcase the progress we are making to share wonderful Disney stories with the people of mainland China.

Stay tuned for more updates on Shanghai Disney Resort!

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Top Ten Disney Parks Moments that Will Go Down in History from 2014

posted on December 30th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


We sure had a lot to celebrate at Disney Parks in 2014, and some of the milestones we experienced this year were memorable ones, with “Frozen” fun debuting at our parks, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening and much more.

That said, here are my top 10 picks for moments that will go down in Disney history for 2014.

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  1. Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort – Thousands of guests dressed as their favorite superhero joined the mad dash through the Disneyland Resort as a part of the very first Avengers Half Marathon. Did you #SmashTheHalf?

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  1. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Announces First-Ever Disney Ambassador – For the first time in history, Aulani welcomed their first Disney Ambassador to represent the resort and engage our guests, cast and community. Janelle Sanqui, Aulani’s first Disney Ambassador, worked in Workforce Management at the resort and was born in Hawaii.

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  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland ParkBig Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened at Disneyland park back in March. The enhanced attraction debuted with upgraded track, a restored Rainbow Ridge Mining Town and other surprises.

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  1. Themed Hotels Announced for Shanghai Disneyland – In November, we announced that two new themed hotels are planned as a part of Shanghai Disney Resort – the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.

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  1. Downtown Disney Announcements – Several announcements were made for new restaurants coming to the shopping, dining and entertainment area at Walt Disney World Resort, including three new restaurants – Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando.

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  1. “Frozen Summer Fun” Debuts At Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The first official “Frozen” entertainment offerings made their debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in July. The fun included “Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome” procession, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland – and a whole lot of excited guests!

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  1. L’Aventure Totalement Toquee De Remy (Ratatouille) Attraction Opens At Disneyland Park (Paris) – This attraction, and its surrounding La Place de Rémy Courtyard, officially opened July 10, 2014.

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  1. Oswald Begins Greeting Guests At Disney California Adventure Park – This historic Disney character made his first ever appearance at a Disney Park this year. Oswald was one of Walt Disney’s first major animated characters ever developed. Learn more about him here.

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  1. “Disney Festival Of Fantasy Parade” Steps Off at Magic Kingdom Park – March 10 marked the arrival of a wonderful new daytime parade at Magic Kingdom Park. A fire-breathing Maleficent, anyone?

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  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opens at Magic Kingdom Park – The final New Fantasyland attraction made its debut at the park on May 28. Have you seen these amazing Audio-Animatronics figures?

Which moment was your favorite? Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in the “Comments” section below!

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Disney VoluntEARS Around the Globe Spread Holiday Cheer

posted on December 22nd, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, citizenship is important to our culture. We are committed to giving back to our communities and do this in many different ways. This holiday season, VoluntEARS from our sites around the world brought holiday joy to young patients and orphans.

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Along with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, VoluntEARS from Hong Kong Disneyland visited Siu Lam Hospital and sang and danced with the patients. They also celebrated the holidays with 300 cancer patients and their families at Maggie’s Cancer Caring Center in Tuen Mun Hospital. They enjoyed holiday treats and played musical games to brighten spirits.

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Tokyo Disney Resort’s VoluntEARS hosted a fundraiser and bake sale to raise money for a holiday gift for the Aiji-no-ie Orphanage.

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Mickey Mouse and his friends joined sixty VoluntEARS from Disneyland Resort and brought holiday cheer to nearly 400 children and their families at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). They enjoyed holiday cookie decorating, a 38-foot long CHOC-olate Yule Log, Olaf-shaped balloons, reindeer games and a giant gingerbread house.

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Before they even welcome their first guest, the Shanghai Disney Resort’s VoluntEARS are supporting their community by hosting weekly holiday activities at local children’s hospitals. They visited Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and decorated activity rooms and made Santa Claus hats with children.

Aulani VoluntEARS joined in the festivities and brought the holiday spirit to children in local hospitals in Hawaii.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts VoluntEARS are committed to bringing positive change around the globe and they donate hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours each year to the communities where they work, live and play. To learn more about citizenship at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, visit http://aboutdisneyparks.com/citizenship.

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Family Volunteer Day – Serving Communities in the Spirit of Thanksgiving

posted on November 26th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


On Saturday, November 22, Disney Friends for Change sponsored Family Volunteer Day, a nation-wide effort that demonstrates the magic created when families volunteer together to support their neighborhoods and communities around the world. The annual event, now in its 22nd year, celebrates the power that families have to make a real difference in their community, while strengthening their relationships and spending quality time together. Here’s a look at how Walt Disney Parks and Resorts teams participated in Family Volunteering Day and other holiday giving projects:

  • At Disneyland Resort, Disney VoluntEARS helped pack food boxes at the Orange County Food Bank in support of Family Volunteer Day. VoluntEARS hosted another event at the Downtown Disney District to make healthy snack-packs that were also donated to the Orange County Food Bank. Additionally, Disneyland cast members participated in a Military Care Package drive and a canned food collection.
  • To support Family Volunteer Day, Disney VoluntEARS and families from Hong Kong Disneyland took part in a coastal cleanup activity at Silvermine Bay. The event gave families the opportunity to spend time together while contributing to the cleanliness of their surrounding shoreline. In December, Hong Kong Disneyland cast members and their families will also visit two local hospitals for festive celebrations to help spread the joy of the holidays amongst patients and their loved ones.
  • Every year, VoluntEARS from Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa partner with their neighbors at Ko Olina Resort for Thanksgiving Outreach, an event that serves meals to 4,000 people across Oahu’s Leeward Coast.
  • In the spirit of Family Volunteer Day, Shanghai Disney Resort partnered with the non-profit organization Right to Play China through “Imagination Playground,” a play outreach program that aims to strengthen family bonds through various creative play activities. More than 100 children of migrant workers and low-income families have participated in family play activities with Shanghai Disney Resort VoluntEARS this holiday season.
  • At Walt Disney World Resort, cast members and their families partnered with the 2013-2014 Walt Disney World Resort Ambassadors to support Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s (ONIC) Family Fun & Fall Festival. VoluntEARS helped set-up and break down the event, staff the activity and game stations and serve refreshments. Additionally, VoluntEARS from Disney’s Pop Century Resort will serve meals on Thanksgiving at the Coalition for Homeless Center for Women & Children and Men’s Pavilion.

Real magic comes from the efforts of families working together to make lasting and positive change in the world. Thanks to our teams from around the world and to the families who are part of that magic every year.

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First Look: Themed Hotels, Disneytown Announced for Shanghai Disney Resort

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


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Earlier this week in China, we shared some exciting updates for Shanghai Disney Resort, including a new birdseye view of the Resort, a first look at two themed hotels and what’s planned for an area called Disneytown – a spectacular shopping, dining and entertainment district.

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The signature hotel of Shanghai Disney Resort will be the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, an elegant Art Nouveau-inspired hotel with a touch of Disney magic and imagination. Also, our Toy Story Hotel will transport guests to a world inspired by the toys from the Disney•Pixar series of “Toy Story” animated films.

“We are excited to provide guests with a glimpse of the unique hotels and the vibrant retail, dining and entertainment district we are creating as a part of the new Shanghai Disney Resort,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “These elements, like the entire park and resort area, are designed to deliver the quality, guest service and great storytelling of Disney, and created specifically with our Chinese guests in mind.”

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Disneytown will be located near the two resorts and Shanghai Disneyland and feature world-class entertainment in China at the Walt Disney Grand Theatre – along with distinctive dining and unique shops. This Art Deco theatre in Broadway Plaza will host the global premiere of the Mandarin version of “THE LION KING,” the highest-grossing Broadway show ever.

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At the heart of Disneytown will be the Marketplace – a location filled with specialty shops with Disney merchandise, musicians and entertainers.

Next to the Marketplace will be an area called Spice Alley, offering a variety of popular Asian cuisines in a casual, yet romantic environment. The al fresco dining spots are perfect for lunch with friends or a more formal date. And the intimate streets and festive lights encourage leisurely after dinner strolling.

Broadway Boulevard at Disneytown will have stylish boutiques that create an upscale atmosphere. Guests will discover an exciting array of popular labels and trendsetting products.

Also near Disneytown will be the resort’s central lake area, offering guests from Shanghai and around the world an opportunity to commune with nature, surrounded by peaceful greenery and a beautiful lake. The area includes a walking path and various beautiful gardens, which present guests with awe-inspiring natural views and beautiful sunsets.

Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for updates on Shanghai Disney Resort.


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First Disney Ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto Welcomes New Ambassadors

posted on October 11th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Walt Disney Parks and Resorts celebrates 50 years of the Disney Ambassador program, which was first introduced as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Disneyland. Walt Disney needed someone to act as a representative of Disneyland to audiences in the community and around the world, as well as host VIP guests and foreign dignitaries. Julie Reihm Casaletto, a tour guide for the park at the time, was selected by Walt to be the first Disney Ambassador.

A half-century later, in a ceremony in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park, Julie joined more than 50 former Disney Ambassadors yesterday morning to welcome the 2015-2016 Disneyland Resort Ambassador team, Jessica Bernard and Allie Kawamoto.

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The 50-year tradition continued at Walt Disney World Resort yesterday, as Caitlin Busscher and Nathaniel Palma were announced as the 2015-2016 Disney Ambassador team, receiving the golden opportunity of sharing the magic of “our world” – and representing nearly 70,000 fellow Cast Members – with the Central Florida community.

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Rounding out the global anniversary celebration, Disney Ambassadors also were announced recently at other Disney Parks around the world. At Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Sara Hui was selected as the next Ambassador to represent the Asia-based theme park, and Tokyo Disney Resort chose Riina Imaeda as the first ambassador to serve a two-year term in Japan. Sonia Demay and Romina Grochow were welcomed as new Ambassadors at Disneyland Paris earlier this month.

The Disney Ambassador family will grow this year, as Shanghai Disney Resort, scheduled to open in 2015, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, will for the first time name Disney Ambassadors.

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Honors for Innovative Design of Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland

posted on September 23rd, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As many of you know, Disney’s theme parks and resorts exemplify not only storytelling and creativity, but also innovation. We are constantly defining and redefining themed entertainment, and we do that not just in the technology behind our attractions, but also in the way we design them.

With that in mind, we are pleased to share that Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has recently received a prestigious professional honor for the innovative design and technology practices that have been used in the development of Enchanted Storybook Castle, currently under construction at Shanghai Disneyland. The American Institute of Architects presented its Technology in Architectural Practice Award to WDI for its successful implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM). While traditional building design uses 2D drawings and elevations of a planned building, BIM adds three dimensions (height, width and depth) and is a virtual representation of the actual building to be built. Embedded with data, this digital model can be linked to schedules so that designers can see the construction of a building over a period of time. The image below represents a snapshot of the BIM model.

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“Our commitment to collaboration, teamwork, and mutual success enables us to create those magical, innovative experiences in a way that only Disney can do,” said David Van Wyk, WDI project management and integration executive. “When the whole organization is thinking about reinforcing each other’s efforts, it allows individuals the ability to focus on what they need to do to accomplish our shared goals. By using BIM processes and technology on this and other projects to be built around the world allow us to work smarter and more efficiently as a team.”

Congratulations to Walt Disney Imagineering on this award and all of the people over in Shanghai working hard to turn these innovative designs into a reality!

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