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RECAP: Real-Life Hero Behind Disney’s ‘The Finest Hours’ Saluted at Disneyland Resort Flag Retreat Ceremony

posted on January 29th, 2016 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Sixty-four years ago, a group of four men went out to sea in a U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat, battling waves 60 feet high, making their way to the wrecked SS Pendleton. One of the men aboard the ship, Engineman Third Class Andy Fitzgerald, was honored Sunday at Disneyland Resort in recognition of his role in helping save 32 men in the midst of the turbulent storm. The rescue mission is considered the most daring small-boat rescue in U.S. history, and inspired Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” which debuts in theaters today.

During the flag retreat ceremony, Andy joined servicemen and women gathered around the Town Square flag pole while the Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans performed patriotic tunes in honor of their service. After the Disneyland Resort Color Guard lowered the American flag, Andy was presented with a certificate naming him an Honorary Citizen of Disneyland Resort by Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto. Take a look back at the ceremony in this video!

Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” is the unforgettable story of the Coast Guard’s courageous mission, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars: Chris Pine; Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Casey Affleck; Ben Foster; Holliday Grainger; John Ortiz; and Eric Bana. Produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero, the screenplay is by Oscar® nominee Scott Silver and Oscar nominees Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson based on the acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. Doug Merrifield serves as executive producer. “The Finest Hours” storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016 in Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.

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Experience the Force: First Look at Star Wars Day at Sea on the Disney Fantasy

posted on January 29th, 2016 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

This month we kicked off Star Wars Day at Sea, a special day-long celebration aboard the Disney Fantasy. Heard about it, have you?

Star Wars Day at Sea

Taking place during select Western Caribbean cruises from January through April, the event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations for Younglings, Padawans and Jedi Masters alike. Check out this video to see how Star Wars Day at Sea combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other!

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#DisneyKids: First Zebra Outside My Window at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on January 29th, 2016 by Michelle Baumann, Walt Disney World Public Relations

Let’s face it, most little kids love animals. Whether it’s a puppy dog or a bunny rabbit, preschoolers are fascinated by living creatures. So imagine their first encounter with an exotic animal like a wildebeest, giraffe or zebra. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests get that rare opportunity to get up close with wildlife they might not otherwise get the chance to see – all in one place. Little ones delight as they watch the animals roaming in the wild throughout lush savannas – a place where more than 200 mammals and birds call home.

Besides the animal encounters, there’s lot of reasons preschoolers will love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Resort guests can enjoy shaded playgrounds, kiddie pools, movies under the stars, Simba’s Cubhouse, and organized poolside activities. My favorite is the storytelling around the fire pit paired with a delicious marshmallow roast. A nice way to end your Disney day.

So next time you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, celebrate the colorful world of this African wildlife reserve through the eyes of your child. Remember these first experiences with animals are an invaluable way to teach your little ones to love and respect nature and the wild. To learn more about planning a trip to Disney with preschoolers, visit

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Kids Remember Pirate Night on Their Disney Cruise

posted on January 28th, 2016 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

Did you see the video we shared last week with cute little ones remembering their first Disney cruise? They’re back, this time telling us about Pirate Night. Take a look!

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Disney Parks Blog Unboxed – Disney TAG (Travel – Accessories – Gear)

posted on January 28th, 2016 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager

For the latest Disney Parks Blog Unboxed video, I visited Senses Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This full-service spa and health club offers massages, body treatments and more. I had never visited the spa so I was looking forward to a day of relaxation. My plans, however, were slightly delayed with the arrival of a mysterious yet colorful suitcase.

Disney TAG items will be arriving at their final destination this spring at Disney Parks. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional looks at the collection in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I invite you to check out Senses spa. My brief visit was wonderful and I’m looking forward to my next visit. To schedule treatments at the spa, please call (407) WDW-SPAS (407-939-7727) as far in advance as possible. Reservations are highly recommended.

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#DisneyGrandAdventure: Grand 80th Birthday Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 28th, 2016 by Paula Hall, Public Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort Multi-Generational Travel

Thank you all very much for your excitement and support for our first #DisneyGrandAdventure blog post last week. I enjoyed reading all of your stories and look forward to continuing the conversation!

This week I would like to share a video of a special family birthday celebration hosted at Walt Disney World Resort! Paula Faris, co-host of “The View” and co-anchor of “Good Morning America Weekend,” traveled with her family to Walt Disney World Resort in honor of her father’s 80th birthday. Check out this heartwarming video of Paula and her family celebrating together during their multigenerational Disney vacation!

For more from the #DisneyGrandAdventure series, visit the post below:

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Behind the Scenes: ‘The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular’ Carries on a 35-Year Legacy of Adventure

posted on January 27th, 2016 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager

It’s been 35 years since audiences first became enthralled with Indiana Jones, the archaeologist turned adventurous hero in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – and more than 25 years since audiences fell in love with “The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.


For those of you who aren’t familiar, “The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” is a daily stunt show that takes guests on a breathless journey to watch stunts from the film franchise performed before their very eyes – including fight scenes, whip tricks, sword fights, high falls, fiery explosions and much more.

'The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular' at Disney's Hollywood Studios 'The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular' at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The storyline of the stunt show was inspired by “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the first Oscar-winning film in the Indiana Jones franchise. And here’s an interesting bit of history: the stunt show opened in 1989, the same year “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was released, making the stunt show an instant smash hit with park guests.

Over the years, the stunt show has been a park favorite with adventure-seeking guests regularly packing the 2,000-seat theater, multiple times each day.

I recently headed backstage at “Epic” to meet stunt performers Kevin (who has been with the cast since opening day), as well as Robert and Michele, to get their thoughts on what keeps audiences coming back again and again. And maybe, learn a thing or two myself.

Will you add “The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” to your must-do list? Learn more about the show here.

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Six Big Events at Disneyland Paris in 2016

posted on January 27th, 2016 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations

If you ever needed a reason to see Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris, we have six. The castle is beautiful. And while you’re there, check out:


  1. Younglings will be able to learn from the one who trained Luke Skywalker himself at Master Yoda at the Jedi Training Academy. R2-D2 will be there to assist too.


  1. In the spirit of a Broadway musical, “The Forest of Enchantment: A Disney Musical Adventure” pays tribute to nature. Pocahontas and John Smith, Baloo and King Louie, Tarzan, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, and Merida perform their legendary songs live starting February 10 to May 8 at the Chaparral Theater in Frontierland.


  1. Flower power scenes and Goofy’s Garden Party are part of Swing into Spring, starting March 5 to May 29. Mickey and friends join the fun dressed in their colorful best.


  1. It’s like Olaf’s dream: celebrating summer with his “Frozen” friends. The Frozen Sing-along returns June 4 to September 18 in Frontierland at the Chaparral Theater. Guests are part of the live experience, so warm up your pipes for that unforgettable song, “Let it go.”


  1. We shared news of Mickey and the Magician last week; debuting July 2, it shows what happens when Mickey’s desire to become a magician overwhelms him.


  1. Lace up your sneakers for a fairytale half marathon through Disneyland Paris in the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend. Children, family 5k and half marathon races over three days means everyone has a chance to run.

Booking your trip yet? Until you get there, Mickey is using light to “paint” this special greeting for you:

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Wildlife Wednesday: Here’s an Update on Native Gopher Tortoise ‘Wheels’

posted on January 27th, 2016 by Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

Wheels face

Remember Wheels, the native gopher tortoise who found himself at our veterinary hospital? A car-strike injury to his shell made it difficult for him to move around, and our team attached LEGO blocks with wheels to the bottom of his shell to help him walk. Of course, his nickname “Wheels” soon followed.

Wheels healed well, and I am proud to report that he is now back in the wild. We attached a telemetry device to his shell so we can track his whereabouts and make sure that he is coping out there. This kind of data is very valuable to our conservation team and helps us learn much more about this protected species.

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Video Rewind: Audio-Animatronics Magic at Disney Parks

posted on January 26th, 2016 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort

One of the most iconic innovations to come out of Disney Parks is audio-animatronics technology. Walt Disney was driven to bring what he saw as three-dimensional animation to Disneyland, and on June 23, 1963, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened. The first attraction to feature audio-animatronics figures was home to more than 200 singing birds, flowers and tikis. Let’s take a look back on some of the audio-animatronics advancements we’ve shown you here on the Disney Parks Blog.

All the way back in 2009, we took you behind the scenes as Walt Disney Imagineering programmed the most advanced audio-animatronics figure at the time, Abraham Lincoln, at Disneyland park.

Jump ahead five years, and imagineers continued to develop amazing audio-animatronics innovations, this time working with Walt Disney Animation Studios on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park.

And of course, the story of audio-animatronics technology begins with Walt Disney himself. Take a look back at this video, which we shared last year for the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom Park.

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