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Special Olympics World Games ‘Flame of Hope’ Journeys Through Disneyland Resort

posted on July 20th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last night, the Disneyland Resort hosted the “Flame of Hope,” currently making its way through 127 cities and communities in California en route to the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremonies in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 25. The torch shined brightly even in the rain, and I was encouraged to see so many guests brave the weather to watch Special Olympics athletes carry the torch down Main Street, U.S.A. to a ceremony at the Downtown Disney District.

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The Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the “Flame of Hope” represents the culmination of similar events around the world on its journey to the Special Olympics World Games. In May, the torch made its way to the Walt Disney World Resort during a Unified Relay Across America, going through Epcot and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

More than 30,000 volunteers, including Disney VoluntEARS, will support the Special Olympics World Games. ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the Games, and will be covering the Opening Ceremonies, plus sharing highlights throughout the event.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney District, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

VIDEO: World Oceans Day at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on June 11th, 2015 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


“Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” – the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. This is our Hawai’i state motto, and it holds special meaning for all of us here in the 50th State. Through it, we have a glimpse of the importance that Hawaiians put on the land and environment. With our recent celebration of World Oceans Day at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, we wanted to share a little bit more about how we celebrate mauka to makai – from the mountains to the sea – perpetuating our environment. From guest activities to our VoluntEARS programs, caring for our island home remains a focal point in all that we do. Enjoy this video, and aloha!

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Team Disney VoluntEARS Raises More than $30,000 for Cancer Research and Runs Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


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Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor to join a group of Disneyland Resort cast members who have come together to accomplish a healthy goal while supporting a great cause. While training together for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Team Disney VoluntEARS raised more than $30,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the organization’s Team in Training program.

Team in Training is an endurance sports training program that has raised more than $1.4 billion for blood cancer research since it began in 1988. This season marked the first corporate team at the Disneyland Resort to support this organization, and Team Disney VoluntEARS already has plans to continue its fundraising efforts while training for the upcoming 2015 Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon!

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Please join me in congratulating my amazing team and in wishing them the best as they continue their training and fundraising. Go Team!

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Disney’s 60th KaBOOM! Playground, Largest to Date, Built in Anaheim in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Disneyland Resort

posted on May 5th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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Last weekend, we built Disney’s 60th – and largest – KaBOOM! playground nationwide at Twila Reid Park in Anaheim, Calif., in honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. The playground is inspired by drawings created by kids in the Anaheim Achieves after-school program, and includes a disc golf course, a zip line, horseshoe pits, a giant “fun web” and, of course, swings and slides!

Disney VoluntEAR Shira Wolf was one of more than 700 volunteers who installed the playground in eight hours. She told us, “KaBOOM! playground builds are my favorite Disney VoluntEARS events because they are so much fun and give us a chance to come out and be active with the kids and families in our community. I love it!”

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In addition to Disney VoluntEARS, organizers from KaBOOM! and volunteers from the Anaheim Family YMCA, city of Anaheim, the Corporate Volunteer Council of Orange County and Anaheim residents helped build Disney’s eighth KaBOOM! playground in Orange County, Calif. They also installed more than 20 benches, painted three murals and planted several trees.

Since 2007, Disney has been committed to creating playgrounds where children and families can play together and be active. This commitment is an extension of our Disney Magic of Healthy Living, an initiative designed to help parents raise healthy, happy kids and make healthier lifestyles fun. By the end of 2015, Disney’s support will bring the magic of play to more than 83,000 children and families across the country!

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Top 5 Ways the Disneyland Resort Inspired Kids to be Champions of the Environment this Earth Month

posted on April 30th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


As Earth Month comes to a close, here are the top five ways the Disneyland Resort connected children in Orange County, Calif., to nature and inspired them to be champions of the environment this Earth Month!

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  1. Disney VoluntEARS, kids and families collected more than 100 bags of trash at Huntington State Beach, an event organized by Inside the Outdoors Foundation (ITO). The Disneyland Resort sponsored ITO with a $20,000 donation to support ongoing environmental field trips for students and activities like the beach cleanup.
  2. The Disneyland Resort sponsored Anaheim Community Foundation’s Spring Fun and Eco-Fair at Anaheim’s Oak Canyon Nature Center, where kids and families learned ways to reuse, reduce and recycle. The $20,000 donation helped make possible a mobile eco-fair that visited 10 Anaheim parks, schools and neighborhoods.
  3. Disney VoluntEARS supported environmental awareness events including the country’s largest Children’s Water Education Festival that the Disneyland Resort helped present at the University of California, Irvine, and MUZEO’s TrashARTist Challenge featuring student art made mostly of recycled materials.
  4. Students from Costa Mesa High School’s Environmental & Marine Academy took an environmental tour of Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park.
  5. The Disneyland Resort invited 140 children from eight Boys and Girls Clubs in Orange County to screen DisneyNature’sMonkey Kingdom” at AMC Theatres at the Downtown Disney District.
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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Disneyland Resort in the Community

posted on March 14th, 2015 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


This week, Kevin Rafferty, Jr., showed us some fun ways that the Disneyland Resort is helping its local community in Southern California.

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In his recap of the recent 17th annual “Flashback,” Kevin told us how a record 500 Disneyland Resort cast members volunteered more than 39,000 hours of rehearsal time to produce the popular show, which raised $25,000 for ACT Anaheim (Accelerate Change Together).

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And in his post about the new Teaching Garden at Walt Disney Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif., Kevin gave us an update on this project in which Disney VoluntEARS joined students to enjoy the garden’s first harvest.

Want to learn more about how the Disneyland Resort impacts its local community? Check out the Disneyland Resort in the Community Facebook page!

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Students Harvest First Crop from Walt Disney Elementary School Teaching Garden Funded by Disneyland Resort

posted on March 12th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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As my colleague Melanie shared last year, Disney VoluntEARS joined representatives from American Heart Association (AHA) and Walt Disney Elementary School teachers, students and parents to build the first AHA Teaching Garden in Anaheim, Calif., funded by the Disneyland Resort. Since the build and initial planting in November, the garden has continued to serve as a learning laboratory where students nurture growing plants, harvest produce and, in the process, learn the value of healthy eating. Today, I am excited to share that Disney VoluntEARS and more than 700 Walt Disney Elementary School students recently participated in the Teaching Garden’s first Heart Healthy Harvest Day!

Along with harvesting the garden boxes during the event, students tasted new fruits and vegetables and even learned about a unique form of composting that uses worms to recycle organic materials into soil. Each class also planted new vegetables for harvest later this spring.

“The Walt Disney Teaching Garden is a unique and natural learning environment that has given our students a first-hand experience of the seed-to-table process, while providing them with invaluable insight into the importance and appreciation of nutritious and healthy eating,” said Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Teali Fielder.

Looks like the students are really looking forward to their next crop!

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Supports Toys for Tots

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


This holiday season, Disney VoluntEARS continued the 60-year tradition of supporting the Toys for Tots campaign by collecting gifts for children around the globe.

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort VoluntEARS supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive. These cast members donated more than 6,000 hours of service to help sort donations and distribute toys to families in need. Disney Cruise Line hosted toy drives onboard their ships, at their homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida and in their shore-side offices. VoluntEARS at Disneyland Paris hosted “Mission Noel.” At this event, they wrapped gifts for children from local communities who were invited to the park for Christmas Eve brunch. In total, our cast members donated more than 40,000 toys, books and games.

Toys for Tots is just one example of how we at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts enrich the lives of kids and families around the globe. Through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteerism, we help make lasting and positive change in the world. To learn more about citizenship at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, visit http://aboutdisneyparks.com/citizenship.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

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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Top 10 Ways Disneyland Resort Shares the Magic

posted on December 19th, 2014 by Melanie Vogel, External Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


In the spirit of the season, I am proud to share with you the top 10 ways the Disneyland Resort and its cast have given back to the community this year. This list speaks to how we continue Walt Disney’s legacy of giving. Of a total $17 million donated in 2014, these 10 efforts top the charts! As we approach 2015 and the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, we will continue to nurture, inspire and empower families in making lasting and positive change in the world. Happy Holidays!

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  1. The Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks committed $3 million (to be allocated over three years) to Accelerate Change Together (ACT) for Anaheim.
  2. The 24th annual CHOC Walk in the Park at the Disneyland Resort raised more than $2 million to support CHOC Children’s.
  3. Eighty-five Southern California nonprofit organizations benefited from the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund – to the tune of $415,000 in grants.
  4. 120,000 pounds of gently used costumes, shoes, mattresses and box springs were donated to Goodwill in an effort to reduce waste to landfills.
  5. 13,000 military care packages were sent to U.S. servicemen and women overseas.
  6. Two KaBOOM! playgrounds were built in 2014, bringing the total number of playgrounds built in Orange County to seven and giving nearly 11,000 children a place to play.
  7. 709 Disney Wishes were granted at the Disneyland Resort through Make-A-Wish.
  8. 249 Orange County arts and music projects received Disneyland Resort CREATE grants.
  9. A total of $75,000 in scholarships were given to ten Orange County high school seniors.
  10. Nearly 8,000 toys collected at the Disneyland Resort were donated to Toys for Tots.
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