Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor

Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

posted on December 9th, 2013 by Wilma Colón, Media Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

Like elves from the North Pole, Walt Disney World Resort cast members were busy this past month supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive.
Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

After days of shopping for bicycles, games, books and plush dolls, they donated more than 32,0000 items and spent more than 6,000 hours helping to register families, and sort and pack the toys so that thousands of Central Florida children have at least one gift to open this season.

They even found time to craft small presents such as fuzzy scarves, reindeer candy canes and colorful gift bags made during a special Family Day. The VoluntEAR event was meant to inspire others to give back during this season of sharing.
Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

In addition to the toy drive, Walt Disney World Resort shared some holiday cheer with a local nonprofit that provides services to help homeless families. Prior to a special community performance of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort announced a surprise gift of $30,000 for the Community Hope Center.

It made me so proud to see the different ways we are making a difference in the community.

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Thirty Disney VoluntEARS Help Build a Classroom in Ecuador

posted on November 22nd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last week, thirty Disney VoluntEARS from across The Walt Disney Company traveled to Ecuador for Disney’s first ever Global Service Project in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS.

Among them were cast members Dave Smith, Agar Yanulaytis, Rachelle Allen and Mohammad Jaffrey from Disneyland Resort and Ian Craig and Toshia Mcgoldrick from Walt Disney World Resort. The group helped build a classroom for a Quichua community in the upper Amazon.

DaveSmith

“In Quito, we piled into buses for a seven-hour ride down from the highlands and into the Amazonian jungle,” Dave, pictured above, said. “At the end of a long, gravel road we finally came to the Napo River where we loaded our gear into motorized canoes and headed down the river. By the end of the week, we had completed much of the foundation work, painted an inspiring mural and learned a lot about the Quichua culture and the community’s desire to find ways to get their children the education they need.”

Photo 2 - Agar

Agar, above left, said, “At the beginning of each day, the children were so happy to see us, play games, sing songs and work with us.” Rachelle, bottom right, added, “The kids spoke a combination of the local Quichua language and Spanish, but as soon as they saw the Disney VoluntEARS Vinylmation I brought with me, they got huge smiles on their faces and yelled ‘Mickey Mouse!’ Mickey Mouse is all it took to break the language barrier and that warmed my heart.”

Photo-3---Rachelle

Mohammad, pictured below, said, “I was presented the challenge of a mural and asked the local children what they would like it to be. They wanted nature, music, books, soccer, and mathematics. I worked hard to make sure that the mural was their mural. The leaves on the tree include the handprints of all 30 Disney VoluntEARS and the locals.”

Photo-4--Mohammad

“It was amazing to be able to work directly with children and families in Ecuador”, said Ian, pictured bottom right. “We did a little bit of everything, from collecting gravel and digging holes to mixing and pouring concrete. Building this classroom helps provide better access to education for many kids and I certainly will cherish this trip forever.”

Photo-5---Toshia-and-Craig

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Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

posted on November 18th, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Children in Cocoa, Fla., have a great new place to play, thanks to the efforts of nearly 250 volunteers from Disney Cruise Line, KABOOM! and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, who over the weekend joined forces to build a fully assembled playground in just six hours. The playground is open to the public and located on the site of a brand new Boys & Girls Clubs facility scheduled to open next month to serve the needs of children in the area.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

All day Saturday, Disney VoluntEARS, which included crew members from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship in port for the day and shoreside cast members, took part in everything from bolting together and hoisting brightly colored play pieces to mixing cement and hauling mulch.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

Planning for the playground began at a Design Day event held in August. Local children and community leaders met with organizers from Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Disney and KaBOOM! to design their dream playground. The children’s drawings were then used to create the final playground design.

Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Build Playground in Central Florida

This is the second playground Disney Cruise Line has helped build near its homeport in Port Canaveral and one of the many ways we give back in our port communities around the world throughout the year.

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Disneyland Resort Helps Build Fifth KaBOOM! Playground in Orange County

posted on October 22nd, 2013 by Michael Colglazier, President, Disneyland Resort


Kaboom-Build-1

Yesterday more than 100 Disney VoluntEARS and I joined folks from the city of Anaheim and the Anaheim Family YMCA for a KaBOOM! playground build at Modjeska Park. This was the fifth Orange County KaBOOM! project that the Disneyland Resort has been part of since 2011.

It is easy to see why these projects are a favorite among our Disney VoluntEARS. I think they remind us of the reason Disneyland was built nearly 60 years ago … as a place where children and their parents can play and spend quality time together.
Kaboom-Build-2

It is amazing what a group of determined volunteers can accomplish in such a short amount of time. In just a matter of hours, a play area was filled with colorful, brand new equipment that children will be able to enjoy for years to come. And as we put the finishing touches on the slides and swing sets, I could already imagine the smiles and laughter that will soon fill this park.

KaBOOM! has a goal to build a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, and Disney has a dream of helping children and families create magical memories that last a lifetime. It’s a perfect match and a great win for our community. It was a hard, but fun day’s work for all who volunteered, and a lasting gift that will make this neighborhood a better place to live.

I’m so proud of our Disney VoluntEARS for donating their time for this terrific project … and grateful to have an organization like KaBOOM! to lead the way!

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Disneyland Resort Cast Members Grant $820,000 to Southern California Nonprofits

posted on September 23rd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast members are giving 114 Southern California nonprofit organizations a total of $820,000 in grants through the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund!

The program is funded entirely by cast members through regular payroll deductions or one-time donations. Those who contribute during the year have the opportunity to nominate an organization for a grant up to $5,000.

This year, in honor of the 30th anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS, 10 of those organizations each received an additional $25,000, including the Esperanza Entertainment Unit at Esperanza High School in Anaheim. See their reaction in this video!

Other organizations that received the special $30,000 grants include:

  • Beckstrand Cancer Association, Newport Beach
  • Boys and Girls Club of Tustin, Tustin
  • California Women’s Recovery/The Lynn House, Costa Mesa
  • The Children’s Bureau of Southern California, Huntington Beach
  • Ontario USO, Ontariov
  • Orange County Educational Arts Academy, Santa Ana
  • Orange County High School of the Arts, Santa Ana
  • Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, Downey
  • San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team, San Dimas

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on July 31st, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Last Saturday morning, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort guests connected with nature in a way that few people get to experience when they cheered on two giant, loggerhead sea turtles named for Disney characters – who had laid their eggs on the beach the night before – as they returned to the sea. The turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released near the resort as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles,” which follows the marathon migration of 11 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.

Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea Cheered On by Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Guests

The sea turtles, Carrie (sponsored by Disney’s Animal Programs and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) and Claire (sponsored by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund), were named for two of the characters in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University.” Sea turtles face monstrous challenges throughout their lifetime, but all of us can help.

Guests at Disney's Vero Beach Resort Learn About the Monstrous Challenges that Sea Turtles Face

Each turtle in Tour de Turtles acts as an ambassador to raise awareness about a specific threat to sea turtles. Carrie is raising awareness about the threat of light pollution on the beach. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources. We can help by turning off unnecessary lights that may be visible on nesting beaches. Claire is raising awareness about the threat of plastic debris. Many turtles have been killed by swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic debris, including plastic bags and fishing lines. We can help by recycling and putting trash in appropriate containers.

Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea Cheered On by Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Guests and Cast Members, Including the Local Boys & Girls Club

Watch the video to see the huge send-off by more than 600 guests and cast members, including children from the local Boys & Girls Club, our Walt Disney World Ambassadors and Disney VoluntEARS.

Did you know?

  • Researchers from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Sea Turtle Conservancy will track the sea turtles using satellite telemetry as they travel from their nesting beach to various feeding grounds. Using this technology, scientists learn about sea turtles’ habits at sea and the different migratory patterns of each species. This knowledge helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation actions and policies. People worldwide can view the sea turtles’ progress online at www.tourdeturtles.org. Lightning McQueen, a sea turtle sponsored by Disney from the 2011 Tour de Turtles, returned again this year to the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to nest, and her eggs hatched just a few weeks ago with the baby turtles heading out to sea.
  • Of the nearly than $20 million that the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) has distributed since the fund’s inception, more than $1 million has helped support sea turtle conservation around the world. Guests visiting Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can adopt the nest of one of the sea turtles that lays her eggs at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, including Carrie’s and Claire’s. The adoption fee is directed through the DWCF to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida.
  • The team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day. Over the years, for example, the Disney’s Animal Programs team has nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to their home in the sea.
  • At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, the Disney’s Animal Programs team monitors sea turtle nesting activity on several miles of beach near the resort, and examines what factors contribute to successful hatching of the sea turtle nests. Resort guests can get involved too. For example, kids can join Turtle Troop, a fun and educational experience that combines crafts and a walk on the beach to see a sea turtle nest up close.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney Magic of Flight Helps Injured Bald Eagles, Our National Emblem, Return to the Sky

posted on July 3rd, 2013 by Kim Sams, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Conservation Programs, The Walt Disney Company


Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney Magic Helps Injured Bald Eagles, Our National Emblem, Return to the Sky

Just in time for Independence Day, the public can get a behind-the-scenes look at the rehabilitation of injured bald eagles through the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey website. Called “Eagle Eyes on the Environment,” the sneak peek, supported in part by Disney to help inspire kids and families to connect with nature, included the installation of two video monitoring cameras in the Disney Magic of Flight 100-foot-long flight barn. Click here and see if you can spot an eagle testing its wings. Disney sponsored the building of the flight barn in 2001 and has been an ongoing supporter of the center, including regular visits by Disney VoluntEARS.

The eagles are recovering from a variety of ailments, according to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey staff. The most common injuries they treat are vehicle collisions, electrocution due to collisions with overhead power lines, young eagles falling from their nests, and territory fights. The center cares for more than 50 injured bald eagles each year.

The flight barn, which houses high perches, a pond and food platforms enables the birds undergoing rehabilitation to regain muscle strength and rebuild stamina before being released back into the wild. Over the years, it has helped thousands of birds literally try out their wings in preparation for returning to their natural habitats. Getting flight time enables eagles to return to the wild sooner, giving the center more room to treat even more injured birds.

The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey located in Maitland, Fla., has been supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) since the fund’s inception in 1995. For example, the fund provided support to the Audubon EagleWatch program for 8 years through its annual grants program. With more than 1,400 nesting pairs, Florida has one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the United States, excluding Alaska. Audubon EagleWatch helps in the conservation of bald eagles, recording information about the eagles, active nest locations, and potential disturbances or threats to nesting activities, and educating the public and key stakeholders about threats to bald eagles with the goal of engaging them in eagle conservation.

Did you know?

  • Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom can see a bald eagle and a variety of other magnificent birds at the Flights of Wonder show.
  • The bald eagle is one of the mascots of the new Wilderness Explorers experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The next time you visit, pick up a handbook (you’ll see a bald eagle and a bear on the cover) at the Wilderness Explorers headquarters on the bridge connecting the Oasis and Discovery Island. It’s fun for the whole family!
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Disney Cruise Line Shares Magic in Barcelona Hospital

posted on June 4th, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Last week, I had the pleasure of telling you about the “PaintFest at Sea,” a Disney VoluntEARS program held in coordination with the non-profit, Foundation for Hospital Art. The event brought crew members and guests together on the Disney Magic’s transatlantic sailing to paint a 72-panel mural featuring characters from “The Little Mermaid,” in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program.

Disney Cruise Line Shares Magic in Barcelona Hospital

Today, I am thrilled to show you the magic we shared over the weekend when Disney VoluntEARS, along with beloved Disney characters, assisted in delivering and hanging the mural at the Hospital General de Catalunya. The mural delivery and hospital visit showcases just one way Disney Cruise Line is committed to giving back to communities in ports of call around the world.

Scott Feight, executive director of the Foundation for Hospital Art, told us this was one of the largest murals they have ever created. “Seeing the reaction of the children here today showcases the true power of our mission of utilizing art to uplift the spirit and support healing in hospitals around the world,” he said.

Disney Cruise Line Shares Magic in Barcelona Hospital

Disney VoluntEARS also visited with the children in the hospital, which is one of many community outreach projects taking place to deliver toys and smiles to deserving children in the port communities along Disney’s Mediterranean itineraries this summer.

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Creating More Magic at Sea on Disney Cruise Line

posted on May 30th, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Nearly 300 Disney Cruise Line guests and crew members are able to showcase their artistic talents while volunteering for a great cause this week aboard the Disney Magic’s transatlantic crossing to Barcelona, Spain, in an event called PaintFest at Sea. Through a partnership with the Foundation for Hospital Art, the fun-spirited group is painting 72 canvases during that will be assembled into a 9-foot tall by 24-foot long mural.
Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Accompanied by Mickey Mouse Painting a Mural Featuring Characters from 'The Little Mermaid'
The mural, featuring characters from “The Little Mermaid” and designed by Disney artist, Don “Ducky” Williams, will take more than 500 hours to complete, and will be a fitting salute to the 30th Anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program. When the ship arrives in Barcelona on Saturday, the mural will be presented to a local children’s hospital near the port.
Disney VoluntEARS Are All Smiles After PaintFest at Sea, Which Brought Guests and Their Families Together With Crew Members For a Great Cause
See the podcast of the painting here. Look for coverage of the mural delivery and installation on my blog post next week.

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Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS at Disney Parks

posted on May 2nd, 2013 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Sharing the magic in our communities is part of our legacy and culture, and this month Disney VoluntEARS are celebrating 30 years of serving kids and families.
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS
The Disney VoluntEARS program dates back to the Disneyland Resort where, in 1983, a group of cast members formed a team focused on community service. Today, cast members around the world donate their time and expertise to make the world a happier place. Special activities will take place around the world and throughout the month, but here’s a look at some of this week’s festivities honoring this milestone anniversary.

  • At the Disneyland Resort, thousands of cast members participated in the VoluntEARS’ anniversary kick-off celebration that showcased 10 local non-profit organizations to highlight some of the ways that VoluntEARS are benefitting the community. There were even opportunities for cast members to lend a hand – from helping the Orange County Food Bank prepare bags of fresh produce for local families to making blankets for women receiving assistance from MOMS Orange County.
  • And at Walt Disney World Resort a group of cast members gathered for a pep rally to honor the VoluntEAR of the Year and VoluntEAR Team of the Year, and to gear up for a month’s worth of VoluntEAR opportunities, happening each day in May. Here, cast members and Walt Disney World leaders share the excitement of what it means to be a VoluntEAR, and how important (and fun) it is to give back.

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