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Happy Thanksgiving from the Disney Parks Blog

Disneyland Resort Helps Build Fifth KaBOOM! Playground in Orange County

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


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.

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 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, Editorial Content 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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Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Salute National Literacy Month

posted on April 3rd, 2013 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs

Some of my most cherished memories from when my children were young are quiet times spent together reading a good book. Reading aloud gave us a chance to bond over favorite stories, while instilling a love of reading that continues today.

Crew members from Disney Cruise Line ships recently made memories of their own, saluting National Literacy Month with special visits to schoolchildren in our ports of call. Taking place as part of the Disney Reading Together program, these visits brought Disney VoluntEARS to read with children in Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and Nassau. And while the efforts were designed to promote literacy and inspire children to enjoy reading, I really think that our crew most enjoyed getting to spend quality time sharing stories with young readers.

Since launching 10 years ago, our Reading Together program has taken crew members into schools to read aloud, inspired cast and crew members to make personal donations through book drives, and has helped to distribute more than 7,000 books to children in communities across the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Taking time out to read together can make a big impact – both on the children and the adults that share the story.

I’m sure the crew can’t wait to return to read with the schoolchildren again. Do you have a favorite Disney story you enjoy sharing with your family?

To read more about other ways Disney VoluntEARS and Disney Cruise Line give back, see the posts below:

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Disney VoluntEARS Spend ‘A Day at the Beach’ to Help Keep Florida’s Coastline Clean

posted on January 29th, 2013 by Wilma Colón, Media Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

More than 150 VoluntEARS from Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line did their part on Friday, January 25, to help clean up a stretch of beach along Florida’s coastline.

With temperatures in the 70s that turned this January morning into a perfect day at the beach, Disney VoluntEARS worked alongside friends, family and community partners from Keep Brevard Beautiful, the United States Coast Guard and the Canaveral Port Authority.

By the end of the cleanup, the team cleared more than 250 pounds of trash and debris from coastal areas near the Disney Cruise Line terminal in Port Canaveral. Picking up litter keeps our shores pristine and safe for beachgoers to enjoy, while also preventing trash from harming wildlife such as sea turtles, birds and fish.

Disney VoluntEARS have supported local coastal cleanup efforts for almost two decades. Their commitment has contributed to the removal of approximately 40,000 pounds of trash along fragile waterways.

Nice work for a day at the beach!

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Giving Around the Community from the Disneyland Resort

posted on December 24th, 2012 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

Happy holidays, Disney Parks Blog!

As in years past, please enjoy caroling about the ways in which the Disneyland Resort supported the local community in 2012. And if you don’t feel like caroling, check out the video instead – it recaps many of the Resort’s efforts to support the community during a year that was not only focused on the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure park, but also on enriching the lives of our neighbors!

Giving Around the Community
To the tune of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Giving around the community
At the Disneyland Resort,
Helping nonprofits in the OC
New records to report!

Giving around the community
More than $16 million bucks*,
CALIFORNIA letters for the state fair
Traveled north on flatbed trucks.

You may get a sentimental feeling,
When you hear:
Disney VoluntEARS have been on duty
Ninety-two thousand hours this year.

Giving around the community
$5 million for CHOC’s lobby,
After school programs in Anaheim
Kids find a safe hobby.

Giving around the community
KaBOOM! playgrounds down the street,
Collecting toys for families
Gardens for schools complete.

You may get a sentimental feeling,
When you hear:
Make-A-Wish and military
Guests attended Cars Land premiere.

Giving around the community
Healthy cooking videos,
College scholarships and arts grants
How quickly another year goes!

*Amount includes cash, Disney VoluntEARS hours and in-kind donations

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