Sunday, October 23, 2011

"News from Disney" Merges into "A World View"

Dear Readers,

Back in September 2010 I started the "News from Disney" blog as a means of sharing stories from the public information departments of Walt Disney World and other Disney destinations. The intent was to separate the articles I personally author and post in my primary Disney trip planning blog -- A World View -- from the series of general information stories provided by the Disney company itself.

Then over time, I started adding other topical blogs about Disney and in particular, Disney Contests & Sweepstakes. Well, I've finally gotten to the point of not being able to manage information updates on all the web sites (not a real surprise), and a little consolidation was clearly in order.

It was the Disney Contests & Sweepstakes website that finally made the decision for me. It is so popular (way more than any other I'm managing), that any time I had available for "News from Disney" dwindled; and in fact, my Disney Desktop Wallpaper and Photo Library blog has also suffered from lack of attention.

In order to maintain the information sharing I think important to building readership, I'll be posting what was previously on "News from Disney" onto "A World View" beginning immediately. I am also investigating a move to having my own website and web address rather than the Google blog format, and then moving over the Wallpaper and Photo Library resources to that new site. But this will take a little time and development, particularly since there are several new features I am planning as well, on a new consolidated web page.

So, for those who have been reading "News from Disney", THANK YOU; and please check out "A World View" for the latest news on Walt Disney World and other Disney destinations.

Have a magical day,
Bruce Brodsky

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Disney Cruise Line Doubles the “Aloha” with Second Hawaiian Cruise – Disney Wonder Bound for the West Coast in 2012

Based on an overwhelming response to its first Hawaiian itinerary, Disney Cruise Line is adding a second Hawaii cruise to its 2012 schedule.  The addition of a second Hawaiian voyage complements a diverse array of Disney Cruise Line itineraries departing from the West Coast, including cruises to the Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast and Alaska.

With a majority of its West Coast sailings originating from the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Seattle, a Disney family cruise vacation is more accessible to guests from the western United States.

“We listen to our guests, and shortly after we announced our first Hawaiian voyage it was clear our guests wanted more options to visit Hawaii,” said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. “This second sailing to Hawaii is part of a wide variety of Disney Cruise Line vacation options for families in 2012 including new itineraries, regional homeports and the debut of our newest ship, the Disney Fantasy.”

2012 Los Angeles Schedule

Two Hawaiian Sailings…
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will offer two special voyages to Hawaii from Los Angeles, calling on Kahului, Maui; Nawiliwili, Kauai; Honolulu, Oahu; and Hilo plus Ensenada, Mexico.
The 15-night Hawaiian itinerary, which includes nine days at sea, departs April 29, 2012. The newly-added 14-night Hawaiian itinerary, with eight days at sea, departs Oct. 14, 2012.

The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu, see the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui, take in the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai and, on the Big Island, explore the natural wonders of the world’s most active volcano.

Rates for the Hawaiian cruises start at $1,800 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Disney, Fox and James Cameron to Bring Avatar to Life at Disney Parks

Long-term agreement will bring AVATAR themed lands to Disney parks, with the first at Walt Disney World in Orlando
BURBANK (September 20, 2011) – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park.  With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.

“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron.  ”I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life.  Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”
The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners.  James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.
“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman.  “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”
“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”
In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.
This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Is a Family Paradise with a Touch of Disney Magic in Hawaii

Guests of All Ages Will Discover the Beauty, Stories and Fun of the Islands
KO OLINA, Hawaii – Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, combines the beauty and spirit of the Hawaiian islands with the magic of Disney storytelling and guest service, creating an unforgettable family vacation experience.
Set on a beautiful lagoon along the coast of Oahu, Aulani welcomed its first guests on Aug. 29, 2011.
Aulani serves as a gateway to the fun and enchantment of the islands, noted Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

“We are thrilled to welcome guests from around the world to experience Aulani,” Staggs said. “This resort is a unique and exciting project that combines the magic and storytelling of Disney with the rich culture and beautiful scenery of Hawaii. It is the ultimate family paradise with a touch of Disney magic.”
Hawaiian heritage and Disney magic
Each day of their stay, Aulani guests can customize their experience – relaxing on the beach or in Laniwai, a Disney Spa, playing in the pools or discovering the island on a specially planned excursion. Among the unique experiences at Aulani are gathering at the fireside Mo’olelo for storytelling (mo’olelo is the Hawaiian word for story) and spotting statues of Menehune, the legendary island little people, hidden throughout the resort.
Aulani traditionally means “a messenger of a chief – one who delivers a message from a higher authority.” The name Aulani is fitting, as the resort serves as a messenger of the Hawaiian spirit, people and culture.
“The name ‘Aulani’ expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling – and its roots are in this land right here,” said Joe Rohde, senior vice president and creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, who led the design of the resort.
“We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it. We believe in artistry, in excellence, and in the beauty of a well-done thing. Our commitment to excellence mirrors the cultural values one sees in the arts of Hawaii.”
Aulani occupies 21 acres of oceanfront property in Ko Olina, adjacent to a nine-acre, crystal-blue lagoon and white-sand beach. Ko Olina is 17 miles from Honolulu International Airport and less than an hour from Waikiki Beach.
When all phases are complete, Aulani will include 359 traditional hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas in two towers, each featuring rooms that offer thrilling views of the ocean, mountains and the magnificent, lush surroundings.
Something for everyone
Family-friendly resort amenities include the 18,000-square-foot Laniwai, a Disney Spa, with 15 treatment rooms and a fitness center. Many spa treatments draw upon Hawaiian healing traditions.
Aulani also features two signature restaurants – the full-service ‘AMA’AMA and the buffet-style Makahiki – offering foods unique to Hawaii.
  • At the chic, beachside ‘AMA’AMA, ocean breezes soothe the spirit as chefs use fresh local ingredients and island flavors to create distinctive dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes vegetarian options and classic cocktails with new twists, plus desserts house-made daily.
  • The buffet-style Makahiki offers guests breakfast among Disney characters or, in a magical midday transformation, dinner in artful surroundings, including a stunning ceiling light sculpture and beautiful wall murals hand-painted by local artists.
Young guests have their very own kids’ club, Aunty’s Beach House. Here children can explore Hawaiian culture through supervised entertainment, including interactive touch tables, wildlife and nature programs, arts and crafts, Disney movies and traditional Hawaiian games.
Children of all ages will delight in Waikolohe Valley, Aulani’s seven-acre water play area. The overall landscape mimics the flow of a watershed as it moves from the mountain to the ocean, complete with the Waikolohe Stream, the resort’s mysterious (yet fun) tube-floating watercourse. Here guests encounter bubbling water, a cloaking mist and several hundred feet of additional surprises.
Adventure, conventions and weddings, too
For those who love waterslides, Tubestone Curl, the resort’s tube slide, and Volcanic Vertical, Aulani’s tunnel slide, provide thrills galore. Guests will also interact with native Hawaiian fish, including angelfish, butterfly fish and tangs, in the 3,800-square-foot Rainbow Reef snorkel lagoon, the only one of its kind on Oahu.
The Makai Preserve conservation pool offers an interactive experience that allows guests to stroke the velvety backs of gentle stingrays (available by reservation only). A portion of the proceeds from this activity will support research and conservation efforts in Hawaii through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Water activities at Aulani also include a quiet adult pool, wading pool and, for the ultimate relaxation, sunset-facing whirlpool spas.
Looking beyond its own magical grounds, Aulani offers a menu of discovery excursions with the aid of local experts. These include exploring tropical forests, hiking local mountains, sailing aboard catamarans, swimming with dolphins, cooking with local chefs, following a ghost tour and more. The excursions are specially designed for Aulani guests by Adventures by Disney and feature a knowledgeable, friendly Adventure Guide.
Aulani is the ideal place for events. When all phases are complete, groups will find nearly 50,000-square-feet of meeting space, including a 14,545-square-foot conference center, the main ballroom (which is divisible by six), four breakout rooms and generous pre-function space.
Since outdoor events are so popular in Hawaii, Disney also has created three distinct event lawns, including an oceanfront wedding lawn for Disney Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walt Disney World Earns Top Honors for Supporting the Arts

[WALT DISNEY WORLD NEWS] Every year, Americans for the Arts, through the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), recognizes top U.S. companies for their exceptional commitment to the cultural community through grants, local partnerships, volunteer programs, matching gifts, sponsorships and board membership. Earning honors as part of the BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America for 2011, Walt Disney World Resort will receive its award on October 5 at a black-tie gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City.
“Business support for the arts is a critical piece of the arts funding equation in the United
States, and Americans for the Arts is proud to honor those businesses that recognize the value the arts bring not only to their workplace but also their community,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “By demonstrating their commitment to the arts through financial and in-kind support, these business leaders not only lead by example and set a standard of arts support for other companies to follow, but also bring the arts into lives of millions of people, further enriching and improving the quality of life for their workers and their communities.”
“We are honored to be recognized by Americans for the Arts for our ongoing commitment to the arts in Central Florida,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Community Relations, Walt Disney World Resort. “Creativity and innovation are part of the fabric of our company – Disney’s support of the arts is just a natural extension of who we are and another example of our efforts to further enhance the quality of life across Central Florida. We are committed to making our community a vibrant place to live, work and play.”
For nearly four decades, Walt Disney World has continued to honor the spirit of corporate citizenship by giving back to the local arts community. Disney uses a multi-faceted approach in supporting arts – giving millions in cash donations, in-kind products and the knowledge and expertise of its Cast Members – to make the most meaningful impact.  Among these contributions is a $12.5 million capital investment in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. In 2010, Walt Disney World gave more than $565,000 to the local arts community, including Disney Helping Kids Shine grants to support local youth arts programs.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pop Icons ‘Bring It’ to America Gardens Theatre At Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

18 ‘Eat to the Beat!’ Musical Acts Perform Sept. 30-Nov. 13, 2011
[WALT DISNEY WORLD NEWS] – Live retro sounds of pop, rock, jazz and funk fill the night when top musical acts unleash their greatest hits during the the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 30-Nov. 13, 2011, at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Three new Eat to the Beat! acts – The Pointer Sisters, Gin Blossoms and The Orchestra starring former members of ELO – and 15 returning bands take their turn on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Shows are scheduled 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. daily.  The lineup (subject to change and included in Epcot admission) includes:
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 2   Taylor Dayne “Tell It to My Heart”
  • Oct. 3-5                38 Special “Hold on Loosely”
  • Oct. 6-7                Jon Secada “Just Another Day”
  • Oct. 8-9                Roger Hodgson formerly of Supertramp “Give A Little Bit”
  • Oct. 10-12            Billy Ocean “Caribbean Queen”
  • Oct. 13-16            Starship starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
  • Oct. 17-19            Sugar Ray “Fly”
  • Oct. 20-21            The Orchestra starring former members of ELO (NEW) “Don’t Bring Me Down”
  • Oct. 22-23            Howard Jones “No One Is to Blame”
  • Oct. 24-26            Boyz II Men “End of the Road”
  • Oct. 27-28            Gin Blossoms (NEW) “Hey Jealousy”
  • Oct. 29-30            Sister Hazel “All for You”
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1     Hanson “Give a Little”
  • Nov. 2-3               The Pointer Sisters (NEW) “He’s So Shy”
  • Nov. 4-6               Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
  • Nov. 7-8               Air Supply “Lost in Love”
  • Nov. 9-10             Richard Marx “Right Here Waiting”
  • Nov. 11-13           Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Go Daddy-O”
Guests nibbling and sipping their way around the World Showcase can see performers from many countries weave music, dance, acrobatics, comedy and other acts into the festivities.  A sampling of World Showcase entertainment includes:
  • High-energy Celtic music of Off Kilter (Canada)
  • The Arabic rhythms of Mo’Rockin (Morocco)
  • Perfect harmony of Voices of Liberty (American Adventure rotunda)
  • Infectious beat of internationally acclaimed Mariachi Cobre (Mexico)
  • Retro British hits by British Revolution (United Kingdom)
  • Jaw-dropping stunts by Dragon Legend Acrobats (China)
  • Hilarious antics of World Showcase Players (Italy and United Kingdom)
“IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” lights up the World Showcase with lasers, music and fireworks to provide a “wow” ending to each festival evening.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

16th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: A Passport to a World of Flavors Sept. 30-Nov. 13

Paradise Found: Tastes of Hawaii and Caribbean on the Menu

[WALT DISNEY WORLD NEWS] — Exotic cocktails will pair like a tropical daydream with fresh new tastes from more than one island paradise at the 16th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 30-Nov. 13, 2011, at Walt Disney World Resort. The one-of-a-kind 45-day festival serves up international cuisine, culture and entertainment from six continents, with more than 25 international marketplaces featuring tapas-sized portions paired with beer, wine and inventive new cocktails.

Marketplace tasting menus offer variety and adventure for guests on a mission to tantalize their taste buds during a scenic stroll around the 40-acre World Showcase Lagoon. The adventure can take them to the festival’s first Hawaii marketplace, which will cook up Kalua pork sliders and tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips to team with a refreshing Seven Tiki Mai Tai or a Kona Longboard or Pipeline beer. A new Caribbean Islands marketplace will serve ropa vieja with rice and jerk-spiced chicken with mango salsa. A beverage menu featuring a frozen Dragon Berry Colada and frozen Rock Coconut Mojito is sure to conjure steel-drum fantasies.

With a swing across the Atlantic, guests will be transported to the new Portugal marketplace, where guests can pair a red, white or port wine with calamari salad with olives and smoked paprika or Linguica sausage with onions, peppers and olives. The Scandinavia marketplace will return after a hiatus with a fresh new Xante Sunshine cocktail made from Xante pear and cognac liquer. And the Canada marketplace will introduce a sweet treat: apple ice wine.

Disney and celebrity chefs will team with winemakers and brew masters from around the world to get the party started Sept. 30. During the six-week festival, guests will discover:
  • Three new tasting marketplaces — Hawaii, Caribbean Islands and Portugal — plus new menu offerings at popular returning marketplaces
  • Celebrity chef appearances starring top culinarians like Jeff Henderson, Cat Cora, Alan Wong, Gale Gand, Suvir Saran, Jamie Deen, Rock Harper, Celina Tio, Robert Irvine, Andrew Zimmern, Buddy Valastro, Warren Brown, Art Smith, Keegan Gerhard and more.
  • First-ever HGTV home entertaining seminars each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Cranberry Bog display by Craisins telling the story behind the venerable cranberry’s rich agricultural heritage.
  • Daily wine seminars, bottle signings, author events and culinary demonstrations at the Festival Welcome Center.
  • Eat to the Beat! concerts three times nightly at America Gardens Theatre.
New Sips, Fresh Bites
Festival guests can make a day of circumnavigating the World Showcase Promenade, grazing and sipping as they go. Tapas-sized portions of regional specialties run $3 to $8 each, and recommended wines, cocktails and beers make perfect pairings at each marketplace. For quicker marketplace visits, guests can purchase a festival-themed mini-Disney Gift Card that can be worn on a wristband and loaded and reloaded at several park locations.

Live daily entertainment showcases many cultures with music, acrobatics and improv performances along the promenade. Evening Eat to the Beat! concerts at America Gardens Theatre feature acts from many musical genres. Appearing for the first time on the Eat to the Beat! stage are The Pointer Sisters, The Orchestra starring former members of ELO and Gin Blossoms. Fan favorite Taylor Dayne kicks off the festival Sept. 30-Oct. 2, and crowd pleaser Big Bad Voodoo Daddy wraps the event Nov. 11-13.

The festival attracts a diverse audience — from wine connoisseurs and epicures to novices wishing to boost their culinary IQs. Special culinary programs showcase a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.
Festival highlights include:
  • The Festival Welcome Center, with a Wine Bar, Authentic Taste Seminars, Authors Without Borders weekend conversations and more.
  • More than 270 chefs including Disney chefs and culinary stars from across the country conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting dinners and tasting events.
  • A complimentary Marketplace Discovery Passport to be stamped at each international marketplace visited for the perfect scrapbook souvenir.
  • Popular returning events that include First Bites Opening Reception on Sept. 29; Kitchen Memories (formerly Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen); Mixology Seminar; and “3D” Disney Dessert Discovery.
  • The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event beginning Oct. 8 and with a new Saturday evening time of 7:30-10 p.m. featuring tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Festival guests can enjoy fresh Epcot experiences including the latest Future World high-tech fun at Innoventions and the celebrated return of “Captain EO,” the classic musical 3-D production starring Michael Jackson in a rare big-screen performance. In World Showcase, new and recently updated restaurants welcome guests at the Italy, Japan, Mexico and China pavilions.

What’s Included with Epcot Admission:
Authentic Taste seminars and Authors Without Borders programs with special book signings at the Festival Center, Eat to the Beat! concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

Special Programming by Reservation:
The Party for the Senses grand tasting events and other special culinary and beverage programs require reservations and separate event admission. Beginning August 16 at 7 a.m. guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival event updates and details will be posted at