Monday, January 31, 2011

Magical Festivities Salute Chilean Miners as Walt Disney World Resort Honors the Freed Heroes and their Families

[Walt Disney World® News] Magical new memories were embraced today by the rescued Chilean miners as they paraded down Main Street, U.S.A. in grand fanfare at Walt Disney World Resort toward the close of a Disney-sponsored vacation honoring the miners, their rescuers and their families.

Last fall, the world united to celebrate the dramatic rescue of the trapped Chilean miners.  Since last Thursday, the miners and their rescuers and families joined in a festive gathering in their honor at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Aboard Copa Airlines, the group of nearly 160 Chileans arrived last week in grand style to Orlando International Airport where they received a ceremonial “water salute” by local firefighting vehicles: a dramatic arch of water rising over the tarmac as the airplane passed underneath.

Their summer holiday (seasons are reversed in Chile) included a welcome party Friday hosted by Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and local dignitaries at The American Adventure pavilion in Epcot.  The miners enjoyed a long weekend filled with thrilling attractions, shopping, character hugs and VIP treatment in all four theme parks, creating lasting memories with their families.

One highlight of their six-night vacation to Disney was serving as Grand Marshals of the Main Street, U.S.A. parade Monday in Magic Kingdom.  The miners and rescuers were greeted by cheers of guests waving Chilean flags in their honor, Disney characters and entertainers pulling out all the stops and the ‘Mayor’ of Main Street proclaiming their special day.  To the accompaniment of “When You Wish Upon a Star” their day was capped by daytime pyrotechnics and streamers in a rainbow of colors of the Chilean flag.  Later that evening, they watched Cinderella Castle magically transform during the nighttime spectacle, “The Magic, The Memories, and You!”, a projection spectacular starring images of guests shot earlier in the day in the park.

“These courageous men captivated the world with their story of hope and perseverance,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger.  “Great stories are at the heart of all we do at The Walt Disney Company and we are pleased that the next chapter in this inspirational story is taking place at Walt Disney World Resort.”

The Chilean miners (31 of the 33 miners were able to make the trip) were scheduled later Monday to share their lessons of hope, courage and pride with about 40 youngsters from local Boys & Girls Clubs.

Trapped 2,300 feet inside the earth for 69 days in a collapsed Chilean mine, the men were pulled from the darkness in a miracle rescue. In one of 2010’s most compelling stories, their unbending faith and endurance sustained them throughout a saga that transfixed the world.

“We are not the heroes,” said Omar Reygada, one of the miners whose comments were translated from Spanish.  “Our families and all the people around the world who prayed, wished us well and helped us through our ordeal – those are our real heroes.”

During their Walt Disney World vacation, the miners also will be treated to a keepsake group photo in front of Cinderella Castle and personal photo albums of their visit.

Their departure for home is scheduled for Feb. 2.

Friday, January 28, 2011

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER: Luna, the fifth elephant baby to be born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, is introduced to the park's savanna less than a month after her May 20, 2010 birth.

Luna, the fifth elephant baby to be born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, is introduced to the park's savanna less than a month after her May 20, 2010 birth. Luna and her mom, Donna, spend part of the day with their elephant family group along the Kilimanjaro Safaris route. There are 12 members of the park's elephant herd -- four males and eight females. Disney's Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In a Dramatic New Projection Show, Guest Images Come to Life on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort

‘The Magic, The Memories, and You!’ Nighttime Spectacle

[From Walt Disney World® News] In a dramatic new projection show filled with special effects and magic, Cinderella Castle will transform into a shimmering canvas for images of Walt Disney World guests and the memories they made that day at Magic Kingdom.

In the nighttime spectacle, photos of guests captured that very day in the park will be projected larger-than-life among the spires and turrets of Cinderella Castle. In similar fashion, guest images will be projected onto “it’s a small world” on select nights at Disneyland Park in California, beginning Jan. 27.

The ten-minute experience – called “The Magic, The Memories, and You!” – will dazzle park guests on both coasts in ways never before experienced, themed to beloved Disney stories and with playful animated sequences that seem to defy the architecture of the buildings. The spectacle is scheduled most nights with up to two shows per night depending on theme park operating hours and other special ticketed events.

As many as 500 images shot that day will project onto the castle each night the show is presented, producers estimate. Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture guests creating new memories as they “smile for the castle.”

“Disney parks create family vacation memories to last a lifetime,” said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “What better canvas for those memories than Cinderella Castle, one of the most photographed icons in the world.”

After the sun goes down, 16 high-powered state-of-the-art projectors will bring the castle to life as that day’s photos (and videos taken from Disney’s “Let the Memories Begin” online hub) seem to dance about the famous facade, explained Alan Bruun, associate creative director, Walt Disney World Entertainment.

As classic Disney music weaves in and out of the new “Let the Memories Begin” theme song, turrets spin while the castle shimmers and magically transforms itself in playful and exciting ways to accompany the guests’ memories of fun, adventure and family experiences.
“The images dance to the music and culminate in a spectacular finale punctuated by animated and actual fireworks,” Bruun said.

As Disney Parks encourages families to “Let the Memories Begin,” guests have been celebrating their only-at-Disney memories by sharing their stories and by uploading photos and videos online at

Vacation memories hold a special place in the hearts of families, too, according to a recent survey of Americans and Canadians conducted by Ypartnership, a leading research firm that tracks consumer insights and trends in travel.

Nine out of 10 parents polled said they plan their vacations with the express hope of creating a lasting family memory. And most memories don’t fade with the passage of time. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they think back “often” or “very often” on their most cherished vacation memories.

BY THE NUMBERS: ‘The Magic, The Memories, and You!’ Nighttime Spectacle
  • Height of Cinderella Castle: 189 feet
  • Number of shows: up to two per night (select evenings)
  • Length of each show: ten minutes (approx.)
  • Projectors: 16
  • Same-day guest photos per show: up to 500
  • Total number of images projected per show: more than 5,000

Friday, January 21, 2011

Disney Dream and Jennifer Hudson

DREAM COME TRUE: Fireworks light the sky over the Disney Dream Jan. 19, 2011 as the newest Disney Cruise Line ship is christened in a gala ceremony held at Port Canaveral, Fla. Walt Disney Company president and CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs joined a host of Disney characters to officially christen the 130,000-ton ship. Serving the traditional role of godmother for the Disney Dream christening was Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award and Grammy Award winner whose own dreams of stardom began when she was a performer on the Disney Wonder ship in 2003. Hudson performed for the crowd during the ceremony. (David Roark, photographer)
'DREAM'GIRL: Oscar-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson (left) poses Jan. 19, 2011 at Port Canaveral, Fla. with Walt Disney Company president and CEO Robert A. Iger (middle), Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Thomas O. Staggs (right) and a ceremonial bottle of Champagne at the christening ceremony for the new "Disney Dream" cruise ship. The Dream is the newest Disney Cruise Line ship and will have its maiden voyage Jan. 26. Hudson is the godmother for the "Disney Dream" ship. Before performing on "American Idol" and winning an Academy Award for "Dreamgirls," Hudson was a performer on the "Disney Wonder" ship. The new, 130,000-ton ship accommodates up to 4,000 guests and features themed areas for children, teens and adults, and interactive entertainment throughout the ship, and industry firsts including the first "water-coaster" at sea. The ship will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas, calling Port Canaveral home (Gene Duncan, photographer)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Disney Cruise Line Welcomes Newest Ship During Christening Celebration Filled with ‘Dreams’

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2011) – With a dash of Disney magic and a surprising twist, a helicopter hoisted a 16-foot “champagne bottle” across the bow of the Disney Dream during a christening ceremony this morning officially welcoming the newest ship to the Disney Cruise Line family.

Serving the traditional role of godmother for the Disney Dream christening was Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award and Grammy Award winner whose own dreams of stardom began when she was a performer on the Disney Wonder ship in 2003.

Hudson was joined onstage by Disney CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, as the enormous “champagne bottle” filled with dreams of adventure, romance and fun was lifted into the air and broken across the bow of the 130,000-ton ship.  
Some 3,000 people were gathered at the Disney Dream for the christening ceremony including celebrities, media and members of the public.
The spectacle befit a ship brimming with innovative “wows” – including gallery art that comes alive, the first water coaster aboard a cruise ship, Magical Portholes that provide inside staterooms with a real-time ocean view, a full-blown shipboard fireworks show, personal interaction with animated characters, play floors like gigantic video games, and original Broadway-style stage spectaculars.

“For over a decade, Disney Cruise Line has been making vacation dreams come true for millions of families and we continue that tradition today with the launch of the Disney Dream,” Iger said. “The mix of imagination and innovation found on the Disney Dream is unparalleled and elevates the family cruise experience to new heights.”
The 4,000-passenger Disney Dream sails its maiden voyage out of Port Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 26. It joins the 2,700-passenger Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, with the Disney Fantasy scheduled to join the fleet in 2012.     

“The addition of the Disney Dream provides an opportunity to extend our horizons and open up Disney cruising to more families,” Staggs said.  “From the majestic beauty of Alaska, to the culture and history of Europe, to the fun and sun of the Caribbean, families looking to take a Disney cruise have more options than ever before.”   

In 2011, the Disney Dream will sail three-, four- and five-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The Disney Magic will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries and seven-, 10- and 11-night European cruises out of Barcelona during the summer months. The Disney Wonder will sail seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles beginning Jan. 23 and seven-night Alaska itineraries from Vancouver, B.C., during the summer months.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit, call Disney Cruise Line at 888/DCL-2500 or contact their travel agent.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Video Sneak Peak: Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom

On Sunday, Wild Africa Trek explorers will be crossing rope bridges above crocodile-filled waters and venturing on VIP safaris across our open savanna. But before it all gets started, we have something special – a video sneak peek at what to expect during your journey.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Model Day at Epcot: Tilt Shift Video

[Disney Parks Blog] It’s ready…our next tilt-shift video is finished — and this time there are fireworks. As you know, our first video was launched to celebrate Magic Kingdom Park’s birthday. Now, just in time for Walt Disney’s birthday on Dec. 5, we’re sharing this never-before-seen “miniature scale” look at Epcot
Our celebration begins at Spaceship Earth at Epcot and then covers the park. Your favorite World Showcase areas are featured and there’s another special ending too.

Also, you asked and we listened. Our project champion, David Roark, manager of creative photography for Yellow Shoes Creative Group, was able to capture fireworks. This time you’ll see images of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. David did it by snapping one frame a second — using many of the same techniques from “A Model Day at Magic Kingdom Park.”

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Resolve to Make More Memories in 2011: Disney Parks Welcomes 15 New Park-Savvy Panelists to Help Families Plan Magical and Memorable Vacations

Actress Geena Davis Shares Beloved Disney Memories in New Moms Panel Video
Walt Disney World® News (Jan. 7, 2011) – What do you get when you combine a hibachi chef, a pastor, one “mum,” two Canadians, two non-profit workers, four teachers, three stay-at-home moms and one special aunt with a passion for Disney and a touch of pixie dust? The 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel! Announced today, 15 new panelists hailing from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom were named official members of the 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel, As the popularity of the Moms Panel site grows, 30 alumni panelists will continue offering their park-savvy smarts to guests planning Disney vacations. 

Also helping spread the magic, Oscar-winning actress and mom of three, Geena Davis, serves as an honorary guest to celebrate the new panelists.  Davis shares her personal tips and treasured Disney memories in an exclusive Moms Panel video, available in the celebrity video library at

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is an online forum that serves as a resource for families planning a Disney vacation, offering a diverse pool of one-of-a-kind insights and personal advice from real Disney fans who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others.

“This year’s Moms Panel search generated the most applications we have ever received,” said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort.  “The Moms Panel has become an integral part of the Disney vacation planning process. We deeply appreciate all that the panelists have done to help guests create magical memories with Disney, and look forward to what the new members will offer to families in 2011.”

Following an extensive application process, each panelist was selected based on their personal Disney experience and brings their own unique perspective to the table. From traveling on a budget to creative ways to commemorate a Disney vacation, there is a Moms Panel member who can offer advice on almost any Walt Disney World topic. In fact, designated panelists are also available to answer questions related to Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Lineand Adventures by Disney.
Introducing the 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel:
  • Angelo Alomar; Simpsonville, S.C. – Electrical engineer by day and hibachi chef by night, this  Disney dad is devoted to spending quality time with his family, and, of course, to his love of the Mouse.  Angelo wows patrons by making Mickey Ears out of fried rice!
  • Carrie Burrows; Georgetown, ON – Much like Mickey, fitness instructor Carrie works every day to help her clients’ “dreams come true.”  When she isn’t running boot camps, this mom of three helps friends plan Disney vacations with good nutrition in mind.
  • Ca’Sandra Phillips; College Park, Ga. – Since her first visit in 1987, this mom of two has been hooked on all things Disney.  In between dreaming up her next family vacation, Ca’Sandra works at a non-profit and enjoys volunteering in her spare time.
  • Emma Nicholson; Morecambe, Lancashire (UK) – Family time at Disney is number one to this magic-loving mum.  Since visits from across the pond can be costly, Emma plans all of her trips well in advance to take advantage of money-saving options like the Disney Dining Plan.
  • Jill Cooper; Hillsborough, N.J. – A self-proclaimed planning-pro, this high school teacher/college counselor uses her career experience to help others get the most out of their Disney vacations.  Jill’s Disney experience also includes an anniversary trip to Germany with Adventures by Disney.
  • Johnetta Scott; Plainfield, N.J. – Families come in all shapes and sizes… just ask Johnetta, who serves as the official Disney vacation planner to her seven nieces and nephews.  This self-proclaimed “princess” enjoys volunteering and learning foreign languages.
  • Krista Curtis; Maryville, Tenn. – An avid reader and mother of two, Krista spends her days working as a middle school English teacher.  Whenever she visits Walt Disney World Resort, she and her husband make sure to incorporate little “extras” to make every trip memorable.
  • Marisol Lopez; Lakeland, Fla. – As a Florida resident, Marisol has visited Walt Disney World Resort more than 200 times.  She works daily to spread her love of all things Mickey to her two kids and husband.
  • Monina Wagner; Avon, Ohio – From her first memory of riding Dumbo with her dad, Monina has been hooked on the Mouse.  As a media relations manager for a non-profit, she uses her skills to chat it up and share tips with other Disney fans.
  • Ritzy McCarthy; Barrington, R.I. – Born in Cuba, this bilingual mom of two currently works as a part-time Spanish teacher.  From Magic Kingdom to Castaway Cay, for the McCarthy family, Disney is the only way to travel!
  • Deborah Bowen; Land O Lakes, Fla. – Known as the “go-to planner” amongst her friends, Deborah helps others experience the magic by creating customized vacation itineraries. Besides coordinating Disney getaways, Deborah teaches literature, film and popular arts at the University of South Florida.
  • Leslie Krzan; Holiday, Fla. – Since her first visit as a little princess, Leslie has had a special love of Disney, even celebrating her nuptials in Epcot.  When she isn’t busy being the best stay-at-home-mom she can be, she enjoys baking special celebratory cakes for others.
  • Lynn Lane; Ottawa, ON – A devoted wife and mom to two teenage girls, this crafty Canadian enjoys making custom greeting cards and scrapbooking her magical memories.  Distance makes no difference to the Lane family; they have logged more than 72,000 miles driving to and from Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Teronya Holmes; Kingsport, Tenn. – An exercise psychologist turned stay-at-home-mom, Teronya spends her days caring for her two sons and putting in volunteer time at her church. Aside from her passion for planning Disney vacations, she enjoys outdoor activities and reading. 
  • Wes Holloman; Pearland, Texas –  Describing himself as “fun, fast and full of energy,” this devoted dad to five dreams of playing Peter Pan in Magic Kingdom.  Wes is currently working to get his master’s degree while serving full-time at his church.
Guests can also visit to catch up with the 30 returning alumni panelists, who will continue to share their vacation planning advice through the Moms Panel site.

About the Walt Disney World Moms Panel Entering its fourth year, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel is an online forum where guests can get tips and insights for a Disney vacation from real moms, dads, grandparents and even an aunt who have mastered the art of planning Disney vacations. Guests can pose questions to the panelists, as well as gain access to other vacation-planning tools for booking a Disney vacation. Featuring just 12 members during its inaugural year in 2008, the panel now boasts 45 park-savvy panelists as a result of the popularity of the site and an ever-growing number of questions submitted by curious guests. For more information and to meet the panelists, visit

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If you can dream it; you can do it. Disney Dream arrives at Port Canaveral

Fireworks light the morning sky as the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, arrives Jan. 4, 2011 for the first time to her home port of Port Canaveral, Fla. after traveling approximately 6,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Bremerhaven, Germany.

The Disney Dream will welcome guests on her maiden voyage on Jan. 26, 2011, and is scheduled to sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral. The 4,000-passenger Disney Dream features AquaDuck, a first-of-its-kind shipboard water coaster, magical portholes in inside staterooms that provide guests with a real-time view outside the ship, rotational dining in elaborately-themed restaurants, Disney-infused children’s spaces and more.