Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Press Release about the Three New Parks At Hong Kong Disneyland

Press release:

With the addition of more than 30 new attractions, play and entertainment experiences, Hong Kong Disneyland’s total number of rides and attractions will increase by almost 50 percent and top one hundred. When completed, the expansion will increase HKDL’s physical footprint by approximately 23 percent; broaden the park’s appeal by adding more experiences for young adults; and place increased focus on universally-understood stories. Using Guest feedback as a guide, these three new themed areas will create memorable guest experiences, drive strong word of mouth and repeat visitation, and offer many unique only-available-in-Hong-Kong attractions that feature Disney’s immersive storytelling and innovative technology.

Grizzly Trail
Grizzly Gulch, Frontier Gold-Mining Town

The path along Grizzly Trail offers high-spirited frontier fun in an abandoned mining town called Grizzly Gulch, set amidst mountains and woods. The town was founded August 8, 1888 – the luckiest day of the luckiest month of the luckiest year – by prospectors looking to discover gold. Bears have now started causing havoc at the Big Grizzly Mountain Mining Company.

Key Technology and Creative Elements
• Guests visiting Grizzly Gulch are part of the action, experiencing hands-on water features, massive geysers and various leaking structures in the abandoned town.
• Life-size Audio-Animatronic® bears set the story in motion on Big Grizzly Mountain Coaster, an adventure aboard a runaway mine train through town. Guests careen backward down an incline that propels them through twists and turns, before a launch sequence “blasts” the mine train out of the mountain.
• A Wild West stagecoach, an old time Jail House, and the world’s largest nugget of gold provide fun photo opportunities.
• Guests can relax with a Wild West refreshment at the old Saloon or shop for mining supplies and souvenirs at the Bear Necessities merchandise stand.

Mystic Point

Mystic Point is the site of mysterious forces and supernatural events in the heart of a dense, uncharted rain forest.

In Mystic Manor, home to an eccentric world traveler and adventurer and his collection of exotic international artifacts, strange things are afoot as an enchanted music box releases its magical powers, thanks to a mischievous monkey.

Key Technology and Creative Elements
• Inside Mystic Manor, a trackless ride system enables vehicles to move “freely” about the attraction as the story unfolds. Audio-Animatronic® figures and special visual and audio effects help tell the story of mystical phenomena.
• Within Mystic Point lies a beautiful garden full of relics and mythological figures, where guests discover a hidden world of illusions and mysteries that trick the eye.
• Guests can dine at the Adventurer’s Club amid a vast collection of unusual artifacts from around the world or purchase exclusive curiosities and collectibles at the Archive Shop.

Toy Story© Land
Disney·Pixar-themed Play Area for Kids of All Ages

Andy, the young boy from the Disney·Pixar Toy Story films, has left his toys unattended in this immersive and highly themed environment, based on one of Disney·Pixar’s most popular film series. While Andy is away, the toys come to life and play...and Guests are invited to join!

Key Technology and Creative Elements
• Oversized outdoor rides and photo opportunities allow Guests to experience the different perceptions of scale, and shrink to the size of a toy.
• One attraction includes a shuttle coaster which propels Guests along a U-shaped style track.
• A drop-style parachute attraction lets Guests join a “training mission,” plunging from a 25m tall tower.
• Guests will enjoy fun, immersive and interactive environments with life-size toys.
• A themed food kiosk provides a barrel of fun snacks and refreshments and Guests can shop for Toy Story inspired collectibles at the merchandise location.

Hong Kong Disneyland expansion plans unveiled

The Government and the Walt Disney Company have reached an agreement on the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland, boosting the number of theme areas from four to seven and creating more than 3,000 jobs, Chief Executive Donald Tsang says.

The new attractions will come on stream in phases in the next five years.The Walt Disney Company will contribute the necessary new capital of about $3.5 billion as equity for the expansion.

It will also enhance the transparency of the park's operation.

Hong Kong Disneyland is a major tourism infrastructure for Hong Kong, Mr Tsang said, noting its expansion will bring significant benefits to the tourism industry and the overall economy.

"While we have done much about the six priority industries in the past few months, we have not for a single moment lost sight of our traditional pillar industries," Mr Tsang said.

"The Disneyland expansion project, and the signing of the supplementary Memorandum of Understanding between the People's Bank of China and Hong Kong Monetary Authority yesterday, demonstrate the Government's full commitment to promoting our pillar industries, including financial services and tourism. I'm sure this will help Hong Kong move towards a knowledge-based economy."

Project details

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Rita Lau outlined the details in a press briefing, and noted that she would like to see the park expand quickly.

"With the support of the Legislative Council's finance committee, we can start construction as soon as possible, within this year," she said.

The three new themed areas are "Grizzly Trail", "Mystic Point" and "Toy Story Land". They will feature 30 new attractions - including thrill rides - bringing the total to over 100. This will enhance Hong Kong Disneyland's appeal, Ms Lau said, and be beneficial for the long-term development of the tourism industry.

Grizzy Trail and Mystic Point will be exclusive among Disney theme parks worldwide, and Toy Story Land will be exclusive within the Asian region, for five years from their opening.

The expansion be done in phases over five years. When finished, it will enlarge the existing theme park's area by 23%.

Economic benefits

The project is estimated to cost $3.63 billion, and will bring about 3,700 jobs in terms of man years in the construction sector from 2009 to 2014, and create 600 full-time jobs on its completion.

Over a 40-year operation period, the expanded theme park is expected to provide total net economic benefits of $64.7 billion to $117.3 billion.

Mrs Lau stressed the Government will not inject any new money into the park. The Walt Disney Company, however, will contribute $3.5 billion towards the expansion's construction cost and will convert the outstanding balance of its loan to the joint-venture company Hong Kong International Theme Parks to equity, roughly $2.7 billion. This $6.2 billion capital injection will also sustain the park's operation throughout the construction process.

"This demonstrates the confidence the Walt Disney Company has in the park's future," she said.

The Government will also convert a substantial part of its loan to the joint-venture company into equity, retaining a balance of at least $1 billion. After this capital re-alignment, the Government will continue to be a majority shareholder in the joint-venture company, with about 52% of shares.

Greater transparency

This will allow the Government to continue to monitor the park's operation. The formula for calculating the management fee will be revised to link it to the park's performance. To maintain liquidity, especially in adverse times, the joint-venture may defer payments of royalties, and interest and principal of the Government loans.

Describing the negotiating process that led to the agreement as "challenging", Mrs Lau said that upon the Government's "firm request", annual park attendance and key financial performance indicators will be disclosed on an annual basis beginning from 2008-09.

"This agreement is in Hong Kong's overall interest, and is a catalyst for the park's long-term development," Mrs Lau said.

Hong Kong and Disney Co. reach deal on $465 million expansion of struggling Disneyland park

10:51 PM PDT, June 29, 2009
HONG KONG (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. and Hong Kong's government have reached a deal to expand the territory's Disneyland theme park at a cost of about $465 million, officials announced Tuesday.

The deal, in the works over the last two years, is part of an effort to boost the fortunes of the theme park after it failed to attract as many visitors as hoped after its opening in 2005.

The park, a joint venture between Walt Disney and the Hong Kong government, will get three new theme areas, as well as 30 new attractions.

"The expansion will be a catalyst to the park's long-term development and bring benefits to not just the local tourism industry but also the entire economy," Rita Lau, Hong Kong's commerce and economic development secretary, told reporters.

Under terms of the deal, the Burbank, California-based entertainment giant will contribute all the necessary new capital for construction as well as sustaining the park's operation during the building phases. It will also convert into equity about $350 million in loans to the venture to help with funding and will keep open a credit facility of about $40 million.

Hong Kong, which shouldered much of the $3.5 billion original construction cost, will not add any new capital, the government said.

"Disney is making a substantial investment in this important project," Leslie Goodman, a Disney vice president, said in a statement.

The park came under fire after disappointing attendance in its first two years of operation. But traffic in its third year grew 8 percent, according to figures provided by the Hong Kong government.

HK Disneyland to get $655m

HONG KONG - THE Hong Kong government on Tuesday said Walt Disney Co will invest HK$3.5 billion (S$655 million) more to expand its Hong Kong theme park, seen as necessary to bolster the park's long-term prospects against a rival park in Shanghai.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said the Hong Kong government would not invest more capital in the joint venture but would convert debt into capital.

The Hong Kong government, which owns 57 percent of the underperforming resort, desperately needs the expansion to boost flagging attendance, with a much larger rival Disneyland expected to be built in Shanghai in 2014 that could draw much visitor traffic from the burgeoning mainland China market. -- THOMSON REUTERS

Look Up! It's A Bird... No, A Zeppelin, Promoting Disney/Pixar Film

Often the best way to promote a movie or product is the most obvious route. Case in point: a campaign for the Disney/Pixar movie "Up."

The film follows a crotchety old man who travels to South America in a floating house, attached to countless helium balloons, with an unexpected companion.

Disney/Pixar promoted the movie in an unusual, yet fitting way, over Memorial Day weekend.

A Zeppelin airship, larger than a 747 and recently brought stateside from Germany, was affixed with 700 pieces of ultra-lightweight vinyl-like material that combined to reveal a picture of the "Up" house, fastened to helium balloons. The picture of the house and balloons pales in comparison to the understandably large-type words "Disney/Pixar. Up. Only in theaters."

Creative was manufactured in Germany; it took three days for the pieces to adhere. This is the costlier way to advertise on the Zeppelin, since banners crafted from a porous fabric can be hung on one or both sides, allowing for a faster application and removal.

The Zeppelin, named Eureka, is normally used for sightseeing trips over San Francisco, Napa Valley and Silicon Valley.

However, the "Up" campaign flew Eureka over the Los Angeles area as part of Disney/Pixar's six-week campaign, costing six figures, according to David Knight, Airship Ambassador for Airship Ventures.

"Up" was the first ad campaign featured on Eureka. Two additional Zeppelins are used for advertising purposes in Tokyo and Germany.

The ad buy was brokered between Disney and Airship Ventures, the company that flies Eureka.

Airship Ventures believes the newly used medium will soon gain popularity, given its novelty and the rise of social media. "One of the elements that makes this very unique, compared with other forms of out of home advertising is you get press and tens or hundreds of thousands of consumers taking pictures and video of it, placing it up online, all featuring the branding on the sides," said Knight.

If you're in the Los Angeles area this weekend, be on the lookout for Eureka. She will offer tourists a "Hollywood Studios By Zeppelin" flight throughout the July 4 weekend while promoting 23andMe, a genetics company that helps people decipher their genomes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Day In History Of The Walt Disney World Resort for June 29th and 30th

Disney museum renders animation innovation


June 28, 2009 11:21pm

Pixar, Dreamworks and LucasArts are major data crunchers in the Bay Area, with their studios using vast ranks of servers to render the latest animations and special effects. But there will soon be an opportunity here to reflect on animation technology before the computer dominated.

The new Walt Disney Family Museum, in San Francisco’s Presidio national parkland, will not open until October, but, in a media preview tour this week, we were introduced to innovations such as the 13-feet-high Multiplane Camera and the optical printer.
The camera rises through two floors of the museum, which has been imaginatively converted from a former army barracks. Its use was perfected in Snow White, allowing several layers of artwork to be moved past a camera at different speeds and distances, giving a 3D effect and also allowing different parts of the picture to move in and out of focus.

The optical printer takes two films and combines them, allowing real-life pictures to be merged with animation, such as in Mary Poppins . Alfred Hitchcock borrowed it to add swarming flocks to his The Birds movie.

Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966, before computers played a role in film. The museum tells the story of his life and work using more than 200 video screens displaying films and the copious archive of photos and footage that recorded his personal life .

It is likely to lead to a reassessment of the man as more of a great innovator and visionary than movie mogul.

“My father’s name is probably one of the most well-known names around the world, but as the brand or trademark has spread, for many, the man has become lost,” said Diane Disney Miller, his daughter, now a Napa county wine producer and a founder of the museum.

There is a model of the original Disneyland as he conceived it, details of his work on EPCOT - the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow - and a cinema in the basement which will premier with Fantasia , the animation he collaborated on with conductor Leopold Stokowski, featuring multi-channel “Fantasound”.

Ten galleries tell the story of his life from his early work as a cartoonist to him becoming a champion of colour television, stereo simulcasting and widescreen technology.

Now those technologies are being used to state-of-the-art effect to illuminate the life of one of the great influencers of the 20th century.

Video : Hall of Presidents update featuring Obama animatronic

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Disney Channel's `Princess' Movie Draws 8.5 Million Viewers

Disney Channel's June 26 premiere of its new original movie Princess Protection Program drew 8.5 million viewers, the highest performance for a network original movie in more than a year.

The movie, starring Selena Gomez (Wizards Of Waverly Place) and Demi Lovato (Sonny With A Chance), is the third best performing movie in Disney history, behind June 2008's Camp Rock (8.9 million viewers) and August 2007's High School Musical 2 (18 million viewers).

The telefilm, about a foreign princess in peril who hides out in a small U.S. town, also finished as the No. 1 entertainment telecast of 2009 among kids 6 to 11 (3.1 million) and tweens 9-14 (3.2 million).

Princess Protection Program towered over all time period competition on both broadcast and cable, virtually doubling second place finisher CBS in total viewers (8.5 million vs. 4.4 million), and also scoring the No. 1 rank among kids 6 to 11 and tweens 9 to 14, said Disney.

Celebrate! A Street Party Auditons Disneyland July 12th

Celebrate! A Street Party
For: Disneyland Resort
Audition City: Anaheim, CA
Location: Disneyland Resort
Looking For: Parade Performers
July 12, 2009
10:00 AM
Time zone: Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Seeking energetic and dynamic performers for Celebrate! A Street Party, an exciting new dance bash which turns the Disneyland Parade Route into party central, complete with swing dancing, rock ‘n’ roll tunes and conga lines. Runs daily. Rehearsals begin August 11.

Parade Performers: Males and females, all heights, strong movement and dance skills
Stilt Walkers: Males and females, 5'4"+, strong movement skills; previous stilt walking experience a plus.


  • Performers must be at least 18 years of age or a high school graduate

  • Wear non-restrictive clothing; tennis or dance shoes are required

  • Current Disneyland® Resort Cast Members should bring a completed and approved transfer application

  • New applicants are encouraged to complete a job application prior to the audition date by visiting the Casting Center at Team Disney Anaheim

  • This audition may last 6-8 hours

Disneyland Resort – Team Disney Anaheim
700 W. Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA 92802

View Map

Park in the Team Disney parking structure off Ball Road and Cast Place, and proceed to the Security area. Bring a picture ID to be admitted backstage.

Audition Disneyland Atmosphere Characters July 8th

Atmosphere Characters
For: Disneyland Resort
Audition City: Anaheim, CA
Location: Disneyland Resort
Looking For: Atmosphere Characters
July 08, 2009
06:00 PM
Time zone: Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Atmosphere Characters perform before thousands of guests each day in meet-and-greets, parades and stage shows across the Disneyland® Resort. We are seeking heights 4'8"-5'0” only.


  • Must be at least 18 years of age or a high school graduate

  • Wear non-restrictive clothing; tennis or dance shoes are required

  • Current Disneyland® Resort Cast Members should bring a completed and approved transfer application

  • New applicants are encouraged to complete a job application prior to the audition date by visiting the Casting Center at Team Disney Anaheim

Disneyland Resort – Team Disney Anaheim
700 W. Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA 92802

View Map

Park in the Team Disney parking structure off Ball Road and Cast Place, and proceed to the Security area. Bring a picture ID to be admitted backstage.

Disney Audition for Character Perfomers July 2

Disney Character Performers
For: Walt Disney World
Audition City: Orlando, FL
Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Rehearsal Facility
Looking For: Puppeteers, Face Characters, Atmosphere Characters, and Parade Performers
July 02, 2009
04:00 PM
Time zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Disney Auditions is seeking Male and Female performers with movement and/or dance experience to bring to life the world famous Disney Characters at the Walt Disney World® Resort. Some performers will step out and bring to life our parades and shows as street dancers, stilt walkers, puppeteers and Disney Prince and Princess Look-alikes.

Special consideration will be given to those performers with heights of 4'8"-5'0".

Call the Jobline at (407) 828-1000 for more information.

Audition Location:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Rehearsal Facility
3271 Sherberth Rd
Kissimmee, FL 34747

View Map

Sign in: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM - Late applicants will not be accepted.

Please note that this is a closed audition. Friends and family are not allowed in the audition room during auditions. Please make appropriate travel plans.


  • Applicants must be at least 16 and authorized to work in the United States.

  • All applicants will be taught a movement routine. Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes. No sandals or flip-flops.

  • Applicants who have auditioned in the past six months are not eligible to audition.

  • Current Walt Disney World® Resort Character Cast Members are not eligible to audition.

EOE - Drawing Creativity from Diversity - © Disney

Three Disney Parks Plan Special Fireworks on July 4

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Guests celebrating the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort will have a choice of fireworks shows as Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios present special pyrotechnics and Epcot adds a patriotic "tag" to its famous "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" spectacular. Here's what's in store:

Magic Kingdom – "Celebrate America Fireworks" will fill the sky at 9 pm. July 4 (guests who'd like to begin the celebratory weekend a day early can enjoy the special fireworks on July 3 at 9 p.m.). After the fireworks, guests can enjoy a performance of Disney's "SpectroMagic" parade of lights, music and magic at 10:30 p.m. on July 3-4. Park hours are 9 a.m.-11 p.m. on July 3-4.

Disney's Hollywood Studios – Special fireworks will be presented at 10 p.m. on July 4, providing guests with a bonus nighttime entertainment extravaganza to complement "Fantasmic!" (which will be at 9 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.). Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Epcot – "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth," which features dazzling special effects, colorful lasers, brilliant fireworks and fiery torches all choreographed to a musical score, becomes even more dynamic on July 4 as the normal show is supplemented with a patriotic finale. The performance begins at 10 p.m. Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Disney's Animal Kingdom – No fireworks here (we wouldn't want to disturb the animals' rest). Guests can enjoy all the regular attractions and shows on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Day In History Of The Walt Disney World Resort for June 27th and 28th

Disney museum set for Presidio

Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and grandson Christopher Miller ride in an Autopia car at Disneyland. (Walt Disney Foundation)

John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writer

You know the name, the movies, the television shows, the theme parks.

Starting in October, Bay Area residents will have a chance to get to know Walt Disney the man.

A 77,000-square-foot museum complex built mostly in former Army barracks at San Francisco's Presidio is set to open Oct. 1 to illuminate the man who went from a modest Midwest beginning to define entertainment for generations.

It will be the world's only museum dedicated to the life of Disney, who besides creating Mickey Mouse and "Bambi," palled around with surrealist master Salvador Dali, designed futuristic theme parks and had a rideable miniature train behind his Los Angeles-area home.

"It's our turn to tell his story, to narrate the life of someone whose name is often confused with a brand," said Richard Benefield, the executive director of the soon-to-open Walt Disney Family Museum.

"It's a classic American story - the story about a boy from a farm who moved to the city and made it big," Benefield said at a luncheon Thursday offering a sneak peek at the Presidio's newest addition. The museum will include 10 galleries with interactive features, bits of family movies, early drawings and countless snippets of TV and film. There are audio recordings of Disney, including one of him recollecting his idea to name his signature character Mortimer Mouse.

His wife's response?

"Oh goodness, no," Disney recounts on the recording. "So I said, 'What about Mickey?' "

The museum chronicles Disney's life from his 1901 birth in Chicago to his death in 1966.

In between are layers of his work: animation, nature documentaries, television shows like "Zorro," World's Fair exhibits and a scale model of Disneyland.

There is also the miniature train he built behind his Holmby Hills home that presaged later rides at Disney theme parks.

"Perhaps my grandpa's greatest gift, and without question his greatest pleasure, was to bring imagination to life," said Disney's grandson, Walter Elias Disney Miller. "And he never lost that childhood sense of wonder and of curiosity."

A 123-seat, high-definition, surround-sound theater will screen Disney classics and host educational forums.

Separate tickets will be sold for the museum and screenings. Admission will range from about $20 for adults to free for children under 6. The museum is owned by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and is independent of Disney corporate entities.

Walt Disney didn't have an overwhelming connection to San Francisco, although he and his wife were awarded honorary citizenship and keys to the city in 1958. A bit of wining and feasting with members of the city's elite Bohemian Club at their exclusive Sonoma County grove in 1936 is also credited in author Bob Thomas' biography as the inspiration for the snoring scene in the dwarfs' cottage in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

The museum site is really a product of his eldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller, who lives in Northern California and thought the Presidio an ideal home for it.

It's just down the street from where Gap founder Don Fisher wants to build a contemporary art museum but saw little of the opposition that Fisher has faced.

The Disney museum mostly restores a historic brick barrack, with the addition of a glassed-in wing with beautiful Golden Gate Bridge views replacing what had been an open courtyard at the back of the building.

Disney's Black Eye: Hong Kong Disneyland

By Bigbearsg

Disney has a black eye right now with Hong Kong Disneyland. With Shanghai Disneyland 4 or 5 years away from opening, which will take away most of the tourist away from Hong Kong Disneyland (most of the tourist come from China), it's time for Disney and The Hong Kong Government to stop playing games and get to expanding the Park.

Don't get me wrong I love Hong Kong Disneyland, but it needs to bring in more guest to the park. To do that they need 4 to 6 more rides. I would like to see Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Toy Story Mania,which would be the top of my list. Also Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion.

They say by the end of June, Disney and the Hong Kong Government, will be signing a new agreement to expand Hong Kong Disneyland. They need to have one of the new rides on line by the end of 2010. The best bet would be Toy Story Mania.

As I have said in the past Hong Kong Disneyland is a nice one day park. If you take your time and enjoy the park. There is no going commando here you would be done with the park in about 3 hours. But with the addition of more rides and shows Hong Kong Disneyland could become a two day park with lot's to do and a reason to stay at the Hong Kong Disney Hotels.

Tickets for the 2009 MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney Go on Sale Wednesday, July 1

BRISTOL, Ct., June 26, 2009 -- Tickets for the 2009 MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney will go on sale Wednesday, July 1, through Ticketmaster and Anthony Travel.

This year, the event owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT) will pit MEAC defending champion South Carolina State University against 2008 SWAC title winner Grambling State University for the first time since 1994. The game will return to Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will air on ESPN2/ESPN2 HD and ESPN360.com on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 2 p.m. ET. This will mark the first time this event will be televised in high definition.

Individual tickets for the game are $20 (plus tax and fees) and will be available through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or by logging on to www.ticketmaster.com. Fans who want to attend this event can also purchase travel packages through Anthony Travel’s Web site or by calling 888-632-6951.

Each year, the game is played at a neutral site within the footprint of one of the conferences. The inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge in 2005 showcased the MEAC’s South Carolina State vs. Alabama State of the SWAC, with South Carolina State prevailing, 27-14. In 2006, the contest went into overtime with the MEAC’s Hampton University defeating the SWAC’s Grambling State, 27-26. The SWAC earned its first MEAC/SWAC Challenge trophy in 2007 as Southern defeated Florida A&M, 33-27. Last year, the event moved from Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., to Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, where the MEAC reclaimed the MEAC/SWAC Challenge crown, as Hampton defeated Jackson State 17-13. The MEAC leads the series 3-1. Teams for future games are determined on an annual basis.

For more information about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and for access to the event’s Facebook page, please visit www.meacswacchallenge.com.

Celebrating Citizenship, 1,000 Immigrants To Be ‘Sworn In’ July 3 on Main Street, U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Resort

New citizens will attend premiere of re-imagined Hall of Presidents attraction,
now featuring President Barack Obama figure

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – In a stirring celebration of citizenship, more than 1,000 immigrants will gather on Main Street, U.S.A. July 3 to be “sworn in” as American citizens.

And as the country kicks off Independence Day weekend, these brand-new Americans will attend a premiere performance of the newest Walt Disney World attraction, a re-imagined Hall of Presidents, now featuring a lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure of President Barack Obama.

From more than 100 countries and ranging in age from 18 to 82, the immigrants will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during a Friday morning ceremony jointly hosted by
Disney Parks and Resorts and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

USCIS’s highest-ranking official will preside over the ceremony on the forecourt of Cinderella Castle. The event will feature a welcoming address by Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton, the presentation of the colors, the national anthem, the Oath of Allegiance and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Actor Andy Garcia – a naturalized citizen himself – will deliver a keynote address during the ceremony. Garcia, originally from Cuba, is an acclaimed actor known for roles in films as diverse as “The Untouchables,” “The Godfather: Part III” and “Oceans Eleven.”

“This year, Disney parks are asking our visitors, ‘What will you celebrate?’ ” Crofton said. “And on a weekend when our entire nation celebrates its independence, we are honored to host – and celebrate – 1,000 individuals who are embracing American citizenship.”
New Citizens to Preview Revised Hall of Presidents

To cap a star-spangled morning, the new citizens and their family members will get to preview the Hall of Presidents attraction – which reopens July 4 in the Liberty Square area of Magic Kingdom. The attraction has been closed since Election Day last November for a makeover that included installation of a lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure based on President Obama.

The figure of the country’s 44th chief executive – which comes to life with recognizable mannerisms and makes comments that were recorded recently at the White House – is part of an eight-month makeover so significant that the iconic attraction has been retitled Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders. Other updates to the “re-Imagineered” attraction which has been entertaining Magic Kingdom guests since 1971:
  • A re-programmed Abraham Lincoln delivers arguably the greatest speech in the history of the presidency – the Gettysburg Address.
  • For the first time in the attraction’s history, George Washington stands and delivers a stirring speech.
  • Developed with the assistance of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the show now tells a moving story of the bond between the presidents and “We, the People,” focusing on the chief executives who have guided America through trying, turbulent times.

“Our goal with every major Disney attraction is to completely immerse our guests in a compelling story,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The stories associated with the American presidency are some of the most engaging and relevant our guests will hear while they are with us. And, like all great stories, these stories inspire, motivate and teach us to appreciate the challenges and personal triumph that comes with overcoming adversity.”

Presentations of the Hall of Presidents show will take place daily beginning July 4 and are included with Magic Kingdom admission.

Barack Obama Joins Disney’s Hall of Presidents in Major Makeover Showcasing New Storyline, Music and Technology

Magic Kingdom Attraction Reopens July 4

, Fla. – A remarkably lifelike Audio-Animatronics figure of President Barack Obama enters the spotlight in a revised and refreshed Hall of Presidents show that reopens July 4 in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

The recently installed figure of the country’s 44th chief executive – which comes to life with recognizable mannerisms and makes comments that were recorded recently at the White House – is only part of an eight-month makeover so significant that the iconic attraction in the park’s Liberty Square has been retitled Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders. Other updates to the “re-Imagineered” attraction which has been entertaining Magic Kingdom guests since 1971:
  • A re-programmed Abraham Lincoln delivers arguably the greatest speech in the history of the presidency – the Gettysburg Address.
  • For the first time in the attraction’s history, George Washington stands and delivers a stirring speech.
  • Developed with the assistance of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the show now tells a moving story of the bond between the presidents and “We, the People,” focusing on the chief executives who have guided America through trying, turbulent times.

“Our goal with every major Disney attraction is to completely immerse our guests in a compelling story,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The stories associated with the American presidency are some of the most engaging and relevant our guests will hear while they are with us. And, like all great stories, these stories inspire, motivate and teach us to appreciate the challenges and personal triumph that comes with overcoming adversity.”

True to Walt Disney’s vision, Hall of Presidents features the appearance on stage of every United States president – life-sized, three-dimensional and fully animated. Seven presidents have been added to the “Hall” since the attraction opened during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The figure of President Barack Obama is not only the seventh addition but also the most dynamic figure Disney has ever created. Disney Imagineers, who’ve been refining Audio-Animatronics technology since 1963, have discovered new ways to integrate an array of subtle movements and facial expressions into the figures. Imagineers also worked closely with White House staff to create realistic clothing and accessories worn by the figure in the show, right down to a lapel pin and watch.

Kathy Rogers, senior show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, says the show pays particular tribute to the strength of the bond between the people and the president “that led us through the most troubling times in our nation’s history.

“We still present that ‘mighty cavalcade of history’ that Walt Disney originally envisioned,” Rogers says, referring to “headline moments” of America’s past that are depicted in the film, “but it is viewed through the lens of the presidency.”

The 25-minute show begins with the story of George Washington and the struggle to build a new nation. It continues through today, highlighting presidents who have reached out to the people during times of strife.
Disney senior show writer and director Pam Fisher, who worked closely with Kearns Goodwin to develop the story, describes the revised Hall of Presidents as “a very human story – one that we hope strikes a chord with all guests.”

A soaring new musical score written by Emmy-winning composer Joel McNeely adds another emotional dimension to the experience.

The show’s impact is bolstered by the stirring performances of actor David Morse, who voices Washington, and the late veteran actor Royal Dano, who voices Lincoln. Morse played Washington in the award-winning HBO miniseries, “John Adams.” Dano was selected by Walt Disney himself to voice the first animated Lincoln figure, which debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and later became part of the
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland in California. Obama’s speech, recorded in the White House Map Room, includes the presidential oath of office and his thoughts about “the American dream.”

In the tradition of earlier versions of the show, the rewritten story begins with a large-format movie, but this time it is projected in crystal-clear, high-definition video. Imagineers digitized many of the huge scenic paintings of historic America made for the original movie by Disney legends including Herb Ryman and Sam McKim. In addition, the team combed through the National Archives, Library of Congress, museums and private collections to acquire more than 130 new images ultimately woven into the show.

Imagineers enhanced the soundtrack with digital production and state-of-the-art speakers; they also upgraded the lighting with energy-efficient LED technology.

The new Hall of Presidents experience begins in the pre-show lobby, which has been transformed into an expanded gallery of presidential artifacts. The inaugural exhibit showcases the women behind the presidents. Large display cases exhibit dresses and personal objects worn by several First Ladies, including Edith Roosevelt (Teddy’s wife), Elizabeth Monroe and Nancy Reagan. The historical gallery also displays presidential portraits of Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and other chief executives, plus two cases filled with personal artifacts of presidents including Gerald Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and George Washington.

Presentations of the Hall of Presidents show will take place daily and are included with Magic Kingdom admission.

Lights, Camera, Action! It’s Studio Disney 365 Disneyland

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 26, 2009) – A stylish and unique makeover experience premiers at the Disneyland Resort with the debut of Studio Disney 365. Opening June 26 in the Downtown Disney District, the dazzling new makeover boutique is a one-of-a-kind specialty store offering guests a unique chance to rock out like some of their favorite Disney Channel stars.

From the moment they step into the Studio Disney 365 “sound stage,” guests will see lights, cameras, and a lot of action! Talent agents and stylists will help these “stars of tomorrow” undergo a complete transformation, getting them camera-ready to walk the carpet and preparing them for their grand entrance onto the set. Studio Disney 365 is the place to be for emerging stars, with so much to do and so much to see!

Studio Disney 365 guests can choose from five different Studio Star makeover packages. All packages include a talent contract, choice of hair makeover, complete cosmetic makeover, deluxe make-up case, a downloadable photo file, a customized lanyard with photo and a photo shoot.

* From The Top –Your hair, our unique style,$29.95.
* Color Cue – Includes a unique twisted pony design and choice of up to four colored streaks, $39.95.
* That’s A Wrap – Includes five front braids and high pony twists, your choice of faux hair tousled pony and a lace stretch headband, $49.95.
* Spotlight – Includes two French braids wrapped to each side, your choice of faux hair pony tail and a flower hair accessory, $49.95.
* Secret Star – Includes a Hannah Montana-inspired wig with sequined headband, rocker light-up headset and a themed face gem, $59.95.
* Rock Star –Studio Disney 365 also features a special treatment for those upcoming rock stars. The “Rock Star” look for boys is $18.95 plus tax and includes a slicked-back or spiked hairstyle with colored gel tips, smokey eyes, a downloadable photo file and a customized lanyard with photo.

Wardrobe options befitting a true superstar await guests at Studio Disney 365, where they can take center stage dressed from head to toe in today’s hottest fashions.*

* Studio Rocker – Includes choice of trend T-shirt, fingerless gloves, tutu and colored ankle tights.
* Trend Setter – Includes choice of trend T-shirt, sunglasses, scarf and fedora.
* Scene Stealer – Includes complete Hannah Montana costume, featuring gold lame jacket, tank, black leggings, black and purple tutu and light-up guitar sticks.

Studio Star makeovers are designed for children ages three and older, who must be accompanied by an adult age 18 years or older. Studio Disney 365 is located in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort. Operating hours vary. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 714/781-STYLE (714/781-7895).

* Wardrobe package price may vary based on style, size and price of apparel and accessories. Subject to restrictions and change without notice.

Guest information: www.downtowndisney.com/disneystudio365.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Disneyland Paris 92 (rare) Video

Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin at Disneyworld

Michael Jackson Disney Medley Video at Disneyland

Disney World was a second home for Jackson in the 80s

In the prime of his solo career, the Michael Jackson of "Thriller" and "Beat It" retreated to a public place that he made into his private fantasy land: Walt Disney World.

Jackson, who died Thursday at age 50, made the Magic Kingdom his second home in the mid-1980s.

Working at Disney during that time was almost like being a member of Jackson's extended family. He was like the rich, eccentric uncle who used to pull into town at the most unexpected moments.

I was one of those Disney employees then. In that job, and later as a journalist, I was lucky enough to ever-so-briefly encounter one of the planet's iconic stars at two distinctive points in his arc.

He was already unaccountably weird, yes, but he was also unassailably cool. When I was piloting a boat between Disney hotels, Jackson sightings sparked a minor commotion.

Jackson would be spotted on Bay Lake in a float boat with TV actor Emmanuel Lewis. Or he'd be seen in one of those secret underground tunnels, checking out the intricacies of the Disney magic.

The ultimate sign of his devotion was the famous Michael Jackson suite in the Royal Plaza hotel at Lake Buena Vista. My boat-pilot pals and I used to hoist beers in the Giraffe Lounge downstairs. He never joined us.

Four years ago, I revisited memories of the Jackson suite in writing a story about Orlando's bygone musical landmarks. Phil Wright, general manager of the Royal Plaza during the Jackson era, recalled the four-room suite in detail:

The twinkling lights in the ceiling. The trophy case insured for $1 million. The Marilyn Monroe collectibles and (then) state-of-the-art laser-disc player equipped with lights that sparkled to the beat.

Wright remembered that Jackson's pet chimp, Bubbles, liked to flush the toilet. "He liked to hear it gurgle."

He recalled the singer fondly, too.

"When I knew him at the hotel, he was kind, generous and unbelievably shy," Wright said. "We wanted to offer a place where he could feel at home."

My own Jackson memories could be characterized in one word: silence.

Picking up tickets for a cast holiday party once, I happened upon Jackson strolling Disney's cast-services building. In a lime-green sweater and fedora, he was wordlessly looking at scale models of the park attractions as a small crowd of employees gathered silently around him.

It went on for about 20 minutes, no one saying anything, until Jackson walked back to his white limo, turned and silently waved.

It was odd.

Flash-forward to the early 1990s, and I'm again face-to-face. The Sentinel had sent me, as a cub reporter, to follow Jackson and pal Macaulay Culkin around what is now Disney's Hollywood Studios for the day.

The TV crews and I hustled around the park in a vain attempt to engage the King of Pop in conversation. When he suddenly emerged from a backstage entrance, I asked the first thing that came to mind:

"How you doing?"

It was an idiotic question. I think he said "Fine," but all I can really tell you is that his lips moved.

And so it went for the rest of the afternoon. Run, stop, stare. I must have written something, but it wasn't laden with expressive quotes.

Yet I'm still talking about it.

Jackson had started to morph from cool quirkiness to disturbing strangeness, with his hyperbaric chamber and his troubling relationships with children. Yet, like the hotel manager, I focus on only the good stuff now. That's because, for all his idiosyncrasies, Michael Jackson was perhaps the planet's most gifted pop star.

Didn't you love the Jackson 5? Wasn't "Thriller" amazing? How about the moonwalk?

A legend is gone. I'll mourn with a moment of silence.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hong Kong Disneyland Launches “Double Fun Ticket Offer” to Double Up Summer Fun for Guests

(Hong Kong, June 25 2009) Hong Kong Disneyland is bringing back the popular “Double Fun Ticket Offer”, which was well received by Guests last year, to deliver twice the joy and excitement for Guests this summer. From now until July 1 to August 31, 2009, Guests can enjoy the “Double Fun Ticker Offer” for just HK$100 more on the 1-day Peak day ticket (i.e. HK$450 per adult, HK$350 per child and HK$270 per Senior), Guests can enter the Park twice within the designated period1 to enjoy Disney’s fascinating summer activities including “Stitch’s Summer Dance Bash”, “Stitch’s Get Silly Photo Scenes” and “Mickey’s WaterWorks”. Guests will be offered a 50% discount on parking upon their second visit.
From July 1 to August 31, 2009, Guests can also enjoy a lip-smacking feast in the Park with a “3-in-1 Meal Coupon”2 at the price of HK$98 only. This coupon will allow Guests to save up to 20% while they treat themselves to delicious lunch, dinner and drink/ popcorn at Starliner Diner, Comet Cafe, Clopin’s Festival of Foods and Outdoor Vending Cart.
In addition, the two themed hotels have launched the “Disney Summer Holiday Package Offer3”. From now until July 15, Guests can purchase this special package at the starting price of HK$599 per person for one night accommodation in July or August with coupon for buffet breakfast. Guests can also join the “Stitch Summer BBQ Party4” in the Sunset Terrace of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel on Fridays to Sundays and Public Holidays during this summer at the price of HK$268 per adult and HK$138 per child (subject to 10% service charge). They can relax in the unlimited fun of barbecue in the sunset, accompanied by Stitch and his Disney Friend!
Hong Kong Disneyland Park admission tickets can be purchased through the following convenient channels: the Ticket Booths at the Main Entrance of the Hong Kong Disneyland Park, , online at www.hongkongdisneyland.com, the front desks of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel the Hong Kong Disneyland Ticket Express at MTR Hong Kong Station, at selected travel agents and Circle K outlets and at the Magic of Hong Kong Disneyland Store at the Hong Kong International Airport. From now until September 30, 2009 (except June 21), Guests can also purchase Park tickets from the Hong Kong Disneyland Ticket Booth located on P2 of the Peak Tower, open daily from 12 pm to 9 pm.
Please visit www.hongkongdisneyland.com or contact reservation centre at 1-830-830 for more promotion details of “Double Fun Ticket Offer”, “3-in-1 Meal Coupon” & Disney Summer Holiday Package Offer”.

1. “Double Fun Ticket Offer” Park admission period is Valid from July 1 to September 16, 2009
2. “3-in-1 Meal Coupon”Price does not include Park admission. Lunch coupon must be used before 4 p.m. on the date of purchase. Dinner coupon must be used after 5:30pm on the date of purchase
3. “Disney Summer Holiday Package Offer” is only available for HK Residents and All packages are for 2 persons..
4. the operation of Sunset Terrace is subject to weather condition

Expansion deal reached on Hong Kong Disneyland-report

June 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong has reached a deal with the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) to expand the local Disney theme park, seen as necessary to bolster the park's long-term prospects against a Shanghai rival, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The agreement is expected to be announced by June 30, with details of the deal to be laid out to local legislators in a special meeting, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported.

A spokeswoman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which oversees the Disneyland project, confirmed to Reuters that a special meeting had been called, but disclosed no specifics.

The report said the deal was expected to be worth HK$7 billion ($903.3 million) of which HK$4 billion would be used for expansion.

The size of Hong Kong Disneyland, the smallest of Disney's magic kingdoms, is expected to almost double, with construction to begin within a year, pending approval from the city's legislative council in July, the newspaper reported.

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary John Tsang travelled to Los Angeles in May, where he met senior Disney executives. The trip is seen to have paved the way for the breakthrough after Disney earlier said it would stall any expansion amid the credit crunch.

There was no immediate response from Tsang's office.

When contacted by Reuters, a Disney official in the United States said discussions are ongoing, without giving any specifics.

The Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) earlier indicated it would likely invest more capital in Hong Kong Disneyland and allow the Hong Kong government to convert its loans to equity to maintain its majority share of the theme park, a source involved in their talks told Reuters earlier.

The Hong Kong government, which owns 57 percent of the underperforming resort, desperately needs the expansion to boost flagging attendance, with a much larger rival Disneyland expected to be built in Shanghai in 2014 that could draw much visitor traffic from the burgeoning mainland China market.

"At this stage, we have to support the expansion otherwise it will be very difficult to compete with Shanghai in five to six years time," said legislator Fred Li of the Democratic Party, who said his party backed the expansion as long as Disney boosted its financial transparency in future on attendance figures. (Additional reporting by Gina Keating in Los Angeles) (Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Chris Lewis and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Will New Disney Cruise Ships Call U.K. Home?

--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor

With two new ships on order and a recent history of dabbling in Europe cruises, Disney Cruise Line is the focus of much speculation from cruise fans and industry watchers alike. The question on everyone's lips is: What is the family cruise line's next big move? (As we reported earlier this year, Alaska's not it.)

The news coming out of last week's U.K. Cruise Convention in Dover is that Disney Cruise Line might be expanding its cruise program from that British homeport.

Disney Magic is already on tap to sail a first-ever series of 12-night Baltic voyages from Dover in the summer of 2010, but according to ttglive.com, the Web site for the U.K.'s Travel Trade Gazette, the line has alluded to a future in Europe for at least one of its two upcoming ships. (Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream are due out in 2011 and 2012, respectively.)

"In the next few months we will be sharing information about what these two new ships will be doing," Peter Welch, Disney U.K. vice president, is quoted as saying. "Needless to say we are here in Dover so that gives you a clue as to what might be happening."

But wait -- not so fast. Disney Cruise Line spokesperson Jason Lasecki tells us today that, at least at the onset, Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream will be based in the U.S. He says the cruise line has already struck an agreement with Port Canaveral for both ships and that infrastructure, down to the parking garage, is being readied to accommodate them. (Lasecki wasn't sure of the duration of the agreement.)

So with the newer, larger vessels likely serving Disney's bread-and-butter Caribbean or Bahamas trips, will Disney Magic or Disney Wonder perhaps be freed up to sail more European cruises? Maybe. "Having two new ships definitely gives us a great degree of flexibility when it comes to itinerary planning. We haven't gone much further than 2010 when Magic will be in Europe ... [but] Europe as a whole is a market that we know that our guests are interested in. It's a possibility but nothing is finalized."

Lasecki tells us that like West Coasters (Disney Wonder will sail again from Los Angeles in 2011), Brits have a "high Disney affinity," having spent time at locations from Disney World in Orlando to Disneyland Paris -- and having Disney Magic in their backyard next summer will be an opportunity for them to find out what the Disney cruise experience is all about.

Though no specific numbers are available yet, the line anticipates a higher percentage of international guests on those voyages; generally, less than 10 percent of passengers on Disney cruises are sourced from outside of the U.S. "We are putting together more of a sales presence in the UK. You will see the mix skew a little bit more British." But, again, there are no official plans as yet to homeport a ship in the U.K. beyond the Dover-based sailings scheduled for next summer.

Lasecki says that the line expects to know more about new deployments through 2011 later this fall.

This Day In History Of The Walt Disney World Resort for June 25th and 26th

A ‘Celebration’ of the Season: During “What Will You Celebrate?” Year, Glistening Ice Palace Marks Walt Disney World Resort Transformation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Trees glisten, snow flurries and Cinderella Castle sparkles during the winter wonderland season at Walt Disney World Resort. By late November, themed décor will blanket the Vacation Kingdom as Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney and 23 resorts unwrap their own sleighfuls of yuletide gaiety.

And with the year’s “What Will You Celebrate?,” guests can get in the spirit beginning
Nov. 10 by beholding twinkling lights of one of Disney’s newest holiday traditions – Castle Dreamlights! – in Magic Kingdom. Donning their holiday finest, Cinderella and friends take to the Cinderella Castle stage daily for a dream-come-true, light-the-night moment. With 200,000 sparkling, jewel-like crystals adorning the iconic castle, the glistening light-show spectacular signals the beginning of Disney seasonal merriment.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom – Nov. 10 also marks the first of 19 select evenings when the theme park hosts the long-running Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. During this popular special-ticket event, guests are treated to “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” “Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks spectacular plus special shows featuring Disney characters decked out in their holiday finest, carolers, festive tree lightings and more.

The “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” celebrates the festivities with dancing snowflakes, marching toy soldiers, a horse-drawn sleigh, enchanting floats and spirited characters all proceeding through the streets of the theme park in a merry and melodic cavalcade.

During “Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season,” Cinderella Castle beams brightly as the evening is capped with eye-popping fireworks orchestrated to classic holiday tunes.

Favorite attractions also are open throughout the evening. And while forecasters predict the first snowfall of the season will swirl a winter-like effect down Main Street, U.S.A, guests can take heart: there’s hot cocoa and cookies to add a warm spirit, plus apple slices and apple juice as the perfect trimming for a not-to-miss outing for the whole family.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates are: Nov. 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29 and Dec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18. Advance tickets are suggested as some nights are expected to sell out. Advance tickets and information are available now by visiting www.disneyworld.com or by calling 407/W-DISNEY.

Beginning Nov. 27,Walt Disney World Resort unwraps even more wintertime wonderment across property. Here’s the lineup:

Epcot Presents Holidays Around the World – International holiday traditions unfold throughout World Showcase Nov. 27-Dec. 30 when storytellers such as Pere Noel in France, La Befana in Italy and Santa Claus in The American Adventure share the traditions of the season and spread the message of goodwill. As a “nightcap” to each day, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” – a kaleidoscope of lasers, lights, fireworks and music – takes on a spirited holiday finale.

Candlelight Processional at Epcot – A heartfelt holiday tradition led by a mass choir and 50-piece live orchestra showcases the reason for the season Nov. 27-Dec. 30. Presented at America Gardens Theatre at 5, 6:45 and 8 p.m. nightly, Candlelight Processional features celebrity narrators who retell the joyous Christmas story. The narration is interspersed with memorable music. Past celebrity narrators include Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Abigail Breslin and Edward James Olmos. Performances are included with Epcot admission, and guests are advised to arrive early. Entertainment is subject to change without notice. Special dining packages that include guaranteed seating for this beloved event also are offered by calling 407/WDW-DINE.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Bathed in bulbs of brilliance, the streets of America glow with millions of dancing lights and animated displays Nov. 27 through Jan. 3, 2010. Amid gently falling snow, guests will bask in the glow as twirling carousels, melodic angels, colorful wreaths, marching toy soldiers and Santa and his reindeer move to high-energy music and 3-D effects, creating a dazzling symphony for the senses. The spectacle actually starts behind the scenes while the summer temperatures are still on the rise in Florida as dozens of Disney “elves” begin their meticulous work on more than six miles of rope lights, 84 angels, 66 snow machines and more.

Holiday Happenings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade” gets a holiday makeover Nov. 27 through Jan. 3, 2010, when it is magically transformed into “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade.” This whimsical spectacle is a theatrical showcase of characters, floats and puppetry with a holiday world-beat twist. Guests can meet Disney characters decked out in their holiday best at Camp Minnie-Mickey, which also features live seasonal entertainment, holiday photo opportunities and decorative Christmas trees.

Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney – There are enough toys to fill up Santa’s sleigh at stores such as Once Upon a Toy, World of Disney, Team Mickey Athletic Club and LEGO Imagination Center. Guests can finish their holiday shopping at this one-stop mecca featuring something for everyone on their list – Tren-D, the newest designer boutique; Basin bath and body shop; Arribas Brothers; Disney’s Days of Christmas holiday shop; Fuego by Sosa Cigars and more– and enjoy the dazzling light display and holiday décor that adorns the Downtown Disney streets
Nov. 17-Dec. 24. And at Downtown Disney Marketplace, guests can meet Santa himself Nov. 17-26 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Nov. 27-Dec. 24 from noon to 10 p.m. (subject to change).

Christmas Confections Sweeten Vacation Kingdom – Each holiday season, Disney chefs deck the halls in fanciful fashion, creating larger-than-life displays from edible ingredients all across Walt Disney World Resort. The sweet scent of gingerbread fills the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, where a life-sized Victorian gingerbread house is constructed for the holidays. To create the 16-foot-high dream house, Walt Disney World pastry chefs use 1,050 pounds of honey, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 800 pounds of flour, 140 pints of egg whites and 180 pounds of apricot glaze. Meanwhile, at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, a life-size carousel silently spins in the lobby, featuring ponies made of chocolate and fondant, giant candy cane poles, handcrafted poinsettias and hand-painted portraits of famous Disney characters.

Sail Away to a Magical Winter Holiday with Disney Cruise Line – For a gift that’s both nautical and nice, Santa’s wish list could include a cruise on the Disney Magic or the Disney Wonder, both decked “to the rafters” with holiday cheer. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to both ships, with traditional “turkey day” fare to Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. Beginning Nov. 21, special stem-to-stern events on both ships include: nightly King Triton’s Tree Lighting of a glittering, three-deck-tall tree; family crafts such as decorating stockings, making holiday cards and creating animation cels; storytellers sharing tales of diverse holiday traditions; feasts in Disney’s three themed dining rooms; and “Til We Meet Again,” a special seasonal edition of Disney Cruise Line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of each cruise.

To make arrangements for a holiday vacation at Walt Disney World Resort,
Tim and Jenny magicaltravel.sayler@gmail.com 800-883-1535, ext. 24

go to their web site

WDW annual passholder discounts Aug 9-Oct 3, 2009

WDW is offering Annual Passholders some really great rates in August and September (August 9-Oct. 3). Here are some samples:

* $64 Value resort, standard room
* $89 Moderate resorts, standard view
* $159 Saratoga Springs, studio
* $159 Fort Wilderness cabins
* $164 Wilderness Lodge, woods view
* $254 Saratoga Springs, 1 bedroom villa
* $254 Polynesian, garden view

Availability is limited, and at these rates rooms will probably go quickly. If you have an Annual Pass and would like a quote, contact:

Tim and Jenny magicaltravel.sayler@gmail.com 800-883-1535, ext. 24

go to their web site

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Viwawa Expands Partnership with Disney Online in Hong Kong

The Frenzy for Disney’s Branded Apparel in the Virtual World Leads Viwawa to Launch a Creative Avatar Tool in Hong Kong and Hold Disney’s First Ever Best Dressed Avatar Contest.

HONG KONG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Viwawa, Southeast Asia’s fastest growing casual gaming community, and Disney Online today announced that Viwawa’s Disney avatar creation engine will be launched in Hong Kong with a celebratory contest for the best dressed Disney avatar. Viwawa’s Hong Kong gamers can now join thousands of other Southeast Asians in customizing their avatar, affectionately called a “Wawa,” with over 1,000 Disney-inspired virtual items. To celebrate the launch of the Disney avatar creation engine in Hong Kong, Viwawa will hold the “Disney’s Best Dressed Wawa” contest from July 1-31.

The Best Dressed Disney Wawa contest comes after Viwawa subscribers purchased thousands of virtual Disney items since the launch of the custom avatar creator in December 2008. The best designed Wawa adorned with Disney virtual attire, such as High School Musical hats, Winnie the Pooh shirts or the infamous Mickey Mouse ears, will be judged by Viwawa subscribers on originality, style and fun. Contestants will have the chance to win Viwawa merchandise, gaming gold, and several Disney MP3 Players.

“By engaging Hong Kong subscribers with the Disney avatar creation engine we expect to further expand Viwawa’s market in Southeast Asia and to solidify Viwawa as the hottest online casual gaming site,” stated Chris Low, President of Viwawa. “The expanded partnership with Disney Online brings a new level of appeal to Viwawa and will have Hong Kong gamers playing into the wee hours of the night.”

About Viwawa

Viwawa, Southeast Asia’s fastest growing casual gaming community, offers imaginative online games that challenge the mind and encourage playful competition. Intense battles ensue where strategy and skill prevail in fighting games such as Wahlords and Numeroid, while players stay enthralled on the memory battlefields of Wahjong, with trickery and plain luck being paramount. Trash talk may start in the forums but the in-game live chat encourages duels that last all night. Visit www.viwawa.com for the hottest free games and visit www.pendulab.com to learn more about the Viwawa creators.

About SilkRoad Equity

SilkRoad Equity is a private investment firm founded by Andrew J. “Flip” Filipowski and Matthew Roszak. SilkRoad Equity targets investments in the areas of technology, life sciences, media and entertainment and real estate, and is comprised of a portfolio of companies that includes: Barefoot Landing, Cryo-Cell International, InterAct911, Legendary Auctions, MissionMode Solutions, Onramp Branding, Pendulab, Primo Water, Rakote, SilkRoad Technology, SolidSpace, TrueSystems and Viwawa. For more information, visit www.silkroadequity.com.

This Day In History Of The Walt Disney World Resort for June 22nd 23rd and 24th

Magic Kingdom Eats: From Quick Bites to Lunch with a Princess

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. –Magic Kingdom is best known for its classic attractions and favorite Disney characters, but the park also has its share of great family meals.
Leisurely Fare

Cinderella’s Royal Table
. One of the most coveted dining reservations is for breakfast or lunch with the Disney princesses at this enchanting restaurant in Cinderella Castle. (Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother greets dinner guests.) The majestic dining room is a magical experience for little ones, with leaded windows, coats of arms and medieval flags – and a visit to each table by Disney “royalty.” The signature dish is Major Domo’s Favorite Pie, with shredded beef simmered in cabernet sauce with mashed potatoes and topped with pastry. For little ones, there’s a minor Domo version of the popular entrée.
Liberty Tree Tavern. In Liberty Square opposite the riverboat landing, Liberty Tree Tavern offers all-American fare. For lunch, pot roast in cabernet sauce, roast turkey with herb dressing, or a favorite cheeseburger. Dinner is all-you-care-to-eat roast turkey, carved beef, pork loin, herb stuffing, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. The restaurant is a re-creation of an 18th century American inn, with six small dining rooms with Colonial artifacts.
Crystal Palace. Winnie the Pooh and his pals are the stars at this venerable Magic Kingdom restaurant inspired by San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers. A generous buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner includes favorites such as prime rib, salmon, clam chowder, dozens of salads and sweets. Little ones get their own buffet with chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly and pizza.
Plaza Restaurant. Tucked on the side street on Main Street, U.S.A., around the corner from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, this eatery is a respite from the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom – no Disney characters, no entertainment, just a quiet, Art Nouveau-inspired spot. The grilled reuben is a longtime favorite, as well as the chicken strawberry salad. But the biggest sellers are sundaes, floats and hand-dipped milkshakes.
Tony’s Town Square. Inspired by the Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp,” Tony’s features spaghetti, chicken Parmesan, flatbreads and other Italian specialties. The best seats are on the airy patio with a view of Town Square.
For a Fast Bite

Land to Land in Magic Kingdom, quick-service has a variety of great tastes to please every guest. On Main Street, U.S.A., Casey’s Corner is the spot for giant hot dogs and corn dog nuggets and fries, with tables on the sidewalk where a pianist entertains with old-fashioned tunes. In Adventureland, El Pirata Y El Perico (the Pirate and the Parrot) offers beef and vegetarian tacos and taco salad. Nearby in Frontierland, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café serves burgers (including vegetarian), a chicken wrap and chicken salad – with a terrific toppings bar.

Next is Liberty Square, where Columbia Harbour House is the only place in Magic Kingdom for fried fish, but you also can get tuna on a toasted multigrain bun and a hummus sandwich with tomato and broccoli slaw with a side of vegetarian chili or New England clam chowder. In Fantasyland, Pinocchio Village Haus is a kid favorite with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and salads for mom and dad.

In Tomorrowland, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is a great spot for picky eaters, with three counters: one with rotisserie chicken, barbecued ribs and salad; one with burgers and hot dogs; one with Caesar salads, wraps and barbecue sandwiches. Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station has an Asian flair with noodle bowls, beef and broccoli with steamed rice and sushi.

Throughout the park there are walk-up windows for everything from the legendary Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in Adventureland to ice cream at Mrs. Potts’ Cupboard in Fantasyland and funnel cakes at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square.

Acclaimed Animators Celebrate Work and Teachings of Disney's Legendary Walt Stanchfield at Comic-Con International

Panel to Discuss Inspirational Principles of Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes

EMERYVILLE, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- AnimationMentor.com (Animation Mentor) and Don Hahn of The Walt Disney Studios announce an inspiring panel discussion at Comic-Con International with acclaimed animators about the life and influence of Disney mentor, teacher, and artist Walt Stanchfield. Open to animators and animation enthusiasts alike, the panel discussion celebrates the launch of the new book, Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes, the complete series of animation lectures by Walt Stanchfield.

"Walt Stanchfield has contributed so much to the animation industry through his incredible body of work and the mentorship of a generation of phenomenal animators," said Bobby Beck, chief executive officer and cofounder of Animation Mentor. "This panel is an amazing opportunity to hear the best animators of our time talk about the influence Walt had on their life and work as well as share insightful lessons that are highlighted in the book, Drawn to Life."

About the Comic-Con International Panel

Date: Thursday, July 23

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Room 32AB, San Diego Convention Center

For more information about Comic-Con International, visit http://www.comic-con.org/cci/


Don Hahn, The Walt Disney Studios

Don Hahn is a two-time Academy Award nominee and film producer responsible for producing some of the most successful Walt Disney Animated films of the past 20 years, including Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.


Glen Keane, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Glen Keane is an animator, author, illustrator and director. He is currently executive producer and animation director for Disney's Rapunzel. Keane is best known for his character animation in Disney classics, including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan.

Eric Goldberg, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Eric Goldberg is an animator and film director who is currently supervising animator for Disney's upcoming 2D feature The Princess and the Frog. Creator of Aladdin's Genie, he was the supervising animator for Phil in Hercules and co-director of Pocahontas. Goldberg is also the author of the book Character Animation Crash Course.

Tom Sito, Professor and Animator

Tom Sito is a 30-year veteran of animated film production. He divides his time as a professional animator and adjunct professor of animation at University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California and lecturing on animation.

Ruben Procopio, Masked Avenger Studios

Ruben Procopio began his animation career at Disney at age 18, where he trained under Eric Larson, one of Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men". His film credits include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. In 2003, Procopio founded Masked Avenger Studios, which provides sculpture, design, comics and animation services.

About Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes

Published for the first time, Drawn to Life is a two-volume collection of the legendary lectures from longtime Disney animator Walt Stanchfield. For over 20 years, Walt helped breathe life into the new golden age of animation with these teachings at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and influenced such talented artists as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, and John Lasseter. This book represents the quintessential refresher for fine artists and film professionals, and is a vital tutorial for students who are now poised to be part of another new generation in the art form.

About Animation Mentor (AnimationMentor.com)

Animation Mentor is a state-of-the-art online animation program teaching students the skills needed to learn to animate like a professional animator in the studio environment. Focused 100% on character animation, the 18-month animation program is designed and taught by some of the industry's top professional animators from top studios. Different than an animation university, Animation Mentor's online campus environment provides students around the world with a convenient, flexible, and accessible learning environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By graduation, every student will have worked in a production-style environment with mentors who are working studio animators. Students learn how to accept guidance and criticism, to meet deadlines and to budget and schedule their time to succeed in a career in animation. The animation courses lead students to a diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation and are built with a focus on production studio skills, allowing students to get comfortable with the many challenges and opportunities they will experience when working in an animation career. Upon graduation, Animation Mentor coaches graduates and connects them to job opportunities with major recruiters, video game companies, and film studios. For more information, visit http://www.AnimationMentor.com.