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D23 Expo Revisited – Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

The 2013 D23 Expo was last weekend, and it truly a a magical event for all Disney fans who attended!  This was my first D23 Expo and I enjoyed every minute of it: I met Disney Legends, new friends, and learned what being a true Disney Fan was all about!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Once we got into the convention center, the first day’s main event was the Animation Session hosted by John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer for Pixar and Walt Disney Studios as well as Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.  We were given glimpses into the next several movies in the pipeline for Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, and Disneytoons Studios.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories
We were even treated to guest appearances from voice actors Dane Cook from Planes, Bill Hader from Monsters University, and Josh Gad and Kristen Bell from Frozen, the much anticipated new animated feature from Walt Disney Studios.  We even got a special appearance from John Ratzenberger!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Bill Hader from Monsters University and Pixar Veteran, John Ratzenberger

At the end of the session Broadway great Idina Menzel sang “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen and brought the house down!

After the main session, which ran five hours, we were all hungry and headed outside to the row of food trucks that D23 had brought in. I enjoyed a meatball sandwich that was incredible.

After lunch, it was time for walking around the Collector’s Gallery, where Disneyana collectors from all over the world were gathered to buy, sell, and trade Disney collectibles from vinylmations to animation cells from classic Disney features.

Pat Carrol, the voice of Ursula from Disney’s Little Mermaid, Imagianeer and Disney Legend Bob Gurr were also there signing autographs and taking pictures, it was incredible.  There were also some amazing collector’s items that were available for sale.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Disney Legend Bob Gurr

The next day was filled with smaller sessions in the morning until it was time for the Walt Disney Studios Live Action Feature Movies panel.  We were treated to previews from Marvel’s Thor: Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Captain America.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Angelina Jolie for Maleficent at D23

The highlight of the day was the presentation for Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Wait Disney and P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins.  It was a great preview and concluded with an appearance from Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak who portrayed the Sherman Brothers in the movie.  Schwartzman and Novak were accompanied by Richard Sherman, one half of the legendary Sherman Brothers songwriting team.  They sang “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” from Mary Poppins as they were surrounded by kite flying dancers.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

Disney Legend Richard Sherman, B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman

On the final day, we were able to sit in a session with Disney Legends, Bob Gurr, Marty Sklar, Alice Davis, and X Atencio called Working with Walt.  These are some of the very Imagineers who actually worked with Walt Disney.  It was an incredible experience to listen to their stories and learn more about some of the great Disney movies and the creation of Disneyland.

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent walking around the vendor booths and some of the incredible Disney Consumer Products.  We got to experience some of the upcoming Disney products before they were released.  We even got some signed lithographs from Disney Consumer Product Artists!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

 One thing we learned was to divide and conquer.  One of us would wait in line for whatever main event we wanted to see, while the rest of us were able to walk around or sit in on other smaller sessions.  If you attend the next D23 event, don’t forget to bring tons of patience, the lines are super long, but it does give you the opportunity to make new friends and read all those emails you have been meaning to get to!

D23 Expo Revisited - Celebrities, Legends, Long Lines, and Magical Memories

D23 was an incredible event.  We are already looking to the next one in 2015.  We discovered that we were not alone in our love and passion for Walt Disney and all of his wonderful creations.

Disney Announces Transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs

Walt Disney World Resort will soon break ground on a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney, representing the largest expansion in its history. Downtown Disney will be transformed into Disney Springs, a unique destination that will treat guests to significantly more shopping, dining and entertainment offerings amid beautiful open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm.

Walt Disney World® Resort will soon break ground on a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney, representing the largest expansion in its history. Downtown Disney will be transformed into Disney Springs
Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix of offerings from Disney and other noteworthy brands. From boutique shops to unique flagship anchor stores, guests will be able to explore a variety of shopping and dining experiences and discover offerings unlike any other currently available in Central Florida.

Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, resulting in more than 150 establishments.

Walt Disney World® Resort will soon break ground on a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney, representing the largest expansion in its history. Downtown Disney will be transformed into Disney Springs

Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs will include four outdoor districts interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront. In addition to a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry, the destination features:

  • The Town Center, which offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect.
  • A colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing with inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.
  • West Side that provides an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment, along with a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below.
  • The family-friendly Marketplace that will continue to delight guests of all ages by combining new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway, along with classic Disney favorites, including an expanded World of Disney store.

Construction is slated to begin next month with completion expected in 2016.

New Pins to Collect or Trade Coming to Disney Parks in 2013

New Pins to Collect or Trade Coming to Disney Parks in 2013

When I served as project manager for Disney Pin Trading, I was often asked by guests which pins they should collect or trade. My best advice for someone starting a Disney pin collection is to pick a certain theme and trade for what you like. For years, we have offered mini-collections that are an easy way to jump start a collection. I spoke with Jeanne Lewis, merchandiser for Disney pins, about some of these new collections arriving in 2013.

“We have new limited edition pin collections coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts next year,” explained Jeanne. “Some pins will be released each month, while others may be released every other month or once each quarter. I like these mini-collections because they have one consistent story. I also like making these pins extra special by adding different elements like stained glass or sculpted metal.”

 new limited edition pin collections coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts

Fans at Disneyland will see the next chapter of the “Piece of Disneyland Resort History” collection. For this series, Jeanne acquired costume pieces from the Creative Costuming team from various Audio-Animatronics figures. I like the “it’s a small world” pin that features pieces of the Japanese girl’s obi sash from the attraction’s final scene. Each pin in the series will have an edition size of 1,000.

The “Window to the Magic” collection is also coming to Disneyland Resort. This pin series features scenes from classic Disney animated films where magical things took place by windows. The pins in this series will have edition sizes of 1,000.

The “Window to the Magic” collection

For Walt Disney World Resort, there will be a pin-of-the-month collection called “Good Luck / Bad Luck.” This playful collection shows there are two sides to every story – lucky and unlucky. I thought the Flower pin was funny (poor Flower!). The edition size for these pins will be 1,000.

For Walt Disney World Resort, there will be a pin-of-the-month collection called “Good Luck / Bad Luck.”

I convinced Jeanne to let me tease two new surprise pin collections for 2013. There will be six different pins in each collection, released at various dates throughout the year. The Walt Disney World Resort collection is called “Remember When” and gives a nod to classic Disney attractions and characters. The Disneyland Resort collection has images of vintage Disney characters in stylized crests. The surprise pins will each have an edition size of 750.

 

 

 

 

 

Ahoy! Changes Are Afoot at Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom Park

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I’m excited to have a bit of news to share on one of my all-time favorite attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean here at Magic Kingdom Park.

http://kingdommagictravel.com/disneyworld/theme-parks/magic-kingdom/pirates.htm

This classic Disney attraction, which inspired a four-part film franchise, has undergone a few changes in recent years due to the success of these movies. First, Captain Jack Sparrow made his debut at the attraction, then Captain Barbossa (pictured above) appeared aboard a pirate ship. More recently, the ghostly apparitions of knaves Davy Jones and Blackbeard have materialized.

Our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering dropped us a line today to let us know that something from the most recent film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” is about to be added to the attraction here at Walt Disney World Resort. Can you guess what it is?

Updates to the attraction will be made overnight, so Pirates of the Caribbean will remain open to guests during park hours.

Keep a weather eye on the Kingdom Magic Vacations Blog for more details!

What You Might Not Know About Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort

I’m a big fan of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. You walk through the resort’s doorway in Florida and, suddenly, you’ve been transported to America’s Great Northwest. The seven-story lobby is built with eighty-five truckloads of Lodgepole Pine, brought from Oregon and Montana. The layered look of the main 82-foot fireplace duplicates the layered rock strata of the Grand Canyon. The resort’s 727 guest rooms reflect themes of wildlife, nature and Native American designs.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has something for everyone — fans of American history, lovers of the great outdoors, and folks who just want to relax by the two pools and the white-sand beach. For fans of classic Disney animation, guest rooms just went through a refresh – including the addition of shower tiles featuring Meeko from “Pocahontas,” “Bambi,” and Chip ‘n Dale. Here’s a video tour around the resort.

What do you enjoy most about this resort? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Disney Cruise Line Offers Immersive Experiences and Adventurous Activities for Kids of All Ages

Aboard Disney Cruise Line, it’s great to be a kid. Children can let their imaginations set sail in nearly an entire deck customized just for them, teens and tweens have places to gather, and the smallest seafarers are cared for in colorful spaces with whimsical themes. Dedicated areas and customized interactive programs inspire, entertain and spark the imagination of children ages three months to 17 years.

While children are enjoying the most extensive youth activity areas at sea, parents can enjoy the ship “worry-free,” thanks to an onboard mobile phone service that allows kids and counselors to contact parents anytime and anywhere on the ship. Plus, all Disney Cruise Line youth activities are supervised by specially trained counselors and feature some of the longest operating hours at sea, providing greater flexibility for parents and even more fun for kids.

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Flounder’s Reef / It’s a Small World
Infants and toddlers ages three months to three years enjoy life “under the sea” at “The Little Mermaid”-themed Flounder’s Reef Nursery (Disney Magic, Disney Wonder). In the It’s a Small World Nursery (Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream), little ones enter a whimsical world inspired by the classic Disney theme park attraction. Trained counselors care for and entertain children with toys, books, videos, crafts and games. The nurseries offer some of the longest operating hours and some of the lowest hourly rates for baby and toddler care in the cruise industry, allowing parents to explore adventures ashore, relax on the ship and enjoy time on their own.
As an added convenience, all baby products needed for a Disney cruise can be pre-arranged and delivered directly to a guest’s stateroom upon arrival.

Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab
It’s not an official port of call, but children feel like they’ve been transported to Peter Pan’s Never Land at the whimsical Oceaneer Club (Disney Magic, Disney Wonder). This child-friendly oasis, themed to Captain Hook’s pirate ship, contains a play area with slide and rope bridge, a “captain’s closet” filled with costumes and toys, and an open seating area for arts, crafts, games, storytelling, musical fun and dancing. On the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, Oceaneer Club is a child-friendly oasis that transports kids to the magical lands of Disney fairies, friendly monsters, adventuresome toys and undersea exploration.

Kids go to “infinity and beyond” at the space- and science-themed Oceaneer Lab (Disney Magic, Disney Wonder). Twinkling star-like lights and giant planetary spheres fill the room along with an oversized Buzz Lightyear figure. Computers with video games and music stations begins the exploration, and kids can participate in crazy experiments at the interactive science lab, karaoke jams, pajama parties, sports challenges and more. On the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, kids can sketch original, hand-drawn art, bring to life computer-animated characters and create and record their own original songs.

In both the Club and Lab on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, kids can have real-time conversations with Crush, the animated sea turtle from “Finding Nemo” and Stitch the mischievous animated space alien. A Magic PlayFloor gives kids the chance to soar above London with Peter Pan, step into the futuristic world of Tron or use their own movements to control the tilt of a giant virtual maze.

On all Disney ships, children can personalize their cruise vacation by selecting activities and events based on interest. With no age restrictions, kids and parents select programs to create a customized experience for each child. Best of all, children of different ages – siblings, extended family and friends – can participate in youth activities together.

Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are open to children ages three to 10. Popular activities include:

Experiences that draw inspiration from classic Disney stories and popular Disney characters:

  • During Cinderella’s Royal Ball, young guests can feel like royalty as Cinderella shows them how to be a prince or princess.
  • So You Want to be a Pirate offers adventurous tales of the high seas, pirate training for young buccaneers, swashbuckling fun and a special appearance by Captain Hook.
  • Children are immersed in the world of Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story” during Toy Story Boot Camp. Led by Corporal Green, toy recruits participate in interactive activities.

Hands-on activities that appeal to children’s sense of creativity and invention:

  • The next great celebrity chef could be discovered at Ratatouille Cooking School, where children work together to bake tasty chocolate chip cookies.
  • During the Animal Tracking Series, children discover that conservation can be fun as they learn about endangered animals, create an animal tracking device and locate (plush) cotton-top tamarin monkeys using telemetry tracking on Castaway Cay.
  • In Flubber, one of the most popular youth activities on Disney Cruise Line, children join the Professor in creating magical green goo and other interesting concoctions.

Other onboard youth activities include playful programs such as Mouseketeer Training and Little Einsteins for preschoolers; challenge-and-solution games like Stitch’s Great Adventure and Detective School with Goofy; high-action group activities such as Kim Possible: Cruise Control and The Challenge of Davy Jones; and unstructured free time to enjoy the youth areas, play on computers and spend time having fun with new friends.

Vibe and Edge
Vibe (ages 14 to 17) and Edge (ages 11 to 13) are ultra cool teen- and tween-only hangouts. The areas are the perfect chill-out spots with comfy couches, computer games, plasma-screen TVs, MP3 players and other chill-out necessities. These trendy and tranquil areas offer an elite getaway for teens and tweens to set their own vacation agenda – whether socializing with new friends, playing the latest video games, experiencing cutting-edge technology or just chilling out. Plus, organized activities such as dance parties, trivia games and sports contests keep teens and tweens engaged and entertained.

At Vibe on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, teens have their own private deck area outside – a mod space for fun in the sun without ever leaving the teen club.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, click here.

Vacationers Enjoy “Hakuna Matata” at New “Lion King” Family Suites

Opening Day at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

The Pride Lands of Africa is the scenic setting for the “Lion King,” the third phase of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opening today at Walt Disney World Resort.  The new Lion King wing celebrates the journey of Simba, with landscapes and theming that reflect playful and poignant scenes from the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney Pictures animated film “The Lion King.”

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

In the new Lion King wing, guests embark on a journey through Africa with encounters with characters and scenic moments from the film classic at every turn. King Mufasa towers atop Pride Rock while his evil brother Scar slinks in the shadows beyond the elephant graveyard. There’s Pumbaa and Timon with a young Simba dancing across a log bridge in true carefree “hakuna matata” fashion. Scar’s crazed and comical hyenas “guard” the elephant graveyard, a fun area sure to delight youngsters.

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Beneath the watchful eyes of Banzai, Shenzi and Ed, the comical hyenas in Disney’s “The Lion King,” guests channel their inner lion cub while visiting the elephant graveyard in the Lion King courtyard

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

The storytelling comes to life inside the 320 family suites. Zazu takes center stage on the headboards while Pumbaa and Timon decorate the shower curtain. Youngsters can rest on a leaf-shaped chair or sleep alongside Simba who slumbers at the head of one of the beds.

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

The Lion King wing marks the third in the four-phase opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Earlier this summer, 320 “Finding Nemo” family suites and 480 “Cars” family suites opened. Each of four distinctly designed wings of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort celebrates rich storytelling, spirited characters, original sketches and playfulness with colorful icons and whimsical theming inspired by classic Disney and Disney•Pixar films.

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Zazu invites guests to enter the Pride Lands of Africa, the focal point of the Lion King wing at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Timon, Pumbaa and Simba take a stroll through the courtyard of the new Lion King wing at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

New “Lion King” Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

The whimsical property, situated adjacent to Disney’s Pop Century Resort, offers rates from $248 per night. The 1,120 family suites include two bathrooms, a kitchenette and three separate sleeping areas that can sleep up to six. The 864 standard rooms at the “Little Mermaid” wing, opening in September, will sleep up to four, with rates as low as $94.

Vintage Walt Disney World: The Disney Wonder Debuts

Today back in 1999, the Disney Wonder arrived at Port Canaveral for the first time after leaving Italy. Below is a shot of the ship pulling into port behind its sister ship the Disney Magic.

Disney Wonder arrives at Port Canavera

As the second ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Wonder has many unique features that distinguish it from the other ships, including the Ariel statue in the atrium, Triton’s restaurant, Route 66, and Donald and Huey on the ship’s stern.

Disney Wonder

This year, the Disney Wonder voyaged to Hawaii for the first time, made its first call to Seattle and soon will depart for cruises to the Caribbean from Miami in December. That’s a lot of firsts for this classic Disney Cruise Line ship!

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