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February 10, 2010

What's New? What's Next?

AllEars.Net's Mike Scopa and Jack Spence were at today's "What's New? What's Next?" presentation held at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Here they share some exciting new things we can expect to see over the next few months at the Most Magical Place on Earth!

What's New... What's Next!

That was the name given to the press conference held on Wednesday evening at the Disney's World of Sports Complex.

Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, World Wide Operations President Al Weiss, and Senior Vice President, Disney Sports Enterprises, Ken Potrock, made some announcements that will surely bring smiles to Walt Disney World fans around the globe.

Crofton addressed the audience by saying how Walt Disney World is always working to give guests, -new reasons to visit Walt Disney World!" and also new ideas such as the "Give a Day Get a Disney Day" celebration and how WDW in 2010 wants to inspire 1 million volunteers to give a day of service to one of the thousands of community organizations that are registered with the Hands on Network.

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Once these volunteers have contributed their day of service Disney wants to celebrate that volunteer spirit with a day of fun in the parks.

Crofton then discussed the success of the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. She went on to say that the AI experience helps WDW cast members to get to know guests better. They have found it to be quite inspirational to learn more and more about the guests.

She also discussed how guests have well received the newly refurbished Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom.

Crofton then talked about the many more options given to DVC members with Kidani Village, Bay Lake Towers, and the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort.

She also mentioned the well-received new dining experiences of Kidani Village's Sanaa and Kouzzina by Cat Cora on the Boardwalk.

That's What's New" then she told the audience What's Next!

" The term "Summer Nightastic" was introduced to describe the 2010 Summer nights at Walt Disney World.
" Crofton announced to a very happy audience that the Main Street Electrical Parade was coming back to The Magic Kingdom in early June 2010. This time the ELP will have Tinker Bell leading the way. Also, Snow White and Pinocchio will also be joining the parade.

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" Also this summer The Magic Kingdom will have a new fireworks spectacular at The Magic Kingdom.
" At Disney's Hollywood Studios the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will welcome "drop-ins" with new surprises, new lighting effects, and a new drop sequence.

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" The Sounds Like Summer concert series returns to Epcot and there are plans to expand Disney's Animal Kingdom evening hours.

Al Weiss, president of Worldwide Operations, took the podium and talked about things on the horizon.

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" Fantasyland Expansion (groundbreaking 2010) - This three-year construction project will result in the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. For the first time, guests will be able to step into their favorite Disney fairy tales to have more magical and immersive encounters with Disney princesses. Each princess will have her own themed village within Fantasyland Forest. At Dreams Come True with Cinderella, guests can meet Cinderella face to face in her country chateau, share a dance or train to be one of her Royal Knights. At A Birthday Surprise for Sleeping Beauty, it is party time inside the Briar Rose Cottage, nestled in a lush, forest setting. The three good fairies give Aurora the Sweet 16 party she never received, and everyone's invited to join in the surprise celebration. And an enchanted mirror will transport guests from Belle's father's cottage to Beast's castle for an enchanting storytelling performance during Enchanted Tales with Belle.

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" The new district will invite parkgoers to the Be Our Guest Restaurant, one of three enchanted dining rooms inside Beast's castle. And just outside the castle in Belle's Village will be Gaston's Tavern, another themed eatery. Meanwhile, in the new Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction, Ariel and all her friends will entertain in a ride-through adventure featuring favorite songs from the popular animated feature.

" The big top comes to Dumbo's Flying Circus with a magical flight high above brand-new circus grounds, twice the size of the classic attraction. Inside a stylized tent, guests enjoy midway games and other fun-filled experiences.

" Perfecting Paradise - A Magical Makeover for Castaway Cay (2010) - Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradise in the tropical waters of the Bahamas, is getting an extra dose of pixie dust. Enhancements include an expanded family beach, a floating water platform featuring two twisting water slides, two fresh-water play areas for guests to cool off, a new teen retreat and 20 new private rental cabanas offering the ultimate in beachside luxury. The additional island amenities are scheduled to be complete by summer 2010.

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" New Sailings for Disney Magic and Disney Wonder (2010, 2011) - In 2010, the Disney Magic will sail to Europe for an unprecedented five-month season of Northern European and Mediterranean cruises. Book-ending the summer season of 12-night Northern European Capitals cruises, the Disney Magic will once again return to the Mediterranean for 10- and 11-night cruises, with three new ports of call - Tunis in northern Africa, the island nation of Malta, and Ajaccio, Corsica. In the summer of 2010, the Disney Wonder will sail four- and five-night cruises to Nassau, Key West and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. In the summer of 2011, the Disney Wonder will sail for the first time to Alaska, with seven-night cruises calling on Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

" Disney Cruise Line Expanding Its Fleet (2011, 2012) - The Walt Disney Company is expanding its successful cruise vacation business by adding two new ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, to set sail in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Two decks taller than the existing Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the new 1,250-stateroom liners will more than double the passenger capacity for Disney Cruise Line. Now under construction, the Disney Dream will offer magical innovations, engaging children's spaces, family entertainment and immersive experiences for which Disney Cruise Line is renowned.

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" ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Relaunch (February 2010) - A re-imagining project involving ESPN and the Disney sports complex, the leading multi-sport venue in the nation, aims to create immersive and entertaining sports experiences for athletes, coaches and fans by incorporating signature elements of ESPN in ways that will connect athletes and coaches with their favorite ESPN programs, personalities and elements. Guests will discover a new welcome center, a digital center where video captured by 56 high-definition robotic and handheld cameras across the 220-acre sports campus is edited for display on 40 video screens and two "jumbotrons" throughout the complex as part of a veritable Wide World of SportsCenter, and the new ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, technical staff will continue work in the Innovation Lab to develop ground-breaking ESPN on-air products - using the action throughout the complex as a real-world testing environment.

" That's not all. Exciting coming attractions for Disney include new dining, retail - and even extend to a "galaxy far, far away." An all-new 3-D version of the popular Star Tours attraction launches in 2011 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, featuring immersive new elements that will take guests to many familiar places in the "Star Wars" galaxy.

February 12, 2010

Give A Day, Get A Disney Day Press Event

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AllEars.Net's Jack Spence and Mike Scopa attended the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day press event held Thursday, February 11, 2010. The following are images from the day's activities.

This week Walt Disney World's "Give a Day Get a Disney Day" promotion was given its official launch with a huge celebration of volunteerism at Epcot.

The celebration was held in what was formerly known as the Millennium Village portion of the United Kingdom pavilion in World Showcase -- now called World Showplace.

A few thousand people were in attendance, notably volunteer families elected from across the United States, representing their home state. These volunteer families were being honored by Walt Disney World and their partner in this venture, the Points of Light Institute and the Hands On Network.


Walt Disney World Ambassador Introduces Day's Events
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Tom Staggs, Chairmen of Walt Disney World Parks and Resort opened up the ceremony by welcoming everyone with a special welcome to these families. He had a little help from Kermit the Frog who made a special surprise appearance.
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WDW Ambassador Talks to Kermit the Frog about Volunteering
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Staggs focused on how the theme for 2010 was volunteerism and how the goal was to inspire one million people to go out and do volunteer service for their community.

He then smiled and reported that as of this week 600,000 volunteers have already committed to or have already performed volunteer service within their community.

He mentioned how Walt Disney World's own cast members have served as role models for volunteering and reported that over the last 25 years cast members have contributed over 5.5 million hours of volunteer service to their communities including most recent efforts to help the people of Haiti.

Walt Disney World is partnering with the Hands On Network and the Points of Light Institute in this push to inspire volunteerism across the country.

The Hands On Network has over 70,000 organizations answering the call to serve. It's the largest volunteer network in the world.

Staggs introduced Co-Founder of the Hand On Network and Points of Light Institute CEO, Michelle Nunn who addressed the audience.

Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network and CEO of the Points of Light Institute
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Nunn talked about the spirit of volunteerism and how this partnering with Walt Disney World had created an "extraordinary lift" for volunteerism across the country.

She proclaimed this partnership to be the most creative volunteer/corporate initiative effort she has ever experienced and applauded everyone's effort.

She paid homage to the "amazing families" in the audience and talked about just how much this program has accomplished so far.

Over 10,000 community organizations have signed on since the announcement of the program.

The Hands On Network in Jacksonville, FLA has collected eight tons of canned food representing 10,000 meals.

Volunteer families have donated 4000 books for after school programs and have created 800 disaster kits.

Over 60,000 blankets have been collected for those in need.

Nunn closed out by saying Disney's "Give a Day Get a Disney Day" promotion and partnership with the Hands On network is really "helping dreams come true."

JAMMitors were on hand
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Chairman Staggs stood in front of a wall of white balloons and mentioned that behind the balloons was a structure made of over 150,000 cans of food that will be boxed up, loaded onto trucks, and delivered to food banks in Central Florida, Miami, and Atlanta.

The 150,000 plus cans represented 70,000 meals and was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the Largest Structure of Canned Goods Ever Assembled.

He then introduced Ty Pennington, star of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" to help reveal the structure.

Pennington asked for some helpers and Mickey Mouse and Goofy were happy to assist.

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Amid fanfare and cries of "Raise those Balloons" the several hundred balloons rose to the ceiling to reveal an enormous wall of canned foods with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy peeking over the edge.

Mickey Mouse canned goods sculpture
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Pluto canned goods sculpture
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Canned Goods for the Record-Breaking Sculpture
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Later on several of the Disney Channel stars came on hand to help put together disaster kits for Haiti and help box and load the canned goods onto a special truck convoy that was led around World Showcase by Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Sweetums.

Friends for Change, Project Green -- Hands On Activities
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Haiti Care Kits were Assembled
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Mike Scopa Interviews Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network and CEO of the Points of Light Institute
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Honorary VoluntEARS Cavalcade at Epcot
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Be sure to check back later for more on this event, and Mike Scopa's interview with Michelle Nunn.

February 13, 2010

Interview with Michelle Nunn: CEO of the Points of Light Institute

AllEars.Net's Mike Scopa and Jack Spence recently attended the "Celebrate Volunteers" press event at Walt Disney World, where they had the chance to speak with Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute and co-Founder of the Hands On Network.

Text: Mike Scopa
Photo: Jack Spence

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I was able to track down and spend some time with Michelle Nunn who wears two hats: one as the CEO of the Points of Light Institute and secondly as the co-Founder of the Hands On network.

I asked her how she got involved with volunteerism.

She said that some 20 years ago she had met some folks like her who wanted to get into volunteer service. They combined their initiative to create Hands On Atlanta, the first volunteer organization of its kind anywhere.

Soon other organizations around the country began to pop up and soon there were sets of these organizations all becoming part of the Hands On Network.

She mentioned how then President Bush had called for 1000 points of light and how that got the Points of Light Institute on its way and how eventually that and the Hands On Network were on a course to one day merge"which happened about two years ago.

Since that merger, the executives at Walt Disney World contacted her and wanted to discuss an initiative and theme for 2010 on volunteerism.
The time and economic climate seemed right and the goal was to make the awareness for volunteers, to call for service across the country, and most notably work towards creating a new, younger generation of volunteers.

It took nine months of hard work to design and get the program in place.
Since the program was launched over 10,000 organizations has signed on to be a part of the effort.

So how does one get involved in the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program?

Michelle says to go to www.disneyparks.com and look for instructions on how to go about serving your community.There is a pipeline of projects just waiting for volunteers.

She says with a twinkle in her eye that she would love to see all who sign up to be lifelong volunteers.

The partnership with Walt Disney World allows the combination of Walt Disney World's "extraordinary and unrivaled assets" along with Hands On Network expertise in how to create and manage volunteer projects and how to activate people to do service, to create and implement and amazing program to inspire people from across the country to volunteer.
I asked her what has been most heartwarming about this program and she did not hesitate in saying that the testimonials from the organizations and volunteers are at the top of her list.

She mentioned how people like architects and technologists are stepping up to offer their skill sets to the volunteer efforts.

She mentioned the wonderful volunteer stories like Amanda from Canada, who from the age of 2 has been selling lemonade to raise money for all kinds of causes and at the age of 12 has already raised more than $135,000. That is a lot of lemonade.

Michelle also mentioned the wonderful networking of ideas that has resulted from this initiative and how sharing good ideas can only reap positive dividends.

Most of all she loves the fact that the partnership with Disney will Inspire young families and young people and create a whole new generation of citizens who will serve their communities and serve as change agents.
There are so many benefits from having young children get involved.

" Studies have shown that children who grow up in a household where at least one parent volunteers are twice as likely to be active citizens and participate as volunteers in their adult life.

" Studies have also shown that those who participate in service learning programs are more likely to complete college because they are developing self esteem and emotional intelligence and find ways to navigate the world around them.

" It has also been found that young people who volunteer at least one hour a week had 50% less chance of risky behavior such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol.

I asked her about the day's events and she said it was nice to see the volunteers be the stars of the show.

I asked her if there would be more honoring of volunteers this year and said to me she was looking forward to finding that out herself.

Finally she remarked how wonderful it was to partner with a corporation who certainly knows how to engage its customers and finds exciting ways to profile these volunteers.

I said to her that Disney has always been a great storyteller and we have heard many stories so far but we have many more to come. She agreed.

You can read about the Points of Light Institute at www.pointsoflight.org
and the Hands On network at www.handsonnetwork.org where you will find local volunteer organizations and toolkits to help you get started.
Get involved"what you will receive in return for your service will be priceless smiles and an indescribable feeling of gratification" not to mention a Disney Day.

February 26, 2010

ESPN Wide World of Sports Relaunches Amid Much Fanfare

by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars.Net Senior Editor

"We want to make you feel like you've made the big time."

Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises, and George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, were just two of several speakers who repeated this mantra yesterday during the day-long relaunching of what was formerly known as Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

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Now christened ESPN Wide World of Sports, the 220-acre complex hosted a number of members of the media (including yours truly), as we toured the facilities, which encompass two field houses, a baseball stadium, soccer and softball fields, clay tennis courts, and much more. During the tour, we were treated to an inside look at all the recent changes that have taken place at the complex recently to "merge the two powerhouse brands of ESPN and Disney" in an effort to create an "immersive experience" for guests.

What's New:

--The Innovation Lab. This lab actually opened in October of last year, but what's new is the announcement that this location will be the hub for developing and testing ESPN's 3D technology. Chuck Pagano, Executive Vice president of Technology for ESPN, called the lab a petrie dish for growing and testing methods of "all things broadcast". We were given a sneak peek of 3D television, which ESPN will debut officially in June, when ESPN covers the FIFA World Cup Soccer games held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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-- ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. The former All Star Sports Café has been completely renovated and rethemed with ESPN décor and slogans.

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-- Playstation pavilion. Adjacent to the grill is the new Playstation pavilion, which houses 64 gaming stations (16 pods, each with four games), plus a kiosk featuring the game Singstar. Five different games are currently available for play, including brand new titles not yet available to the public. Visitors to the pavilion will be able to register a unique gamer name and pay for play time in increments of 30, 60 or 90 minutes. The Playstation pavilion is the first of what the ESPN WWoS complex is calling a "wait buster." As it was explained, this area will be the perfects time-killing location for athletes at the complex who have a game early in the morning and then another in the afternoon. That gap is not enough time to go to the theme parks to play, so they can visit the pavilion to while they wait for their next event.

--Customized Tee Shirts. Through a partnership with Champion the WWoS complex now has several locations at which athletes can design their own t-shirts to commemorate specific achievements or events. For example, if they have participated in a tournament, they could design a tee with their particular bracket, or scores. One such location is in the Josten Center, but others are mobile units that can be positioned at various spots around the different fields.

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In addition to all the recent changes at the complex, speakers like Potrock and Bodenheimer revealed what's in store for the complex in the future.

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-- At least 25 new events that will appeal to a wide range of guests, including untraditional events like "major league gaming." Other events will include a new baseball tournament in partnership with Rawlings called the "Golden Glove"; and other events that will focus on the health and wellness of children.

-- New and enhanced partnerships with corporate sponsors such as Josten's, which is now the exclusive medal and trophy provider for ESPN WWoS, CIGNA, CLIF energy bars and gels; and others.

The overall goal, as restated time and again throughout the day, is to make an athlete who comes to the complex loving sports, walk out knowing "that sports loves them back."

As the sun began to set, a host of sports celebrities and ESPN personalities assembled, walking the "green" carpet at the complex entrance. Notables including football star Chad Ochocinco and golfing great Annika Sorenstam stopped for photo ops and autographs, then joined the fans and others to watch the official opening ceremonies.

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Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, Potrock, Bodenheimer, and Florida governor Charlie Crist, stressed the significance of this "reimagined" effort. Crist also emphasized that this complex's rebranding and new events would help boost the state's economy through growing tourism and jobs. He concluded, "It's the right thing to do, and the right time to do it."

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After the officials' remarks, Garrett Hartley, kicker for the 2010 Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints, came out to "kick-off" the opening by booting a football (brought out by Football Player Mickey) through the entrance's "goal posts" accompanied by fireworks and a shower of confetti.

The day's events concluded with a special performance of the Harlem Globetrotters, hosted by "coaches" Mike Golic and Mike Greenburg of ESPN. After more than an hour of slapstick tomfoolery, it came to no one's surprise that the Globetrotters won the game.

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About February 2010

This page contains all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in February 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2010 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.