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September 2, 2015

The Force Awakens Around the World: Star Wars Fans Invited to Join Epic Global Event on YouTube

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GLENDALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE) -- Star Wars: The Force Awakens products are set to be unveiled in the world’s first-ever global live toy unboxing event. Unfolding over 18 hours in 15 cities and 12 countries, the event will see highlights from the range of epic merchandise revealed in a rolling New Year’s Eve style celebration featuring top digital stars from the Maker Studios network.

“The unboxing world continues to expand rapidly as audiences around the world connect with digital creators who share their passions. This shared fandom helps attract billions of monthly views and consistently puts the genre at the top of the YouTube charts.”

“Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the Saga,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Kicking off in Sydney, Australia on the morning of September 3, and continuing through Asia, Europe, Canada, and North & South America, selections from the new toy line will debut to global fanfare leading up to retailers around the globe opening their doors at midnight.

“Over the course of 18 hours, some of Maker Studios’ biggest stars will each be unboxing a new toy from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens product line in a different city around the world and sharing the experience live on YouTube,” said Leslie Ferraro, President, Disney Consumer Products. “We’ve seen tremendous excitement for these new products and can’t wait to see the global reaction from the Star Wars fan community.”

The Star Wars YouTube channel will host the live stream, which kicks off with the first unboxing in Sydney, Australia at 7:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, Sept. 3 (5:45 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 2), with the grand finale at Lucasfilm in San Francisco at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, Sept. 3. Each of the 15 locations will reveal a new product inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

These “unboxing” videos will feature online personalities sharing the excitement of opening the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Unboxing videos overall have captivated millions of Internet viewers and continue to grow in popularity. Eighteen of the top 100 most viewed YouTube Channels worldwide are dedicated to toys and toy unboxings. These 18 channels accounted for 8.1 billion views in Q1 2015.1

“We’re excited to be part of this first-of-its-kind initiative,” said Chris M. Williams, Chief Audience Officer, Maker Studios. “The unboxing world continues to expand rapidly as audiences around the world connect with digital creators who share their passions. This shared fandom helps attract billions of monthly views and consistently puts the genre at the top of the YouTube charts.”

The global unboxing event will incorporate traditional toy unboxers such as the popular EvanTubeHD, channels featuring families such as Bratayley, lifehack specialists such as ExpCaseros, gamers such as AlexBy11 and Star Wars fans from around the world, including Chris Pirillo, bringing with them a broad audience and appeal. The full schedule is available at www.StarWars.com.

Several countries will join the live stream from YouTube Spaces (Berlin, Tokyo, London), with Star Wars commentators Anthony Carboni and Andi Gutierrez hosting the event from the YouTube Space, Los Angeles.

Fans can tune in to watch live unboxings at home or on mobile devices, and also enjoy the latest trailers on the upcoming movie, commentary from special guests, fun product videos and demos, and footage from recent Star Wars events.

The global celebration culminates at midnight local time, when many retailers around the world will open their doors to fans to purchase Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys, collectibles, books, apparel and more. Visit starwars.com for more details on participating locations. Additionally, select Disney Store locations around the world will take part. More details are available at www.DisneyStore.com/ForceFriday.

Fans are encouraged to document their experiences around the event on social media using the hashtag #ForceFriday.

Morimoto Asia Announces September 30 Opening Date as Downtown Disney Nears its Transition to Disney Springs

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Chef Morimoto’s first pan-Asian restaurant will sit in the heart of the new Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

(NEW YORK) Sept. 2, 2015 – Morimoto Asia, a highly anticipated collaboration between Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, is pleased to announce a scheduled opening date of September 30, 2015 as Downtown Disney nears its transition to Disney Springs. The Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience will showcase flavors from across the Asian continent, all with Morimoto’s creative touch.

Morimoto Asia’s eye-catching, 36-foot tall, two-story layout has been designed by STUDIO V Architecture. It includes lounges, dining spaces, and an exhibition kitchen that allows guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the culinary action. The second-level sushi bar and lounge have a separate entrance. Morimoto Asia will debut as part of The Landing, one of four neighborhoods in the new Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

“This has been a project of passion for our team and Chef Morimoto. We can’t wait to open our doors to everyone visiting Disney Springs this fall and beyond,” said Nick Valenti, restaurateur and CEO of Patina Restaurant Group.

Morimoto Asia will offer an entirely new experience for the diner, due to the creativity of Chef Morimoto, already one of the most inventive forces in Asian cuisine. The menu is Chef Morimoto’s eclectic take on his favorite Asian flavors including moo shu pork, Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, and kung pao chicken. Dim sum will be served during weekend brunch service, and will include a variety of dumplings, shumai, bao, spare ribs and more. Being a true family-friendly destination, kids will have a variety of Asian-infused dishes including chicken ramen, kakuni pork bao, and karaage fried chicken.

The sushi bar will be a culinary experience unto itself. The intimate, 14-seat counter will offer pristine sushi and sashimi options from around the world. Items include toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, and salmon, as well as more ocean delicacies. A variety of specialty sushi rolls and selections from the raw bar will also be offered. While traditional sushi service will be limited to the guests seated at the sushi bar, a selection of specialty rolls and sushi platters will be available to the main restaurant’s diners.

Not to be outdone, the beverages at Morimoto Asia will also be destination-worthy. The beers will feature mostly Asian varieties in both bottle and on draft, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales.

In addition to the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will also be available by the bottle. The restaurant will also offer an assortment of sake, including the Morimoto signature line, plus a wine list showcasing wines of the world, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

“I am excited to create a menu that allows so many of my favorite Asian flavors to come alive all in one place,” said Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “I hope the guests at Morimoto Asia have as much fun eating this food as I have creating it.”

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Morimoto Asia will be a visually stunning addition to Disney Springs. The restaurant’s main entrance features a three-story glass corner, revealing the dramatic interior design including a multi-level bar and spiraling chandelier made of illuminated glass bottles. The sculptural bar at over 270 feet in length is one of the largest in the world, as it leaps through the soaring 36-foot tall space to connect the grand dining room on the ground floor with the upper level, wrapping around the grand stairway. Custom glass beaded chandeliers evoke the ocean delicacies of Chef Morimoto’s cuisine, and are reflected in antique mirrors, interspersed with glass mosaic artworks based on ancient Japanese prints. Chef Morimoto’s exclusive sushi bar is sculpted from hundreds of pieces of hand-selected ash wood, backed with a wall of hammered copper. Morimoto Asia’s two-story outdoor terrace provides patio seating with sweeping views of Disney Springs.

Morimoto Asia will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with dim sum. www.morimotoasia.com

September 1, 2015

Limited Time Breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

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From November 1, 2015 to January 23, 2016, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios will be open for breakfast, serving an all-inclusive meal that features breakfast pastries and a choice of appetizer, entree and non-alcoholic beverage. Entree options for adults include:

· Puff Pastry filled with Scrambled Eggs, Crab, Asparagus and Gruyere Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

· Grilled Beef Tenderloin on Baby Spinach, with Bacon and Cheddar Custard on a Roasted Tomato and Cheesy Horseradish Potatoes

· Scrambled Eggs, Crispy Bacon, Sausage Links and Breakfast Potatoes

· Macadamia Crusted Brioche French Toast with Mascarpone and Fresh Berries

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Breakfast entrees for children age 3-9 include:

· Scrambled Eggs, Crispy Bacon, and Breakfast Potatoes

· French Toast

· Mini-Mickey Waffle

This experience is available for a limited time and is in addition to the regular lunch and dinner offerings. The price for breakfast is $23.99 per adult and $12.99 per child age 3 to 9 (tax and gratuity not included). Meals are one table-service entitlement on the Disney Dining Plan. Reservations are now available through 407-WDW-DINE or online at Disneyworld.com/dine.

August 25, 2015

The Force is Strong! runDisney Star Wars Headed to WDW

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The Force is Even Stronger: Second runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Event Sprinting Toward Walt Disney World Resort in 2016
April 14-17 event in Florida joins Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort and features new Kessel Run Challenge and Dark Side Challenge

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – runDisney is summoning the Force today to announce another Star Wars-inspired intergalactic journey, this time to the dark side.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon -- the Dark Side” enters the galaxy April 14-17, 2016, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This new race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort, which will return in January as the “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side”.

“Ever since we launched the Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort, runners have been clamoring for more, so we’re thrilled to bring the Star Wars franchise together with the runDisney brand to Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “If the inaugural Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort is any indication, this new running adventure to the dark side is sure to be the out-of-this-world experience that runners have come to expect at runDisney events.’’

The new Star Wars race at Walt Disney World Resort will be a journey of personal achievement all its own, involving kids’ races, a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half marathon, plus a variety of Star Wars experiences, medals, events and merchandise inspired by a galaxy far, far away. Among its many features will be a unique 13.1-mile course that propels runners through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There will also be a Star Wars Dark Side Challenge -- running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days – that offers each finisher a Death Star-themed medal.

Jedi and Sith Lords who dare to experience both Star Wars races will have the chance to take on the Kessel Run Challenge — completing the Star Wars half marathon missions on both coasts. Kessel Run Challenge runners can earn a commemorative "Coast to Coast'' medal inspired by the Millennium Falcon starship. Race registration opens Sept. 22 at www.runDisney.com.

The addition of this second Star Wars race continues the recent wave of significant growth and popularity of runDisney events domestically and internationally. This is the second new runDisney race announced for 2016, joining the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25 at Disneyland Paris), and the fourth addition to the runDisney series in the last two years (Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Jan. 2015 and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Nov. 2014).

Each year more than 200,000 runners sign up for runDisney events, which often sell out in record time.

“We are committed to creating extraordinary experiences and events that appeal to runners of all ages and attract even more fans of our various brands and franchises to the sport of running, creating opportunities for them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle,’’ said Bisienere.

August 17, 2015

Happy HalloWishes Premium Dessert Package on Sale Now!

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Reservations open August 17 for the new Happy HalloWishes Premium Dessert Package, which will be available on certain nights at this year's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

This package includes the following:

-- reserved viewing location for Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade (the center flag pole area of Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A.)

-- a dessert party that features Halloween-Inspired treats at the festively decorated Tomorrowland Terrace, where you have a cool view of Cinderella Castle during the Happy HalloWishes Nighttime Spectacular. Special goodies include Halloween-themed chocolate-dipped strawberries, ghost meringues, candy corn panna cotta, peanut butter-chocolate pretzel “witch fingers,” spiced pumpkin cheesecake brownies, peanut butter “spider” whoopie pies, seasonal fruits and cheeses, hot chocolate, signature lemonades and Halloween specialties, and coffee and tea. Little ones will love mummy and candy corn cupcakes and “worm and dirt pots.”

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-- a toast with sparkling cider

-- a skull mug filled with candy as a trick-or-treat takeaway

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Cost is $69, $39 ages 3 to 11. For reservations visit DisneyWorld.com/DINE or call 407-WDW-DINE. NOTE that the standard Wishes Dessert Party will not take place on nights the premium HalloWishes package is offered.

This year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will be held on certain dates from September 15 through November 1.

-- Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

August 16, 2015

In Celebration of Digital HD and Blu-ray Release of "Cinderella," Disney Launches "A Million Words of Kindness" Campaign

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BURBANK, CA, August 15, 2015 – In celebration of the Digital HD and Blu-ray™ release of Disney’s “Cinderella” on September 15, 2015, Walt Disney Studios is proud to announce the “A Million Words of Kindness” Campaign, launched on August 15, 2015. Inspired by the spirit of Cinderella, this online initiative invites fans everywhere to pledge their commitment to be courageous and kind in the hopes of achieving “A Million Words of Kindness” in time for World Kindness Day on November 13th, 2015.

In the film “Cinderella,” Ella is told by her mother, “Where there is kindness, there is goodness; and where there is goodness, there is magic.” Now families everywhere can create this magic themselves by submitting words of courage and kindness at www.cinderellakindness.com, using the hashtags #Cinderella and #bekind or the handle @Cinderellamovie. These kind words and their entrant’s names will then appear on the site’s interactive “Kindness Wall.”

To join the “A Million Words of Kindness” Campaign, visit www.cinderellakindness.com and use your words to help make the world a kinder, more magical place!

Disney Showcases Live Action Slate with Exciting News Exclusively for Fans at D23 EXPO 2015

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STARS AND FILMMAKERS OF UPCOMING DISNEY, MARVEL STUDIOS AND LUCASFILM MOVIES FEATURED AT TODAY’S LIVE ACTION EVENT

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2015) — Disney, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm presented their live action film slates this morning at the D23 EXPO 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. The presentations, which revealed exclusive news and details about the upcoming live action films, were aided by live and video appearances from talent and filmmakers. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn hosted the highly anticipated biennial event.

“It’s quite something to be able to have Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm all on the same stage, and it’s tremendously gratifying to unveil our upcoming projects to our most dedicated fans first,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “We always have an incredible time at the D23 EXPO.”

After welcoming the crowd to D23 EXPO 2015, Horn introduced Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, and Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, to present overviews of the Marvel Studios and Disney live action slates. Later Horn returned to the stage to present the Lucasfilm film slate to the enthusiastic audience.

A recap of the presentation follows:

· Kevin Feige led off with a glimpse into the world of Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” featuring a video greeting by Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars as the title character, followed by a pre-production piece that offered fans a taste of the look and feel of the upcoming film, opening in U.S. theaters on October 26, 2016.

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· Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” marched into D23 EXPO with an introduction by its producer, Kevin Feige. To the delight of the audience, Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie showed up on stage to help Feige show never-seen-before footage from the movie. Before the footage rolled, Feige revealed that there was a special “Easter egg” for fans to find: it was aptly a nod to D23 EXPO.

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.

The movie stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, Tom Holland, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl. Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” is directed by Anthony & Joe Russo and produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee serve as executive producers and the screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” opens in the U.S. on May 6, 2016.

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· Sean Bailey took the stage to introduce the first film in the Disney live-action lineup, “The Finest Hours,” which is based on the remarkable true story of the most daring rescue mission in the history of the Coast Guard. Chris Pine, who plays Bernie Webber, the captain of the rescue boat, joined Bailey on stage to give fans a peak at the heroic action-thriller.

Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, the film, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and also stars Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz and Eric Bana, transports audiences to the heart of the action, creating a fully-immersive cinematic experience on an epic scale.

“The Finest Hours” is produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero and Doug Merrifield is the executive producer. The film is based on the book by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman and the screenplay is by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson. “The Finest Hours” storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016.

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· After an introduction by Sean Bailey, Jon Favreau, director of Disney’s upcoming “The Jungle Book,” welcomed to the stage newcomer Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of candidates to play man-cub Mowgli; plus Oscar® winners Ben Kingsley, who helps bring panther-turned-mentor Bagheera to life, and Lupita Nyong’o, who lends her voice to the protective mother wolf Raksha. Favreau treated fans to a sneak peek of footage from the film, and each guest received a copy of the dramatic teaser poster following the presentation. The all-new, live-action epic adventure showcases Mowgli’s journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s 1967 animated classic, the film features state-of the-art technology that immerses audiences in the lush world like never before. “The Jungle Book” also features the voices of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken. Jon Favreau and Brigham Taylor produce and the screenplay is by Justin Marks. “The Jungle Book” hits theaters in stunning 3D and IMAX 3D on April 15, 2016.

· Bailey welcomed Mia Wasikowska to the stage, where she thrilled fans with a preview of the all-new spectacular adventure, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories. Director James Bobin brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” in which Alice (Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. The film, which once again features Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall, introduces several new characters as well: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father, and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.

Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd, and Tim Burton produce and John G. Scotti is the executive producer. The screenplay is by Linda Woolverton. Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016.

In addition to attending the film’s presentation in Hall D23 at the Convention Center, fans had the opportunity to transform themselves into their favorite characters from Underland with an interactive experience, Travel Through the Looking Glass. By means of a first-to-market face-tracking application, D23 EXPO participants entering one of four photo booths located on the show floor were able to become the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, the White Rabbit or the Cheshire Cat with full digital-makeup and cinematic 3D objects seamlessly—and instantly—applied to their reflections, and in real time. They were then emailed a 10-second video and still image, which they could share on their favorite social media platforms.

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· Bryce Dallas Howard joined Bailey on stage to talk about her starring role in “Pete’s Dragon,” a reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film. The heartwarming adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon, “Pete’s Dragon” is directed by David Lowery, produced by Jim Whitaker, and executive-produced by Barrie Osborne, and also stars Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford. “Pete’s Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016.

· Bailey, with the help of Lupita Nyong’o, introduced the crowd to the upcoming film “Queen of Katwe,” which is based on the inspirational true story of a girl from the poverty-stricken slums of rural Uganda who dreams of becoming a champion chess player. Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler based on the book by Tim Crothers, “Queen of Katwe” stars Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and newcomer Medina Nalwanga.

· Bailey next presented “Beauty and the Beast,” including a musical greeting from stars Emma Watson, Josh Gad and Luke Evans—sent from the London set where they are currently filming. The live-action musical, a retelling of the studio’s animated classic, stars Watson, Dan Stevens, Evans, Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald and newcomer Nathan Mack. The film is directed by Bill Condon. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated classic, provides the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Tim Rice, as well as several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

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· A surprise visit by Johnny Depp, who showed up on stage completely decked out as Captain Jack Sparrow, brought down the house and thrilled fans at Sean Bailey’s presentation of the next exciting film in the “Pirates of the Caribbean “ franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea...including him. Captain Jack's only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.

The film is directed by Espen Sandberg & Joachim Rønning and stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kevin R. McNally, Kaya Scodelario, Golshifteh Farahani, Stephen Graham, David Wenham and Geoffrey Rush. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer and Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Joe Caracciolo, Jr. and Brigham Taylor serve as executive producers. Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” releases in U.S. theaters on July 7, 2017.

· Alan Horn took the stage again to present the Lucasfilm slate and timeline to the D23 EXPO fans. Horn told the audience that there were only 124 days to the release of Episode VII, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” on December 18, 2015 and added that there have been record-breaking trailer views and fantastic fan response. Touching on “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” Horn reminded the audience that Rian Johnson will be directing the film slated for release on May 26, 2017. Then in a surprise announcement, Horn informed everyone that Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”) has signed on to direct “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which is scheduled for release in 2019.

Moving on to the new Star Wars stories series, Horn touched on the “Untitled Han Solo” stand-alone film, slated for release on May 25, 2018 by reminding everyone that it will be directed by Christopher Miller & Phil Lord, with Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan writing the screenplay.

· Horn then took the audience by surprise, announcing the cast for “Rogue One,” the first of the standalone Star Wars stories to hit the big screen, which has commenced principal photography. Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla,” “Monsters”) is directing “Rogue One,” which tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.

The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, nominated for an Academy Award® for her leading role in “The Theory of Everything”; Diego Luna, who was featured in 2008’s Oscar®-winning “Milk” and the critically acclaimed “Killing Them Softly”; Ben Mendelsohn, recently nominated for an Emmy® for his leading role in “Bloodline” and co-starring in the upcoming “Mississippi Grind”; Donnie Yen, Hong Kong action star and martial artist who starred in “Ip Man” and “Blade II”; Jiang Wen, who co-wrote, produced , directed and starred in the award-winning “Let the Bullets Fly” and “Devils on the Doorstep”; Forest Whitaker, recently featured in the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” and winner of an Academy Award® for his leading role in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland; Mads Mikkelsen, who starred in “The Hunt” and was the memorable villain from 2006’s “Casino Royale”; Alan Tudyk, who plays a performance-capture character in “Rogue One,” stars in the soon-to-be-released “Con Man” series and “Trumbo,” which releases this November; and Riz Ahmed, who was recently featured in “Nightcrawler” and starred in the BAFTA-winning film “Four Lions.”

The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and is slated for a December 16, 2016 release.

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· “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ended the live-action presentation with a bang as J.J. Abrams introduced stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong’o. The crowd cheered when John Boyega announced that everyone there would get a Drew Struzan D23 EXPO commemorative poster to take home. Then, in a bringing-down-the house surprise moment, Harrison Ford, who is reprising his role as Han Solo, joined Abrams on stage to wild applause.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” releases in U.S. theaters on December 18, 2015.

Star Wars Comes to Chase Disney Visa Credit Cards

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STAR WARS CARD DESIGNS AND CARDMEMBER-EXCLUSIVE STAR WARS MEET 'N' GREETS – A FIRST EVER FOR DISNEY

Chase’s new Disney Visa Credit Card Designs Feature Classic STAR WARS Characters:

Darth Vader, Yoda and R2-D2 with C-3PO

WILMINGTON, Del. – August 15, 2015 – Marking the first Star Wars brand collaboration for a credit card for The Walt Disney Company [NYSE: DIS], Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM] and Disney, are putting The Force in Cardmembers’ wallets with the introduction of three exclusive Star Wars designs to the Disney Visa Credit Card family, accompanied by exciting, new and exclusive Star Wars perks for all Disney Visa Credit Cardmembers.

Cardmembers will be able to carry the new double-sided card designs featuring Darth Vader, Yoda or R2-D2 with C-3PO.1

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In addition, all Disney Visa Credit Cardmembers can have access to the exclusive Star Wars Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet, featuring the Supreme Commander of Imperial Forces, Darth Vader, at private Cardmember locations at the Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort.2, 3 The Star Wars Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet experience opens at the Disneyland® Resort in fall 2015 and at Walt Disney World® Resort in early 2016.

All Disney Visa Cardmembers can also enjoy savings on select Star Wars merchandise purchases at Disney Store and select locations at Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resorts and can have the opportunity to take advantage of upcoming Star Wars-related limited-time offers.

“Star Wars is one of the most iconic franchises in movie history, and we are thrilled to bring a piece of this classic to our Cardmembers,” says B.J. Mahoney, general manager, Chase Card Services. “The unique card designs and exclusive experiences help Disney and Star Wars fans celebrate this epic film series in a whole new way.”

The introduction of Star Wars into the Disney Visa Program continues Chase’s relationship with Disney that includes the Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card and Disney Rewards Visa® Credit Card. “Since first launching the Disney Visa Credit Cards with Chase in 2003, our priority has been providing a meaningful rewards program while also looking for new ways to bring excitement and fun to every aspect of the Disney experience,” says Priya Girishankar, Vice President, CRM & GM Consumer Financial Services. “We are delighted to add Star Wars Characters to our card designs and offer enticing perks tailored for the Star Wars and Disney fan alike.”

All Disney Visa Cards offer access to amazing perks2 365 days-a-year when visiting Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort, including Character Meet ‘N’ Greets at private Cardmember locations and special savings at Disney’s U.S. Theme Parks, Disney Store and DisneyStore.com. In addition to the new credit card designs, Cardmembers can also choose from various already available designs featuring some of the most beloved Disney Characters. Disney fans who are interested in Chase’s Star Wars Visa® Credit Card can learn more and apply online at DisneyRewards.com starting August 18, 2015.

1 Card designs are subject to availability and may change without notice.

2 Offers and offer elements including, but not limited to, participating locations, are subject to availability and additional restrictions, and may change or be canceled without notice. Use a valid Disney Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card for special offers. Must mention the offer to receive the merchandise discount. Merchandise discount may not be used for certain items and is not available at certain locations including Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort Operating Participant locations. For entry into the Character Meet ‘N’ Greet Photo Opportunity, must present your valid Disney Visa Card. Not valid in combination with other offers, discounts, promotions or with any previous purchase. Minimum purchase and/or separate admission may be required. Offers are for personal use only and may not be transferred or resold. Please visit DisneyRewards.com/ParkPerks for full terms and conditions. Chase is not responsible or liable for fulfillment of these Disney Theme Park perks.

3 The Disneyland® Resort Character Meet ‘N’ Greet Photo Opportunities are offered daily during set hours–the Disney Character Meet ‘N’ Greet is at Disney California Adventure® Park and the Star Wars™ Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet is at Disneyland® Park. The Walt Disney World® Resort Character Meet ‘N’ Greet Photo Opportunities are offered daily during set hours–the Disney Character Meet ‘N’ Greet is at Epcot® and the Star Wars™ Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. Separate Theme Park admission required for each Meet ‘N’ Greet Opportunity. Must present a valid Disney Visa Credit Card for entry for up to 6 people per cardmember account (each cardmember account may be used for entry only one time per day). Operating times, days of the week, locations and appearance of Characters may vary and are subject to restrictions and change or cancellation without notice. Not valid in combination with other offers, discounts or promotions. Offer is for personal use only and may not be transferred or resold. Please visit DisneyRewards.com/ParkPerks for additional information.

August 15, 2015

Toy Story Land To Come To Life At Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek just unveiled plans for Toy Story Land, to be built at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. The new land, inspired by the "Toy Story" film franchise, will allow guests to shrink to the size of a toy and explore the world of Andy's backyard.

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According to Imagineer Kathy Mangum, Toy Story Land was inspired by the overwhelming guest response to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort.

"As all of you know, here in Anaheim, we've been quite successful with taking immersive experiences to a whole new level as we did with Cars Land. In fact, one of our favorite stories from opening day is that we overheard a little boy asking his mom, ‘Is this where they filmed the Cars movie?'" Kathy said. "That's exactly how we want people to feel – like they've stepped onto the set of their favorite film … like the quaint town of Radiator Springs or, in the case of ‘Toy Story,' the wild and adventurous outdoors of Andy's backyard."

When Toy Story Land opens at the park, guests will be able to play with some of their favorite toys at two new attractions that will be unique to the Walt Disney World Resort, plus one expanded favorite:

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Family-friendly roller coaster – Guests board Slinky Dog's back for a thrilling toy-filled coaster adventure that's ideal for the entire family.

Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers – but beware The Claw!

Toy Story Mania! – This current guest-favorite attraction, which allows guests to take aim at 3D objects in into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set, will expand with more midway track that takes you into the world under Andy's bed where he's built a carnival-style midway.


-- Disney Parks Blog

Star Wars Enhancements, New Experiences Coming Soon to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

From a new Star Tours adventure to Star Wars Launch Bay and Season of the Force, guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will soon be able to step into the Star Wars galaxy like never before!

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Star Wars Launch Bay will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park. Also at Disneyland park, Star Wars Launch Bay will share the space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ, featuring opportunities to meet and take photos with Super Heroes like Captain America and Thor, as well as experience the returning Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries. Both experiences will be available for guests later this year.

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Season of the Force, a new seasonal event beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. In Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, guests will explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment throughout the land, themed food locations and more. Guests also will also climb aboard Hyperspace Mountain, a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction, in which guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. At Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.

Later this year, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy.

Finally, Jedi Training Academy – a favorite of younger fans – will be reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series, "Star Wars Rebels."

-- Disney Parks Blog

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