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February 9, 2016

ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort Announces Mega Cheerleading, Dance Team Venue

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2016) — With its sports business continuing to grow, specifically in the cheerleading and dance team space, ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World Resort is preparing to break ground on a new state-of-the-art cheerleading and dance team competition venue.

ESPN Wide World of Sports is planning to team up with the nation’s top cheerleading organization, Varsity Spirit, to create the first venue in the world specifically designed for cheerleading and dance team competitions. The venue will include a flexible design for one large competition space that can be set up for as many as four competition areas. Additional areas are being tailored for warm up and practice, along with areas for judges and officials.

With the ability to seat over 8,000 guests, plus performance and warm-up space, the new multi-use sports and entertainment venue will also have the ability to host six regulation basketball courts, six regulation volleyball courts or concert configurations. There will be concessions throughout the building, and an additional box office and entry to the complex.

“As our sports business continues to grow, we’re thrilled to work alongside Varsity Spirit to create a sporting and entertainment venue that will not only complement our existing venues, but will be a model for cheerleading and dance team competitions,” said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of ESPN Wide World of Sports. “We value our young athletes and want to give these incredible guests an experience that can only be achieved at Disney.”

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Varsity Spirit will continue to host the world’s most prestigious cheerleading events at the complex, including Varsity Spirit’s annual National High School Cheerleading Championships. This event draws more than 650 teams from more than 30 states and is the only National Championship endorsed by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Winning a coveted white satin National Champion jacket is seen as the pinnacle of success for thousands of cheerleaders from across the country.

“Varsity Spirit invented the modern day cheerleading and dance competition, and we are proud to be the force behind this project, which represents our commitment to providing the very best and safest environment in the world for our athletes and coaches,” said Jeff Webb, Founder and Chairman of Varsity Brands. “Since this building has been designed specifically for spirit teams, we can’t wait to provide an even more high quality competition experience to thousands of athletes each year.”

According to Varsity Spirit, cheerleading continues to rise in popularity around the nation, as well as around the world. The competitive side of cheerleading focuses on

athleticism and entertainment, in addition to the traditional crowd-leading role of the cheerleader. Cheerleaders are the most visible representation of a school’s spirit, whether at a pep rally or on the field and that spirit can play an important role in a school’s success. According to research by Varsity Brands, students with higher levels of school spirit perform better academically, are more civically engaged, and are happier in general than their less-spirited peers.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex hosts six cheer and dance team events annually through its collaboration with Varsity Spirit, bringing tens of thousands of athletes and spectators to Walt Disney World Resort. With an aggressive growth strategy that will include more competitions and record-setting participation, this new venue will draw athletes, spectators and fans from around the country and provide an even stronger, positive economic impact on Central Florida. While the venue will primarily host cheer and dance competitions and volleyball and basketball games, the venue will also be incorporated into the numerous new sports and entertainment offerings at the complex.

Construction is slated to begin in February 2016, and is expected to be complete by mid- 2017.

Super Bowl 50 Champion Manning Celebrates Unforgettable Victory in a Parade at the Happiest Place on Earth

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ANAHEIM, Calif., (Feb. 8, 2016) – Celebrating the victorious quarterback of Super Bowl 50, the Disneyland Resort saluted Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos Monday with a champion’s parade down Main Street U.S.A., in Disneyland park. Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, smiled and waved to fans as he rode on a float with his family in an unforgettable moment.

Some favorite Disney characters joined the magical parade as Disneyland guests cheered for Manning and the Broncos, on their first Super Bowl championship together. The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 to win the title game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday. The victory adds to an impressive list of accomplishments. Manning is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes in an 18-year career that includes 14 Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl championships and an NFL-record five regular-season MVP awards.

After the game, Manning talked about what he was going to do next: “I’m going to Disneyland.”

At Disneyland park on Monday, Manning said: “It was an honor to celebrate our Super Bowl victory at Disneyland.”

The parade, coming one day after the NFL staged Super Bowl 50, was held at the Disneyland Resort, which is celebrating its 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration through summer 2016.

Manning joins an all-star lineup of heroes from sports and beyond who have celebrated milestone accomplishments by celebrating at either the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The lineup includes Peyton Manning’s brother Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith, Coach Jon Gruden, Joe Montana, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Doug Williams, NBA stars Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Magic Johnson, and NHL goalie Patrick Roy.

Music Legend Sir Elton John To Perform On ‘The Wonderful World Of Disney: Disneyland 60

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Sir Elton Will Debut the Title Track from His Upcoming Release “Wonderful Crazy Night”

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Fans at Home Can Participate in the Evening’s Interactive Light Shows via Sync Capabilities in the Disney Applause App; a Virtual Reality Experience From Key Park Destinations Will Be Available in the Jaunt VR App and on ABC.com

One of the most successful solo artists of all time, Sir Elton John will perform two sensational songs on “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60.” The multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician will captivate audiences in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park by singing the Oscar®-nominated song “Circle of Life,” from Disney’s “The Lion King,” and his new song “Wonderful Crazy Night,” from his upcoming album. “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60,” airs SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network.

Fans watching the show at home can participate in Sir Elton’s performance with the Disney Applause app. Using Walt Disney Imagineering’s Made with Magic technology, Applause delivers a second screen, interactive experience that will sync directly to the broadcast’s major musical segments, displaying colorful light shows and original content on viewers’ phones. Their display will be in harmony with the illuminated accessories worn by guests and elaborate lighting design during the performance. Disney Applause is available for iOS and Android.

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Fans will also have a rare opportunity to experience this once-in-a-lifetime performance via virtual reality. Viewers will join in the celebration as they are instantly transported to Sleeping Beauty Castle for the musical superstar’s concert and to Main Street, U.S.A. for a very special dance routine. The full VR experience can be accessed through the Jaunt app and the VR elements can also be viewed in a 360 degree video on ABC.com/VR. Jaunt VR is available for iOS, Android and GearVR.

In his five-decade career, Sir Elton John has sold over 300 million records, achieving 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums. He is one of the most highly acclaimed solo artists of all time, earning six Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, a Tony Award, and a Disney Legend Award. Sir Elton was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Billboard named him the third most successful male solo artist on “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists.” “Wonderful Crazy Night,” which will be released on February 5, 2016 will be his 32nd studio album.

More performers will be announced shortly.

The Disneyland Resort will continue its 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration through Summer 2016, extending the three spectacular after-dark shows created for the special anniversary – the “Paint the Night” parade, the immersive “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show and the all-new “World of Color–Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney.” The exciting celebration, which also features sparkling décor, themed food and merchandise, will conclude on Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2016.

2016 Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Runs March 11-17, 2016

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2016 Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Runs March 11-17, 2016 at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Never call Ireland’s most famous holiday “St. Patty’s,” and avoid green beer if you want an authentic St. Patrick’s Day experience. Celebrate as the Irish do during the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs March 11-17. Award-winning Irish bands and quick-stepping Irish dancers will showcase their roots during Central Florida’s most authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration that also will feature inventive cuisine by Irish celebrity chef and PBS/Create TV personality Kevin Dundon.

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Guests can enjoy a mighty selection of beers, spirits and craft cocktails with Dundon’s authentic Irish dishes while musicians and dancers perform on multiple stages. Headline acts during the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival include Irish bands JigJam, The Raglan Roots Coalition, Cooney & Ryan, Avi McGourty and The High Road:

The Raglan Roots Coalition – 10 years down the road, Raglan felt it was time to shake its boogie – Roots style, with this new Irish house band. Think soul-rocking Celtic bluegrass with some hip-swingin’, knee-shakin’ funky roots beats, and you’re only halfway there.

Cooney & Ryan – One of the finest traditional Irish music duos around, these accomplished, energetic musicians often invite the crowd to sing along.

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JigJam – The hottest new act on the Celtgrass music scene, this County Offaly, Ireland, trio blend the best of hard-driving American Bluegrass and Irish folk music.

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Avi McGourty -- Award winning singer-songwriter McGourty from County Tipperary, Ireland, is a rising star on the Irish music scene with her soulful lyrics and joyful musical renditions.

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The High Road -- These young, traditional Irish musicians who met in University in Ireland exude musical chemistry. A predominately Irish traditional group, they also play British folk, blues and soul.

The entertainment schedule will be posted at raglanroad.com. St. Patrick’s festivities will include complimentary face painting and giveaways. Mighty Festival hours are 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. March 11, 14, 15 and 16; noon until 1:30 a.m. March 12 and 13; and 11 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. March 17. The pub opens weekdays at 11 a.m. for lunch and weekends at 10 a.m. for brunch.

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If you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like the Irish,
here are seven fun facts to keep in mind:

1. Never call the holiday “St. Patty's.” It's either “St. Patrick's Day” or “St. Paddy's.”

2. A shamrock has three leaves (not four – that would be a clover).

3. Americans invented the St. Patrick's Day parade in 1737 in Boston.

4. Most Irish pubs do a full month's business on St. Patrick's Day.

5. Guinness sells 13 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day versus the usual 5 million daily.

6. Raglan Road is America's #1 Irish Pub.

7. Green beer is an American invention. Raglan Road does not serve green beer.

Guests can order from Raglan Road’s popular lunch, dinner and bar menus that include new dishes just introduced by Chef Dundon. The dinner menu features loin of bacon and cabbage, the authentic Irish dish of St. Patrick’s Day, plus other Irish classics created with Dundon’s modern twists. Throughout the event, the restaurant’s Cooke’s of Dublin counter-service eatery will offer Irish favorites, as well, including fish and chips.

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis with a cover charge of $10 for each guest age 18 and older. Reservations can be booked for other festival days by calling 407/938-0300.

During the festival, Dundon will host an exclusive four-course luncheon and culinary demonstration March 14 and a signature dinner and wine event on March 15. Details are available at www.raglanroad.com.

Owned and operated by Irish partners John Cooke, Paul Nolan and celebrity chef Kevin Dundon – famous for his five-star hotel and cookery school in Ireland – Raglan Road features traditional Irish dishes and new creations with a Celtic twist. The restaurant’s warm interior of aged walnut and mahogany woods from old Irish bars and churches was built in Ireland and shipped to Orlando.

Live entertainment nightly and during weekend brunch includes Irish house band Raglan Roots Coalition, plus the Raglan Road Irish Dancers. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner 3-11 p.m.; Bar menu 11 p.m.-late; Saturday and Sunday Rollicking Raglan Brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant is located at Disney Springs in the Walt Disney World Resort, 1640 E. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Visit www.raglanroad.com or call 407/938-0300.

February 8, 2016

Celebrate Black History Month at Walt Disney World Resort

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Epcot’s Tapestry of America: Celebrating African American Heritage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2016) – Guests can celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February with special experiences at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. From historical displays and intriguing artifacts to book signings by Celebrity Chef G. Garvin and best-selling author Terry McMillan, guests can take a stroll through the pages of America’s history and learn about the influence of African-American culture.


Black History Month Author Series

In honor of Black History Month, guests have the opportunity to meet three renowned African-American authors and cultural icons select Saturdays during the month of February. Book signings are open to all guests and hosted at the American Adventure Pavilion, where books written by each guest author are also available for purchase throughout the month.

Terry McMillan, author of “Who Asked You?”
Saturday, Feb.6, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan is known for her powerful novels and short stories about African American women. Her novel, “Waiting to Exhale,” was adapted into a film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett in 1995. Many of McMillan’s other novels, including the award-winning “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Disappearing Acts,” and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” have also been brought to life for film and television audiences. McMillan recently published her eighth novel, “Who Asked You?,” a story about the challenges and strength of a family.

Chef G. Garvin, author of “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”
Saturday, Feb.13, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Acclaimed chef and television host, Chef G. Garvin (pictured above) has mastered the art of cooking as well as writing. His first cookbook, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple,” received an American Literacy Award and nomination for an NAACP Image Award. Chef Garvin has enjoyed continued success with his subsequent cookbooks and television show “Road Trip with G. Garvin” on The Cooking Channel.

Terrence Roberts, author of “Lessons from Little Rock”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Terrence James Roberts, Ph.D. is one of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of history-making African American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Roberts was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999. His book, “Lessons from Little Rock,” is a memoir of his experience during the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the lessons learned from that historic episode.

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New pieces at Epcot’s Kinsey Collection exhibit

“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” a collection of pieces displayed at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, draws from an extensive assortment of rare art, documents, books and artifacts attributed to African American history. Philanthropists Bernard, Shirley and their son Khalil Kinsey share some of their vast personal collection of artifacts spanning 400 years of history. Touch screens and guest-activated lanterns with narration by Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer and other celebrities help bring the history to life. Three new pieces recently have been added to the exhibit which is open daily.

“Banneker’s Almanack and Ephemeras” by Benjamin Banneker, is the mathematical and mechanical work of Benjamin Banneker. Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, read and approved of Banneker’s work. The almanac was published in 1771.

“My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass, is an autobiography recounting Frederick Douglass’s life as a slave and that as a freeman. Published in 1855, the book is a first edition.

“Survivor” by Elizabeth Catlett, is a beautiful Linoleum block print inspired by a photograph taken by Dorthea Lang titled “Ex-slave with a Long Memory.” The print was created in 1983.

“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection” is included in Epcot admission. For more information about the collection, visit TheKinseyCollection.com.


Legacy Portraits Tell a New Story

As guests explore the American Pavilion Rotunda, they are greeted by images of influential men and women who contributed to the progress of America. New portraits have been added to the collection for the month of February to further illustrate the contributions of many African American notables.

The new displays feature African American figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space; and Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to stage a public airplane flight in America.

Taste of Southern Comfort

Mrs. Abby Fischer was one of the first African American authors to publish a cookbook dating back to 1881. “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” includes 160 Southern-style recipes. One popular dessert recipe featured in the cookbook, Mrs. Fisher’s Peach Cobbler, is available for guests to purchase and enjoy at Liberty Inn at the American Adventure Pavilion.

Free 2016 Disney Parks Planning DVD

Are you planning a trip to either Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

The 2016 Disney Planning DVD is now available FREE!

Your FREE planning videos will include:

A complete tour of the 4 Theme parks, 2 Water Parks and over 20 Resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

A tour of the Disneyland Resort in California, including 2 Theme Parks and 3 Resort hotels

Affordable ways to play and stay during your Disney vacation, plus personalized tips, and information on special events

Simply click on the banner above, fill out the form and your DVD will be sent to you!

The DVD is only available to US Households.

Disney's The Jungle Book - New Trailer

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Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat.

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Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

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The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong'o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.

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The wild adventure swings into theaters in 3D on April 15, 2016. For more information, check out Disney.com/thejunglebook, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyJungleBook, and follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thejunglebookand Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneythejunglebook/.

February 5, 2016

Menus Announced for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Feb. 5, 2016 – The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will return for its seventh year Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29, with exciting new dishes debuting alongside returning festival favorites. Fans can now visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com to view the 2016 food menu as well as book overnight packages and purchase tickets.

Highlights of the 2016 menu include: an American wagyu beef slider with avocado-bacon aioli and Applewood smoked bacon on a toasted brioche from the Fountain; a salt-roasted prime New York strip loin served with mashed potatoes and sauce bordelaise from Shula’s Steak House and seared striped bass with fall artichokes, Nicoise olives in a Spanish caper emulsion from Garden Grove. Returning dishes include the popular shrimp cocktail steamroller from Todd English’s bluezoo and dragon sushi roll from Kimonos. Original dessert offerings will once again be served by world champion pastry chef Laurent Branlard. For a full list of current menu offerings, please visit http://www.swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com/eat/menu/all.html.

The Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic offers guests unlimited tastings at more than 40 stations featuring culinary selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and wine from more than 30 wineries amidst a festive backdrop of live entertainment on the hotel’s scenic causeway. Upgraded ticket options allow guests to enjoy access to a beer garden featuring a wide selection of craft beers and Oktoberfest-inspired cuisine. The event also includes hands-on seminars with the hotel’s chefs and certified beverage experts.

Overnight and multiple-night package options are available for the seventh-annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic and can be booked by phone at 1-888-828-8850:

· One-night packages start at $392, and include room accommodations and two tickets to the outdoor festival (seminar tickets and beer garden tickets may be added for an additional fee)

· Two-night packages start at $750, and include room accommodations and two tickets to the outdoor festival for both nights (seminar tickets and beer garden tickets may be added for an additional fee)

Individual ticket options are also available for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic and can be purchased at www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com (pricing is inclusive of tax and service fees):

· Advance-purchase, event-only tickets to enjoy unlimited tastings on the causeway are $105 per person

· Upgraded tickets, including unlimited tastings on the causeway and access to the beer garden, are $130 per person

With 17 restaurants and lounges, and a distinguished culinary and beverage team, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel continually earns national recognition for its food and beverage program. The hotel features more than 70 certified wine sommeliers and 1,400 wine selections.

For the latest information about the event, visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com, like www.facebook.com/swananddolphin or call 1-800-227-1500.

High School Students Nationwide Chosen for 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort

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Approximately 100 “Dreamers’’ selected from thousands of applicants across the country for ninth-annual career and mentoring event taking place in March; Group includes more than 50 students from the Southeast and more than 10 from the Northeast, Southwest, West and Midwest regions


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Feb. 2, 2016 – Approximately 100 students from across America will soon pack their bags for a fabulous, fun-filled and educational trip to Walt Disney World Resort as part of this year’s Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE, March 3-6, 2016.

The teens, along with a parent or guardian, will take off on an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they will experience once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big and discover a world of possibilities that will help them prepare for their future.

The students, known as “Dreamers,” are taken on stage and behind the scenes, where Disney theme parks become vibrant ‘classrooms’ and students discover new careers and pursue their dreams while also creating fun memories that last a lifetime.

During Disney Dreamers Academy, students participate in hands-on, immersive career-oriented workshops, ranging from animation to zoology. Each student is given important tools such as effective communication techniques, leadership skills, and networking strategies.

Additionally, Dreamers are exposed to acclaimed motivational speakers and popular celebrities who share their stories and insight on achieving success and DREAMING BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while gaining first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and renowned entrepreneurs and executives.

“Disney Dreamers Academy is a one-of-a-kind program that, since its inception, is helping more than 800 students achieve their dreams,” said Tracey D. Powell, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts vice president of deluxe resorts. Powell serves as Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “As we prepare for our ninth annual event, the greatest reward has been seeing so many of our previous Dreamers use their experience at Disney Dreamers Academy to expand their dreams and move even closer to making them a reality. After all, that is what the program is all about,” said Powell.

Walt Disney World Resort, along with syndicated television and radio personality Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Communications, will host the selected Dreamers during their magical four-day career and educational exploration.

“Disney Dreamers Academy provides an excellent learning environment to help young students with their aspirations and to dream even bigger,” said Harvey. “I can’t wait to meet this year’s new students and kick off the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort in March.”

Michelle Ebanks, president of ESSENCE Communications, added: “We are excited to once again join with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey to encourage our youth to dream big. Our expectation is that this group of remarkable teens will be the leaders of tomorrow and positively impact the world for years to come. It is our honor and commitment at ESSENCE to be part of that process.”

This year’s students were selected from thousands of applicants who answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories and dreams for the future. The students were chosen by a judging panel that included: gospel music legend Yolanda Adams; ESSENCE magazine editor-at-large Mikki Taylor; education advocate Dr. Steve Perry; The Sister Accord founder and author Sonia Jackson Myles; award-winning motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles; Simply Ellis Custom Clothier CEO Dr. Alex O. Ellis; Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation executive director Brandi Harvey; Steve Harvey Products creative director Karli Harvey; and professional speaker Princeton Parker and Disney Dreamers Academy alumnus.

For more information, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available on social media at Facebook/DisneyDreamersAcademy or Twitter/DreamersAcademy.

For a list of 2016 Dreamers and Bios, please visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com/dreamers/2016

*Participation is subject to verification and return of the required documentation.

February 3, 2016

Mickey and Minnie's All New Date Ideas for the Month of Love in 2016 at Walt Disney World Resort

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love and romance are in the air at Walt Disney World. Guests can celebrate this month of love near the most famous couple of all, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

A variety of offerings and memorable experiences are available all month long – from Valentine’s Day merchandise and special entertainment to romantic dinners for two. With so many of Cupid’s arrows flying about, guests should be sure to book early and perhaps celebrate their love any time during this sweet month of February.

1. A romantic ride on Italian Water Taxi Cruise/VIP Wine Tour – Guests can experience the unforgettable romance of an intimate cruise aboard Venezia, the breathtaking 40-ft Italian Water Taxi. Couples will relax and unwind to beautiful Italian music, savor award-winning wines and feast on an array of delicious hors d’oeuvres. The BOATHOUSE’S trusted captain and crew take guests on a whimsical water journey through the waters of Lake Buena Vista and the gorgeous scenic riverway. Sweetheart Wine Tasting Cruises embark Friday. Call 407-939-2628 to make a reservation.

2. The new Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise – Couples can take in a breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom Park night time fireworks from an exclusive and romantic spot on Seven Seas Lagoon with desserts and drinks. Guests can enjoy this sweet ending to their day, before watching the “Wishes” nighttime spectacular overhead, the largest fireworks show at Walt Disney World Resort. The medley of famous Disney songs and the voices of Disney characters are piped through the boat’s sound system for this magical viewing. For reservations, visit com/DINE or call 407-WDW-DINE. Anchors Aweigh!

3. The new Brunch at the Top at California Grill – Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday and the Brunch at the Top is a fabulous way to indulge. Chef Brian Piasecki’s team launches a whole new menu in February to showcase their fresh, market-driven cuisine. Of course a glass of bubbly or wine (the restaurant has more than 1,600 bottles on display) pairs nicely. And there’s an over-the-top Bloody Mary Bar as well as cocktails and craft brews (though guests can also stick with the custom-roast French press coffee). Reservations can be made by visiting com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

4. An out-of-this-world evening – Sweets and stars collide at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as guests look to the sky January 5 – March 19, for a special viewing of the Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks. Guests enjoy a selection of sweets as the night sky erupts with an arsenal of impressive fireworks, set to the most dramatic and memorable Star Wars themes of all time. On the menu are Star Wars-themed desserts treats, including the popular Droid and Darth Vader cupcakes and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. For reservations, visit DisneyWorld.com/dine or call 407-WDW-DINE.

5. Disney Springs shopping spree – Disney Springs continues to expand and transform with all new shopping options. The World of Disney in Disney Springs Marketplace recently expanded with an additional 6,000 sq. feet of retail selling space. Couples can spend the day searching for some new Disney merchandise to celebrate their love for each other … and Disney. Nothing says “love” like chocolate so the shopping spree can continue with a stop for some handcrafted sweets at The Ganachery. Or perhaps couples are looking for an all-vegan treat? Erin McKenna Bakery NYC is a unique bakery with savory offerings and an all-vegan and gluten-free menu.

6. Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine – Just in time for Academy Awards season, Minnie Mouse and her friends celebrate the magic of the movies and glamour of Hollywood with an epic feast at the new Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Dinner guests will walk the red carpet and get ready for their close-up with some of the biggest stars of the silver screen, beloved Disney characters dressed in their designer best. Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine runs from Jan. 4 to March 20, 2016. Reservations can be made by visiting com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

7. All new acts at La Nouba at Disney Springs – La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and stimulates the imagination from beginning to end with daring acrobatics, dazzling choreography, vibrant music and whimsical characters only at Disney Springs. As part of the show’s ongoing evolution, La Nouba continues to bring new acts: B-Boy, commonly referred to as breakdancing, and Aerial Bamboo, a technique mastered by only a handful of performers worldwide. The acts join the recent additions of uproarious clowns and a breathtaking juggling rolla bolla act. For more information about La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil, visit DisneyWorld.com/entertainment.

8. Sushi Bar at Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs – Morimoto Asia is a one-of-a-kind dining experience from Chef Masaharu Morimoto. From Feb. 12 – 14, a special Valentine’s Day romantic dinner for two includes a four course, prix-fixe menu starring Chef Morimoto’s signature Peking Duck for two. For an even more exclusive and intimate culinary experience on Feb. 14 only, it’s chef’s choice with a five-course Omakase dinner at the intimate second-level 14-seat sushi bar. With a “hidden” VIP entrance along the side of the building, the Forbidden Lounge is a great place to hang, late-night, at Disney Springs any night in February. An exclusive menu is featured upstairs from 10pm to 2am and features a variety of late-night dining. For reservations, call 407-939-6686 (MOTO).

9. Monsieur Paul Proposal-popping and Vow Renewal dinner at Epcot – In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (replica), indulge in a decadent meal by new chef Nicolas Lemoyne who just joined the restaurant from Monsieur Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Lyon, France. Peer out of the second story windows that overlook the World Showcase Lagoon, toast with champagne, and dessert is served with an extra sparkle on the plate: the big question, and your token of “l’amour.” Reservations can be made by visiting com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

10. Sunset and cocktails at the Polynesian – Disney has some spectacular beaches that are perfect locations to watch the sunset, like the one at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Sip on some champagne and strawberries against the backdrop of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the beautiful new Bora Bora Bungalows. Take a moonlit stroll along the torch-lined waterfront and visit Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the latest addition to the newly reimagined Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Located off the Great Ceremonial House, the themed lounge will serve exotic drinks and small plates, while offering scenic views of the marina and Seven Seas Lagoon.
- See more at: http://wdwnews.com/releases/2016/02/02/mickey-and-minnies-all-new-date-ideas-for-the-month-of-love-in-2016-at-walt-disney-world-resort/#sthash.NfR4TE1J.dpuf

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