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January 9, 2018

New 2018 Disney Parks Moms Panelists Help Turn Dream Disney Vacations Into Reality

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Meet The 11 New Park-Savvy Panelists Offering Personalized Vacation Planning Advice

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 9, 2018 – With January kicking off a busy vacation planning season, Disney Parks today announced its new class of panelists joining the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The 11 new panelists, carefully selected from thousands of applicants to provide honest and relatable vacation tips, are committed to making the planning process easier by offering personalized guidance to help turn dream Disney vacations into a reality.

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an online resource for individuals thinking about planning a Disney vacation at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line or with Disney Vacation Club. The panelists leverage their vast experiences from their own Disney vacations to provide authentic answers to guests seeking advice – whether for an entire family vacation or for guests traveling without kids.

“The magic of the Moms Panel is our collective experience and our diverse backgrounds,” said Jerry M., one of the Disney Dads on the 2018 Disney Parks Moms Panel. “There is so much Disney to see and do that it’s tough to experience everything in a single visit. But what if you had a trusted friend who in fact did experience everything? Wouldn’t it be great to get their advice? That’s the magic of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. Taken together we’ve just about done it all. And like your best friend, we want to see you enjoy yourself.”

The 11 new panelists join an impressive roster of 29 alumni moms, dads, and grandparents answering questions at www.disneyparksmomspanel.com:

-- Andrea W.; Warren, Ohio (Walt Disney World Resort) – This single mom, empty nester and expert in multigenerational travel is also the resident expert for all things Star Wars
-- Ashley P.; Lewisburg, Pa. (Walt Disney World Resort) – This mom of three, with her youngest being an infant, knows a thing or two about traveling with babies
-- Jennifer L.; Albuquerque, N.M. (Disneyland Resort) – Specializing in Disneyland Resort, this mom is an expert in helping guests plan their trip to “where it all began”
-- Jerry M.; Stone Harbor, N.J. (Disney Vacation Club) – One of the Disney Dads on the panel, Jerry provides first-hand tips for Disney Vacation Club and planning advice for fellow parents balancing busy work schedules
-- Kristen N.; North Charleston, S.C. (Walt Disney World Resort) – This Air Force wife has mastered the art of planning last-minute Disney vacations
-- Lindsey N.; Atlanta, Ga. (Walt Disney World Resort) – Disney isn’t just for kids, and this military spouse loves helping Disney-loving adults plan their magical getaway
-- Missy F.; Avon, Ind. (Walt Disney World Resort) – With five children of her own, Missy knows what it takes to plan a vacation that accommodates even the pickiest of tastes
-- Robyn M.; Bristow, Va. (Walt Disney World Resort) – This military mom can take any planning challenge and create seamless trips to Disney destinations for large, multigenerational groups
-- Stephanie L.; Dallas, Texas (Disney Cruise Line) – Specializing in Disney Cruises all around the globe – from Alaska to Europe and beyond – this stay-at-home mom with two toddlers knows the ins-and-outs of cruising with kids
-- Tabitha D.; Spring Hill, Tenn. (Walt Disney World Resort) – Lending a hand on planning trips for Disney lovers of all ages, including dining tips and deluxe resorts, this passionate Annual Passholder is an expert at planning Disney vacations, especially during the holidays
-- Veronica O.; Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Walt Disney World Resort) – A local Florida mom who is also a Spanish-speaking Disney expert, offers a fresh perspective for those traveling locally

With all of their experiences combined, the 40 Disney Parks Moms Panelists:

Have taken 1,250 Disney Vacations – that’s 77,394 hours of Disney Parks experience or 2,204 rides on “it’s a small world.”
Know how to travel with kids, with more than 80 kids between them.
Can answer guest questions in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
Are real moms, dads, grandparents and “in the know” family members.

Whether the guest is a military spouse, stay-at-home parent, busy working mom, juggling food allergies or even an adult without kids, the Disney Parks Moms Panel is a reliable resource for those in need of genuine and friendly advice from someone who has experienced it first-hand.

Guests can visit www.disneyparksmomspanel.com on a computer or mobile device to access more than 220,000 available questions and answers from seasoned Disney vacationers. Guests can save favorite answers to reference later or ask a new question to receive a personalized response from a knowledgeable member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

January 5, 2018

Maria and Enzo's Ristorante Opens, Newest Italian Dining Gem at Disney Springs

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Media Preview and soft opening took place on National Spaghetti Day, with special guests Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (January 5, 2018) – Patina Restaurant Group (PRG) yesterday opened the doors for a media preview and soft opening that showcased the stunning new Italian restaurant located at the reimagined Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort -- Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante.

The new dining destination brings to Disney Springs the warmth of Italy and the dreamiest Italian cuisine this side of the Atlantic, courtesy of Executive Chef Theo Schoenegger. The restaurant will officially begin serving dinner to the public on January 5. Lunch and brunch service will begin later this month (updated hours and special events available on the restaurant’s Facebook page).

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Fittingly, the media sneak peek on January 4 coincided with National Spaghetti Day, providing the perfect Italian backdrop for the occasion. A dedication ceremony featured Italian ambassadors, chefs, executives from Patina Restaurant Group, Delaware North (Patina Restaurant Group’s parent company), Disney; and very special guests Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

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Disney restaurants often have a backstory, part of the company’s tradition of immersive storytelling. Mirroring that tradition, Patina Restaurant Group collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineering to create the story for Maria & Enzo’s.

“The story behind Maria and Enzo is one of travel, food, love and friendship, all steeped in Italian tradition,” said Valenti, referring to the backstory of Maria and Enzo, an Italian couple that immigrated to Central Florida in the 1920s. “Their story is set in a long-forgotten sea-plane air terminal that became the setting for the restaurant.

“We couldn’t be happier to have a chef as talented as Theo Schoenegger,” Valenti continued. “A native Italian with an incredible repertoire, his cooking has a delicious authenticity that brings the story to life.”

Following the dedication, media and special guests enjoyed the food and hospitality at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, where Chef Schoenegger presented a variety of signature dishes including, of course, spaghetti in honor of National Spaghetti Day.

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante

An intimate Italian trattoria set in the once-abandoned Disney Springs airline terminal from the 1930s, now transformed into a restaurant. The dining room is open and airy, featuring 50-foot ceilings with views of Lake Buena Vista. The restaurant interiors showcase artifacts that recall air travel of the time, with brightly illustrated pictographs, reimagined air terminal boarding gates and a First Class Lounge where randomly selected guests are upgraded upon arrival. The menu, created by Michelin star-rated Chef Theo Schoenegger, features a variety of handmade pastas including Busiate con Granchio (spiral pasta with crab), Rigatoni all Norma (eggplant, chile, tomato, ricotta salata) and ‘Ncasciata al Forno (Sicilian baked pasta) – served tableside. Other highlights include Braciola di Maiale (Berkshire pork chop, plum mostarda), Nodino di Vitello (grilled veal chop) and Tonno (grilled ahi tuna steak, pistachio pesto) all served with rosemary potatoes and tempura fried vegetables. The spectacular wine list of more than 100 bottles is – lovingly -- primarily Italian. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 12 midnight daily, with weekend brunch coming soon.

The backstory is that the restaurant was the dream of Maria and Enzo who met in Italy before moving to Florida and wanted to introduce Italian cuisine to the townfolk of the bustling Disney Springs. An airline pilot, Enzo was drawn to an abandoned airline terminal, which became the spacious setting for the restaurant.

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar

A speakeasy inspired by Roman aperitivo bars, located in the storied rum-runner tunnels that adjoin Maria & Enzo’s. Inspired by Florida’s true history of rum running, Enzo’s Hideaway pours Prohibition-era cocktails and serves a casual menu of hearty Roman dishes, such as the city’s legendary Bucatini alla Carbonara (hollow spaghetti with creamy egg and pancetta sauce) and Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe (square-cut spaghetti with pecorino and black pepper). In honor of the weekly dinners Enzo hosted for family and friends, the tunnel bar hosts Sunday Supper, a family-style meal each week. Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

The backstory tells the tale of Enzo and Maria discovering a long-hidden cavern below the terminal that connected to abandoned sections of the next-door power plant (which today is called The Edison). To Enzo’s astonishment, he came across a Prohibition-era hideaway where a team of flying rum-runners once gathered. Evidence of smuggler activity was everywhere, untouched for decades. Bottles and casks of rum were found along with a roster of flying operatives and their code names. It was a fascinating glimpse at an unknown chapter of the town’s past. Enzo shared his discovery with the local historical society and also decided that the space might make an irresistible spot for dining and socializing. Now it is a cozy gem of a hideaway for Enzo to highlight the family recipes he grew up on, featuring specialties from Rome and nearby regions.

Pizza Ponte

A fast-casual concept and the perfect place for a quick bite serving pastries, pizza, Italian sandwiches, and espresso. Pastry specialties include Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) Sfoglia di Riso (pastry with rice cream) and Tiramisu. Savory items include signature Triangolo (stuffed pizza bread) sandwiches, Porchetta (roast pork) and Pizza al Taglio, Sicilian-style pizza by the slice. Pizza Ponte is open from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight daily.

The backstory reveals that Maria began a simple cafe inside the lobby of what was once the bustling Disney Springs air terminal. Pastries and pasta were the initial offerings, but eventually the family was able to install wood-fired pizza ovens that helped make them even more successful. Pizza Ponte is accessed from the entrance beneath the air terminal’s old Control Tower. Within this entrance, guests can view family photos from Maria and Enzo’s many cousins, uncles, aunts and others who began to arrive as their business began to thrive. An elegant wraparound window anchors the space and catches a lot of attention from pedestrians crossing the bridge from the Disney Springs West Side. Offerings reflect many of the most popular foods from both Maria’s roots in Southern Italy and Enzo’s favorites from the region around Rome.

For more information on these Patina Restaurant Group restaurants, visit www.patinagroup.com or visit the restaurants on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MariaAndEnzos, @EnzosHideaway and @PizzaPonteFla.

Warwick Davis Announced as Star Wars Day Guest Presenter

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Fan-favorite Star Wars actor Warwick Davis has found the droids he’s looking for and gets ready for his first Star Wars Day at Sea appearance, as a guest presenter on the March 17-24, 2018, Disney Fantasy sailing.

As you may know, Warwick Davis played Wicket, one of the most important Ewoks in the galaxy in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. He also appeared in different roles in several other Star Wars films, including Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Warwick also will join the intergalactic action in the upcoming, Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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But wait, there’s more! Here are other exciting guest presenters coming to Star Wars Day at sea this year:

-- January 6-13: Scott Trowbridge, Walt Disney Imagineering creative portfolio executive for Star Wars franchise
-- January 13-20: TBD
-- January 20-27: Matt Martin, Lucasfilm Story Group creative executive
-- January 27-Feb. 3: TBD
-- February 3-10: TBD
-- February 10-17: Delilah Dawson, author of the “Phasma,” “The Perfect Weapon” and other Star Wars stories
-- February 17-24: Pablo Hidalgo, Lucasfilm Story Group creative executive
-- February 24-March 3: Jarret J. Crosoczka, writer and illustrator of “Jedi Academy: A New Class” children’s book series
-- March 3-10: TBD
-- March 10-17: Troy Alders, Lucas Licensing art director
-- March 17-24: Warwick Davis, actor, multiple Star Wars films
-- March 24-31: Katie Cook, artist featured in Star Wars trading card sets, children’s books and web comics
-- March 31-April 7: Leland Chee, Lucasfilm Story Group managing Holocron continuity database
-- April 7-14: Russell Paul, Industrial Light & Magic, asset and digital supervisor
-- April 14-21: TBD
-- April 21-28: Ashley Eckstein, Her Universe founder, voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels

Hearing their incredible stories and meeting these amazing guest presenters are just some of the ways you can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars galaxy on a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise. The event features a full day of fun, including Star Wars-themed family and youth activities, character encounters, a costume celebration and a thrilling deck party with a spectacular fireworks display.

Source: Disney Parks Blog

January 2, 2018

ELECTRIFYING! THE EDISON AT DISNEY SPRINGS OPENS WITH AN OVER-THE-TOP NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY

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ELECTRIFYING! THE EDISON AT DISNEY SPRINGS OPENS WITH AN OVER-THE-TOP NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY
Newest Disney Springs nightlife hot-spot now open to the public

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Jan. 2, 2018) – Corks popped, performers dazzled, searchlights painted the skies and The Edison – the newest hot-spot at Disney Springs – rang in 2018 with a gala, grand opening party Sunday night.

The Edison, a lavish, “Industrial Gothic”- themed restaurant and entertainment venue, toasted the new year with an eye-filling spectacle of world-class entertainment, bountiful food stations, craft cocktails and an unforgettable fizzy Champagne toast for the countdown to midnight.

The showy soiree began with a Hollywood-style red carpet made from the train of a red ball gown. Hosts in flapper attire and inventors on stilts greeted special guests amid the dazzling step and repeat photo ops reminiscent of a Tinseltown premiere. Inside, a live band, cabaret dancers, aerialists, variety acts and a DJ created an otherworldly scene and grand celebration as guests welcomed in 2018.

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The ticketed grand opening party was the glittery lift-off for The Edison. By day, the new venue will be a playful dining experience for families, while at night, the space transforms into a destination focused on craft cocktails, contemporary American fare and entertainment unique to Central Florida, all within an eye-popping, waterfront setting.

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The Edison creates a completely unique combination of style, art and design with great food, cocktails and world-class entertainment. A fully immersive experience, The Edison features multiple themed areas to explore, such as the Lab performance space, The Ember Parlour, Telegraph Lounge, The Patent Office, The Tesla Lounge, The Radio Room, and the Waterfront Patio.

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“The lights are officially on at The Edison and we’re delighted that guests can now experience the extraordinary entertainment, craft cocktails and cuisine unlike anything else in Central Florida,” said Nick Valenti, CEO of Patina Restaurant Group. “The reimagined power plant celebrates an era of invention and imagination in a new and distinct way.”

Open for lunch and dinner, The Edison treats guests to menu creations of Chef PJ Finneran that consist of contemporary American fare such as Pork Belly Pops (chile-brown sugar glaze), Crispy Fried Chicken (cast iron buttermilk biscuits), and a signature The Edison Burger, (a juicy combination of house-ground sirloin, short rib and brisket, topped with Cabot cloth-bound cheddar, onion rings, smoked bacon, house pickles, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and served with hand-cut fries). The Edison will soon introduce Bartender’s Midnight Breakfast, a late-night menu that will include traditional breakfast fare at night and offer guests a perfect way to keep the party going as the evening is winding down.

The Edison’s beverage lineup focuses on artfully crafted cocktails, interesting beers and wines, and house-made punches that serve from two to 10 guests. The Edison Signature Series includes cocktails such as The Wonderlust (Pernod Absinthe, Nolet’s Gin, Crème de Violette, pineapple syrup, lemon), Lady Marmalade (Corsair Absinthe, Hangar One, Noilly Prat vermouth, Giffard Ginger, verjus, pomegranate), The Crimson Vesper (Absolut Elyx, Lilet Rouge, Plymouth Sloe Gin, orange) and The Edison (Woodford Reserve, Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur, lemon).

The center of the restaurant is stage for a dance floor and performance stage, where an eclectic lineup of live entertainers including musicians, aerialists and dancers fire up the night.

The Edison is now open Sunday-Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Guests at The Edison must be 21 years or older starting at 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday nights. There is a cover charge of $15 per guest beginning at 10 p.m. Additionally, The Edison has an enforced dress code Thursday-Saturday evenings beginning at 10 p.m. Men must wear slacks, jeans or dress shorts. No ball caps, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops are permitted. Jackets are optional.

This destination restaurant will host a variety of unique events, chef-driven dinners and promotions throughout 2018. The restaurant offers savings for Disney Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, Tables in Wonderland cardholders and Disney Cast Members. For more information on The Edison, visit TheEdisonFLA.com.

January 1, 2018

Sneak Peek of "A Wrinkle in Time"

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Very soon, Guests visiting Disney Parks will be able to preview scenes from the new film in sneak peeks planned for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. At Disney California Adventure park, this short preview of “A Wrinkle in Time” will be presented in 3D with special in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater, while Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get to see this advance look at clips from the film as part of the Walt Disney Presents attraction.

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From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.

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Here’s a special New Year’s message from two-time Academy Award® nominee Oprah Winfrey, Oscar® winner Reese Witherspoon, and Emmy® nominee Mindy Kaling, who portray Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who in “A Wrinkle in Time.”

December 31, 2017

2018 Brings More Magic Than Ever to Walt Disney World Resort

Happy Gnu Year

It’s a year to celebrate with Toy Story Land grand opening, exciting new Disney Springs dining concepts, a magical Theme Park milestone and more

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From a toy-inspired land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to a milestone year for Disney’s Animal Kingdom to exciting additions at Disney Springs to an encore year for an Epcot festival, there’s plenty in store for guests to Walt Disney World Resort – and beyond – in 2018.

Here’s a look around:

Toy Story Land Comes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

In summer 2018 Disney unwraps a joyful, toy-full surprise for its guests with the opening of the all-new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Stepping into their favorite Pixar blockbuster films, guests will feel like they’ve shrunk to the size of a toy as they play in Andy’s backyard with their favorite Toy Story pals, including Woody and Buzz. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land. This new 11-acre play space will include two new attractions and one expanded favorite:

-- Inspired by the playful dachshund spinoff of Slinky, the American toy classic, Slinky Dog Dash will be a family-style coaster that will send riders dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops that Andy has created to stretch Slinky and his coils to the max.
-- Bathed in music, lighting and sound effects, Alien Swirling Saucers is designed as a play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Famous little green aliens from the movie are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”
-- A third track has recently been added to the hugely popular Toy Story Mania!, which invites guests to take aim at 3D objects in a variety of whimsical, fast-paced games.

When it’s time for refreshment, Woody’s Lunch Box will be a new quick-service window serving tasty meals and old-fashioned soda floats. Walt Disney World Resort will collaborate with Mini Babybel to bring Woody’s Lunch Box to life.

New Dining and Entertainment at Disney Springs

Eight new dining concepts debut at Disney Springs in 2018, joining the stellar line-up of award-winning restaurants at this one-of-a-kind retail, dining and entertainment complex:

Opening this winter, The Edison is a lavish “Industrial Gothic” restaurant, bar and nighttime destination that will feature live entertainment, including cabaret. Adjacent to The Edison guests will enjoy a trio of modern Italian restaurant and bar concepts. Maria & Enzo’s will be an open and airy Italian trattoria featuring family-friendly dishes inspired by Sicily. Enzo’s Hideaway will pour Prohibition-era cocktails at its Tunnel Bar and offer hearty Roman dishes. Pizza Ponte will be the perfect place for a quick bite, with pastries, pizza, Italian sandwiches and espresso on the menu.

Chicago-based Levy Restaurants introduces Terralina Crafted Italian with James Beard award winner and “Top Chef Master” Chef Tony Mantuano. The new restaurant will feature dishes inspired by Mantuano’s adventures in Italy.

In spring 2018, Master Sommelier George Miliotes will bring his expertise to Disney Springs with Wine Bar George. With more than 100 wine selections by the bottle and glass, Miliotes will serve up wine education along with shareable plates, cheese and charcuterie.

Other openings slated for 2018 at Disney Springs include Jaleo, a Spanish concept by world-renowned Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, a modern concept inspired by laid-back California dining.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 20 Years

Majestic in its grandeur and showcasing the magic of nature with inhabitants that roam, run, crawl, fly, slither and swim; Disney’s Animal Kingdom will mark its 20th anniversary in 2018.

The vast, 500-acre park is Disney’s largest, providing a grand stage for the celebration of the world of animals and their natural habitats. Live creatures from mite-sized to mammoth call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home. Lush landscaping, Broadway-quality live shows, conservation themes and rides, attractions and adventures for all ages complete the scene.

As the park continued to evolve, it added a distant moon in 2017. Pandora–The World of Avatar transports guests to a mystical world of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences. Inspired by the blockbuster motion picture, AVATAR, the new land invites guests to explore a glowing landscape, encounter a larger-than-life Na’vi shaman and soar on the back of a fearsome banshee.

And debuting just in time for the park’s 20th anniversary is a new show featuring Russell and Dug from Disney•Pixar’s film “UP” This new experience will offer guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug as they discover species of birds from around the world in their newest adventure at the Caravan Theater in Anandapur Village. There will be “UP” close encounters each day with amazing winged creatures.

An Expanded Festival of the Arts at Epcot

Returning to Epcot for a second year, the expanded Epcot International Festival of the Arts will celebrate all things art – performing, visual and culinary – from January 12 to February 19 – with festivities running seven days a week and Disney on Broadway performing each weekend (Fridays through Mondays) throughout the festival.

Guests can kick off 2018 with world-class cuisine, remarkable visual art and an extraordinary lineup of live entertainment. Festival highlights:

Seminars and workshops from top Disney, local and nationally-renowned artists including classes on drawing animation, photography and the art of making topiaries
More than a half a dozen specially-created food studios offering a wealth of “artistic” culinary delights
A host of performing artists that build on the already stellar lineup of authentic Epcot performers
An encore performance of the Disney on Broadway series featuring Disney on Broadway stars singing favorite songs from award-winning Broadway shows.

Another returning favorite is Disney on Broadway dining packages, where guests can pair a meal at one of the participating Epcot restaurants with priority seating for the Disney on Broadway concert series.

For more information on the festival visit www.disneyworld.com/ArtfulEpcot or call 407-WDW-DINE (3463).

New Multi-Use Venue at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports will open a new multi-use sports and entertainment venue in 2018. It will seat more than 8,000 guests and have the ability to host six regulation basketball courts, six regulation volleyball courts or concert configurations. For cheer and dance events, it will accommodate performance and warm-up space and include a flexible design for one large competition space that can be set up for as many as four competition areas. Additional areas can be tailored for warm-up and practice, along with areas for judges and officials. There will be concessions throughout the building, and additional box office and entry to the complex.

December 27, 2017

D23 has announced its 2018 Gold Member Gift: Mickey Mouse

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With New Years just moments away, D23 has announced its 2018 Gold Member Gift: Mickey Mouse. In honor of Mickey’s upcoming 90th birthday, on November 18, 2018, the D23 Team worked with the Walt Disney Archives to curate this collectible box set of 23 items.
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This fascinating collection, available exclusively to D23 Gold and Gold Family Members who join in or renew for 2018, chronicles the career of everyone’s favorite mouse, from Steamboat Willie to Shanghai Disneyland.

The gift contains 23 reproduced archival treasures that follow Mickey as he transitions from black and white to radiant color, including a miniature animation cel representing Mickey’s first color appearance; a Sorcerer’s Apprentice record cover; a 1978 “Happy Birthday, Mickey” button; a Disney Channel launch party napkin featuring a familiar Mickey-shaped satellite; and a colorful souvenir gift bag from the early days of Tokyo Disneyland. Through it all, Mickey mirrors Walt Disney’s own optimistic spirit and proves himself to be that rare celebrity who is, and always will be, both a global icon and a personal friend to all.

December 25, 2017

Enjoy this Holiday Toy Story Inspired Yule Log from D23

December 22, 2017

Disney Vacation Club Membership Magic in 2018

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(email from DVC to members, 12/22/2017)

Dear Member,

On behalf of our entire Disney Vacation Club team ... Happy Holidays to you and your family! Here's hoping it has been an unforgettable year filled with special Disney moments and plenty of Membership Magic.

As you know, we are always making big plans for the future around here, specifically as they relate to your vacation experience. With that in mind, I am thrilled to share a few details about some new advantages and benefits coming your way in the New Year:

• As always, we're continuously working on enhancements to your digital experience. Starting next summer, we'll give you expanded functionality and convenience on the Member website, letting you not only make but also modify your reservations when you're booking Disney Vacation Club resorts with points. The enhanced site will also be mobile friendly so you can make and modify your reservations right from your smart phone.

• In early 2018, Reunion Station will open adjacent to Geyser Point Bar & Grill at the new Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Reunion Station is being created exclusively for you, our Members, and will function as a concierge lounge serving a light breakfast and happy hour offerings (a nightly fee applies). You may also book unique activities at Reunion Station, like wine tastings and photography classes. During certain times of day, the new lounge will simply provide a peaceful place to relax.

• Your in-room experience has never been more important to us. That's why we will begin removing trash from your rooms at Disney Vacation Club resorts on a daily basis in addition to regular housekeeping visits. The daily service begins December 22, 2017, at five resort properties (Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian, Disney's Grand Californian and Aulani). The service extends to all other Disney Vacation Club resorts on January 7, 2018.

• You will enjoy more Moonlight Magic dates than ever in 2018, with events already confirmed for every month from January through November. Included are the first Moonlight Magic events at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where the highly anticipated Toy Story Land will have made its debut by the time Members take over the park. Also planned is a return to Disney California Adventure, where Paradise Pier will have been transformed into Pixar Pier. Click here for confirmed dates.

• Launched in 2016 as part of Disney Vacation Club's celebration of "25 years and beyond," the Member Lounge on the second floor of the Imagination! Pavilion at Epcot became an instant hit. The lounge's popularity prompted its extended operation in 2017, and I'm pleased to report that it's scheduled to remain open throughout 2018. If you happen to be visiting Epcot, I encourage you to stop by the lounge between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily to enjoy comfortable seating, complimentary soft drinks, Wi-Fi, device-charging stations, access to Member Service Advisors and more.

• We know how important it is for you to reach Member Services at convenient times. With that in mind, we have extended the hours for Member Services by 90 minutes each day - to 9 p.m. ET on weekdays and to 7 p.m. ET on weekends.

• You've been asking about this for a long time, and I couldn't be more pleased to provide it: Personalized merchandise. We're talking about shirts, hats and other apparel and gift items that are customizable for each Member and their resort. You can even add the milestone year you joined Disney Vacation Club. Visit the Benefits & More section of DisneyVacationClub.com to learn more about how to show your pride in your Home Resort.

• And don't forget about the exclusive ticket savings we're offering Members and guests at Walt Disney World Resort, available for purchase for only a few more days (you can buy them through January 3, 2018, and activate them through the end of 2018). Save more than 25% on a Disney Platinum Plus Annual Pass, or get seven days of Disney Theme Parks for the price of five. These are two really exciting offers - and a continuation of the discounts and special offers we make available to our Members, like extensive merchandise and dining discounts at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, as well as unique opportunities with Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney.

So there you have it ... quite a collection of new Membership Magic experiences and exciting offers ... with many more in development or on the way!*

As we celebrate the holidays, I hope you'll take time to enjoy the season's many blessings by spending time with the people you care about and making your own special memories. Thank you for your membership in Disney Vacation Club. We couldn't be more pleased to have you as part of our family.

All the best,

Ken Potrock
Senior Vice President & General Manager
Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney & Golden Oak Management, LLC

NBA announces first-of-its-kind global youth basketball competition - Championship at ESPN

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Jr. NBA World Championship to be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando Aug. 7-12, 2018

NEW YORK -- The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the Jr. NBA World Championship, a first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament for the top boys and girls teams ages 14 and under from around the world.

The Jr. NBA World Championship will feature boys and girls divisions, each comprised of 16 regional champions (eight U.S. and eight international teams) that will receive all-expenses-paid trips to compete in the inaugural event Aug. 7-12, 2018 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla. Located at Walt Disney World Resort, the world-class venue regularly hosts elite and recreational youth sports competitions.

Related: NBA expands youth basketball Initiative with new global competition

In showcasing the world’s top young talent, the Jr. NBA World Championship will be centered on four core values – teamwork, respect, determination and community – that will set a new standard in youth basketball development. In collaboration with USA Basketball and FIBA, the competition will promote standards of safe play as well as the proper training and licensing of coaches to enhance the experience for everyone involved.

The Jr. NBA World Championship will align with the NBA and USA Basketball Youth Guidelines, which promote health and wellness in several ways including recommending age-appropriate limits on the number of games that youth should play. All coaches participating in the Jr. NBA World Championship will also be required to be trained and licensed by USA Basketball (U.S.-based coaches) or FIBA (international coaches).

Youth at the Jr. NBA World Championship will not only compete on the court but will also receive off-court life skills education and participate in NBA Cares community service projects.

“The Jr. NBA World Championship represents another significant step in our effort to promote youth basketball globally,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “And in addition to high-level competition on the court, participants will learn from NBA and WNBA veterans and coaches the values of the game and the most appropriate training techniques.”

Cleveland Cavaliers guard and three-time NBA Champion Dwyane Wade and Los Angeles Sparks forward and WNBA Champion Candace Parker will serve as lead global ambassadors for the Jr. NBA World Championship.

“I am excited to serve as a global ambassador for the Jr. NBA World Championship,” said Wade. “Basketball means so much to me and my family, and I look forward to helping the NBA improve the game at the youth level for the next generation of players from around the world.”

“The Jr. NBA World Championship is a great initiative that will connect U.S. and international youth in a meaningful way,” said Parker. “As a global ambassador, I’m looking forward to making a positive impact on the participants, both on and off the court.”

The Jr. NBA World Championship will tip off in spring 2018 with U.S. and international competitions across various regional sites. The winning boys and girls teams from eight newly-created U.S. regional tournaments (Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West), plus teams representing eight international regions (Africa & Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America), will compete in the culminating event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The international competition will leverage the Jr. NBA’s extensive global reach. During the 2017-18 season, the NBA will reach more than 26 million youth in 71 countries through a variety of camps, clinics, skills challenges, league play and outreach events.

The Jr. NBA World Championship will be separated into U.S. and international brackets that include round-robin competition followed by single-elimination boys and girls tournaments. Winners of the U.S. and international brackets will play in the championship games on Aug. 12.

Media and marketing partners for the Jr. NBA World Championship will be announced at a later date.

More information about the Jr. NBA World Championship can be found at jrnba.com/worldchampionship. Registration for teams to compete in the Jr. NBA World Championship is not yet open but those that sign up online will be notified as soon as registration information is available.

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