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January 2009 Archives

January 2, 2009

Happy New Year, Happy Birthday!

Using an oversized park ticket created for the occasion, Seattle, Wash. resident Andrew DaCosta entered the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Jan. 1, 2009. DaCosta was honored as the first person in the nation to receive free admission to a Disney theme park on his birthday as part of Disney's "What Will You Celebrate?"

DaCosta, who turns 49 today, redeemed his "Free On Your Birthday" registration at the Magic Kingdom Guest Relations window at 7:31 a.m.

Jan. 1 is the first day of the "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign at both Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. In addition to offering everyone who visits a Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme park on their birthday in 2009 free admission, the "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign features new theme park entertainment, added celebration experiences and new ways for guests to customize their own "celebration vacation" at both vacation resorts.


January 5, 2009

‘What Will You Celebrate?’ Launches

'What Will You Celebrate?' Launches: New Immersive Fun, 'Techno-vations,' Delectable Eats, Resort Experiences, Free Birthday Visits in Store for Walt Disney World Guests in 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - In 2009, Disney Parks poses the question "What Will You Celebrate?" in response to a travel trend that finds American families hitting the road to mark life's special occasions. And to put guests in the spirit, Walt Disney World Resort is offering free admission to everyone who visits one of its theme parks on their birthday in 2009.

"Birthdays are the one occasion that we all share every year," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We thought a free birthday ticket would be the icing on the cake as we extend this 'celebration vacation' trend to Disney Parks.

"We see our parks as the ideal setting for a personal celebration," Rasulo continued. "Guests can immerse themselves in their favorite stories and their favorite characters, creating a visit they'll never forget."

Walt Disney World guests can choose from experiences ranging from breathtaking (magical fireworks cruises, sunrise safaris, diving the depths with undersea creatures) to mirth-making (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, character dining, kids' pirate adventures) in order to personalize their celebration. Even the Disney florist has gotten into the act, creating special offerings that silently scream "surprise!" when vacationers open their guest-room door.

And to aid guests as they plan their personal celebrations, a new Web-based tool at www.DisneyParks.com helps guests sort through the possibilities - whether the occasion is a birthday, anniversary, reunion, personal accomplishment, first visit or something else.

New immersive fun in theme parks
Disney Parks' initiative to create more immersive experiences continues in 2009 at Walt Disney World Resort with premieres in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Here's what's in store:

* "The American Idol Experience" (Disney's Hollywood Studios) - Starry-eyed Disney guests will get a taste of TV's pop culture phenomenon - up close and personal - when Disney's Hollywood Studios grand opens this "American Idol" attraction in mid-February. It's another immersive opportunity as guests will be able to experience the challenge of auditioning, the rush of performing on stage in competition or the thrill of judging the performances in a live interactive setting modeled after the "American Idol" set. There will be several showtimes daily. Guests advancing through the screening process have the chance, in the nightly final competition, to win a guaranteed reservation for a regional audition for the "American Idol" TV show.

* Disney's Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure (Epcot) - Inspired by Disney Channel's Emmy Award-winning "Kim Possible" animated series, guests of all ages will become secret agents to save the world from various comical villains and their mad inventions in this ultra-interactive adventure packed with mystery and excitement. Guests team up with members of Team Possible in this high-tech experience slated for a late-January opening in seven World Showcase pavilions representing countries on three continents.

* "Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party" (Magic Kingdom) - It's party time beginning in mid-February when a cast of Disney characters, stilt walkers and other performers processes down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle to high-energy tunes such as "Breakout" and "I Like To Move It." Five floats decked out as gift-wrapped packages are part of the procession, and near the castle, Mad Hatter, Genie, Lumiere and Sebastian - the life and light of the party - pop out of four huge boxes. They join about a dozen other Disney characters headed by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to mix and mingle and dance in the street with Magic Kingdom guests during a 12-15-minute party scheduled to take place three times daily.

New high-tech innovations on land and sea
High-tech innovations will help guests navigate theme park fun and treat guests to new thrills on both land and the high seas:

* Verizon (in Disney theme parks) - Marking a first in both the travel and mobile industries, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Verizon are teaming up to enhance the guest experience at Walt Disney World Resort (and at Disneyland Resort in California). Guests will be able to access an array of features on their Verizon Wireless phones including the ability to easily locate shows, restaurants and the Disney characters anywhere inside the parks; get real-time attraction availability information; access mobile games; receive messages from characters and more.

* Disney Digital 3-D (aboard Disney Cruise Line ships)- Movie entertainment at sea is being revolutionized with the debut of Disney Digital 3-D, a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience just introduced onboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. Guests will delight as first-run, feature Disney films leap off the silver screen and take on a whole new dimension in the onboard theaters. Tridimensional images will combine with lasers, fog, streamers, and special lighting effects to create an immersive movie-going experience like no other at sea. During these once-a-cruise special engagements, guests will feel the rush of being part of the hottest show in town.

* The Hall of Presidents (in Magic Kingdom) - An Audio-Animatronics version of President Barack Obama will join representations of the previous 43 presidents of the United States as part of an attraction that has been celebrating American history since Walt Disney World Resort opened. Disney Imagineers are also updating a broad array of show elements. Reopening is slated for early July.

'Re-imagining' Downtown Disney
Following the fall 2008 opening of T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover, the "re-imagining" of Downtown Disney continues with:

* Transformation of the Portobello Yacht Club - The name of this long-time favorite restaurant is shortened to "Portobello," and an all-new menu reflects a new, warm, Italian trattoria décor. Portobello is open daily for lunch and dinner and is owned and operated by Levy Restaurants.

* New waterfront dining spot - A high-energy restaurant and bar opening in spring 2009 will feature Mexican and South American cuisine, an international wine bar and a tequila bar of more than 50 kinds of tequila and 10 signature frozen margaritas. The new as yet unnamed restaurant is being developed by E-Brands Restaurant Group, a multi-concept restaurant group which currently owns and operates Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bars, Samba Rooms, Taqueria Canonita, Aquaknox, David Burke, Salsa Orlando and Canonita Express in a number of cities across the United States. The Downtown Disney restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. until late night with nightly entertainment.

'Re-branding' the sports complex
Aligning the world's No. 1 family vacation destination with the worldwide leader in sports, Walt Disney World Resort and ESPN are joining forces to "re-brand" Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex with the ESPN brand, creating an entertaining and immersive experience for the nearly 2 million athletes, coaches and spectators who come through the sports complex each year. Plans for the re-branding initiative are still in the development stage, but initial concepts involve:

* Renaming the sports complex and incorporating the signature elements of ESPN - Throughout the 220-acre facility, which is a leading venue for amateur and professional sports in the country, the project aims to enhance the experience of both athletes and spectators by connecting them to their favorite ESPN programs, personalities and elements and making them feel like they've made it to the "big time."

10 new places to go, 4 new places to settle down
In 2009, Disney Cruise Line is charting two new eastern Caribbean courses. Meanwhile, Adventures by Disney is adding eight destinations, including some of the most exotic and remote locations in the world, to its list of trips. And Disney Vacation Club is offering guests visiting Disney Parks four new resort experiences. Here's a look at what's coming:

* New eastern Caribbean itineraries (Disney Cruise Line) - St. Croix will be a featured stop on one new seven-night itinerary, and Tortola will be featured on another seven-night itinerary, giving Disney Cruise Line guests more choices than ever before to explore the beautiful islands of the Caribbean. Both islands are new to Disney Cruise Line, increasing the seven-night Caribbean choices on the Disney Magic to four itineraries (Disney's traditional eastern and western Caribbean itineraries will continue). Itineraries with St. Croix and itineraries with Tortola sail select dates throughout 2009.

* New family-friendly adventure vacations (Adventures by Disney) - An expedition to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, a safari in Africa, and an exploration of Alaska are among eight new adventures in 2009, giving guests a total of 23 vacation options to choose from. Other new Adventures by Disney itineraries: Italy and Switzerland; Boston, Newport, New York City; Central Italy; Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco; and Glacier National Park and Banff National Park.

* New 'home-away-from-home' accommodations (Disney Vacation Club) - Four new options in 2009 will combine to revive "treehouse living" at Walt Disney World Resort, immerse guests in the African experience " in Florida, bring vacation ownership so close to Magic Kingdom that families can blow Tinker Bell a kiss goodnight and use Cinderella Castle as their nightlight, and provide the first Disney Vacation Club accommodations on the West Coast:

* The Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa - Treehouse living, a cherished tradition from 1975-2002, returns with the opening (scheduled for summer) of 60 three-bedroom villas elevated 10 feet off the ground on pedestals and beams designed to blend into the forest glens where they are nestled, providing Saratoga Springs with a new room category.

* Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Having completed the conversion of select rooms at Jambo House (at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge) into vacation villas, Kidani Village is taking shape (for phased openings in the spring and fall) with thatched roofs and hewn timber design. Kidani means "necklace" and the building is shaped like a piece of native African jewelry with guest villas forming the beads, garden-like walkways creating the knots in between and the lobby representing the ornament or jewel at its center.

* Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort - The 15-story curvilinear tower (slated for a fall opening) is designed to complement the fabled styling of the original building, which opened with Magic Kingdom on Oct. 1, 1971. The crescent shape, which features 295 two-bedroom-equivalent villas, promises to deliver some of the most dramatic views available anywhere at Walt Disney World Resort - some of scenic stretches of Bay Lake, others with views of Magic Kingdom.

* The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Offering 50 two-bedroom-equivalent vacation villas (in late fall), this expansion of the existing hotel at Disneyland Resort is an architectural and artistic celebration of California's renowned Arts & Crafts style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Academy Award Nominated Actress Angela Bassett Joins Walt Disney World Moms Panel with her Disney Vacation Tips

Actress Helps Debut 16 New Parents for the 2009 Walt Disney World Moms Panel

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2009) - Celebrating an exceptional opening year, Disney Parks has launched its second consecutive Walt Disney World Moms Panel, www.disneyworldmoms.com. Academy Award nominated actress Angela Bassett, star of television's "ER" and the movie "What's Love Got to Do With It" welcomes vacation planners to the two year old site and shares her own vacation planning tips. A mother of toddler-aged twins, Ms. Bassett joins 16 other travel savvy parents, The Walt Disney World Moms Panel, in giving free, tried and true advice for planning an unforgettable Walt Disney World Vacation.

This interactive online forum consists of 15 moms and one dad, who have proven their Disney knowledge and ability to field vacation-planning questions from all park-goers. Truly an eclectic group of parents - from the suburbs of New Hampshire and Louisiana to our neighbors abroad in Ottawa and England - these panelists are equipped and eager to share insights to make trips to Disney magical for every family.

Featuring a grandmother from Indiana who treasures celebrations at the parks to a New Jersey mom whose mastered Disney vacations with a special needs child, these Walt Disney World experts will ensure that no hidden Mickey is left undiscovered.

"We are extremely excited for our 2009 panelists to share their unique secrets, suggestions and personal traditions with other families looking to enhance their Disney vacation experience," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "Our 2008 panel answered close to 12,000 questions in its first 10 months, which further emphasizes how invaluable the Moms Panel has been for families planning a Walt Disney World vacation."

Welcoming the Moms into their new roles is former inaugural panelist, Kim LaPaglia from Annville, Pa., who will continue to lend her Disney smarts - this time to families sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line.


Get to Know the 2009 Walt Disney World Moms Panel

The members of the Disney Parks 2009 online Walt Disney World Moms Panel are:

Kathryn "Kay" Belin Valparaiso, IN ; - A parent and grandparent of two boys who has celebrated reunions, birthdays and graduations to weddings, engagements and business reward trips - you name it, Kathryn's celebrated it!

Diane Campagna; Bristol, R.I. - This mom has mastered planning successful trips that please both her sons of 10 and 7 years old as well as her 2-year-old daughter.

Margaret Fries; Oak Lawn, Ill. - Paralegal turned PTA president, Margaret and her three boys ages 12, 8 and 6 have spent close to every major holiday at the parks.

Jodi Grundig; Natick, Mass. - Successful mom and blogger who travels to Disney every year with her husband, 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

Doug Ingersoll; Carmel, IN - Father of two girls who grew up traveling the world, Doug calls Disney World his true home as the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Walt Disney World, 2009 Edition."

Diane Luba; Plymouth, Conn. - There's no stopping this mother of two teenaged boys and a tween girl who has traveled to Disney by planes, trains and automobiles.

Joanne McCabe; Ottawa - Single mom to her daughter, 8, who has driven to Disney from Canada and marathoned throughout Disney with three generations of her family.

Tanya McNally; Basking Ridge, N.J. - Vice-president of HR turned vice-president of her household, this mom of two boys ages 6 and 4 - one child with special needs - has mastered traveling to Disney throughout her 32 visits in 34 years.

Whitney Pickering; Laurel, Miss. - Mother of four children, ages 3 to 13, who boasts about leading her family brigade of 19 to Disney as well as having dined at more than 50 park restaurants.

Karen Prince; Plymouth, N.H. - Disney Vacation Club member and mom of three young children has experienced Disney while pregnant, with newborns, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Cathy Schikowski; Richfield, Ohio - Mom to a 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter who has enjoyed nearly 40 trips to the parks celebrating anything and everything, with a specialty for birthdays.

Anna Skamarakas; Bellmawr, N.J. - Mom of three mouse-crazed daughters ranging in age from 17 to 3, she has planned more than 200 trips and has stayed in every Walt Disney World Resort.


Jackie Stevens; Luling, La.
- Married to her high school sweetheart and mother to three rambunctious boys, this mom knows how to make the most of a Disney trip - even when the majority was spent in a hotel room with the flu.

Amber Vaughan; Washington, Pa - A stay-at-home-mom of 26 years old, she loves to re-visit her families' Disney adventures with her two children.

Jennifer Wilkes; Acworth, Ga. - Mother to three princesses of her own ranging in age from 13 to 5, she can plan a Disney vacation to satisfy the tiniest of travelers - including having traveled when her youngest was 6-months-old.

Joanne "Jo" Young; West Malling, Kent England - A busy mom of two tween girls who is an expert in planning a Disney vacation from overseas.

For more information and to "meet" the new panel members, visit www.disneyworldmoms.com.

About the Walt Disney World Moms Panel

Entering its second year, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel is an online forum where guests can get insider tips and insights for vacationing at Walt Disney World from real moms and dads who have mastered the art of planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Due to the overwhelming response since its launch in 2008, Disney increased its panel from 12 to 16 members for 2009, featuring 15 moms and one Disney dad.

Each panelist was selected to share their vast knowledge of the resort and personal secrets of success with other families who are considering a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Guests can pose questions and have them answered by the panelists, as well as gain access to other valuable park insights and vacation planning tools for booking a Walt Disney World vacation.

January 7, 2009

Disney Parks Celebrate U.S. Military With Free, Multi-day Admission to Theme Parks in 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. / ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2009) - As Disney Parks ask "What Will You Celebrate?"� and invite guests to turn their personal milestones into magical family vacations in 2009, America's military personnel will have one more reason to celebrate: Free multi-day admission to Disney's U.S. theme parks.

With the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer, active and retired U.S. military personnel, including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists, can enjoy complimentary, multi-day admission into Disney's U.S. theme parks, great rates at select Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort hotels, and additional special ticket offers for family members and friends.

"For so many of the men and women who serve in our U.S. military, time together with their families is cause enough for celebration," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are grateful for their service and hope 'Disney's Armed Forces Salute' will allow our troops to create wonderful, magical memories with their family and friends."

At the Disneyland Resort in Southern California:

Through June 12, 2009, each active or retired member of the U.S. military can receive one complimentary three-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" Park Hopper ticket valid for admission to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure parks. During the offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel also may make a one-time purchase of an adult or child three-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" Park Hopper ticket for up to five family members (including spouse) or friends for the price of an adult 1-Day Park Hopper ticket.

Disneyland Resort hotels are also offering special room rates for active or retired military personnel. For example, at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, active or retired members of the military and their families may find hotel rooms starting at $119 per night during value season, with great savings during other times of the offer period. This offer is available through June 12, 2009, and the number of rooms available at these special rates is limited.

For information regarding "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" at the Disneyland Resort, or to make reservations, military personnel may call 714/956-6424.

At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida:

Through Dec. 23, 2009, each active or retired member of the U.S. military may obtain one complimentary 5-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket withPark Hopper andWater Park Fun & More options. This ticket is valid for five days of admission into the four Walt Disney World theme parks, plus a total of five visits to a choice of a Disney water park, DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park or certain other attractions. During this offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel may also make a one-time purchase of up to a maximum of five 5-Day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets(one theme park per day) for $99 per ticket, plus tax, for family members (including spouse) or friends. Although this ticket for family members and friends does not include either the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More options, this ticket can be upgraded to add either such option, or both, for an additional $25, plus tax, per option. All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by Dec. 23, 2009.

Ask about the great rates that may be available at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for active or retired U.S. military personnel during this offer period.

For information on the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer at Walt Disney World Resort or the Disneyland Resort, or to make reservations, active and retired U.S. Military personnel may call the ITT office on their base. Information about "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer at Walt Disney World Resort is also available at www.disneyworld.com/military.

Through the years, The Walt Disney Company has demonstrated its support of United States' servicemen and women through a variety of initiatives. Disney's support for the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots program started 58 years ago - when Walt Disney became one of the original sponsors. Since 1995, Disney's Operation Uplift program has sent over 90,000 postcards to troops worldwide, thanking them for their service. The company also supports U.S. service members and their families as a sponsor of the USO and its centers. Each year, Operation Disney Care packages, containing Disney DVDs, books, magazines and games, are sent to centers around the world to help entertain the servicemen/women and their families, Disney Minnie Grants are used to host family appreciation events, while Disney VoluntEARS donate many hours participating in local USO projects.

Other Offer Details:
· Complimentary "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" tickets may be obtained only by active or retired U.S. military personnel, including activated members of the National Guard or Reservists (with orders showing active status after Jan. 1, 2008) and active or retired members of the United States Coast Guard. Spouses are not eligible.
· Complimentary "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort can be obtained only at participating U.S. military base ticket offices (including at the Shades of Green Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort), or at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows. Military personnel will need to activate those tickets at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows in order to use those tickets (no more than 1 such complimentary ticket per service member will be activated).
· Please see a participating U.S. military base ticket office for an exchange certificate for the complimentary "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket for the Disneyland Resort. The exchange certificate will need to be redeemed for such ticket by the active or retired military personnel at a Main Entrance theme park ticket window (maximum of 1 such complimentary ticket per service member).
· "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for family members and friends may be purchased only by active or retired U.S. military personnel, including activated members of the National Guard or Reservists (with orders showing active status after Jan. 1, 2008) and active or retired members of the United States Coast Guard (or, in each case, their spouses, but not both).
· "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort can be purchased only at participating U.S. military base ticket offices (including at the Shades of Green Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort), or at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for admission to the Disneyland Resort can be purchased only at participating U.S. military base ticket offices.
· Military personnel (or their spouses) who purchase "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort for family members and friends will need to activate those tickets at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows in order for those tickets to be used (regardless of where those tickets are purchased). Actual prices for such tickets may be less than prices shown above.
· Military personnel (or their spouses) who purchase "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion"� tickets for admission to the Disneyland Resort for family members and friends will receive exchange certificates to be redeemed by such military personnel (or their spouses) for tickets at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows (one ticket per exchange certificate).
· The military personnel (or spouse) will be required to present valid military identification (which, for activated members of the National Guard or Reservists, also includes orders showing active status after Jan. 1, 2008) for all ticket transactions (including to activate tickets, and/or redeem exchange certificates for tickets, at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows). A valid ID may also be required for admission.
· "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets are limited to five per service member (regardless of place of purchase and whether purchased by service member or spouse) and all five must be purchased at the same time. Accordingly, no service member (or spouse) will be permitted to activate, and/or to redeem exchange certificates for, more than a total of five "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort (regardless of whether activated or exchanged by the service member or spouse).
· First day of use of "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets and "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets at the Disneyland Resort must be no later than June 12, 2009,and tickets expire 13 days after the first day of use or June 25, 2009, whichever occurs first. Last day of use on "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets and "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets at the Walt Disney World Resort is Dec. 23, 2009.
· Tickets must be used by the same person on any and all days. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets may be used only by the service members to whom they are issued. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets may be used only by the friends and family members for whom they are purchased.
· This offer may not be combined with any other offer.

"What Will You Celebrate?"

Military personnel taking advantage of this offer will find even more to celebrate during their stay. Beginning now, Disney Parks is embracing a newly identified nationwide travel trend called "celebration vacations," in which Americans mark special occasions in their lives with a family vacation.

In 2009, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resorts ask guests "What Will You Celebrate?" and lead this growing trend with new entertainment and services that allow guests to turn their personal milestones -a birthday, an anniversary, Quinceañera or any special occasion - into magical Disney experiences.

January 8, 2009

HanesBrands to Open One-of-a-Kind Custom T-Shirt Store at Downtown Disney

Walt Disney World guests can now design, personalize and immediately purchase special vacation t-shirts at Disney Design-A-Tee store presented by Hanes at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

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The first-of-its-kind interactive T-shirt design and printing store enables guests to use touch-screen kiosks to create their long-sleeve or short-sleeve T-shirts in multiple colors by choosing from more than 100 art selections of Disney animation and movie characters. They can also choose their own text using a wide selection of type fonts and colors. The design possibilities are infinite, and the shirts are printed on site while guests wait. They can produce one T-shirt or multiples of the same design at the same time to share with friends and family.

The Grand Opening takes place 11:30 a.m., Friday, January 9, 2009.

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January 12, 2009

Bastos Dominates Walt Disney World Marathon – Again!

Brazilian celebrates fifth straight Disney victory and sixth overall; event record 22,000 runners compete in first of Disney's 12 endurance series races in 2009

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - (Jan. 11, 2009) - In what is becoming an extraordinary Walt Disney World Marathon tradition, Adriano Bastos of Brazil celebrated another Disney Marathon victory Sunday by coasting to his fifth straight win and sixth overall. Lisa Mizutani won the women's title.

Bastos, 30, led a Disney record field of 22,000 runners virtually from start to finish around the 26.2 mile course which traced through all four of Disney's theme parks. He crossed the finish line in 2:20:38 - roughly seven minutes ahead of second-place finisher Aaron Church (South Riding, Va.), who was followed by Matthew Fecht (Warren, Mich.) in third. Bastos' time was 20 seconds faster than last year when he posted a time of 2:20:58.

"My goal is to win 10 Disney Marathons," said Bastos, who adds another Disney-themed tattoo after each marathon win. "I love running this marathon because I can run and then have fun in the Disney theme parks."

Mizutani of Japan easily outran the women competitors. The 23-year-old, who made the transatlantic trip specifically to run in the Disney Marathon, broke away from the pack early partly because of the enthusiastic cheers from spectators along the route and ran unchallenged virtually the entire 26.2 miles. She cruised to the finish in 2:46:27, comfortably ahead of Melanie Peters (St. Petersburg, Fla.), who was last year's women's champion, and Christa Benton (St. Petersburg, Fla.), who finished third a year ago.

In the wheelchair division, Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Ga., crossed the line first (1:37:19). Among the women, Shirley Reilly of Tucson, Ariz., won the title (2:09:51).

The victories by Bastos and Mizutani capped a weekend of endurance events at Disney, including the Disney Half Marathon, the Circle of Life 5K, Disney's Kid Races and a Health & Fitness Expo. David Jankowski of Rochester Hills, Mich., and Elizabeth Chelagat of Las Cruces, N.M., won the Disney Half Marathon men's and women's titles, respectively. In all, more than 45,000 runners competed in events throughout the weekend, making this the largest Disney Marathon Weekend since the event's debut in 1994.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Walt Disney World Marathon, registration for the 2010 Disney Marathon Weekend begins Monday Jan. 12, 2009. To register for the marathon or for any Disney endurance race, visit www.disneyworldmarathon.com or www.disneyenduranceseries.com

About Disney's Endurance Series

Disney's Endurance Series gives recreational athletes of all ages and abilities the chance to walk, jog, run, bike and swim their way "around the world." From marathons to road races to triathlons, athletes from across the country and around the world compete to stay in shape, achieve personal-best times and raise donations for charitable causes. Popular Endurance Series events are the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon (January), Disney's Princess Half Marathon presented by Lady Foot Locker (March), Expedition Everest Challenge (September), Disneyland Half Marathon (September), Disney's Race for the Taste 10K (October) and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K (October). Please visit disneyenduranceseries.com for more information.

January 13, 2009

Disneyland's "it's a small world" Preview

There is a special preview for Annual Passholders to see the newly enhanced "it's a small world" at Disneyland before the official reopening.

Dubbed "the happiest cruise that ever sailed the world" at the New York World's Fair 45 years ago, "it's a small world" takes you on a joyful boat ride as memorable as the delightful song that serenades you on your journey.

This classic attraction has been renovated, adding new places as well as familiar faces. Be sure to look for some of the "it's a small world" dolls dressed up as some of your favorite Disney characters in the countries where those stories take place!

Annual Passholder special preview:

+ Thursday, February 5, 2009
+ 10:00am - 8:00pm

Just show your Annual Pass to the Cast Member at the attraction entrance to be permitted entry during this special time.

The attraction opens to the public on Friday, February 6, 2009.

Previews are on a first-come, first-serve basis and may involve long wait times. Each Guest must show a valid Annual Passport to be permitted entry during this specific preview time. Valid Theme Park admission is required. Event subject to change without notice.

American Idol Experience Previews!

IT'S SHOWTIME!: Disney's Hollywood Studios raises the curtain on the newest showbiz-themed attraction, "The American Idol Experience" on Feb. 14, 2009, with all the excitement of the popular "American Idol" TV show. In this first-of-its-kind attraction, Walt Disney World guests can vote on their favorite performance, or audition with the chance to perform on stage.

As the debut of the show nears, Disney has released a few preview videos to give you a taste of what's to come!

January 15, 2009

Pirate-Themed Guest Rooms Debut

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Landlubbers and scallywags alike can live like Captain Jack in a pirate-themed guestroom specially created for Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. More than 350 guestrooms are getting an "Extreme Makeover: Pirate Edition" with new décor and furnishings fit for a buccaneer. Walt Disney World guests can reserve the special rooms through 407 W-DISNEY, www.disneyworld.com or by contacting their travel agent.

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January 22, 2009

Walt Disney World Resort Offers Romantic Playground for Lovebirds on Valentine's Day and Every Day

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The storybook setting and amorous ambiance of Walt Disney World Resort has lovebirds flocking to the Vacation Kingdom for a romantic getaway. Moonlit strolls, luxurious spas and intimate dining make it feel like Valentine's Day every day. And new for 2009: as part of Disney's "What Will You Celebrate?" couples commemorating their commitment have a "heart full" of enchanting ways to customize their Valentine's vacations.

Couples who've been bitten by the love bug don't need a fairy godmother to find romance at Walt Disney World Resort. This is, after all, home to some of the world's most famous romances: Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast - and don't forget America's sweethearts, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Throughout the 40-square-mile playground, love is in the air at the Vacation Kingdom. During a couples spa experience. In the middle of a romantic dinner. Or on one of the "love boats" that cruise Walt Disney World waterways.

Honeymooners thrive in the romantic allure of Walt Disney World Resort - a top-rated honeymoon destination, according to industry experts.

And for couples who want to make their own fairy tale dream come true - complete with Cinderella's coach and her famous glass slipper - Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings can create an unforgettable union.

The four Walt Disney World theme parks create a perfect setting for spontaneous romance - whether it's a stroll along the lush Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom or a relaxing stop for espresso and pastries at a sidewalk table in the France pavilion at Epcot World Showcase. Beyond the parks, couples can embrace a bouquet of romantic experiences that seem designed just for them:

The Couple that 'Spas' and 'Flies' Together".. - What's more enjoyable than a luxurious spa treatment? Imagine sharing it with that special someone. The Grand Floridian Spa & Health Club, in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, features a "couples room" where guests can enjoy specialized spa treatments - such as massages and facials - with the one they love. For information about spa treatments, call 407/824-2332.

Make like Aladdin and Jasmine - fly through the sky with your loved one on an adventurous tandem parasail over Bay Lake. Those looking to soar to new heightscan spend 10 minutes alone soaring high above Disney and get a bird's-eye view of Magic Kingdom and its neighboring resorts. Rates start at $170 (plus tax) for a tandem flight. Contact Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre at Disney's Contemporary Resort, or call 407/939-0754 for reservations.

Magical Resorts - From the romance of an African lodge to the Victorian splendor of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the mood is set for an enchanting stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. Disney's fantasy hotels transport couples to faraway places with lavish theming, picturesque views and superior service. For reservations, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639).

The Love Boat - The Grand Floridian's Grand 1 - an elegant 52-foot yacht - can give couples, or parties up to 18, a stunning view of "Wishes" fireworks showering above Magic Kingdom during select evening cruises along Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Private butler service and gourmet meals also are available. Romantic evening cruises begin at $480/hour (plus tax),including captain and private deck hand. Reservations may be made up to 90 days in advance by calling 407/824-2682.

At Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Marina, a 1920s-style 26-foot mahogany runabout is available for private rental. Half-hour afternoon cruises are $95 (plus tax) for up to six people. For $300 (plus tax),up to six guests can take a Fireworks Cruise into Epcot (45-50 minutes) for an exhilarating, one-of-a-kind view of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth." The craft - complete with captain - travels across Crescent Lake for the nightly fireworks, sound and laser show. Reservations may be made up to 90 days in advance by calling 407/WDW-PLAY (939-7529).

The name of the boat is perfect for couples in love: Breathless II.

Disney Dining Serves Romance - Couples find Disney dining infused with romance in settings ranging from subdued to spectacular. And with this year's "What Will You Celebrate?" Disney offers new entertainment and services that allow guests to turn their personal milestones into magical Disney experiences.

* Disney's three-course, prix fixe Sweetheart Dinner for Two is the perfect way to create a memorable evening, ending with a shared dessert. Dinners include a specially selected beverage in a souvenir toasting glass to commemorate a special moment and are available at all Walt Disney World signature restaurants except Victoria & Albert's. Guests who prefer an in-room romantic dinner can check with their Disney resort hotel's front desk.

* California Grill atop Disney's Contemporary Resort offers a panoramic view overlooking the Magic Kingdom theme park. Here, stellar cuisine and the restaurant's award-winning selection of California wines set the stage. Lovebirds can catch a Florida sunset over Magic Kingdom.

* One of the most romantic dinner spots at Walt Disney World Resort is a table for two at Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The elegant restaurant has been honored with the Five-Diamond Award from AAA for its gourmet cuisine. Combining Royal Doulton china, Cristofle silver and personalized menus, Victoria & Albert's is the "crown jewel" of the Grand Floridian's dining destinations. Soft harp music fills the air as "maids" and "butlers" provide stellar service to each of the 18 tables in the intimate dining room. Ladies also receive a long-stemmed red rose.

* For the ultimate romantic experience, an evening at the Chef's Table is unsurpassed. Couples are seated at a cozy table in Victoria & Albert's kitchen and treated to a culinary feast custom tailored to their specific tastes by Chef Scott Hunnel.

* Guests who prefer to dine in an even more intimate setting at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa need only to pick up the closest telephone. The Grand Floridian can arrange a private dinner for two, served against the elegant backdrop of the Grand Floridian beach - or aboard the Grand 1 - on a sunset excursion along Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Certain menu items can be specially prepared for the evening. Seven-day notice is requested.

* For all Walt Disney World dining information, guests can call 407/WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Nature Lovers - A horseback ride through one of the backwoods trails at Walt Disney World Resort is just the thing for couples who share a love of nature and each other. Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground offers wrangler-led tours (45 minutes) through the deep, pine-scented woods that make up part of the Vacation Kingdom's 40 square miles. Tours leave several times daily from Trail Blaze Corral, and may be reserved by calling 407/WDW-PLAY (939-7529).

Romantic Evening - Horse-drawn carriage rides through the wilderness of Walt Disney World Resort are a romantic treat for couples looking for a secluded nighttime outing. The antique carriages depart from Pioneer Hall at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and traverse throughout the scenic landscape of the 750-acre rustic resort. Or guests can choose a relaxing old-fashioned carriage ride through Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside with pickup at Boatwright's Dining Hall. Each nightly excursion is 30 minutes long for $45, available from 5:30-10 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m., respectively. For reservations, guests can call 407/WDW-PLAY (939-7529).

Weddings Around the 'World' - The epitome of Disney romance can be summed up in four words: Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings. Since the first wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in 1995, approximately 1,600 couples each year have exchanged vows at Walt Disney World Resort.

For these couples, dreams become reality. Where else but at Disney could a bride arrive for her wedding in Cinderella's glass coach, have a handsome major domo carry wedding rings to the altar in a glass slipper, or have Mickey and Minnie greet guests at the reception?

Whether it's an elegant ball at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, a traditional ceremony at Disney's Wedding Pavilion, a country hoe-down at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, or a beach-themed wedding complete with tiki torches, leis and luau on one of the Walt Disney World white-sand beaches, Disney custom designs each wedding with the famous "Disney Difference" - providing attention to the tiniest detail.

Disney's wedding specialists become the fairy godmother, incorporating all the elements including ceremony, entertainment, cuisine, floral arrangements, audiovisuals and accommodations. For more information on Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings, call 321/939-4623 or visit disneyweddings.com.

Couples who are tying the knot back home can arrange a Disney's Fairy Tale Honeymoon by calling 321/939-4623 or visiting the Web site at disneyhoneymoons.com.

Renewing Vows - Many couples who've been married for years are coming to Walt Disney World Resort, often with their families, to renew their vows five, 10, 25 and 50 years later. A Disney vacation provides the perfect backdrop to celebrate this family milestone. Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings experts can tailor the ceremony and celebration to suit each couple.

Introducing A Cutting Edge Custom T-Shirt Design and Printing Store at Walt Disney World

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 9, 2009 - Hanesbrands Inc. (NYSE:HBI) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) today officially opened Disney Design-a-Tee presented by Hanes, an innovative next-generation store for apparel souvenirs at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

The first-of-its-kind interactive T-shirt design and printing store enables Disney guests to enhance their magical Disney experience with a personalized custom-designed Hanes T-shirt printed while they wait that is as easy to buy as souvenir apparel off the rack. And much more fun!

Guests at Disney Design-a-Tee presented by Hanes, which is located in Downtown Disney, use touch-screen kiosks for an interactive experience to design their custom shirts, selecting long-sleeve or short-sleeve T-shirts, choosing from multiple colors, picking artwork from more than 100 selections featuring Disney animation and movie characters, and crafting their own text message using a wide selection of type fonts and colors.

The design possibilities are infinite, and the shirts are printed on site while guests wait using premium environmentally friendly water-based ink. Art selections include multiple designs featuring not only famous characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Snow White and others from classic Disney films, but also characters such as Crush from Finding Nemo, Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Tow Mater from Cars.

"At the Design-a-Tee store, visitors can dream it, design it and watch their custom Hanes T-shirts being made," said Sidney Falken, senior vice president of the Hanes brand. "The store combines all the magic of Disney and Hanes to create immediate one-of-a-kind keepsakes and souvenirs of their visit to Walt Disney World."

The grand opening event was attended by guests who were treated to a festive décor, confetti cannons, a giant T-shirt cake and a visit from Disney's most famous star, Mickey Mouse.

Kevin Lansberry, vice president, Downtown Disney operations, and Falken spoke at the event and invited guests to try their hand at designing their own special T-shirts.

"We are thrilled to create another exciting new Downtown Disney venue for our guests," Lansberry said. "The Disney Design-a-Tee store fits perfectly with our What Will You Celebrate 2009 campaign. Whether guests are celebrating an anniversary, a birthday or a special reunion, they can create a special Hanes t-shirt to show how they feel."

Disney Design-a-Tee uses a unique application of state-of-the-art technology and printing equipment in a process designed by Hanesbrands' research and development team. This is the first application of printing technology that allows consumers to walk up, design and print a custom message on a T-shirt of any color with screen-print quality.

Disney Design A Tee presented by Hanes is one of several critical brand investments for Hanes as part of a 10-year strategic marketing alliance with Disney.

"Hanes is consistently ranked as one of the most recognized and loved apparel brands in the world, and that brand equity increases when the brand is partnered with the equally strong Disney brand," Falken said. "Our alliance with Disney provides a broad range of new and exciting consumer interactions for Hanes and allows this iconic brand to grow and reach new audiences."

Disney Design-a-Tee is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is located at 1790 East Buena Vista Drive. Downtown Disney is open to the general public and resort guests and is accessible by car and by the Walt Disney World Resort guest shuttle system.

T-shirts are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, including long and short sleeve versions, and come in infant, toddler, youth and adult sizes. Prices range from $18 to $31. The company expects to add additional apparel product offerings at a later date at the store.

In addition to Disney Design-a-Tee presented by Hanes, the Hanesbrands marketing alliance with Disney includes category exclusivity for select Hanes and Champion apparel at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., and ESPN Zone stores across the country. Naming rights include the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith presented by Hanes and Champion Stadium located in Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

Hanesbrands Inc.

Hanesbrands Inc. is a leading marketer of innerwear, outerwear and hosiery apparel under strong consumer brands, including Hanes, Champion, Playtex, Bali, Just My Size, barely there and Wonderbra. The company designs, manufactures, sources and sells T-shirts, bras, panties, men's underwear, children's underwear, socks, hosiery, casualwear and activewear. Hanesbrands has approximately 50,000 employees in more than 25 countries. More information may be found on the company's Web site at www.hanesbrands.com.

January 26, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Welcomes Threatened Species

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 21, 2009 - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge welcomed the birth of two Ruppell's Griffon Vultures earlier this month. They are the first hatchings of this threatened species at Walt Disney World Resort. Each chick weighed less than six ounces and was about eight inches long when hatched.

vulture.jpg

Over the past twenty years, the population of Ruppell's Griffon Vultures has been declining. This reduction led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to raise the status of this species to threatened. Members of Disney's Animal Programs Team hope to increase the species population and generate more awareness of the challenges these birds face.

When grown, each new-born vulture could reach sizes close to three feet in height , with a wingspan of nearly eight feet, and can weigh 15-20 pounds. They are also known for their high-flying skills, being among the highest flying bird on record, once spotted at an altitude of over 37,000 feet in the skies of West Africa. Ruppell's vultures can fly more than three miles in six minutes and are able to stay in the air for as many as six to seven hours a day.

Ruppell's vultures are highly social; they roost, nest and gather to feed in large flocks. While they are generally a quiet breed, they may become vocal at the nest and during feeding time. The Ruppell's vultures pair up for life, which may be forty or fifty years.

Disney Cruise Line Ranked As No. 1 Cruise Experience

CELEBRATION, Fla., Jan. 21, 2009 - Disney Cruise Line was recently named the top large cruise ship experience by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the 9th annual "Reader's Cruise Poll."

The Cruise Poll recognizes the best cruise ships as voted on by Condé Nast Traveler readers. Winners were determined by a survey of more than 11,000 participants who rated 400 ships. Participants were asked to rate ships based on specific criteria including: staterooms, activities, service, design and layout, dining, itineraries and shore excursions.

"We are pleased to receive this honor from the readers of such an esteemed travel publication," said Tom McAlpin, President of Disney Cruise Line. "Winning the No. 1 spot is a testament to the beauty of our ships and the dedication our cast and crew members have in creating an unparalleled vacation for every member of the family."

This year, Disney Cruise Line ranked No. 1 in the "Large Ship" category with its ship, the Disney Wonder, which sails three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas. The Disney Magic was also ranked in the top five cruise experiences overall. The Disney Magic primarily sails seven-night cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean and, beginning in the spring of 2010, will embark on a season of limited itineraries exploring Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

In addition to the accolades in the Large Ship category, the Condé Nast Traveler "Cruise Spa Reader's Poll" ranked the spas aboard Disney Cruise Line in the top 5 best spas at sea.

Disney Cruise Line has received more than 50 distinguished awards and honors since first setting sail in 1998. These awards have included all aspects of the operation from dining and entertainment to youth activities and spa facilities.

Known for bringing family travel to the cruise industry, Disney Cruise Line continues to raise the bar on the cruise experience, with specifically designed areas and activities for each member of the family allowing for both quality time together and wonderful individual experiences. The focus is to allow families to reconnect, adults to recharge their batteries and kids to immerse themselves in worlds of fantasy only Disney can create.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can contact their travel agent, visit disneycruise.com or call Disney Cruise Line at 888/DCL-2500. Travel agents can call Disney Cruise Line at 888/325-2500 or visit disneytravelagents.com

January 27, 2009

Florida State Completes Stellar Field for 2009 Old Spice Classic

January 19, 2009

ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, announced today the complete field for the 2009 Old Spice Classic, to be held Thanksgiving weekend at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Florida State rounds out the eight-team field for the fourth annual Old Spice Classic. The other teams, announced previously: Alabama, No. 21 Baylor, Creighton, Iona, No. 14 Marquette, No. 24 Michigan and No. 16 Xavier. Florida State received votes last week in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Three of the seven teams announced reached the 2007-08 NCAA Tournament: Xavier, Baylor, Marquette. Xavier advanced to the Elite Eight. Creighton and Florida State participated in the National Invitation Tournament.

The 2009 Old Spice Classic, a bracket-format tournament, will feature 12 games in three days, Nov. 26, 27 and 29. Sponsors include Old Spice, ESPNU and Disney's Wide World of Sports. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) will serve as the event's sponsoring conference for the fourth straight year.

Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship match Sunday, Nov. 29.

The tournament is a weekend-long affair at the Walt Disney World Resort, and participating teams are invited to the Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks and other event functions.

Last November at the Milk House, then-No. 10 Gonzaga won the 2008 Old Spice Classic with an 83-74 victory over then-No. 12 Tennessee in the championship game. Previous winners were North Carolina State in 2007 and Arkansas in 2006.

Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Old Spice Classic Web site at www.oldspiceclassic.com. For more information on Disney's Wide World of Sports, visit www.disneysports.com.

January 29, 2009

Counting Down to American Idol Experience

Former American Idol contest David Archuleta talks about the new
American Idol Experience attraction opening February 14, 2009 at
Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.

See what it's like to sit in the audience of the newest attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida - cheering for the guests auditioning on stage and voting for your favorite singer.

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About January 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Disney and Florida Attractions News Blog in January 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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