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March 3, 2011

HP Field House Creates Hands-On Experience for America’s Youth Athletes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney

HP becomes official imaging, printing and PC partner for complex; HP technology implemented throughout the field house and beyond; initiative further enhances sports experience for youth athletes


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 3, 2011 - Walt Disney World and HP today unveiled the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex during a ceremony that featured NFL star Jason Witten and soccer legend Mia Hamm, along with ESPN Radio's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and executives from HP and Disney. The project will deliver an even more immersive sports experience for the nearly two million athletes, coaches and spectators who visit Disney's sports facilities each year.

The 165,000-square-foot HP Field House, a multi-purpose facility that can accommodate virtually any indoor sport and has been the cornerstone of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex since it opened in 1997, has been outfitted with a variety of innovative HP enhancements, such as touch-screen kiosks and a one-of-a-kind retail imaging area. Additionally, HP technology is being infused throughout the 230-acre complex, enabling athletes, coaches and fans to have an unparalleled "hands-on" sports experience while providing ways to customize their visit with amenities previously unseen in youth sports.

The most prominent feature of the HP Field House is the HP Photo Creation Center, where players and fans can download, design and enhance commemorative photos and images from their events, then immediately produce and print them at an onsite retail location. Guests will also be able to purchase life-size posters of action photos from the complex, wallpaper coverings, multi-page calendars, photo CDs and many other unique photo keepsakes, giving athletes, coaches and fans even more ways to cherish their sports memories long after their competitions have concluded.

"Today's youth athletes are extremely tech savvy and HP is the perfect partner to help them better capture and savor the lasting memories of their unique sports experience in ways that no other sports venue can," said Ken Potrock, senior vice president, Disney Sports Enterprises.

Beyond the HP Field House, guests can tap into a wealth of HP technology. For instance:

HP TouchSmart Kiosks - Conveniently located in seven locations throughout the complex, the touch-screen stations, which feature new HP TouchSmart 9300 Elite Business PCs, will guide users to field assignments, schedule updates, display game day photos and video highlights, as well as provide general complex information, including maps, weather and dining options.

The TouchSmart kiosks also host a custom application that allows sports fans to create and share personalized avatars for their official ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex credential. The application can generate virtually unlimited uniquely tailored avatars with details ranging from sports preferences to jersey colors, skin tones and hair color.

The Welcome Center and ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill - The Welcome Center, the complex's on-site concierge service, provides guests with a number of one-of-a-kind services, from identifying field locations, to booking dining appointments, to transacting theme park and water park ticketing, to making hotel reservations. Additionally, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill now provides an Internet-café experience, with web access to relevant sites such as WaltDisneyWorld.com, ESPN.com, ESPNRISE.com and HP.com. The services are all enhanced via HP technology.

Working Laboratory - HP, Disney and ESPN will have the opportunity to collaborate on 3D, custom application development and new HP products such as the recently announced HP TouchPad for on-field stat collection and remote concierge services.

Utilizing the sports complex and its 300-plus annual sporting events as a real-life "working laboratory," the HP/Disney/ESPN team is focused on developing high-tech resources that improve both today's broadcast experience and the on-site experience for youth athletes, coaches and fans at the complex.

Overall, the integration of HP technology builds on the growing list of innovative features added to the complex in recent months, which has included the ESPN Innovation Lab and a high-tech Broadcast Center.

Additionally, high-definition cameras and multiple video boards and jumbo screens, a 20-zone audio system, and an in-room ESPN Wide World of Sports television channel that reaches 28,000 Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms, are all designed to take youth sports to the next level.

Disney Photo Imaging - Through a new initiative with Disney Photo Imaging (DPI), guests can utilize professional-grade photographers to capture on-field action and post-game celebrations which can be uploaded to the HP Photo Creation Center. Additionally, spectators can upload their own user-generated media on-site using memory cards, allowing them to customize, enhance and share photos from their sports events at the complex.

HP Disney History - HP's presence at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex extends the company's long-standing relationship with Disney, which began in 1940 when HP worked with Walt Disney to enhance the acoustics in movie theaters before the release of Disney's "Fantasia" movie.

Additionally, HP sponsors Mission: SPACE at Epcot and is one of the sponsors of the Disneyland Dream Home at Disneyland Resort in Southern California. Disney is a large HP customer and utilizes thousands of HP business PCs, servers, managed print services, in addition to technology services and storage

"The HP Field House continues HP's decades-long collaboration with Disney to captivate audiences through state-of-the-art athletic facilities with a rich, interactive technology experience that extends the spirit and passion of sports beyond the field of play," said Carlos Montalvo, vice president, Innovation Program Office, Personal Systems Group, HP. "Together with Disney, we look forward to delivering technology innovation to sports enthusiasts."

Future HP Features:
In the coming months, there are plans for the sports complex to make available handheld computers for on-field stat collection, hospitality services and interactive park experiences. Team officials and parents can utilize the handheld devices to upload scores, player statistics and other event information for broadcast on the video and jumbo screens. HP will also be installing a range of personal computers, printers and digital displays inside the suites at Champion Stadium, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. HP digital signage will also be utilized to enhance the concession area throughout the venue.

March 4, 2011

New Photography Featuring Penelope Cruz, Queen Latifah, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, and Alec Baldwin Celebrates Disney Memories

ANAHEIM, Ca. and LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (March 3, 2011) -- As Disney Parks invites guests to "Let the Memories Begin," spectacular new images were unveiled today featuring the work of acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz. The portraits star Penelope Cruz as Belle and Jeff Bridges as the transformed prince from "Beauty and the Beast," Queen Latifah as the villainous Ursula from "The Little Mermaid," and Olivia Wilde as the Evil Queen with Alec Baldwin as the Spirit of the Magic Mirror from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

The three Disney Dream Portrait images are the latest to be commissioned by Disney, which debuted the successful series of celebrities set in Disney fantasy settings in 2007. These are the first new images to debut since 2009 and the first to include Disney villains.

"After the incredible response of Disney fans to Annie's amazing work, we couldn't be more excited to share these stunning new images," said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "Annie has captured Disney experiences that evoke nostalgia and transport viewers to faraway magical places which is why they have generated so much enthusiasm and affection."

Asked by Disney Parks to continue lending her vision to the successful campaign, Leibovitz has created inspired images of Disney fantasy come to life. Her photographs for the campaign embody the captivating, narrative style indicative of her world-renowned work.

Each image features a scene with well-known celebrities transformed into the role of famous Disney characters.

* Penelope Cruz and Jeff Bridges appear as Belle and the transformed prince, recalling the final scene from "Beauty and the Beast." The celebratory moment's tagline reads, "Where a moment of beauty lasts forever."


* As the Spirit of the Magic Mirror, Alec Baldwin joins Olivia Wilde as the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." In the dark depths of her lair, the Queen has summoned the mirror's spirit through wind and darkness to reveal the identity of a lovelier maid than she. The tagline reads, "Where magic speaks, even when you're not the fairest of them all."


"I've wanted to work with Annie my entire career," said Wilde. "I was overwhelmed when I heard I could have this chance. This is such a great idea; to pair some of the most iconic characters from all our childhoods with the photographer who is so good at capturing icons, and that's why I think this Disney-Leibovitz collaboration works so well together." she added.

* Queen Latifah comes ashore as the Sea Witch, Ursula, from "The Little Mermaid." The tagline reads, "Where memories take hold and never let go."


"I was excited about doing this project," said Queen Latifah. "Villains get to have all the fun!"

The portraits will appear as a special insert in the April issues of O -- The Oprah Magazine, People en Español, Real Simple, Essence, and InStyle as well as the March 28 issue of People.

March 8, 2011

Frogs Remind Guests to Spring Ahead

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., - Disney's Animal Kingdom guests will get a "leap" on the upcoming daylight saving time change with a variety of frog-focused activities reminding them to set the clocks ahead one hour on Sun., March 12.

Frogs, toads and salamanders will take center stage on Wed., March 9 as part of Disney's effort to raise awareness of the serious decline in amphibian populations. According to some estimates, as many as one-third of the known amphibian species may be threatened by extinction because of loss of habitat, climate change, pollution and disease.

Amphibians play an essential role in the ecosystems of the world and are keenly attuned to changes in the environment and are considered an "indicator" species, meaning they can provide an early warning for endangered ecosystems. In addition, frogs provide valuable scientific and medical benefits to humans. The skin of amphibians contains substances that can protect them from some microbes and viruses, which can offer possible medical cures for a variety of human diseases, including AIDS.

"Frogs also provide a free pest-control service," according to Kathy Lehnhardt, curator of education for Disney's Animal Programs. "Frogs eat billions of harmful insects annually, including mosquitoes and their larvae. So we want to do all we can to protect them."

This year, children and families visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom will make toad abodes for their backyards, listen to frog calls, spring like a frog, examine amphibians up close and meet their keepers. They'll also learn about conservation actions that they can do to help amphibians survive for the future. Some of the suggestions include:

* Build a pond with native shrubs.
* Provide an overturned pot, small areas of leaf litter, logs, and dirt piles to benefit amphibians.
* Get an amphibian field guide to learn where certain amphibians live.
* Find books on frogs and discover why they sing loudly, hear well and stay up late.
* Visit a local pond or nature park and listen for the calls of different frog species.
* Use fewer chemical pesticides to keep amphibians healthy.
* Observe the variety and behaviors of frogs by just looking; allow them to continue their important work.
* Take part in a local pond or stream clean-up to ensure that native amphibians will have a clean home.
* Remember that the chemicals from soaps and lotions can hurt their delicate skin if they're touched.

2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - An unprecedented 110 "Dreamers" from across the country came together at The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom Park as Walt Disney World Resort rolled out the red carpet for the 4th annual Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.

Disney's Dreamers Academy is a four-day program aimed to motivate, empower and inspire high school students. This year's class is the largest ever since the program began.

"There are turning points in your life and this might be one of them, right here, right now at Walt Disney World Resort," nationally syndicated radio host Steve Harvey told the 2011 class of Dreamers. "My dream since I was 9-years-old was to be on TV. I didn't get there until I turned 38 but I got there because I believed in my dream."

The 2011 Disney's Dreamers Academy participants were selected from a pool of almost 4,000 applicants. Many of the young people were picked for demonstrating a spirit of volunteerism at local community centers, schools and churches. Some have achieved academic excellence in spite of challenging family circumstances. Others have overcome physical challenges.

Jim Lewis, president of Disney Vacation Club told the students regardless of why they were selected, it's most important for them to look at the future and not at the past.

"From this moment on, we want you to dream big," said Lewis. "When you believe in something, have confidence in yourself and your dreams, you can find the confidence to make the impossible, possible. All you need to do is continue to have the faith that your dreams can come true."

During their special weekend, the 2011 Disney's Dreamers Academy will participate in more than 20 different hands-on workshops and seminars, exploring education and career fields that include:

Broadcasting: Dreamers will spend time with very special guests from ESPN: The Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios including superstar athletes Chad OchoCinco, Cal Ripken Jr. and Alonzo Mourning.
Marine Biology: Dreamers will learn about the world of marine life at Disney's 5.7 million gallon aquarium at The Seas with Nemo and Friends attraction, unveiling the beauty of life under the sea and how to care for it
Entertainment: Dreamers will experience the audition process for American Idol as Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke take them inside the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Language/International Studies: Dreamers will meet with representatives from the Walt Disney World International Studies program, as well as students from other countries working in the international pavilions at Epcot.
Dreamer Tierney Byrd of Michigan says she's looking forward to visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom as one step toward realizing her dream. "I'm very excited to see and learn about the animals here because my dream is to study veterinary medicine and one day become a veterinarian. This whole weekend is such a neat experience because everyone here has a different dream."

Three Central Florida teens are taking part in the 2011 Disney's Dreamers Academy - 18-year-old Monica Abernathy from Windermere, 17-year-old Chante Rodgers from Orlando, and 14-year-old Alexis Sheppard from Orlando.

As the welcome session neared its end, camera flashes went off across the auditorium and the Dreamers rose to their feet as gospel singing legend Yolanda Adams took to the podium to welcome them. Adams says the judging process was tough.

"We used a lot of tissue when we read your applications. But we're happy because we know today that each of you here has the potential to change the world forever."

March 14, 2011

Nominations Being Accepted for 2011 Disney Dreamers and Doers


Since 1984, Walt Disney World Resort has collaborated with local school districts to identify and recognize young people who demonstrate excellence in their schools and communities.

The Disney Dreamers and Doers Program is one way for schools in Orange, Osceola, Polk, Lake and Seminole counties to honor students who serve as role models to others. Each school selects one Dreamer and Doer and these students are then considered by a panel of judges for the Shining Star Award. Three students become Shining Stars in each of the five counties: one from the elementary school level, one from middle school and one from high school. Dreamer and Doer Shining Stars are announced in May of each year.

In previous year students were selected for their volunteer efforts. Moving forward, criteria for the Disney Dreamers and Doers recognition will not only include volunteer service but also other positive actions that young people are doing: being engaged in mentoring and safety initiatives, serving as role models for siblings/family members and helping teachers after school, taking steps to be healthy and achieve good grades in spite of difficult circumstances, and more. Disney Dreamers and Doers make their world - and our world - a better place!

Students have until April 15, 2011 to self-nominate to be considered as their schools' Disney Dreamer and Doer.

Disney's First Magic of Healthy Living - The Weekend: Disney Channel Stars and 50 Young 'Healthy Living Champions' Explore a World of Flavor and Fun at Walt Disney World Resort

Inaugural Event Features a "TRY-athlon," Inspiring Kids to "TRY" New Ways of Leading a Healthier Lifestyle

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifty young essay contest winners, their families, Disney Channel Stars and Disney characters celebrate and explore a world of flavor and fun at Disney Magic of Healthy Living - The Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort March 18-20, 2011. The setting for the two-day event is World Showcase at Epcot where the "Healthy Living Champions" will participate in a one-of-a-kind "TRY-athlon," an imaginative, colorful and inspiring course around the "world" to discover new ways that "healthy" can be fun and easy. The weekend, the first in an annual series of Disney Magic of Healthy Living special events, will also include spectacular opening and closing ceremonies full of magic and surprises.

The guests of honor for the weekend (ages 8-14) are winners of a national Disney Magic of Healthy Living essay contest. The youngsters shared their own fun ideas for leading healthier lifestyles at home, in school and in their communities. The essay contest is a key component of Disney Magic of Healthy Living, a multimedia initiative designed to partner with parents in their quest to raise happy and healthy kids.

Disney Channel stars and Disney character coaches will lead The Weekend TRY-athlon, which features all kind of activities from all parts of the planet:

* TRY-athlon activity #1: "Play-Your-Way" - Fun and creative games from different countries, including Chinese jump rope, South African "keep away" and Spanish "dodge ball."
* TRY-athlon activity #2: "Pass the Plate" - A lunchtime challenge with Disney World chefs guiding families in preparing quick, balanced and healthy meals.
* TRY-athlon activity #3: "Bouncing Around the World" - A hunt for playmates in the countries of Epcot World Showcase led by, among others, the Mad Hatter and Captain Jack Sparrow.
* TRY-athlon activity #4: "Garden of Possibilities" - Walt Disney World flower and garden experts guide the kids in planting a variety of vegetable gardens, including a special Italian pizza garden.
* Spectacular opening and closing ceremonies with surprise guests and entertainment.

Disney Channel Stars, who will act as coaches for The Weekend event, include:

* Kenton Duty: Shake It Up
* Daniel Curtis Lee: Zeke and Luther
* Jennifer Stone: Wizards of Waverly Place
* Alyson Stoner: Phineas and Ferb, Camp Rock 2
* Caroline Sunshine: Shake It Up

Disney Magic of Healthy Living launched in September 2010 with a year-long series of healthy living public service announcements on Disney television and radio networks featuring First Lady Michelle Obama and Disney Channel stars. It also features two websites, one geared for kids, Disney.com/healthyfun; the other, Family.com/healthymagic, offers healthy living advice and resources, including delicious recipes.

The Disney Channel is the #1 cable network with tweens (#2 cable network overall) available in 37 million households in 105 countries. Radio Disney is the #1 radio network for kids with 29.2 million listeners a week. The websites have had plenty of traffic as well: 175-thousand unique visitors with 500-million impressions.

In a special taped message, to be delivered during The Weekend event, First Lady Michelle Obama congratulates the essay contest winners for setting a healthy example, "I love hearing your ideas about eating better and staying active. You are showing that eating right and exercising aren't just good for you, they're also a lot of fun."

The Disney Magic of Healthy Living initiative builds on The Walt Disney Company's landmark 2006 nutritional guidelines associating Disney brands and characters with a more nutritionally balanced range of foods. Disney Magic of Healthy Living takes that commitment to the next level, enlisting many of the Company's assets and multi-media platforms to inspire kids and help reinforce the work of parents.

"Disney has always been a champion for the happiness and the well being of kids, parents, and families," said Kevin Callahan, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship. "We want to inspire kids and parents and show them how to weave fun and simple healthy living practices into the fabric of their everyday lives."

Disney Magic of Healthy Living will share the magic of The Weekend with the Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Four hundred and fifty Mom Bloggers and their children will have the opportunity to experience first-hand what Disney is doing to champion fitness and nutrition for the entire family. Also during the fun-filled weekend, kids and families can sample a nutritious array of fresh produce from a variety of vegetable gardens and fruit trees as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Healthy living goes hand in hand with staying active and that's why Disney Magic of Healthy Living is partnering with KaBOOM! to build twelve play spaces and learning gardens in under-served neighborhoods around the country. As a prelude to The Weekend festivities, one of those playgrounds will be built in Orlando on March 16th, with the help of community partners and Disney VoluntEARS. The Walt Disney Company has donated more than $1 million to KaBOOM!, the non-profit organization whose mission it is to have a play space within walking distance of every child in America.

March 15, 2011

New Relay and Medal Await Runners at the Walt Disney World Marathon

Registration Now Open for all 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Events

Lake Buena Vista, FL (March 15, 2011) - Registration for the
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA opens today and two new features -- a relay option and a new medal -- await runners who sign up this year for the weekend event, Jan. 5-8, 2012.

Runners who want to participate in the 26.2 mile Disney Marathon
can now join a buddy and sign up for the Disney Marathon Relay.
Unlike other marathon relays, the Disney Marathon Relay runners will
each run 13.1 miles through Walt Disney World's four theme parks.

The first runner will travel through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, while the second runner goes through Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios before finishing at Epcot. Both runners receive official half-marathon times as well as a combined team time, plus the new Chip and Dale medal -- the first new character medal for Disney Marathon Weekend since the Goofy medal was introduced in 2006. The Disney Marathon Relay will be run simultaneously with the Disney Marathon and share the same course.

"Many runners find a half marathon's 13.1 miles is the perfect
challenge for them so our new Disney Marathon Relay is the perfect way to run that half marathon distance but in the Disney Marathon," said Kathleen Duran, Disney Sports Area Manager. "It also gives
half-marathon runners a chance to run a different course by completing the second half of the marathon, and provides another opportunity for family members or friends to participate together."

The Walt Disney World Half Marathon will also offer a new feature
-- a special edition Donald Duck medal to commemorate the 15th
anniversary of the race. Earlier this year the Disney Half Marathon
reached record capacity with a little more than 27,000 registered

Once again the Disney Marathon Weekend will be anchored by the
Walt Disney World Marathon (Jan. 8) running through all four Disney
theme parks and rewarding finishers with the coveted Mickey medal.
Other Disney Marathon Weekend events include the Disney Family 5k Fun Run (Friday, Jan. 6), Disney Kid's Races (Jan. 6-7), and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (Jan. 7-8). There's also Disney's Health & Fitness Expo (Jan. 5-8) at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney, which will feature the latest in running merchandise, equipment and products, plus healthy and fitness seminars by leading authorities such as renowned marathon trainer Jeff Galloway, the official training consultant for runDisney.

Runners who register for Disney Marathon Weekend events before
April 25 receive a discount. To register for any of the races or for
more information, go to www.rundisney.com.

The Disney Marathon Weekend is the crown jewel among Disney's
four signature runDisney events. The other signature weekend events are the Disneyland Half Marathon (Sept. 4, 2011), the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon (Oct. 1, 2011) and Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Lady Foot Locker (Feb. 26, 2012). For more information, go to www.rundisney.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at DisneySports and on Facebook at Facebook.com/rundisney.

March 16, 2011

The Walt Disney Company Commits US $2.5 Million in Humanitarian Aid to the Victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

The Company will also match employee donations to Red Cross
and Save the Children up to US$1 million

Tokyo and Burbank, Calif., March 14, 2011 The Walt Disney Company announced today that it will donate $2.5 million to the American Red Cross to support humanitarian aid efforts related to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In addition, the Company will match Disney cast member and employee donations to the Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund and Save the Children, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million total.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan," said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. "We send our continued thoughts of support and encouragement as this great nation begins the long road to recovery."

"We are truly grateful for Disney's generosity to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan," said Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. "Disney's support is enabling the Red Cross to provide critical assistance and essential relief items in this time of urgent need."

The Walt Disney Company is committed to working with humanitarian organizations to help rebuild stricken communities and assist families as Japan recovers from these devastating natural disasters.

March 20, 2011

Disney Cast Members Share their “ImagiNations”


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It's a creative competition like no other and the challenges are uniquely Disney. The stakes are high for Walt Disney Imagineering's annual ImagiNations Design Competition but the rewards can make career dreams come true.

"Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be an Imagineer," said Erissa Wood describing her desire to work at Walt Disney Imagineering. "The ImagiNations Design Competition allowed me to achieve this goal."

Now a member of WDI, Wood, joined by fellow ImagiNations finalists, Allie Fishman, Adam Ressa, Laura Whitbeck and Bill Wroe, recently spoke with Disney College Program and professional interns about their experiences as former competitors.

Established nearly 20 years ago, the ImagiNations Design Competition seeks to expand diversity and cultivate the next generation of Walt Disney Imagineers by challenging teams of college and graduate students to develop their own innovative Disney experience. While many submit projects, only six finalist teams earn an all-expense paid trip to California, where they will tour WDI's headquarters, present their project to Disney executives, compete for cash prizes and interview for paid Imagineering internships. Last year's ImagiNations program produced 25 percent of all WDI interns. Finalists also received professional internships in other departments throughout the Disney Company.

"ImagiNations is about finding creative students with a natural ability for integrating innovative ideas and developing that talent to become future Imagineers," said Chris Trout, Walt Disney Imagineering vice president of human resources. "The competition allows contestants to showcase skills and ideas which will resonate with our guests and possibly launch their careers within The Walt Disney Company."

The panel of former finalists enthusiastically addressed the prospective participants about the contest, WDI culture and their entries. "Imagineering focuses on immersive storytelling to really engage our guests," said Wood. "ImagiNations gives you the unique opportunity to showcase your skills at blending storytelling, innovation and creativity to create a stellar experience."

The three finalists from 2010 presented portions of their elaborate submissions to the audience. Fishman and Whitbeck created an interactive all-inclusive resort, which centered on famous Disney maritime characters, while Ressa's group designed a ride that transplanted guests onto the Axiom space hub from Disney-Pixar's Wall-E.

Fishman, Ressa, and Whitbeck also shared the opportunities they received through ImagiNations to further develop their talent. All three earned professional internships with Fishman and Ressa joining WDI in Show Design and Props, respectively, and Whitbeck interning with Walt Disney World's safety team.

Wroe and Wood, both 1994 finalists, praised the gateway offered by ImagiNations into multiple disciplines throughout the company. Wroe built on relationships formed through ImagiNations to engage in various roles within Disney, leading him to his current position as a sales tour guide with Disney Vacation Club.

"Disney truly cares about its employees, allowing us to grow professionally, find our niche, and move forward in the company," he said. "In Disney, if you have passion there is no limit for where you can go."

March 21, 2011

Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Celebrates Platinum Milestone of ‘Happily-Ever-Afters’ at Walt Disney World Resort


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- To mark the 20th anniversary of Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons, Disney has announced special wedding packages plus a unique campaign showcasing the happily-ever-after stories of real life couples who have tied the knot at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and aboard Disney Cruise Line.

"The 'Bringing the Fairy Tale to Life' campaign is a tribute to all the brides and grooms who have shared their special day with us," said Korri McFann, Worldwide Marketing Director of Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. "We are honored to have our guests recall cherished memories during Disney's 'Let the Memories Begin' campaign, where Disney is sharing real home videos and photos submitted by guests."

Couples will be highlighted in print and online advertisements as well as at Behindthefairytale.com.

In honor of the platinum year, Disney has also created a specially priced wedding package perfect for vow renewals: the Memories Collection. Throughout the 20-month celebration, couples are invited to create new memories through intimate ceremonies at Walt Disney World Resort. The Memories Collection includes up to six guests, including the couple, a floral bouquet for the bride, solo violinist, transportation (three-hour limousine charter) and a professional photographer for one hour.

Ceremony locations include: Conch Key Marina at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Narcoossee's Landing at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Luau Beach at Disney's Polynesian Resort.

Disney has been making memories come true for couples and their families for two decades with a variety of wedding offerings. Traditionally recognized as a top-ranked wedding and honeymoon destination, Walt Disney World Resort currently hosts more than 1,000 couples tying the knot each year. Beyond Disney's Wedding Pavilion, nuptials at Walt Disney World Resort also take place in outdoor garden settings, gazebos and courtyards, as well as indoor resort locations. All told, more than 40,000 couples have married at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and aboard Disney Cruise Line.

To celebrate 20 years of happily-ever-afters, Disney has partnered with Alfred Angelo to create a Platinum Anniversary wedding gown so that brides everywhere may be a part of the celebration.

The Memories Collection is priced at $1,991 in honor of the 1991 opening year of Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons, and will take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. More information: DisneyWeddings.com or 321/939-4610.

Manatees Receive Expert Care at The Seas with Nemo & Friends


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 21, 2011 - Jasper and Vail may sound like two western United States vacation spots, but they're actually the names of two manatees at Walt Disney World Resort. Both male manatees were brought to Epcot for rehabilitative care provided by marine mammal experts at The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

With approximately 5,000 endangered manatees in Florida, Disney's Animal Programs has emerged as a leader in the rehabilitation of endangered marine species, including sea turtles and manatees. Since 2001, Disney Animal Programs has been involved with the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). The MRP is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal entities that monitors the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.

"Typically, The Seas serves as a 'halfway house' for manatees after they are out of 'intensive care,'" according to Jane Davis, curator at The Seas. "The team of veterinarians and husbandry cast members works with manatees to ensure they are healthy, resume a normal diet and are ready to return to the wild."

After receiving care for the past year, Jasper was released back to his natural habitat in the warm waters of the Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Jasper has been adapting well and has reportedly integrated well with a group of 30 other manatees.

Not coincidentally, Jasper's release opened up a spot for another rescued manatee in need of care. Disney's marine mammal team is currently working to rehabilitate Vail, who was injured nearly 15 years ago from a watercraft strike. As a result of the accident, the male manatee is missing a portion of his tail paddle. Vail apparently wasted no time in getting comfortable in his new setting. Within a few hours of his arrival, he had eaten 10 heads of lettuce - a healthy meal for a manatee.

While the care associated with manatee rehabilitation at The Seas with Nemo & Friends was provided by Disney, Epcot guests have also helped other manatees in the wild by supporting the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The DWCF has contributed more than $348,000 for manatee research and awareness around the globe. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has supported manatee research and community conservation in countries including the United States, Belize, Guatemala and Gabon, and worked with organizations including Mote Marine Laboratory, University of Florida and the Wildlife Trust.

March 24, 2011


Guests Staying Three Nights Will Receive a Fourth Night Free

Kissimmee, Fla., March 23, 2011 - Lighthouse Key Resort & Spa is pleased to announce special savings for travelers planning a Spring 2011 Orlando vacation.

Vacationers reserving Lighthouse Key's Orlando vacation condominium rentals for three nights during Spring 2011 travel dates will receive a fourth night free worth up to $200 or more in Orlando vacation savings.

Travel dates for the special run now through June 10, 2011.

Blackout dates are April 16, 2011 to April 29, 2011.

Accommodation choices include Disney-area vacation condos with 2 to 4 bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, dining and living areas, private patios, complimentary wireless Internet access and Plasma TVs. During their stay, guests can enjoy Lighthouse Key Resort & Spa's on-site Orlando vacation resort amenities, such as a full-service European style spa, fitness center, swimming pools, deli and complimentary Disney theme park transportation.

Guests will also receive a coupon redeemable for savings on combined Orlando spa services at The Spa at Lighthouse Key and are eligible for discounted Disney and other Orlando attraction tickets with any reservation.


Located four miles from Walt Disney World® Resort, Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa features 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom villa style vacation condominium rentals in four distinct floor plans that range from 1,100 to over 2,100 square feet and include fully equipped kitchens, living and dining areas, and spacious covered patios. Resort amenities include: a full service European style spa, two heated swimming pools, fitness center, game and billiard rooms - plus on-site food and
beverage, a gift shop, a 52-seat movie theater, a business center with Internet café, complimentary Disney park transportation and meeting space.

For more information visit www.LighthouseKeyCondos.com or call 1-877-561-5946.

Last Chance to Enter D23 Expo’s Fan Art Contest Honoring One Hundred and One Dalmatians


Winners Work to be Displayed in Special Fan Art Gallery at Anaheim Convention Center in August

BURBANK, Calif. (March 24, 2011) -The Disney Fan Art Contest will feature the creative talents of D23 Members at the D23 Expo 2011 taking place this year August 19-21 at the Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The contest puts the "spot"-light on One Hundred and One Dalmatians by inviting imaginative Disney lovers to create work inspired by the beloved animated film, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Winners, selected by a panel of Disney's creative executives, will see their work prominently showcased in the D23 Expo's Fan Art Gallery, themed to the infamous House of de Vil.

The deadline is April 4, 2011 so there's still time for artists to submit sketches of their proposed work. As long as the final creation evokes One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the sky's the limit for entries. There are some restrictions, however, so please read specifications carefully. For the entry form, click here; for more information, click here.

The D23 Expo -- The Ultimate Disney Fan Event -- brings the entire world of Disney under one roof, providing attendees with unprecedented access to Disney films, television and theme parks as never before.

Annual D23 basic membership fee is $34.99, which is more than made up with accrued club discounts and benefits available throughout the year.

For complete D23 details, please visit:


Magician Mickey to Greet Guests at Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park


Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

At the Disney Parks Blog, we're as excited as you are to learn more about Walt Disney Imagineering's (WDI) plans for Town Square Theater, the new permanent home for Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom Park that's set to debut in early April.

I'm happy to report that earlier today, WDI gave us an earful - pun intended - on the details planned for this exciting new meet-and-greet area.

In keeping with the small-town theme of Main Street, U.S.A., Town Square Theater will take on the tradition of turn-of-the-Twentieth-century theaters that served as the center of excitement in small towns, offering thrills through vaudeville and other forms of entertainment. At Town Square Theater, families will be able to go backstage to meet Magician Mickey Mouse, who is excited to meet and greet guests in his rehearsal room.


And of course, WDI has designed the entire experience to be magical. Guests will first enter the theater building through a lobby that will serve as a hub for character meet-and-greet queues, the Box Office Gifts merchandise shop and Tony's Town Square Restaurant.

According to WDI Concept Designer Jason Grandt, the lobby will be decorated in gold and cream colors that were chosen to recreate the feel of a historic theater.

"Upon entering the lobby, guests will be faced with a beautiful tile mosaic featuring the Town Square Theater logo," Jason said. "The color scheme reflects that of historical theaters with a little inspiration from our master magician, Mickey Mouse."

Just beyond the lobby, guests will pass through an ornate arch and enter a queue to meet either Magician Mickey Mouse or the Disney princesses. Special interactive posters featuring Mickey's various magic acts will be in place to enhance the guests' journey through the queue line, which will take them deep into the backstage corridors of the theater.

"You will recognize the poster style as that of turn-of-the-century magicians such as Houdini," Jon Georges, WDI director/senior show producer said. "But these posters carry Mickey's magical touch that can bring them to life and interact with you as you wait."

WDI is keeping us guessing on what comes next, but did send these mysterious photos for us to share.

March 29, 2011

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Selected as Host Site for World's Largest Swimming Lesson

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Mar. 28, 2011 - Guests visit Disney's Typhoon Lagoon for thrills like the Crush 'n' Gusher water coaster and Gang Plank Falls. This June, they'll hit the water park's wave pool to help break a world record and spread an important message about teaching children to swim.

"We were honored Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park will once again serve as the official headquarters location for a second record-breaking World's Largest Swimming Lesson," said Jean Gallagher, director of water parks for Walt Disney World Resort. "At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts we have a strong commitment to water safety and the World's Largest Swimming Lesson is a reminder to guests of all ages that when they step in the water we want them to have fun and be safety smart at the same time."

Last year's inaugural World's Largest Swimming Lesson, hosted by Walt Disney World Resort, established the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson when almost 4,000 participants across 34 states, five countries and three continents participated to build awareness about the vital importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning.

To help spread the message about the importance of learning to swim, the worldwide safety and accessibility team at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has produced a popular DVD, Disney's Wild About Safety with Timon and Pumbaa: Safety Smart in the Water. In the DVD, Timon and Pumbaa help children learn that fun in the water starts with safety. Hundreds of copies of the DVD were distributed at last year's event.

Tragically, drowning is the second leading cause of unintended injury related death of children ages 1-14 in the United States. In fact, more than one in four fatal drowning victims is a child under the age of 14.

Research also shows if a child doesn't learn to swim before the 3rd grade, they likely never will. The threat of childhood drowning is even greater outside the U.S.

Olympic gold medal swimmers Rowdy Gaines and Janet Evans once again serve as official spokespeople for the World's Largest Swimming Lesson. Evans will encourage swimmers at a remote site in California, while Gaines will kick off the event at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and serve as master of ceremonies.

"I'm thrilled to be working with The World's Largest Swimming Lesson for the second year to help spread the word that swimming lessons save lives," said Gaines. "Learning to swim and the exposure to the water safety messages that swimming lessons offer provide a fundamental first step in drowning prevention."

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Maintains Classic Look Thanks to Environmentally Friendly Paints

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Currently refreshing its facade, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is getting its most environmentally friendly treatment ever thanks to a touch up with special "green" paints.

Standing at 199-feet-tall, the Tower of Terror attraction is being covered from top to bottom using a special low volatile organic compound paint, also known as low VOC paint.

In Florida, Walt Disney World Resort is a leader in the use of low VOC paint. Until Walt Disney World Resort began using the paint just two or so years ago, low VOC paints were not widely available at most large paint distributors in Florida. Previously, distributors and painters considered VOCs essential to the durability and performance of paint, both in how well the paint withstood outdoor weather conditions and how quickly it dried.

Low VOC paint significantly reduces environmental emissions that can react with other elements to produce ozone and cause air pollution.

"Here at Disney, the use of low VOC paint extends from our longstanding commitment to conservation and is part of our environmental journey," said Don Weschler, director of engineering services for Walt Disney World Resort. "Since our switch to low VOC paints just two years ago, we have reduced the amount of VOC emissions from our property by more than two-thirds."

Weschler says once paint suppliers developed the low VOC paint formulas, they were tested at an independent laboratory to ensure they would provide the same durability during Central Florida's warm and rainy seasons as the paints used across Disney Parks since 1971.

Walt Disney World Resort then developed a conversion matrix in-house that allows for a low VOC substitute for almost any type of paint in use.

The Blizzard Beach rehab project is another example of a large-scale project using low VOC paints. As Disney's Blizzard Beach water park reopens this spring, the bright colors - from the showcase "snow" on Summit Plummet to the smallest details at Lottawatta Lodge - will all be thanks to the environmentally-friendly paints.

Last year, Walt Disney World Resort and its many contractors used more than 110,000 gallons of paint. That's enough paint to cover 7,000 standard-sized homes.

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About March 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Disney and Florida Attractions News Blog in March 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2011 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

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