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Annual Passholder Special Events Archives

September 20, 2010

Duffy the Bear - Walt Disney World

By Guest Blogger Sandi Lamborne!

On Saturday September 18th my husband and I attended the Duffy the Bear passholder special event held at the Odyssey in EPCOT.

We were greeted outside by cast members who checked our names off their reservation list and handed us an admission ticket which once inside could be traded in for a very cool Duffy the Bear Rice Krispie treat. It was a nice surprise. There were also cups and several water coolers so guests could cool off with a cold drink before the presentation.

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Inside the seating area was a stage set up with Duffy the Bear banners and projection screens on either side showing slides of Duffy the Bear.

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When the event started Vanessa Rosas - WDW Ambassador came out to welcome the passholders and soon introduced Dara Trujillo- Manager Synergy and Special Events. She told us not to take pictures (That is why I stopped taking shots and don't have a picture of the Duffy Character) She talked about the character and shared his story: One day, Mickey was getting ready to set sail on a long sea voyage. Minnie made Mickey a special teddy bear to take with him so he would never be lonely. Mickey loved the bear and named him Duffy. Mickey and Duffy sailed around the world. They visited all sorts of exciting places and made a lot of friends along the way.(They showed slides of Duffy meeting Disney characters) Mickey and Duffy took pictures with their new pals and made memories that would last a lifetime. At the end of their voyage, Mickey and Duffy sailed back home to share all their magical memories with Minnie. (This story is on the tag of Duffy's ear after you buy him)

She then introduced Forrest Bahruth-WDW Show director. Forrest worked in Tokyo Disney where Duffy, the six year old bear, is very popular at their US country that is themed after Cape Cod so he is there on a dock. He also has his own stage show there and photo spots where guests can take Duffy's pictures in the countries (Sort of like the photo spots in EPCOT but designed specifially for Duffy). EPCOT is going to use that same approach and set up photo spots for Duffy too.

Dara came back on stage and told us that there would be Duffy stuffed bears of several sizes available and outfits that go with each country in EPCOT. They were very cute. And there are also going to be outfits for holiday seasons like Valentine's day, Fourth of July, Christmas, and a very cute Easter Bunny too. The merchandise coming out first will include a covered coffee mug and popcorn bowl. Yes, there will be pins and vinylmation coming out later.

Duffy will have his own meet-and-greet. It is being built now not far from the Odyssey. Right in front of I believe it is called Gateway Gifts. The gift shop will be remodeled to sell Duffy items, and I think it will be called Duffy Central. It is well positioned to be at the entrance of World Showcase.

Duffy will make his first appearance in EPCOT on October 14th. They will be giving out "I hugged Duffy" stickers after you meet Duffy.

Also the KidCot mask that the kids color and carry around to each country is going to be replaced with a Duffy the bear and the paddle will be stamped in each country with Duffy stamps. Very cool and it makes sense since Duffy is a world traveler.

At the end of the event Duffy came out to greet the crowd and answer a few questions (via Dara of course) He walked around the room and one lucky guest won a free Duffy stuffed Bear. It was hard not to take a picture.

There is going to be a Disney cartoon of Duffy that will be available on the TVs of Disney Resorts. (Which will be a way to introduce Duffy before the kids hit the park)

This is going to be a huge money-maker for Disney as the kids will want a Duffy bear to take pictures in each country and outfits from the countries and grown-up will want the pins etc..(They didn't say this at the event. It is just my thinking)

There is also going to be some type of Duffy food and kids placemats at the restaurants in EPCOT. I think this a great idea too to continue to make EPCOT more kid friendly.

We were allowed to buy a Duffy 18 inch bear and a sailor outfit. The bear was $25.00 and the outfit was $15.00. We were allowed to use our passholder discount and they went like hotcakes. The funny part is that we were led to believe that this was a secret passholder meeting and we weren't supposed to tell anyone but then they let us buy the Bear and walk around the park with it. I think they just wanted us to be the first to know and that is really neat.

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Duffy is VERY popular at Tokyo Disneyland! Read Jack Spence's Report.

October 4, 2009

Annual Passholder Preview of Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure

On Sunday, September 27, 2009, I attended one of the Passholder previews of the new Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure movie -- a month before its Oct. 27th release on Disney DVD and Blu-ray; there were five of these preview held over the weekend.

The Passholder previews were held at the Town Square Theatre at the Exposition Hall on Main Street U.S.A., Magic Kingdom -- the same place the Wishes! fireworks presentation was held earlier this year. The building donned Halloween/Fall decorations:

Magic Kingdom Expo Hall

As a 28-year old bachelor without kids, who honestly didn't care too much for the first Tinker Bell installment, I went into the preview more interested in the "event" than the movie. Going in, I didn't know what to expect, but I'll say right now that I ended up very pleasantly surprised on both accounts.

Welcome Sign

Upon check-in, guests were given a small ticket to exchange at their concession stand for our choice of snack: a bag of popcorn, a candy bar, or as a healthy option, a piece of fruit -- I opted for a banana:

Food

Fruit


There was also water available:

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Food in hand, I entered through a set of doors and entered their Pixie Hollow of sorts (I was accompanied by Kermit for this trip):

Entering

Photo Op

I had gotten there early (always a good idea), and at about half-an-hour before the presentation was scheduled to start, Jen, a WDW Passholder Events cast member, who had previously hosted many of these Passholder events, welcomed everyone to the preview then shared with us a couple of sneak peeks.

We watched one of the bonus features from the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray disc: "Pixie Hollow Comes to Walt Disney World", a behind-the-scenes look at what went into designing and planning the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden for last year's Flower & Garden Festival.

We were then shown a slide with the layout for next year's Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden -- it will be three times as large and will feature two new fairy topiaries, Terence & Vidia. Next, we saw the music video for Demi Lovato's "The Gift of a Friend" -- which can be found on YouTube, but seeing it on the big screen was pretty cool.

By then, everyone was in a "fairy" good mood and ready to watch the movie, which we did... after a brief reminder that any recording (video or otherwise) was prohibited and after we were introduced to Jerome, a security guard there to be sure that everyone behaved, which we did. :)

That said, I thought the movie was a lot better than the first. I really enjoyed it. By not having to re-introduce every type of fairy or re-explain the fairy world, the movie was able to focus on telling a good story, which it did.

Here's my attempt at a synopsis ofthe movie:

"Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure opens as the fairies are preparing for the upcoming Autumn Revelry. Tinker Bell has been chosen to create the septor for the special occasion, which is extra special this year because it coincides with a blue harvest moon.

For this task, Tinker Bell receives some help from her friend Terence, a dust keeper, but of course, things do not go as smoothly as planned and an adventure ensues. Along the way, she meets some new characters including an adorable firefly/lightning bug named Blaze, who everyone will love, and a pair of out-of-practice trolls."

After the screening, Justin Muchoney Disney's first CMO (Chief Magical Officer), had the microphone and encouraged the audience to stay in their seats because there were more surprises.

Justin introduced Michael Rola, from Walt Disney Studios, who presented us with an exclusive sneak peek of the trailer for the next movie in the series, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (currently slated for an October 2010 release on Disney DVD/Blu-ray). Michael then announced the names of the other two Tinker Bell movies in works -- Tinker Bell: A Winter's Tale, and Tinker Bell: Race Through the Seasons.

Next, the audience was introduced to the the newest member of Pixie Hollow at the parks, Terence, who should be showing up at the Meet & Greets by late October. It was a photo moment if I knew one, but since the start of the movie, I had been sitting on my hands not to take any pictures. So, once I saw another person in the audience take out her camera (and saw that Jerome didn't tackle her), my camera was out and back in commission:

Tinker Bell and Terence

:)

Well, as mentioned, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure introduces some new characters, including a couple of trolls, of which there were life-sized cut-outs of on the stage.

A little girl from the audience was given the opportunity to ask Grimsley, one of the trolls, some questions. He replied, and we learned that he and the other troll have been friends for 348 years, that the worst name he has been called was "Dobby", and that he is friends with Brad Pitt, Mylie Cyrus, and of course, Tinker Bell.

At this point, Justin introduced Rob Paulsen, the voice actor for Grimsley and Bobble in the Tinker Bell movies. Among Rob's other voice credits are Jose Carioca (from The Three Amingos), Experiment 625 (from Lilo & Stitch: The Series), Pinky (from Pinky And The Brain), and Yakko Warner (from Animaniacs). And it was as Yakko that Rob Paulsen sang the "Nations of the World" song -- I remember watching that on television growing up. So cool.

After that, Justin instructed us of how the rest of the event would go: row-by-row, we would have the opportunity to have our picture taken with the Trolls, then with Tinkerbell and Terence, and then Rob Paulsen would be available for pictures and to sign autographs.

Justin Muchoney

And for those who were waiting, Justin had some Tinker Bell Trivia. Here are a couple examples:

"Who is Tink's adorable mouse helper?"

Cheese

and "Who is this?"

Another Helper

Anyways, Justin and Jen (and Jerome) were great, along with all of the special guests. They looked like they were having as much fun as we were.

Justin Muchoney

And it was in no time that it was my turn for pictures!

Trolls (not to be confused, I'm the one in the center)

Cedric and the Trolls

with Terence and Tinker Bell

Cedric and the Fairies

and Rob Paulsen

Cedric and Rob Paulsen

As I exited the theatre, a Castmember was there, ready to hand guests a parting gift -- a Tinker Bell cup with a couple trinkets. It was a nice, unexpected touch.

Event Giveaways

I thought that the WDW Passholder Team did a superb job with this event. It was well-organized and immersive with lots of special touches. The movie was also very good. I can't wait until next year when they'll hopefully have a Passholder preview for Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.

And if you are interested in any of the Tinker Bell DVDs, visit the AllEars Amazon.com Store!

June 27, 2009

WDW Passholder Fireworks Events

Guest blogger Cedric Ching is back this time with a report on the Annual Passholder Fireworks Events at Walt Disney World on June 20, 2009.

Last Saturday (June 20, 2009), there were two WDW Passholder Events -- "A Blast With Brad", a fireworks demonstration at Disney's Wide World of Sports, followed by "Wishes! and More", a presentation that offered insight into the story and design of the popular nighttime fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom.

"A Blast With Brad" was held at Disney's Wide World of Sports and started at 4:00pm. To check-in guests, event cast members had two sets of wristbands -- gray for those who were registered for only this event and yellow for those who were also registered for that evening's presentation.

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After getting banded, we were led, in groups, down to the baseball practice field where the equipment for the fireworks demonstration was setup.

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There were covered bleachers, but as more groups arrived, cast members had to bring out additional benches and folding chairs.

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The demonstration began with a quick acknowledgment of the entities involved with the safety and regulation of hosting fireworks events on Disney property -- mentioned were the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Department of Transportation, and Disney itself.

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Then it was time for some pyrotechnics.

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Disney Fireworks/Pyrotechnics Designer Brad Cicotti and his crew ran through a grocery list of fireworks, giving a brief description of each and naming shows where we may have recognized them from, such as "Magic, Music and Mayhem", "Dream Along With Mickey", and of course "Wishes!". They showed how a variation of the angle, color, or pace of the fireworks, different effects can be produced.

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Among the types of fireworks demonstrated were "gerbs" (fountains), comets, crossettes, and mortars. And as he set off shells of increasing intensity, Brad teased us saying that the next shell was a "concussion mortar".

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Although it was difficult for people in the bleachers to see the rockets that exploded overhead, the 40-minute demonstration, which included about 200 pieces, was quite substantial and very efficiently run.

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The event concluded with a Q&A with Brad.

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When asked about the number of shells used in their shows, he had to say that Disney typically does not discuss such matters. He did provide other other insights, such as that Disney orders their fireworks from Spain, China, Italy, as well as here in the United States. He mentioned that the pigments in the fireworks do denegrate quickly (especially red), and also that their systems were sophisticated enough that it would know which fireworks not to fire when certain weather conditions are detected.

It was a nice demonstration, but it was really, really hot outside. Still, who doesn't like to see fireworks up close?


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The second event,"Wishes! and More", started at 8:00pm with a presentation by Disney Imagineer and VP of Fireworks & Spectaculars Steven Davison at the Town Hall Theatre at the Magic Kingdom's Exposition Hall, and was followed by a viewing of the 10:00pm fireworks from a reserved area at the Magic Kingdom.

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[Due to the nature of the material covered, photography and video-taping weren't allowed during the presentation. Below, I tried to give you the essense of the information without really revealing anything. That said, you can do a quick search on YouTube for "Steven Davison Magical" and get a good sense of Steven's presentation style, which was energetic, enthusiastic, and inspiring.]

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Steven began his presentation, "Wishes: Storytelling With Fireworks", by asking the audience what we thought was the most important thing to consider when creating a fireworks show... Budget? Scope? Cool Shells?...

He suggested that it was the Story. He told us that the inspiration for Wishes! came from the story of Pinocchio. Sung at the very start of the Walt Disney film by none other than Jiminy Cricket:


"When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

...

Like a boat out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Pretty, huh?

I'll bet a lot of you folks don't believe that...
about a wish coming true... do you?

Well, I didn't, either.

Of course, I'm just a cricket singing my way from hearth to hearth,
but let me tell you what made me change my mind.

One night a long time a..."


Next, Steven played for us the actual television commercial for Wishes! which presented the sky as the world's largest stage. And then he played the original demo of the theme song of Wishes! as performed by the composer Greg Smith.

Steven then walked us through the five sequences that comprise the story of Wishes!

Magic Starts With a Wish / Wishes Set Free
A Wish for Love
Magical Wishes
Villainous Wishes
A Wish Triumphant

For each sequence, he showed us the concept art, illustrated by Reggie Stanton, and explained how the design evolved. There were a lot of grand ideas that didn't make it in this show, but it all went to show how the story was really the most important element -- and that sometimes all of the embellishments are not necessary to successfully connect with the audience.

For the final sequence, Steven became the "Human Firework" -- accompanied by the Wishes! musical score, he acted out and described [in detail] all of the fireworks as they would appear. This demonstration was my impression of a Disney Imagineer realized. It was truly amazing.

During the presentation, he touched a couple times on Disneyland's current fireworks show "Magical" and also talked about the upcoming nighttime show set to open at Disney's California Adventure in Spring 2010, "World of Color", and indulged us with a small preview (*tease*). Afterwards, Steven held a brief Q&A in which we learned, among other things, that it took him and his team fourteen months to create Wishes!. The whole presentation was incredibly entertaining and insightful.

By then, it was time for us to make our way up Main Street U.S.A. to our reserved area, which was the area in front of the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station.

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Although there weren't any desserts set up for us like at the D23 Flowers & Festival Celebration (we were spoiled before), it was still nice having the freedom to move around, and the 10:00pm Wishes! fireworks show was a wonderful ending to the day's events.

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Thank you Disney for these special opportunities. I look forward to future WDW Passholder events.

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**********

Previous blog by Cedric:
D23 Flower & Fireworks Celebration at Epcot

Cedric Ching is a resident of Florida's East Coast and tries to make it to the parks at least a twice a month with his camera and his Stitch, in search of magical moments. He enjoys taking pictures and running.

Cedric has completed two Disney marathons and one Goofy Challenge (will being running Goofy #2 with my two sisters in 2010) and loves the Yakitori House in Epcot for dining.

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About Annual Passholder Special Events

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in the Annual Passholder Special Events category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Candlelight Processional is the next category.

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