Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Have a Soundsational Summer with New Disneyland Resort Special Offers

Have a Soundsational Summer with New Disneyland Resort Special Offers

posted at the official Disney Parks Blog on July 26th, 2011 by Erin Glover, Manager, Social Media and Print

Have a Soundsational Summer with New Disneyland Resort Special Offers

With Disney Soundsational Summer underway here at the Disneyland Resort, it’s the perfect time to come check out some of our great new attractions and entertainment. And new special offers are coming that will make your trip planning even easier.

Beginning tomorrow and through September 24, you could book can enjoy these great offers for Disneyland Resort hotel stays:
  • Save up to 30% for most Sunday – Thursday nights at a Disneyland Resort Hotel (for hotel stays from 8/14 – 10/01)*, or
  • Save up to $450 on a 4-night/3-day Disneyland Resort Vacation Package and receive one free Character Dining meal for each person in your party (for hotel stays from 8/14 – 9/28).*
See all of the details on these offers here.
*Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel. The $450 savings based on a 4-night stay for a family of four (3 adults and 1 child [age 3-9]) at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is restricted. Offers, including Character meals, are subject to restrictions and change without notice.

New 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Merchandise Coming to Disney Parks

New 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Merchandise Coming to Disney Parks

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Vinylmation Coming Soon to Disney Parks

I can vividly recall sitting inside the Nautilus during my first visit to Walt Disney World in July 1983. I remember hearing the echoes of Captain Nemo’s voice yelling, “Dive, dive!” as I embarked upon my journey through liquid space. The attraction quickly became one of my favorites; I even drew a picture for a book my mom and I made after that first trip. I’m happy to share that new Vinylmation and Disney pins celebrating this classic attraction are coming soon to Disney Parks. I spoke with Disney Design Group artist Caley Hicks about her work on the new Vinylmation figure set pictured above. During our conversation, I discovered she also had fond childhood memories of the attraction.

“When I was younger, I visited the Magic Kingdom each month with my dad,” explained Caley. “I loved the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction, particularly the mermaids. I was eager to design something for Vinylmation to pay tribute to the attraction.”

Caley, whom you may recall from Vinylmation – Flags fame, chose the iconic squid attack for the nine-inch figure. She explained the difficulty in capturing the details of the squid on the Vinylmation form.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Merchandise Coming Soon to Disney Parks

“I learned that getting the squid to wrap around the Mickey Mouse shaped form was more difficult than I first thought,” continued Caley. “I used countless sheets of tracing paper to get the image correct. The finished figure looks wonderful, so it was worth the effort.”

Caley shared the artwork for the deconstructed nine-inch figure. Wow! I wouldn’t even know where to begin as I can’t draw a straight line. This limited edition 1,000 set also has a 3-inch figure designed by Disney Artist Jason Zucker that resembles a diver. Look for it to be released via the Disney Parks Online Store only on Aug. 12, 2011.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Merchandise Coming Soon to Disney Parks

Since the introduction of Disney Pin Trading in 1999, the Disney Pin Team has featured 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on a variety of pins. One of my favorites was released in January 2005, and featured a piece of an actual porthole from the attraction ride vehicle. It was the first in a long line of the “Piece of Disney History” pins, and is still one of the most sought-after pins today.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Pins Coming Soon to Disney Parks

There are new pins on the horizon including two pins that will be released at The Florida Project in September. I think my favorite from the upcoming event is the cast member costume replica pin designed by Chris Chapman. It will be part of a boxed set of icon pins inspired by Fantasyland. The Classic “D” pin featuring the squid attack scene will be released on Oct. 27, at the Walt Disney World Resort.

By the way, I took the photograph above of the submarines as seen from the Skyway in 1983! I never imagined back then I’d be sharing it with you today. I would love to hear your memories from that great undersea voyage.

Mickey’s ‘Spooktacular’ In-Room Celebration Returns to the Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey’s ‘Spooktacular’ In-Room Celebration Returns to the Walt Disney World Resort

Last fall, guests at the Walt Disney World Resort chose Mickey’s “Spooktacular” In-Room Celebration as one of their favorite offerings from Disney Floral & Gifts. This experience begins when guests return to their resort room to find that Mickey Mouse has surprised them by placing a sash with Halloween accents and cobwebs on their room’s door. Once inside, they find a not-so-scary personalized Halloween celebration waiting for them. 

Mickeys’ ‘Spooktacular’ In-Room Celebration Returns to the Walt Disney World Resort

This over-the-top celebration was so popular last year that it sold out before Halloween. Many guests said they enjoyed it because there was something in the experience that appealed to family members of all ages. They also felt like Mickey and Minnie had come to their room for a personalized “spooktacular” surprise just for them.

Mickeys’ ‘Spooktacular’ In-Room Celebration Returns to the Walt Disney World Resort

If you’re coming to Walt Disney World this fall, now’s the time to book this exclusive experience. It costs $375 and can be set up in any Walt Disney World resort room. You can book your Mickey’s Spooktacular Celebration here or call a Dream Maker at 407-WDW-GIFT.

Hop on Board! Changes Are Underway at Disney California Adventure Park

Hop on Board! Changes Are Underway at Disney California Adventure Park

I’m sure most of you know by now either from reading the Disney Parks Blog or visiting the Disneyland Resort, that the new entrance to Disney California Adventure park debuted just a few weeks ago. And I have to say it looks spectacular! A new entrance also means new stores… so I want to make sure that you have the latest and greatest information as we prepare for changes in the world of Disney Theme Park Merchandise.

Engine-Ears Toys at Disney California Adventure Park

Hop on board at Engine-Ears Toys before July 31. That’s right, in a little less than a week this “Engine-Ear” will leave its station and hit the tracks as we pave the way for an entire new set of stores set to debut in Summer 2012. So for those of you who love to create your own Mr. Potato Head, you better keep an “eye” out and a “nose” to the ground so you don’t miss out. But I’ll be around to lend you a “hand” and tell you where you can find them.

That’s not all… on August 28, we will also bid a fond farewell to our friendly store location, Greetings From California. While we are sad to see it go, I assure you that the stores taking its place, set to debut next year, will be the hit of the street and the talk of the town. But you’ll have to wait a few more months to find out more.

While I know it seems like there are a lot of changes underway, I promise you that we have many great things “in store” in the coming year. I look forward to sharing these great offerings with all of you in the coming months.

Interview with a Keeper from Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

From private balconies and public viewing areas (even from the pool), Guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge can observe 20-plus species of African animals. Keeper Kerry Kennedy has been at the lodge since before it opened in April 2001. She talked to us about the best parts of her job (early-morning savanna runs) and the worst (Well, no one really enjoys picking up poop).

Disney Magazine: I was in my room for about two hours before coming down to talk with you, and I think I checked off every animal on the field guide. Is that possible?
Kennedy: Well, we have three savannas and we stagger the animals through them starting mid-morning. So if you time it right, sure.

DM:Where do the animals go at night?
K:They stay out all night. We call them in to a barn around midday so they can eat and we can get a look at them. They're all back out by mid-afternoon.

DM: What are the absolute best places and times to see the most animals at once?
K: Arusha Rock, right when the sun starts to set. The animals walk right toward the viewing area where the guests are standing. Also, any of the viewing places are good early in the morning, just as it's getting light, which is when we go to put out enrichment.

DM: What is enrichment?
K: Anything that enriches the environment for the animals and the guests. Often it gets animals to mimic their behavior in the wild. We hang browse in the trees, for instance.

DM: Browse?
K: Stuff to browse on. The horticulture staff grows a variety of things: acacia, mulberry vine, banana leaves.

DM: The stuff in the trees must work for the giraffes, but what about the no-necks?
K: We have all kinds of camouflaged feeders. Near the pool, there's one for browse that looks like a fallen tree. The bongo (a kind of antelope) love it, and it brings them really close to the guests in the viewing area.

DM: Do you have a favorite species?
K: I love the giraffes. They're more intelligent than people give them credit for. They come running as soon as we give them their audio cue.

DM: What's an audio cue?
K: Each savanna has a different sound [to call in the animals]. It's any sound the animal is trained to respond to.

DM: What advice do you have for Guests who want to see the animals behaving wildly?
K: The Guests here are really guests of the animals. This is their space. If you're quiet, just sitting back observing, you're gonna see the best animal behavior.

DM: You must see some pretty wild human behavior, too -- I mean watching the humans watching the animals?
K:Oh, yes. You should know that we can see you when you're standing on your balcony in your underwear!

DM:Any other advice for Guests?
K:Talk to the savanna guides, all of whom come from different parts of Africa. They have great stories from home, and a few have even worked for safari outfits in their country. 

From Disney Insider 2002

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Behind the Scenes with a Disneyland VIP

A Cast Member gives Guests a tour of Disneyland. 

What's another name for "Guest jockey," mind reader, event planner, storyteller, and camp counselor? A VIP Tour Guide! Dean Baladad, Senior Tour Guide at Disneyland, is the latest in a long line of VIP Guides that began with Walt Disney in 1951. That's right! Walt was the very first Tour Guide, and personally led heads of state, business leaders, and celebrity Guests throughout the Park while it was being built.

Sixty years later, Disney's VIP Tour Guides continue to deliver magical moments to Disneyland visitors. We sat down with Dean and asked him to share some of his most memorable experiences.

After five years working in the Parade department as a Cast Member dancer and then as a Disney store clerk, Dean recognized an opportunity to join the department. "I wanted to share with others how special Disneyland is – the fun, magic, history, and heritage ... and especially remembering Walt Disney."

For 15 years Dean has been making VIPs' every wish come true – his enthusiasm for the job is evident when describing a VIP Guide's role. "The most important job is to make the VIP's visit as normal as possible. Disneyland is the show – we don't want to detract from that. If we're with a celebrity and can get on the attraction and out of there with no one noticing, then we've done our job."

One of the most important aspects of the job is to keep the VIPs' identity a secret. Since many of his Guests attend the Park incognito and anonymity is part of the attraction, we ask Dean if he can drop any names. "The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Cindy Crawford, Kristi Yamaguchi," he fondly reveals, "and Art Linkletter, who hosted the opening of Disneyland in 1951, returned for the Park's 50th anniversary." Heads of state, government officials, corporate executives, royal families, and first-time foreign visitors are also frequent VIP Tour Guests.

But his most memorable tours are with families who return year after year and personally request him. Dean recalls one family in particular. "The child was three and now he's ten. It's so neat watching them grow up – you get to know them and they get to know you."

When asked if any one event stands out, Dean quickly answers, "I was chosen to be part of a small group of five VIP guides from the U.S. (from both Disneyland and Walt Disney World) that supported our task force team during the Grand Opening of Hong Kong Disneyland. I was so excited and honored to be selected – I couldn't believe it! It was such a privilege sharing Disney history, traditions, and training practices with our new team of Hong Kong Disneyland VIP guides. For most, it was their first exposure to a Disney Theme Park experience. We worked alongside each other hosting executives and Chinese celebrity entertainers. It was also a very surreal experience working in the Hong Kong Disneyland City Hall. It looked and felt like a familiar place since it was an exact replica of the original in Disneyland ... except that I was halfway around the world and our Guests and Cast Members were speaking Cantonese or Mandarin!"

Celebrities, gold medal-winning Olympians, politicians – it's all part of a magical day's work for Dean. "Our job is so unique," he says. "We create lasting impressions – it's more than 'Hello, how are you?' It's hard work. I meet so many wonderful people ... that's what keeps me here."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Princess of Mars

Keeping It Real on the Red Planet

Disney's "John Carter" 
A Civil War veteran seeks his fortune in the California gold rush – and ends up on a strange planet, surrounded by four-armed green warriors, savage monsters, and fetching princesses. It's the plot of Edgar Rice Burroughs' early science-fiction pulp classic "A Princess of Mars," which was penned nearly 100 years ago – and it's the basis for next year's hotly anticipated film adaptation "John Carter." Eventually stretching to 11 books, Burroughs' Barsoom series (Barsoom being the Martian name for Mars) captivated readers with nonstop adventure and thrills, and set the stage for the epic science-fiction of the 20th Century. The books have been wildly popular since their first publication but have never been filmed – until now.

Director Andrew Stanton co-adapted the book to film and directed as well. The director of "Finding Nemo" and "WALL●E," Andrew gave us a tempting peek at world and peoples of Barsoom, and talked about making Carter's mind-boggling voyage to Mars a story we could believe.

Right off the bat, Andrew wants to get one thing straight – "Nobody's a bigger fan of the books than I am!" He first discovered John Carter at around age 10 through a short-lived Marvel comic-book adaptation, and went on to devour the novels. And he wasn't alone – when the time came to begin work on the script for John Carter, Andrew and his co-adapters, Mark Andrews and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Michael Chabon, found that each of them had loved Burroughs' John Carter books. In fact, each had been so obsessed as a boy that he had drawn fan art inspired by the books ... and could bring in the drawings to prove it!

That said, they all realized that bringing the story to the big screen would involve a lot of adaptation to make a satisfying epic film. "I've always treated [the creative process] like an archaeological dig – stories are out there, and you just have to uncover them," says Andrew. "You don't have a say about when you find a bone, or which bones you're going to find. You have to face the music that you dug up a different dinosaur than you thought, and are you going to have the intestinal fortitude to admit that, instead of forcing it to be what you want. I knew the book so well, and so did Mark and Michael, that we just looked at it in a story analysis. This is the character's arc, and this is where they have to go, so how do you make that work? I didn't let myself look at the book, because I wanted to go 'What's best for this story, this theme, this character line?' But I was shocked that when the script was finished, I'd look back at the book and go 'I thought we came up with that!' All the elements were there."

Asked whether his 12-year-old self, the one who loved the books and drew the pictures, would like the film, he laughs, "The 12-year-old is so easy to please! It's the nearly 50-year-old that has now seen way too many movies and read way too many books – can I appease that person? I'm always thinking, how can I not exclude anyone? How can I make this satisfying on as many levels as possible?" And the key to that satisfaction? Depth and realism, in both the characters and the world of Barsoom.

To begin with, a few plot holes have been plugged. While in the books Carter's mysterious journeys to Mars are never fully explained, Andrew assures us that in the film there's a compelling reason why the hero is drawn there – and no, he won't spill beans about what it is!

Also making Carter's adventure feel real is Stanton's insistence that the actors playing the Tharks, the towering four-armed green-skinned denizens of Barsoom, be present on-camera as their scenes were filmed, rather than shooting their motion-reference work separately and splicing the characters in later. (Since stars Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton have only two arms apiece and no tusks, their characters will be computer-generated based on the actor's facial and body movements). To give his Tharks the appropriate height and capture the nuances of their expressions, the actors were placed on towering stilts on location in the remote deserts of Utah and Arizona, with small cameras projecting in front of their faces. Although it required real troupers to achieve, the result is that the actors are directly reacting to each other's performances ... and the human-sized cast always knew exactly where to look and how to interact. Similarly, actors riding the mightly Thoats – the beasts of burden and transport on Barsoom – were set on electrical carts atop saddles programmed to move with the animals' own body motion, creating a highly believable effect.

Finally, the world and artifacts of Barsoom were designed with an eye toward the plausible. The great ruined Martian cities were not simply matte paintings or computer models – the crew filmed actual natural rock formations and layered the columns, pillars, and crumbling balconies of Barsoom over them. The result is a solidity and realism that makes it easily to believe we are seeing another world. The weapons, airships, ornaments, and artifacts of the various Martian cultures were meticulously designed to suggest a complexity that goes beyond the adventure in the film – that these beings built complex cultures with long histories, and we are being given a peek into simply one moment on Mars. As Andrew explains, "It's like a period film from a period we just don't know about!"

With the film still nearly a year away from release, much remains to be done and there are many hurdles to cross before the finish line. But Andrew is thrilled with film so far, and eager to take audiences to Barsoom. "We only had one mantra: "Just keep it good." Everything else will come. Really all you have control over is quality," he explains. It's a hallmark of Disney's house style, and a valuable lesson to take anywhere – including to the far reaches of Mars.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Lee DeWyze and Guy Kawasavi Visits Magic Kingdom Park

Apple chief evangelist and co-founder of Alltop.com, Guy Kawasaki

“American Idol” season nine champion Lee DeWyze (right), and his girlfriend, actress Jonna Walsh (left), pictured here with Minnie Mouse

Sunday, July 17, 2011

1955 Disneyland Opening Day [Complete ABC Broadcast]

And Then Disneyland

And Then Disneyland - Tribute Video to 56th Anniversary

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut – A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Fifty-six years ago today, Walt Disney read the inspiring words on this plaque during the official dedication of Disneyland park. Across the country, an estimated 90 million television viewers were watching an unprecedented live broadcast of the day’s festivities on ABC.

Around the time of our anniversary each year, I see a photo of Walt which is often erroneously described as a photo taken during the opening ceremony. Perhaps you have seen this photo too.

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Have you ever noticed that Walt is not wearing his necktie in this picture? That’s because this is actually a photo taken during a rehearsal for the telecast. The photos we have that were taken during the official dedication were taken from the side.

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Now, it’s been said that practice makes perfect, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching our opening day television special, “Dateline Disneyland,” you know this isn’t always true. The live broadcast was the largest of its kind ever attempted and included 24 separate cameras. Naturally, in such a huge undertaking, there had to be some rehearsal to ensure things would run as smoothly as possible, and we have some more fun photos from the earlier “run-through” of the day’s festivities to share. 

These next pictures show Walt with California Governor Goodwin Knight, parading down Main Street, U.S.A. Can you guess which one was taken during the rehearsal?

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955
Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

In this rare photo, Walt practices the dedication of Fantasyland in the area just southwest of Sleeping Beauty Castle. I think his pride is so obvious in this photo. Don’t you just love the smile on his face?

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Among others rehearsing for their part in the the big show were television host Art Linkletter, and “Davy Crockett” stars Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen, shown here in Frontierland before the broadcast.

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Meanwhile, outside the entrance to Frontierland, actor and television personality Ronald Reagan was getting ready for his part in the landmark TV special.

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Finally, a “prequel” photo of sorts. We’ve all seen the photo of children entering Fantasyland for the first time during the opening day broadcast. In this rare photo, those same children are seen from the other side of Sleeping Beauty Castle as they prepare for the big moment.

Getting Ready for Disneyland Park to Debut - A Look Back at July 17, 1955

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Disney Mouseketeers

posted at the Disney Parks Blog on July 16th, 2011 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

The Original Mouseketeers

Do you remember the classic TV show, “Mickey Mouse Club?” Those child stars were known as Mouseketeers and we’ve featured the original group on the Disney Parks Blog a number of times as they helped establish Disneyland Resort as the “Happiest Place on Earth” since its inception in the 1950s. Did you watch this show as child?
Take 5: Disney Mouseketeers
  1. Sights & Sounds of Disney Parks: A Mouseketeer’s Visit – Recently, original “Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeer Sherry Van Meter (née Alberoni) visited Walt Disney World Resort. Check out what she had to say!

  2. Interview with the Mouseketeers at Disneyland Resort – Last fall we had the unique opportunity to sit down with a few colleagues and some very special guests, who were all “ears” when it came to talking about the 55th Anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Club. Here are some of the highlights.

  3. Fifty-Five Years of Magic at Disneyland Park – See how the Mouseketeers have contributed to 55 Years of Magic at Disneyland Resort.

  4. Vinylmation ’55 – The Mickey Mouse Club – Check out this interview with Susan Foy of the Disney Design Group about a few figures from the “Vinylmation 55″ series – a 9” plus 3” set celebrating the 55th Anniversary of The Mickey Mouse Club.

  5. Mouseketeers March Down Main Street, U.S.A., in 1955 – Their First Public Appearance – In this post, we shared a photo of the Mouseketeers’ first official public appearance on July 17, 1955, during the opening day festivities at Disneyland park.

Disneyland Celebrates 56 Years Tomorrow

posted at the Disney Parks Blog on July 15th, 2011 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Search July 17 as a famous historical date and the year 1955 often pops up as opening day for Disneyland park. The park’s anniversary ranks alongside prominent moments in history, such as great sports achievements and the birthdays of important political figures. Disneyland has become a cultural icon, and the park’s opening day marks a milestone in family entertainment.

This year, Disneyland celebrates its 56th anniversary on July 17. It’s a very special day for cast members as well as guests, and the resort has commemorated it over the years with a variety of slogans and salutes, with celebrations big and small. Here’s a brief look back:

Disneyland Tencennial Celebration

1965: “Tencennial Re-Dedication Day” featured the “Disneyland Tencennial Celebration Parade.”

1980: “I Was There!” birthday buttons were given to guests who attended the 25-hour anniversary party. (Those buttons are now collector’s items.)

1985: “Thirty years of Magic… the Best Has Just Begun” was the theme of a new parade. A theme song thanked Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for “30 Happy Years.”

1990: Disneyland turned 35, “proof that the good things in life get only better.”

'The Happiest Homecoming on Earth' for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary

2005: “The Happiest Homecoming on Earth” paid tribute to the 50th anniversary, and the park handed out nearly 100,000 cupcakes during the huge celebration.

One of my favorite anniversary stories is from the park’s 10th Anniversary. Guests of an employee party said that Walt Disney congratulated them and offered this perspective: the first 10 years were a “dress rehearsal,” and anyone thinking about resting on their laurels could “just forget it.” 

This year on July 17, a celebratory moment will be held at 2:30 p.m. to commemorate the 56th anniversary of opening day. An audio recording of Walt Disney’s original dedication speech will be heard throughout Disneyland park. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and a cast of characters will gather in Town Square to sing “Happy Birthday” to Disneyland with guests and cast members.

Top 10 - Ice Cream Treats at Disney Parks

posted at the Disney Parks Blog on July 15th, 2011 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer

Our Top 10 Irresistible Ice Cream Treats at Disney Parks

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month (so proclaimed by President Reagan in 1984)? And National Ice Cream Day is the third Sunday in July – the 17th this year. 

It’s the perfect opportunity to daydream about our favorite ice cream treats at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. And while we love the simple, choco-dip Mickey Mouse ice cream bar from a street cart, or a double-dip cone, these are the treats that go far, far beyond – decadent and worth every calorie.
  1. Any list has to begin with the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. So, you need a few pals to share, but it’s only eight scoops, every topping imaginable and a whole can of whipped cream.
  2. Hands-down favorite shake is the peanut butter and jelly shake at 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We’ve been known to skip the meal and just sip a tall shake at the bar at the adjacent Tune-In Lounge.
  3. At Epcot, we head to Fountain View Ice Cream for a classic hot fudge sundae – whipped cream and a cherry, served in an edible waffle bowl. Need we say more?
  4. Scoops are an easy parade treat, but we go all out with the Original Banana Split at The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom park: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream topped with hot fudge, strawberry sauce, crushed pineapple, chopped nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. Yum!
  5. When we’re shopping (or taking an intended detour) to Downtown Disney Marketplace, we make a beeline for Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and order The Haight AshBerry Very Berry Sundae with strawberry cheesecake ice cream smothered with sliced strawberries under a layer of vanilla ice cream with blueberry topping, whipped cream, chocolate-covered blueberries and a chocolate dipped waffle roll. Well, at least there’s fruit.
  6. The old-fashioned root beer float (we used to call it a “black cow”) quenches our thirst on a hot summer afternoon at Camp Soft Serve at Camp Mickey-Minnie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The smooth vanilla soft serve ice cream melds with the kicky root beer and takes us back to childhood.
  7. In Disneyland park, we always stop at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for the Firehouse Dalmatian Mint Sundae – two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream served in a waffle cup and topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips and a cherry. Sometimes this is lunch!
  8. At Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort, we love playing at ESPN Zone then ordering the chocolate chip cookie sundae – a Nestle Toll House cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce and whipped cream. One more trip up the rock wall!
  9. At PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, we eat light and then order the Splitsville Sundae with banana, three scoops of ice cream, caramel syrup (or you can choose chocolate), nuts or sprinkles. Plenty to share.
  10. Our final pick, perhaps saving the best for last, is the Farmer’s Market Sundae at Catal at Downtown Disney District, an exquisite creation of balsamic ice cream with mint granita and mascarpone mousse. The sweet-tart ice cream, bracing granita and buttery mascarpone is a heavenly match.

Take a look at the video below to see how the world famous Kitchen Sink is done:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Walt Disney World is cutting operating hours for its monorail

Walt Disney World is cutting operating hours for its monorail, a move designed to give maintenance crews more time to work on the aging transportation system.

Disney plans to begin shutting down monorail service one hour after regularly scheduled park closings in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, the two theme parks served by the resort's trains. In addition, Disney will no longer run the trains during evening "Extra Magic Hours," the late-night period during which only guests staying in Disney hotels are allowed in the parks.

 Monorails Face to Face inside Contemporary Resort

Disney had previously kept its trains running until at least one-and-a-half hours after park closing or through any extended hours. The changes are effective beginning today at Epcot and Aug. 1 for the Magic Kingdom.

"There are definitely more monorails going down" because of service interruptions, said John Frost, publisher of the Disney Blog, a popular website. "I think it's been pretty obvious that [transportation maintenance] is one of the areas they cut back on during the recession."

In addition, Disney World's monorail fleet has been operating shorthanded — with 11 trains instead of 12 —since a July 5, 2009, train collision that killed a 21-year-old monorail driver. Disney salvaged one train using cars from each of the two involved in the crash, but it has not replaced the second train.

Frost predicted Disney will face a backlash from guests staying at the three Disney hotels on the monorail route: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Contemporary Resort.

"Those are the most-expensive hotels on the property, and those are your clientele who expect the most preferred treatment," Frost said.

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