D23’s Behind-the-Scenes Experience: An Afternoon Adventure to Pandora with Joe Rohde

GOLD MEMBER EVENT
FRIDAY MAY 19
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
$250 per person, plus a $5 per person processing fee. Tickets on sale Wednesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. EDT). Please check back here for the ticketing link.

OVERVIEW
Be among the first to explore Pandora – The World of Avatar not only before it opens to the public, but with Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering! In addition to a guided walk-through of the exotic new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park with Joe, attendees will enjoy lunch at Tiffins with Mr. Rohde and fellow D23 Members.

DETAILS
Experience begins at 11:00 a.m. and will last approximately three hours. Check-in will begin in front of Tiffins restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Please do not arrive before 10:45 a.m.

Attendees are invited to return to Pandora – The World of Avatar to join an exploration window on their own from 3 – 5 p.m. the same day.

Available to Gold and Gold Family Members
You will be required to show a photo ID. Members will be required to show their D23 Membership Card.

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Before Pandora – The World of Avatar opens May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, D23 is thrilled to transport a limited number of members to the all-new land for a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon with Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering!

Na’vi River Journey

Guests will travel to Pandora – The World of Avatar with Joe to explore the Valley of Mo’ara, a verdant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky. Throughout the guided tour, guests will learn how the thriving Pandoran landscape conveys intrinsic park messages of the value of nature, transformation through adventure, conservation and stewardship.

Tiffins restaurant

In addition to the D23-exclusive tour, guests will join Joe for lunch at Tiffins—a restaurant that celebrates the adventures of traveling.

That afternoon, attendees are invited to return to Pandora to join an exploration window on their own from 3 – 5 p.m. During this time, guests will also have the opportunity to soar on the back of a mountain banshee during Avatar Flight of Passage, and venture deep into the bioluminescent rainforest during the Na’vi River Journey.*

This once-in-a-lifetime experience wouldn’t be complete without a custom gift, created exclusively for you.

*Event is subject to cancellation in the event of inclement weather. As this is an early exploration of Pandora – The World of Avatar, please note that access to some areas of the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora may be limited during your visit.

NOTE

  • D23 Gold and Gold Family Members may reserve a ticket for themselves and one (1) guest.
  • Due to the nature of this experience, all attendees must be at least 21 years of age or older to partake in this D23 event.
  • This event does not include admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests will need to have or purchase admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to attend. If planning to use a Walt Disney World Annual Passport to attend, each guest should check blockout dates to verify that the pass is valid for admission on Friday, May 19.
  • A very limited number of tickets are available. D23 Members will be required to provide their membership number when reserving tickets. Tickets may be picked up only with a valid photo ID AND D23 MEMBERSHIP CARD. D23 Members who do not bring their membership card may not be admitted to the event. Ticketed Members who do not attend the event forfeit their place as well as all experiences, benefits, and gifts associated with the event.
  • All D23 Special Events are subject to change without notice. There are no cancellations or refunds, and tickets are not transferable.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Filming, photography, and other recording will take place at Walt Disney World Resort during the event you will be attending. By entering the premises, you irrevocably consent to and authorize The Walt Disney Company, its affiliates, successors, and assigns (collectively “Producer”), to photograph you, make sound recordings of you, and use such photographs and recordings throughout the world, for any purpose whatsoever in perpetuity, including, but not limited to, television broadcasts and home entertainment products, including, but not limited to, home video and DVD. All such photographs and sound recordings will be the sole property of Producer.

FastPass+ for Pandora – The World of Avatar Opens to Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Guests, Special Extra Magic Hours to be Offered

Great news for those of you anxiously counting the days until the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 27 – FastPass+ reservations are now open to experience the land’s never-before-seen attractions for guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

As you may know, Pandora – The World of Avatar will transport guests to a visually stunning world with floating mountains, bioluminescent plants and more. It’ll also feature two one-of-a-kind attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage, which will allow guests to fly on a banshee over the world of Pandora and the family friendly Na’vi River Journey, which will send guests down a mystical river hidden within a bioluminescent rainforest.

Guests at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can reserve FastPass+ selections for the two attractions up to 60 days prior to check in, beginning today. For all other guests who have pre-purchased valid park admission, reservations will be available starting 30 days prior to their visit, beginning May 27, 2017. You may select one of these two attractions in your first set of Disney FastPass+ selections, depending on availability.

And beginning May 27 (through July 4), guests staying in select Walt Disney World Resort hotels will have the opportunity to experience Pandora — The World of Avatar with special nighttime Extra Magic Hours. Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels with a valid theme park admission can fly on the back of a banshee, navigate a mystical river and walk under floating mountains beyond regular park hours – from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. This benefit is in addition to the Extra Magic Hours already available to you at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Bob Iger Says No to Virtual Reality Headsets at Disney parks, Aims for Augmented Reality Instead

Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive has no interest in having theme park visitors strap on virtual reality headsets that block out their view and place them inside a digital world.

Smaller rivals, including Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld and Six Flags, have turned to such virtual reality experiences as an affordable way to spice up rides, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said reality-destroying headsets would be “ersatz” at his stable of parks. He’s ordered his team not to even think about it.

Iger, speaking at a USC event in Santa Monica on Thursday, instead talked up the possibility of launching high-tech augmented reality attractions. Those will still probably involve headgear, but the devices will blend the real and digital worlds.

Iger noted he spends each Tuesday afternoon at a Disney engineering lab sporting a head-worn device that enables him to hold a light-saber and duel with a stormtrooper.

He could be referring to a partnership with augmented reality device maker Magic Leap. Iger expressed hope the gadget would get lighter and more comfortable someday.

He didn’t shed more details. But it’s possible that game would contrast with virtual reality rides at other theme parks because people would be on a large set and moving around other people, as opposed to standing in place and only seeing computer projections. Disneyland currently offers a popular Jedi Training Academy in Tomorrowland, with live characters who pretend to fight light-saber-wielding children visiting the park.

“What we create is an experience that is real,” Iger said. “When you walk into Cars Land, you feel you’re in Radiator Springs because of what we’ve built — not only the attention to the detail, but the scale.”

Iger described how Disney spent considerable time and money ensuring robots cast as “Avatar” characters would have vibrant facial expressions at an attraction opening in May at its Orlando theme park,

This “will have expressions you will not believe in terms of how Na’vi-like they are,” he said, referring to the human-like alien race in the film franchise.

Theme park experts had already speculated that virtual reality headsets would be unlikely at Disneyland. “Theme park purists don’t like” them, Martin Lewison, a business management professor at Farmingdale State College, said last year. “They’d much rather go on a $250-million ride at Disneyland than throw a mask strapped to a Samsung smartphone over my eyes.”

Iger also shed some insight into the upcoming “Star Wars” attraction at Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando. One ride is expected to let visitors joyride in the cockpit of Han Solo’s spaceship, Millennium Falcon.

“It’s pretty good, real good,” Iger said of test rides he’s done in a simulator.

From The Los Angeles Times

Disney Extends CEO Bob Iger’s Contract to 2019

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that Bob Iger is extending his tenure as CEO again.

Set to retire from the entertainment giant in June 2018, Iger has now re-upped his contract until July 2, 2019 amid concerns among industry observers that there is no heir apparent within the company’s executive ranks.

“Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019,” Mr. Iger said in a statement. “Even with the incredible success the company has achieved, I am confident that Disney’s best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition.”

The terms of his employment agreement “remain unchanged,” except for certain provisions, Disney said in a regulatory filing. His annual compensation for the extended employment period “will be determined on the same basis as his annual compensation for fiscal 2016.”

If Iger remains until July 2, 2019, he will receive a cash bonus of $5 million “in addition to an award for fiscal 2019 under the company’s management incentive bonus program,” it said. “Following the termination of his employment at the expiration date, to enable the company to have access to Mr. Iger’s unique skills, knowledge and experience with regard to the media and entertainment business, Mr. Iger will serve as a consultant to the company for a period of three years.”

He will the provide “assistance, up to certain specified monthly and annual maximum time commitments, on such matters as his successor as chief executive officer may request from time to time.”

For his consulting services, Iger will receive a quarterly fee of $500,000 for each of the first eight quarters and $250,000 for each of the last four quarters of the consulting period. “For the three years following termination of employment, the company will also provide Mr. Iger with the same security services (other than the personal use of a company provided aircraft) as it has made available to him as chief executive officer,” the filing said.

Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was considered Iger’s likely successor until his abrupt departure last spring. At the time of Staggs’ exit, the Disney board vowed to “broaden the scope of its succession-planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates.” It has since been mum about its succession planning. At the time, industry observers mentioned Facebook COO and Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg as a possible candidate.

Disney’s stock as of 11:10 a.m. ET was up 0.7 percent at $112.88, near its 52-week high of $113.16.

“Given Bob Iger’s outstanding leadership, his record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney’s future, it is obvious that the Company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition,” said Orin C. Smith, independent lead director of the Disney Board.

Otherwise, experts cited industry executives who all seemed happy in their respective jobs, such as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Under the leadership of Iger, who turned 66 on Feb. 10, Disney has done well. The company has said that total shareholder return during his tenure has been nearly twice that of other entertainment conglomerates.

Iger’s latest extension marks a change of mind for the executive. He originally planned to step down as Disney CEO in 2015 after running the company for a decade. But he extended and then did so again a year later.

Back then, he said about his plans to depart in mid-2018, “I really mean it.” Succession at Disney seems a perpetually thorny going back decades when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz each jockeyed to take over from Michael Eisner. When Eisner finally stepped down in 2005 it was under such strenuous conditions that even Roy E. Disney, the founder’s nephew, was publicly attacking him.

From The Hollywood Reporter

‘The Music of Pixar Live!’ Will Debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios This Summer

This summer, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will present “The Music of Pixar LIVE! A Symphony of Characters.” This limited-time concert event will showcase memorable music from Pixar Animation Studios films, complete with a live orchestra and appearances by beloved Disney•Pixar characters.

Starting May 26, “The Music of Pixar LIVE!” will be presented three times nightly at Theater of the Stars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (following the regular daily performances of “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage”). The show will also feature highlights from some of Pixar’s greatest scores, from films like “Toy Story” to “Cars 3.” Guests can also expect appearances by Woody, Jessie, Mike and Sulley, the Incredibles and more.

 

“Cars 3” Tour Plans Schedules a Pit Stop at Disney Springs

The third installment of the popular “Cars” film franchise is set to arrive in theatres on June 16th in 3D, but fans can get an early glimpse of the story, which stars longtime favorite Lightning McQueen alongside new characters Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm, when the “Road to the Races” nationwide tour kicks off March 23-26, 2017 at Disney Springs Marketplace.

Expect fun activities for the whole family, plus an extended “sneak peek” of the film when the tour rolls into town. While I’m personally most excited for photo opportunities with the three life-size character cars, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the event.

Alamo Rent A Car will sponsor a giant color mural; Coppertone will encourage guests to take part in a racer pit crew tire-changing activity and a fun photo opportunity; Crest and Oral-B will pass out prizes from the Piston Cup prize wheel (I hope I win a new toothbrush!) and will offer fans the chance to create a digital postcard with Lightning McQueen; at the Dole Refueling Station, you can sample high-octane smoothies; Mattel plans to present an interactive play area; and last, but not least, NASCAR will be on hand to share the history and science behind their iconic brand.

During your visit, keep an eye out for “Cars” merchandise and special menu items at select food and beverage locations, plus a DJ dance party with tracks that will make you want to rev up your engine.

Ready to race over to take part in the event? The tour, located at Disney Springs in the former Marketplace Bus Loop near Once Upon A Toy, opens to the public on Thursday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m. and will run until 7:00 p.m. that evening. On Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, join the fun from 11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. And on the final day, Sunday, March 26, guests can enjoy the experience from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

D23 Expo Japan to Return February 10–12, 2018

After an unbelievable event in 2015, D23 Expo Japan is back in 2018! This special event for Disney fans, created by D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, will take place February 10–12, 2018, at Tokyo Disney Resort. The first D23 Expo in Japan was held in 2013, inspired by the original D23 Expo held in Anaheim, California (returning this summer, July 14–16!), and returns for a third time next year.

“We heard from a lot of fans about how delighted they were with the D23 Expo Japan 2013 and 2015. D23 Expo Japan 2018 promises to be even more spectacular,” said Paul Candland, President, Walt Disney Asia and President, The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. “2018 marks The Walt Disney Company’s 95th anniversary and Mickey Mouse’s screen debut’s 90th anniversary. In Japan, it marks Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th, Disney Channel’s 15th, and the Disney★JCB Card’s 10th. We’re very excited about being able to present this great event once again, and we know our guests will have an incredible experience during the three days we have planned for them.”

For more information, visit Disney.jp/D23.

Stay tuned for more D23 Expo Japan updates and Disney news!

Disneyland Resort Announces Details of Egg-stravaganza as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns in April

Springtime is just around the corner, which means the return of the beloved Egg-stravaganza to Disneyland Resort. This fun, egg-themed scavenger hunt will take place from April 1-16, 2017, at Disneyland park, Disney California Adventure park, and Downtown Disney District. I recently “hopped” over to special event merchandiser Linda Votaw to discover what makes this activity popular with guests.

Egg-stravaganza Details Hatched as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns to Disneyland Resort in April

“This is the fifth year we’ve offered the Egg-stravaganza at the Disneyland Resort,” explained Linda. “I believe our guests love it as spring is a wonderful season to visit. This activity is easy to do, and it’s something the whole family can enjoy. Even if you have been to Disneyland Resort many times, this scavenger hunt gives guests an opportunity to explore the theme parks and Downtown Disney District in a new way.”

To participate, pick up a map and stickers for $5.99 (plus tax) at select merchandise locations throughout Disneyland Resort. Search for special hidden “eggs” themed to Disney and Pixar characters. Record your discoveries by placing the corresponding sticker on the themed Egg-stravaganza map to represent that location.

Egg-stravaganza Details Hatched as Fun Scavenger Hunt Returns to Disneyland Resort in April

Whether you choose to hunt for eggs or not, return your map to a redemption location for a surprise. Redemption locations include the following merchandise shops: Elias & Co. at Disney California Adventure park; Disney Showcase in Disneyland park; World of Disney Store in the Downtown Disney District.

For guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, don’t forget the Egg-stravaganza is currently taking place at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival through May 29, 2017.

Purchasing limits will apply, while supplies last. Please note that no discounts apply and separate admission is required to enter Disney theme parks. The experience is subject to restrictions and may change without notice.

Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine Lunch at Hollywood and Vine extended Until September

Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine lunch at Hollywood and Vine has been extended through the summer.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine will take take over at lunch on September 4th of this year and will be joining the existing dinner.  Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine lunch was previously expected end in May.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine mixes up the decor, menu and costumes – celebrating the holidays, the glamour of Hollywood, spring-time, summer and Halloween. Character appearances inlude Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Goofy.

  • Minnie’s Springtime Dine at Hollywood & Vine – March 20 – June 4
  • Minnie’s Summertime Dine at Hollywood & Vine – June 5 – September 3
  • Minnie’s Halloween Dine at Hollywood & Vine – September 4 – TBD
  • Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine – TBD

For the Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine lunch guests see characters that include Jake the Pirate, Sofia the First, Handy Manny and Doc McStuffins. When the lunch switches to Minnie’s Seasonal Dine, breakfast will continue with Disney Junior.

From September 4th, lunch will increase in price from the existing $47.93 adult and $28.76 child price, to $53.25 adult and $31.95 child.

Satu’li Canteen in Pandora to Offer Mobile Ordering – Disney Gives First Look at Menu

With an entire new land taking shape to open on May 27, Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will transport guests to the visually stunning land of floating mountains and bioluminescent plants. And of course there’s a culinary chapter to the story of the Na’vi.

Guests can enjoy creative, flavorful dishes based on the healthful bounty of Pandora, with wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins at Satu’li Canteen, where an on-stage grill is a prominent feature in the colorful dining room.

The Satu’li Canteen was once the main mess hall of the Resources Development Administration (RDA) base located in the Valley of Mo’ara. Now the canteen is owned and operated by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) tour company and has been redesigned into a beautiful museum-like dining room.

The interior has been transformed with colorful Na’vi items filling the walls and hanging from the ceiling — hand-woven tapestries, natural Pandoran elements and even cooking tools decorate the restaurant.

Look for familiar dishes with a twist in the fast-casual restaurant, with bowls that allow diners to customize their lunch or dinner. Diners start with a base of quinoa and vegetable salad; red and sweet potato hash; mixed whole-grain and rice or romaine and kale salad. Next is either with wood-grilled chicken, slow-roasted beef, sustainable fish or chili-spiced fried tofu. And the bowl is finished with charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette or creamy herb dressing.

The menu also offers steamed “pods” – bao buns with either cheeseburger or vegetable curry and served with root vegetable chips and crunchy vegetable slaw.

For little ones, there’s an option of grilled chicken or beef, fish or tofu with greens or rice; a hot dog wrapped in Parker House dough; cheese quesadilla, or a steamed “pod” (cheeseburger bao bun).

The fast-casual restaurant will also be the first to offer Mobile Order, a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go within the My Disney Experience app, allowing guests to bypass the queue to order when they arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, guests can select menu items, customize their order and pre-pay for their meal. When they arrive at the restaurant they will tap an “I’m here” button in the app, which will notify the kitchen to prepare the meal. When ready, guests will be alerted through the app to pick up their meal at a designated window. Additional fast-casual and quick-service restaurants will begin to offer Mobile Order later this year.

Disney Dining Plan is accepted at Satu’li Canteen but, at this time, Mobile Order only accepts credit cards.