Disney Announces ‘Lion King’-Inspired “Protect the Pride” Global Conservation Campaign

If you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom at all you cannot miss the fact that a lot of what Disney does there is related to conservation.  Over the years this has not only been a focus of the park but also the company in general.

Today, the Walt Disney Co. announced a global conservation campaign to raise awareness of the crisis facing lions and other wildlife across Africa, which was inspired by the upcoming release of The Lion King.

Named “Protect the Pride,” the campaign focuses on protecting and revitalizing the lion population, according to Disney.

Disney is lending support (and has already donated more than $1.5 million) to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN) Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), which aims to double the lion population across Africa by 2050 through efforts that engage communities to ensure a future for African wildlife and their habitats.

Disney plans to double the $1.5 million through additional grants, as well as participation from fans, for a total contribution of up to $3 million, according to the company.

“Disney is committed to supporting lion conservation efforts and we believe The Lion King is the perfect story to remind us of the role each of us has in ensuring a world where these majestic animals are treasured and protected,” Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, enterprise social responsibility for The Walt Disney Company said in a statement. “Conservation has always been a core value of The Walt Disney Company and that commitment is apparent in everything from our films to our theme parks and is why we created the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF).”

Recently, Disney assembled more than 80 of the world’s leading lion conservation experts, from 18 countries and representing more than 50 organizations, to develop strategies to address challenges facing lion populations and to ensure a future for the species during the the first Lion Footprint Forum at Walt Disney World Resort, according to the company.

Additional information about the LRF’s lion conservation efforts may be found at LionRecoveryFund.org.

Brand-New Walt Disney Archives Exhibit Celebrating Disney’s Most Iconic Heroes and Villains to Open at D23 Expo 2019

The Walt Disney Archives returns to D23 Expo with an all-new exhibit, “Walt Disney Archives Presents Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume.” From the classic Mary Poppins to this year’s live-action retelling of Aladdin, more than 70 costumes from 55 years of Disney movies and television shows will be on display from August 23–25 at the Anaheim Convention Center during the biennial event, presented by D23: The Official Disney Fan Club.

Guests entering the 12,000-square-foot exhibit will be greeted by “Cinderella’s Workshop,” a gallery featuring the beloved fairy-tale character’s dresses from her numerous Disney incarnations, including 1997’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; the gown worn by Scarlett Johansson for Annie Leibovitz’s 2007 Disney Dream Portrait series; 2014’s Into the Woods; the 2015 live-action reimagining of the animated masterpiece Cinderella; and the ABC hit series Once Upon a Time.

The main gallery will be broken into three sections: “Disney Heroes,” “Disney Villains,” and “Spaces Between,” reserved for the antiheroes whose fascinating journeys make them among Disney’s most complex characters.

Among the costumes included in the “Disney Heroes” section are Belle’s village dress and ballgown from 2017’s Beauty and the Beast; creations worn by the Genie, Aladdin, and Jasmine in this year’s live-action Aladdin; and—for the first time ever displayed together—three iconic Mary Poppins “traveling dresses” worn in three Poppins productions: the 1964 original film, 2019’s Mary Poppins Returns, and the Broadway musical. “Disney Villains” ensembles include the trio of wonderfully wicked witches from 1993’s Hocus Pocus, the duo of dresses worn by the stepsisters in 2015’s Cinderella, and the dress worn by the incomparable Bette Davis in 1978’s Return from Witch Mountain. And “Spaces Between” includes Maleficent’s gown from the 2014 film, as well as the Evil Queen and Hook’s costumes from Once Upon a Time.

The exhibit includes costumes from some of Hollywood’s preeminent designers, past and present, including Academy Award ® -winners Colleen Atwood, Sandy Powell, and Tony Walton, as well as Emmy ® winner Ellen Mirojnick and Emmy nominees Eduardo Castro and Penny Rose.

Many of the costumes on exhibit will be featured in The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between, a dazzling new book out this September from Disney Editions. The book will also be available in advance exclusively at D23 Expo.

The Walt Disney Archives Exhibit at D23 Expo has alway been a favorite of mine.  It is always well done and is very interesting.  The exhibit at D23 Expo 2017 was dedicated to Pirates of the Caribbean and was incredibly detailed.  I cannot wait to see this in August.

Single-day tickets for Friday and Sunday of D23 Expo 2019 are available for $89 for one-day adult admission and $69 for children 3–9. Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club can purchase tickets for $77 for a one-day adult admission and $59 for children 3–9. Single-day Saturday tickets and three-day passes are sold out. For more information on tickets and D23 Expo 2019, visit D23Expo.com.

Disney Retires Shop Parks app, shopDisney to be Sole Online Shop

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that shopDisney.com is set to become the one-stop online shop for all things Disney as the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired at the end of the month.

According to Disney, the Shop Disney Parks app will be retired on May 31.  When this happens shopDisney.com and the shopDisney app will become the ultimate online retail location for all things Disney including Parks merchandise.

If guests go to the Shop Disney Parks app they will see a message upon opening which explains the retirement of the shopping application and providing a link to download the shopDisney app.

Disney has stated that shopDisney will offer an even larger selection of favorite items from Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and more.

At Walt Disney World Resort, My Disney Experience will continue to offer popular shopping features for guests including an availability map or the ability to ship select merchandise to home (U.S. addresses only) when guests order through the My Disney Experience

Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Members will also continue to receive their eligible discounts through the My Disney Experience app.

This does not really surprise me.  Disney had to have realized what I have always experienced with the Shop Parks app.  I have rarely had a pleasant experience.  The availability function with the app was essentially useless.  There have been many times when the app said that an item was out of stock at particular locations, yet there were dozens on the shelves. That was on top of the duplication of the shopping experience.  You never knew where to look for things.  Stuff that should have been park exclusive was seldom available on Shop Parks, yet at times could be found on shopDisney.

I admire the intention of developing and implementation of Shop Parks, but it just never met expectations and was a disappointment.  I’m glad Disney realized this and is moving on.

 

Tale of The Lion King Coming to Disney California Adventure

The Disneyland Resort announced today that they will celebrate the beloved characters and music of Disney’s “The Lion King” with an creative new adaptation of the popular and timeless story this summer. This celebration will be presented as a highly-theatrical outdoor musical production entitled, “Tale of the Lion King.”

“Tale of the Lion King” will take place on the Palisades Stage at Disney California Adventure for a limited time this summer, starting June 7.

According to Disney…

The show will feature a cast of 18 performers, including actors, singers, dancers and drummers, who form an ensemble called the Storytellers of the Pride Lands. This traveling troupe specializes in retelling revered stories in their own contemporary style, weaving their tale through language, song and dance.

Creative Director Susana Tubert and the team at Disney Parks Live Entertainment are in the midst of a series of workshops and rehearsals with the cast in preparation for the opening of “Tale of the Lion King” later this summer. Here’s a look behind the scenes.

Behind the Scenes Video

In this creative theatre production, the scenic, prop and costume designs celebrate the spirit of Africa.  According to Tubert new musical arrangements have been written for the most treasured songs from “The Lion King,” creating a score for the show with elements we associate with the emotional sweep of the original compositions, yet focused on the vocal performances of the actors and music from the drummers to drive a unique percussive sound.

I can’t wait to see this new show this summer when I’m there prior to D23 Expo.

Walt Disney World Announces Limited Time Extra, Extra Magic Hours…Includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

May the Fourth be with you!

Honoring this special Star Wars Day, Walt Disney World gave us all some very interesting news.

Today Walt Disney World announced that guests of Disney Resort hotels and other select hotels will be able to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours benefit with Extra, Extra Magic Hours for a limited time at the theme parks!

Extra, Extra Magic Hours will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as  Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks.

Here are the details:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Daily from September 1-November 2, the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6-9 AM  which will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land and select other attractions through out the park. Access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences will be subject to capacity.

Disney also announced that that on August 29-31, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 AM for all guests. There will not be Extra, Extra Magic Hours on those days.   

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily August 29-November 2, from 7-8 AM, featuring Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park.  The attractions available will be the same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings.
  • Magic Kingdom Park —Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from August 29-November 2, from 7-8 AM, the attractions available in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland will be the same as the current morning EMH offerings.

Extra Magic Hours will also continue to be available on select days at Epcot.

If guests are visiting this fall, they are reminded that the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit at the Walt Disney World Resort requires a valid theme park admission and hotel ID.

Reservations for Access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland to Open May 2

Earlier today Disney announced on the Disney Parks Blog that beginning May 2 at 10 AM (Disneyland Time), guests will be able to start making reservations to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.

Specific details on how to make reservations will be available on the Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland.com on May 2 at 8 AM PT.

In order to be able to make a reservation guest will have to be staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel.

As Disney has stated…

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay. One reservation per registered Guest. Each Guest is required to have valid theme park admission. If the hotel reservation is cancelled, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will be cancelled. Access to certain experiences in the land are subject to capacity and other factors. Additional restrictions apply.

While Disney has not officially stated on the Disney Parks Blog, reports are stating that Disneyland will restrict guests with free Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservations to a 4-hour time limit during the initial “soft opening” period.

Disneyland has stated that no stand-by visitors will be permitted to enter Galaxy’s Edge.

As stated by Jeffery Epstein of D23 –

“So please don’t lurk around the entrance like a Jawa trying to hawk a droid.”

After June 23 reservations will not be required and Disneyland has not specifically mentioned how crowds will be handled for this highly anticipated land, though there has been rumored to be some sort of FastPass system that will be implemented.

If you have any questions on regarding Galaxy’s Edge during the initial opening period, I would suggest contacting Disneyland or checking out the Disney Parks Blog for more information.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Coming to Disneyland

Disney just announced that guests will be able to step into a cartoon world and join Mickey and his friends on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which will be coming to Mickey’s Toontown in 2022!

This attraction will be the first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction at Disneyland.  It will put guests inside what Disney describes as the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse cartoon short where anything can happen!

In a announcement Disney states –

Once you step into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie, you’ll board a train with Goofy as the engineer. Then, one magical moment after the next leads you to a zany, out-of-control adventure filled with surprising twists and turns.

Also tucked into the announcement was that  the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been pushed back to sometime in the Spring of 2020.

While Disneyland’s version will be located inside Mickey’s Toontown, an exact location was not mentioned in the announcement.

Disney to Launch Disney+ November 12th

Earlier today at Disney’s 2019 Investor Day, Disney announced that they will be launching Disney+ in the United States on November 12, 2019. The subscription VOD service will cost $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

The streaming service will represent Disney’s most aggressive move into the video-streaming market. By pricing it well below Netflix’s $12.99 per month Disney is apparently betting that it can drive up its customer base with its mix of content that appeals to multiple demographics which includes Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney brands.

In the announcement Disney CEO Bob Iger stated, “This is our first serious foray in this space, and we want to reach as many people as possible with it.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this and they basically have my money for Disney+. November cannot come soon enough.

Walt Disney World Announces End Date for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

A while ago Disney had announced that “Illuinations: Reflections of Earth” would be ending sometime this fall.  Today Walt Disney World finally announced that the final performance of the long running Epcot nighttime show would be September 30, 2019.

The show “Epcot Forever” will be replacing “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” and will debut on October 1, 2019.

According to Disney –

“Epcot Forever” will be an all-new, limited-time spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers and choreographed, special effects kites. The show will take us on a journey through the past, present and future of Epcot. Featuring a stirring collection of songs that paint a colorful picture of the park, this nighttime extravaganza will offer both a trip down memory lane and a look towards the future and all the magical possibilities still to come.”

“Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” has been a long time fan favorite.  I personally loved the show.  I’m sad to see it finally end, but it’s had a good run.  It’s been going for twenty years!  Can you believe it?

“Epcot Forever” will continue into 2020, when the next epic nighttime extravaganza makes its debut.  So, this new show is just a placeholder until the “real” replacement takes over sometime in 2020.

While I’m sad to see the show finally end, I’m really excited to see the new show that will debut in 2020.  Based on what Disney has done with “Happily Ever After” at the Magic Kingdom, I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Disney Parks Going Smoke-Free May 1st

In the Disney Parks Blog today Disney made a series of announcements that will affect many guests.  The biggest of which was that beginning May 1st, smoking will no longer be allowed inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.  In the announcement Disney stated that designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances of the areas listed above and at Disney Springs in Florida.  For guests who have room or dining reservations, smoking areas are also available at Disney Resort hotels.

The next announcement was in regard to strollers.  Also beginning May 1st, Disney is requiring that strollers be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long.  According to the announcement many strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.  They also reminded guests that wagons will not be permitted in the parks beginning May 1st.  According to Disney, these updates are designed to help with guest flow and ease congestion.  While Disney is stating that this is an “adjustment” to the stroller guidelines, I’ve been told that this might actually be an “emphasis of enforcement,” but I don’t have definite information on that.

The final announcement affects guest bringing in coolers into the parks.  Beginning today, loose or dry ice are no longer permitted in the parks.  Ice packs will be permitted though.