A TV App From Disney Lets Travelers Browse Its Vacation Offerings

Disney Parks Smart TV App

Taken from the New York Times

A SMART TV app being introduced by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts on Thursday will let potential travelers use their remote controls to research vacations at theme parks and hotels and on cruise ships and packaged tours.

Brad Baker, director of digital marketing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the advent of smart, or Internet-connected, TVs had created “a really interesting space for us, since there is now a new way for us to be able to tell our story.”

The app — which will be free and available initially through the Samsung smart TV app store, and in early April, through the LG smart TV app store and on Blu-ray players — was developed with BrightLine, an interactive television advertising and technology company based in New York. It aggregates videos, photographs, interactive theme park maps and other information from the websites of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts businesses and from their social media channels. New to the app is a trivia quiz as well as some videos. It also lets viewers request additional information, by submitting their email address.

Rob Aksman, co-founder and chief experience officer of BrightLine, said it was appropriate for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to commission an app because it had “a lot of rich content consumers care about.” The large size of screens on many high-definition smart TVs should also benefit Disney, he added, because “screen size matters when it comes to influencing consumer behavior.”

David Bank, who follows the Walt Disney Company for RBC Capital Markets, said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts generated approximately 20 percent of the parent company’s annual operating income. The businesses in that division include Disneyland Resort; Walt Disney World Resort; Disney resorts in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, and one scheduled to open in Shanghai in 2015; Disney Cruise Line; Disney Vacation Club, a time-share company; Aulani, a Hawaiian resort; Adventures by Disney, a tour operation; and Walt Disney Imagineering, a company that designs and builds Disney parks, ships and resorts.

Mr. Baker said the app was intended to cater to families gathered around their high-definition, smart TVs. The app will be offered at present only in the United States market; Mr. Baker said if it were widely used, it could be offered through additional smart TV systems featuring Roku boxes and other technology.

He declined to quantify what Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was spending on the app’s development. According to Kantar Media, advertising spending, in all media, by Adventures by Disney, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Disneyland and Walt Disney World ranged from $32 million in 2010 to $79 million last year.

John Greening, a professor of branding and marketing communications at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said “the real magic of what Disney is doing is the depth of the experiences they’re showing; for example, there are over 40 videos on the different types of experiences you can have at theme parks. These things are going to be very effective in moving people down the pathway to purchase.”

Barbara Jones, a professor at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, praised Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for “going to where people are. They’re spending more time with television, because this is arguably the golden age of television.”

Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at N.Y.U., predicted the app would help those prospective Disney guests who might be “intimidated” by the scale of Walt Disney World and the brand’s multiple offerings “feel more confident” about making their choices.

Walt Disney World Releases 2014 Epcot Sounds Like Summer Concert Series Lineup

Sounds-Like-Summer-Concert-Series

Walt Disney World Resort has released the lineup for Epcot’s 2014 Sounds Like Summer concert series. The annual summer music festival features tribute bands that perform concerts at American Gardens Theatre in Epcot World Showcase.

Feel the rhythm as an assortment of high-energy bands pay tribute to the legends that inspired them. Enjoy Sounds Like Summer when each act takes the stage for an entire week at this rocking seasonal party—coming ‘round once again in June and July 2014.

2014 Epcot Sounds Like Summer concert series
(schedule subject to change)

Walt Disney World’s Epcot summer concert series runs from June 8 through the July 26, with acts performing several short concerts during each night of their run. All the 2012 Summer Like Summer acts return for this year’s series.

  • June 8 – 14: Hotel California ~ A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 15 – 21: Don’t Stop Believin’ ~ a Journey Tribute Band
  • June 22 – 28: Good Vibrations ~ A Tribute to The Beach Boys
  • June 29 – July 5: Don’t Look Back ~ The Boston Experience
  • July 6 –12: Stayin’ Alive ~ A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 13 –19: Slippery When Wet ~ The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 20 – 26: 2U ~ A Tribute to U2

Concerts take place three times each night, at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. except for July 4. On Independence Day, Don’t Look Back ~ The Boston Experience will perform four times: 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9 p.m.

These concerts can be very popular.  Not only do the shows take place during Walt Disney World’s busy summer season, some returning acts have built a following of local fans while new performers attract regulars in search of variety.  Be aware that later shows, especially on the weekends, may be particularly crowded.

For these reasons, guests who are interested in seeing a particularly tribute band may wish to plan to see a performance earlier in the day.  Please plan on arriving at American Gardens Theatre well before a show’s start, as seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Epcot’s Sounds Like Summer concert series are free, included with park admission to Epcot.

So sit back and relax, or get on your feet and dance to a collection of covers of the finest chart-topping icons the music industry has to offer!

Walt Disney Family Museum Presents – MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: The World of Mary Blair

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The Walt Disney Family Museum is pleased to present MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair. On view from March 13 to September 7, 2014, this comprehensive exhibition explores the artistic process and development of one of Walt Disney’s most original, beloved, and influential designer and art directors, Mary Blair (1911–1978). Blair’s joyful creativity―her eye-appealing designs and exuberant color palette―endure in numerous media, including classic Disney animated films, such as CinderellaAlice in Wonderland, andPeter Pan, and theme park attractions at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, most notably “it’s a small world.”

Guest curator John Canemaker—an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Peabody Award-winning independent animator, animation historian, teacher and author—organized the exhibition to reflect the arc of Blair’s career before, during, and after her years at the Walt Disney Studios through artwork, artifacts, photographs, and videos.

MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair features some 200 works and explores all phases of Blair’s work by examining her artistic development in three major areas: “Learning the Rules”—her student days at Los Angeles’ legendary Chouinard School of Art, and her fine art regionalist watercolors exhibited in the 1930s. “Breaking the Rules”—her artistic breakthrough with boldly colored, stylized concept paintings for classic Disney animated features during the 1940s and 1950s, including Saludos Amigos (1942) and Peter Pan (1953); and “Creating New Worlds”—freelancing in the 1950s in New York where she became a popular illustrator for national advertisements, magazine articles, clothing designs, window displays, theatrical sets, and children’s books.

The exhibition includes Blair’s rarely exhibited student art, which was influenced by the illustrations of her mentor Pruett Carter, and her mid-to-late artworks from the 1930s as a member of the innovative California Water-Color Society which reveal an essential humanism and empathy for her subjects. The exhibition also showcases The Walt Disney Family Museum’s extensive collection of Blair’s conceptual artworks in gouache and watercolor—some of which have never displayed outside The Walt Disney Studios—that reveal the artist’s inexhaustible creativity in design, staging of imagery, visual appeal, and unique color sensibility. Also featured are original illustrations from several of Blair’s beloved Golden Books including I Can Fly (1951).

An imaginative colorist and designer, Blair helped introduce a modernist style to Walt Disney and his studio, and for nearly 30 years, he touted her inspirational work for his films and theme parks alike. Animator Marc Davis, who put Blair’s exciting use of color on a par with Henri Matisse, recalled, “She brought modern art to Walt in a way that no one else did. He was so excited about her work.”

Mary Blair

In the mid-1960s, Walt brought her talents to a spectacular new phase by commissioning her to design large-scale, three-dimensional projects for his theme park attractions, using Audio-animatronic characters, wall murals and tile décor.

Walt played a significant role in Blair’s creative growth. His overall vision of the world and values (optimism, humor, love of tradition, families, and an avid interest in technology) were interpreted and complimented by her creative contributions. He continually championed her in his male-dominated studio giving her free rein to explore concepts, colors, characters, and designs that were definitely out of The Walt Disney Studios’ mainstream animation style.

Born in McAlester, Oklahoma, in 1911, Blair won a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. After graduation in 1933, at the height of the Depression, she took a job in the animation unit of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) rather than pursue her dream of a fine arts career. In 1940, she joined The Walt Disney Studios and worked on a number of projects, including the never-produced “Baby Ballet,” part of a proposed second version of Fantasia.

In 1941, she joined the Disney expedition that toured Mexico and South America for three months and painted watercolors that inspired Walt to name her as an art supervisor on The Three Caballeros andSaludos Amigos. Blair’s striking use of color and stylized graphics greatly influenced many Disney postwar productions, including Alice in WonderlandSong of the South, Make Mine Music, Melody Time, So Dear to My Heart, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, and Peter Pan.

In 1964, Walt asked Blair to assist in the design of the “it’s a small world” attraction. Over the years, she brought her many artistic gifts to numerous exhibits, attractions, and murals at the theme parks in California and Florida, including the fanciful murals in the Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary Hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort. Blair died July 26, 1978, in Soquel, California.

Thirty-five years after her death, interest in Mary Blair and her enchanting artworks continues to grow. Her early fine art watercolors and classic Disney film production concept paintings are popular with collectors. Contemporary artists still find inspiration in her independent spirit, and her ability to survive in traditionally male-dominated fields, her technical virtuosity, bottomless creative ingenuity, and powerful visual storytelling.

Diamond Horseshoe to Open for Quick Service Lunch & Table Service Dinner in April

Diamond Horseshoe

The Diamond Horseshoe will be opening for quick service lunch beginning April 1st and also for family style table service dinner in a few weeks.

For lunch you’ll find sandwiches, snacks and beverages April 1-7 and April 11-28 from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Beginning April 13th the Diamond Horseshoe will be open for table service dinner that will be a family-style turkey dinner.  Reservations will be required.

The restaurant will be open for dinner:

  • April 13: 4:30-9:30 PM
  • April 14-17: 4:30-8:30 PM
  • April 18: 4:30-9:30 PM
  • April 19: 4:30-8:30 PM

Star Wars Weekends Adds Star Wars Character Dining Experiences

Star_Wars_Weekends_Logo

This year’s version of Star Wars Weekends will be adding two new Star Wars character dining experiences to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Begin your day with “Star Wars” Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. This breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant will include some classic Star Wars movie characters and scenes from the films.

For dinner starting at 4 PM, Hollywood and Vine will be transformed into Jedi Mickey’s “Star Wars” Dine at Hollywood and Vine where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Chip and Dale will all come together to celebrate the greatest saga ever told.

The new character dining experiences will be offered not just on Star Wars Weekend days, but daily from May 4 through June 15, 2014.

You can make reservations now by calling 407-WDW-DINE. For guests on the Disney Dining Plan, both experiences will require 2 table service credits. No discounts of any kind are available.

The price of the “Star Wars” Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! experience is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. The Jedi Mickey’s “Star Wars” Dine at Hollywood and Vine experience is $55.99 for adults and $33.99 for children, or as part of the “Fantasmic!” Dinner Package at a price of adults $59.99 and $36.99 for children. Both experiences include a digital photograph, and prices exclude tax and tip.

Disney by Samsonite: Magical Collaboration to Encapsulate Youthful Nostalgia

Disney by Samsonite Logo

Samsonite®, the world’s largest luggage brand for over 100 years, is pleased to introduce the Disney by Samsonite collection for kids. Starting from 2014, this iconic collaboration combines the magical world of Disney with state-of-the art products for which Samsonite is known. Depicting iconic Disney characters, the collection will delight young ones, while instantly transporting parents to their own youth. The Disney by Samsonite range effortlessly reflects the fantasy charm and nostalgia of Disney in a distinctive and understated style.

“Samsonite’s affiliation with Disney is an exciting new development for our brand,” said Tim Parker, Samsonite Chairman and CEO. “Disney is an iconic family entertainment brand and we are truly delighted to be working with the company. With our 100 year heritage and travel expertise, the new Disney by Samsonite category will stay true to our ethos of innovative design, while also capturing the hearts and minds of both young and old.”

Adding to Samsonite’s expansive array of travel solutions, consumers will be able to find a selection (luggage, school items, backpacks and more) for kids featuring Disney’s most beloved characters including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, the Disney Princesses, Disney/Pixar Cars, Disney Planes, Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Avengers. Featuring PVC free bags, ergonomic backpacks, and reflective details, parents will feel reassured in the knowledge that they are sending kids to school or overnight camp with durable and safe luggage that shares the impeccable Samsonite brand heritage. Pleasing adults and children alike, the Disney by Samsonite collection makes buying schoolbags and luggage for children easy with affordable, trustworthy, resilient products that will appeal to even the youngest traveller.

The collaboration between Samsonite and Disney promises great potential with plans already underway to launch a premium Disney assortment. The first Disney by Samsonite assortment will reach markets in July 2014 and will be distributed across Europe, Russia, Turkey and South Africa. Recognised as pioneers within their respective industries, Samsonite and Disney both grew from humble beginnings to become true market leaders within their fields. Combining the best of both worlds, Disney by Samsonite is the perfect synergy between the magical world of Disney and Samsonite’s state-of-the-art products. This new relationship is the ideal alignment of two highly distinguished brands set to inspire the imaginations of all.

Construction Begins on State-of-the-Art Laundry Facility at Walt Disney World Resort

FLO Ground Breaking

As a reflection of recent growth, Walt Disney World Resort has begun construction of a new, state-of-the-art laundry facility that will create new jobs and be a model for the textile industry.

Scheduled to open in spring, 2015, this new facility will support the expansion of resort hotel rooms and accommodate adjustments in the type of linens used at the resort hotels.

Located near Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the new laundry facility is expected to create 400 new jobs, including 200 construction-related jobs and 200 additional Cast Member jobs with roles ranging from linen handlers and maintenance personnel to managers. Upon completion, this fourth laundry at Walt Disney World Resort will be one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the United States.

“The new facility will showcase some of the textile industry’s most cutting-edge features including conveyors and air suction tubes that quickly move linens and machines that automatically sort, separate and fold,” said J.R. Garcia, director of textile services at Walt Disney World Resort.

Night of Joy Tickets to Go On Sale Tomorrow

Night of Joy 2014

Tickets for this year’s Night of Joy event will go on sale tomorrow March 31, 2014.

If single day tickets are bought ahead of time they will cost $59 plus tax.  At the door they will cost $69 plus tax.  There will also be available a two night ticket option that will cost $108 per night, plus tax.  This option will also include a one day admission to Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon or Disney Quest.  The two day ticket will need to be purchased by August 5th.

Night of Joy is a hard ticketed event that features some of the top contemporary Christian music artists.  This year’s event is scheduled to take place on September 5-6, 2014 from 7:30 AM to 1:00 AM.

The lineup for the event is:

September 5, 2014

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matthew West
  • for King & Country
  • Mandisa
  • Building 429
  • Matt Maher
  • The Neverclaim

September 6, 2014

  • Casting Crowns
  • Mercy Me
  • Britt Nicole
  • Israel Houghton & New Breed
  • Colton Dixon
  • Rhett Walker
  • We As Human
  • 1 Girl Nation

 

Walt Disney World Increases Parking and Valet Fees

Parking-Marker-Disney-World-Lot

As of March 30, 2014 the following new parking fees have been instituted:

  • Automobile, taxi, limo or motorcycle: $17
  • Camper, trailer or RV: $18
  • Bus or tractor trailer: $21

The last parking fee increase was in June of 2013, which saw a $1 increase for a car to $15. Offsite guests with single or multi-day tickets will mostly be impacted by the increase since guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts get complimentary parking and Annual Passholders also receive free parking as part of their pass benefits. Valet parking at Walt Disney World Resort hotels has increased from $15 to $20.  Self parking at resort hotels remains free.

Celebrate Theme Park Favorites of Yesteryear at D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind

destination-d-attraction-rewind-announcement-iris

Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward—opening up new doors and doing new things—because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” It’s in that spirit that guests this fall will have the opportunity to visit—or revisit—some of the most beloved Disney attractions of yesteryear. D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind presented by H2O Plus will take place November 22 and 23 at Walt Disney World Resort.

View Ticketing Options for D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind presented by H2O Plus 

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will bring Disney archivists, Imagineers, Legends, and luminaries together to celebrate fan favorites such as Adventure Thru Inner Space, If You Had Wings, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with rarely seen concept art and images; vintage video clips; and hours of revealing stories. In addition, there will be a full day of presentations dedicated to the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair, which debuted beloved attractions like it’s a small world and Carousel of Progress.

There will be a full day of presentations dedicated to the Fair, including:

Disney Goes to the World’s Fair: A look at how Disney became a part of the landmark event
Lost on the Way to the Fair: Pavilion concepts for the World’s Fair that never came to be
Other Highlights of D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind presented by H2O Plus will include:

Retro Rewind References: Nods to favorites of the past in current Disney Parks attractions
That Was Entertainment: Revisiting beloved theme park parades, shows, and spectacles

See Disney Legends and Luminaries

Presenters and panelists include Disney Legends Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, and Alice Davis; Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline; Disney and World’s Fair historians Bill Cotter, Stacia Martin, and Michael Kelley—and more to be announced.

Bob Gurr      Alice Davis

View an Destination D-Exclusive Walt Disney Archives Display

During the weekend, guests will be able to explore a special exhibit designed by the Walt Disney Archives in honor of the event.

Party the Night Away With Pleasure Island: Rewind

The weekend will end with an exciting evening event—Pleasure Island: Rewind. This celebration of the Downtown Disney nightlife district will include areas dedicated to the Adventurers Club, Comedy Warehouse, Mannequins, and 8 Trax. And of course there will be a “New Year’s Eve” celebration to cap the night.

Shop at WDI’s Mickey’s of Glendale Pop-Up Shop

Plus, for the first time, Mickey’s of Glendale, the famed Walt Disney Imagineering store, will set up a pop-up shop at the event for attendees, featuring a selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise as well as limited-edition pins, T-shirts, and collectibles themed to the event. The shop will also carry a special line from H2O Plus, whose products are featured at Disney Resort Hotels.

The weekend event will take place in the convention center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Tickets, available Wednesday, April 16, are $190 each and available exclusively to D23 Gold and Silver Members for a limited time. Any remaining tickets will be made available to D23 Free Members on May 28 for $250 per ticket. All guests will receive a special gift in honor of Disney’s contributions to the 50th anniversary of the 1964–65 World’s Fair in New York City. A limited number of “Top of the World” tickets will be available featuring reserved seating, early shopping on November 21, an exclusive dinner reception, special collectibles, gifts from H2O Plus and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, and more. Additional schedule announcements will be made in the coming months.