First-Ever WNBA Preseason Tournament Set for ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

WNBA Tournament

The first-ever WNBA Preseason Tournament 2014, featuring the defending  champion Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury, will tip off on Friday, May 9 at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., the WNBA announced today.

In addition to the four-game tournament, a full slate of clinics, practices and autograph sessions featuring the WNBA players and coaches will be conducted in conjunction with the AAU Spring Fling II girls basketball event which will also be hosted at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Over 1,500 girls basketball players from the 3rd through 12th grade divisions will be on site competing in the AAU event.

“The WNBA is thrilled to be working with AAU and Disney to bring young women who are learning the game and some of today’s top talent in women’s basketball to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said WNBA President Laurel J.Richie. “This weekend of tournaments will provide a unique opportunity to showcase the current and future talent in our sport.”

“We are excited to be partnering with an organization like the WNBA,” said AAU President & CEO Henry Forrest.  “We are looking forward to a great event as well as a continued long term relationship.”

The WNBA Preseason Tournament 2014 games tip off at 6:00 p.m. ET on May 9 with a battle between Eastern Conference rivals, Chicago and Indiana. The Sky, which posted the best record (24-10) in the East a year ago, is led by 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne, while the 2012 WNBA champion Fever boasts former league MVP Tamika Catchings.  That game will be followed by a clash between the defending WNBA champion Lynx and the Mercury, winners of the WNBA championship in both 2007 and 2009, at 8:30 p.m. ET.  The Lynx, which topped the Mercury in last year’s Western Conference Finals en route to its second league title in franchise history, is led by Maya Moore, MVP of the 2013 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile, while Phoenix is powered by 2009 MVP Diana Taurasi.

The winners of the opening round of games will meet on Sunday, May 11, at 1:00 p.m. ET, and will be preceded by a consolation game with the other two teams at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Fans will have an opportunity to purchase tickets for the WNBA Preseason Tournament 2014 starting today on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Tickets may be purchased at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Box Office or through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.  The two-game package for Friday, May 9 is available for $20, as is the two-game package for Sunday, May 11.  A four-game package is available for $35.  *Prices do not include any service or printing fees.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has a long history of hosting WNBA and NBA events. The complex hosted the first WNBA Pre-Draft Camp, WNBA All-Star Weekend clinics, Orlando Magic training camp and the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in previous years.

Advertisements

For the 15th Year in a Row Victoria & Albert’s Gets AAA Five-Diamond Award

Victoria & Alberts

Only 15 restaurants in North America have this distinctive honor: 15 consecutive years as AAA Five-Diamond Award winners. And Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa is in one of those coveted spots.

For 2015, just 59 restaurants made the Five-Diamond list – 47 in the U.S., six in Canada, four in Mexico and one in the Caribbean. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.2 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. Victoria & Albert’s is the only one in Central and South Florida, and one of only two in Florida.

So we again congratulate Chef Scott Hunnel, Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Perez and their team for earning the coveted award for the gem of a restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Chef Scott is in his 20th year with Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Erich has been there for 19 years, and Israel is starting his 10th. And the rest of the team gets kudos, too: Chef Aimee Rivera, Chef Tom Hill, Chef Mathew Sowers, and Manager Vivian Altesor.

“The backbone of Victoria & Albert’s continues to be the wonderful, loyal culinarians, dedicated servers and devoted reservationists,” says Israel. “They are the pillars that support our uncompromising commitment to greatness.”

AAA Five Diamond restaurants reflect the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. Add cutting-edge menus, the finest ingredients and “food prepared in a manner that’s highly imaginative and unique” and you’ve got the extraordinary combination that defines a winner. But beyond the kitchen, the maître d’ must lead an expert service staff “that exceeds guest expectations by attending to every detail in an effortless and unobtrusive manner.”

Victoria & Albert’s wows guests every single night of the year with a fabulous “Contemporary-American” menu and refined touches such as Italian Sambonet silver, fine Bernardaud china, and Italian Frette tablecloths (hung, not folded, to avoid creases). Women get a small stool for handbags – and if you’re chilly, they’ll offer a cashmere wrap.

The restaurant offers three dining experiences: the dining room, the elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862). Visit Victoria-Alberts.com for more information. Dining room is $135 per person for six courses and $65 for wine pairings. Chef’s Table and Queen Victoria’s Room are $210 for 10 courses and $105 for wine pairings.

Adventures by Disney Announces Disneyland Trip for runDisney’s Avengers Weekend

ABD - Avengers Half

Disney and Marvel fans Assemble! Adventures by Disney just announced an exclusive, special departure that will propel you on a power-packed vacation of a lifetime. From November 10 – 16 of this year, the Adventures by Disney Southern California: Disney Backstage itinerary is packing extra might by providing you access to the inaugural runDisney Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend.

Not only will this trip include a rare, behind-the-magic private tour of The Walt Disney Studios, but you and your family can receive access to the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon and 5K (currently sold out!), including two group pre-race runs and access to the nighttime ‘Pasta in the Park’ party. The trip will also take you on a tour of Walt Disney Imagineering and The Jim Henson Company, which are not regularly open to the public.

Let your Disney Side show with a two-day, VIP experience at the Disneyland Resort, with special FASTPASS service to multiple rides at Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park. You will also get a private tour ofWalt Disney’s Disneyland apartment and the Disneyland Dream Suite.

This mighty seven-day, six-night itinerary will unleash your inner super hero for a magical family vacation of a lifetime. For more information on the other iconic and glamorous activities included in this trip, please click here, or call 1-800-543-0865 for dates, availability and to make reservations.

Organizational Changes Take Place at WDI and Epcot

Walt_Disney_Imagineering_logo

Disney is in the process of a reshuffle of organizational leadership at Epcot and Walt Disney Imagineering.

As posted earlier, Tom Fitzgerald will be taking over the creative direction of Epcot.

In addition, current Epcot Vice President Erin Youngs will take on the new role of vice president Construction, Horticulture, Textile Services and Distribution Services.  Youngs will be replacing the retiring Greg Ruse.

Replacing Youngs as Epcot VP will be Sam Lau who currently is the vice president of Walt Disney World Transportation.  Lau will report to Jim MacPhee.  Replacing Lau in transportation will be Jason Kirk who will be taking on the role of vice president, Transportation Operations.  Kirk previously had bee part of the team that relaunched Disney California Adventure and most recently was a director of Planning and Industrial Engineering.  Kirk will report to Tom Wolber.

Meanwhile, at  Walt Disney Imagineering, Scott Trowbridge is being moved to a new project studio solely dedicated to the Star Wars franchise.  Additionally, Trowbridge will be taking on the role of portfolio leader at Disneyland Resort.  Previously he was leading WDI Research and Development and various Blue Sky work.

Tom Fitzgerald to Take Over Creative Direction of Epcot

Tom Fitzgerald

Included in the organizational changes that are taking place within Walt Disney Imagineering and in park leadership, veteran Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald will be taking on the lead creative direction of Epcot.

Disney is positioned to begin a major re-imagineering of Epcot, looking to restore the original direction of the park in both World Showcase and Future World.  With Tom’s extensive experience with Walt Disney Imagineering, he should be positioned well to take on such a project.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Celebrate its 25th Anniversary

DHS 25th Anniversary Logo

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on May 1st with a special rededication ceremony, a “Star of the Studios” motorcade, and a firework spectacular finale.

Here is the schedule of events:

  • At 10 a.m., Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will take the stage with Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President Dan Cockerell to start the celebration day, honoring some of the 25-year cast members during a short rededication ceremony.
  • A special motorcade — “Stars of the Studios” — will make its way down Hollywood Blvd. beginning at 7 p.m. and feature many of the famous characters showcased throughout the park. Mickey and Minnie will be joined by television and film stars including Captain Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader, Doc McStuffins, Wreck-It Ralph, Venellope, Sofia the First and more.
  • Following the motorcade, the area in front of the park’s Sorcerer Hat Stage will become a dance party before a fireworks show ends the day in grand fashion at 9:30 p.m. The pyrotechnics show, which will be high in the sky above the Sorcerer Mickey Hat, will pay tribute to 25 years of show business stories that have been told throughout the park.

Disneyland Announces May Merchandise Events

Fireman Mickey

See what’s happening this May in the world of merchandise events at the Disneyland Resort!

May 3: Are you curious about the next Beautifully Disney collection? Wonder no more. Check out the new line inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” and meet the artist behind the Beautifully Disney collection. Jeff Granito will be on hand from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Learn more.

May 3 – 4: Meet artist Bill Robinson from 1 – 4 p.m., each day at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District. Not able to make it? No problem! Bill will return later in the month, look for him again May 31 and June 1.

May 4: Celebrate “May the Fourth Be With You” and stop by D Street in Downtown Disney where artist Mike Kungl will be on hand for an appearance and signing from 2 – 6 p.m. as we debut some of the new ACME Archives Limited “Star Wars” pieces.

May 17: Meet artist Noah from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District.

May 17: Jerrod Maruyama will appear at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District from 2 – 4 p.m. as we debut his latest piece from the Happiest Hipster on Earth Collection inspired by “Alice in Wonderland.”

May 17 – 18: Meet artist Bob Elias from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Disneyana in Disneyland park and see some of his latest works inspired by some of Disney’s most beloved characters.

May 23: Have you been waiting for just the right hand-painted Ink & Paint Cel to add to your collection? I think I found the one for you! Mickey Mouse is dressed in his fireman best as he stands proudly in front of the Disneyland Fire Dept. on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland park. Stop by Disneyana throughout the day and meet the artists behind this new piece. Not able to make it? Look for a special opportunity to purchase this piece online.

May 24: Artists Joey Chou, Liana Hee and Jeremiah Ketner will take part in an artist signing from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m at WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney, as we celebrate the release of some of their latest works.

Artist in Residence: Appearing at WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District throughout the month of May is artist Gregg Visintainer. Look for special artist showcases on the following dates: May 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31 from 6 – 10 p.m.

Don’t forget! It’s not too late to get your tickets to attend the Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in Disneyland Trading Event.

Changes Coming to FastPass+ Next Week

FastPass+

A few weeks ago Disney shared the latest plans for MyMagic+, and gave a look at more changes to come.  Many guests expressed excitement about the evolution of FastPass+ and the fact that Disney was working on ways to provide guests with the ability add more FastPass+ entitlements in addition to the three they can plan in advance and a feature that enabled the ability to make those additional selections while park hopping.

So starting Monday, after guests have used their first three FastPass+ selections, they will be able to select another one at one of the kiosks located in each of our WDW parks. When they’ve used that one, they’ll be able to select another, and so on, ultimately providing guests with even more ways to customize their Walt Disney WorldVacation. Guests will also be able to select and use their additional FastPass+ entitlements when they hop from park to park.

MyMagic+ will continue to evolve over time with the aim of continuing to improve the guest experience according to Disney.

Main Street Bakery and Fountain View to add ‘La Boulange’ Baked Goods to Menus

Main-Street-Bakery

The Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom and Fountain View at Epcot will soon be adding ‘La Boulange’ baked goods to their menus.

La Boulange is a San Francisco bakery and café serving artisanal pastries, and has partnered with Starbucks to offer them in locations across the country. Many of the items are served warm, and include goodies such as Criossants, Sticky Buns, Brownies, and Cookies.

Many guests are a fans of the Starbucks coffees being served in the parks, but the lack of baked goods that used to be served in the Main Street Bakery is viewed as a loss by quite a few guests. The addition of ‘La Boulange’ products may go some way to giving those guests better quality baked goods.

Frozen Soundtrack Maintains The No. 1 Position On Charts For Eleven Non-Consecutive Weeks

Elsa-Frozen

The double Platinum-certified Frozen soundtrack maintains the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Top 200 album chart spending eleven non-consecutive weeks in the top position according to Nielsen SoundScan. Selling 259,000 copies in the week ending April 20, the soundtrack has sold over 2.3 million copies and over 6 million combined digital tracks in its 21st week of release.  Frozen remains the top-selling album of 2014 and is expected to cross 3M in shipments imminently.  The Frozen soundtrack has surpassed The Lion King’s 10-week reign at No. 1 in 1994 and has spent the most weeks at No. 1 for an animated film soundtrack in the 58-year history of the chart.

The triple Platinum, Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” performed by Idina Menzel, is in the Top 15 (#12*) at Mainstream AC radio and is #22* and climbing at Adult Top 40 radio.  The film video version of Idina’s “Let It Go” has been viewed more than 190M times on YouTube and Demi Lovato’s  “Let It Go” music video has surpassed 133M views.

The album has sold over 4.5 million worldwide and has been certified 15x Platinum in Korea; Platinum in CanadaUnited KingdomFranceArgentina and Taiwan; and Gold in PolandAustraliaNew ZealandJapanHong KongIndonesia and Singapore.

The soundtrack features eight original songs from Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and songwriter Robert Lopez plus score by the composer of last year’s Oscar-winning short “Paperman,” Christophe Beck.