Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort will be a Water Theme Park Built on a Bold Creative Vision

Universal Orlando Resort today announced a project of remarkable vision: to bring to life an entirely new water theme park experience. Called Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort, it will join Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and become the resort’s third incredibly immersive park.

Universal’s Volcano Bay will be a place for the entire family. It will be a whole new generation of experience that reimagines what it means to be a water park.

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Imagine a place that offers radically innovative, thrilling attractions, peaceful moments of relaxation and an inspired guest experience that will forever change the perception of water theme parks. It will be set in a highly themed, completely immersive environment inspired by postcard-perfect tropical islands. And it will be the kind of special place that only the Universal team – the same team that has changed the face of Universal Orlando Resort in recent years – can envision and create.

Universal’s Volcano Bay will be located within Universal Orlando Resort, just south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Work is already underway and more details will be released in the future.

Universal’s Volcano Bay is the next in a series of boldly creative experiences that have opened and will continue to open at Universal Orlando. It began with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in 2010 and quickly moved to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Springfield, hometown to America’s favorite animated family, The Simpsons, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, eight new venues at Universal CityWalk, the breathtaking Cabana Bay Beach Resort and more. It will include Skull Island: Reign of Kong and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort in 2016.

And then – in 2017 – will come Universal’s Volcano Bay.

A solar farm in the shape of Mickey Mouse is coming to Florida

Power company Duke Energy plans to build a solar panel farm across 20 acres in Orlando, Florida, near Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

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Andy Serkis’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens character revealed, and he looks angry

Andy Serkis will play a character called Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, according to a post on the official Star Wars website today.

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Is demand pricing coming to Disneyland?

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts may be considering charging more for high-demand days during summer, the Christmas holiday and spring break,…

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Disney wants to make robots of your favorite animated characters

Folks working as Disneyland mascots may want to start looking into possible employment opportunities for the future. The company’s crazed scientist branch, Disney Research, is developing a biped robot that can walk like an animated character.

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Disney, General Motors and USAA Join Forces with Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to Encourage Hiring of Military Veterans

Building on the success of its ‘Heroes Work Here’ initiative to hire, train and support military veterans, The Walt Disney Company, USAA and General Motors, in cooperation with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), will bring Disney’s Veterans Institute to Detroit on Friday, June 5 at the General Motors Headquarters.

The daylong seminar, which will be emceed by Stephen Clark, WXYZ Detroit news anchor, is designed to educate and inspire Michigan-based companies of all sizes to build their own veteran hiring programs through special employer and veteran panels, workshops, speeches and presentations. Highlights of the seminar include opening remarks from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and General Motors CEO Mary Barra, a keynote address from ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff and veteran hiring best practice workshops from Disney’s Veterans Institute.

The event is presented in partnership with MVAA, which will lead discussion panels focusing on veteran hiring and retention, personal stories from veterans who have transitioned into the civilian workforce, as well as state and federal resources available to both veterans and organizations looking to employ them. MVAA created the “Veteran-Friendly Employer Program” in 2014, recognizing Michigan companies and organizations committed to attracting and retaining top veteran talent.

“Since our Heroes Work Here initiative launched in 2012, more than 5,000 former servicemen and women have become part of the Disney family and another 5,000 veterans have found careers with companies across the country as a result of our program,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger. “Hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and we are pleased to share our insights to create career opportunities for our Veterans.”

“GM has been a strong supporter of the U.S. military for more than 100 years now, and our support continues today through a wide range of philanthropic, education, training and employment initiatives,” said Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors Company. “GM employs thousands of active and former military and their spouses. We are proud to serve those who have served our country, and we welcome this opportunity to partner with Disney to share, learn and encourage best practices in veteran recruitment and hiring with other companies and organizations across Michigan.”

“Veterans are a strong addition to any company because of the training and leadership they gain while in uniform,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “However, organizations looking to hire veterans often have a hard time understanding how these skills translate into the workplace and how they can best utilize veteran talent. Disney, USAA and GM have led the way in creating a blueprint for others to follow when it comes to veteran-hiring programs and employment, and MVAA is excited to bring more of these best practices to Michigan.”

The event builds on the success of Disney and USAA’s regional Veterans Institute seminar in San Antonio last August, which attracted more than 300 participants who were trained by experts from Disney’s Heroes Work Here initiative on best practices for helping veterans make a successful transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

“We saw great outcomes from the work Disney Institute did in San Antonio last year, and we’re fortunate to be a part of bringing this program to Detroit,” said Stuart Parker, CEO of USAA, which has hired more than 9,700 veterans since 2006. “Veterans are mission-oriented, disciplined and have a deep dedication to serving the community. With more than one million active-duty men and women expected to separate in the next five years, we want to share best practices to provide them a stable and successful post-military career.”

Detroit-based Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest Veterans Affairs mortgage lender and local leader in veteran hiring, is a supporting sponsor of the seminar.

For Michigan-based employers interested in launching a veteran hiring program, please register at GMprogramminghq.com/hoh, using the access code “GM”.

NFL Stars Join Drew Brees Passing Academy at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort

Back for the third summer at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7on7 Tournament will have another group of NFL stars serving as guest coaches. Joining the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the three-day event at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will be former NFL Pro Bowlers Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Mark Ingram.

Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals wide receiver), Peterson (Arizona Cardinals defensive back) and Ingram (New Orleans Saints running back) will help coach the 20-plus prep football teams from across the country that are taking part in the camp. Each NFL player will help train athletes at his respective position during the event, which includes one day of position training and two days of 7on7 action from June 25-27 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the year-round training facility for several current and former NFL players such as Santonio Holmes and Ike Taylor under the direction of renowned strength coach Tom Shaw.

The Brees camp will also feature a position-by-position skills competition, 1-on-1 passing competitions and a panel discussion featuring all of the NFL players and other NFL personnel.

The camp is open to only 24 high school football teams (15-20 players per team). Teams can register and get additional information at www.drewbreespassingacademy.com.

For more information about ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, visit www.disneysportsnews.com.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Celebrates Two Delicious Decades Sept. 25-Nov. 16, 2015

A global culinary journey celebrating 20 delicious years of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will tantalize taste buds from Sept. 25-Nov. 16, at Walt Disney World Resort. The 2015 festival, presented by Chase, will welcome celebrity chefs, debut new marketplace tastes from around the world and celebrate guests’ favorite dining traditions.

Disney chefs and festival programmers are whipping up a feast of surprises to celebrate the 20th annual event in style. New wine tastings, rockin’ parties and culinary experiences built around the 20-year milestone will bring together loyal festival fans and first-timers. As part of the celebration, Chef Remy of the Disney animated film “Ratatouille” will invite guests to join a culinary scavenger hunt.

Growing in scope each year since 1996 and lauded by the Travel Channel as one of America’s top food festivals, the 53-day Epcot event features inspired bites and sips from around the world at more than 25 outdoor marketplaces, nightly Eat to the Beat concerts of many musical genres, signature dinners and featured tasting events.

This fall, the 20th festival will debut dishes like Pepper Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese at the Farm Fresh Marketplace and refreshing sips like the Scottish Citrus Thistle at the Scotland Marketplace. Culinary icons like Cat Cora, Jamie Deen and John Ash will entertain foodies and inspire their palates at new and returning premium events that include weekly Party for the Senses grand tastings in October.

Festival guests can pair wines and beers with savory and sweet dishes as they stroll the World Showcase Promenade and earn stamps on their complimentary festival passports. Champagne, cocktails and “mocktails” also will bubble up on festival menus. In Future World, the popular Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog returns for a fourth year so that families can discover the cranberry’s rich agricultural heritage and learn fun facts about the tart fruits.

Whether guests’ taste buds prefer savory, spicy, sweet (or all of the above), there are plenty of delectable surprises at every stop along the way. Here’s a sneak peek:

New marketplace menus debut and chefs celebrate festival favorites – Among many dishes set to debut are Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Kumara Dumpling at the New Zealand Marketplace and Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Peppers, Onions and Snap Peas at the Australia Marketplace. For many, there’s nothing like a yearly dip into classic favorites like the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.

Four new Eat to the Beat concert acts debut; fan favorites return to festival stage –Rock singer-songwriter David Cook opens the Eat to the Beat concert series Sept. 25-27. Four new acts in the concert series lineup — Tiffany, Everclear, Maxi Priest and Chaka Khan – will belt out chart-topping tunes. Other popular acts, including Wilson Phillips, Smash Mouth, The Pointer Sisters, Jo Dee Messina, Boyz II Men and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, will return to rock the America Gardens Theatre stage this fall.

Celebrity chefs dazzle – Renowned chef and cookbook author John Ash, who participated in the inaugural Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in 1996, will return to celebrate the 20th milestone year. Other notable chefs including Cat Cora, Robert Irvine, Jamie Deen, Rock Harper, Kenny Gilbert and Buddy Valastro will cook for Epcot guests and share their culinary know-how during demos and premium events.

Ratatouille rocks — Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak invites kids of all ages to join a World Showcase scavenger hunt for little Remy statuettes hidden around the park’s World Showcase. Maps, stickers and prizes are involved.

Festival Center gets cookin’ – Guests can join culinary demonstrations, beverage seminars and mixology seminars daily for a nominal fee. More festival fun will include the complimentary Back to Basics weekend series featuring epicurean tips and tricks from the pros.

Chase Lounge offers perks – Anyone who owns or wants to own a Chase debit or credit card will find complimentary refreshments and interactive fun at the Chase Lounge at American Adventure.

Get ready for . . .

  • More than 270 chefs including Disney chefs and culinary stars from across the country.
  • Party for the Senses grand tasting events every Saturday in October showcasing tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment.
  • Premium events including the new “French Family Meal Traditions” lunch on Fridays and Sundays; new “Rockin’ Burger Block Party” on select dates; and new beverage events to include “Exploring Wines from 1996 to Now” that salutes the festival’s 20th year.

Included with Epcot Admission:

Back to Basics series, Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, World Showcase Scavenger Hunt, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

Special Programming by Reservation:

The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) and get details at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

New “Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular” Show to Debut at “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party”

An all-new show will bring extra Halloween fun to “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” when it returns to the Magic Kingdom® Park at Walt Disney World® Resort this fall.

“Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular” features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” as they return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season. With only a few hours to run amuck, the three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best, evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard.

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With the help of the Disney villains, Winifred, Mary and Sarah gather together to conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and cast a spell on everyone in the Magic Kingdom Park.

The show includes appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other great Disney villains, and features dancers, projections and special effects that combine to make this an unforgettable Halloween treat.

“Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular” will be presented exclusively during “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Sept. 15-Nov. 1, 2015.

Take Me Fishing Will Turn One Family’s Dream Getaway Into A “Reel” Life Walt Disney World Resort Vacation With Its “Catch The Magic” Sweepstakes

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and its Take Me Fishing™ campaign announced today the launch of “Catch the Magic” sweepstakes, which will turn one family’s dream getaway into a “reel” life Walt Disney World Resort vacation filled with fun for all ages. From now through July 19, boaters, anglers and Disney fans can visit Disney.com/CatchTheMagic to enter for a chance to win a five-day, four-night vacation for four to the Walt Disney World Resort courtesy of Take Me Fishing. The vacation is complete with fishing and boating adventures on the Resort’s many lakes and waterways.

One lucky “Catch the Magic” winner and three guests will enjoy a magical vacation, where their Walt Disney World adventure on water includes a guided fishing excursion and driving Sea Raycers, both presented by Take Me Fishing. The vacation continues on land with a stay in the middle of the magic at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotel and admission to all four theme parks, as well as dining, shopping and entertainment experiences.  Official Rules available on Disney.com/CatchTheMagic.

“The ‘Catch the Magic’ sweepstakes celebrates the alliance between RBFF’s Take Me Fishing campaign and Walt Disney World Resort by giving families the chance to win an unforgettable vacation,” said Frank Peterson, president and CEO of RBFF. “Together we continue to offer fun, educational and family-friendly catch-and-release fishing and boating experiences for guests at the Walt Disney World Resort.”

Advanced anglers and future fishing fans alike can get out their fishing poles, put on their mouse ears and go online to enter for a chance to win a Walt Disney World Resort experience on land and on the water. To prepare for a fishing trip, people of all ages and experience levels can get everything they need to learn, plan and equip for a successful day on the water at Take Me Fishing’s official website, TakeMeFishing.org, along with its Spanish language counterpart, VamosAPescar.org. The sites serve as a one-stop resource for fishing license and boat registration information, fishing and boating locations nationwide, tips on how anglers and boaters can help protect and conserve U.S. waterways and ‘how-to’ information to help plan fishing and boating adventures.

In addition to “Catch the Magic,” Take Me Fishing is angling for fans to “catch” onto another one of its newly-launched initiatives: #FirstCatch. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the thrill of catching your first fish; so this year, Take Me Fishing is making it their mission to give everyone an opportunity to show their #FirstCatch by sharing it on social media and using the new hashtag all year long. For more information on #FirstCatch, visit TakeMeFishing.org/FirstCatch and check out the #FirstCatch video on YouTube.

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