New Theme Park Ticket Extra Available for Limited-Time Purchase at Walt Disney World Resort

Beginning Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, Guests staying in rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels that are eligible for Disney Signature Services and who have purchased a 3-day or longer theme park ticket or an annual pass are able to purchase a theme park extra for $50 plus tax per Guest per day as part of a new, limited pilot program to receive the following:

    • Three additional FastPass+ selections per day. FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences, the number of selections you can make and available arrival windows are limited.
    • The opportunity to reserve these three additional FastPass+ selections in more than one theme park when a valid Park Hopper option is also purchased with the ticket.
    • A booking window of up to 90 days in advance for these three additional FastPass+ selections and the ability to book them at multiple top-tier attractions. Guests may not repeat the same FastPass+ attraction during a single day.
    • Preferred viewing location for nighttime spectaculars, one per day, including Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom®Park, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot®, Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Advanced reservation is required and availability of each nighttime spectacular preferred viewing location is limited.

All theme park Guests with valid theme park admission continue to receive up to three FastPass+ selections at a single park per day at no extra charge, as well as additional day-of in-park selections that may be reserved and redeemed one-at-a-time after those initial three selections are redeemed.

Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok Strikes Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ and Movies Anywhere on Feb. 20 and 4K Ultra HD™ and Blu-ray™ on March 6

Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” electrified both audiences and critics alike and now fans can enjoy the colorful cosmic adventure at home. Fans who bring home the Ultimate Cinematic Universe Edition (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital) of “Thor: Ragnarok” will experience all the thunderous action and lightning-fast wit in stunning 4K Ultra HD with next-generation high dynamic range (HDR) visuals and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. Exclusive, never-before-seen bonus features include deleted scenes; hilarious outtakes; an exclusive short: part three of the mockumentary “Team Thor,” retitled “Team Darryl” and featuring an eccentric new roommate; the evolution of MCU’s heroes culminating in “Avengers: Infinity War;” numerous making-of featurettes which explore the unique vision of director Taika Waititi; the story’s unstoppable women; the effortlessly charismatic Korg; the tyrannical leader of Sakaar, the Grandmaster; and the film’s comic-book origins;  audio commentary by Waititi; and more. The action, humor, drama and spectacle, bursts into homes Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™, and Movies Anywhere, on Feb. 20 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand on March. 6.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Celebrates 25th Year Feb. 28-May 28, 2018

The 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will kick off spring at Walt Disney World Resort Feb. 28 and continue through May 28, 2018, with seasonal fun for all. What began in 1994 as a 38-day celebration of Disney-style gardens and topiaries has grown over the years to a 90-day spring extravaganza with something for every generation.

The 2018 festival, which takes place during the 35th anniversary of Epcot, will showcase millions of brilliant blossoms, flavor-rich cuisine from 15 Outdoor Kitchens, Disney topiary stars, interactive play gardens and live chart-topping musical acts during the Garden Rocks Concert Series.

The 90-day festival will open with an irresistible array of sights, sounds, tastes, aromas and tactile discoveries:

  • New and creative dishes will debut at 15 Outdoor Kitchens encircling the World Showcase Promenade. Guests can sip and savor their way around Epcot, enjoying chef-inspired noshes and refreshing libations.
  • A bonanza of Disney character topiaries, including classic-character favorites Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and many others, will play a starring festival role. Returning this year, Belle will be featured in France along with Beast, Snow White in Germany with the Seven Dwarfs, and Anna and Elsa in Norway.
  • A brand-new Future World interactive play garden and a revved-up Road to Florida 500 garden featuring new games and play challenges will set the pace for family festival fun. The new interactive area in Future World will feature a play maze, a sensory garden, an activity zone and a covered seating area. The redesigned “Cars”-themed garden based on the Disney•Pixar sequel, “Cars 3,” will add more fun activities like highway bingo for families.
  • A brand-new Epcot front-entrance topiary garden will set the milestone anniversary scene with a kaleidoscope of blooming color where topiary icons Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy will greet festival guests.
  • The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series will feature hit makers of the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Three evening concerts each Friday through Monday present musicians that span multiple genres.
  • Garden Rocks Dining Packages will be available on select days at a number of Epcot restaurants.

Each Outdoor Kitchen will feature its own raised-bed or in-ground garden of herbs and produce that can inspire the growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow what they eat.

“The culture of growing your own food continues to trend, and our guests each year have quite a few questions related to edible gardens,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “They get a big kick comparing items in our gardens with the herbs and produce our chefs incorporate into the festival’s Outdoor Kitchen recipes.”

And there’s more:

  • The back-by-demand Figment topiary garden between Future World and World Showcase will offer the perfect selfie backdrop and family photo opportunity.
  • The Royal Tea Garden Tour will return for a second year each festival morning at the United Kingdom pavilion. For a small fee, guests can follow a knowledgeable guide through the tranquil tea garden setting to learn the history and artistry behind growing and blending tea. A post-tour treat of tea and scones is included. The shorter, complimentary English Tea Garden Tour also will be offered on select days.
  • Among the nearly 100 festival topiaries will be returning favorites like the pandas and Bromeliad dragon at the China pavilion, The Three Caballeros at the Mexico pavilion, Disney-Pixar’s Woody at the American Adventure pavilion and Buzz Lightyear in Future World.

Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will transform the park’s landscape. At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

For more information about the 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639). As the festival nears, more details will be available at EpcotInSpring.com. The festival, including all gardens and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

New 2018 Disney Parks Moms Panelists Help Turn Dream Disney Vacations Into Reality

With January kicking off a busy vacation planning season, Disney Parks today announced its new class of panelists joining the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The 11 new panelists, carefully selected from thousands of applicants to provide honest and relatable vacation tips, are committed to making the planning process easier by offering personalized guidance to help turn dream Disney vacations into a reality.

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Enjoy Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience at Disney Springs in Florida and Downtown Disney in California

The new hyper-reality experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire by ILMxLAB and The VOID, has debuted to Guests at Disney Springs® at Walt Disney World® Resort, and is open at Downtown Disney® District at Disneyland® Resort.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will transports you deep into the Star Wars universe, walking freely and untethered throughout the multisensory experience with friends and family. In groups of four, teams will go undercover as stormtroopers to capture Imperial intelligence vital to the budding rebellion’s survival.

Check out this video from Disney Parks Blog for a sneak peek inside Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Tickets for both locations are available now at TheVOID.com.

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Disney PhotoPass is Available at Select Dining Locations

No matter your tastes, there are so many ways to enjoy dining while visiting Walt Disney World® Resort. Whether you are feasting while inside Cinderella Castle, experiencing a spirited luau, joining favorite Disney characters, or relishing any of the other fabulous dining options, the atmosphere (and of course the food!) are so superb, it’s easy for dining experiences to become some of the most memorable portions of their vacation.

As specialists in capturing memories, Disney PhotoPass Service has stationed photographers at the following dining locations to take a photo before – or at a few places during or after – your meal as they get to know some of your favorite Disney Characters or pose in front of picture-perfect backdrops:

  • Be Our Guest Restaurant (Dinner only)
  • Chef Mickey’s
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
  • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
  • 1900 Park Fare
  • ‘Ohana (Breakfast only)
  • Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

These photos are an excellent way for you to rememberyour experience long after they’ve finished your meal.

And with Disney PhotoPass Service, it’s easy for you to savor your memories in whichever way they prefer: Their PhotoPass photos can be purchased a la carte at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com or with an all-you-care-to-enjoy approach with Memory Maker. Memory Maker allows you to download all of their Disney PhotoPass photos taken during your vacation*, including those captured at dining locations!

*Memory Maker is subject to the applicable terms and policies available found here. Includes photos taken during the applicable Memory Maker Window as defined in such terms (generally, photos taken (i) within one day for the One Day product or (ii) within 30 days from the date of first activation for standard Memory Maker). A MagicBand is required to receive certain attraction photos and other digital content. Online registration required. Disney PhotoPass Photos in your account will expire pursuant to the expiration policy. Downloads are restricted to personal use only. Not responsible for missing, lost or damaged photos. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Valid theme park admission required for certain photo locations.

Main Street USA Vehicles and Dumbo the Flying Elephant at at Disneyland Park to Begin Updates January 8

Two original Disneyland® Park attractions will close temporarily beginning Jan. 8, 2018 to receive updates. For the first time, the horse-drawn streetcar track on Main Street, U.S.A., will be replaced in its entirety, temporarily pausing the operation of all Main Street, U.S.A. vehicles. Also, Dumbo the Flying Elephant will receive a new queue location for guest comfort and accessibility.

Refurbishment is a common practice performed periodically to keep attractions fresh and up to date. While sections of the Main Street, U.S.A., track have been replaced before, this complete replacement will incorporate new brickwork that will enhance the look of the iconic thoroughfare. The pieces of original track that remain today will be salvaged and preserved, and the previously updated pieces of track will be recycled.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant also will close temporarily beginning Jan. 8, 2018 to move the location of its queue and erect a new shade structure. The attraction will also be up to its “ears” in fresh paint! Main Street, U.S.A., vehicles and Dumbo the Flying Elephant will reopen in late winter and early spring, respectively.

American Runner Wins 25th Annual Walt Disney World Marathon for First Time in 14 Years

On the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, Nick Hilton ushered in a new era, ending Brazil’s recent dominance after becoming the first American to win the popular race since 2004. Hilton, 28, is only the fourth American runner to win the 26.2-mile race that stretches through all four Disney theme parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Central Florida resort. The last American winner was Matthew Dobson 14 years ago. Before Hilton’s win Sunday, a Brazilian runner had won the race six of the past seven years, including the last four.

By contrast, the women’s division remained decidedly Brazilian as Giovanna Martins of Sao Paulo won for the third time in the last four years. In fact, she became the only three-time

women’s winner in race history after crossing the finish line in 2:47:22, well ahead of Jackie Hall of St. Charles, Missouri (2:49:48) and Alicia Cevallos of Quito, Ecuador (2:50:49).

Hilton’s victory had extra significance. In addition to the victory coming one year after he got engaged at Walt Disney World Resort, his winning time qualified the Tucson, Arizona resident for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the 2020 Summer Games.

“I feel amazing,’’ said Hilton, who hasn’t had a lot of success in marathon races. “The marathon has been a mixed bag for me, so to come back to a place (Walt Disney World

Resort) that means a lot to me and my wife, and to come back and win, feels amazing.’’

And the Disney Marathon field of 25,500 made him earn it. Hilton battled three other contenders for most of the race and didn’t pull away until the late stages. He finished in a blistering 2:17:52 – more than two minutes ahead of Vanilson Neves of Sao Paulo (2:20:25) who was followed by Nicholas Caprario of Kansas City, Missouri (2:21:31).

“I had a great group of guys who ran with me,’’ Hilton said. “By about mile 20, there were two of us and we started running some 5 flats (five-minute mile pace). I just happened to hold on a little bit better towards the end of the race.’’

The Disney marathon weekend, which began in 1994 with one race involving roughly 8,000 runners, has since grown to more than 100,000 runners and spectators in its 25th year and remains one of the most popular marathons in the nation and is widely regarded as the first entertainment-focused marathon in the country. Over the years, nearly a million people of various ages and abilities have run in a Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend race, including 76 who have now run all 25 Disney marathons.

In celebration of the anniversary, every runner was given a commemorative finisher’s medal and special 25th anniversary Mickey Mouse ears to wear after crossing the finish line at Epcot on what was a sunny but unseasonably cool Florida morning. In addition, there were special entertainment experiences every half mile along the course, from full marching bands in three of the theme parks to a 100-member choir near Mile 26 to nostalgic Disney movie soundtracks playing along Main Street U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom, plus exciting meet & greet opportunities with beloved Disney characters throughout the course.

The race was the final day of a five-day race weekend that featured kids’ races, a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon before Sunday’s marathon, plus a health and fitness expo. Registration information for the four upcoming Disney race weekends is at www.runDisney.com. 

Photos – Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ & Dia De Muertos items inside the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot

VR experience: Disney addition hints at theme park future

Virtual reality (VR) has been talked about for decades, with most public uses of it being gimmicky or wholly underwhelming. The technology has promise in a variety of areas, but consumer uses of it have yet to make a major splash.

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