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#DisneySide Sports Style: Disney Track & Field Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Track & Field Showcase, an elite high school competition held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, is just around the corner. Here are a few ways to show your #DisneySide during the event!

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Girls will want to keep their hair pulled back while competing, so why not use a Mickey Mouse hair tie to show your #DisneySide? These would also be a perfect gift for your favorite athlete.

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There's also a Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse hair tie that is stylish and functional.

Show Your Disney Side During the Disney Track & Field Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort Show Your Disney Side During the Disney Track & Field Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort

And lastly, keep your hair intact with this rhinestone Mickey Mouse headband, which is perfect for your competition and adds a subtle Disney touch to your uniform.

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All of these items can be found at World of Disney at Downtown Disney. How do you show your #DisneySide at sporting events?

#DisneySide Sports Style: Disney Track & Field Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort by Aubrey Hang: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Disney and Orlando City Team Up to Make Soccer Magic at Walt Disney World Resort

With Orlando City Soccer Club only days away from its Major League Soccer debut this weekend, Walt Disney World Resort is getting in on the fun.

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We are thrilled to announce today that Walt Disney World Resort is now a founding sponsor of Orlando City, further strengthening our ties to the area's newest pro sports franchise which played its home games at our ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex last season.

This sponsorship deal means the soccer fever that has been sweeping Central Florida lately is going to be even more visible in and around Walt Disney World Resort. That's because we are now the team's official theme park and resort destination, and Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club are its official cruise line and vacation club, respectively.

When the season kicks off Sunday in front of a capacity crowd of 60,000 screaming fans at the Citrus Bowl, Walt Disney World Resort will have a significant presence at the game much like we will at all Orlando City home games this year and at the team's new downtown stadium starting in 2016.

The soccer action will happen here, too. We're planning to collaborate with Orlando City on a variety of soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the coming months, further enhancing the soccer experience for athletes, coaches and fans who attend the many youth and pro soccer events at the sports complex.

Ultimately we hope to leverage our collective resources to further elevate Central Florida's profile in key travel markets such as Brazil and other Latin American countries where soccer is king.

Hope to see you at some of the Orlando City games!

Disney and Orlando City Team Up to Make Soccer Magic at Walt Disney World Resort by Darrell Fry: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Mariska Hargitay Enjoys Some 'Frozen Fun' at the Disneyland Resort

Mariska Hargitay experienced some "Frozen Fun" at Disney California Adventure park recently.

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When we caught up with her at "Olaf's Snow Fest," Mariska and her family were having a great time with everyone's favorite warm hug-loving snowman, Olaf!

Mariska Hargitay Enjoys Some 'Frozen Fun' at the Disneyland Resort by George Savvas: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns Today

The 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival starts today, and we've got plenty of fresh experiences, food and music for you to enjoy.

Our 11 Outdoor Kitchens are bursting with flavors from the garden, the barbecue and the globe. The new Botanas Botanico features Cachapas with Farmer's Cheese, a Seafood Ceviche and a fruity La Tizana punch that can become an adult beverage with a splash of Santa Teresa RHUM Liqueur.

Ten new specialty gardens including a pepper garden, health garden of healing herbs, Shakespeare garden and dinosaur plant gardens may inspire your green thumb.

Kids will love the Living Desert Road Rally with Mater and Lightning McQueen topiaries and the Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden. (Truth be told ... I was tempted to do some climbing myself on the rope web - check it out!).

Ease into the evening with Garden Rocks concert series. The Gin Blossoms - perfect for a festival featuring flowers and gardens, right? -- kick off our festival music offering.

Linger as the sun goes down to roam our illuminated gardens. It's really a wondrous way to see Epcot at night.

We've already seen two of the newest stars make some young guests leap out of their strollers and dash for a closer look. The Anna and Elsa topiaries are pretty spectacular. Horticulture Manager of the festival, Eric Darden, gives us a closer look at the royal sisters before they made their debut at Epcot.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns Today by Victoria Lim: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Wildlife Wednesday: Disney Making a Difference - Rehabilitation and Release Success with Guam Rails

For over fifteen years, I, along with other members of Disney's Animal Care team have been lending a helping hand on the beautiful pacific islands of the Marianas to save multiple species including the Guam rail. Native to this small island in the South Pacific, the Guam rail is a flightless, cocoa-colored bird with a striped underbelly that is extinct in the wild due to the accidental introduction of the brown tree snake onto the island. Since the Guam rail makes its nest on the ground, the snake can easily get to the birds' eggs and chicks, causing the decline of the population in the wild.

Dr. Deidre with a Guam Rail A Guam Rail in the Wild

Thanks to efforts of institutions across the country that are accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), conservation work to increase Guam rail populations so that they can be released into the wild has been very successful. For years, Disney's Animal Care team has sent veterinarians and animal care specialists to Guam to assist with the health care of this endangered species. We perform medical evaluations on the birds currently in Guam to make sure they are healthy prior to their introduction into the wild. We have had the honor of participating in the release of these birds on the neighboring island of Rota, where the brown tree snake has no presence. If any birds require serious medical care, they are flown to Disney's Animal Kingdom for evaluation and surgery if needed. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, we provide health evaluations to birds that are hatched at any AZA institution before these birds are flow to Guam for their participation in the re-introduction program, as part of a breeding population at a snake protected facility or as a part of the release populations on Rota. Disney's Animal Care team typically spends two to three months with each bird while completing extensive health evaluations to make sure the birds are not only fit to travel back to Guam, but are ready to be released into the wild.

A Guam Rail Being Examined Before Release Into the Wild A Guam Rail Posing with Safari Mickey

Our efforts don't stop there! The Disney team also provides continuous education and training to the island biologists regarding medical care of the birds and we donate veterinary supplies every visit. In hopes of extending the conservation of this species into the next generation, we also share information with local community children to help them learn about these unique birds and better understand why Disney cares about protecting them.

Thanks to the efforts of many in Guam, U.S. zoos and our teams here at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Guam rails have been brought back from the brink of extinction!

While we hope Guam rails are most often found on their native island home, guests have the chance to learn about this and other rehabilitation successes of Disney's Animal Care teams in Backstage Tales, the newest premium experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom! Call 407-WDW-TOUR for additional details.

Wildlife Wednesday: Disney Making a Difference - Rehabilitation and Release Success with Guam Rails by Deidre Fontenot: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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New Cinderella Cupcake at Contempo Café in Disney's Contemporary Resort

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The pastry team at Disney's Contemporary Resort has created a brand-new specialty cupcake inspired by Disney's live-action "Cinderella" movie, in theaters on March 13. Beautifully adorned with a sparkly white chocolate slipper and sugary pumpkin, this vanilla cupcake is filled with vanilla icing and buttercream and is topped with a sprinkle of "fairy dust."

Be sure to pick up this creative confection from Contempo Café before it disappears at the stroke of midnight on March 31!

New Cinderella Cupcake at Contempo Café in Disney's Contemporary Resort by Rachel Brent: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Exploring 'The Land of Fire and Ice' in Reykjavik, Iceland with Disney Cruise Line

One of our brand-new destinations this summer is Iceland, the awe-inspiring "Land of Fire and Ice," known for its geothermal waters, majestic waterfalls, volcanic areas and breathtaking canyons. Today I want to give you a look at some of what you can experience in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital.

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Rich in culture, eclectic architecture and natural beauty, Reykjavik is also home to the famed saltwater Blue Lagoon, located in the middle of a lava field and known worldwide for its healing properties. We offer two Port Adventures for you to bathe in these warm waters: a half-day experience focused on rest and relaxation and a full-day adventure with an adrenaline-packed volcanic journey.

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On our Let's Go Volcano And Bathing at the Blue Lagoon, the day begins with an invigorating trek up the steep flanks of a volcano crater in a specially modified super truck, followed by lava-tube caving experience to explore the mysterious depths of the Icelandic underworld. Then, after a visit to bubbling hot springs and the fishing village of Grindavik for a lobster soup lunch, you'll finish your day with a relaxing afternoon in the therapeutic mineral-filled waters of the Blue Lagoon!

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Here are some of the other super cool tours in Reykjavik you'll want to check out:

The Golden Circle With Family Barbeque -- Classic "can't miss" Icelandic landmarks take center stage on this tour, where you'll explore a national park, a glittering waterfall, popping hot springs and a high-tech geothermal energy exhibition. Plus, in true Disney fashion, folk stories come to life during a barbeque lunch in the woods hosted by Iceland's most famous troll wife, Gryla, and her helpers, who tell the legend of troll giant Bergthor of Bláfell.

Lava Family Workshop -- An exclusive for Disney cruisers, get your family "fired up" during an exhilarating trip to the edge of a hardened lava field for an up-close look at volcanic craters. Parents and children alike will take part in an art workshop, using real lava to create your very own framed lava art.

Glacier Safari 4×4 & Ice Cave -- On this adventure, you'll jump into an Icelandic super truck and journey over ice and snow to the "Ice Cave" on the flanks of Europe's second largest glacier, Langjökull. The man-made "Ice Cave" stretches deep inside the glacier with an impressive series of tunnels and caves carved through solid glacier ice. The ice chapel and ice bar are two of the featured attractions!

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Check back later this week for my suggestions on adventures in Akureyri, Iceland. Remember, when the ship's in port, venture ashore!

Exploring 'The Land of Fire and Ice' in Reykjavik, Iceland with Disney Cruise Line by Arnaldo Zanonato: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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PHOTOS - Merchandise Blooms at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015 runs from March 4 to May 17 at Walt Disney World Resort. With beautiful flowers to see and delicious food to taste, I love strolling around Epcot a few times throughout spring. Here's an update on some additional products created especially for this event. I also have a first look inside the Festival Center that will be open Fridays through Sundays in Future World between Mission: SPACE and Universe of Energy pavilions.

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In a previous article, I promised details about the retail MagicBand created for this event. This new item has an edition size of 5,000 and features Anna and Elsa in their "Frozen Fever" attire from the upcoming animated short debuting in theaters before Disney's "Cinderella" on March 13. Like all other retail MagicBands, this item can be linked later. Look for it in select retail locations at Epcot (it will not be available via the Disney Parks online store).

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I also found a few apparel items for adults and kids including Olaf shirts in blue and green, a Sorcerer Mickey topiary shirt, a yellow Minnie Mouse shirt for women, and a specially designed shirt for Annual Passholders.

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Back by popular demand, we are releasing a new 12-month calendar featuring character topiaries from previous year's festivals.

Guests will also find an iPhone 6 case with Anna and Elsa, magnets, headware, garden accessories, a new Disney Gift Card and much more.

While the Festival Center will only be open during the weekends, these items will be offered at several locations throughout Future World and World Showcase at Epcot (there are some great merchandise kiosks found along the World Showcase promenade).

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Finally, the Festival Center will host Disney artist Jerrod Maruyama on March 8 from 11a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1 - 2p.m. He will be signing his Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival-inspired piece titled "Spring Has Sprung." I love his artwork so much!

Here are a few additional images from my visit to Epcot. I hope to see you this spring!

PHOTOS - Merchandise Blooms at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015 by Steven Miller: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Today in Disney History: Indiana Jones Adventure Opens at Disneyland Park, 1995

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On March 3, 1995, Disneyland park guests began exploring the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Indiana Jones Adventure. Now a classic, this thrill ride takes intrepid explorers on a journey to discover the mysteries of the temple alongside world-famous archeologist, Indiana Jones. To celebrate this anniversary, let's do a little Disney Parks Blog archeology and look back at some of the stories we've shared from this favorite attraction.

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John Rhys-Davies Returns to Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park
John Rhys-Davies, who portrayed Indy's faithful friend, Sallah, in two Indiana Jones films, visited the Disneyland Resort last year, and together with his family and friends, rode Indiana Jones Adventure for the first time.

Decoder for Maraglyphics in Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park Courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library

The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park
Learn the story behind the adventure of this attraction.

On This Day in History: Indiana Jones Adventure Opening Ceremony 1995
Take a look back at the opening ceremony in Adventureland, featuring George Lucas, creator of the blockbuster films.

Today in Disney History: Indiana Jones Adventure Opens at Disneyland Park, 1995 by Erin Glover: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Join 'Galactic Gathering' for Star Wars Weekends 2015 at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 14

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Star Wars Weekends 2015 returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort on Friday, May 15. To kick off this event, Disney Theme Park Merchandise is holding a special ticketed event called "Galactic Gathering" on Thursday, May 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Similar to the "Rebel Rendezvous" event held last year, this year's event will give guests the first opportunity to purchase new products created especially for Star Wars Weekends.

Join 'Galactic Gathering' for Star Wars Weekends 2015 at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 14 Join 'Galactic Gathering' for Star Wars Weekends 2015 at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 14

Packages for the Galactic Gathering will include the following:

  • 'Rebel' or 'Empire' retail MagicBand (Guests can choose their side when registering online)*
  • Commemorative trading pin*
  • Darth's Mall Light Speed Pass which gives expedited entry into Darth's Mall for all five weekends.*
  • First opportunity to pre-purchase select merchandise including personalized Aurebesh nametags, D-Tech phone cases, Dooney & Bourke handbags, Galactic Gathering Disney Gift card, retail MagicBands, limited edition pins and Vinylmation.
  • First opportunity to purchase the new designs of Star Wars-themed Disney Gift Cards.
  • Han Solo-inspired popcorn bucket with popcorn.

Guests who attend this event will also have the opportunity to meet Disney characters, Disney Design Group Artists and Ashley Eckstein from Her Universe.

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Finally, attendees will be some of the first to purchase the new figures for Star Wars D-Tech Me including a Jedi Knight and a TIE-Fighter pilot.

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Tickets to this event are $250 per guest (theme park admission is not included but required to participate in this event).

Registration will begin on March 4 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on http://www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com.

I hope to see you there!

*These items will only be available to Galactic Gathering attendees.

The number of packages available is limited and available while supplies last on a first come, first serve basis. Event package and content are not subject to discounts. Appearances are subject to space and time availability and are not guaranteed. Tickets are non-refundable. Event information subject to change without notice.

Join 'Galactic Gathering' for Star Wars Weekends 2015 at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 14 by Steven Miller: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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