Ghirardelli to Open Shop Inside Disney California Adventure, 2012 (Concept Art)

Ghirardelli at Disney California Adventure (Concept Art)Disneyland Resort today announced that Ghirardelli will open a new location inside Disney California Adventure park in late spring 2012. The soda fountain and chocolate shop will add yet another layer of traditional San Francisco flair to the Pacific Wharf area of the park.

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Photos: Maria Bello, Seth Rogen, Wayne Brady at Walt Disney World

Maria Bello with Duffy (Gene Duncan/Walt Disney World)Actress and activist Maria Bello, who stars as fedora-wearing Detective Jane Timoney on the NBC crime drama “Prime Suspect,” wears a mouse-eared fedora and poses with “Duffy the Disney Bear” in front of the holiday tree at Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on November 25, 2011. Bello also is a co-founder of “WE ADVANCE,” an organization to advance the well-being of women throughout Haiti.

Photo by Gene Duncan, courtesy Walt Disney World

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‘Live with Kelly’ to Broadcast from Disney’s Aulani, February 20 – 24, 2012

This week on “LIVE! with Kelly,” co-host Kelly Ripa and guest co-host Jerry Seinfeld announced that the popular nationally-syndicated show will travel to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaii, for five shows airing February 20-24, 2012. The “LIVE” broadcasts will be set against the backdrop of Aulani’s beautiful beachfront cove on the island of O‘ahu.

During the five shows, “LIVE” will showcase the best of O’ahu, and highlight all that Disney’s latest one-of-a-kind vacation destination has to offer. In addition to broadcasting from the stunning new resort, Ripa and Seinfeld also announced an exciting contest in connection with the trip. “LIVE” will fly one lucky couple and 30 of their guests to Aulani for the wedding of a lifetime.

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Walt Disney World VoluntEARS to Feed Homeless on Thanksgiving

Disney VoluntEARs at Coalition for the HomelessClose to 600 people will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Coalition for the Homeless on Thursday – thanks to Chef Tony Marotta and his team at Walt Disney World Resort.

Preparations for the meal, which includes roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie, began on Sunday, when the team started making sauces, gravy, stuffing and cranberry relish – all from scratch.

“It is an extremely rewarding experience to be able to provide a sense of family and involvement for those who would have otherwise missed out on this time of year, when sharing a meal and giving thanks as a family is so important,” said Marotta, who has also made Thanksgiving meals for the organization in previous years.

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Disney Memories App Offers Virtual Character Interaction at Disney Store Times Square, Other Locations

Mickey Mouse as a virtual character in Disney Memories App

Admittedly we were a bit hasty with our take on the Disney Parks Memories App when it was first released a few days ago for the Apple iPhone and iPad 2 devices. Although it was soon pulled as we also reported, it was re-launched last night with some minor revisions, along with an Android version. After it was re-released and we were invited to experience some of the enhancements it offers when you visit specific locations, we decided to take a second look.

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Fantasia Takes Center Stage at 2012 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

A little gardening magic will go a long way when an eight-foot-tall floral Sorcerer Mickey topiary holds court at the entrance to the 19th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 7 – May 20, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort. Standing atop a 12-foot-tall floral mountain cliff and towering above the park’s front-entrance topiary bed, the commanding Sorcerer Mickey will direct a riot of color in the manicured shapes of dancing broomsticks, buckets, mushrooms, hippos, alligators and elephants straight from the classic Disney film, Fantasia.

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Disney Parks to Host ‘Disney Memories’ Event in Times Square, November 19

We have learned that Walt Disney World will be hosting a ‘Disney Memories’ event this Saturday, November 19, in the New York City Times Square area, as part of its ‘Let the Memories Begin’ / ‘One More Disney Day’ campaign. Details are sketchy, but sources have told us the event will take place at 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm by the Disney Store location and will involve virtual appearances by Mickey Mouse and some of his friends.

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‘Star Tours 2.0′ to Launch at Tokyo Disneyland in 2013

Oriental Land Company, owner and operator of Tokyo Disneyland, has announced that it will be following in the footsteps of the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts and will be updating its ‘Star Tours’ attraction in Tomorrowland. With an estimated cost of 7 billion yen (approximately $91 million US), ‘Star Tours: The Adventure Continues’ is expected to open in spring 2013.

From the initial announcement, it does not appear that the attraction will differ from that of the recent makeover at the Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Just yesterday, the attraction redo was recognized by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and will receive a Thea Award for its refresh.

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Photos: Marine and Family Honored by Disneyland Resort at “it’s a small world” Lighting

On Monday, the Disneyland Resort invited Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Poteat, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s S-6 communication platoon, and his family to “flip the switch” on more than 300,000 holiday lights blanketing “it’s a small world” Holiday, transforming the popular attraction into a visual wonderland and officially launching the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort. The ceremony, presented by the attraction’s sponsor, Sylvania, honored Poteat and his family for the contributions they have made to our country. Poteat, who U.S. Marines Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Poteat and family at Disneyland "it's a small world" lighting (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1996, has completed three tours and recently returned from the latest, a seven-month deployment in the Middle East. He was joined by his three children, nephew, niece and wife, Clarice, an advisor to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s family readiness team, for a day of play at the Disneyland Resort followed by this special honor.

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Joe Rohde, Disney Parks Attractions Among TEA Industry Award Recipients

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today named its recipients of its 18th annual Thea Awards, for which Disney Parks and Resorts received a number of accolades for its contributions ot the industry over the past year. According to TEA president (and former Walt Disney Imagineer) Rick Rothschild, the award sets out to ‘recognize and honor excellence in the creation of extraordinary visitor experiences, attractions, exhibits and places. As this year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of TEA, we can reflect on how much has changed: the tools and techniques our industry employs, the use of digital media and interactivity, the sophistication of themed environments and the international expansion of the business, especially into Asia. At the same time, storytelling and teamwork remain the bedrock of the Experience Design Industry and its projects.’ He adds, ‘the Thea Awards honor teamwork at its very best — the creative handshake between the visionary project owner and the multidisciplinary collective of designers, artisans and technicians who realize the vision. TEA’s Thea Awards celebrate storytelling across the globe — educational and entertaining stories of heritage, history, fiction, fantasy, magic and even hard science — delivered with artistry and the appropriate use of technology at museums, theme parks, world expos, special events and other settings. TEA looks forward to the next 20 years of leading the visitor attractions industry.’

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