Disneyland Resort Details 2011 Halloween Season Beginning September 16

The spirit of Halloween Time will invade Disneyland Resort this fall with Disney villains, Mickey Mouse and his friends in Halloween costumes, and the seasonal transformations of Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort begins Friday, Sept. 16, and will continue through Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31.

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‘Tinker Bell Half Marathon’ Wings Medal Revealed

Via its official Facebook page, Disneyland 'Tinker Bell Half Marathon' MedalrunDisney has shared a photo of the medal for the inaugural ‘Tinker Bell Half Marathon’ taking place at the Disneyland Resort January 27 – 29, 2012. The medal prominently features Tinker Bell who doubles as a spinner feature.

With the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, Disneyland Resort will be hosting two of runDisney’s five signature events. Disneyland currently hosts the Disneyland Half Marathon during Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2-4 in 2011). In all, more than 10,000 runners are expected to participate in the inaugural Tinker Bell event, making it one of the nation’s largest endurance races geared toward women.

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Disneyland Teams with KaBOOM! and Others to Build Playground Designed by Children

Mickey and Minnie join children and volunteers who built new playground (Rob Sparacio/Disneyland)Nearly 300 volunteers from the local community, Disney, city of Anaheim, Thomas Edison Elementary School and Anaheim Family YMCA joined together to build a new KaBOOM! playground and learning garden for hundreds of Anaheim children.

The new playground, which was based on designs created by the children it will serve, was fully assembled in two days. The new learning garden at nearby Thomas Edison Elementary School will teach children how to grow vegetables, furthering their knowledge about healthy food and nutrition.

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Parks Prez Al Weiss Announces Retirement After Nearly 40 Years of Service

Nearly 40 years after he began working at the Walt Disney World Resort at the age of 18 in 1972, Al Weiss, President of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has announced his retirement from The Walt Disney Company, effective November 1, 2011. Weiss has held his current position since 2005 after leaving his role of President of Walt Disney World.

Weiss sent the following e-mail to cast members earlier today:

Fellow cast members,

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Victoria & Albert’s Receives Twelfth Consecutive AAA Five-Diamond Award

Chef Scott Hunnel from Victoria & Albert'sFor the 12th consecutive year, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’ Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been awarded the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award. Victoria & Albert’s is the only restaurant in Orlando and one of only three in Florida to be honored with the highest accolade a restaurant can achieve.

Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel has drawn national and international applause for his preparation and delivery of American regional cuisine with classical influences at the elegant, 50-seat restaurant.

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Special Events for Epcot’s 2011 Food and Wine Festival Start Booking August 16

Dreaming of a festive autumn evening at the grand-scale Party for the Senses food and wine event at Epcot? Or maybe a more intimate artisanal Cheese Seminar with New York City fromager Max McCalman is on your radar.

Foodies who want to lock in their favorite events at the 16th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 30-Nov. 13 should save the date of Aug. 16, 2011, and set their alarms for 7 am. That’s when reservations open for all special culinary and beverage programs offered during this year’s 45-day food, wine, beer and cocktail extravaganza. These special events have proven to be extremely popular and availability is limited.

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Baby Mandrill Welcomed into World at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Baby mandrill and mother

After six and a half months of waiting, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is welcoming a “colorful” addition to its animal family. A male baby mandrill was born May 30 to first-time mother, Kelley, and is the third one born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Mom and baby are doing very well.

Native to Africa, mandrills are among the largest species of monkey in the world and are considered endangered. They’re known for their bright coloration, furry head crests, manes and beards. Adults also have thick purple and blue ridges along their noses, big red lips and golden beards. Fans of Disney’s animated movie “The Lion King” might recall Rafiki, who was not only a colorful character, but a mandrill as well.

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Photo: Super Bowl Champ Kurt Warner Helps Dreams Come True at Walt Disney World

Kurt Warner and family at Walt Disney World (Gene Duncan/Disney)Former NFL and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner (right), his wife, Brenda (left), and Mickey Mouse pose June 13, 2011 with Kenny Bender (center), age 6, and Landon Smith (far right), 4, at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Representing the Kurt Warner First Things First Foundation, the Warners, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visited Walt Disney World Resort with a group of families from St. Louis, Arizona and Iowa. This marked the 10th annual visit by the First Things First Foundation to Walt Disney World.

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‘Radiator Springs Racers’ to Offer Next Generation of FASTPASS

In a recent newsletter update, the Disneyland Resort has announced that Radiator Springs Racers, part of the new Cars Land in Disney California Adventure and scheduled to open in summer of 2012, will offer an enhanced version of FASTPASS, designed — in part — to  ‘make the service more available,’ but stops short of any details, noting only ‘the details are still being worked out.’

The article quotes Abel Garay, Reporting Assistant for Global Park Operations, who was speaking in regards to the future of the FASTPASS system. The full quote follows:

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland Ticket Prices Increase June 12

Disney Parks has announced that its ticket prices will be increased effective June 12, 2011. At Walt Disney World, a one day base ticket will increase $3 for adults (10+) to $85 while a child’s ticket (3-9) will increase $4 to $79. Both the park hopping and water park fun & more options increase $1 to a flat-rate of $55 per ticket. The no-expiration option will also increase accordingly for applicable Magic Your Way tickets.

Annual passes also increase to $519 for adults and $478 for children and premium annual pass rates rise to $649 for adults and $598 for children.

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