Holographic Stitch, Star Tours Cast Member Featured in New Limited Edition Disney-Star Wars Collectibles

Buried under extensive coverage of Star Wars at the International Toy Fair, StarWars.com recently brought us news of a couple of new exclusive limited edition releases coming soon to Disney Parks.

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Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival Celebrates the ‘Art of Flavor’ at Disneyland Resort April 16 – May 31

Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival will create a kaleidoscope of culinary experiences for guests of every palate April 16-May 31 at Disney’s California Adventure park and select locations across the Disneyland Resort.

Chefs, winemakers and brewmasters will celebrate The Art of Flavor at this year’s tantalizing festival, which features entertaining culinary demonstrations, outstanding wine and spirits seminars, and delicious food, wine and beer. General sales for Festival events began Feb. 16.

Look for chefs Guy Fieri and Cat Cora of Food Network, along with Disney culinary masters and special guests as they present their gastronomic talents in a full menu of complimentary demonstrations and signature paid events. The signature events include winemaker dinners, Sweet Sundays, Napa Rose Cooking School and Taste Food-Wine-Life, a night that celebrates the essence of the festival with a mosaic of food, wine and live entertainment.

Opening weekend features celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the popular television personality and “food dude” who appears on shows such as “Guy’s Big Bite” on the Food Network. Fieri will conduct complimentary food demonstrations on the Festival’s main stage.

“Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival is a great time,” Fieri said. “Of course the kids love Disneyland, but now this is something extra for the adults. It’s incredible chefs, great wines from around the world and Disney. You’re gonna dig it. See you there!”

Some events, including culinary demonstrations, are included with admission to Disney’s California Adventure park. Signature events are separately ticketed and require reservations. For details, visit www.disneyland.com/foodandwine.

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Epcot 2010 International Flower and Garden Festival Guide Now Available

Walt Disney World has released the Guide for the 2010 International Flower and Garden Festival which kicks off March 3.

Despite the lengthy 2 1/2 month festival, only a few special weekends are noted in the guide: Art in the Garden Celebration (March 26-28) in which guests can get a unique look at nature through the eyes of “Plein Air” artists and see one-of-a-kind works of art; Fresh From Florida (April 23-25) which features Florida’s native agriculture in the Florida’s Farmer Market in Garden Town; and the annual favorite I Dig Bugs (May 1-2) in which experts from Disney’s Animal Kingdom come share some of their favorite friends with Epcot guests.

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Woman Alleges Sexual Battery in Lawsuit Against Walt Disney World, et al

Marjory Marchand of New York filed a lawsuit in United States District Court earlier this weeking seeking damages in excess of $75,000 from Walt Disney World, Niki Bryan Spas and GF Spa Ltd. Through the complaint, Marchand stated that in July of 2008, as part of a Walt Disney World vacation, she participated in a private massage taking place at the Grand Floridian resort. It was during the massage that Marchand alleges she was violated sexually by a male masseur, resulting in ‘lack of trust, anger, irritability, anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks, feelings of abandonment shame, feelings of being unclean, fear of being alone, poor mood, feeling distracted, confused, and in self-doubt.’

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More Than 600,000 Have Signed up for ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day'; Disney Parks Breaks World Record

Against the backdrop of a world-record sculpture of canned goods destined for food banks, Disney Parks officials on Thursday announced a major milestone with the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program, a first-of-its-kind effort to help inspire 1 million people to perform volunteer service.

Since the program’s launch only six weeks ago, more than 600,000 people in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada have volunteered or signed up for volunteer projects in their communities, announced Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

“With the launch of our ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ program, we hoped to spark something truly special,” Staggs said. “But even we have been overwhelmed with the response.”

To recognize their good deeds, in 2010 Disney Parks is celebrating those who volunteer through the program by giving them a free one-day admission to either a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Volunteers can start the search and sign-up process by going to www.disneyparks.com.

HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute and the largest volunteer network in the nation, is supporting the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program by connecting volunteers with projects.

According to Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network and CEO of Points of Light Institute, 10,000 community organizations, through the Disney Parks program, are getting the volunteers they need to meet important community challenges.

“The level of volunteerism we have seen in the first weeks of 2010 is tracking to new highs,” she said. “Our dream at HandsOn Network is for everyone to recognize their power to make a difference. Disney is helping us make that dream a reality, a million times over.”

Since the launch of the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program on Jan. 1, 2010, volunteers have trekked through wetlands near Long Beach, Calif., and through mountain preserves in Phoenix, Ariz., clearing away non-native vegetation. A continent away, volunteers have whisked away trash on Atlantic Coast beaches in Brevard County and Dade County, Fla. In Port Huron, Mich., “soccer families” have picked up paint brushes to help spruce up a community center. In Atlanta, Ga., volunteers have assisted hospitalized children as they create arts and crafts projects. And with the forecast for a cold night ahead, the homeless in Central Florida were handed blankets by caring volunteers.

In addition to celebrating the “Give A Day, Get a Disney Day” program, Disney Parks welcomed to Walt Disney World Resort Thursday other outstanding volunteer families from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada who gave back to their communities in special ways, as part of Disney’s celebration of family volunteerism in 2010.

“Today we are here to celebrate you,” Staggs told the families. “With each of your efforts, you make a difference.”

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Boba Fett Confronts Jedi Mickey in Official Artwork for 2010 Star Wars Weekends

Artwork for 2010 Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood StudiosThe official artwork for the 2010 Star Wars Weekends was released today on StarWars.com. Featuring Boba Fett taking on Jedi Mickey, the artwork does give credence to the speculation that the weekends’ festivities will be focused on bounty hunters.

What is known for certain about the special event, which takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Fridays – Sundays from May 21 – June 13, is that it will pay respect to The Empire Strikes Back which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

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Main Street Electrical Parade Returns to Walt Disney World for ‘Summer Nightastic'; Tower of Terror Upgrade

At a media event taking place this evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, Walt Disney World has confirmed a ‘Summer Nightastic’ line-up of events beginning in June in which the historic Main Street Electrical Parade will find its way back along the streets of the Magic Kingdom. With updated LED technology, a new audio system and even new floats, featuring Tinker Bell, Pinocchio and Snow White, the classic favorite is sure to thrill a whole new generation.

During the summer-long event, it’s also expected that Wishes will be temporarily replaced by Magic, Music and Mayhem, the odds-on favorite from the former Pirate and Princess Parties.

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Video: Drew Brees Ticker-Tape Parade at the Magic Kingdom

Here’s some footage courtesy of Walt Disney World from today’s ticker-tape parade for the 2010 Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints

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Mary J. Blige to be Keynote Speaker at 2010 Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey

Singer/producer/actress Mary J. Blige, the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” will be the Keynote Speaker as part of the third annual Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey. The event will be held Feb. 11-14 at Walt Disney World Resort.

In partnership with nationally syndicated radio personality Steve Harvey, Walt Disney World Resort will host 100 high school students from across the nation at this year’s academy – giving them unprecedented access to the magic behind Walt Disney World Resort and creating unique, interactive seminars with a wide range of enriching and inspiration topics from “the unseen jobs of entertainment” to “the business of sports” to “the power of networking.”

Blige, whose latest album “Stronger withEach Tear” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts, will speak at the academy’s Commencement Ceremony, a graduation of sorts for the students. Past Keynote Speakers include Judge Greg Mathis and BET Founder Bob Johnson.

Other celebrities scheduled to share their blueprints for success at this year’s academy include R&B star Cupid; actor Roshon Fagen (“Camp Rock”); CNN correspondent Christopher Lawrence; actor Daniel Curtis Lee (“Disney’s Zeke & Luther”); songstress Kimberley Locke; actors Chris (“Zoey 101″) and Kyle (“Cory in the House”) Massey; actress Tamara Mowry (“Sister, Sister”); producer Will Packer (“Stomp The Yard”); singer Ruben Studdard; gospel group Trin-i-tee 5:7; and celebrity trainer Harvey Walden. As in 2009, Sherri Shepherd, actress and co-host of “The View,” will return to host the celebrity conversations. Contemporary gospel star Yolanda Adams will speak at the event’s opening ceremony.

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