D23 Announces 2010 ‘Flowers and Fireworks’ Event at Walt Disney World May 15-16

The weekend blossoms Saturday evening as guests gather at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for a delicious beachside cookout. Enjoy a savory salad before diving into a grilled beef burger from the Evo Grill (veggie burgers too!) or chicken breast with Floridian citrus barbeque sauce glaze, served with all the fixings. Make sure to leave room for mouth-watering side dishes like creamy Southern-style cole slaw, slow-cooked vegetarian baked beans and Baked Mac ‘n’ Fine Cheeses. And don’t forget dessert! (We know we won’t!) Choose between Mickey Strawberry Shortcake or Hershey’s Chocolate S’mores Bread Pudding with Vanilla Crème Anglaise Sauce. Or enjoy both! During dinner, some of Disney’s most beloved characters will also hit the sand to visit with you.

Then sit back and watch a private viewing of the delightful Electrical Water Pageant as it sails by on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The Pageant — Disney’s longest-running parade, having launched in 1971 — boasts a bevy of colorful characters on barges illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights. Following the show, guests will be treated to an exclusive presentation about the creation of Walt Disney World’s fireworks spectaculars. And the night wouldn’t be complete without a private lakeside viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s beloved fireworks spectacular Wishes.

Sunday morning meet at 9 a.m. in the Grand Harbor Ballroom of Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts for a morning of special presentations, created just for D23 Members and their guests. After enjoying breakfast from the continental buffet including “A Spoonful of Sugar” breakfast scones with clotted cream and fresh jams and warm cinnamon loaf laced with fondant, “Mad Hatter” scrambled eggs (with assorted “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum toppings”!), Snow (Egg) White Vegetable Frittata, Tink’s Yogurt Parfaits and classic Mickey Waffles fresh fruit toppings and pecans and whipped cream, grab a seat as Epcot Vice President Dan Cockrell will kick off the morning, giving insider insight into the new additions currently being built at Epcot — a new authentic Neapolitan pizzeria at Italy’s pavilion and expanded outdoor for Cantina de San Angel at the Mexico pavilion. Michael Jenner, WDW Park Events Content Development Operations Manager, will give an exclusive sneak peek at what’s to come at this fall’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which will be celebrating its 15th year of cooking up delicious dishes for Disney guests! Eric Darden, Horticulture Manager of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, will present “The History and Behind the Scenes Secrets of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.” Then, Daniel Wasilick of Twinings Tea — one of the original partners at Epcot — will serve up something special just for guests, including a look at their refreshing teas that can only be found at Epcot. And of course, there will be some terrific surprises and gifts!

After a morning of enriching panels and presentations inside, it’s time to hit Epcot to see the International Flower & Garden Festival up close and personal. Guests will have several hours during the day to enjoy the park at their own pace.

That evening, get ready for some Flower Power as you head to the American Gardens Theatre to do the twist with Chubby Checker! D23 Members and their guests will enjoy reserved VIP seating for the concert. And after burning off some calories twisting the night away, it’s time for dessert! A selection of savory sweets — including some of Walt’s personal favorites — will be awaiting guests at Italy Isola, where everyone will also be able to enjoy private viewing of the Epcot signature spectacle, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

Of course, no D23 event would be complete without some extra magic! We look forward to making once-in-a-lifetime memories over these two days of festivities.

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New Dining and Shopping Experiences Arriving at Epcot’s World Showcase

Just in time for the 15th Annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival, Walt Disney World guests will be able to experience the newest enhancements to the World Showcase at Epcot – a new lagoon-side, 12,000 sq. ft. taqueria at the Mexico pavilion, an authentic 14,000 sq. ft. pizzeria at the Italy pavilion, a new merchandise kiosk at the China pavilion, and a new exclusive Givenchy shop at the France pavilion.

Building on its more than 25 years of success in bringing Mexican cuisine to Walt Disney World guests, San Angel Inn, LLC will open a new 400-seat waterside restaurant and quick-service food location specializing in the freshly baked culinary flavors of Mexico. The Cantina de San Angel Restaurant, located directly in front of the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase, is currently closed until fall 2010 for a significant refurbishment and expansion.

The new indoor and outdoor restaurant will be nearly four times larger than the previous 3,500 sq. ft. Cantina. The Cantina will serve as the first flex- service restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney research has shown that guests prefer a quick lunch while spending a day at the parks and enjoy a nice tableside restaurant experience in the evening hours. As a result, the new restaurant will serve quick service meals during the day where guests can enjoy an indoor, air-conditioned dining, or outdoor dining experience. Then, in the evening hours the restaurant is converted into a tableside restaurant where reservations are recommended.

Concept art for new pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilionAt the Italy pavilion, the Patina Restaurant Group will expand its Italian culinary options by opening a new 300-seat pizzeria that will feature traditional Italian dishes straight from wood-burning ovens representing Italy’s infamous volcanoes. Guests will be immersed in the dining experience as they take in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Italian delicacies, Florentine architecture, vaulted-ceilings, and indoor and outdoor dining.

Based on its success at Naples 45 in New York, the Patina Restaurant Group will import water from a source where the composition most resembles water used in Naples, Italy, to make the authentic Italian dough.

“Together with the addition of the pizzeria and the extensive refurbishment of the Cantina, we’re expanding the table service restaurant seats in World Showcase by approximately 20 percent,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. “We’re excited about this significant expansion, which will certainly enhance the guest experience and the architectural landscape of World Showcase. The timing couldn’t be better since we will be celebrating our 15th annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival.”

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‘Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow’ Author Ridley Pearson to Make Appearances April 6-7 at Walt Disney World

Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadows by Ridley PearsonJoin author Ridley Pearson as he visits Walt Disney World on April 6 & 7 to sign his latest book, Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow as well as many of his other best sellers.

On Tuesday, April 6, Ridley will be signing at Once Upon a Toy in the Downtown Disney Marketplace from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

On Wednesday, April 7, Ridley will be appearing at MouseGear in Epcot (theme park admission required) from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

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Report: Disney Bus Collision at Epcot Injures Eight; One Seriously Hurt

WESH and the Orlando Sentinel are reporting that a Disney Bus rear-ended a Mears Transportation near the Epcot Toll Plaza earlier today at approximately 2:30 pm ET, injuring eight with the driver of the Disney Bus having been airlifted to the hospital in a ‘very  serious condition.’  There were 20 guests in all aboard the Disney Bus with only the driver aboard the Mears bus.

UPDATED at 3:35 pm

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Pre-Registration Now Open for the 2010 Disney Gospel Choir Fest at Epcot

Disney's Gospel Choir Fest

Billed as part of the ‘Night of Joy Weekend,’ the Disney Gospel Choir Fest will take place at the American Gardens Theatre across from the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase on Saturday, September 11.

The lively competition of gospel choirs from around the country will be emceed by Grammy Award winner Smokie Norful and feature judge: Myron Butler, record producer and Grammy Award winner; Ken Pennell, President of EMI Gospel; and Larry Blackwell, Vice President of EMI Gospel.

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Details for 2010 Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon Announced

The Walt Disney World resort has announced the details for the upcoming Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon events taking place October 1 – 3, 2010.

On Friday, October 1, 2010, the Disney’s Kids’ Races will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Track & Field Complex beginning at 4 pm for children ages 8 and under. Registration includes: Commemorative T-shirt; Personalized Bib (Must register by September 3, 2010 for name to appear on bib); Trick-or-Treat bag of refreshments; Commemorative finisher medallion.

Race details and age groups are as follows:

  • 12 months and under – Diaper Dash for crawlers
  • 1 – 3 years old – 100m dash
  • 4 – 6 years old – 200m dash
  • 7 – 8 years old – 400m dash

On Saturday, October 2, at 7:00 am will be the Mickey’s Halloween Family Fun Run 5K. The only 5K run to take place inside the Magic Kingdom, runners are encouraged to dress in costume (with safety in mind) as they travel along the course filled with Halloween-themed entertainment. Registration includes: Admission to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the night of Sunday, October 3, 2010; Commemorative Champion® T-shirt; * Goody Bag; Personalized Bib (must register by August 2, 2010 for name to appear on bib); Trick-or-Treat bag of race refreshments; Commemorative 5K finisher medallion.

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Epcot’s 2010 ‘Sounds Like Summer’ Concert Line-up Announced

Sounds like SummerThe Walt Disney World resort has provided us with the (almost) full line-up of the annual Sounds Like Summer concert series at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre. Admission to the concert series which features established cover bands is free with paid admission to the park. This year’s series runs from June 12 through July 31 and includes the following acts:

  • June 12 – June 19: Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees)
  • June 20 – June 26: Hotel California (Eagles)
  • June 27 – July 3: Karin Lawson (Janet Jackson)
  • July 4 – July 10: Satisfaction (Rolling Stones)

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Epcot to Launch Community Garden and Instant Win Contest for Florida Residents March 8

Beginning March 8, Florida residents can head to EPCOTGARDENCONTEST.COM and enjoy two ways to celebrate Epcot’s annual International Flower and Garden Festival.

Through an Instant Win online game, Walt Disney World will be giving 54 pairs of 4 Day Dream Passes (good for one theme park per day, valid from 3/8/10 – 3/26/10 and 4/10/2010 – 5/25/2010). All entrants will also then have the opportunity to compose an original essay nominating a non-profit organization to receive the grand prize of a custom designed garden by Disney’s own professional horticulturists. The garden will even include elements from this year’s Flower and Garden Festival.

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Sneak Peek: Miniature Train Garden at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Horticulturist Julia E. Clark tends to the Germany pavilion's miniature train garden at Epcot as part of the 11th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (Photo by Kent Phillips/Disney) Many Walt Disney World Resort guests are familiar with the miniature train garden located outside the Germany pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. But we’re willing to bet a much smaller number of them realize that the garden is actually specially decorated for holiday seasons and festivals going on inside the park. Today, Walt Disney World released this photo showing horticulturist Julia Clark working on the garden for this year’s International Flower and Garden Festival which kicks off March 3 and shows off one of the neatest feature of this year’s decor: miniature horticulturists working on a dollhouse-size topiary of Snow White. Photo by Kent Phillips.

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Guide for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Now Available

Walt Disney World has released the Official Storybook Program which is your detailed guide to the Princess Expo and the half marathon itself. Every runner participating in the event should download and review the guide for helpful  hints and information.

The final race instructions have also been made available.

Both can be downloaded from the Princess Half Marathon website.

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