‘Art of Animation’ Sections to Open Sooner Than Anticipated; Photo of Lobby Released

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Disney's 'Art of Animation' Resort LobbyThe wings dedicated to the popular films featured at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will now be opening than sooner than expected after the resort hotel’s grand opening May 31

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Photo: Kathy Ireland Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with Minnie at Walt Disney World

Kathy Ireland with Minnie MouseSupermodel-turned-entrepreneur Kathy Ireland poses March 15, 2012 with a St. Patrick’s Day-themed Minnie Mouse in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Ireland is CEO and chief designer for “kathy ireland Worldwide,” a global design and marketing firm she founded in 1993.

Photo by Gene Duncan, courtesy Walt Disney World

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‘Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure’ to Replace ‘Kim Possible’ at Epcot

Agent P's World Showcase AdventureThe official Disney Parks blog confirmed earlier today that it will introduce the popular Disney Channel series ‘Phineas and Ferb’ to Epcot later this year when it replaces the also-popular ‘Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure’ with ‘Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure,’ starring Perry the Platypus’ alter-ego, Agent P.

The change was reported earlier this year by @TouringPlans on their Twitter, with an expected timeline of June (the Disney Parks blog mentions only summer as the transition time), but was recently confirmed by Walt Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs in an interview with Travel Weekly (via Jim Hill Media).

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PHOTO: Jordin ‘Sparkles’ with Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World

Singer Jordin Sparks poses with Minnie Mouse March 11, 2012 during the fifth annual Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Sparks, who is starring in the upcoming movie Sparkle opening this summer, served as a speaker during the commencement ceremony. Disney’s Dreamers Academy is a career-inspiration program for 100 high school students across the U.S.

Photo by Phelan Ebenhack, courtesy Walt Disney World

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WDW Refurb Update: Monorail Service to be Disrupted Daily in March

Walt Disney World Cast Member Dave provided confirmation via Twitter this evening that beginning March 2, 2012 and through March 17, 2012, all Magic Kingdom monorail service will be suspended daily from 11:30 am through 6 pm. This is being done primarily so that construction work related to the Grand Floridian DVC expansion can be completed, although ‘planned maintenance’ is also mentioned in the notice.

In response to the reduction of service, more buses and water transportation will be put on line to accommodate guests traveling between the Magic Kingdom and the TTC and area resorts. Monorail service between the TTC and Epcot will not be affected by this change.

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Walt Disney World Now Casting for Merida Meet and Greet Character

Merida ©Disney/PixarWalt Disney World has issued casting calls for Princess Merida, the heroine that will be featured in Disney/Pixar’s Brave which opens in theaters nationwide on June 22, 2012. Expected to begin appearing at Soundstage 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (where the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian exhibit was formerly housed) in May, Merida will become the first face meet and greet character representing a Disney/Pixar property within the Disney Parks.

According to the casting notice, she will be 5’4″ – 5’6″ in height and is described as ‘impetuous, rough and tumble, strong-willed, determined and playful.’ She is also expected — at times — to be accompanied by a puppet version of the three cubs from the film.

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Disneyland Details ‘SIGNin’ in the Street’ Event (Schedule and Opportunities)

On March 17 and March 18, the Disneyland Resort and ABC Family unite to create a street fair to ‘embrace the social, technological and artistic accomplishments of world-renowned Deaf talent and local community organizations.’

Among the talent scheduled to appear are mixed martial artist Matt Hamill, Marlee Matlin and Sean Berdy from ABC Family’s ‘Switched at Birth,’ Sesame Street’s Linda Bove, artist Mary Rappazzo and other deaf entertainers as well as Disney cast members.

Additional details for the event are as follows:

Times:

  • Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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Photo: Kelly Clarkson, Juanes at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

Kelly Clarkson with Belle and Beast (Todd Anderson/Disney)Singer and former ‘American Idol’ champion Kelly Clarkson poses with Princess Belle and Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast yesterday in the Rose Garden area of the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Photo by Todd Anderson, courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Juanes with Minnie Mouse (Preston Mack/Disney)Also visiting the Magic Kingdom was Grammy Award- and seventeen-time Latin Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Juanes who received a special welcome to the theme park from Minnie Mouse on Feb. 18, 2012.  Juanes is expected to release a new album in May 2012, and he will be featured on MTV’s Tr3s network on March 6, 2012.  During his career, the Colombian-born performer has sold more than 12 million albums. He was named Latin music’s “Artist of the Decade” by Billboard and one of TIME Magazine’s ’100 Most Influential People in the World.’

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‘Kingdom Keepers V’ Pre-Release Signing at Walt Disney World

'Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game' by Ridley PearsonOn Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30, guests at the Walt Disney World Resort will have the opportunity to meet author Ridley Pearson and purchase a signed copy of his latest book, Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game’ days before its official release in stores on April 3, 2012.

Pearson will be at Once Upon a Toy in the Downtown Disney District Marketplace on March 29, 2012 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and at the Writer’s Stop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 30 from 9:30 am – 11:30 am. Note that park admission will be required for the Disney’s Hollywood Studios event, but not for Once Upon a Toy.

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Disney Parks Developing Real-Time Scrapbooking App

Sources reveal that Disney Parks is developing a mobile app which is meant to use in the parks during a family’s Disney vacation that will dynamically generate a virtual memories scrapbook in real-time. Additionally, the app will be tied to a website so that friends and family all over can follow along with the family as they explore the Disney theme parks.

Observers of the vacation will have the opportunity to engage with the family, offering the ability to converse as well as the ability to provide ‘InstaMagic,’ allowing them to surprise members of the vacationing family by purchasing real-world gifts that the family can then go retrieve at the specified location.

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