Photos: Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson Perform for Disney Parks Christmas Parade

Jennifer Hudson tapes Christmas Day TV special at Walt Disney Wo

Walt Disney Parks began taping its portion of the 28th Annual ‘Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade’ special today at the Magic Kingdom theme park. Performances were provided by Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson and ‘American Idol’ winner Scotty McCreery, with some additional appearances by the Buddies (promoting their new film, Treasure Buddies and Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.

The tapings continue tomorrow with expected performances by Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman of Disney Channel’s ‘Shake It Up’ and a rumored performance by Justin Bieber.

The Disneyland Resort performed its portion of the parade in early November.

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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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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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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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Photos: Jake from ‘Neverland Pirates’ to Meet and Greet at Disney Parks

Jake meet & greet character from Disney Junior's 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates'

It’s been a long time coming, but Jake from ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates,’ the top rated animated program in the Disney Junior programming block on Disney Channel, will finally be landing at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts beginning this month.

We first met Jake back in March during a private event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which is where he will begin meeting guests on Monday, November 13. He will be found at the meet and greet area outside the Disney Junior stage show. While Handy Manny will continue to also meet and greet fans at the location, Annie, June, Leo and and Quincy from ‘Little Einsteins’ will no longer be there.

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Epcot’s ‘Sum of All Thrills’ Online Experience Enhanced to Offer Fuller Experience

Students from the Chain of Lakes Middle School in Orlando, Fla., custom-design their own ride on the new Sum of All Thrills at Innoventions at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 (AP Photo/Raytheon Company, Phelan M. Ebenhack, HO)You’ll have to build/buy/program your own 360 degree simulator, but if you can manage without it, Raytheon has recently expanded the experience available online. Whereas previously you could relive your experience from the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World via a card received from the Innoventions Exhibit, you now have the opportunity to build the experience from scratch, just like at the park.

The new ‘Sum of all Thrills’ online component offers an on-screen design experience similar to the exhibit at Epcot’s Innoventions. Using mathematical and engineering fundamentals, students can construct exciting virtual roller-coasters, pilot jet-fighter planes, or race bobsleds that dip, dive and swerve through loops, turns and rolls.

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Walt Disney World Cast Members Pen Postcards for Troops

Disney VoluntEARS write postcards to the troopsWhile the nation takes time this Veterans Day to honor those who have served in the armed forces, Disney VoluntEARS have been busy sending their regards through Operation Uplift.

Operation Uplift was founded in 1995 by a Disneyland Cast Member after reading a letter from a soldier during Operation Desert Storm explaining that troops didn’t receive much mail.

Since that time, Disney VoluntEARS around the country have sent more than 90,000 postcards of support, encouragement and thanks to servicemen and servicewomen serving domestically and overseas.

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