Photo: Disney’s Aulani Resort Marks Official Opening in Ko Olina, Hawaii

Aulani (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Destinations)A Disney-inspired Hawaiian celebration launched the grand opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Thursday night with music, sparkling colored lights and the ceremonial mixing of sand with pixie dust. Aulani combines the magic of Disney storytelling and guest service with the beauty and traditions of Hawaii, creating an unforgettable family vacation experience on a beautiful lagoon along the coast of Oahu.

Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, and Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, joined Hawaiian officials for the grand opening event at sunset. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse added to the fun at the beachside event.

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Disney Acquires Global Theme-Park Rights to ‘Avatar’; Animal Kingdom Expansion Announced

Little League World Series Champions Ocean View Little League

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.

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Elephant Calf Welcomed into World at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New male elephant African Elephant calf with with mother, VashaThe elephant herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom got just a little larger with the birth of a baby calf. Weighing 311 pounds, the male African elephant was welcomed into the group by his mother Vasha, 10 herd members and a team of animal care professionals assisting with the birth.

The 25-year-old mother delivered the herd’s sixth offspring after gaining more than 800 pounds during a 22-month gestation. This latest addition, which has yet to be named, is the second calf for Vasha, who gave birth to a female calf, Kianga, in 2004.

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Arnold Palmer Management to Operate Walt Disney World Golf Courses; Course Enhancements Planned

Walt Disney World Resort and Arnold Palmer Golf Management have signed a 20-year strategic alliance to create even more magic for Disney golfers. Beginning Sept. 25, Arnold Palmer Golf Management will operate, manage, maintain and help promote all five Disney courses including Disney’s Palm and Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge and Oak Trail golf courses.

As part of this long-term alliance agreement, golf legend Arnold Palmer and his golf course design team will be actively engaged in implementing strategic and innovative design features to several of the golf courses. Future enhancements include plans for a full renovation of Disney’s Palm under his direction to become an Arnold Palmer designed course.

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Golden Oak Opens Homes for Tours as Early Residents Prepare to Move In

Golden Oak 'Da Vinci' by CahillFor most people, a visit to Walt Disney World is reason to celebrate.  But that wasn’t quite enough for two families from Oklahoma and West Virginia.

“I wanted to be the grandma who lives at Walt Disney World!” says Jill, who along with her husband, Jack, was one of the first families to purchase land and build a home in Golden Oak, Disney’s unique residential resort community. “Who do you think the kids will want to visit the most?”

Karen, who bought a home with her husband, Kevin, had a similar feeling about Golden Oak: “Disney’s just outside the gate, but it’s quiet inside. We know this will make our kids and grandkids happy!”

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Disneyland Hotel Becomes Resort’s Second to Earn AAA Four Diamond Award

New Disneyland Hotel Monorail slide pool (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)AAA has bestowed its coveted 2012 Four Diamond award upon the landmark Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California making it the second property at the Disneyland Resort to secure such a high rating.

The designation was announced in a recent letter to the resort. The announcement noted that only four percent of the 31,000 hotel properties AAA reviews achieve this enviable distinction.

“This is tremendous news, especially for the 1,000 Cast Members who work at the Disneyland Hotel and create magical experiences for our guests,” said Tony Bruno, vice president resort hotels and Downtown Disney.  “The award underscores our continued investment in the guest experience and all our ongoing work, which has transformed the Disneyland Resort and Anaheim into Southern California’s world-class, multiday tourist destination.”

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Tower of Terror Joins Disney PhotoPass System at Walt Disney World

Tower of Terror, located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort,, has become the third attraction to allow guests to place their photos directly on the Disney PhotoPass system, according to cast member @BellHopDave (who provides a photo of the options). Like Space Mountain, the ability to add the Tower of Terror photo to PhotoPass requires a paid purchase and it seems to be fairly identical to the Space Mountain options and prices, save for no mention of the USB drive option.

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Video: Imagineering’s Use of Technology for New Fantasyland Development

Disney Parks has released this video from Walt Disney Imagineering which takes a look at how Imagineers are employing current and newly-developed technology to help realize the fruition of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

In essence, it’s a slightly more dumbed down version of what was presented last year at the NASA Summit by WDI Florida Vice-President and General Manager Jack Blitch, giving an overview of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and pre-visualization (pre-viz) processes and how it even averted a real-world problem at the construction at the attraction for The Little Mermaid which could have cost the company considerably more money had it not been spotted beforehand.

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‘Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room’ at Walt Disney World Gets Official Page

It’s a rite of passage for most attractions: getting your very own page on the official Disney Parks websites. Earlier today, the latest to receive this honor was none other than ‘Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room’ located in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Not too much is revealed on the new page, which you can visit here, but one interesting thing to note is a meld of the old and the new. The show, according to the site, ‘pays tribute to the original Disneyland show, maintaining the original intent created by Walt Disney and his original team of Imagineers. At the same time, it features some modern technology—a state-of-the-art show-control system, remastered audio, and a new versatile and energy-efficient lighting system.’

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‘One More Disney Day’ Could Signal Return of Disney Parks Promotion in 2012

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON ‘ONE MORE DISNEY DAY’

It’s about that time. Not just time for Disney D23 Expo, but for Disney Parks to unveil what its 2012 campaign will be, which traditionally takes place mid-September. This year, however, the notice may come earlier as the spotlight is trained on both Disney Parks and Disney Corporate Responsibility, both of which may play a part in revealing that the new promotion for next year may just be may be a redo of 2010.

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