Disney Channel Stars Join Inaugural ‘Magic of Healthy Living’ Weekend at Epcot, March 18-20

Fifty young essay contest winners, their families, Disney Channel Stars and Disney characters celebrate and explore a world of flavor and fun at Disney Magic of Healthy Living – The Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort March 18-20, 2011. The setting for the two-day event is World Showcase at Epcot where the “Healthy Living Champions” will participate in a one-of-a-kind “TRY-athlon,” an imaginative, colorful and inspiring course around the “world” to discover new ways that “healthy” can be fun and easy. The weekend, the first in an annual series of Disney Magic of Healthy Living special events, will also include spectacular opening and closing ceremonies full of magic and surprises.

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Spector-ation: Haunted Mansion Ghosts About to Get Interactive

Early last year, we shared with you news of a patent from Disney Enterprises which, in part, calls for being able to use cameras combined with software to detect a guest and identify certain features while also being able to combine dynamically generated images with projected or reflected images of the guests themselves.

Then, we were led to believe that this technology would first be seen as part of a new meet and greet experience at Pixie Hollow in the New Fantasyland. With those plans seemingly out the window, we now focus our attention to the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom which has very openly been making some unknown changes to the hitchhiking ghosts scene at the end.

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Boba Fett Hunts Down StarSpeeder 1000 in New ‘Star Tours II’ Concept Art

Concept art for 'Star Tours 2: The Adventure Continues'In an email to annual passholders, Walt Disney World continued to spread news of the May 20th launch of ‘Star Tours — The Adventure Continues’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Associated with the news item was this image which features the StarSpeeder 1000 tour shuttle on the run from Boba Fett who’s actively firing at the ship. In the background looms what will become the impenetrable Death Star.

The news nibble also alludes to a special annual passholder event to-be-announced tied to the re-opening of the attraction as well as links to the attraction’s official page which promises that a confrontation with the popular bounty hunter is just one of the promising opportunities in the attraction.

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Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World to Offer Free Shop Tours to Annual Passholders

Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World (c) DisneyWalt Disney World has sent an email to Annual Passholders advising them of a new experience being offered at the Resort, the Richard Petty Driving Experience Shop Tour, which is free to annual passholders for a limited time (regularly priced at $15).

The thirty-minute tour, which runs at 8:30 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, includes a behind-the-scenes look at the track’s design and maintenance shops, a history of the track and a van ride around the one mile tri-oval.

Annual passholders are able to bring up to four guests with a maximum group size of about 20 guests. The free RPDE shuttle, which is available at the Transportation and Ticket Center, will be available.

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Vinylmation to Release Limited Edition Mouse Ears, March 18

Limited Edition Viking and Gumball Machine Mouse Ears by VinylmationInspired by two of the figures from the upcoming Urban Series 6 Vinylmation, Disney Design Group will be releasing two unique, limited edition mouse ears at D-Street at the Downtown Disney Districts at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts on March 18, 2011.

Based on a figure designed by artist Doug Strayer, the viking mouse ears will be limited to an edition size of 1,000 pieces.

The gumball machine ears are based on a figure designed by Caley Hicks and will be limited to an edition size of 800 pieces.

Both ears were designed by artist Maria Clapsis and will retail for $49.95.

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Is Disneyland Shanghai’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ a Call-to-Action for Giant Pandas in Orlando?

Disney pandaTake a leisurely stroll along the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort and you’ll encounter many of Asia’s exotic animal inhabitants from the Komodo dragon of Indonesia to the Bengal tigers of India. What you won’t find, however, are the coveted giant pandas of China.

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RIDEMAKERZ Walt Disney World Location Awarded ‘Pop-Up Store of the Year’

RIDEMAKERZ at Walt Disney World's Downtown DisneyRIDEMAKERZ announced today its Downtown Disney shop at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida won worldwide “Pop-Up Store of the Year.” This is the second year in a row that RIDEMAKERZ has claimed the award presented by Chain Store Age magazine. The award recognizes RIDEMAKERZ for its creativity in transforming a 16,000 plus square foot retail venue into an auto-garage where kids and kids at heart can customize their own 1:18 scale toy vehicles, or RIDEZ.

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Sanuk, BLINK Coming to Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney Area

Disneyland Resort today announced two new retail stores coming to Downtown Disney this spring – Sanuk, a footwear shop and BLINK, a denim apparel store.

“We look forward to welcoming both Sanuk and BLINK to Downtown Disney,” said Tony Bruno, vice president, Disneyland Resort hotels and Downtown Disney. “Both locations will provide our guests with distinctive product and are a great fit with our unique blend of retail, dining and entertainment offerings.”

Sanuk’s new flagship location will offer the largest selection of product available outside of the company’s online store, including flip flops, surf sandals and other beach footwear, such as their signature yoga mat flip-flops.

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Ridley Pearson to Premiere ‘Kingdom Keepers IV’ Early at Walt Disney World

'Kingdom Keepers 4: Power Play' by Ridley PearsonNoted young adult author Ridley Pearson will be making a signing appearance at the Walt Disney World Resort on April 4 and April 5, 2011 to promote his latest entry into the popular Kingdom Keepers series, Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play. Available nationwide on April 5, 2011, Walt Disney World guests will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase it the day before at Once Upon A Toy, located in the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

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Disney Unveils New Celebrity Portraits by Annie Leibovitz

Penelope Cruz and Jeff Bridges © Annie Leibovitz

Via its official blog, Disney Parks and Resorts today unveiled the first few of a new series of portraits by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz portraying celebrities in iconic classic Disney roles.

The first three images, with more on the way promised, include: Olivia Wilde as the Evil Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs along with Alec Baldwin as the magic mirror, titled ‘Where magic speaks, even when you’re not the fairest of them all;’ Penelope Cruz as Belle and Jeff Bridges as the prince from Beauty and the Beast, titled ‘Where a moment of beauty lasts forever;’ and Queen Latifah as Ursla from The Little Mermaid, titled ‘Where memories take hold and never let go.’

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