Sneak Peek: ‘Toy Story’ Topiaries at Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Woody and Buzz Lightyear topiaries (Gene Duncan/Disney)Disney horticulturists do some final snipping to ready Buzz Lightyear and Woody – of Toy Story fame – for their Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival debut on March 2 as topiaries – living, growing plants that guests will see in front of Spaceship Earth at the front entrance garden. The festival, which runs for 75 days through May 15 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will feature dozens of Disney character topiaries.

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2011 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Guide Now Available

2011 Epcot International Flower and Garden FestivalWalt Disney World has released the official guide for the 2011 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival taking place between March 2 and May 15. In addition to the park map indicating where all the new florals and topiaries are including those inspired by Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 and the new Winnie the Pooh film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, the guide also covers guest and celebrity presentation schedules, the Flower Power concert series and previews the new merchandise created for the festival.

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Photo: DWTS’ Tony Dovolani Goes Dancing with the Princesses

Tony Dovolani with Belle (Matt Stroshane/Disney) Tony Dovolani, one of the professional dancers starring on the ABC-TV series “Dancing with the Stars,” joins Belle, the princess from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Feb. 23, 2011 for a dance at the France pavilion in the Epcot theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Albanian-born dancer will be back on the reality show when it makes its season premiere March 21, 2011 on ABC-TV. Epcot is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy of Walt Disney World

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Magic Kingdom to Offer FASTPASS to Meet Mickey Mouse Beginning Spring 2011

Concept art for new Mickey Mouse meet and greetMagic Kingdom officials have a hunch a really “hot ticket” in their realm this summer is going to be something other than a ride, a snack or a show. Rather, it’s a first-ever opportunity to nail down a time to meet with Mickey Mouse.

When meet-and-greets with Mickey move into a permanent new location in Town Square later this spring, Magic Kingdom guests will be able obtain a Disney’s FASTPASS ticket specifying a one-hour window when they can return to see the popular character for hugs, photos and autographs — without waiting in the standby queue. It will mark the first time the complimentary, computerized service has been available for a character meet-and-greet at any Disney Park.

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Walt Disney World Announces Casting for Phineas and Ferb’s Cletus Filmore

The Walt Disney World Resort has issued a casting call for the role of Cletus Filmore, the director who will play against Phineas and Ferb in their ‘meet and play‘ experience which is set to begin in May at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The role description is as follows:

Cletus Filmore: Male, 20s-30s, improv actor.  He is a “famous” movie director who wants to make the biggest film epic to come out of the Tri-State area.  He has all the great qualities a director should have…high energy, confidence, charm, passion, and is very funny.  He also has a great knowledge of movie terms to help get the shots he wants.  His ability to keep the shoot fun and energetic helps get the audience to give him the performances he needs to complete is masterpiece.

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Disney Parks Technology Recognized by American Foundation for the Blind

Disney's Outdoor Audio Description Technology for Guests with Disabilities © DisneyOn Friday, March 11, the American Foundation for the Blind will recognize and award Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for its innovative Assistive Technology Device which debuted in summer 2010 at its annual ceremony in Seattle. Along with Disney, CBS Television, Lexmark International and Accessible Twitter will also be recognized by the non-profit group.

“Too often, swift advances in technology bring the rewards of convenience and entertainment to an eager world while inadvertently leaving those who are visually impaired behind,” says AFB president and CEO, Carl R. Augusto. “Each of this year’s Access Award winners displayed a real commitment to making sure their products and services are equally accessible to everyone. And with the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a savvy business decision.”

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Disney/Pixar to be Honored May 13 – 15 at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

Walt Disney World has confirmed dates for the highly anticipated Disney/Pixar Weekend celebration during the 2011 International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot. In honor of Cars 2, Pixar Animation Studios takes center stage during the annual flora-focused festival.

Pixar pals take the stage front and center in the form of much larger-than-life, reaching heights of seven and eight feet tall. At the park’s main entrance, guests will find a sandbox display complete with sandcastle and playground toys featured in Toy Story 3. Also on display will be a brand new topiary of film villain Lotso who will (needless to say) smell like strawberries.

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HGTV Details Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival Presentation Schedule

The Festival Center at the 18th annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival presented by HGTV will be alive with expert-led seminars, demonstrations, discussions and Q&A sessions daily throughout the 75-day event that begins March 2 at Walt Disney World Resort.

Located next to Mission: Space in Future World at Epcot, the Festival Center showcases HGTV and HGTV.com celebrities on weekends and other experts — including “Master Gardeners” from University of Florida, Walt Disney World Horticulturists and a mix of national and regional TV/radio personalities, authors and educators — seven days a week. Here’s what’s happening:

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Photo: Vanessa Hudgens Gets ‘Beastly’ at Disney’s Hollwood Studios

Vanessa Hudgens with the Beast (Todd Anderson/Disney)Actress/singer Vanessa Hudgens poses Feb. 13, 2011 with the “Beast” from Disney’s animated film “Beauty and the Beast” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Hudgens’ co-stars in the upcoming motion picture “Beastly,” which will be released in theaters March 4, 2011.

Photo by Todd Anderson, courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

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Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Belle to Receive Another Refurb — Are 999 Happy Haunts to Blame?

Fresh off a recent small refurbishment, the Liberty Bell Riverboat in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square is scheduled to undergo yet another (and longer) refurbishment beginning May 5.

Although there could be very good reasons for the temporary closure pertaining to the attraction itself, it’s no secret that the Haunted Mansion queue has been walled off to curious eyes waiting to enter the retirement home for ghosts with room for a thousand. For those who see the construction walls as merely an obstacle, the Liberty Belle has become a vehicle of choice for peering in from the other side to check in on how things are moving along.

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