Walt Disney World Cast Members Donate Over Two Million School Supplies to Area Students

Walt Disney World Cast Member VoluntEars prepare record setting school supply donations. Photo courtesy DisneyWalt Disney World Cast Members are lending a helping hand to Central Florida students in need this week by giving them the right supplies to start the upcoming school year with confidence. Stocking up on boxes of crayons, rulers, folders and packs of notebook paper, Disney Cast Members hit an all-time high by donating more than 2 million school supplies through Walt Disney World Resort’s annual back-to-school supply drive.

“I’m so proud of our Cast Members who gave a record number of school supplies to benefit our community, which is encountering a record level of need,” says Nancy Gidusko, director of Community Relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “By contributing these back-to-school basics, Disney Cast Members are making a difference in the lives of many local students and reaching more students, teachers and classrooms than ever before.”

This week, hundreds of Disney VoluntEARS sorted school supplies and distributed them to local students and teachers through partnerships with A Gift For Teaching and S.T.A.R.S. (Supplies to Assist Our Students). The annual campaign expanded beyond Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties this year to include Lake and Polk counties.

On Tuesday, Disney VoluntEARS gave nearly 1 million school supplies – ranging from pencils to scissors – to A Gift For Teaching. Walt Disney World Resort’s donation is annually the largest contribution received by the organization. Local teachers can pick up the supplies year-around through A Gift For Teaching’s free store, which benefits students in need in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

“With their substantial donations, Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members are at the forefront of helping us collect as many school supplies as we can for students in struggling families and the teachers that are compelled to help them,” said Jane Thompson, president of A Gift For Teaching.

Later this week, Disney VoluntEARS will distribute 6,460 backpacks, filled with 1.3 million school supplies, through S.T.A.R.S. The backpacks will be given to students at 13 Orange County public elementary schools in areas of high need.

“Disney is making a difference in the lives of thousands of young local students by donating the necessities for school,” says Chesta Hembrooke, president and founder of S.T.A.R.S.  “For many, the backpacks are the only new item they receive to start the school year.”

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WDW Refurb Update: Mad Tea Party, Gift Shop Join Pooh; ‘Ohana Closure in January

When The Many Adventures Winnie-the-Pooh closes in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in October as we previously announced, it will now be joined by Pooh’s Thotful Shop which will also close on October 25, but will re-open on November 8, full a week earlier than the attraction.

In addition, Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland will close on September 26 and is scheduled to re-open on November 11.

Over at the Polynesian, ‘Ohana will be closed from January 17 through January 20, 2011, although it will be open for dinner on the 20th.

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D23 to Offer Star Tours ‘Final Flight’ Event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Sept. 7

Following in the footsteps of the ‘Final Flight’ event at Disneyland, in which D23 members were invited to enter the park after hours to ride Star Tours for the final time before it closes for its refurb and transition into Star Tours 2: The Adventure Begins, D23 has announced a ‘Final Flight’ for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World on September 7. The attraction is currently scheduled to re-open on May 17, 2011.

Guests will check in at the main entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning at 8:30 pm and will receive their commemorative boarding pass for their trip. According to the event’s page, the event will consist of just visiting the attraction.

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Video: Pirate Face Painting Tips from ‘The Pirates League’ at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

In need of a Halloween costume idea? Your friends at The Pirates League at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom can help — they’re offering an easy way to become a pirate. The process starts with makeup to create a black eye. Highlights around black makeup near the eye make it appear as though it’s puffy and an ordinary red eyeliner pencil make the eye look “sore.”

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Franck’s Bridal Studio at Walt Disney World Undergoes Technological Transformation

Inside Franck's Bridal Studio at Walt Disney World

Franck’s Bridal Studio at Walt Disney World Resort has undergone a major enhancement, bringing high-tech tools to couples tying the knot at the popular wedding destination.

Franck’s, named after the wedding planner character Martin Short played in the film Father of The Bride, was built 15 years ago alongside Disney’s magical Wedding Pavilion.  The Victorian summerhouse was created as a one-stop shop for couples to meet with a Disney wedding planner to review all the details for the big event.  The immersive studio showcases cakes, linens, floral, table settings and other details for a dream-come-true affair.

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AAA Inspectors Rank Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as Top Family Hotel

In honor of the summer slowly crawling towards an end, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) is honoring those families looking for one more family vacation fling by posting the results of a survey they put to their lodging and restaurant inspectors in search of the ideal family hotel.

Although not explicitly numbered, the second spot on the released list of the top ten is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (a 3-diamond resort) located at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

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Photo: George Lucas and Jon Stewart are True ‘Star Tour de Forces’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

George Lucas and friends at Disney Hollywood Studios' 'Last Tour to Endor' (Todd Anderson/Disney) Star Wars creator and filmmaker George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters (left): Princess Leia-Minnie, R2-MK, Darth Goofy,  Jedi Mickey and Stormtrooper Donald on Aug. 14, 2010 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  Lucas is in central Florida for “Star Wars Celebration V,” the official Lucasfilm fan event that is taking place this week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. He visited Walt Disney World Resort to attend Disney’s “Last Tour to Endor” special event.

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Disney’s Tangled Rapunzel and Flynn Rider Meet & Greet at Disneyland Concept Art Revealed

Concept art for Tangled meet & greet with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider at Disneyland © DisneyOn its official blog, Disney Parks has shared some concept art for the upcoming meet & greet with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider at the Disneyland Resort. The art and blog entry reveal Disney’s plans on how to turn Rapunzel’s ~70 feet of hair into a reality.

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider will begin greeting guests on October 15 at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. At Walt Disney World, the duo can be found at the Magic Kingdom in the Fairytale Garden near Cinderella Castle, where Storytime with Belle currently takes place (that show ends September 12 in preparation of the transition). At Disneyland, Rapunzel and Flynn will be found at what is currently Gepetto’s Sweet Shoppe.

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‘Star Tours II’ Previewed by Disney Parks in Queue Video First Look

On its official blog, Disney Parks and Resorts shared the following video today which was also shared at the Disney Parks panel at the Star Wars Celebration V convention currently taking place in Orlando.

Although Bespin, Endor and Alderaan are mentioned in the promotional film for the Star Tours Travel Company that guests will see while in the queue for the upgraded classic attraction, the official blog makes the disclaimer that the destinations may or may not be featured in Star Tours II. It has long been expected since the initial announcement at the Disney D23 Expo in 2009 that Star Tours II will feature multiple destinations and will be in 3D. Rumors speculate that the destination will be voted on by the attraction’s riders per voyage.

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Disney to Donate $627,050 to Central Florida Community in August in Recognition of Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS Work in 2009

Walt Disney World Cast Member VoluntEARS celebrate the 2010 EARS To You Program. Photo courtesy DisneyThroughout August, The Walt Disney Company is donating $627,050 to the Central Florida community in recognition of the 251,000 hours given by Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS in 2009. From schools to shelters, Cast Members selected approximately 250 local non-profit agencies and community service groups to receive Disney’s EARS to You grants. Top recipients include Orange County Public Schools, A Better Life Pet Rescue and local chapters of the American Cancer Society.

“Disney VoluntEARS enjoy sharing their time and talents and have a vested interest in making Central Florida an even better place for all who live in our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations, Walt Disney World Resort. “The collective contributions of these Cast Members are impressive and impactful; they are truly making a difference during a time when it’s needed most.”

The Walt Disney Company, through the Disney VoluntEARS program, provides opportunities for Cast Members to give their time and expertise toward positively impacting their communities. Each year, the Company recognizes VoluntEARS who donate at least 10 hours of service with EARS to You grants, which are financial contributions of up to $1,000 to the non-profit organization of their choice.

This year, Walt Disney World Resort awarded more than 800 EARS to You grants. Disney dollars will go toward a wide array of worthy causes including local youth development groups, health and social services programs, environmental causes, community theatres and pet rescue organizations.

Disney VoluntEAR Maria Kirkland received an EARS to You grant of $500 for her active support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “I feel very fortunate to be able to provide not only my time but a financial contribution to such a worthy organization,” said Kirkland. “It makes me feel so wonderful to know that I was able to help a family or individual to have one less stress in their life.”

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