‘Live with Kelly’ to Broadcast from Disney’s Aulani, February 20 – 24, 2012

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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.

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to Begin Opening on May 31; New Details Released

Disney's Art of Animation ResortThe first wing of the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will open to Guests on May 31, 2012, as construction on the 25th resort hotel at Walt Disney World continues on schedule.

In size and scope, the construction of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a major project at Walt Disney World Resort and has created up to 800 construction jobs. Once open in 2012, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will also create 750 ongoing resort hotel jobs.

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Spring 2012 to Feature New Fantasyland Expansion, ‘Sorcerers of The Magic Kingdom,’ Disney Fantasy and More

Casey Jr. Roundhouse, Dumbo and Great Goofini in Magic Kingdom's New FantasylandIn spring 2012, Disney guests can fly like no elephant (or Disney guest) has ever flown, subdue villains with magic spells, sail the azure waters of the Caribbean aboard a brand-new luxury ship, and settle down for the night in rooms celebrating Disney royalty.

January-May 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort also is a time when road runners take to the streets and byways of the Vacation Kingdom in marquee runDisney events, Major League Baseball returns to Champion Stadium, Epcot blooms and Disney celebrates the possibilities of youth.

Here’s a look at what’s in store …

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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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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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Disney World Downtown Disney Resorts Extend Discounts to Hospitality Workers

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels will offer their lowest rates of the year to all hospitality workers who visit from August 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011 as a special salute to the front-line ranks who make vacation wishes come true for millions of travelers each year.

“Travel industry employees work hard year-round to ensure that visitors enjoy their travel experiences, and they certainly deserve recognition for their contributions to the traveling public,” said Marti Alexander, chairperson of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotel’s marketing committee. “There’s no better way to salute them than with special savings for their own travel.”

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort ‘Topping Out’ Ceremony at Walt Disney World

Disney's 'Art of Animation' Resort 'Topping Out' CeremonyThe hundreds of people who are building Disney’s Art of Animation Resort from the ground up gathered to mark the project’s “topping out.”

The “topping out” is a special moment that typically occurs in the construction and engineering industry when the highest piece of structure, either steel or concrete, is placed on the building’s frame. The tradition dates back to the Vikings, who would place an evergreen tree on the top of a building to celebrate and bring good luck.

At the construction site for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a crane helped lift the traditional evergreen to the roof of a building that will soon be part of the Lion King wing of the resort hotel.

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Haunted Mansion ‘Room for 1 More’ Merchandise Event at Disney World Announced

Haunted Mansion 'Room for 1 More' EventOn September 30, 2011, the Walt Disney World Resort will honor the Haunted Mansion with a special merchandise event, titled ‘Room for 1 More,’ at the Contemporary Resort, according to the official Disney Parks blog.

Attendees, who will be chosen via a random selection process after applying for tickets here, will have the first opportunity to pre-purchase limited edition event logo products as well as collectibles for Haunted Mansion and Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary. In addition, there will be a ‘deadly silent’ auction which will include a performance piece by Disney Fine Artist (and Disney D23 official artist) Noah, meet and greet opportunities with popular Disney artists such as Robert Olszewski, Jim Shore and Greg McCullough, Walt Disney Imagineers and a ‘ghostly dinner feast with haunting sounds and full-bodied entertainment.’ Not to mention, a free ‘de-parting’ gift.

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CONFIRMED: Disney World Actively Restricting Use of Refillable Mugs

It literally sent shockwaves across the internet last year when we first reported that it appeared Walt Disney World was looking into closing current loopholes regarding the refillable mug system currently in place in which any cup could be used indefinitely at the soda fountain dispensers located in the food courts of the Walt Disney World resorts.

Most reactions seemed to side with disbelief or flat-out denial. Others were angered by the notion of what effectively amounts to nickel-and-diming guests with beverages Disney Parks gets for free (Coca-Cola does supply free syrup as part of an agreement with Disney, but there are obviously water, CO2 and electricity overheads). Some applauded the news while others argued as to whether using a refillable mug way past its expected end date amounted to theft or was truly unethical.

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‘Downtown Disney Bridal Stroll’ to Take Place November 6 at Walt Disney World Resort

Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels will host the Downtown Disney Bridal Stroll on Sunday, November 6 from 11 am to 3 pm, featuring consultations with wedding specialists, bridal vendors, sample appetizers, and prizes.

Brides-to-be will have an opportunity to consult with experienced wedding specialists at each of the seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels as well as sample cuisine and meet the chefs from each hotel. They also can do some one-stop-shopping at wedding vendors who will present distinctive possibilities for wedding cakes, linens, floral arrangements and other bridal-related products and services.

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