Disney Launches Nationwide Environmental Science Competition for Classroom, Prizes Include Class Disneyland Celebration

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BURBANK, Calif. — With the school year in full swing, educators will have a new environmental science learning tool to draw from as they develop their curriculums. Disney today announced the nationwide launch of Disney’s Planet Challenge, a project-based environmental competition for 4th – 6th grade classrooms that will empower students to make a difference in school, at home and in their local communities. With more than 15 years experience running highly-acclaimed classroom environmental competitions in regional markets including California and Florida (as “Disney’s Environmentality Challenge®”), Disney developed the new Disney’s Planet Challenge in response to growing demand across all 50 states. Program collaborations with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the K-12 Alliance and state and federal government agencies ensure academic and environmental excellence. Participation in the program is free, and enrollment is open today at www.disney.com/planetchallenge.

“Disney’s environmental legacy is carried forward today in our ambitious environmental goals that not only focus on how we operate our businesses, but on how we inspire others to learn about the planet and take action as well,” said The Walt Disney Company’s senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, Tom Staggs, who oversees the company’s environmental efforts. “Disney’s Planet Challenge is an excellent example of how our unique connection to children can give us the opportunity to inspire a new generation of environmental stewards.”

To ensure Disney’s Planet Challenge promotes excellence in science education and adheres to the specific educational standards of each state, Disney is collaborating with NSTA and the K-12 Alliance. Disney has also worked closely with the U.S. and California Environmental Protection Agencies, U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and the California Department of Education to achieve the highest in environmental standards.

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MINDstyle Sets up Shop at D23 Expo with New Exclusives, New Project 626 and Photos Inside

Project 626 from MINDstyleMINDstyle has just updated its blog with a couple of entries of particular interest to those attending D23 Expo (and perhaps even some who aren’t). Filled with photos from inside the Anaheim Convention Center as well as a look at some D23 exclusives and a sneak peek at dozens of new entries into the Project 626 Vinyl project which is essentially a Stitch version of Vinylmation.

Check out the D23 Expo setup here and some of the new Project 626 entries here, including Lilo wearing a Stitch costume and an Audrey 2 (from Little Shop of Horrors).

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Walt Disney Studios Hosts Special Engagement of the Princess and the Frog; Ziegfeld in New York

UPDATE: SEE OUR FULL REVIEW ALONG WITH DOZENS OF PHOTOS OF THE ULTIMATE DISNEY EXPERIENCE HERE!

BURBANK, Calif. & NEW YORK — In celebration of Disney’s newest animated musical “The Princess and The Frog,” Walt Disney Studios is opening its Burbank gates to the public for a once-in-a-lifetime advance special engagement, welcoming Disney fans to experience its newest animated musical comedy Nov. 25-Dec. 13, 2009. The advance special engagement will also be featured in Clearview’s historic Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. Following the film, fans on both coasts will also be treated to The Ultimate Disney Experience, an exciting extravaganza that will feature—for the first time ever—all nine of the Disney princesses (including the film’s Princess Tiana, Disney’s newest princess), as well as exciting Bayou games, movie archives, how-to presentations from Disney animators, Studio tours (for L.A. guests) and more. Tickets went on sale at midnight last night.

“We’re welcoming families to our Studio to see where Walt Disney made real movie magic,” said Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. “Our Studio is not open to the public, so it’s an unprecedented opportunity for Disney fans to experience a movie right here on the Disney lot where we’ve filmed Disney classics like ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Princess Diaries,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and many more. In fact, Walt built the original theater on the Studio lot back in 1940; it opened just in time for special audiences to view his ‘Fantasia.’ With a newly renovated, state-of-the-art theater, the Studio will open its gates once again, inviting audiences to not only see our newest animated musical, but to take part in a one-of-a-kind experience after the movie. We’re bringing the same exciting experience to New York City at the historic Ziegfeld Theatre and Roseland Ballroom.”

Themed to the film’s setting, New Orleans, The Ultimate Disney Experience will feature something for the whole family.

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Thinkway Toys’ Toy Story Definitive Collection Vol 4: Lasseter Revs up on RC

The third installment of the very popular video series from Disney Consumer Products has been released in which John Lasseter talks about some of the background on RC from the Toy Story Definitive collectibles line from Thinkway Toys.

Check it out!

RC from the Toy Story Definitive Collection by Thinkway ToysHere’s some of the features you’ll find with the Toy Story Definitive Collection RC:

* The most movie accurate RC produced to date, completely in scale to Buzz Lightyear

* RC’s playful personality is revealed with bouncing action, horn honking, free motion eyes, multiple expressions and driving sound effects

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Directors Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis to Join Dick Cook and Nicolas Cage at D23 Expo

D23 has just announced that directors Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland) and Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol) will join Dick Cook on stage during his address at the D23 Expo on Friday.

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Vinylmation Holiday Series #1 to be Released September 10; Artist Party September 18

elizabeth-glaser-573 You are invited to join Disney artists Randy Noble, Dan Howard, Maria Clapsis and Quynh Kimball as they celebrate the release of Vinylmation Holiday Series on Friday, September 18 at The Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace in Walt Disney World from 5 pm – 7 pm.

The series will be formally released and available throughout the Disney Parks on Thursday, September 10.

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Disney Interactive Studios Acquires Wideload Games, Inc; Halo Creator Seropian

Wideload Games CEO Alexander SeropianBURBANK, Calif. — Disney Interactive Studios announced today it has agreed to acquire Wideload Games Inc., a Chicago-based producer and developer of original interactive entertainment. As part of the agreement, industry veteran and creative visionary Alexander Seropian, Wideload Games founder and CEO, will join Disney Interactive Studios in the newly created role of vice president of creative, leading the company’s global creative efforts. Seropian, who is relocating to Glendale, Calif., is renowned as the founder of Bungie Software and was among the creators of the highly successful Halo® series – one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Seropian will report directly to Global Product Development Senior Vice President Jean-Marcel Nicolai, and be tasked with overseeing creative development across Disney Interactive Studios’ portfolio of video games.

“Wideload Games is among the premier small creative game development studios in the world. Wideload Games will be a great fit for our portfolio of internal studios, and Alex joining the global product development team provides the entire Disney game portfolio with a strong creative influence,” said Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Studios. “Alex has built his reputation around the power of original thinking. In leading the studio that created Halo, he helped turn great storytelling, exceptional design and polished gameplay into the ‘killer app’ for Xbox. Alex’s leadership of our creative community will enhance our ability to be a magnet for the best talent in the industry and enable the company to take an even more significant role in developing industry leading products.”

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Finding Mickey: Exploring the Art of Bret Iwan, Voice of Mickey Mouse

Quick on the heels of the report from LP that Bret Iwan was named the new voice of Mickey, we eagerly followed up and made the connection to his now former position as a Hallmark illustrator, another tidbit that’s widely been reported since.

We are now pleased to present you with samples of some of Bret’s own illustrations of Mickey, for whom Bret Iwan has professed a life-long love of as well as visiting the Disneyland Resort and it absolutely shows through both his talent and his lifestyle. While I am in possession of many different works of art that show off Mr. Iwan’s broad range, for obvious reasons, I’m focusing on the Disney elements.

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Jaeyung Hyung, 38, Places First in Disneyland Half Marathon

Disneyland Half Marathon 2009Jaeyung Hyung, 38, of Las Cruces, N.M., celebrates his victory Sept. 6, 2009 at the Disneyland Half Marathon, held at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. Hyung finished the 13.1-mile race in a time of 1:10:44. Thousands of participants from every U.S. state and 13 countries took part in the fourth annual event that is part of a three-day celebration of health, fitness and family fun. More than 18,000 athletes were registered in various races throughout weekend, including 13,500 for the Disneyland Half Marathon. (Will Norton, photographer)

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