Inside the New Hall of Presidents (Photo Gallery)

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Unfortunately, because the attraction is not yet officially open, I cannot offer any photos inside the actual theater, but I can share images of some of the artifacts you can find inside the pre-show area, including the first ladies’ exhibit featuring dresses and other items from Elizabeth Monroe, Edith Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan.

Please enjoy.

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Celebrate the American Dream – WDW Naturalization Ceremony Photo Gallery

Celebrate the American DreamI had the distinct honor of attending the naturalization ceremony which took place at the Magic Kingdom earlier this morning in which 1,000 immigrants (including 25 cast members) were sworn in as new citizens of the United States.

The ceremony, with keynote speaker actor Andy Garcia, was an incredibly moving experience as the new citizens were sworn in. The event also featured performances by Voices of Liberty and appearances by the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and Mickey himself. After the ceremony and group photo, the citizens and their friends and family made way to experience the newly enhanced Hall of Presidents (more to follow on that later).

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Disney Gift Card Now Available in Small Bracelet Style

Small Form Disney Gift CardThe Disney Gift Card is now available in small form. Using the same bracelet as the small form PhotoPass cards, the new gift card format which made its debut as a limited release during the Food and Wine Festival is now available full time.

The card appears to be available only in select locations as a resort’s gift shop had them, but the Emporium in Magic Kingdom did not.

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Disney’s Magical Express Streamlines Check-in Process (for Most)

About  a month ago, Disney’s Magical Express instituted a new check-in procedure for guests arriving at Orlando International Airport and making use of the service for those staying at a Disney owned and operated resort.

Guests who have their blue DME booklet in hand and have attached the yellow tags to their checked bags (or have no checked bags for DME to claim) are able to proceed directly to the bus waiting area, bypassing the welcome desk altogether which used to be mandatory for everyone. Instead, eligible guests will now have their voucher scanned at a podium at the front of the bus queues.

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The Little Mermaid’s Broadway Run Loses Its Legs August 30

It’s being widely reported that Disney Theatrical has opted to close the show with August 30 being the final performance after an almost two year run in an effort to avoid losses during the ‘slowdown season.’ Tickets for performances sold beyond August 30 are eligible for a refund.

Sierra Boggess, who originated the role of Ariel, has recently left the show after extending her intial performances.

It is expected that there will be a touring production of the musical commencing late 2010.

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Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato’s Princess Protection Program, Watched by 28.1 Million, Now on DVD

Princess Protection ProgramBURBANK, Calif., June 30 — Last week Disney Channel’s PRINCESS PROTECTION PROGRAM was crowned royalty as TV’s number one entertainment telecast of 2009 in Kids 6-11 (3.1 million) and Tweens 9-14 (3.2 million) and as cable’s most watched scripted telecast (viewers) when the exciting adventure/comedy debuted. Since its premiere in EMEA in May ’09, and now the U.S. and Canada, Disney’s “Princess Protection Program” has reached 28.1 million unique Total Viewers around the world, including 3.7 million Kids 6-11 and 3.5 million Tweens 9-14 for the June 26th premiere.

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Audition Information for ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ Tenth Anniversary Edition Announced

Who wants to be a contestant on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Here’s how to apply for the highly-anticipated 10th anniversary edition hosted by Regis Philbin and running for 11 nights in August, Sundays-Thursdays at (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) from August 9 to August 23 on the ABC Television Network.

There are multiple ways (see below) to become a contestant on “Millionaire,” including the original phone game that was used when the show premiered in 1999 and video submissions – an all-new method that will enable people to upload videos of themselves directly to the show’s producers. Would-be contestants can use more than one method to try to get on the show but will only be selected one time. No former “Hot Seat” players are eligible, and you must be at least 18 years old, a legal U.S. resident and meet all eligibility requirements. Continue reading…

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HK Disneyland Expansion is On – Disney to Invest $452M for 30 New Attractions, 3 New Lands

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong on Tuesday said the Walt Disney Co will invest $452 million to expand its Hong Kong theme park, seen as necessary to bolster the park’s long-term prospects against a planned rival park in Shanghai.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said Hong Kong would not invest more capital in the joint venture but would convert a substantial part of its loan to the project into equity.

After Disney’s new investment and the government’s debt to equity swap, Hong Kong will see its stake in the underperforming park fall to 52 percent from 57 percent.

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Disney Interactive Studios and Disney Press Announce New Novels Based on the Popular Spectrobes Video Game Franchise

Spectrobes: First ContactBURBANK, Calif. — Disney Press will publish the new middle-grade series based on Disney Interactive Studios’ best-selling Spectrobes videogames. The sci-fi story of two planetary officers and the mysterious Spectrobes creatures will be told through these original junior novels in addition to the upcoming Wii™ game. Disney Interactive Studios and Disney Press today announced that four Spectrobes junior novels will be available in North America this year.

Spectrobes is Disney Interactive Studios’ original monster battle video game franchise. The first Wii game of the series, Spectrobes: Origins, will be released this fall. More than 1.6 million units of the two Spectrobes Nintendo DS games released in each of the last two years have been shipped worldwide.

Continue reading…

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New Robert Olszewski Monorail Mark I Sculpture On Sale Online July 1, Signing July 17 at Disneyland

Monorail Mark I Sculpture by Robert Olszewski

Miniature artist Robert Olszewski will be on hand at the Disneyana Shop in Main Street, USA in Disneyland on July 17, 2009 from 9 AM – 11 AM to sign his latest piece, the Monorail Mark I, commemorating the attraction’s 50th anniversary.

There will be two initial versions of the sculpture. An Annual Passholder’s version will be limited to only 100 pieces while the Open Edition version will be stamped ‘First Edition’ for its first 12 months of production.

Features of the Monorail Mark I sculpture include:

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