Disney Parks Blog

Bookings for the Gardens of the World Tour – Spring Edition are now on sale! On this tour, offered on select days throughout the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, you can join Disney horticulture experts for an inside look at some of the most elaborate landscaping operations on Earth.

During these fascinating journeys, Epcot becomes your “living classroom” as you witness firsthand how garden beds, shrubs, hedges and topiaries are meticulously cultivated at our seasonal festivals to evoke a sense of wonder. On this three-hour walking tour “around the world,” you’ll hear the behind-the-scenes tales about the award-winning topiaries and gardens that make the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival so special, examine the role of landscaping at Walt Disney World Resort, learn ways you can apply Disney landscaping techniques at home, and more.

Don’t miss this limited-time opportunity to explore—or even develop—a budding passion for gardening! Call 407-WDW-TOUR to book....

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We’re less than two months away from Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th Anniversary “Happiest Celebration!” and today we have a delicious update just for you. Starting April 15, two new Chocolate Crunch-themed stores will open at Tokyo Disneyland’s World Bazaar: Pastry Palace and Ice Cream Cone!

Rendering of New Chocolate Crunch-Themed store to Open at Tokyo Disneyland’s World Bazaar

For those of you who don’t know, Chocolate Crunch has been a resort souvenir staple since its introduction back in 1986. And now, guests will have the opportunity to experience two all-new locations dedicated to the tasty treat.

DIY Chocolate Crunch kit at Tokyo Disneyland

At Pastry Palace, guests can build their own Chocolate Crunch container filled with new flavors like Strawberry Shortcake and the previously discontinued Caramel flavor, which is only available until July 7. Exclusive souvenirs will also be on sale including a DIY Chocolate Crunch kit.

Donald Duck-Inspired Chocolate Crunch Dessert at Tokyo Disneyland

Over at Ice Cream Cone, two new desserts with Chocolate Crunch will be on sale, inspired by Donald Duck and Daisy Duck. Donald’s will look as if he’s dived in head first to taste the vanilla ice cream, and Daisy’s will be soft serve topped with her signature purple bow. Both have plenty of Chocolate Crunch surprises in store!

Needless to say, Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th Anniversary celebration just got a whole lot sweeter....

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Two prestigious awards have just been bestowed this month on Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. For the 18th consecutive year, the restaurant has received the AAA Five Diamond Award and, for the first time ever, the coveted 2018 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award.

Interior dining room from Victoria & Albert’s restaurant, the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida

There are only 68 Five Diamond restaurants in North America, and only 64 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurants out of over 1,600 restaurants across the globe. Victoria & Albert’s now stands as the sole restaurant in the state of Florida to receive both the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards.

Lobster Zellwood Corn Espelette with Peppers, from Victoria & Albert’s

AAA Diamond Ratings represent a combination of overall food, service, décor and ambiance. A Five Diamond restaurant provides leading-edge cuisine of the finest ingredients, uniquely prepared by an acclaimed chef, served by expert service staff led by a maître d’ in extraordinary surroundings.

Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings verify luxury and represent outstanding, iconic properties with virtually flawless service and amazing facilities. Using the most exacting standards in the industry, this year’s list evaluates properties in over 160 destinations across 50 countries.

Lamb Loin Rainbow Carrots with Banana Curry, from Victoria & Albert’s Ahi Tuna Salsify Bavarois, from Victoria & Albert’s
Alaskan King Crab and Compressed Watermelon, from Victoria & Albert’s Hamachi Watermelon and Radishes with a Lemon Emulsion, from Victoria & Albert’s

Every night, Victoria & Albert’s brings guests the ultimate in fine dining with classic Victorian elegance, haute American cuisine and an atmosphere of refined opulence. The esteemed restaurant features three unique dining experiences: the main dining room with the choice of a 7-course menu or 10 course Chef’s Tasting Menu; the intimate Queen Victoria’s Room offers a 10-course Chef’s Tasting menu with tableside presentation and optional wine pairings; and the highly sought-after 8-seat Chef’s Table located in the restaurants kitchen, where guests can get an exclusive look at their dishes being crafted by the culinary team. Victoria & Albert’s also has an incredible wine cellar with over 700 wines from over 35 regions.

Onion Ash Dusted on top of Wild Texas Boar, from Victoria & Albert’s

Green Apple Sour Cream Ice Cream, from Victoria & Albert’s Peruvian Chocolate Orange Milk Chocolate Gelato, from Victoria & Albert’s

Congratulations belong to Executive Chef Scott Hunnel, Chef de Cuisine Aimée Rivera, Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Pérez and the entire Victoria & Albert’s team for earning these illustrious awards.

“This has been a monumental year for the entire Victoria & Albert’s Team. They have developed a culture of success, which is over twenty years in the making. Every single member of the team is fully invested, combining the perfect formula of creativity, knowledge and passion for service. Our focus remains: Aim for perfection and settle for nothing less than excellence.”

–Cosmo Kapoor, General Manager, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Victoria and Albert's Cheese Cart Bread Service, with various typed of baked bread, made by Victoria & Albert’s Team

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DVNA (407-939-3862) or go online to book the Dining Room or Queen Victoria’s Room up to 180 days in advance. For more information, visit www.victoria-alberts.com....

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Mark Hamill is taking his first steps…onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The iconic actor who portrayed Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga — and whose incredible body of works spans movies, TV, theatre, video games, and voice-over — will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced this week. The star will be dedicated on March 8 at 11:30 a.m. PT. in the category of Motion Pictures, in a special ceremony at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the El Capitan Theatre. Joining master of ceremonies and president & CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Leron Gubler to unveil the star will be two of Hamill’s friends from his time in a galaxy far, far away: Harrison Ford and George Lucas.

Star Wars fans will be over the moon that hearing their idol Mark Hamill is going to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies. “We are proud to add this extraordinary actor on our historic Walk of Fame.” Fans can watch the event on www.walkoffame.com.

Born in Oakland, California, Hamill was discovered in a workshop musical comedy called Anthems in E-Flat Calliope the summer before becoming a theatre arts major at Los Angeles City College. For six years, he made guest appearances on multiple TV series and television movies, including a stint on General Hospital and a starring role on The Texas Wheelers.

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Next came his big screen debut: 1977’s Star Wars, and the role of Luke Skywalker, which made him a legend. Hamill reprised the part in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and again in the highly-anticipated sequels The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), for which he garnered great critical praise. In a lengthy discussion on his birthday last year, StarWars.com spoke with Hamill about his Star Wars journey, from acting with longtime hero Alec Guinness to what being part of Star Wars means to him today.

In addition to the Star Wars saga, Hamill’s many film credits include Corvette Summer, Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One, Slipstream, Walking Across Egypt, Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Sushi Girl, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and last year’s Brigsby Bear. Hamill also directed and starred in the cult mockumentary Comic Book: The Movie.

A gifted voice actor, Hamill has performed across mediums. For a generation of Batman fans, he is the Joker thanks to his turn in the revolutionary Batman: The Animated Series. He reprised the role for the Arkham Asylum video game series (for which he received a BAFTA Award), the 2016 animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, and the new series Justice League Action — in which he also, in a bit of comically meta storytelling, played himself, the Joker, and the Trickster in the same scene. 

Recently, Hamill also returned as the Trickster on CW’s live-action The Flash, a role he first played in the original CBS series. On Broadway, Hamill’s credits include The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Michael Stewart’s Harrigan n’ Hart, The Nerd, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, and the Roundabout Theatre production of Room Service.

Hamill will receive his star as Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives on Digital on March 13 and Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and On-Demand on March 27.

StarWars.com congratulates Mark Hamill on this well-deserved honor — it’s up there with getting a medal for destroying the Death Star.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Disney Parks Blog

Tonight’s “After Dark” image was snapped at the Germany pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot. From a visual standpoint, it’s one of my favorite pavilions in the park and – to me – looks even lovelier at night. The German-influenced colorful designs, statues, bells and architecture seem to illuminate like a page from a fairytale storybook after the lights go down.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Germany pavilion? Shop? Dine? Check out the fare – and the amazing smell – of the made-on-site treats at the Karamell-Kuche shop?...

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The Star Wars galaxy has become a lot larger over the last few years with the release of numerous films, novels, comic books, and video games. The TV series Star Wars Rebels is a part of that expansion, and it holds a unique place in the Star Wars timeline. In many ways, Rebels is a bridge between the prequel and original trilogy films showing audiences just how connected everyone is in the galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars Rebels had the difficult task of creating a group of entirely new characters for audiences to fall in love with while bringing in characters from previous Star Wars productions to continue their stories. These familiar characters serve to expand the viewpoints of Ezra, Hera, Sabine, and the rest of the Ghost crew as well as help to tie up loose ends from previous Star Wars storylines.

Star Wars Rebels begins with a familiar face — none other than Darth Vader. The conversation between Darth Vader and the Grand Inquisitor at the beginning of “Spark of the Rebellion” picks up a storyline directly from the end of Revenge of the Sith. Darth Vader makes it clear he knows there are Jedi out there who survived Order 66, as well as Force-sensitive children. He sends his Inquisitor out to hunt down these younglings and any Jedi who might train them. Enter Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Lothal youth Ezra Bridger.

Kanan, a Jedi who survived Order 66, starts to train Ezra Bridger in the ways of the Jedi at the beginning of Rebels and familiar faces are easy to spot as their journey together begins. Ezra finds a hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi warning Jedi about Order 66 in “Spark of the Rebellion,” and the “Rise of the Old Masters” storyline revolves around an attempted rescue of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli who was last seen in Revenge of the Sith. Ezra first hears Yoda’s voice in episode 10 of Season One, “Path of the Jedi,” and Yoda interacts with Kanan and Ezra throughout the series.

In “Droids in Distress,” Ezra returns C3-PO and R2-D2 to Bail Organa, who we last saw with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newborn Skywalker twins in Episode III. Bail Organa’s character didn’t have much screen time in the prequel films (and only briefly appeared in Rogue One) but in The Clone Wars series and now Rebels, we get to know his character much better. By the end of the first season, everyone on the Ghost knows Bail Organa is an ally of the rebels, as well as the senator from Alderaan.

Many Rebels episodes focus on Kanan trying to resolve his feelings about surviving Order 66 after his Master Depa Billaba sacrificed herself to save him. These feelings go into overdrive in the Season Two episode “The Lost Commanders,” when clone troopers from The Clone Wars TV series Captain Rex, Commander Wolffe, and Commando Gregor re-appear. Kanan and Rex’s relationship in subsequent episodes show the emotional fallout Order 66 created for both the few remaining Jedi who survived and the clone troopers who managed to not take part in the killings.

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While Kanan and Rex try to figure out a way to work together in a post-Order 66 world, another twosome reunites at the end of Season Two — Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker. As the first Fulcrum agent, Ahsoka’s storyline brought the Ghost crew into a larger world of rebel activity just as she found out the terrible truth about her old Master. Ahsoka had an open-ended exit from The Clone Wars television series after years of Jedi training with Anakin. Her relationship to Anakin was so strong that her discovery of just how far Anakin had fallen to the dark side created one of the most emotional moments in Star Wars history.

Other Clone Wars characters that have appearances in Rebels are space pirate Hondo, Hera’s father Cham Syndulla, and Bo-Katan Kryze, the sister of the Dutchess of Mandalore Satine, who died in an episode of The Clone Wars. Throughout four seasons of Rebels, the crew of the Ghost helped piece together small groups of rebels across the galaxy and reveal to audiences just how long some of these groups have been fighting for their freedom against the Separatists and the Empire.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul, characters who first met all the way back in The Phantom Menace, at last find closure with each other in Star Wars Rebels. Kenobi and Maul had an epic lightsaber duel in Naboo that left Kenobi’s Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and it appeared, Maul dead. After a resurrection of sorts in The Clone Wars, Maul spent several episodes doing everything he could to destroy Kenobi, which lead to the death of Satine Kryze among others. In the Rebels episode “Twin Suns,” after much time attempting to lure Ezra into being his apprentice in previous Rebels episodes, Maul seeks his final revenge against Kenobi.

The end of “Twin Suns,” where Maul dies in Kenobi’s arms (mirroring Kenobi holding Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace), also includes a shot of young Luke Skywalker and the voice of Aunt Beru outside their home on Tatooine. This episode ties together the beginning of current Star Wars storytelling from The Phantom Menace with the beginning of A New Hope, while also pushing Ezra Bridger’s character development forward after his interactions with both Maul and Kenobi.

By the fourth season of Rebels, the Ghost crew have found their way to Yavin 4 (complete with General Dodonna) in the rebel base later seen in Rogue One and A New Hope. Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma’s tense relationship, referenced in Rogue One, is on full display in the Season Four episode “In the Name of the Rebellion.” Mon Mothma and Gerrera also appeared in multiple episodes of The Clone Wars, so fans of both that series and the feature films can get a feel for what motivated these characters at different points in the Star Wars timeline in their Rebels scenes.

Fans looking for appearances and backstories of some of their favorite characters from the original trilogy films are also in luck in Star Wars Rebels. R2-D2 and C3-PO show up in Rebels episodes, as does Lando Calrissian in the episodes “Idiot’s Array” and “The Siege at Lothal.” The story of how pilots Wedge Antilles and Hobbie found their way to the Rebellion is told in the Season Three episode “The Antilles Extraction,” and Wedge also plays an important role later on that season in “Double Agent Droid.”

Two icons of Star Wars are also featured in Rebels: Princess Leia Organa and Wilhuff Tarkin. Leia and Tarkin have a complicated past before the events that brought them together in Episode IV; even though they don’t appear in any of the same episodes of Rebels, their appearances add much to what we know about them and their journeys. In many ways, seeing them at this time in Rebels takes their interactions on the Death Star in A New Hope to a whole new level.

What’s your favorite Rebels appearance from a character who debuted in another Star Wars film or television series? Let us know in the comments!

Amy Richau is a writer, lifelong Star Wars geek, and diehard Denver Broncos fan. You can find her on Twitter @amyrichau and more of her writing on FANgirl Blog.

Disney Parks Blog

Calling all adventurers! There will soon be a new area of Adventureland to explore at Disneyland park.

The former Aladdin’s Oasis will soon be transformed to The Tropical Hideaway! This new experience will soon appear along the tropical shores nestled between the Jungle Cruise and “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.” This one-of-a-kind destination will be a popular rest stop for Adventureland locals and weary explorers alike. Guests will be able to rub elbows with their favorite skippers in an exotic traders’ market, featuring all of the sights, sounds and flavors of the tropics.

Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more information on this exciting new location as more is discovered....

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Disney Parks Blog

The Jazz Ambassadors of The United States Army Field Band will appear at Epcot on March 1, to perform three special concerts in the America Gardens Theatre.

This 19-member ensemble was formed in 1969, and plays a repertoire of big band, swing, contemporary jazz and patriotic selections. The Jazz Ambassadors, also known as “America’s Big Band,” has performed at concert halls all over the world and will bring their sound to Epcot for one day only.

You can catch The Jazz Ambassadors Thursday, March 1, at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot at 5:30, 6:45 & 8 p.m. Shows are included in theme park admission....

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Staying at Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai’i, means you’ll enjoy many of the comforts of home, including a full kitchen in the 1- and 2-bedroom Villas, as well as the breathtaking Grand Villas. Inspired by these special accommodations, and the beauty of Aulani, food blogger Jenny Flake recently created several delicious dishes that are perfect for family vacations at this magnificent resort.

Among her Aulani-inspired culinary creations were several snack items – chocolate-drizzled pineapple skewers and Hawaiian style popcorn mix – which you can discover in this video!

Below are the recipes, which you can recreate at home. Or, if you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, these are the perfect treats to make part of your annual tradition while staying in your own Villa!

Chocolate-Drizzled Pineapple Skewers
Ingredients

  • 20 chunks fresh pineapple

  • 1 cup chocolate melts, such as Ghirardelli
  • 1/4 cup shaved sweetened coconut

  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sprinkles

Directions

  • Place 5 pineapple chunks onto each of the 4 skewers
  • Pat dry pineapples with a paper towel to reduce some of the liquid
  • Melt chocolate melts in microwave according to package directions until melted and smooth
  • Drizzle chocolate over tops of each skewer and sprinkle with coconut, macadamia nuts and sprinkles
  • Serve room temperature

Hawaiian style popcorn mix

Hawaiian Style Popcorn Mix
Ingredients

  • 1 package microwaveable butter flavored popcorn, 8 cups
  • 2 cups macadamia nuts

  • 2 cups dried pineapple chunks

  • 2 cups dried shaved sweetened coconut 

  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks 


Directions

  • Pop popcorn according to package directions and place into a large bowl
  • Let cool for 5 minutes
  • Add macadamia nuts, pineapple chunks, coconut and chocolate
  • Toss to combine
  • Serve room temperature

Makes 4-6 servings...

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Disney Parks Blog

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Earth Day, April 22, with an expanded “Party for the Planet” celebration April 22-May 5.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch will take center stage for the celebration, which will offer backstage experiences that allow guests to learn about animal nutrition, visit the veterinary hospital, or hear how Disney promotes global wildlife conservation.

Guests can also commemorate their anniversary visit to the theme park with special photo opportunities, and kids can earn a limited-edition badge as part of the Wilderness Explorer program. Six different Tiffins Talks, themed dinners hosted by animal experts at Tiffins full-service restaurant will be available to guests who want to learn more about the animal residents at the park. And limited-edition merchandise will also be available for purchase, with one piece being a special-edition print created by renowned Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde. (He will be available to sign prints on April 22 from 1-4 p.m. at Discovery Trading Company. Quantities are limited).

Other experiences coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this spring include:

  • April 22 will mark the debut of a brand-new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure featuring Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar animated comedy-adventure film “UP.” The show will give guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his fuzzy friend Dug in a new adventure that includes encounters with exotic birds from around the world. This free-flying show will be performed multiple times daily.
  • A “dino-tastic” celebration with Donald and his friends will also premiere Memorial Day weekend in DinoLand, U.S.A. This dinosaur-themed party celebrates Donald Duck’s discovery that his bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more. A DJ-powered dance party will mix tunes from the truck-o-saurus stage, capping the nighttime festivities.
  • Memorial Day 2018 commemorates the one-year anniversary of Pandora – The World of Avatar. Here, travelers are transported to a mystical world of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences. Inspired by the blockbuster film, AVATAR, the epic land invites guests to explore a glowing landscape, encounter a larger-than-life Na’vi Shaman of Songs and soar on the back of a banshee.

For more information on the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, visit Disneyworld.com/PartyforthePlanet....

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