What a big week for Disney news! It’s full steam ahead for Disney World with the opening of 2022 vacation packages and the announcement of 50th-anniversary celebration details. The park reservation system was also extended, and Disney Cruise Line announced the return of some awesome specialty-themed cruises. We have a couple of feel-good stories of Disney and Disney cast members making a difference in the lives of others, and some new merchandise. All this and more in this week’s news roundup.
1 – Details on the 50th Anniversary Celebration Revealed
On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World Resort officially opened to guests for the first time. Now, fifty years later, we’re gearing up for a major milestone celebration in honor of the resort’s 50th-anniversary.
This week Disney announced that guests can share in “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” beginning October 1, 2021. This eighteen-month celebration will feature new experiences at the resort’s four theme parks and beyond. We can’t wait! Learn more about the upcoming celebration at the links below.
2 – 2022 Walt Disney World Packages Now Available
2022 Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages are now available to book! Learn more at the link below.
3 – Disney Extends Theme Park Reservation System to 2023
This week, with the availability of booking 2022 Walt Disney World vacation packages, Disney quietly extended the theme park reservation to visits through January 14, 2023. Guests will still need to make their park reservations for arrivals starting in 2022. Learn more at the link below.
4 – Disney Cruise Line Announces Return of Marvel Day at Sea & Star Wars Day at Sea in 2022
We enjoyed a Marvel Day at Sea Cruise on the Disney Magic in 2019, and it was one of the best cruises we’ve ever experienced. That’s why we’re so excited to learn that Disney Cruise Line has announced the return of both Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea in 2022. Learn more at the link below.
5 – Reservations Now Open for the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Opening this Summer
Reservations are now open for the new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve hotel, which is opening this July 2021. You can make reservations by calling online or by phone at 1-888-236-2427 for September 1 and beyond. Here is a description of the hotel from the resort website:
Situated in the middle of the magic, The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, an Autograph Collection Hotel, provides a luxurious yet tranquil oasis to attractions and theme parks at Disney. With Disney’s newest attractions including Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge within walking distance, guests can flow effortlessly from the excitement of the theme parks to the relaxation of a lavishly appointed hotel room or suite perfect for families of 6 to 10. Complimentary transportation is provided throughout Walt Disney World Resort, including to Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As an added benefit, guests enjoy full access to all amenities of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, including special Disney benefits. The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve truly is like nothing else, located like nowhere else.
6 – ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Animation Experience and Sand Sculpture Coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom
A new experience and sculpture are coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney Cast Member Thomas Smith shares more below:
Get ready to experience Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ in a whole new way at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Continuing the legacy Walt Disney started with “Bambi,” animals have been an integral part of Disney storytelling and continue to inspire the development of new, beloved characters. The Animation Experience at Conservation Station offers guests the chance to learn to draw Disney characters inspired by the animals they may also see in the park.
And beginning February 22, learn to draw new characters from “Raya and the Last Dragon,” including Raya’s faithful companion Tuk Tuk.
Part-pill bug, part-pug, part-high speed off-road vehicle and all adorable, Tuk Tuk has been Raya’s best friend since she could hold him in the palm of her hand. As part of the experience, you’ll see a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration for Tuk Tuk shared by Kelly Marie Tran (voice of Raya) and Awkwafina (voice of Sisu).
Also, at Discovery Island Stage, artists will be working on a 40-ton sand sculpture celebrating the new film. The display will feature Raya, Tuk Tuk, Sisu the last dragon and the Ongi, all set in the fantasy world of Kumandra. It takes a team of two talented artists over 24 hours to build and carve the display made entirely from sand. Guests will have the opportunity to watch the artisans at work February 19 through 21 and the carving will remain on display at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for a limited time through the end of March.
Experience the fantastical world of Kumandra in these two brand new offerings coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and take a look at the latest trailer for “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon will be released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5. Additional Fee Required.
7 – Disneyland Resort Helps Get Essential Items to Those in Need with Help of Local Nonprofits
In the past year, so many people have faced challenges. It’s so great to know that Disneyland Resort is providing a helping hand to those in need. Disney Cast Member Kyleigh Johnson shares more below.
Disneyland Resort recently teamed up with local nonprofit organizations to help meet overwhelming needs in the community.
Over 300 families received diapers, wipes and other essential baby items at a recent drive-thru distribution event with Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) and MOMS Orange County. With a touch of pixie dust, they also went home with plush toys donated by Disneyland Resort. CAPOC distributed their 5 millionth diaper since March 2020 during the event, which took place on Disneyland Resort property, with the help of 50 Disney VoluntEARS.
“An event like this where a family can drive home with an ample supply of diapers is just huge—it’s such a cost savings and it relieves stress for families with babies,” said Andrea Dunn, chief development officer of MOMS Orange County, the region’s largest nonprofit dedicated solely to newborn and pregnancy health. “We’re so grateful to CAPOC and Disney VoluntEARS for making today’s event happen.”
Over 300 families (nearly 600 babies and toddlers) received essential items like diapers and wipes.
“You feel like you’re really helping people, some who never thought they would have needed help before,” said Lisa Whaley, senior promotions manager. Since the Disneyland Resort theme parks closed last March, Lisa has been volunteering at local food banks on her own time, and the drive-thru diaper distribution was her first event with Disney VoluntEARS in almost a year. “It feels fantastic to see everyone feeling like they can give back to this community in a new, safe way. It’s good to be back with our teammates from across the company, together for one common goal.”
The Disneyland Resort and our Disney VoluntEARS have proudly supported CAPOC, as well as Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County for decades. Last week, the Disneyland Resort donated 30 pallets of food—items like soups, meat and pantry items from across the resort, prepped for donating by Disney chefs—to Second Harvest Food Bank and Caterina’s Club.
While our theme parks remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Disneyland Resort has continued to actively support our community by volunteering our time to support local students and families in need, donating half a million pounds of food to local food banks, and providing more than $5 million dollars of surplus merchandise to local nonprofits.
8 – Disney Teams Up with Native Shoes for All-New Collection
Need new shoes? Then you’ll be excited to learn of an all-new partnership. Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia shares more below.
I am super excited to announce that Disney is teaming up with Native Shoes to bring the style of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to an all-new collection of footwear. Native Shoes’ mission is to create a lighter, healthier, happier world for everyone. Disney and Native Shoes make a great pair.
For those of you not already familiar with Native Shoes, “Live Lightly” is their purpose in both footwear and philosophy. With innovation, sustainability, originality, and the key ingredient, lightness, that’s something I can definitely get behind!
The adults’ Jefferson shoe is Native Shoes’ original EVA all-star, embodying the company’s token lightness with a durable rubber rand and toe. Available in a black Mickey all-over print and a red Minnie all-over print, the shoe is shock absorbent, odor resistant, and hand washable. Both these styles come in women’s size 5 to men’s size 12.
The adults don’t get to have all the fun though! There’s also a Jefferson shoe for kids, available in a red Minnie Mouse print and white Mickey all-over print as well, in sizes children’s 5 to juniors’ 3. What kid wouldn’t want to wear a shoe that’s this lightweight, comfortable, and fun?
All ages will love the classic lifestyle silhouette, updated in ultra-lightweight EVA for a comfortable, cushioned feel. With its water friendly material, bouncy sole, and easy slip-on & off design, there’s nowhere this shoe can’t go! They’re available now at shopDisney.com, Walt Disney World Resort and Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort, and coming soon to Disney stores.
If you want to put an extra spring in your step and wear your love for Disney and a pop of color on your feet, you’ll definitely want to grab a pair of these fun, lightweight shoes! Which pair will you get?
9 – The Wish Effect: How a Random Act of Kindness Nurtured Make-A-Wish Kid Winter’s Love of Cooking
Kindness is so needed in the world, and that’s why it’s incredible when Disney and Make-A-Wish can make dreams come through with kindness. Disney Cast Member Shelby Grasser shares the heartwarming story below:
Through #TheWishEffect series, we’ve met unforgettable Make-A-Wish kids such as ABC’s black-ish superfan Julius, aspiring Disney animator TJ, and road tripper Tali. [In honor of] Random Act of Kindness Day, I’m excited to introduce you to Winter, and the unexpected kindness of a Disney cast member that sparked her wish – granted by Disney and Make-A-Wish in 2018.
A trip to Walt Disney World Resort isn’t complete without a mouthwatering meal at one of the resort’s many fine eateries. But for Make-A-Wish kid Winter, a Disney dinner – and the incredible chef who prepared the meal – changed her life.
After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Winter had major food and dietary restrictions that made eating out nearly impossible. Winter wasn’t able to enjoy meals with her family like other kids. However, on a family vacation to ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in 2013, a Disney cast member, Chef Jeff, went above and beyond to make a custom meal for Winter that she could enjoy. This act of kindness inspired a lifelong love of cooking and showed Winter that even with dietary restrictions, preparing tasty meals was possible and even fun.
“It’s the little things in life that you take for granted. Whether it’s opening a door, or saying hello, those moments can actually be the most memorable,” Winter said. “Chef Jeff coming over to our table, he didn’t think that that night, that meal service, he would be inspiring a girl to get online and see what substitutions she could use, how she could make things work for her.”
A few years later, Winter got referred to Make-A-Wish to have a wish granted. “We found the photo of Chef Jeff. I told my mom that I wanted to go back and thank him for the opportunities he gave me in life,” Winter explained. “He showed me that my challenges weren’t that different, I just had to find a way to get around them.”
On the day of her wish, Chef Jeff and Winter met at the Polynesian Resort and made spring rolls together. The reunion was emotional for everyone involved.
“When I found out that Winter could’ve wished for anything in the world, and she chose to come back to cook with me, it was very humbling,” remembered Chef Jeff. “It’s something that’s never happened in my career of 27 years of being a chef. I was very excited and honored to make this wish come true.”
“As a parent, you’re crying because your daughter is so excited to see somebody who made such an impact,” shared Denise, Winter’s mom. “There were tears of joy, as Chef Jeff’s meal was all she talked about. She wanted to let him know that she was able to learn from the experience he created, and it made an impact on her life forever.”
Chef Jeff took the time to listen to Winter’s needs. “He showed me that I have the power to make my own decisions, and not have to live by the restrictions the world has placed on me,” said Winter.
“Chef Jeff inspired my daughter to find a new way to eat, find a new goal in life,” Denise explained.
Winter’s now a high school senior taking college courses to become a speech therapist.
“After my wish trip, I originally wanted to go to culinary school to provide options to other kids like myself,” Winter said. “But I decided to go into speech therapy to help people advocate for the options I needed when I was little.”
Winter and Chef Jeff still stay in contact to this day. She’ll never forget the impact he had on her life, and how the wish by Disney and Make-A-Wish helped Winter discover her passion and her voice.
To learn more about how Disney is working with Make-A-Wish to provide magic to wish kids and their families when they need it most, and to see more episodes of “The Wish Effect” visit wish.org/Disney.
10 – Chevy Introduces New Electric Car with Commercial Featuring Disney Friends
Chevy and Disney teamed up for a fantastic commercial. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Chelsea Auburn:
Did you know that General Motors was the first attraction sponsor at EPCOT when the park opened in 1982? From the early days of World of Motion to the more recent guest favorite, Test Track, GM and Disney have a history of collaborating on experiences that our Disney Parks guests know and love.
And today, the magical excitement of Disney meets the creative energy of Chevrolet in Chevy’s latest “Magic is Electric” commercial promoting the new 2022 Bolt EUV. The spot made its network debut during the season premiere of “American Idol” on ABC on February 14, and features a fun and familiar cast of characters! Both the “Magic is Electric” commercial spot and its behind-the-scenes counterpart, “Behind the Reveal,” were filmed in part on location at Walt Disney World Resort.
To watch the full commercial spot and see the behind-the-scenes content from the filming at Walt Disney World, including interviews with the experts behind the Bolt EUV and creative minds at Disney, head over to chevy.com/ev.
Which character did you enjoy seeing most? Tell me in the comments below and on social.
I don’t know about you, but I think the commercial spot said it best: “When we dream together, magic happens.”
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