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May 30, 2011

Disney World is Creating Memories All Summer Long: What to Expect on Your Summer Vacation

Talk about making vacation memories: In summer 2011, guests at Walt Disney World Resort will begin embarking on adventures to places no one has ever gone – to the planets Coruscant and Tatooine, located in a galaxy as far away as imagination can carry them – as “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

And over in the Magic Kingdom, guests can revel in the memories they’ve made, during a new nighttime show, “The Magic, The Memories, and You!”

Beyond “Star Tours” headlining the summer fun, here are some of the details about what’s in store:

Filling the night with memories

“The Magic, The Memories, and You!,” a dramatic new projection show filled with special effects and magic, transforms Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort and “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Resort into shimmering canvases for images of guests and the memories they made that day at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park.

The ten-minute experience dazzles park guests in ways never before experienced, themed to beloved Disney stories and with playful animated sequences that seem to defy the architecture of the buildings – and even “bring the architecture to life,” said Alan Bruun, associate creative director, Walt Disney World Entertainment. The spectacle is scheduled most nights with up to two shows per night depending on theme park operating hours and other special ticketed events.

 So what else is new?

Guests wanting to venture off the beaten path at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have the chance during a new, immersive, add-on experience, Wild Africa Trek, that takes a small group of adventurers on personalized, guided excursions that include a bushwalk through unexplored areas of the forest along with over-landing in customized vehicles across an animal-filled savanna. On these expert-led treks, extended time is spent observing and learning about the wildlife. Reservations for Wild Africa Trek (ages 8 and up) can be arranged by calling 407/939-8687. More information:

 “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” landed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios March 4, 201l less than a month after they cast off on their first adventure on Disney Channel as part of the launch of Disney Junior programming, designed for children ages 2 to 7. Jake and the Never Land Pirates perform at Disney Junior–Live on Stage! The show also includes current favorites from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins.

Guests will be able to take part this summer in an energetic and fun-filled meet-and-play experience with Phineas and Ferb at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Phineas and Ferb – from the popular television show of the same name – “know what they’re gonna do today”: the duo will make a movie all about their crazy adventures. With the help of guests and movie director Cletus Filmore, they will recreate some of their favorite moments…unless they are taking a break to meet with their adoring fans, signing autographs and taking pictures. The fun will take place near the exit of “Muppet«Vision 3-D.” In addition, Winnie the Pooh replaces Lotso in the meet-and-greet location at Feature Animation. Lotso will continue to be seen in the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade. A “Cars 2” meet-and-greet is scheduled to open June 5, 2011 near “Muppet«Vision 3-D,” and Lightning McQueen will replace Herbie the Love Bug on stage in Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show beginning June 5, 2011.

Guests calling on Mickey Mouse for a meet-and-greet at his permanent new location in “Town Square Theater" can obtain a Disney's FASTPASS ticket specifying a one-hour window when they can return to see the popular character for hugs, photos and autographs -- without waiting in the standby queue. It marks the first time the complimentary, computerized service has been available for a character meet-and-greet at any Disney Park.

 New interactive queues are greeting Magic Kingdom guests. A visit to the Haunted Mansion now begins with a new story line inspired by some of the characters previously seen only inside the Haunted Mansion. The new interactive queue includes new crypts and other “spooky” sights to see, as well as tombstones with witty epitaphs to the dearly departed like, “Drink A Toast To Our Friend Ken, Fill Your Glass And Don’t Say ‘When.’” Inside the attraction new hitchhiking ghosts board the “Doom Buggies” to interact and play with weary mortals thanks to the newest and most innovative technologies. New playful features also enhance guest wait times at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. A towering honey tree welcomes Fantasyland guests at the entrance, which young guests are welcome to climb through and explore. Further down the path, guests can stomp their feet to rid Rabbit’s garden of pesky gophers, or they can drum a tune on Rabbit’s fruit.

The “Sounds Like Summer” concert series returns to Epcot featuring tribute bands that will bring back the sounds of decades of summers gone by. Opening with Hotel California – a Salute to the Eagles, June’s lineup of bands will also “play” tribute to the timeless tunes of the Bee Gees and Bon Jovi. Sounds like Summer concerts are under the skies of the open-air America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase at Epcot. Show times are 5:45, 7 and 8:15 p.m. Here’s the summer lineup (subject to change without notice):

o   June 12 – June 18: Hotel California — A Salute to the Eagles
o   June 19 – June 25: Stayin' Alive — A Tribute to the Bee Gees
o   June 26 – July 2: Slippery When Wet — The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
o   July 3 – July 9: Little Queen — The Music of Heart
o   July 10 – July 16: Frontiers — A Tribute to Journey
o   July 17 – July 23: Karin Lawson — A Tribute to Janet Jackson
o   July 24 – July 30: 2U — A Tribute to U2
*Summer concerts are included with Epcot admission*

Favorite Pixar pals perform in an all-new Disney’s Hollywood Studios parade, “Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun!,” showcasing appearances by four characters not previously featured – Remy and Emile from “Ratatouille” and Carl and Russell from “UP.” The parade is performed to a new musical track from the current Pixar parade at Disney California Adventure. The new show replaces “Block Party Bash,” which was presented between March 2008 and January 2011.

A Magic Kingdom favorite, “Enchanted Tiki Room,” is scheduled to reopen later this summer in a version reminiscent of the original show (called Tropical Serenade). The attraction has been entertaining guests since the theme park’s opening day Oct. 1, 1971. Its winged hosts -- Jose, Fritz, Pierre and Michael -- led 200 other birds, tikis and flowers in an entertaining Polynesian revue. The Adventureland attraction was inspired by Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, which opened at Disneyland Park in 1963.

AMC Theatres® has put a new twist on the date-night concept of “dinner and a movie” at AMC Downtown Disney 24: “a movie with dinner.” Six auditoriums at the Downtown Disney West Side location have been transformed into AMC Dine-In Theatres where guests can watch the latest movies while dining from a menu including quesadillas, burgers, flatbread pizzas, grilled sandwiches and house specialties as well as appetizers and desserts. Reserved seating and table-top dining is offered.

Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria.  Epcot’s lively, 300-seat restaurant that is operated by the Patina Group is full of energy with an open kitchen and three wood-burning pizza ovens that represent Italy’s three active volcanoes (Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli).  Those ovens crank up to 700 F with oak wood, and with a touch of Disney whimsy, the “faces” of the fiery ovens open their “mouths.” Patina Executive Chef Charlie Restivo focuses on the pizzas, with mozzarella flown in from Italy, the water from a source that is similar to the water in Naples, and San Marzano tomatoes.

La Hacienda de San Angel and Cantina de San Angel.  At the Mexico pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, two eateries nestle along World Showcase Lagoon.  La Cantinaoffers quick-service and features tacos, nachos and empanadas, and a variety of frozen margaritas.  La Hacienda is a table-service restaurant with contemporary Mexican fare such as mixed seafood grill, roasted pork loin and flank steak. La Hacienda has its own “tequila ambassador” and features tequila flights and a new line of margaritas, including a coffee margarita.  La Cantina, with indoor and outdoor seating, is open daily for lunch and dinner; 250-seat La Hacienda opens daily at 4 p.m.  

More information about Walt Disney World vacations is available at, at, from a travel agent or by calling 407-W-DISNEY. For information on new attractions and vacations at Disneyland Resort, visit, call 866/60-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.

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