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Five Things You Might Have Missed Aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

Tomorrow, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland park celebrates 35 years of taking guests on the wildest ride in the wilderness. My niece recently experienced this runaway train as her first roller coaster, and I was positively thrilled to see her beaming as we got off the attraction. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, like many of the thrill rides at the Disneyland Resort, is the perfect blend of fun and storytelling. In honor of the iconic attraction's anniversary tomorrow, here are five things to point out to new pioneers braving Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or maybe details you may have missed in the past 35 years.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

1. Wilderness creatures -- Most guests know to look for the famous dynamite-wielding goat, but the runaway train also passes coyotes, skunks, possums, turtles and rattlesnakes.

2. Real mining gear -- In the attraction queue and all around Big Thunder Mountain, you will see a century-old stamp mill, a hand-driven drill, press gears, picks, shovels and other artifacts. These objects are actual mining gear, purchased from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming.

3. Steam mules -- When you're boarding your train and while careening around the mountain, look for two steam mules. These Victorian-era portable engines were used as set pieces in the Disney film, "Hot Lead and Cold Feet."

4. Grizzly Gulch sign -- Just before passing Dinosaur Gap in the queue, look for a wooden post with signs to nearby locations. If you look closely, you may see a nod to Grizzly Gulch at Hong Kong Disneyland, located 11,743 km away.

5. Willard B. Bounds, U.S. Marshall (Retired), President, Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company -- Willard B. Bounds, the President of Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company, has signed several notices and proclamations around Big Thunder Mountain, including a sign at the attraction entrance. This is a tribute to Lillian Disney's father, who was once a blacksmith and U.S. Marshall on the Nez Perce Indian reservation in Idaho.

Bonus fact: Did you know the sound of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad trains was used in the mine chase sequence in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"?

Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a trip aboard the wildest ride in the wilderness! Tell us your favorite memory aboard this iconic attraction in the comments below.

Five Things You Might Have Missed Aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park by Tyler Slater: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns Tonight at Walt Disney World Resort

Can you believe Halloween time has already returned to Magic Kingdom Park? The first of 26 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties is set to scare up fun at the park tonight from 7 p.m.-midnight!

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Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party features the popular "Villains Mix & Mingle -- Live on Stage" show, "Mickey's Boo-To-You Halloween Parade," Disney characters dressed Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating for all ages, "HalloWishes" fireworks and more. This year's event will also offer a new character dance party at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.

This year's party dates are: September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26 & 28 and October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30 & 31. Advance purchase (prior to event day) savings are available for select dates. Visit Disneyworld.com/Halloween for more.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns Tonight at Walt Disney World Resort by Jennifer Fickley-Baker: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

This week, we announced reservations are open for a must-do last stop of the evening at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: Villain's Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle.
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Lady Tremaine takes over Cinderella's Royal Table after everyone has gone to bed, and she's invited some of the most evil friends and special guests for a decadent dessert party (maybe you'll see the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Cruella de Vil or Dr. Facilier?).

Pam included more details about the experience in her original story as well as what your ticket includes:

  • Preferred Viewing for the 8:15 p.m. Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade
    • Watch the Headless Horseman lead off the parade on a hair-raising ride, followed by a collection of frightful floats and some of your favorite Disney Characters in Halloween costumes.

  • Preferred Viewing for HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular
    • The Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion and some of the most notorious Disney Villains light up the sky to wicked remixes of their favorite songs.

  • Dessert Soiree at Cinderella's Royal Table
    • Lady Tremaine shares her musical talents while you enjoy themed desserts, specialty non-alcoholic drinks, entertainment and visits from some of your favorite Disney villains. Each guest gets an autograph card and souvenir Maleficent dragon cup.

You can make a reservation this weekend by calling 407-939-5262 - no online reservations.

We also shared an update that applications for the Disney Parks Mom Panel will open at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, and will remain open until 12 p.m. ET on Friday, September 5, 2014.

If you know a mom, dad or grandparent who is your "go-to" person for advice about a Disney Parks vacation and loves to help others plan their trips, encourage them to check out Leanne's story and apply for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. (Be sure to check the rules and regulations on the application to insure eligibility.)

More information about becoming a panelist can be found here.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Disneyland Resort Viewing Tips: Atmosphere Entertainment at Disneyland Park -- Take some top tips on how to enjoy the Dapper Dans, Royal Street Bachelors and the Pearly Band at Disneyland park!

'Fjording' Through Norway with Adventures by Disney -- Disney Parks Blog author Amanda Adler shares more photos and stories from her "Frozen"-themed journey through Norway.

VIDEO: Disney's Hollywood Studios Hosts Villains Unleashed -- Watch the highlights at Disney's Hollywood Studios from this special event!

New Disneyland Resort Mobile Site Makes the Magic Easy with Disney eTicket and More -- Check out the new mobile Disneyland.com to see how purchase tickets, make dining reservations, find attraction information and more.

'Legends of Frontierland' Extended at Disneyland Park Yeehaw! "Legends of Frontierland" is sticking around at Disneyland park. Mosey on down to see what all the commotion is about.

Sneak Peek at Much-Anticipated Gingerbread Creation for Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park -- A year in the making, get an exclusive look at this unique creation before it debuts with Haunted Mansion Holiday on September 12.

Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap by Thomas Smith: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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101 Dogs Walk the Green Carpet at First-Ever Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom Park

As the sun rose over the Walt Disney World Resort, 101 creatively costumed dogs and their owners walked the green carpet on Main Street, U.S.A., during our first-ever Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom Park.

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Pet dogs dressed as Disney princesses, pirates and even Cruella de Vil were featured at the tail-wagging event, which included a special doggie dance party in front of Cinderella Castle with your favorite Disney dogs like Pluto and Bolt.

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There was a special "Show Your Disney Side" costume contest before Disney character Goofy kicked off a first-of-it's-kind dog walk around a portion of Magic Kingdom Park and through Cinderella Castle. The walk was led by Lily, a Labrador-Catahoula pup with a perfect Mickey Mouse-shaped spot on her lower back originally featured on the Disney Parks Blog, as well as members of the Disney Parks Blog team.

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Portions of the Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom will be included in an Animal Planet Disney Side edition of "America's Cutest Pet" scheduled to premiere in October. The TV special will be hosted by actor and pet lover John O'Hurley who also showed up for our event.

Be sure to check out our special gallery from the Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom Park -- we had a great time and the costumes were spectacular.

101 Dogs Walk the Green Carpet at First-Ever Disney Side Dog's Day at Magic Kingdom Park by Thomas Smith: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: More Photos From Villains Unleashed

Earlier this week on the Disney Parks Blog, we shared some amazing images from the Villains Unleashed event at Disney's Hollywood Studios -- so for this week's photo recap, I just had to share a few more.

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With so many Disney villains on hand at the party, there were sure some great photo opportunities. Be sure to check out the full gallery above!

This Week in Disney Parks Photos: More Photos From Villains Unleashed by Jennifer Fickley-Baker: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Disney Brings HBCU Alumni and Advocates Together to School Local Students in Higher Ed Opportunity

As an alumna of Clark Atlanta University, one of our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), I was proud to take part in a unique college fair today at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. The HBCU College Information Fair brought together 100 students from Orlando's Edgewater High School, HBCU advocates and Disney cast members who attended HBCUs.
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The event - which is part of the 10th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney - began with a presentation by United Negro College Fund Development Director Sherry Paramore, who outlined the value of an HBCU education, as well as how to prepare for college and secure scholarships. And though they'll be rivals at Sunday's MEAC/SWAC football game, representatives of North Carolina A&T State and Alabama A&M shared the stage amicably as they provided tips on making your college application stronger and applying for financial aid.
Local Students to Attend College Fair at Disney

After the presentations, I joined fellow cast members who attended HBCUs in sharing my college experiences with students browsing the fair. As I explained how my academic experiences prepared me for a career at Walt Disney World Resort, I told them that enrolling at an HBCU is more than just being a student at a university. It's becoming part of a network of future business and community leaders who share in the legacy of achievement.
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As we talked, I was inspired by their hopes, dreams and vision for the future. I hope they were inspired, too ... and that I see some of them again one day as fellow Disney cast members!

Disney Brings HBCU Alumni and Advocates Together to School Local Students in Higher Ed Opportunity by Belinda Frazier: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Celebrates Three Years of Paradise with a Touch of Magic

Today marks the third anniversary of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa! Let's celebrate with a look back at three major milestones this beautiful resort has seen through the past three years.

Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

Tradition and Magic at the Grand Opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

With the help of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Hawaiian performers and Aulani cast members, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, led the Grand Opening Ceremony. One of our favorite moments during the ceremony was the joining of Hawaiian culture and the magic of Disney -- symbolized by the mixing of sand from the beach with pixie dust in an 'umeke, a ceremonial wooden bowl.

Ka Maka Landing Officially Opens at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

New Ka Maka Landing Officially Opens Tomorrow at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Ka Maka Landing opened in October 2013, completing the Waikolohe Valley expansion. Your 'ohana can now spend the day in the spectacular infinity-edge pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and children can splash and play in the new Keiki Cove. Be sure to take a break and enjoy a poolside meal at Ulu Cafe before diving back for more Hawaiian fun.

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Travel + Leisure Readers Recognize Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Disney Cruise Line for Excellence

Last month, Travel + Leisure announced its World's Best Awards 2014, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, was named the Top Hotel for Families in the United States. Cast members were positively thrilled to receive this honor on behalf of our Hawaiian resort, and look forward to continuing the tradition of providing extraordinary guest service.

Please join me in wishing Aulani a hau`oli la ho'omana'o, or happy anniversary! If you'd like to visit and celebrate the anniversary too, take advantage of a special travel package this fall: book a consecutive four-night or more stay, now through October 30, 2014, for travel between August 15 and December 22 (excluding November 26-29), and receive the fourth night free! Learn more about this great vacation offer here.

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Celebrates Three Years of Paradise with a Touch of Magic by Tyler Slater: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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September's Treats are Sweetly Spook-tacular at the Disneyland Resort

Gourmet apple fans take note, September is right around the corner and next month you will find the Disneyland Resort gourmet caramel apple enrobed in sweet milk chocolate and covered in a mixture of crunchy, buttery, toffee pieces and roasted almonds. How do you top that? How about adorning it with milk chocolate drizzle? Mouthwatering and delicious, this apple will not disappoint.

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I was able to "scare" up a few other details on our Halloween Time treats this year, so mark your calendars for September 12. Returning favorites include the Minnie Witch Apple, Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Pumpkin Fudge, and festive cake pops themed to creepy crawlers (spiders) and Mummy Mickey. If you're wondering if there's anything new, the answer is yes. Other delightfully ghoulish and tantalizing treats will make their debut during Halloween Time, so be sure to keep an eye out. Remember they are available for a limited time only, so don't miss out!

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Look for these items and more at Candy Palace on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland park; Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure park; and Marceline's Confectionery in the Downtown Disney District.

September's Treats are Sweetly Spook-tacular at the Disneyland Resort by Michelle Harker: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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A Taste of Grenada with Disney Cruise Line

St. George's, Grenada
Next up in my series about Port Adventures on our Southern Caribbean cruises is what to do from the port of St. George's, Grenada. Known as the "Spice Isle," Grenada is filled with spice estates, tropical gardens, beautiful beaches, thrilling diving, snorkeling, fishing and exploration through mountain landscapes and waterfalls. There's an adventure to be had by everyone, with more options than I can possibly tell you about today!

Beach at Grenada Fort George

Tropical Beach Tour -- Grenada is known for some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, so many of our excursions bring you to a stunning stretch of sand to relax and swim. If you want to take a step back in time on your way to the beach, this tour gives you the chance to explore the historic Fort George overlooking the capital city. Your stop here also provides a fantastic panoramic photo opportunity above the island and Caribbean Sea! Some of our other beach trips to consider are the Rum And Beach Tour, Aquarium Beach Day With Lunch and Beach House With Lunch.

Wild Monkey Waterfall

Around The Isle Of Spice -- This Port Adventure provides a great taste of Grenada with an inside look at the spice and rum industry, along with fantastic views of nature and wildlife. First, discover the reason for Grenada's nickname with a visit to a garden of spices at a historic estate and to a spice factory to see the seasoning, processing and sorting of nutmegs and mace. Then, after a tour of a famous rum distillery, you'll visit Grand Etang to see the crater of an extinct volcano and possibly wild monkeys. Your last stop is to Annandale Falls, a 30-foot waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation.

Powerboat Sculpture Swim

Amazing Sculpture Park Snorkel By Powerboat -- Molinere Point, a protected marine park, is a volcanic reef home to the world's first underwater sculpture park. After a thrilling ride in a powerboat, you'll have the chance to snorkel here and see an abundance of tropical fish and other marine life. Before heading back to port, you'll cruise through Dragon Bay and along the island's beautiful coast for some great photo opportunities.

Up next, I'll give you my recommendation for Port Adventures in Barbados. When the ship's in port, venture ashore!

A Taste of Grenada with Disney Cruise Line by Arnaldo Zanonato: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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365 (Consecutive) Days of Walt Disney World Resort Magic

When one of my Downtown Disney partners told me about Brent Dodge, an Annual Passholder who visited the four Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks every day for 365 consecutive days, I couldn't believe it. While I love the parks, just the idea of visiting every day while working full time has me exhausted!

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I wanted to find out more, so I spoke with Brent myself to find out why he did it. First things first, he confessed that he hadn't really passed through the turnstiles (or, in our new era of MyMagic+, ventured through the main entrance touch points) for a full year, "there were actually three days that I didn't visit a park. I was on a Disney Cruise" he shared. Well, 365 days of Disney attractions, then. Consider me impressed.

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Brent has been a Passholder since 2009, and currently carries the "Premier" pass, which also grants him access to Disneyland park. (I'd say he's getting his money's worth!) This Peter Pan's Flight lover has visited the place where dreams come true since he was an infant, and when pressed for the "why" behind his latest all-year-long endeavor, he simply states, "Cause I'm a Disney nerd! If I live this close to Walt Disney World Resort, why wouldn't I go every day? Especially when others are saving up thousands of dollars to go once in a lifetime." Okay, he had me there.

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The "official" milestone was reached on August 13; of the estimated 2,200 days Brent has spent at the parks over his lifetime, that day ranks among his all-time-top Disney memories. "A friend surprised me with a custom t-shirt from Disney Design-a-Tee at Downtown Disney; it features my favorite character, Scrooge McDuck. A few other friends met me at Magic Kingdom Park with signs to celebrate, and we had a great view of the parade. We got to ride Peter Pan's Flight, followed by another beloved attraction, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover - three times!"

I'll admit, it does sound pretty magical. While most of my days are spent at the Downtown Disney area, now that fall is fast-approaching, I plan to spend more time following in Brent's footsteps and enjoying all that Walt Disney World Resort has to offer.

How about you ... can you imagine a daily visit to the parks?

365 (Consecutive) Days of Walt Disney World Resort Magic by Darcy Clark: Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog

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