Editor’s Note: Dateline Disneyland and Fab News are trading places this week to accommodate holiday vacations. 
  
Hello all! I hope your Kalikimaka was Mele if you celebrated it, and that you’re having a happy end of the year either way. We kept it low-key this year, but a little black lamb from my favorite Disney movie made several appearances, all the way from Tokyo. Thanks, Noe! A cheerful Orange Bird fit me to a T, too. Thanks Alice!  Speaking of daughters, give this interview from the Disney Company a read and you’ll feel good about sending them to work at Lucasfilm:

Q&A with the Force Behind Lucasfilm: President/Producer Kathleen Kennedy

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

 

Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the whole Company has mobilized around the Star Wars franchise and the launch of this film. While the new Star Wars films are produced by Lucasfilm under the umbrella of The Walt Disney Studios headed by Chairman Alan Horn, Disney XD just wrapped up its second season of the animated series Star Wars Rebels. In September, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media orchestrated Force Friday, a global event unveiling all-new merchandise, and recently released the Star Wars: Battlefront video game, with a special Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set for Disney Infinity.. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is currently celebrating “Season of the Force” at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced at D23 EXPO 2015 in August the planned creation of not one but two Star Wars Lands, in Anaheim and in Orlando.

Leading the charge is Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, the prolific producer who met Star Wars creator George Lucas not long after he released the very first film in the series, Star Wars: A New Hope, in 1977, and was handpicked by him to take the reins shortly before Lucasfilm joined Disney. As this newest episode of the Star Wars Saga unfolds—and with other Star Wars Stories such as Rogue One on the way—we posed a few questions to Kennedy on how the gargantuan galaxy of Star Wars fits into and expands the wonderful world of Disney.

Q: Was there anything that surprised you when you took the job of running Lucasfilm?

Kathleen Kennedy (KK): I can’t say there’s anything that surprised me, but in terms of being an executive and running a company as well as making movies, I’ve never been in a situation like I am now, especially inside The Walt Disney Company, where there’s the empowerment of all these different lines of business associated with the content that we make. What I love about it is, it’s an extension of the creative process. The strength of narrative is so important in all these different areas of business, especially now with technology. Technology is creating the opportunity to drive the narrative in so many different ways.

Q: If Lucasfilm had not become part of Disney, as a movie producer you presumably would’ve explored making new Star Wars films. What kind of difference do you think Disney made when it acquired Lucasfilm and these films were announced?

KK: It’s been huge. I had to go into a quick learning curve to just understand all the things that Lucasfilm was involved in to begin with, but once the acquisition happened, and once those other lines of business began to integrate inside The Walt Disney Company, the ability to leverage Lucasfilm globally has been nothing short of astounding. I don’t think there’s any possibility that Lucasfilm could’ve come close to doing what this company has managed to do with positioning and setting up this franchise on a global scale. There were parts of the world that didn’t know that much about Star Wars, such as China and Russia, since they never showed many of the films on the big screen.  So there was a huge education process that needed to go on.

Q: Star Wars is famous for its massive, dedicated fan base. With this being the first new Star Wars Saga film in a decade, how has that factored in?

KK: We have some wonderful people inside Lucasfilm that have been nurturing that relationship with the fans for over 30 years. That was one of the first things that everybody at Lucasfilm sat down and really talked to me about—that this is completely unique and it’s really important to the success of Star Wars. The marketing team has done an unbelievable job of respecting that and nurturing that and empowering that.

Q: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just the first of several plannedStar Wars movies, some of which are Saga films that focus on the Skywalker family, and others such as Rogue One that are known asStar Wars Stories. What can you tell us about the approach Lucasfilm is taking to the franchise as a whole?

KK: What we’re doing is built around the universe of Star Wars, the mythology that George created. It gives us a huge amount of flexibility to look at it as though we’re dealing with Star Wars history, and we can pull the history books out and then determine what direction we go, what genre we choose to move in.

Q: In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley’s Rey is an incredible, strong heroine. One of the interesting things about Lucasfilm is how many of the lead executives are women.

KK: Right now our executive team is 58 percent female, and they’re all powerhouses. Our head of games is a woman. The GM of the company is a woman. The head of story is a woman. Four out of the six key people in the development group are all women and strategic planning for the new ILMxLAB is run by a woman. It’s pretty great, and the conversation in the room does change. That’s something that I’m acutely aware of all the time: When you have a balance like that, there are distinctly different points of view that start conversations in ways that they just don’t when you don’t have diversity in the room.

This past week, The Force Awakens made all of the rest of the money in the entire world, bringing Disney’s Film total for the year to over 4 Billion with a B dollars.

Fab News is sponsored by the great folks at DVCResaleMarket.com! If you’re buy-curious (or sell-curious) about Disney Vacation Club membership points, give them a look or a call!

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Mickey Mouse Greets Coaches and Players Preparing for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl 

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Time for Sportsball, everyone!

 No. 5 Iowa and No. 6 Stanford have won berths in the 2016 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual in Pasadena, and with that comes a visit to the Disneyland Resort, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration, in case  you were not aware. The football teams will play in the 102nd Rose Bowl Game on Friday, January 1, 2016.  But first they met off the field for their first official pre-game appearance, Saturday, in a ceremony at Disney California Adventure Park. The Stanford Cardinal are the Pac-12 Conference Champions, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are the Big Ten West Division Champions. I have no idea what that means. You’ll have to ask my dad. 

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, Stanford head coach David Shaw and members of both teams appeared in a ceremony with Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier and Mickey Mouse.  Among the Iowa players were offensive lineman Austin Blythe, running back Jordan Canzeri, defensive back Jordan Lomax, defensive back Greg Mabin and wide receiver Tevaun Smith.  Featured Stanford players were quarterback Kevin Hogan, cornerback Ronnie Harris, inside linebacker Blake Martinez, offensive guard Joshua Garnett and running back Christian McCaffrey, but there were more players from both teams in attendance. 

Following the ceremony, each team experienced popular Disney California Adventure attractions, including Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land and California Screamin’ at Paradise Pier.

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For Stanford, this will be the third time in four years and the 15th appearance all-time in the Rose Bowl Game.  The Cardinal also makes history for being the Pac-12 champion during the 100-year anniversary of the conference.  Iowa will make its sixth appearance overall in the Rose Bowl Game, and the first since 1991. The two teams have never met in a football game in the schools’ history. 

And don’t forget that awesome Disneyland float in the Tournament of Roses Parade! 

2016 Ways* to Ring in the New Year at Walt Disney World

*complete and utter lie on my part
 TOASTING THE NEW YEAR

While there are not ACTUALLY 2016 ways (officially) to ring in the new year, there are quite a few. Here’s a look at just some of them:

Epcot – Guests can celebrate all night long at Epcot. DJs and live music around World Showcase bring guests to their feet with beats from around the globe. Two showings of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” fireworks spectacular at 6 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., followed by a countdown and pyrotechnic salute to the New Year will top off the celebration.

Epcot World Showcase offers a variety of New Year’s Eve lunch and dinner options. (Admission to Epcot is required and not included in dining prices.)

  • Enjoy live music, premium tequilas, festive décor, and incredible views of the IllumiNations fireworks spectacular at La Hacienda de San Angel at the Mexico pavilion. This colorful celebration begins with seating at 9:30 p.m., and includes a five-course feast featuring a special Surf and Turf entrée. This event is $280.13 for adults and $73.46 for children ages 3-9 (includes tax and gratuity).
  • Delight in the culture, flavors and elegance of France courtesy of the revered French chef Paul Bocuse at Monsieur Paul at the France pavilion. This restaurant will offer lunch and dinner seatings featuring a three-course meal for $85 per person (plus tax and gratuity), as well as a four-course premiere dining event from 8:45-9:50 p.m. for $235 per person, or $295 with wine (plus tax and gratuity).
  • The Canadian-inspired eatery Le Cellier Steakhouse will offer a decadent, multi-course menu for guests to enjoy while exploring World Showcase. Reservations are available at 4:30, 6:45 and 9 p.m., with prices varying per seating.
  • Listen to classic Disney tunes and enjoy a never-ending custom New Year’s Eve dinner buffet at the Epcot World ShowPlace This holiday dining location offers a family-friendly atmosphere with delicious menu items for guests of all ages. The experience also features photo opportunities with unique vignettes of classic Disney characters. Dinner is served from 4:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $71.84 for adults and $44.37 for children ages 3-9 (plus tax).

Magic Kingdom 

  • Guests can get a head start on welcoming 2016 at Magic Kingdom as New Year’s Eve fireworks light up the sky on two nights instead of one. Magic Kingdom will present a jaw-dropping presentation of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks on both Wednesday, Dec. 30, and Thursday, Dec. 31 at 11:50 p.m.
  • For guests with a sweet tooth, Tomorrowland Terrace will feature a New Year’s Eve fireworks dessert party twice nightly during the “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks spectacular Dec. 30-31. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Rock ’n’ roll into the New Year with a brilliant fireworks spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The show will be presented on Dec. 31 near the Hyperion Theater at midnight.

Disney Springs – Enjoy the holiday décor and delicious New Year’s dining options at the reimagined Disney Springs.

  • Ring in the Irish New Year at 7 p.m. and the U.S. New Year at midnight with a complimentary champagne toast on New Year’s Eve at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. A holiday brunch will be served New Year’s Day.
  • Bongos Cuban Café will celebrate the New Year in style with an exquisite surf and turf menu o-n New Year’s Eve, including an appetizer of stuffed plantain cups, fire grilled filet mignon and baked lobster tail, and a sweet Tres Leches dessert complimented by select alcoholic beverages. Cost is $85 per person.
  • Guests can enjoy a delectable Lamb Osso Bucco dinner with Alaska King crab fingerling potato soufflé on New Year’s Eve at Fulton’s Crab House.
  • New Year’s Eve at Wolfgang Pucks Upstairs Dining Room will be an elegant evening complete with shrimp chorizo ravioli, Osso Bucco, blood orange panna cotta, and a tasting of select wine pairings. Price is $85 per guest.
  • For an Italian feast, visit Portobello Country Italian Trattoria. This New Year’s Eve three-course feast costs $50 per guest.

Resorts – Guests can treat themselves to delectable dining on New Year’s Eve at several Walt Disney World Resort hotel restaurants.

  • With an elegant feast and delightful entertainment, guests can celebrate with class at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. An exquisite gala includes appearances by favorite Disney characters, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and a magnificent view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. This dine-around style event features elaborate food stations for guests to enjoy throughout the restaurant. Dinner seating is at 8 p.m. and cost is $625 per person (includes tax and gratuity).
  • Dance and dine into the New Year with the “Countdown to Midnight” event at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center. This progressive three-in-one New Year’s Eve celebration includes live entertainment, music, dancing, food and beverages at three lively locations. All buffet stations and beverages are included with admission. The event begins at 8 p.m., with a champagne toast and grand welcome into the New Year when the clock strikes midnight. All guests must have a prior Walt Disney World Resort Hotel reservation for Dec. 31, 2015.
  • New Year’s Eve dinner at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is an extravagant affair complete with ten courses and elite wine pairings throughout the evening. This once-in-a-lifetime experience features a harpist, lavish décor, a personalized menu, and a long-stem rose for ladies.
  • Narcoosee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa provides guests with a global dining experience with tantalizing seafood selections from around the world. With two dinner seatings, this evening is a delicious and memorable way to begin 2016. Prices vary per seating.
  • To begin the New Year with style, guests ages 21 and over can dance their way into 2016 at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk. This special-ticket event includes a live band, champagne toast at midnight, and plenty of dance space on the main floor for an evening of swinging fun. Tickets can be purchased for $37 per person. For an extra VIP New Year’s Eve experience, guests can purchase tickets for private access to the second floor balcony and a dessert party to the backdrop of Epcot’s fireworks spectacular. This special celebration is $80 for each adult.
  • For a celebratory New Year’s Day feast, guests can book brunch at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Price is $44.72 for adults and $26.62 for children ages 3-9.
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel offers limited-time New Year’s Eve menus in two tasty locations. For a scrumptious buffet accompanied by Disney Character greetings, guests can visit the enchanting Garden Grove Price is $48.98 for adults and $21.29 for children ages 3-9 (includes tax but not gratuity). To ring in the New Year **with Italian fare, guests can enjoy a festive feast at Il Mulino, with reservations available from 7:15-11 p.m. This authentic Italian meal experience costs $105 for adults and $39 for children ages 3-9 (plus tax and gratuity).

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This Might Take a Little Longer

Oriental Land Company, Ltd announced that it will extend the period to study the two large-scale development plans it has on the boards, Tokyo Disneyland’s New Fantasyland and the Arendelle port at Tokyo DisneySea. It was supposed to be completed by the end of this year. Weather may have been a factor. A new end date was not announced.  Despite speculation, no plans were announced for large-scale development beyond the two projects already announced. But, come ON! There’s no way they don’t want a Star Wars Land there, she heavily speculated, entirely without proof of any kind.

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Concept art for the proposed Arendelle port at Tokyo DisneySea

 

This is what they are announcing: new collector Duffy and Shellie Mae for the new year. Dang cute, too. I really do want a Shellie Mae now that she’s here. She’s got a great name!

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Okay, I’m kidding. There’s actually a lot of news coming from that corner of the world. They re-themed one of their Good Neighbor Hotels, the Palm & Fountain Terrace Hotel, and they’re calling it the Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel.  First Phase will open on June 1, and it will be owned and operated by Milial Resort Hotels Co., Ltd., not Disney or OLC. This hotel has a really interesting theme – a really broad inspiration of the theme parks. The Disneyland Hotel does that, a little bit, but this one will be taking it a step further.

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You’ll see some inspiration from the Disneyland hotel in this concept art. That Mary Blair inspired small world carpet and the teacup chairs are in the Lobby of the California hotel as well.

 

This first phase embodies the hopes and dreams of fantasy. Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel – Wish will come alive with the wonder of Disney storytelling from the moment guests step into the lobby. Artwork inspired by Disney icons such as Cinderella Castle, it’s a small world, and Arabian Coast will adorn the walls. In the courtyard, topiaries reminiscent of Tokyo Disneyland ® Electrical Parade Dreamlights will light up at night to form an enchanting display. In the guest rooms, the bright, colorful atmosphere will be enhanced by a wall mural depicting Disney’s beloved characters enjoying a variety of theme park attractions.

The second phase of the project will open autumn of 2016 and be called Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel – Discover, capturing the spirit and excitement of adventure, as experienced in the Disney theme parks. Details will be released as the opening draws closer.

Guests staying at Tokyo Disney Celebration Hotel will enjoy some, but not all of the popular guest benefits currently offered at the existing Disney hotels, including Guaranteed Entry. It will be located approximately 15 minutes by shuttle bus from Tokyo Disney Resort, so it will cost less, but be further away, but still themed, a good choice for travelers and families on a budget who still want some Disney Magic. 

The Year of Wishes at Tokyo DisneySea!

Tokyo DisneySea officially opened April 15, 2001. To mark the 15th anniversary of the grand opening of the Park, a major celebration, entitled “Tokyo DisneySea 15th Anniversary: The Year of Wishes,” will be held from April 15, 2016, through March 17, 2017. For this milestone year, a variety of must-see programs will be presented. Kicking off the celebration will be a brand new show “Crystal Wishes Journey.” And the special events for summer, Halloween and Christmas (which TDS usually has) will be highlighted with elements just for the 15th anniversary.

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The theme of the 15th anniversary is “wishes.”

“Wishes” are people’s dreams for the future and give a feeling of hope and excitement. Through a variety of new experiences this anniversary year, Guests will find that their wishes shine even brighter with the help of their navigators – Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends – as well as all of the Tokyo DisneySea Cast Members during the 15th anniversary year. For this anniversary, colorful crystals will symbolize everyone’s wishes. The Disney characters will wear crystals, each having a different color of crystal, representing their wishes.”

Decorations around the Park will feature crystal motifs and merchandise will sparkle with crystals as well. Special menus will be offered just for the 15th anniversary. (They have special menus for EVERYTHING!)

Premiering on April 15, the anniversary event’s opening day, will be “Crystal Wishes Journey,” a brand new show to be presented at Mediterranean Harbor. The Disney characters, each with their own wish, will appear in this show that celebrates the start of the Guests’ journeys of adventure, sparkling with hope, this milestone year.  Think of it as trolley show + ocean on nuclear steroids. Plus magic. So. Much. Magic. 

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Also on the first day of the event, a new version of “Big Band Beat,” the popular show presented at the Broadway Music Theatre, will debut with new music, costumes and scenes, including one with Goofy singing and dancing to jazz. Revamped for the first time since it opened in July 2006, the new show will be even more attractive while retaining all the excitement of the original. This popular show  features swing jazz, which was the dominant form of popular music from the 1920s through the 1940s.This revue with a live big band will continue to dazzle with stunning vocals, energetic tap dancing and the climactic drum performance by Mickey Mouse. New scenes such as a jazz number with Goofy dancing and singing, as well as Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in new costumes performing a rhythmical dance, will enhance the appeal even further. Broadway Music Theatre is presented by Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. From July 9.

Out of Shadowland” will premiere at the Hangar Stage in Lost River Delta. This colorful show with an original story created specifically for the Hangar Stage will incorporate vivid images and powerful, moving live performances as dynamic scenes unfold leading Guests to a world never experienced before.  “Out of Shadowland” tells the story of Mei, a timid young girl lost in a world of shadows who finds confidence and strength through her sojourn there. Mei has lost her way and finds herself in Shadowland where the evil Kagetori has taken control. She meets a boy named Yu who leads her to discover within herself a mysterious power that she was unaware of. Mei’s power brings light and life back to Shadowland. Fighting against her own fear and insecurity, Mei is able to bring down Kagetori. At the end she realizes that Yu and Shadowland have helped her gain the confidence she now feels. Through the moving live performances, vivid images and other elements that create colorful, dynamic scenes, Guests will experience a world unlike any seen before. Hangar Stage is hosted by Bridgestone Corporation.

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June 16 – July 7, 2016 “Disney Tanabata Days” The Japanese star festival known as “Tanabata” will be celebrated with a special program in a manner unique to the Disney theme parks in Japan from June 16. “Disney Tanabata Days” will feature traditional Tanabata decorations in the New York area of American Waterfront where Guests can write their hopes and wishes on Wishing Cards and tie them onto the Wishing Place, which will be set up for this occasion. In Mediterranean Harbor, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will appear in a greeting show dressed as Hikoboshi and Orihime, the festival’s two star-crossed lovers. In addition, special menus themed to Tanabata will be offered.

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July 9 – August 31, 2016 Special Event “Disney Summer Festival” This summertime festival of tropical fruit and Latin rhythms will be presented with the main venue of Mediterranean Harbor wrapped in a celebratory mood for the 15th anniversary. While volumes of  water spray around the area, everyone can join the Disney characters in singing and dancing to the rhythmical music of the tropical summer carnival led by Minnie Mouse.

September 9 –October 31, 2016 Special Event “Disney’s Halloween” This 15th anniversary year, Tokyo DisneySea will offer a “cool” but ominous Halloween with the Disney villains. The Park will be transfigured into an eerie, other-worldly place where Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends along with the villains put on a gorgeous and stylish Halloween. Guests can enjoy a show on the waters of Mediterranean Harbor that creates a frightfully cool Halloween from the world of the villains.

November 8 – December 25, 2016 Special Event “Christmas Wishes” In each of the themed ports, Christmas trees and other decorations put up by the Disney friends with their Christmas wishes will create a heartwarming and romantic atmosphere in the Park. Besides a daytime show presented at Mediterranean Harbor, a nighttime show will feature colorful Christmas trees for the 15th anniversary on the waters of Mediterranean Harbor creating a fantastic atmosphere. Guests are sure to enjoy a Christmas event full of variety. (Christmas is a more romantic, couples-oriented holiday in Japan.)

January 1 – 5, 2017 New Year’s Program The Park will celebrate the start of the year with colorful Japanese-style New Year’s decorations at the entrance and merchandise featuring roosters, the zodiac animal for 2017. The Disney characters will be dressed up in kimono to welcome Guests in Japanese style and special New Year’s menus will be offered.

January 13 – March 17, 2017 “Sweet Duffy” Guests can enjoy the gentle and heartwarming world of Duffy in this program that offers merchandise with cute designs, tempting sweets and photo spots where delightful keepsake photos can be taken.

The Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta®, where Guests can continue their journey to make their wishes sparkle, will also be celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2016. Besides the festive decorations around the hotel interior, the hotel will offer a variety of programs to celebrate this milestone. There will be special menus at the restaurants and the lounge as well as a banquet plan for small parties entitled “Private Dining Plan.” Additional banquet plans will come with items designed especially for the hotel’s 15th anniversary. Also, wedding rings with a special design commemorating the 15th anniversary will be available for a limited time. 

 

Mickey’s Rainbow Luau

Oriental Land Co., Ltd. announced that a new dinner show, “Mickey’s Rainbow Luau,” will premiere at the Polynesian Terrace Restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland® Park on March 21, 2016. In the new show, Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends honor the heritage of milestone celebrations through the cultural lens of Polynesia, creating a joyful and inspiring setting reminiscent of a tropical island rainbow. Music and dance styles from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa take Guests on a cultural expedition, recreating the memories from Mickeys’ many voyages that he has come to cherish and wants to share with everyone in this exciting, new production. Presented in an exotic restaurant with décor that transports Guests to some of their favorite Polynesian vacation destinations, “Mickey’s Rainbow Luau” is sure to create an unforgettable evening for families and friends as they dine on Polynesian-style dishes. Advance reservations are required for the Polynesian Terrace, a table-service restaurant located in Adventureland. Polynesian Terrace Restaurant is hosted by Kikkoman Corporation.

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  • The current dinner show “Mickey & Minnie’s Polynesian Paradise” will close permanently on January 4, 2016
  • Polynesian Terrace Restaurant will be temporarily closed for renovations from January 6 to March 20, 2016.
  • Tokyo Disney Resort Information Center 0570-00-8632 (9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.) Note: From overseas, and from some mobile phones and IP phones, please call 045-330-5211.
  • Number of performances subject to change. For information regarding the number of performances on the day of visit, please check the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Website
  • Dinner Duration: About 65 minutes. Performance length: about 50 minutes. (tentative)
  • Price: in Japanese yen Seat Type S A B Adults 4,940 4,530 4,110 Children ages 4-8 3,600 3,190 2,780
  • Reservations: Advance online reservations required. Reservations can be made from one month in advance of each performance.
  • For reservations, please visit Tokyo Disney Resort Online Reservation & Tickets (Japanese language only) on the Tokyo Disney Resort Official Website.
  • Reservations for a performance will close as soon as capacity is reached

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Brunch at the Top

If you’re looking for sometthing a little closer to home, but just as special, the fabulous California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be serving ‘Brunch at the Top,’ a new Sunday dining experience beginning Feb. 7, 2016. For the first time, guests can enjoy the beautiful daytime skyline of Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Disney resort hotels from the magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows at the California Grill restaurant while savoring a brunch of fresh, market-driven cuisine. I loved going there when it was Top of the World and spending a long afternoon at the bar, just watching over the Magic Kingdom. I really miss that. 

New 'Brunch at the Top' at California Grill

‘Brunch at the Top’ is an immersive dining experience where guests can interact with the culinary team in the open show kitchen while sampling charcuterie, sushi and market-inspired salads. The culinary adventure begins with an assortment of house-made breakfast pastries delivered to the table, including caramel apple Monkey bread and Tillamook Cheddar biscuits. Guests will then visit the show kitchen for an assortment of small tastes, such as house-smoked orange honey ham, deviled Lake Meadow Naturals eggs, shrimp and grits with Gulf White Shrimp,  grilled flat iron steak with soft poached eggs, and hardwood cooked salmon. The brunch concludes with an assortment of sweet mini-desserts, macarons and chocolate truffles. The decadent multi-course meal includes an over-the-top Bloody Mary Bar, cocktails and craft brews, as well as a signature brunch cocktail and faux “mimosas” for kids.

Cost is $80 for adults, $48 ages 3 to 11. Reservations can be made at DisneyWorld.com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Shares Holiday Cheer

In 2015, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts gave more than $60 million to charitable organizations around the globe. Disney cast members also donated hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to help those in need, not to mention all they do every holiday season to spread the holiday cheer: Disney let me know about it: 

Disneyland Resort brought magic to the 15th annual CHOC Children’s Hospital holiday party. Nearly 400 patients and their families enjoyed special moments with Disney characters dressed in their holiday best, drawing lessons by Disney animators, holiday cookie decorating and performances by magicians. The resort also continued its tradition of supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots program, collecting more than 22,000 toys and making a special Diamond Celebration donation for local children in need.

Walt Disney World Resort joined forces on the Toys for Tots drive in Central Florida, with cast members and their families volunteering 6,500 hours of service and donating more than 37,000 games, books, toys and plush dolls. The resort contributed $100,000 toward a USO Welcome Center for military families at Orlando International Airport (OIA) and surprised the Homeless Impact Fund at Central Florida Foundation with a $500,000 gift to help end family homelessness.

Disney Cruise Line crewmembers joined Mickey and Minnie to spread holiday cheer in port communities in the U.S. and the Caribbean, visiting children at local schools and hospitals. Disney characters also joined Disney VoluntEARS from Aulani at a local hospital in Hawaii. During Disney Vacation Club’s Merry Member Mixers, hundreds of Disney Vacation Club members and their guests of all ages helped make cards for children and service men and women and painted murals that will be donated to children’s hospitals.

Before they even welcome their first guests in 2016, Shanghai Disney Resort cast members hosted a Santa meet-and-greet at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center.

At Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney VoluntEARS visited local hospitals and knitted almost 700 scarves and hats for people in need. Hong Kong Disneyland also donated about 5,000 tickets this month to give underprivileged families opportunities to make lasting memories together.

And they put up with me trying to use my Disneyland app to get into parking, and all my other stupidities. Bless them all, all year long. If it weren’t for Cast Members, we couldn’t “Go to Disney”, whatever that means to you, wherever you are. So, in your corner office or cubicle, standing out in the wind in the parking lot or sweating in the machine shop, making a little kid’s day or scraping a drunk off the sidewalk, we love and appreciate all of you.

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