July 29, 2011
New Disney Resort Reaches Construction Milestone
The hundreds of people building Disney’s Art of Animation Resort gathered to mark the project’s “topping out,” a special moment in the construction industry when the highest piece of steel or concrete is placed on a new building’s frame. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has created approximately 800 construction jobs and, once open in 2012, will create an additional 750 permanent jobs. “The hundreds of skilled men and women from local companies across Central Florida have done an amazing job helping us build a resort hotel that will really delight our Guests,” said Gary Hoffmann, senior project manager for Walt Disney Imagineering. Learn more.
Cast Members Give Local Students Back-to-School Support
As students enjoy their last days of summer vacation, Walt Disney World Cast Members are gearing up for the upcoming school year by shopping for classroom essentials. Stocking up on crayons, rulers, pencils and notebooks, Disney Cast Members are buying and donating school supplies through the resort’s annual Back-to-School Supply Drive. By August 19, the items will be sorted and distributed to local students and teachers through partnerships with A Gift for Teaching and S.T.A.R.S. of West Orange (Supplies to Assist Our Students). In 2010, Disney Cast collected more than 2 million new school supplies.
Executive Joins University of Central Florida Board of Trustees
Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France, has been named to the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees. Crofton was appointed to UCF’s 13-member board, which sets policy and guides the use of the university’s resources, by the Board of Governors of the State University System and will serve a five-year term. “It’s great for us as Cast Members to have one of America’s top universities practically at our doorstep,” Crofton said. “As an advocate of economic development and diversity in Central Florida, I see UCF as crucial to our region’s goals. From the new medical college to leadership in simulation technology, UCF is key to continuously broadening and strengthening our economy.”
ENCORE! Concerts to Benefit Performing Arts Center
The Encore! Cast Choir and Orchestra – a volunteer ensemble of nearly 300 talented Disney Cast Members – is currently in rehearsals for concerts to benefit the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are now available for “An American Revival – A Concert Celebrating the Voice of America!” on July 29-31 and August 4-6 at 7:30 p.m. at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The concerts will feature classic pop, gospel and patriotic songs that celebrate the grand musical history of America. Since its inception in 2002, Encore! has given its concert proceeds to local charities, raising more than $150,000 to date. Learn more.
Cast Members Nominated for Prestigious National Awards
Five Walt Disney World Cast Members are nominees for honors at this fall’s Great Minds in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) conference. Each year, the awards honor individuals for outstanding leadership and technical achievement in their STEM career. Disney has sponsored the conference, which aims to promote STEM careers in underserved communities, since 2004 and will host the event for a second consecutive year. Learn more.
Disney Brings Main Street Magic to National Federation of the Blind
More than 3,500 attendees of the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Orlando learned how Guests with visual disabilities can explore Disney Parks in a whole new way by using Disney’s enhanced handheld device that provides detailed audio description of outdoor areas. During his keynote address, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Manager Bob Minnick was joined by the mayor of Main Street, U.S.A., while the Magic Kingdom’s marching band provided sounds from the park.
Canoe Races Foster Competition and Camaraderie
For two weeks each July, Disney Cast Members paddle off into the Rivers of America at the Magic Kingdom Park to train and compete in predawn canoe races. A longtime favorite event among Cast, the 82 teams averaged five to six minutes to complete the course, which stretched from Splash Mountain to the Haunted Mansion. The tradition that dates back to 1973 fosters some fierce competition, but Cast Members say they return annually to get a work-out and boost camaraderie among co-workers. “It’s my fourth year competing and our first victory, so I’m really proud of all the hard work that went into getting us here today,” said Scott Hall, captain of the grand champion team.
Chiquita and Disney Announce Multi-year Alliance
Chiquita Brands International and Walt Disney World Resort announced an agreement this week that will bring premium, healthy Chiquita and Fresh Express products to a number of retail points at Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line. This new strategic alliance represents the commitment of both companies to provide consumers with healthy food options. “We are pleased to work with Disney to offer healthy, nutritious Chiquita and Fresh Express products to the millions of Guests who visit Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line,” said Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita chairman and chief executive officer. “This alliance joins two companies with the shared commitment of providing quality experiences to consumers.”
Executive to Join Clean the World Board
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President of Lodging Mark Rucker has joined the board of directors of Clean the World Foundation, an Orlando-based organization that recycles soap and shampoo and distributes the items to those living in poverty in Central Florida and all over the world. So far this year, hotels at Walt Disney World Resort have donated more than 19,000 pounds of soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Read more.