Star Wars Weekends 2015 Confirmed for Early Summer
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On the guide map for this weekend’s Villains Unleashed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World has confirmed that the 2015 edition of Star Wars Weekends will take place in early Summer.

The guide map also teased more villainous fun to come in 2015, hinting that the August 23 edition of the event may not be the last.

Additional hard ticket events and premium experiences are expected to roll out as a well of capitalizing on the pre-planning aspect of MyMagic+

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Disney Day 8/21/14
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Every day is a Disney day.  Let’s find out how we are celebrating today with The Walt Disney Company:

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Ron Clements, John Muster, Andreas Deja, Ken Duncan, and Susan Egan will be present at the El Captain Theatres Throwback Thursday presentation of Hercules. The show stars at 7 but doors open at 530. There will also be a raffle for fun prizes. In addition to the feature film, the El Capitan Theatre will also present the Goofy short, The Olympic Champ.

ESPN2’s coverage of the 2014 WNBA Playoffs Presented by Boost Mobile will commence with a doubleheader featuring an East Conference Semifinal between the Washington Mystics at the Indiana Fever at 7 p.m., followed by a West Conference Semifinal matching the San Antonio Silver Stars at the Minnesota Lynx.

Conference semifinals announcer parings include Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo with Holly Rowe  and Pam Ward, Carolyn Peck with LaChina Robinson. The trio of Ruocco, Lobo and Rowe will call the WNBA Finals, while Peck will be providing studio analysis from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studio.

The 2015 WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm will air during halftime (approximately 8 p.m.) on ESPN2 of the East Conference Game 1. The Draft Lottery will be held in Secaucus, N.J.

Over on ABC, Rookie Blue ends its season with back to back episodes. First, Andy McNally and Sam Swarek are in such a good place that she just can’t help but feel like she’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. So when Andy learns her former rookie, Duncan, is back on active duty and hoping to reconcile, she’s sure that this is what her anxiety was anticipating. But it’s all hands on deck when a car bomb explodes in a downtown parking garage – quickly followed by a second explosion at a busy local intersection. Duncan, eager to prove himself, goes rogue – only to come face-to-face with the car bomber. Now, it’s up to Andy and Nick to get the situation under control and save Duncan before they run out of time.

And then, with a car-bomber still on the loose, the officers of 15 Division work frantically to track down the suspect while trying to figure out if more bombs have been planted around the city. Just when it feels like the worst is over, a bomb goes off in the evidence room of the station – with Andy McNally inside. But the violence – and the surprises – aren’t over, leaving Sam Swarek dumbfounded, on the season finale ABC’s “Rookie Blue,” 900/8c on the ABC Television Network

As always, stay tuned to LaughingPlace.com and @Laughing_Place on Twitter for the latest Disney news all day long.

Kermit the Frog Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge
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Kermit the Frog participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Kermit accepted the challenge from WWE CEO Vince McMahon and named three Muppets Most Wanted co-stars—Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, and Ricky Gervais—to take the challenge.

Here is video of Vince McMahon challenging the “pesky little amphibian” Kermit the Frog

Walt Disney World Cancels 2014 Festival of the Masters
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The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Walt Disney World has cancelled the 2014 edition of the Festival of the Masters. The annual art event had been held for 38 years. Walt Disney World says the event has been cancelled due to construction related to Downtown Disney’s transformation in to Disney Springs. They did not mention if the event will be returning once construction is complete. the event had been traditionally scheduled in November and predates Downtown Disney itself, going back to the days that the area was called the Disney Village.

Anaheim Announces Road Closures for Disneyland Half-Marathon Weekend
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Since 2006, Anaheim has been home to the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, one in a series of runDisney events held each year in and around the City.  Thousands of runners, joggers and fitness enthusiasts, both local residents as well as international visitors, look forward to participating in this annual family friendly tradition.

The 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend takes place in Anaheim Aug. 28-31. Please note the following information to help visitors navigate through their stay and residents commute during the days leading up to and following the events.

Temporary road closures will occur, as listed below. During the actual races, entertainment will be scheduled along the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon race routes, which begin and end at the Disneyland Resort. Please note the following road closure schedule.* Commuters are encouraged to plan accordingly.

Monday, Aug. 25 – Monday, Sept. 1 - Overnight closures only

·         Disneyland Dr. (1:00-6:00 a.m.) – Between Paradise Way and Magic Way

 

Friday, Aug. 29 – Disneyland 5K:

·         Disneyland Dr. (12:01-7:30 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Paradise Way

·         Magic Way (12:01-8:00 a.m.) - Between Disneyland Hotel Pl. and Disneyland Dr.

·         Disneyland Dr. (5:00-7:30 a.m.) – Between Paradise Way and Katella Ave.

 

Saturday, Aug. 30 – Disneyland 10K:

·         Disneyland Dr. (12:01-7:30 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Paradise Way

·         Magic Way (12:01-8:00 a.m.) - Between Disneyland Hotel Pl. and Disneyland Dr.

·         Disneyland Dr. (5:00-7:30 a.m.) – Between Paradise Way and Katella Ave.

·         Katella Ave. (5:00-7:30 a.m.) – Between Disneyland Dr. and Harbor Blvd.

·         West St. (5:00-7:00 a.m.) – Between Katella Ave. and Convention Way

·         Harbor Blvd. (5:00-7:30 a.m.) – Southbound from Disney Way to Convention Way

 

Sunday, Aug. 31 - Disneyland Half Marathon:

·         Disneyland Dr. (12:01-8:00 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Paradise Way

·         Magic Way (12:01-10:15 a.m.) - Between Disneyland Hotel Pl. and Disneyland Dr.

·         Disneyland Dr. (5:00-10:15 a.m.) – Between Paradise Way and Katella Ave.

·         Katella Ave. (5:00-7:00 a.m.) – Westbound from Disneyland Dr. to Harbor Blvd.

·         Harbor Blvd. (5:00-7:00 a.m.) – Southbound from Katella Ave. to Disney Way

·         Ball Rd. (5:15-8:00 a.m.) – Eastbound from Disneyland Dr. to Anaheim Blvd.

·         Anaheim Blvd. (5:15-8:15 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Cerritos Ave.

·         Cerritos Ave. (5:15-8:15 a.m.) – Between Anaheim Blvd. and Lewis St.

·         Lewis St. (5:15-8:15 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Cerritos Ave.

·         Ball Rd. (5:15-8:30 a.m.) – Between Lewis St. and State College Blvd. (Reroute via St. College, Vermont, East St.)

·         State College Blvd. (5:15-8:30 a.m.) – Between Ball Rd. and Cerritos Ave.

·         Cerritos Ave. (5:15-8:40 a.m.) – Between State College Blvd. and Douglass Rd.

·         Douglass Rd. (5:15-8:45 a.m.) – Between Cerritos Ave. and Katella Ave.

·         Gene Autry Way (5:15-9:30 a.m.) –From Angel Stadium of Anaheim to Santa Cruz St.

·         Santa Cruz St. and Stanford Ct. (5:30-9:30 a.m.) – Between Gene Autry Dr. and Anaheim Way

·         S. Anaheim Way (5:15-10:00 a.m.) – Between Katella Ave. and Disney Way

·         Disney Way (5:15-10:00 a.m.) – Westbound from Anaheim Blvd. to Harbor Blvd.

Please note all times are Pacific Daylight Time.

Prior to Sunday’s event, the Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel will feature seminars on training, nutrition and racing from renowned experts and legendary runners, and will showcase the latest in running and fitness equipment.  The Expo will be open Thursday, Aug. 28, 12:00 – 8:00 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 30, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Disney and Mediacom Communications Announce Distribution Deal
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Mediacom Communications Corporation and The Walt Disney Company today announced a comprehensive distribution agreement to deliver Disney’s robust lineup of sports, news and entertainment content to Mediacom customers across televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected devices. The multi-year renewal agreement supports the companies’ mutual goal to enhance the customer experience by delivering video content to viewers across multiple platforms.

As part of the new multi-year deal, Mediacom will introduce several new services, including the full suite of authenticated WATCH and video-on-demand products, SEC Network, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater.  Continuing services covered by the broad scope of this agreement include: ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN3, Fusion and retransmission consent for ABC Owned stations.

Mediacom customers will receive broad access to existing authenticated products like WATCH ABC, WATCH ABC Family, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior, WATCH Disney XD and WatchESPN (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater). These products will give Mediacom customers more opportunities to access live and video-on-demand content, both in-home and out-of-home, on their computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected devices via Mediacom’s TV Everywhere platform.  ESPN3 will also continue to be available to residential Mediacom High Speed Internet customers across screens and devices.

Frozen Comes to Disney Club Penguin
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Disney Club Penguin is bringing the magic of “Disney’s Frozen” to Club Penguin Island from August 21 – September 3. During the Frozen Party, members will be able to dress up like their favorite characters from the film, including Olaf, Sven, Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.

Players will start the party by searching for Elsa’s magic snowflakes that are hidden around the island. Once members complete the snowflake quest, they will earn the ability to transform into Olaf or Marshmallow and freeze objects around the island. While players are searching for the snowflakes, Elsa will be constructing her Ice Palace on Club Penguin Island for players to explore. Once the Ice Palace is complete, players will be able to hear a special performance of “Let It Go” when they visit.

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During the Frozen Party, Club Penguin and “Disney’s Frozen” fans can:

  • Choose from a number of member-only costumes to dress their penguin characters in, including Olaf, Sven, Anna, Elsa and Kristoff themed outfits
  • Search for seven magic snowflakes that will give members special powers to freeze items around the island. All players can thaw frozen objects by using the heart emote
  • All players can visit Elsa’s Ice Palace igloo to hear a special instrumental performance of “Let it Go,” as well as decorate their own free Ice Palace themed igloo
  •  Members will also be able to transform themselves into Marshmallow or Olaf or even create their own snowman Puffle

The Frozen Party will be the first party available on the Club Penguin app since it launched, a key milestone in expanding the online experience available via the app.

Downtown Disney Area Hotels Offer Make Some Memories Rates
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There is still time to make plans to experience the special events being conducted at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Central Florida this summer and fall, such as Night of Joy, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, and the Eat To The Beat Concert Series at Epcot®. A great way to experience these events, and/or to check out the recently expanded New FantasylandTM at Magic Kingdom® Park, is by taking advantage of the special “Make Some Memories Rates” that are being offered by the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels through October 31, 2014.

In addition to their ideal location an easy walk to the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at the Downtown Disney® Area, these seven Official Walt Disney World® Hotels also provide complimentary shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, two water parks, and to the Downtown Disney® area. As a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the “2014 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet that features exclusive discounts and specials from over 30 merchants on Downtown Disney® area dining, entertainment and shopping.

Available for stays through October 31, 2014, the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ “Make Some Memories Rates” are:

  • B Resort & Spa – now open – rates from $89 per room, per night
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel – rates from $69 per room, per night
  • Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa – rates from $75 per room, per night
  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – rates from $99 per suite, per night
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – rates from $79 per room, per night
  • Holiday Inn Orlando – Lake Buena Vista – rates from $94 per room, per night
  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort – rates from $69 per room, per night.

For more information on the “Make Some Memories Rates,” or to make a reservation, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com , specifically http://downtowndisneyhotels.com/pr-make-some-memories (or http://bit.ly/prmsm ). Rates are based on availability and some blackout dates may apply. The rates do not include the Resort Services Fee or daily parking fee (if applicable), taxes or gratuities. The offer is not valid with any other special offers, promotions, existing reservations, or for groups.

Taking advantage of the special rates also will enable you to enjoy such other benefits of staying at one of the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels as:

  • Disney tickets available to purchase at each hotel
  • Advance tee times and discounts at all Walt Disney World® golf courses
  • Disney Merchandise store located in each hotel
  • The ability to book advance dining and dinner show reservations for all restaurants across the Walt Disney World® Resort.

Special events at the Walt Disney World® Resort include:

  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – select nights September 1-October 31, 2014, at Magic Kingdom® Park
  • Night of Joy – September 5-6, 2014, at Magic Kingdom® Park
  • Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival Presented by Chase® – Sept. 19-November 10, 2014, at Epcot®.
  • Eat To The Beat Concert Series – September 19-November 10, 2014, at Epcot®
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – now open at Magic Kingdom® Park.

In addition to these special events you also could take in the wonders of the recently expanded New Fantasyland, which is the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom® Park. It offers more immersive enchantment and interactive experiences, and features two new themed areas:  Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Enchanted Forest attractions and experiences include Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid; Be Our Guest Restaurant; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Ariel’s Grotto; Gaston’s Tavern; and the crowning jewel of New Fantasyland Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Storybook Circus attractions include:  The Barnstormer; Dumbo The Flying Elephant; Casey Jr Splash ‘N’ Soak Station; Pete’s Silly Sideshow; and Fantasyland Station.

Among the many coupons featured in the “2014 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet are discounts at Rainforest Café, T-Rex, Wolfgang Puck Express, Steve Baker Caricatures, Lego Imagination Center, Planet Hollywood Downtown Disney®, House of Blues® Restaurant, La NoubaTM by Cirque du Soleil®, Bongo’s Cuban Café®, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop.

“This is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World® Resort,” said Steve Garner, chairperson of the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ marketing committee. “The attendance at the theme parks is often lighter, and all of the special events at the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks are wonderful. Taking advantage of the special ‘Make Some Memories Rates’ is a great way to experience the many offerings of the Walt Disney World® Resort.”

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels (www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com) is a consortium of seven hotels located in the Walt Disney World® Resort that includes:  the stylish B Resort & Spa, opened in June 2014 with 394 newly renovated guest rooms and suites, the full-service B Indulged® by AVEDA spa (opening in September 2014), and a zero-entry pool; the 18-story Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, surrounded by 12 acres of lush tropical landscaping, and offering 325 spacious rooms and suites, and complimentary WiFi; the newly renovated and sophisticated Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, featuring 1,014 guest rooms and suites, a 10,000-square-foot spa, three pools, and five restaurants and lounges; the luxurious and spacious 229-suite Doubletree Suites by Hilton, the only all-suite resort hotel in the Downtown Disney® Resort Area; the deluxe 814-room, full-service Hilton Orlando Resort, featuring seven on-site restaurants and lounges and the new Hilton Fitness by Life Fitness® Center; the Holiday Inn Orlando – Lake Buena Vista, the only Holiday Inn located in the Walt Disney World® Resort Area and featuring elegant rooms with modern Florida décor;  and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, featuring 626 guest rooms (which each feature a refrigerator), the Oasis Aquatic Playground with two pools and interactive water features, and six dining options.

With nearly 30 food and beverage outlets and restaurants, more than 3,600 rooms and scores of amenities, the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels offer a rate, space and menu to please every guest. Located in the heart of the Downtown Disney® area, these properties are within walking distance of some of the area’s best shopping, dining and entertainment.

For reservations, or more information, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com

ESPN Magazine NFL Preview Featuring LeSean McCoy Hits Newsstands Friday
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The NFL Preview Issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands Friday, August 22, provides new insights and unique analysis to prepare sports fans for one of the most anticipated NFL seasons in recent memory.

On the Cover
Seth Wickersham profiles LeSean McCoy, the Eagles running back who led the NFL in both carries (314) and rushing yards (1,607) last season under first-year head coach Chip Kelly, who may have figured out a way to revive the concept of a workhorse running back at a time when every team – except Minnesota – is fleeing from the very notion.

Running Away from the Running Back
Despite the counter strategies of Chip Kelly and the anomaly that is Adrian Peterson, fans have heard the narrative that NFL teams are valuing the running back less and less. Now The Mag’s Igor Guryashkin has the numbers to prove it.

In-Depth Previews of All 32 NFL Teams
The Mag previews all 32 teams with help from the ESPN.com’s NFL Nation writers, who name the most emblematic moments of their teams’ off-seasons; Pro Football Focus, who identifies a “secret superstar;” and Field Yates, who gives each team’s best and worst case scenarios.

The 53-man Super Squad
Mark Dominik assembles the ultimate 53-man roster, taking into consideration star players, role players, cap room – everything. Alongside the piece will be an “as told to” from Patrick Peterson, the Arizona Cardinals cornerback and a member of Dominik’s 53-man roster.

Ray Rice
Kevin Van Valkenburg takes a look at Ray Rice and the depth and breadth of the different responses to his situation through the lens of people with specific connections to the event, such as his coach and teammates, as well as those involved in domestic violence prevention organizations.

NFL Nation Confidential
ESPN.com’s 32 NFL Nation bloggers spoke to 82 NFL players across the league about Johnny Football, Jay Cutler, Super Bowl favorites and painkillers.

The Pillsbury Throwboy
Jared Lorenzen was Hefty Lefty, the Pillsbury Throwboy – 280 pounds, but a talented enough quarterback to break Tim Couch’s records at Kentucky and back up Eli Manning on his first Super Bowl team. Tommy Tomlinson profiles Lorenzen and how he ate his way out of the NFL and even the Arena League, and then broke his leg playing for the Ultimate Indoor Football League. Now rehabbing, Lorenzen describes what it’s like when your appetite for the game and your appetite for the table intersect in career-changing ways.

Additional highlights from the NFL Preview issue:

MLBIn the first year of instant replay, MLB is on pace for 600 overturned calls. Eddie Matz and Dan Szymborski break down the umpires who get it wrong the most and the least – and which of those guys will be working the postseason. We also project how some of the newly formed pitching staffs changed at the trade deadline and how they’ll finish out the season.

College FootballHas the Pac-12 caught up to the SEC? Andrew Lewellen explores this question, comparing factors like returning quarterbacks, FPI, coaches, recruiting and on-the-field talent to determine just how close—or not—the Pac-12 is to the country’s premier conference.Also, The Mag takes a look at the four coaches taking over new programs, comparing their coaching philosophies to their new schools’ rosters, and we make the Heisman case for Navy QB Keenan Reynolds.

NBA: Looking ahead to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Jordan Brenner identifies the three biggest weaknesses of this year’s U.S. team, as well as three teams primed and ready to take advantage.

Tennis: Using Hawk-Eye technology, Shaun Assael explores how the top players’ positioning adjustments will change as they begin play at the U.S. Open—whether they return serves from a different spot on the court at Wimbledon than in New York, and whether they make errors in different points.

GolfScott Miller helps readers identify their rooting interest in the upcoming FedEx Cup—in flowchart form.

TrendingSam Alipour takes a look at the best movies, books, apps and games coming out this fall.

Columns
Peter Keating explores how a particular stat can reveal how fully and awfully a player has declined—in this case, Albert Pujols and his plunging walk rate. He also shows how free, easy-to-use data is turning even armchair fans into sabermaticians.

Mina Kimes attended a Texas Rangers game with several hundred Korean Americans to cheer on Shin Soo Choo. Despite his slump this year, he’s still warmly received by Korean fans.

Howard Bryant examines how Andy Dalton got himself plenty of money in a nice new deal, but one thing he didn’t get is what the NFL will never give: control. While the NBA is king of the top-out clause, no in-his-prime, top-line NFL QB has ever been a free agent.

Muppeteer Matt Vogel to Appear at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
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On Monday, August 25, 2014 guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can meet puppeteer Matt Vogel, who was the puppeteer and voice behind Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted.  Matt will be on hand for a special appearance and signing of the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-Ray and DVD from 4 – 5p.m. at Stage 1 Company Store located near Muppet-Vision 3D.


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