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Muppets add whimsical touch to WDW’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” celebration

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Muppets add whimsical touch to WDW’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” celebration

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How do you get to The Walt Disney World Resort?

Well, according to the directions that Kermit the Frog was giving to Sweetums at yesterday’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” presentation at Epcot, you take the I-4 to 192 and then look for the cans.

Of course, it’s easy to understand why everyone’s favorite frog might have said that. Given that – for a few hours anyway – World Showcase’s old Millennium Village building was home to the Largest Canned Food Structure.

How big are we talking here ? According to the folks at the Guinness World Records (who authenticated this structure), 115,5237 canned goods were used to create larger-than-life versions of Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

The world's largest canned food structure was built at WDW and included Pluto, Donald, Mickey and Goofy peeking over the top
Photo by Garth Vaughan. Copyright 2010 Disney. All rights reserved

It took a team of Disney VoluntEARS four days and more than 500 “man hours” to put this 44-ton tribute to the spirit of giving together. And then it took less than an afternoon to tear the whole thing down, sort those cans, box them up and haul them all away.

But before that happened, Kermit the Frog got in a few shots at The Walt Disney Company. As this Muppet rolled into yesterday’s presentation seated on top of several boxes of canned peas, Kermit asked Sweetums to “… stop and make sure than we didn’t take out any Guests on the way in. That would be awkward.”

And then – when Kermit offered up this additional pile of canned goods to Thomas Staggs, the new Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, saying that “ … maybe these cans can be added to The Largest Canned Food Structure. Something that could be built out front to add a little shade” – Staggs gestured to the can of peas right next to the Frog and said: “Oh, you mean like a canopy? Can o’ peas?”

Muppets Kermit and Sweetums made a surprise visit to the Celebrate Volunteers press conference at WDW in Orlando
Kermit the Frog and Thomas Staggs, the new Chairman of Walt Disney Parks &
Resorts. Photo by Gene Duncan.
Copyright 2010 Disney All rights reserved

As the audience groaned, Kermit turned to Tom and said: “Who writes your (jokes)? Fozzie Bear?”

All in all, the Muppets got a very strong reaction from those attending yesterday’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” celebration. Especially from a group of volunteers from New Orleans, who roared their approval when Kermit said “Who dat?”

Anyway … The Muppets’ old pal, Ty Pennington, came onstage for the big reveal of the World’s Largest Canned Food Structure. But instead of saying his usual “Move That Bus!” catchphrase, the host of ABC’s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" lead the audience in a chat of “Raise Those Balloons!”

Ty Pennington, host of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" unveiled the record-breaking canned food structure at the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" celebration at Walt Disney World
(L to R) Thomas Staggs, Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network, Mickey
Mouse, Ty Pennington & Goofy. Photo by Gene Duncan
Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Following a “Kodak Moment” (where everyone in the room who had a camera rushed to the front of the hall to try & get a shot of this impressive structure), the audience was then shooed out of the old Millennium Village so that the real work could begin. Where 25 Cast Members would then direct 200 volunteers through the disassembling process. So that the thousands of cans of black olives that were used to make Mickey’s head wound up in one set of boxes, while the hundreds of containers of Atlantic salmon that were used to construct Goofy’s face wound up in another set of boxes.

As for Kermit … The world’s most famous frog soldiered on through the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” press event. Doing dozens of interviews. Getting his picture taken with notables like Mr. Staggs and Michelle Nunn, the co-founder of HandsOn Network (i.e. the organization that’s supporting The Walt Disney Company’s efforts to inspire one million people to perform volunteer service).

Kermit sits atop the shoulders of Disney Park officials
(L to R) Michelle Nunn, Kermit the Frog and Thomas Staggs. Photo by Gene
Duncan. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of which … Though the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program was only launched six weeks ago, Staggs was pleased to announce that more than 600,000 people in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada have already volunteered their services and/or signed up to take part in volunteer projects within their own communities.

“We (had) hoped (that “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” would) spark something truly special,” Tom continued. “But even we have been overwhelmed with the response.”

Getting back to yesterday’s ceremony … As Kermit made ready to make his exit, Staggs asked the Frog if he needed any help with all of his boxes. That maybe the new Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts could persuade a few Cast Members – some truck drivers, perhaps ? – to come out onstage and then help Kermit unload all those cans.

The Frog’s response? “We don’t really need truck drivers. We have Miss Piggy back there. She’ll be taking care of all the loading and unloading chores.”

Kermit and Miss Piggy ride a float in the Magic Kingdom parade
Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog riding in their "Disney's Honorary VoluntEars
Cavalcade" touring car. Photo by Gene Duncan
Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Well, I don’t know if Miss Piggy actually unloaded any of those canned peas. But she and Kermit were definitely on hand later in the day, waving to the crowds from high atop their touring car. This “Disney’s Honorary VoluntEars Cavalcade” parade unit – which normally rolls through the Magic Kingdom – made a special trip over to Epcot yesterday. So that the Frog & the Pig could then lead off the Can Do Truck Can-voy.

Miss Piggy & Kermit rode ahead of a fleet of trucks that were emblazoned with the “Celebrate Volunteers” logo. And after these crammed-full-of-cans vehicles finished their tour around World Showcase Lagoon and then made a hard left just before the China pavilion, these trucks then headed out to make deliveries to food banks in Central Florida, Miami and Atlanta. With the hope of getting all of these canned goods – which represent approximately 70,000 meals – in the hands of needy families.

The Celebrate Volunteers truck arrives at the volunteer celebration in Walt Disney World
The Can Do Truck Can-Voy rolls around World Showcase Lagoon before heading
out for food banks in Florida & Georgia. Photo by Kent Phillips.
Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

If after reading today’s story, you suddenly find yourself find yourself just like Kermit the Frog, all swept up by the Can Do spirit … Well, you can learn more about the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program by heading on over disneyparks.com. Which spells out all the details involved (EX: you must pre-register and sign up for an eligible volunteer opportunity. You must be at least 6 years old to participate in the program, etc.) with this very worthwhile effort.

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  • So is there any REAL news, Jim? You know, about the parks and attractions? Or was this all just a load of tripe - er, sorry, hype - about that cynical volunteer gimmick? I'm not interested in Disney's ongoing attempts to resurrect those old puppets of Jim's - I'd like to know what projects the company built by WALT is doing.

    I hope more - and better news - is coming...

  • You never miss a chance to reiterate your anti-Muppet stance, do you?

  • GS - I think you missed your meds this morning.  Chill a little, it'll help your blood pressure come back down.

    As you surely know, the company built by Walt owns the Muppets now.  Disney - as a business - needs to figure out how to use them profitably.  

    Clearly the volunteer angle has been very popular and news-worthy.  As someone who donates thousands of hours per year, I'm thrilled to see Disney supporting a more useful cause than "what are you celebrating?"

    Sue in Texas

  • I volunteer at an animal shelter.  (rabbits)  Volunteers can be hard to come by, but since I registered us on the Give a Day Get a Day site, we have had volunteers every weekend to help clean.  So I cant consider this a "gimmick".  I only hope they extend the program, so it really lasts all year!  But my great thanks to Disney for getting people involved in local volunteer events!

  • I actually got teared up at that.  I'm so happy that in these tough financial times so many people are still willing to give a hand up to others.  

  • **As you surely know, the company built by Walt owns the Muppets now.  Disney - as a business - needs to figure out how to use them profitably. **

    And good luck with that. The puppets haven't made Disney a dime so far, and as a long-time stockholder, that concerns me. The Volunteer angle gets Diz some good press, but is that really going to help the parks? I sure hope so, because income has been down from those quarters, and meanwhile the Fantasyland expansion will, IMO, do nothing to counter the Harry Potter attraction that's on the horizon at Universal.

    I just wish Disney would concentrate on its own characters and stop focusing cash and talent on a franchise it shouldn't have bought in the first place. I'm not crazy about the Marvel purchase either, but at least that does have some potential for profit.

    I've held Disney stock for a long time, and it hasn't been easy. Every time Diz built a park, for instance, it seemed like the stock would plummet, and then take forever to climb back up again. The recent purchases seem even riskier. Often, only my affection for Walt Disney and his company kept me hanging on and investing. I'm glad some here get fuzzy-wuzzy feelings from a felt frog and foam rubber pig, and I agree that volunteerism is a wonderful institution, but me, I'm concerned about my investment and for the company that Walt built. Have a nice day.

  • Then maybe it's time for you to sell.  One of the first rules of investing is to keep emotion out of it.  Sounds like that's the only reason you're in it.

  • giigglestock=troll

  • Oh, now, SuperGrover and SueinTX, there's no need to be snarky because I don't share your undying love for puppets. I've enjoyed being a Disney stockholder, and there have been bright spots. Such as when Michael Eisner finally got tossed out - a particularly satisfying development after he nearly lost Pixar but bragged to Larry King "We bought the Muppets!!!!" Thank god the Disney board came to its senses. You might try doing the same.

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