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Imagineering Toy Story Land – Graphic Design in a Walt Disney World Land

June 29, 2018

ORLANDO, FL–As part of our ongoing coverage of the grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, we had a chance to talk to Walt Disney Imagineering Graphic Designer Alexis Cummins on what it was like to work on a Disney Parks expansion project.


Alexis Cummins, Walt Disney Imagineering What was your path to Walt Disney Imagineering?

Alexis Cummins: “As a kid I was always inspired by Imagineering, had a very active imagination and desired to work at Disney. I ultimately landed an internship through Walt Disney Imagineering and have had the privilege to work on the Toy Story Land project.” What role does graphic design play in the multi-disciplinary effort to bring something like Toy Story Land to life? Read more…


Play Disney Parks App Launches Early, Bringing Interactive Gaming to Ride Queues

June 28, 2018

ORLANDO, FL–While officially launching this Saturday, Disney quietly launched their new Play Disney Parks app (Android, iOS) in time for the Toy Story Land Press Preview event that kicked off earlier today. We had a chance to talk to two of the Disney execs behind the effort and learn more about what Disney is trying to do in the age of smartphones and gaming.

This slideshow requires JavaScript. Given how glued folks are to their smartphones, will the new Play Disney Parks app help draw eyes back into the real world? Read more…

First Impressions of Walt Disney World’s #ToyStoryLand: Playful Immersive Fun

June 28, 2018

ORLANDO, FL–If you’ve ever watched the Toy Stories movies and wished you could come to life with Andy’s awesome collection of lovable toys, Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World) is your chance to become an “honorary toy”, shrunk down to toy-sized dimensions. Make sure to check out our #BulletinFromGoogle channel too where we’ll be posting Bulletin stories live from Toy Story Land.


Slinky Dog Dash is integral to the design of Toy Story Land

Disney Parks experiences have always demonstrated attention to detail and Toy Story Land builds on that tradition with immersive detail everywhere you look, from the massive Andy footprints in the concrete to the creative ways benches are built, with massive popsicle sticks and dominoes, or in the Woody’s Lunch Box quick serve restaurant wheels of Babybel cheese. Toy Story Land makes the immersive detail an attraction in itself (immersion that Pandora – the World of Avatar takes to a new level).


Green Army Men (with their distinctive feet) march through Toy Story Land

Inevitably though the attention (and long lines) always swing to the newest attractions – and in Toy Story Land there are two new attractions (plus an expanded Toy Story Mania! ride system and queue). Here are our first impressions of all three:

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Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land Opens Saturday, Bringing Play to Life

June 28, 2018

ToyStoryLandLogoORLANDO, FL–With the summer vacation season in full flight we’re on-site in Orlando to to bring the thrill of a Walt Disney World opening ceremony into your homes, building on our Top 10 Reasons for Celebrating Graduation at Disney Parks Coast to Coast.

Over the years we’ve put a spotlight on Disney in several ways: our Women in STEM series features a profile of a Disney Imagineer, we featured Dublin High School alum Emily Edlund’s Disney College Program experience, we recently shared how to prepare for and succeed in a Walt Disney Company internship, and earlier this week explored the power of play in education, creativity development and STEM.

This week we’ll be embedded in Andy’s backyard for the opening of Toy Story Land, a brand new 11-acre land that promises to bring to life all the magic and fun of the hit Pixar Animation Studios Toy Story films. Toy Story Land, part of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios expansion that will see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge open late 2019, features two new family-friendly attractions: Slinky Dog Dash coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, an expanded Toy Story Mania, a new Woody’s Lunch Box quick service restaurant, merchandise locations, and immersive theming that turns you into an honorary toy in Andy’s backyard.

We’ll be sharing our first impressions and behind-the-scenes updates so stay tuned! Until then here are a few sneak peaks and fun facts: Read more…

Congressman Swalwell on Immigration: Strengthening Communities and Our Economy

June 27, 2018
DUBLIN, CA–Congressman Eric Swalwell (California 15th District), a long time City of Dublin resident and Dublin High School Class of ’99 alum, spoke with us yesterday about the immigration debate. Immigration is a hot topic on the desks of many politicians and Congressman Swalwell has been vocal in his views, via social media and interviews, regarding the current debate. What role do immigrants play in your home, the 15th Congressional District?

Congressman Eric Swalwell: “Our strength as a community and an economy in the Bay Area is built on diversity. We are inclusive and welcoming to people from all corners of our globe, and together we thrive. If you have any policy, be it a travel ban that discriminates based on religion, or to cruelly separate mothers and their babies at our southern border, it extinguishes the importance of diversity. It’s not only that we value diversity as part of our culture, but also that diversity contributes to economic growth. You can look at the companies in the Fortune 500 that were founded by dreamers or immigrants to see it’s not just an anecdote but backed by data.” (reference)


Congressman Swalwell (far right) with constituents in his Castro Valley Office Looking back at your experience before your role as a Congressman, as an Alameda County prosecutor, what are your thoughts on the concerns, perceived and/or real, of illegal immigrants? Read more…

Life at Stanford University: Dublin High School’s Jianna So Combines Product Design with Social Impact

June 26, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–Dublin High School Class of 2017 graduate Jianna So is a rising sophomore at Stanford University and our latest Life in College Series profile. While she had initially aspired to become a lawyer and planned to pursue Political Science and Economics as a pre-law program, Jianna is now leaning towards a major in Product Design. “The Product Design major at Stanford is a combination of mechanical engineering, art practice, and psychology,” Jianna says. “This radical shift in my potential field of study entailed countless conversations with professors and a few teary phone calls home.”

Stanford Head Shot - Edited

Despite this shift in her major, Jianna is still deeply committed to upholding justice and doing good on campus. At Stanford, she serves on the 20th Undergraduate Senate, and is also involved with the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035) and the Pilipino-American Student Union (PASU).

I recently connected with Jianna to learn more about her experiences at Stanford so far and some of her fondest memories from Dublin High School.

Neha Harpanhalli: Given your strong academic record and long list of accomplishments while in high school, you must have had several options to choose from when it was time to select a college. How did you know Stanford was the right choice for you? 
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The Power of Play in Education, Creativity Development and STEM

June 24, 2018

The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, according to Wikipedia, has been around since 1659. Since then scientists have built a body of research that play is not only antidote for “dull” but also a key ingredient of creativity.

In May 2017, The National Association for the Education of Young Children noted, “Monkeys play. Dogs play. Rats play. Even octopuses play. And without any instruction, children of all races and genders, in all cultures of the world, invent and reinvent play in every generation. … A growing body of behavioral research establishes relationships between children’s play and development in several areas, including language (Toub et al. 2016), executive functions (Tominey & McClelland 2011), mathematics and spatial skills (Fisher et al. 2013), scientific thinking (Schulz & Bonawitz 2007), and social and emotional development (Dore, Smith, & Lillard 2015).” (source)

“Mythbusters taught me to love science because I was having so much fun playing. That is why I thinks toys are the best way to inspire STEM. We can tap into what kids already do naturally.” – Kari Byron, Chief Creative Officer – SmartGurlz

With school out for the summer and the increasing focus on STEM there is a growing market for playing with STEM-centric toys; here are a few options to consider when shopping for summer distractions (note: these are all cool products that the I’ve personally experienced via my family / extended family):

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