Photos: Disney around the World

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  1. Feast for a Beast

    The Beast welcomes guests to his castle in the Magic Kingdom, where Be Our Guest Restaurant will serve French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner. Part of the newly-revamped Fantasyland, the stylish restaurant will have its grand opening on Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Matt Stroshane / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Dumbo's pre-flight deck

    Waiting in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant is as much of an event as the ride itself. As guests arrive, they'll receive a circus ticket pager that will virtually hold their place in line and notify them when it's their turn to board the attraction, leaving them free to explore the interactive wonders inside the big top while they wait to take to the skies. Dumbo the Flying Elephant is part of the expansion project which nearly doubles the size of Fantasyland, a multiyear project that will have its grand opening on Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Ali Nasser / Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Luxurious cuisine

    French-inspired cuisine will be highlighted when Be Our Guest Restaurant opens in the New Fantasyland. Furthermore, select wines and beers will be offered to complement the elegantly-themed meals. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Fit for a princess

    Visitors to Disneyland can walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle and see 3-D scenes from the classic film, originally released in 1959. (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Birthday girl

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs at the "Miley's Sweet 16 Share the Celebration" party at Disneyland in October 2008. (Mario Anzuoni / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Boo!

    The Haunted Mansion, a New Orleans Square attraction, opened Aug. 9, 1969, and is the home of 999 happy haunts. As Disney's website suggests, "Enter...if you dare!" (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Time for supper

    Ghosts dine inside Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Disney classifies the ride as gentle but warns that younger children could be frightened by its special effects. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 50 and fabulous

    Fireworks explode over The Sleeping Beauty Castle as part of "Remember ... Dreams Come True," the biggest fireworks display in Disneyland's history. The display took place during the Disneyland 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2005. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Shiver me timbers!

    Villainous pirate Barbossa is hot on the trail of the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow in Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The classic attraction re-opened following an extensive three-month enhancement and featuring new characters and elements from Walt Disney Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. (Scott Brinegar / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Around the world

    Walt Disney World's It's a Small World ride is a great option for youngsters. Visitors can sing along to the famous tune while visiting countries around the world. Hong Kong Disneyland opened the classic boat ride in 2008 in an attempt to boost sluggish attendance at the theme park. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. My, what big ears you have

    Dumbo the Flying Elephant takes riders over Fantasyland, and lever controls let them fly at their desired altitude. (Disney) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Eating under the sea

    Larger-than-life replicas of prehistoric sea creatures combine with giant aquariums of exotic fish in the lounge area of T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, at the Downtown Disney area in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 600-seat restaurant, operated by Landry's Restaurants, combines table-service dining and retail in an interactive prehistoric environment built around water, fire and ice. (Gene Duncan / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mickey hops the pond

    Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, poses with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle during a press preview of Euro Disneyland, now called Disneyland Paris, in Marne La Vallee, France. The site opened in 1992. (Eric Feferberg / AFP - Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Dive! Dive!

    The original submarines from the Disneyland Submarine Voyage, a popular attraction for many years at the California theme park, have been extensively refitted for the 21st Century adventure of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The attraction now takes explorers on an undersea voyage where they'll have close encounters with the fish characters from the Disney-Pixar movie, "Finding Nemo." (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Fun after dark

    Downtown Disney is a promenade that offers shopping, dining and other activities. The avenue shown here leads to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Should've seen it in color

    Crowds are seen walking around the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Calif., circa 1955. (Archive Photos / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A visionary's vision

    Walt Disney unveils his plans for Disneyland to a national television audience during the premiere of "Disneyland," the television show, on October 27, 1954. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Blank canvas

    Walt Disney purchased 160 acres in Anaheim, originally covered with orange groves, to build his dream of a place where parents and children could have fun -- together. (Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 9/23/2010 1:05:47 PM ET 2010-09-23T17:05:47

Disney upped its social-media profile Thursday by launching a website with the sole purpose of showcasing photos, videos and other user-generated content from park visitors and fans.

It's part of a trend among corporations to connect with consumers, but it's a big deal coming from a company with such a carefully controlled image.

The site — DisneyParks.com/Memories — went live Thursday. Disney also plans to use the content submitted by fans in TV ads, brochures, print ads and other marketing.

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The website, announced at a press conference in New York, is part of a new Disney campaign the company is calling "Let the Memories Begin."

A TV ad for the campaign debuting this week was created from videos posted online by fans in social media forums.

Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, called the project "our first user-generated show and our first user-generated marketing campaign."

"This is part of a larger trend we're seeing," said Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia, a digital media consulting firm that focuses on emerging technology. "More and more large corporations are moving in this direction. It's a way of organically growing the brand."

She pointed to Ford Motor Co.'s Facebook page, where consumers upload photos of their cars, as an example. "It's a smart strategic move for them," she said. "It provides a platform for people who are excited and proud of their Ford purchase."

She noted that the new Disney site allows the company to capitalize on the booming popularity of mobile devices. Indeed, photos released by Disney to accompany their announcement showed park visitors taking pictures of themselves, friends and family in the parks with their mobile phones. The new website will give them a place to send that photo in addition to sharing it with their personal social networks on Facebook and other sites.

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"It's a big deal because No. 1, Disney is doing it, and No. 2, it's an expansion of the social media phenomenon," said Duncan Dickson, a professor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando, which offers a theme park major.

Dickson, who worked at Disney for nearly 20 years, said "people love to post those kinds of things on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and this gives them another outlet for it. I take my picture and Disney's going to post it on their website and people are going to be able to see me! It's the reality TV thing."

And Disney also benefits by getting authentic material for its ads. "I'm in Sheboygan and I see somebody like me enjoying themselves in the Magic Kingdom," Dickson said. "These aren't scrubbed actors perfectly placed in a Disney setting. These are real people, and the Joe Lunchboxes of the world can picture themselves there too."

All content submitted to the site will be moderated before it is posted. Disney did not immediately say how long the lag time would be or how users would know if their content was being used.

In addition to photos and video, the website will accept text from fans describing their memories of Disney visits.

Besides submitting via the new website, fans can submit material via Facebook.com/WaltDisneyWorld, Facebook.com/Disneyland, Youtube.com/DisneyMemories, or Myspace.com/DisneyParks.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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