Prayer is important

“The LORD is close to all who call on him.”

– Psalm 145:18 (NLT)

Why is prayer so important? It’s through prayer that our two most basic needs are met: our need to communicate and our need for God. Without prayer, we can still communicate with other people, but it will always come up lacking. There will always be a sense that something’s missing, and we may not even know what.

That’s because God created us to communicate with Him, and anything that falls short of this falls short of our ultimate purpose. This truth was echoed by the Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones when he remarked that, “[Prayer] is the highest activity of the human soul.” It’s the Mount Everest of our faith, and we’ll never find true fulfillment if we never scale its summit.

Maybe you have a lot of friends but you still feel lonely. You may even be a Christian who constantly surrounds yourself with other Christians-and yet you still sense something is missing. You love God, read His Word, share Him with others, but you know that your relationship with Him isn’t all that it should be. You may have union with Him, but not communion. He’s there, but He feels distant.

That’s because God created us to communicate with Him. If that’s not happening, then our lives won’t be fulfilling.

Pray now …and pray continually! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

First Look at the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Vehicles

First Look: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Vehicles

Thu, September 12, 2019 -original article by Jennifer Fickley-Baker

Last month at the D23 Expo 2019, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled new details around Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a family-friendly “storytelling coaster” that will feature a groundbreaking ride system with vehicles that rotate 360 degrees and can even do a reverse launch.  

As you can see in the video above – provided by Walt Disney Imagineering – each individual cab in the attraction’s OmniCoaster ride system will direct your eyes to the story happening around you. Instead of whizzing by the action, the system will fully immerse you in the attraction’s story from the minute you take off.

At Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind the adventure will start in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. You’ll be invited to learn more about Xandar’s treasures – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Creates More Than 7,000 Jobs for Local Community

Thu, August 8, 2019

Amidst Period of Record Expansion for Walt Disney World Resort, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Creates More Than 7,000 Jobs

Original article by Thomas Smith

The Force is strong with the Central Florida community.  As a cast member, I’ve been waiting with anticipation and excitement for this amazing land to open since the day we announced. We are now just three short weeks away from the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World Resort! This groundbreaking expansion represents the largest single-themed land created in a Disney park, transporting guests to the planet of Batuu and pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity. Like any project of this scale, it took a village to bring it to life, contributing more than 7,000 jobs to the region since development began in 2016.

The Force is strong with these villagers. Cast Members of the opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge team were recognized this morning for their part in bringing this land to life.

Among these new jobs are 1,700 operational roles, including leadership positions, entertainment performers, attractions engineers, and food and beverage and merchandise hosts and hostesses. These exciting expansions offer our cast members new opportunities to expand their skills and grow their careers all across our Resort. Additional jobs resulted from the support of both small and large Florida-based companies, creating over 5,500 local trade, artisan and construction roles.

The talented, dedicated cast members who joined the opening crew had unique opportunities to learn about the story of this amazing new land. They also received specialized name tags and the ability to customize their costume by hand-selecting apparel and accessories from an array of Resistance- and First Order-themed options, creating a unique Batuuan look and fully integrating them into life on the planet. 

Rise of the Resistance opening announced!

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is opening Dec. 5 at Walt Disney World Resort. If this date sounds familiar, many will recognize it as Walt Disney’s birthday. What better way to honor the ultimate storyteller than by introducing the most immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined in a Disney Park.

Original content from Thomas Smith, Disney Parks Blog. When it opens, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will blur the lines between fantasy and reality and will put guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Guests will be recruited to join Rey and General Organa at a secret base. Along the way, they will be captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. With the help of some heroes of the Resistance, they break out and must escape the Star Destroyer, protect the secret base, and stay one step ahead of Kylo Ren.

New Solar Facility Capable of Powering TWO Theme Parks

Introducing the Brand New 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility that’s helping to power the magic!

Built in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and solar developer Origis Energy USA, this facility is expected to generate enough renewable clean energy to operate two of Disney’s four theme parks in Central Florida annually, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tons per year. That’s equivalent to removing about 10,000 automobiles from the roads annually.

At the same time, the solar facility is providing an important habitat for native wildlife in Central Florida. A team of Disney environmental and horticulture experts collaborated to help make more than two-thirds of the facility pollinator friendly, with the goal of creating a nurturing and welcoming habitat for butterflies, bees and other insects, including endangered and at-risk species. This team is also managing and monitoring an experimental test garden at the facility. This research will help determine the ideal combination of native plants and soil for pollinators.   

The effort to safeguard endangered pollinators aligns with the Disney Conservation Fund’s ongoing focus on saving wildlife, including butterflies.

Walt Disney World Resort Celebrates Earth Day With  New Solar Facility Capable of Powering Two Theme Parks

This new facility represents the largest endeavor in solar energy to date for Disney’s global theme park operations. We hope you will be as inspired and amazed on your next Walt Disney World Resort visit as we are at what this new solar facility means for our community and planet. You may even be able to catch a glimpse if you’re driving by on State Road 429!

Disney’s Animation Legacy Takes ‘Dumbo’ to New Heights

For nearly eight decades, audiences have been charmed by the baby elephant with oversized ears and expressive blue eyes who made his big-screen debut in the 1941 animated classic, Dumbo, just the fourth release from The Walt Disney Studios. Dumbo takes flight again in Disney’s new live-action adventure, opening today, brought to life on screen by visual effects experts who pay tribute to Dumbo’s hand-drawn history while using the latest technology to evolve the character for a new generation of fans.

The team, led by visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, set out to strike a balance between the character fans remember and a realistic, live-action animal that behaves as a real elephant would. Stammers notes that Dumbo’s “oversized, babylike head; his big blue eyes; short stubby legs and cute little body” are some of his more memorable physical traits in the original film, but he’s also quick to point out that these distinctive characteristics are practical, as well as endearing. Dumbo’s big ears necessitate a large head… his sizeable head necessitates eyes of similar proportion… and, for a character that does not speak, those deep blue eyes become a primary means of expression. “It was very important to be able to read [Dumbo’s] emotions through his eyes, and that was something that was really important in the original cartoon,” says Stammers.

As they embarked upon creating a pachyderm protagonist for the same studio that immersed audiences in 2016’s new high-tech version of The Jungle Book, Stammers’ U.K.-based team visited local zoos where they filmed elephants from multiple angles to provide a vast library of reference footage that included subtle motions, “like the way the trunk moves or the tail swishes, or the way the weight gets transferred from one leg to the other just when they’re standing still,” Stammers explains. Using the technology developed for The Jungle Book—but taking it further—the team devised a new way to render and create skin for Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo, and the other elephants. “Elephants have this incredibly loose and wrinkly skin that movies in a specific way, and the way that we traditionally approach that just wasn’t going to be good enough for what we needed to do for this movie,” Stammers says.

And while the VFX team’s technical innovations were driven by careful observance of real-life elephants, they had to think outside of the box when it came to sending Dumbo airborne.  “There’s a matter of suspension of disbelief in getting a 90-kilo elephant off the ground,” Stammers acknowledges. To create Dumbo’s more fantastical mid-air maneuvers, Stammers and the team studied butterflies and manta rays for wing dynamics and movements more evocative of the elephant’s fluttering ears. According to Stammers, it was also key to show the amount of effort Dumbo had to make to lift his hefty body off the ground.

During their lengthy development process, the VFX team built an animation rig with the scope to encompass a range of facial expressions. Ultimately, however, they moved away from overly expressive eyebrow and mouth movements in favor of subtle body language, matching some poses to iconic shots from the animated classic, such as tender moments between Dumbo and his mother. “We went through that process of doing a lot to the animation, almost to the point where we were doing too much. We could actually pull back a bit and do a lot less and get a better result,” Stammers details, adding, “That was a really interesting moment of realization, how well we could convey emotions with less movement.” The simplicity that made an animated Dumbo so special nearly 80 years ago endures in the elephant’s modern-day counterpart.

What about Economic Trends?

I love Economic Trends. Call me a nerd if you’d like but graphs like the one below really rock my world!


I can tell you a lot about investments from this graph. I can tell you that 1980 was the best year to sell gold, February 1999 was a great time to buy into oil, 2000 was a perfect year to dump stocks before re-buying in 2002 or 2009, and right now is the best time since 1995 to invest in Housing. Of course, I have the benefit of history when I make these statements but I think there is a lot to be gleaned from economic indicators like these.  I like to stare at these charts, along with other indicators, and make economic assumptions, which help me perform my role.

If you want to visit this interactive graph as well as other economic indicators, click on it or go to

New Minnie Vehicle Service Begins In July at Walt Disney World Resort


Original article by Thomas Smith, Disney Parks Blog

As we shared during our LIVE coverage at D23 Expo 2017, a new transportation service featuring vehicles themed to the one-and-only Minnie Mouse will soon be taking you everywhere you want to go at the Walt Disney World Resort. Today, we’re thrilled to share a look at some of the vehicles from the Minnie fleet as well as more details about this new point-to-point service.

Starting later this month, guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts will be able to arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from their smartphone. It’ll be simple to do. Just arrange a Minnie vehicle and a Disney cast member will arrive and drive you anywhere you wish at the Resort in a magical way that only Disney can do.

First Look: Disney Parks Unveils the Star Wars-Inspired Land Model

Article by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

As we’ve previously shared, two Star Wars-inspired lands are currently under construction at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

Tonight, we’re happy to pull back the curtain and give you the first detailed look at the model of this new land, which will be on display this weekend at the 2017 D23 Expo.

Both Star Wars-inspired lands will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before Wild Space, where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

First Look: Sneak a Peek at Disney Park's Star Wars Land-Inspired Model

Here, guests will find themselves in the middle of the action at two signature attractions: one that lets guests take the controls of Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

First Look: Sneak a Peek at Disney Park's Star Wars Land-Inspired Model

Follow the Disney Parks Blog over the next few days for full coverage of all Walt Disney Parks & Resorts news and announcements coming out of the 2017 D23 Expo.

Disney Teams Up with Magic!

Article by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

Over the years, the relationship between Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando Magic basketball team has been, well, magical. Now it’s about to get even more magical as we expand our relationship as the team’s uniform sponsor.

As part of the NBA’s three-year trial period in which the league welcomes uniform sponsorship partners, Disney will have its logo on the Magic players’ jerseys for all games starting next season.

Disney Making Even More ‘Magic’

Disney became one of the team’s Champion of the Community partners in 2010, and this expanded partnership is another way we are working with the Magic to solidify Central Florida’s presence as a global sports destination. And it’s just cool.

Disney Making Even More ‘Magic’

Disney is also adding a special seating and hospitality area at the Amway Center for annual passholder upgrades during select Orlando Magic games. As part of our expanded partnership, Magic fans can purchase or renew their Walt Disney World Annual Passes at the Amway Center, including the Orlando Magic Team Shop. And doing it there comes with some perks. Throughout the multi-year agreement, fans who renew or purchase their annual pass at the Amway Center will receive one of the new Orlando Magic jerseys with the Disney logo.

“At Walt Disney World Resort, we naturally believe in all things magic and are happy to support our hometown team,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “This long-term relationship symbolizes our shared focus of solidifying Orlando as a world class city for sports.”

When you think about it, this agreement really is a slam-dunk. But don’t take my word for it. Check out this video of Mickey Mouse and Magic star Aaron Gordon playing ball. Now this is “Pure Magic.”