Paws in the Park 2024: Celebrating with Disney VoluntEARS

by | Feb 20, 2024 | News Outside the Parks

Paws in the Park is an annual fundraising event and festival in Orlando, bringing hundreds of dogs and their owners to the city.

Paws in the Park celebrated its 30th year of furry fun at Lake Eola Park on February 10th, and we were invited to celebrate the day with the Disney VoluntEARS, Disney Ambassadors, and Disney Cast Members! This combination fundraising event and festival attracts hundreds of dogs and their owners each year, making it the largest pet festival in the state of Florida. 

This year’s Paws in the Park was truly one for the books! Between an adorable pet costume contest and friendly competition surrounding the big fundraising award benefiting The Pet Alliance of Orlando, the camaraderie in Lake Eola Park was unmatched. Let’s recap all that the 2024 Paws in the Park event had to offer!

Disney and Paws in the Park

Disney invited us out to experience Paws in the Park 2024, and our day kicked off with posing the adorable Disney Dogs for their close-ups! The Disney VoluntEARS have passionately supported Paws in the Park for decades, and it is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for the VoluntEARS! Just look at how many Disney VoluntEARS turned out in 2024 to support the event and help raise funds for The Pet Alliance of Orlando!

paws in the park

Photo by Maria Salerno

Disney VoluntEAR and Cast Member Carol has a special place in her heart for Paws in the Park. Five years ago, Carol attended Paws in the Park as a Disney VoluntEAR. She hoped to connect with fellow Cast Members and their dogs, but never expected to form a lifelong relationship with one of the pups up for adoption that day! Moses (a rescue dog up for adoption) easily pawed his way into Carol’s heart. After a quick call to inform her husband, Carol signed the adoption papers, and the rest, as Moses said, is history!

Carol might have adopted Moses that year, but it was just the beginning of what would become their favorite tradition! Every year since his adoption, Moses and Carol have returned to Paws in the Park together, including this year. Moses serves as a great inspiration for all of the dogs hoping to be adopted at Paws in the Park…and even inspired another Cast Member to follow in Carol’s footsteps! 

Friendly Fundraising Competition

The Greater Pet Alliance of Orlando is the beneficiary of the donations and funds raised for Paws in the Park. They provide shelter, water, food, and medical attention for any dog and cat who comes through their doors. They just opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art shelter facility, all thanks to past donations! 

Every year, corporations engage in a little friendly fundraising competition at Paws in the Park! For the last 14 of 16 years, the Disney VoluntEARS have taken home the first place prize…and the buzz in the air, as they announced the top fundraising teams this year, was palpable as dozens of Disney Cast and the Disney Ambassadors crowded the stage and hoped to hear their name called…

Although quickly buried under a thunderous outburst of applause and excitement, everyone at Lake Eola Park heard Disney’s name called the top fundraising team…making them the highest-earning team for Paws in the Park for the last 15 of 17 years! Phantom, handsomely posing with his owners, accepted the award and graciously stopped for a photo where he proudly displayed Disney’s first-place certificate. 

A Storybook Adoption at Paws in the Park

After Disney claimed their well-deserved prize, we made our way to the Pet Alliance of Orlando’s adoption tent. Several dogs were eagerly waiting to meet their forever family, but one dark brown puppy succeeded at melting my heart. She stood up as soon as I approached her cage to take her picture and gently wagged her tail when I started to talk to her. 

I silently hoped that someone would find her as heartwarming as I did, but keeping my cat’s dislike of dogs in the back of my mind, I willed myself to move on. I would have been too late anyway, because not even a minute later, a Disney VoluntEAR approached me and let me know that the adorably sweet fur baby had JUST been adopted by a Disney Cast Member! 

Paws in the Park

Photo by Maria Salerno

Paws in the Park has helped unite hundreds of dog owners with their forever fur babies, and has inspired even more to visit the shelters located around Orlando to adopt kittens and cats too! We don’t know what that beautiful brown pup’s adoption name will be yet, but we hope to see her back at future Paws in the Park events with her fellow Disney adoptee Moses!

Costume Contests, Doggy Dives, and Bow Wow Wagging Tail Fun!

After the Disney VoluntEARS collected their prize, the costume contest began! We spotted dogs dressed as lobsters, an adorable cupid ready to make his Valentine’s Day rounds, and even a dog dressed as a ‘Jr Wilderness Explorer’ from Up! Next, we headed over to check out the doggy diving station, where we got to see Bodie the dog complete two 20+ foot dives into the pool. 

Photo by Maria Salerno

Among all of the furry fun, food trucks and other vendors were busy serving guests (and dogs!) delicious food and pet-themed novelties and accessories all day. Paws in the Park is a fantastic fundraising event benefiting The Pet Alliance of Orlando, but it is so much more than that. The Disney VoluntEARS love to support this event not just because of the fantastic cause behind it, but also because it is a true community-focused event that helps them meet new people who have something in common with them- a love of dogs! 

Thank you to Disney for inviting us to experience Paws in the Park alongside Disney VoluntEARS.

Posts by Maria Salerno

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Maria is a proud WDW Magazine columnist and blog contributor. After holding a WDW Annual Pass in the Northeast USA for 4 years, she recently moved just 5 minutes from Walt Disney World to be as close as possible to her favorite place on earth! Maria is a Certified Disney Travel Agent and private music instructor. Next time you visit WDW, keep your ears open, you just might catch Maria singing and playing guitar at Epcot or Disney Springs!
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Authored by
Maria Salerno

Maria is a proud WDW Magazine columnist and blog contributor. After holding a WDW Annual Pass in the Northeast USA for 4 years, she recently moved just 5 minutes from Walt Disney World to be as close as possible to her favorite place on earth! Maria is a Certified Disney Travel Agent and private music instructor. Next time you visit WDW, keep your ears open, you just might catch Maria singing and playing guitar at Epcot or Disney Springs!
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