At twice the size of Manhattan and sporting a work force larger that most towns in America, Disney World is a city unto itself. As such, a steady stream of news coming out of the capital city of happiness is to be expected. However, the past week can only be described as a tsunami of news and announcements. At times, the announcements were coming so fast we couldn’t get stories up about one big thing before the next hit the wire. In condensed and manageable form, here are the biggest stories from the last week.
1 – New Princess Joining the Disney Channel and Disney World Line Up
This August guests at Walt Disney World Resort and will be able to see Princess Elena, Disney’s first princess inspired by diverse Latin cultures.
La princesa Elena will debut in the Disney Channel series “Elena of Avalor” this summer. A teenager in fairytale kingdom, Elena adds a new dimension to the Disney-princess world.
Elena will appear this summer in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort.
I know that you are eager to know more about Elena … I know I am! But until we meet her, know that she is a bold, aventurera princess, whose love for her kingdom of Avalor, and most importantly, her familia, fuels her magical adventures.
She is surely una princesa for everyone!
2 – Disney Announces Opening Date for New Soarin’ Around the World
It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Soarin’ to reopen from it’s expansion and refurbishment. Disney has announced Soarin’ Around the World (which replaces Soarin’ Over California) will debut on June 16, 2016 at the grand opening of Disneyland Shanghai. It will open the following day at Epcot on June 17, 2016. We’re excited to see the new film, but that won’t be the only thing new with the ride reopens. For more details click here.
3 – Disney Releases Preview of the New Soarin’ Around the World
In addition to announcing the opening date, Disney also released a teaser video of what guests can look forward to in the new ride.
4 – Disney Releases (or at least narrow down) Opening Dates for Several Attractions, Shows and Restaurants
A flurry of opening dates in addition to Soarin’ were released this week including the third track at Toy Story Mania, Frozen Ever After, Tiffins, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show.
5 – Disney Reveals More Details of Toy Story Land Including Ride Concept Video
While Star Wars Land has received most of the press and attention, it’s only half of the Hollywood Studios expansion project. Toy Story Land has people just as eager and Disney stirred up the excitement this week by releasing more details on the project. The release highlighted two of the new attractions including a point of view ride concept video for the Slinky Dog Roller Coaster.
6 – Rivers of Light Troubles Continue – Disney Announces Summer Replacement Show
When you have the courage to take on gigantic projects and reach for the stars as Disney usually does, challenges are to be expected. Rivers of Light, an ambitious new nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was set to debut April 22, 2016. Last month Disney announced the opening would be delayed until sometime in May. Reports out of Disney are that they are no closer to solving a problem involving control of the floats used in the show. It now appears Disney is going to a Plan B for their Awaken Summer celebration with the addition of a simpler Jungle Book themed nighttime show.
7 – Disney Town Center at Disney Springs to Open May 15
The Disney Springs expansion and re-theming will take a giant leap forward on May 15, 2016 with the opening of a huge new section of shops and restaurants, the Town Center. Over 35 locations will open in the Town Center between May 15, 2016. The Town Center also includes the famous springs that gave Disney Springs it’s name. The area includes lovely water features and looks fantastic.
8 – Previews for Disney’s ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ Hit Hollywood Studios May 6
Starting May 6, 2016, visitors to Hollywood Studios will get to see a 10 minute sneak peek of the upcoming Disney film, Alice Through the Looking Glass. The preview will be played in the One Man’s Dream theater. As creepy as the first movie was, I have to admit I enjoyed it. If talent of the cast is any indicator, we’re in for a treat with this new installment. The film has a truly all star cast including Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen, along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. We are also introduced to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock. The preview runs through June 12, 2016.
9 – More Dining Options Opening at Disney Springs
As much as I love good restaurants and fine dining, I have to admit that the announcement of these three new food stands has me as or more excited that most of the recent additions. How can you beat sausage, crepes and poutine (French fries smothered in delicious toppings)? Check out these descriptions and tell me your mouth isn’t watering!
Aristocrepes – Grab a savory crepe—beef with horseradish cream, red onion, baby spinach and sharp Cheddar; vegetarian with pickled beets, goat cheese, candied pecans and baby greens; turkey with Brie, dried cranberries and Dijon spread; or smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers, onion and “everything bagel” topping.
Or go sweet with a s’mores crepe with marshmallow cream, chocolate sauce and graham cracker crumbs; banana with Nutella and salted caramel; Key lime cheesecake with white chocolate and chiffon crouton; or strawberries Romanoff with Chantilly cream and strawberries.
Pair your crepe with wine on tap, beer or hard alcohol soda (Not Your Father’s Hard Root Beer and Henry’s Hard Orange Soda). Or try one of our refreshing non-alcoholic beverages, including Frozen Joffrey’s Frappe Mocha and hot cocoa. Opening May 22, 2016.
B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co. – Featuring artisan sausages. The Three Little Pigs features a trio of sausages each with different toppings: Reuben, bacon-wrapped with black bean salsa and chili cheese; Portuguese sausage with pickled vegetable slaw and chili mustard; sweet hot sausage with peppers, onions and marinara; Bavarian sausage sandwich with a mini-meterwurst, braised red cabbage and spicy brown mustard on a pretzel roll; and Italian veggie sausage with peppers, onions and marinara. Cool off with a draft beer or fountain soda. Opens May 15, 2016.
The Daily Poutine – The Canadian classic comes to Disney Springs with four varieties of toppings on hot, thick-cut French fries—Classic, with beef poutine gravy and Cheddar cheese curds; Latin with fried yucca, black beans, pulled pork and queso fresco; Italian with Bocconcino mozzarella and Bolognese sauce; and French with mushroom cream sauce and Gruyere cheese. Pair them with a draft beer, sangria, lemonade or fountain soda. Opening May 15, 2016.
10 – Amorette’s Patisserie Details and Pictures Released
With sweets almost too pretty to eat, Amorette’s Patisserie showcases the beautiful work of Walt Disney World Resort pastry chefs in a new shop at Disney Springs.
Just like many of the new areas coming to Disney Springs, Amorette’s Patisserie also has a story to tell. Established as one of the first shops in Town Center (circa 1900s) and passed down through the generations, the patisserie is currently owned by artistic sisters Kara and Sara, where they pour great care into designing and creating the most unique and artistic pastries. In fact, “Amorette” means “little love” in French.
Classic and contemporary cakes and pastries are the stars in this high-end pastry shop where guests can watch pastry chefs decorate signature cakes in the on-stage finishing kitchen. Even the beautiful boutique-style packaging, inspired by old-fashioned hatboxes, lends to the sophisticated feel of the location.
Oh, those sweets! From a classic macaron or crisp, light pavlova to the ultimate chocolate-chocolate chunk cookie, Amorette’s is a dessert lover’s dream come true.
There’s something for everyone: eclairs, New York-style cheesecake, opera cake and sacher torte. Special sweets have names like “Reflection in Memphis” (peanut blondie with bacon, banana and chocolate) and Strawberry Fields of OC (strawberry mousse with basil sugar and lemon curd). Amorette’s Signature Cake is beautifully decorated, with 10 layers of delectable flavors and textures. You’ll want to take a photo before you dig in; these are edibles that only a talented pastry artist could create. And, yes, there’s gluten friendly cakes on the menu.
Amorette’s features a few delectable beverage options as well. Sip a Champagne or sparkling wine with your pastry, or go straight for the indulgent Amorette’s Hot Chocolate Ganache, a cupful of sippable chocolate with Chantilly and shaved dark chocolate on top. You also can opt for a glass of cold milk, coffee or tea.
We say, eat dessert first! Amorette’s Patisserie will open on May 15 with the rest of Town Center.
11 – New Video Demonstrates New FastPass+ Enhancements
Disney announced major improvements to the FastPass+ system last month (you can read the full details here). Here’s a summary along with a helpful video demonstrating the new enhancements.
- Guests can choose individual FastPass+ experiences and times. You can now select available experiences one by one for the times that best meet your needs for a more customized selection.
- Guests are able to make one, two or three advance FastPass+ selections. You will continue to be able to make up to three FastPass+ selections in advance. However, if you’d like to be able to select just one or two, you are now able to do that, too.
- Guests can make an additional FastPass+ selection via MyDisneyExperience after redeeming the first three. You are now able to make selections for an additional FastPass+ on the MyDisneyExperience mobile app, in addition to the FastPass+ kiosks located throughout the parks. Once you’ve used the fourth FastPass+ selection, you are able to select another, and so on — all on the go.
12 – Details Released for Invictus Games 2016 Opening Ceremony
The 2016 Invictus Games, founded by Britain’s Prince Harry, is an inspiring Olympic style festival of sport for injured servicemen and women from around the globe meant to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the wounded. This year Disney World will have the privilege of holding this amazing event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The game open May 8, 2016 and more details of the opening ceremonies have been released.
The Games announced April 14 its two newest celebrity ambassadors – Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough of Dancing with the Stars fame. Both are expected to attend the Games. The Opening Ceremony is partly being produced by the same company that did the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Invictus Games and 2012 London Olympics and will feature musical performances by James Blunt and Laura Wright, in addition to appearances from Prince Harry and First Lady Michelle Obama, with more names still to be announced.
The opening event on May 8 inside Champion Stadium also will include majestic performances inspiring stories of the competitors and additional music acts, all televised live on ESPN2.
Also, much like the traditional relay of the Olympic torch to the competition site, the official Invictus Games Flag has begun its ceremonial tour which started at London’s Buckingham Palace and made its first U.S. stop on Tuesday in New York City. The flag is scheduled to arrive to great fanfare at Walt Disney World Resort just before the Games begin.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 takes place May 8-12 and will feature more than 500 injured military veterans and active duty personnel from 14 countries competing in 10 events.