To say the good folks over at Disney World have been busy lately would be an understatement. It was another week with a flood of news coming out of Disney. Multiple opening dates were announced for new attractions and shows along with some juicy details. It was the biggest week for new dining options outside of new park openings. And all this was just the tip of the iceberg. Details on all these stories and more are below.
1 – Disney Announces Opening Date for Frozen Ever After at Epcot
Construction on Disney World’s newest attraction is nearing an end and guests will soon be able to enjoy Frozen Ever After and Royal Sommerhus. The ride and character meet and greet are scheduled to open June 21, 2016. The new ride through the story of mega-hit movie Frozen replaces Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion of Disney’s Epcot park. Royal Sommerhus will also allow guests the opportunity to meet characters Anna and Elsa. FastPasses are now available for Frozen Ever After. FastPasses are not yet available for Royal Sommerhus.
2 – Disney Announces Opening Date for Highly Anticipated Stage Show
Since the announcement of Mickey’s Friendship Faire, a brand new show taking place on the Forecourt Stage in front of Cinderella Castle, fans have been clamoring for a premier date. Disney announced this week that Mickey’s Friendship Faire will debut on June 17, 2016. The new show will feature characters and music from many of Disney’s classic and new hits and will tell the story of the wonderful things that can happen when we try new things, go new places and get to know new friends.
3 – Disney Announces Surprise Last Chance to Ride Soarin’ Over California
As excited as we are about the new Soarin’ Around the World (which I’ve seen by the way and it’s INCREDIBLE), like many of you we will miss the California version that we’ve been enjoying for years. In a surprise announcement, Disney is giving us one last chance to smell the orange blossoms and hang glide over Yosemite National Park. Starting May 21, 2016, Soarin Over California will return to Epcot and run until the debut of Soarin’ Around the World on June 16, 2016.
4 – Disney Announces Opening Date and Additional Details for New Nighttime Fireworks Spectacular
Following the success of the current Star Wars Fireworks display, “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular,” Disney has been planning on expanding the fireworks show for an even more amazing experience. Today, Disney announced the opening date for this new fireworks show, “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.” Details have emerged about just how big Disney is going on this show. Beyond fireworks, the new show will include video projections, pyrotechnics and other special effects. The show will debut on June 17, 2016.
5 – Disney Make Another Significant Change to FastPass+
Disney has made another significant change to its FastPass+ selection process that addresses a common complaint voiced by guests. Effective, May 18, 2016, the Disney FastPass+ selection window will now open at 7am Eastern Standard Time, instead of the previous time of 12:00 a.m. This allows for guests to choose their FastPass selections at a more convenient time of day, rather than in the middle of the night. Guests may select their FastPass selections up to 60 days before check-in for those staying on property at Disney World resorts and up to 30 days for those not staying on property, but have purchased a ticket.
Having recently needed to make selections at 12:00 am, I am happy with the change. For those of us who are not night owls, the change is welcome news. However, those on the West Coast, will now feel the pain. Previously, they were able to make selections at 9:00 pm PST and now will need to make their selections at 4:00 am PST.
What do you think? Is this a good change? Let us know in the comments below!
6 – Dinner Packages to be Available for New Jungle Book Show at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom’s culinary team is working on special dining packages which will begin May 28, 2017 at Tiffins and Tusker House Restaurant for the new limited-engagement nighttime show, The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic.
Similar to the popular Fantasmic! Dining Packages at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Dining Package includes reserved seating for the nighttime show. At all-you-care-to-eat Tusker House Restaurant, you can choose the breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet on the day of the show. Breakfast is $37, $23 ages 3-9, plus tax and gratuity; lunch and dinner, $49, $30 ages 3-9, plus tax and gratuity.
At Tiffins, the package includes the choice of appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage at either lunch or dinner. The Dining Package is $67 for adults, $32 ages 3-9, plus tax and gratuity.
Reservations are now open for Tiffins restaurant as well as Dining Packages for The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic nighttime show.
7 – Menu Unveiled for Animal Kingdom’s Newest Restaurant, Tiffins
Countdown to the opening of the newest Disney signature restaurant – Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, featuring cuisine and beverages from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney Imagineering describes the interior as “a gallery you can dine in with artwork that is a direct result of travels to Africa, Asia and South America.”
Open for both lunch and dinner, Tiffins is situated near Pizzafari on Discovery Island, near what will be the entrance to Pandora – The World of AVATAR, when it opens in 2017. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling). Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge features waterfront views in addition to hand-crafted cocktails with African, Asian and South American flavors; beers, and sustainable wines from those regions, plus specialty non-alcoholic beverages and small bites.
8 – Town Center at Disney Springs Opens
The massive expansion and re-theming of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs is almost complete. The largest portion of the project, the Town Center, has now opened. The Town Center section brings numerous new shopping locations and dining options as well as a second parking garage. Town Center is absolutely beautiful and exceeds our expectations. Disney has definitely delivered with a significant upgrade to the Downtown Disney experience. The expanded area introduces a number of high end retailers to Disney shopping line up and features many familiar names. However, it’s the new food options that take Disney Springs from good to great. We’ve had a chance to test out several and will have complete reviews in the weeks to come.
9 – Disney Announces Dates of 2016 Epcot Food & Wine Festival
As the 2016 Flower and Garden festival comes to a close in the next two weeks, Disney has announced the dates of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We absolutely love fall at Disney World and this is our favorite special event! The festival will be a record 62 days, opening on September 14, 2016 and running through November 14, 2016.
10 – New Summertime Eats Debut Today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Tasty new quick-service options will soon be available at kiosks in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in the Echo Lake area of the park. Celebrate summer with delicious new flavors and tastes, available now through summer. Hungry to learn what the new Echo Lake Eats will be?
Bocados del Lago Nachos y Empanadas
- Loaded Chili Cheese Nachos with Guacamole
- Beef Empanadas, roasted corn and black bean salsa, Queso Fresco with cilantro sour cream
- Dulce de Leche Cookie
Sliders to the Stars
- Pulled Beef Brisket Sliders with arugula, pickled onions and horseradish aioli on sesame bun served with chips
- Pulled Barbecued Chicken Sliders with coleslaw and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun served with chips
- Mickey Brownie
Hollywood Waffles of Fame
- Shaved Turkey and Gouda Waffle Sandwich with mixed greens, bacon, tomato and herb-cheese pesto served with chips
- Shaved Ham and Cheddar Focaccia with water cress and spicy mustard served with chips
- Freshly-baked Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Chicken Breast Nuggets served with celery and carrots with a Ranch dipper and chips
- Sweet Chili-glazed Chicken Breast Nuggets served with celery and carrots with a Ranch dipper and chips
- Kid’s Breast Nuggets
- Mickey Brownie
Which tasty new meal do you plan to try on your next visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Let us know in the comments below!
11 – Disney Springs Guest Relations Moves to New Location in Town Center
Great service is the center of the Disney experience and it’s now the center of Disney Springs (literally) as well. The Disney Springs Guest Relations office has been moved to a beautiful new facility in the newly opened Town Center. In stark contrast to the cramped location hidden behind Ghirardelli’s, the new location is spacious with comfortable seating areas.
12 – Frozen Games Begin May 27 at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
Kristoff and Olaf from Disney’s hit animated film “Frozen” are on their way from Arendelle to help host the inaugural “Frozen” Games at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park this summer.
Starting May 27 and running through Aug. 21, our “Frozen” friends will invite guests visiting Blizzard Beach to join Team Kristoff or Team Olaf each day to participate in a variety of winter-themed activities including:
- Ice Pail Relays where teams line up and pass pails of water to one another, trying to be the first to fill a container at the end.
- A “Snowball” Toss where pairs compete in a snow-themed water balloon toss.
- Ski Pole Limbo, a snowy twist on traditional limbo—using a ski pole as the limbo bar!
- Slide Races that allow teams to race down one of the signature water slides at Blizzard Beach.
- Olaf and Kristoff will be on hand, appearing on the Observation Deck near Summit Plummet to take part in the opening and closing ceremonies, and giving updates on their teams’ progress throughout the day.
The “Frozen” Games will be an all-day event that guests can sign up for when they arrive at the park entrance. All activities are included with regular admission to Blizzard Beach.
13 – Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Getting Name Change
There is a lot of change coming to Animal Kingdom in the next few weeks and apparently the name of Pangani Forest Exploration Trail has been added to the list. WDW Magic is reporting that the name of the attraction will soon be changing back to its original name, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. The name was changed in 1998 in an effort to reflect the fact that there are more than just Gorillas living on the trail. The name change is expected to take place Memorial Day weekend.
14 – Wilderness Lodge DVC Also Gets a New Name
Continuing on their name changing spree, Disney has also announced the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, the DVC section of the resort, will be getting a fresh moniker. With the addition of the waterfront cabins, the new DVC offering will be called Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The existing villas will be specifically, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. If that isn’t enough to keep track of, the refurbished and redesigned Hidden Springs pool area will also be renamed.