Home / News / NEWS ROUNDUP: New Food & Wine Details and Menus, New Epcot Restaurant Announced, Construction Updates, 4th of July Info, Lion King Celebration & More

NEWS ROUNDUP: New Food & Wine Details and Menus, New Epcot Restaurant Announced, Construction Updates, 4th of July Info, Lion King Celebration & More

We may be coming into a holiday week, but that doesn’t mean things are slowing down at Disney World! Everyone knows the best time of year is Epcot Food & Wine Festival, and with new details released this week about the 2019 festival, along with full menus for all the market places, we can’t wait for the fun and food to start. We also got news of a new restaurant coming to Epcot and details on an awesome new dining experience in celebration of the Lion King happening in Animal Kingdom. This coming week there are plenty of 4thof July related activities, events, and limited time experiences. We have construction updates on some big projects around property and more. Check out all the details below.


1 – New Information Released for Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Full Menus Now Available

As we turn the calendar to July, it’s hard to believe that we’re just two months away from the beginning of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. This very popular event is running from August 29-November 23 to make this the longest running festival ever!

Click here for details on some of the marketplaces, new experiences, and the Eat to the Beat concert schedule.

Click here for the full menus.

2 – New Restaurant Coming to Epcot

This week, Disney announced that a new quick-service restaurant will be coming to the American Adventure in Epcot. The Liberty Inn will be closing on July 8 to make way for an all-new barbecue and craft brew restaurant. Currently, the Liberty Inn offers basic theme-park American fare (that you can get in lots of different places). So, we’re really excited about a more unique American offering at the pavilion. Click here for all the details.

3 – Construction Update at Epcot and Magic Kingdom

If you are a regular reader of ours, you know that there is a lot of construction going on right now to prepare for the 50thAnniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021. (Click here for a summary of everything that’s coming). We visited both Epcot and Magic Kingdom this week to catch a glimpse of the progress being made. We posted both updates on our Instagram page.

Click here to see a video and a close-up photo of the Tron attraction coming to Magic Kingdom!

Click here to see photos of the latest at Epcot’s entrance where the Leave a Legacy monoliths are being moved to make way for a brand-new entrance.

Also note that in preparation of a brand-new film coming to Epcot, O! Canada at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion will close August 1, 2019. In addition to a new film, the show will receive an all-new projection system.

4 – Details Released for 4thof July Celebrations at Walt Disney World

Independence Day celebrations are just around that corner as Walt Disney World celebrates America’s birthday. Disney has released details of what you can expect at Magic Kingdom on July 3 and July 4 and at Epcot on July 4. Click here for all the details!


5 – Limited Time Disney PhotoPass Opportunities Beginning July 3 at Magic Kingdom Park

July 4 is almost here! If you are visiting Magic Kingdom Park, beginning July 3, you’ll have the chance to get some pretty amazing shots with Disney PhotoPass. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Emily Southard.

I’m a huge American history buff who celebrates my love of the U.S.A. year-round. So how does someone like me go all out around the Fourth of July? By visiting Walt Disney World Resort! I’ve spent countless Independence Days at The Most Magical Place on Earth, and the incredible patriotic atmosphere always has me feeling the stirring spirit of America from the moment I arrive.

To take that feeling home in your photos, use Disney PhotoPass Service! But why wait for July 4? Start celebrating Independence Day early with special limited-time Disney PhotoPass opportunities available beginning July 3 at Magic Kingdom Park!

From 9 am to 7 pm (weather permitting), look for a photographer in the East Plaza Garden who will assist you with capturing two photos and a one-of-a-kind super-zoom video from a unique angle above the theme park. This experience will be available for a limited time after the holiday, but beginning July 3, the photographer here will offer a patriotic prop you can include in your photos and video. Please note that the video can only be downloaded and shared by those with Memory Maker or Memory Maker One Day.

Credit: Disney

Looking for another prop? You’re barking up the right tree! Add some stars and stripes to your photo near Partners Statue where the photographer will offer this pawsitively fetching prop.

Credit: Disney

Liberty Square is my absolute favorite place at Walt Disney World Resort. Here at this land that I love, you can just feel a new nation waiting to be born. While visiting, during daylight hours be on the lookout for a photographer near the Liberty Bell who can capture Yankee Doodle-dandy photos of you enjoying the atmosphere, as well as a Muppets Magic Shot. Let freedom ring!

Credit: Disney

Celebrate this grand holiday with a grand photo opportunity. Visit the Fantasyland castle wall near Prince Charming Regal Carrousel to take a photo in front of Cinderella’s Coach.

At the twilight’s last gleaming, salute the “American Original” Mickey Mouse with a bokeh opportunity available on Center Street (near Uptown Jewelers).

Credit: Disney

And finally, beginning at sunset, enjoy a dazzling display of red, white and blue with this light painting opportunity available behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square.

Credit: Disney

To take home and share all of your star-spangled Disney PhotoPass photos and videos from the one day of your choice, purchase Memory Maker One Day!

Happy Independence Day, and have fun capturing the joys of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness with Disney PhotoPass Service.

6 – Aunt Polly’s Opening for 4thof July Week at Magic Kingdom

In anticipation of large crowds coming to Magic Kingdom for the holiday week, Aunt Polly’s quick-service restaurant on Tom Sawyer Island will be open for lunch. The restaurant will be open June 29-July 7 from 11 am to 3 pm. Menu items include peanut butter sandwiches, biscuit bbq sliders, pretzels sticks, root beer floats, and a lemonade slush.

7 – Watch Fourth of July Fireworks from Magic Kingdom Park

If you are not going to be in the Orlando area for the fourth, don’t worry! The Disney Parks Blog will be live-streaming the special Fourth of July themed fireworks! Even if you’re thousands of miles away, you can still experience the magic! Cast Member Jennifer Fickley-Baker has all the details below:

This Fourth of July, you’re invited to celebrate with us right here, as we live stream “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” live from Magic Kingdom Park.

Our live stream, which you can catch on the Disney Parks Blog, will begin at 9:13 pm ET.

We’ll celebrate the fun of summer before and after the show. And we’d love to share some of your favorite Disney Parks vacation pics as part of our live stream. To have your photo considered, share it with us on Twitter now using the hashtag #DisneyParksLIVE


8 – Celebrate ‘The Lion King’ with African-Inspired Eats, Music, and Fun at Circles of Flavors: Harambe at Night

This summer, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating ‘The Lion King’ and its 25thAnniversary. We’ve got more details on a new dining experience coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in just a few weeks. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Alex Dunlap.

Earlier this year, we announced an all-new dining adventure coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park select nights beginning July 24.  Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night is a family-friendly progressive dining experience drawing inspiration from the many facets of African cultures. In addition to celebrating the beloved story of “The Lion King,” this experience honors some of the most majestic and endangered African animals through delicious flavors, fun activities, live music, and appreciation for animal conservation.

I’m excited to announce that one of these fun activities is a Kilimanjaro Safaris Virtual Realty experience. After enjoying a welcome reception at the train station in Harambe, you’ll hop on the train and journey to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Here you’ll have the opportunity to try out a virtual reality 360-degree safari experience like you’ve never seen before, one that is only available exclusively during Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night! “Join our Pride” and get up close and personal with the sights and sounds of Pride Rock, coming face-to-face with our amazing host, the African lions. 

Credit: Disney

In addition to virtual reality, you’ll be able to indulge on a culinary expedition of food and beverages throughout the entire experience. When you begin your journey at the Harambe Train Station, you’ll enjoy a welcome reception featuring meat pies, Durban chips and dip, and a hand-selected array of meats and cheeses as well as Harambellini, a specialty beverage featuring sparkling South African wine blended with a bright burst of passion fruit, orange, and guava juices. And for the kiddos, they can nibble on cheese, fruit, and Tofaa (chocolate caramel-dipped green apples).

Credit: Disney

During the welcome reception, you’ll receive a boarding pass that allows you to hop on the train and head to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where fun activities (including the VR experience and character greetings with familiar friends Timon and Rafiki) and more bites and refreshments await you. Snack on spiced crisp plaintains, South African oat and coconut bars, and Sundowner Safari Mix with spiced nuts and dried fruit. Kids can enjoy seasonal fruit and Trail Mix Bites with granola, chocolate chips, raisins, and honey. For the adults, the specialty beverages featured here are the Chief’s Shandy (Tusker beer blended with lemonade), and Wanjohi’s Dawa, a refreshing blend of tequila, pineapple, mango, and Ancho chile.

Credit: Disney

Hop back on the train to head back to your final destination: Harambe Market. Here you’ll partake in a delicious dinner while enjoying upbeat music from African musicians, a dance party, and captivating storytelling. On the menu is an array of hearty dishes and yummy desserts inspired by the five featured African animals. Around the marketplace, you’ll find stations representing each of the animals and a selection of additional offerings in the courtyard.

The African Lion Station

  • Char-Grilled Steak with Herb-Infused Mealie, Chakalaka, and a Red Wine Sauce
  • Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Kool Slaai, and Mango Sambal
  • Chicken Tenders (Kid’s Option)

The Cape Buffalo Station

  • Shrimp Curry with Sustainable Shrimp, Cape Malay Green Coconut Curry, and Fragrant Basmati Rice
  • Grilled Sweet Corn with Farmer’s Cheese, Chili-Lime Spice, and Citrus Aioli
  • Barbecued Ribs (Kid’s Option)
  • Macaroni and Cheese (Kid’s Option)

The Rhinoceros Station

  • Vegetable Curry with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables served over Basmati Rice
  • Vegetarian Potato and Pea Samosa, Pickled Vegetables, and Tamarind Dipping Sauce
  • Barbecued Ribs (Kid’s Option)
  • Macaroni and Cheese (Kid’s Option)

The African Elephant Station

  • Smoked Honey-glazed Pork Belly with White Bean Purée, Caramelized Apple-Bacon Chutney, and Curry-Apple Gastrique

The Leopard Station

  • Sustainable Fish with Coriander-Fennel Slaw and Dhania Chutney
  • Grilled Lamb with Goat Cheese Polenta and Roasted Garlic Sauce
  • Mini Corn Dog (Kid’s Option)


Harambe Market Courtyard Station

  • Petite Greens, Local Tomatoes, Cucumber, Sweety Drop Peppers, Citrus, and Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Boerie Roll with South African Farmers’ Style Sausage, Peppadews, and Pickled Vegetables
  • African Spiced Popcorn

Dessert Station

  • Honey-Caramel Candy Bar with Crispy Pearls
  • Animal-inspired Cupcakes
  • Lions S’ mores Pop with Chocolate and Graham Cracker Crumbs

Specialty Beverages

  • Talking Monkey – Coffee Liqueur, Banana Liqueur, and Espresso-infused Snow Leopard Vodka
  • Marketplace Sangria – Blend of African Wine and Rooibos Tea finished with a Citrus and Mint Infusion
  • Safari Sunset – Passion Fruit, Strawberry, Orange, and Guava Juices blended with Rum
  • Assorted African-inspired Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Also available at the Welcome Reception and Rafiki’s Planet Watch Train Station)
  • Assorted African Beer and Wine (Also available at the Welcome Reception and Rafiki’s Planet Watch Train Station)

Menus and options are subject to change, but at each station, you’ll learn a little bit about each of the Big Five animals. Children are invited to choose their favorite Big Five animal charm and learn more about them while creating their very own bracelet or necklace.

Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night begins on July 24, 2019, on select nights from 6–9 pm for a limited time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Pricing is $125 plus tax for adults and $99 plus tax for children ages 3-9, and separate park admission is required. For more information and to make reservations, call 407 WDW-DINE (407 939-3463) or visit the Walt Disney World Resort website.

9 – The Lion King’ Protect the Pride’ Campaign

Another way Disney is celebrating the ‘The Lion King’ is by playing a role in the conservation of lions and other wildlife. Disney Cast Member Dr. Mark Penning shares more about the campaign.

As we gear up for Disney’s release of “The Lion King” next month, we are excited to share that Disney’s Animal Kingdom will play an important part in supporting the conservation of lions and other wildlife across Africa to help the circle of life stay strong.

It’s been 25 years since Disney released the original version of “The Lion King”; sadly, during that time Africa has lost half of its lions, and only about 20,000 remain.

Earlier this month, Disney announced its commitment to help address the crisis facing lions and other wildlife across Africa by supporting the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund (LRF). As part of The Lion King “Protect the Pride” campaign, Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to WCN’s LRF and its partners and will make additional grants and invite fans to help double the donation for a total contribution of up to $3 million with the hopes of doubling the number of lions in the wild by 2050. Take a look at what “The Lion King” cast has to say about this effort.


One way you can help protect the pride is to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida during opening week of “The Lion King” (July 19 -2 5, 2019) and ride Kilimanjaro Safaris.

For every guest who rides the attraction that week, Disney Conservation Fund will donate $2 (up to $350,000) to the Wildlife Conservation Network in support of the Lion Recovery Fund.

The Lion King “Protect the Pride” campaign continues Disney’s longstanding commitment to the conservation of wildlife around the world and represents the largest single gift (up to $3 million) Disney has made to help reverse the decline of a species. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed more than $75 million to save wildlife and protect the planet.

10 – Reservations Now Available for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Another Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location is about to open at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Disney Cast Member Thomas Smith has all the details about the opening.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is expanding its royal services. It is my great honor to announce that on August 6, the boutique doors will officially open at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and starting today, guests can begin booking appointments in this new location.

Just like the other existing locations at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, young guests age 3-12 can experience enchanting transformations like no other, leaving the boutique as an elegant princess or a gallant knight. With a wave of a magic wand and a few special surprises, Fairy Godmothers-in-Training will help make the fairytale dreams that you wish come true. A variety of magical makeovers are available and may include hairstyling, nail polish, accessories, gowns and more, depending on the package guests choose.

Credit: Disney

Also on August 6, all of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique locations will introduce the new Carriage package, which includes a specially-themed T-shirt. They will also begin offering four new stylish hairstyles with customizable options and an expanded assortment of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique-inspired products, including a spirit jersey available in adult and youth sizes, Minnie Ear headband, MagicBand and other accessories to enjoy, all of which can be purchased separately from any of the packages.

And if booking at the new location at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, what better way to celebrate than by dining at 1900 Park Fare, where guests can enjoy delightful breakfast and dinner buffets hosted by beloved Disney characters. Another great experience the resort offers is Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party, where young princesses and princes age 3-9 are regaled with music, dancing, storytelling and a special visit from a Disney princess.

Guests are strongly encouraged to make reservations in advance for this experience as appointment times fill up quickly. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and can be booked through the online reservation system at and or by phone at (407) WDW-STYLE.

11 – “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” Disney’s Blizzard Beach Hosts One of the Largest Florida Locations

Disney’s Blizzard Beach hosted nearly 200 attendees as part of the 10th annual “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” on Thursday morning at Walt Disney World Resort.

Three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Rowdy Gaines kicked off the lesson, where children of all ages learned basic swim strokes. Children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America were among those who participated.

Of the 83 sites in Florida, Disney’s Blizzard Beach was one of the largest. The global event was staged at locations in 28 different countries over the course of 24 hours. The purpose of “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” is to educate families on the importance of learning to swim.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!