Home / News / NEWS ROUNDUP: Major Epcot Closures, New Buses, New Restaurant Opens, New Designer Headbands, Tons of New Merch & More

NEWS ROUNDUP: Major Epcot Closures, New Buses, New Restaurant Opens, New Designer Headbands, Tons of New Merch & More

We hope you had a fantastic 4th of July holiday week. Even though it was a holiday, there was still plenty of Disney World news! Disney quietly confirmed closures and relocations of the center of Future World this week on one of its Twitter accounts. We’ve learned of some major changes coming to the FastPass tiers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney gave us a sneak peek at newly designed buses featuring some of our favorite Disney characters. A new restaurant opened in Epcot, and many new merchandise lines debuted. Catch all of this and more in our weekly news roundup below.


1 – Disney Announces Major Epcot Closures Ahead of Massive Park Overhaul

Disney has previously announced significant changes coming to Epcot for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021 and Epcot’s 40th Anniversary in 2022. Specific details are expected to be announced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California August 23-25, 2019. This week on Twitter, Disney confirmed closures of many locations in the center of Future World. Most are temporary relocations while the entire center area is redesigned.

Speculation is rampant about the Fountain of Nations. Disney has confirmed the fountain will close for construction around the area but did not specifically address its future. Many are assuming the fountain is being demolished for something new, but all Disney said was that while the section of the park underwent renovations, the fountain would be closed. Most of the other things that are closing are being temporarily relocated (such as the pin trading station, Mousegear, etc.). The fountain can’t be temporarily relocated, so it would make sense it wasn’t included in the list of temporary relocations. It’s possible the fountain is being demolished, but we find that hard to believe given its history and central part in the story and purpose of Epcot. Hopefully, Disney will but these rumors and speculations to rest with an announcement of plans at D23 next month.

Click here for the full list of closures and relocations.

2 – Big Changes Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass Tiers

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening on August 29, 2019. Even though Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is not offering a FastPass, changes are still coming to the FastPass tiers at the park. These changes will make it even more challenging to get a FastPass for your favorite attractions and will definitely mean more waiting in the standby lines for the new tier one attractions.

Click here are all the details and along with a few tips with how to navigate the changes.

3 – Disney Announces New Themed Disney Buses with at Least One Feature You’ll Love

Of all the different transportation options at Walt Disney World, most guests use the Disney buses to get around property. In fact, with nearly 400 buses, the Walt Disney World fleet is approximately the same size as that of St. Louis Metro Transit and larger than the bus fleet operated by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Crazy, right! Disney recently announced that buses will be getting a make-over and some will even feature a new guest-friendly service.

Click here to read all about it.

4 – Takumi-Tei Restaurant Now Open in Japan Pavilion at Epcot

We previously shared that a new table-service restaurant would be opening this summer in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot. This week the new restaurant opened. Disney cast member Alex Dunlap shares more information below.

If you’re looking for a new and unique place to dine this summer, then I have some exciting news for you: Takumi-Tei is officially open at Epcot! Located in World Showcase, the new signature table-service restaurant is the latest addition to the Japan pavilion. Here you will enjoy an upscale dining experience with exceptional and specialized service tailored to the unique atmosphere this restaurant provides.

The entire Takumi-Tei experience is focused on giving you a better understanding of Japanese culture, as explained to you by the Japanese cultural representatives. From the moment you walk into the moment you put down your chopsticks for the last time, you will feel as if you’ve been transported to the island nation and will learn about Japanese traditions and their connection to the natural world.

In addition to an incredible prix fixe multi-course tasting menu and a chef’s table experience, the dinner menu highlights wagyu beef in a sublime setting along with sushi, sashimi, unique desserts, signature cocktails, premium sake and much more.

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Start your meal with appetizers like Teien (meaning “garden” and featuring compressed watermelon and tuna sashimi), Nikomi Wagyu (braised wagyu short rib with roasted bone marrow), or Hama no Kani (“Crab on the Beach” featuring crab tossed in a light ponzu sauce as well whole toasted crab). For a vegetarian option, you can dine on the Agedashi Tofu with fried silken tofu, brown butter black rice and shimeji mushroom.

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Entrées include exquisite dishes like Kamo Rosu and Takumi Gyuniku. The Kamo Rosu features roasted marinated duck with kabocha squash, edamame beans, Japanese mizuna, cured duck egg yolk, and a grape reduction. The Takumi Gyuniku, or artisan beef, shines the spotlight on a Japanese A-5 wagyu beef tenderloin with leek sauce, warishita, short rib gyoza, roast cippolini onion, curried potato, and seasonal mushroom.

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For the sushi and sashimi lovers, there are some delicious options. On the Maki Sushi menu, you’ll find Mozaiku (featuring tuna, yellowtail and asparagus). You can also try the Temari Sushi featuring a chef-selected assortment of oceanic delicacies. Or if sashimi is more your style, the Takumi Sashimi entrée features tuna, toro, salmon, yellowtail, uni and ikura.

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Of course, there’s always room for dessert! Two choice selections include Kumo (yuzu cheesecake, spiced kabocha, orange yuzu gel and blackberry sake) or Suiren Dani (Water Lilly Valley featuring Japanese water cake, rose, kuromitsu and kinako crumb).

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You will also find an extensive beverage menu with premium sake, wine, beer and cocktails. Specialty cocktails are themed to each of the five dining rooms and include Kochi (Joto Yuzu citrus sake, rum, fresh mint, yuzu juice and orange), Raiju (Haku Japanese vodka, spiced ginger beer and lime), Sakurajima (Japanese whisky sour smoked with cherrywood), and Kami (Roku gin, Sayuri “White Lilly” Nigori sake, calipco and lychee).

Takumi-Tei is open for dinner in the Japan pavilion at Epcot starting at 4 p.m. daily. Walk-ups are currently being accepted, and reservations will be available beginning July 16, 2019, with bookings starting that same day. For more information, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or call (407) WDW-DINE. To make reservations for the Chef’s Table Dining Experience, call Mitsukoshi directly at (407) 827-8504.


5 – New Designer Ear Headbands Revealed

Mickey ear headbands are so popular that recently Disney announced designer ear headbands would be coming to the Disney Parks and shopDisney. New ears have been released. Disney cast member Thomas Smith has all the details.

Since we revealed the Disney Parks Designer Collection in May, we’ve been eager to share the next designs in this collection of limited-release Mickey Mouse ear hats and Minnie Mouse ear headbands designed by notable celebrities, designers and artists!

I’m excited to reveal the latest designs that will be rolling out over the next couple of months:

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Released Friday, July 5, a decadent gold Minnie ear headband perfectly weaves the classic look of ALEX AND ANI with the iconic silhouette of Minnie. Engraved on the sides of the headband, ALEX AND ANI encourages you to “follow your path” and “listen with your heart!”

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Coming later this month on July 26, is a classic design by Disney artist Noah, honoring the man who started it all, Walt Disney and his pal, Mickey Mouse.

For those local to the Disneyland Resort, Noah will be making an appearance at Disneyana in Disneyland park for a signing of the ears on July 26 and 28 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. and on July 27 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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Next month, we’ll be releasing a ghostly Minnie ear headband, just in time for Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary. The ears—designed by Disney Imagineer Kim Irvine, who is best known as the Art Director of Disneyland park and the face of Madame Leota in Haunted Mansion Holiday– are reversible, with the front featuring none other than Madame Leota herself. The headband will be available at Disneyland Resort on Aug. 9, Walt Disney World Resort on Aug. 10 and online at on Aug. 12.

This design will be available early to purchase at “The Haunted Mansion: Celebrating 50 Years of Retirement Unliving” a separately ticketed event to be held on Aug. 7 and 8 at Disneyland Resort and at the “Disney Villains After Hours” a separately ticketed event to be held on Aug. 8 at Walt Disney World Resort. Tickets to both events are still available, any volunteers?

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A Princess Leia Bun-inspired design from a galaxy far, far away by Star Wars actress Ashley Eckstein for Her Universe will be landing at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and online at on Oct. 4. At this year’s D23 Expo at Disney DreamStore, fans will have the first chance to purchase this interstellar design that they can rock on their next visit to Batuu!

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Fans attending this year’s D23 Expo will also have the first chance to purchase the Hipster Mickey ear hat, complete with glasses and a slouch beanie by Jerrod Maruyama, as well as the tiki-riffic Mickey ear hat by SHAG at Disney DreamStore. Both will be available later this year on both coasts!

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Celebrating classic Disney Parks attractions, characters and food, Loungefly designed this adorable mini-sized art style Minnie ear headband coming early this fall.

Also coming up this fall, we’re releasing a dazzling pair of ears from legendary supermodel, television host and entrepreneur Heidi Klum, a decadent crystal-encrusted ear hat from The Blonds, and a genuine crafted leather, floral-inspired ear headband by COACH.

Stay tuned to for the reveal of even more designs in the #DisneyParksDesignerCollection and check out the latest release schedule below:

  • ALEX AND ANI – July 5th
  • Noah Fine Art – July 26th
  • Kim Irvine – Aug. 9th
  • Betsey Johnson – Aug. 16th
  • SHAG – Aug. 26th
  • Heidi Klum – Sept. 28th
  • Her Universe – Oct. 4th
  • Loungefly – Fall 2019
  • Jerrod Maruyama – Fall 2019
  • The Blonds – Fall 2019
  • COACH – Fall 2019
  • Joe Rohde – April 2020
  • Vera Wang – Spring 2020
  • Cupcakes and Cashmere – Spring 2020
  • Her Universe – Spring 2020
  • Kevin Rafferty – Spring 2020
  • Karlie Kloss – Spring 2020
  • John Coulter – Summer 2020

Each release will be available at The Disney Dress Shop, Disneyana and Off the Page at Disneyland Resort in California, Ever After Jewelry Co. & Accessories, MouseGear, Uptown Jewelers, Once Upon a Time and Discovery Trading Company at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and online at


6 – New Limited Edition runDisney MagicBands Available for 2020 Events       

One of the best things about running in a runDisney event is showing off your bling and getting to brag about your accomplishments after the race! Disney is making that even easier with exclusive race specific MagicBands available for pre-order now!  Disney cast member Sarah Harris has all the details below.

Gear up for your upcoming Walt Disney World Resort ‘race’cation with all-new limited edition retail MagicBands, created for 2020 runDisney Race Weekends! Beginning with the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna, the limited-edition graphic bands feature artwork inspired by the runDisneyrace weekend themes, perfect for coordinating with other weekend merchandise available for purchase at each event.

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Retailing at $34.99 plus tax, the commemorative MagicBands will be available for pre-arrival purchase via the Products tab in your runDisney Account for participants currently registered for available 2020 runDisney events.

The MagicBand effortlessly links your Walt Disney World Resort vacation choices and plans you make in the My Disney Experience app – from entering our theme parks to redeeming FastPass+ selections, using dining plan credits, linking Disney PhotoPass photos and more!

Event retail bands will be available in limited quantities for the following race weekends:

Learn more about other runDisney events.

7 – Celebrate the 30thAnniversary of Splash Mountain with the Newest Wishables Collection

Wishables are the latest collectible craze, and there are some new ones to collect this month. Here are all the details from Disney cast member Thomas Smith.

I’m excited to share with you the newest collection for the month of July, inspired by the classic Splash Mountain attraction, which just so happens to be celebrating its 30th anniversary at Disneyland park this month! What better way to celebrate the Disney Parks classic attraction than by picking up Br’er Rabbit or a blind bag with one of the other members of the Splash Mountain gang?

Available starting today at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and shopDisney, these new Wishables are the perfect little friends to pick up in the parks and take along with you on your adventure to find your “laughing place.”

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Whether you are swinging by the Emporium at Disneyland park or the Magic Kingdom Park, or shopping elsewhere in the parks, you can find Wishables at your favorite Disney Park and bring them along for all of your future adventures.

Trying to collect all five in the collection will make for quite the Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah day! Add the new Splash Mountain Wishables to your collection and continue to follow along and share your own photos using #Wishable, #DisneyParksWishables and #DisneyParksWishablesWednesday.

8 – New ‘The Lion King’ Inspired Merchandise Now Available

The live-action movie, ‘The Lion King,’ is almost here! To celebrate, Disney has released some all new merchandise to celebrate the film. Here are all the details from Disney cast member Thomas Smith.

Some extROARdinary new merchandise inspired by Disney’s all-new movie “The Lion King” arrives at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – and you’re among the first to see it!

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“The Lion King”-inspired items include several vibrant T-shirts in a variety of colors as well as special apparel featuring Simba and Nala.  All of the items are now available at Mombasa Marketplace, Island Mercantile and Discovery Trading Company at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Also, be on the lookout for our new “Lion King” Funko Pop collection! Rafiki, Simba, Scar, Pumba and Timon can soon be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom locations.

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And our “The Lion King” collection includes special items for your wrist as well – from MagicBands to Alex and Ani bracelets.

Disney’s “The Lion King” journeys to the African savanna where a future king must overcome betrayal and tragedy to assume his rightful place on Pride Rock. The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way, Disney’s “The Lion King” roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.

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!