As far as we’re concerned, Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is the official start of Spring, and this week Disney released the menus for this year’s festival. Also, we got an update on the new Epcot nighttime spectacular, Harmonious, along with lots of photos and video. Another character breakfast is returning, and Disney’s California Adventure is (sort of) reopening. Blizzard Beach is finally opening as well, and there is a new mysterious photo pop-up wall at Disney Springs. Disney Cruise Line announced an extension of their cruise cancellations. All this and more in this week’s news roundup below.
1 – Menus Released for 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival Opening March 3
In 2020, the Flower and Garden Festival only ran for about two weeks before Walt Disney World shut down in March. That’s one of the reasons why we are so eager for this year’s festival. Another big reason, of course, is the fantastic food and beverage line-up, and this year will be no different. We’re eyeing some pretty amazing items that we can’t wait to try. See the full menus at the link below.
2 – Blizzard Beach to Reopen on March 7
Disney’s Blizzard Beach is reopening on Sunday, March 7. We’re so excited to get back to the water parks. Cindy will be attending a media preview event on Thursday, March 4. She will be checking out the safety and health measures that will be in place at the water park and be getting a preview of the new food and beverages that will be offered at Blizzard Beach when it reopens. If you aren’t already following us on Instagram, be sure to for live coverage of the preview event Thursday morning, and look for our what you need to know guide that we’ll have out at the end of the week.
3 – New Limited-Capacity Ticketed Event Coming to Disney California Adventure
A Touch of Disney, a new, limited-capacity ticketed experience that begins March 18, 2021, at Disney California Adventure Park. A Touch of Disney offers some of the world-famous food and drinks from around the Disneyland Resort, plus a chance to see Disney characters, shop for the latest Disney merchandise and pop in at unique photo locations. Learn more at the link below.
4 – Disney Gives Update on Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular Coming to EPCOT
Disney continues to work on the new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious, coming to EPCOT in the future. Progress continues with more changes in place in World Showcase Lagoon. See the link below for photos and more details.
5 – Character Breakfast to Return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
There are only a handful of modified dining experiences available right now at Walt Disney World. Thankfully, we can add another option to that list. The Disney Jr. character breakfast at Hollywood and Vine is returning in March. Learn more at the link below.
6 – Ranger the Rhino Calf Joins the Herd at Kilimanjaro Safaris
The youngest member of the Rhino herd has made his debut on the savannah at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Disney Cast Member Scott Terrell shares more below:
I just love introduction days for the baby animals at Walt Disney World Resort – there’s palpable energy, pride and enthusiasm in the air, mixed with a healthy amount of anxious excitement – and today was one of those magical days.
Four-month-old white rhino calf Ranger, joined by his mom Kendi, made his big savanna debut this morning at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park to join the crash (a rhino herd), marking a monumental rite of passage.
Ranger was eager to explore his new environment with his head high and ears up – plunging right into the mud alongside Kendi for a good wallow before running around to see all the new savanna sights. This rambunctious rhino calf made fast friends with his “aunties” Lola and Jao, and mom Kendi kept close by to make sure Ranger stayed out of trouble. Of course, such an adventurous morning requires lots of energy, so there was plenty of nursing and napping going on, too.
I can’t help but get a little misty-eyed when I think back to the moment we received the news of Kendi’s pregnancy – the calf would be the first for the herd in five years – and the keepers have eagerly cheered on Kendi and Ranger through each new developmental milestone. This “little” guy is now a big boy – he’s grown to be more than four times his birth weight, weighing in at nearly 600 pounds, and his size is matched by his big, bold personality.
Collectively, Disney’s Animal Care team has hundreds of years of experience, and their teamwork and expertise are crucial to ensuring Ranger’s successful transition to the savanna. But each animal is unique with their own personalities, development and family dynamics, so each onstage introduction is something special.
Did you know rhino calves and giraffe spend time bonding in backstage environments as they grow and keepers teach important training behaviors? Other animals, like gorillas or mandrills, may make their onstage debut within a few hours of birth, with baby clinging right onto mom’s chest.
Life is always interesting in the world of animal care, which is why I love working with this team of amazing professionals at Disney. Kendi and Ranger will start spending more time on the savanna in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled for this dynamic duo on your next Kilimanjaro Safaris adventure.
If you want to learn more about how Disney cares for rhinos and helps protect these species in the wild, visit DisneyAnimals.com, check out “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” on Disney+, streaming now, and follow along on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
7 – #TheWishEffect: Jace’s Home-Run Experience at Fenway Park Delivered Memories and a Boost of Confidence to Last a Lifetime
More wishes have been granted by Disney and Make-A-Wish that will cheer your heart. Disney Cast Member Shelby Grasser shares more below.
Nineteen-year-old Jace Andrews has seen the life-changing power of a wish firsthand, and he wants other kids facing critical illnesses to experience that as well. The Texas teen lights up as he recalls what it was like to become a Boston Red Sox player for a day and meet his idol, second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, courtesy of Make-A-Wish. And while Jace’s memories of hitting a ball over Fenway Park’s legendary Green Monster continue to fill him with immeasurable joy, what he’s come to treasure most about his wish is the confidence he gained from it. He talks about the lasting impact of his grand-slam wish in the latest episode of Disney’s video series The Wish Effect, which reunited him virtually with ESPN reporter and essayist, Chris Connelly, who first met Jace in 2014 when his wish was featured in the network’s “My Wish” series that appeared on SportsCenter.
When Jace’s wish was granted, the then-12-year-old had already undergone three surgeries for a congenital heart condition—with the first operation taking place just days after he was born. He looks back on his childhood as “a roller coaster of a ride with ups and downs.” Jace’s heart condition prevented him from playing contact sports, and while he made an attempt to play golf and baseball with other kids his age, he simply didn’t have the stamina to keep up. A family vacation to Baltimore with his sports-loving family that included a match-up between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox provided unexpected inspiration and set Jace’s wish into motion.
“I sat on the first base line, and as soon as the Red Sox took the field in the bottom of the first inning to play defense, there was a little second baseman standing on the field named Dustin Pedroia,” Jace recounts. “And at the time I was not the biggest; I was a very small kid. I was not that tall, I was pretty skinny, and I kind of connected [with him] because Dustin was the smallest on the field. So I said, ‘Hey, if he can do it, I can do anything I want to as well.’”
When it came time for Jace to choose his wish, he knew that he wanted to meet Pedroia, whose passion had become an inspiration to him. ESPN, which has been part of a 40-year relationship between Disney and Make-A-Wish that has seen more than 140,000 wishes come true, chronicled Jace’s unforgettable visit to Fenway Park. On his wish trip, Jace had his own locker for the day in the Red Sox clubhouse, consulted with the manager on the game’s batting order, took batting practice alongside his hero and, with Pedroia’s coaching, was able to hit his own ball over the Green Monster. “It probably took a good 15 to 20 minutes to get that one over, and it’s something that you never forget,” Jace says. “I remember the joy, the happiness—every emotion from that day is locked into that moment.” He points to that accomplishment, along with throwing out the game’s first pitch, as experiences that left him speechless.
But as a direct result of his wish, the “speechless” 12-year-old soon found his words, along with a powerful boost of confidence that drives him to this day. “After that wish I became a new person.,” Jace says with a laugh. “I knew from that day forward that whatever I wanted to do, that’s what I was going to work towards. And I knew from that moment that sports was where I wanted to be in some way, shape or form.” Jace is now a freshman at Oklahoma State University where he is studying sports media and hoping to become a sports broadcaster one day. “I get to be part of the game like nobody else does, and I get to bring the story to everybody else—which is what I feel like baseball is, it’s a story,” he says. Jace acknowledges how much he wishes he could play sports, but he emphasizes that he feels he’s getting more satisfaction from broadcasting than he ever would as an athlete.
Jace encourages other kids who are eagerly anticipating their own wishes to take some time and think about what they really want—and he emphasizes that his own wish brought him more than he could have ever hoped for. The wish effect is transformative, Jace says, stressing, “From that moment on, your life will be pointed at a whole new perspective… [It] just shows you how much joy this world has, even in times of doubt, even in times of pain, even in times of fear. The joy that [wish] can bring is just life-changing. You’ll never forget it, and from that moment on, your life will be forever changed.”
To learn more about the many ways Disney is working with Make-A-Wish to provide magic to wish kids and their families when they need it most, and to see more episodes of the video series visit wish.org/Disney.
8 – Limited-Time Pop-Up at Disney Springs for Disney’s ‘Secrets of Sulphur Springs’
Calling all fans of Disney ‘Secrets of Sulphur Springs.’ A new limited-time pop-up wall has materialized in Disney Springs, and you don’t want to miss it! Disney Cast Member Jessica Safran has the details below:
If you’ve visited the Marketplace at Disney Springs recently, you might have noticed a new mysterious photo wall for the new Disney series “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” next to the Disney’s Days of Christmas store. Kyliegh Curran and Preston Oliver, stars of the time travel mystery series, found this photo wall on a recent trip to Walt Disney World Resort and had fun posing next to the larger-than-life images of themselves.
A riveting tale of mystery, suspense and time travel for kids and families, “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” follows 12-year-old Griffin Campbell (Preston) and his bright-eyed, thrill-seeking friend Harper (Kyleigh) as they uncover a secret portal that allows them to travel back in time and discover an unsolved town mystery. Now you can become part of the mystery by ‘holding’ the floating flashlight on the photo wall, just like Preston. Check it out for yourself on your next visit to Disney Springs and scan the QR code to watch the mystery unfold!
While at Walt Disney World Resort, Kyliegh and Preston came up with a fun game called ‘Secrets & Screams’, which is sort of like truth or dare but the questions reveal secrets about their show or themselves and the dares are always screams! Watch below to discover these secrets and find out which attractions Preston and Kyliegh screamed on. What secret surprised you the most?
The first five episodes of “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” are now streaming on Disney+!
9 – Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of All Departures Through May 2021 and Disney Magic Sailings Through August 10
Here is the statement from the Disney Cruise Line website:
Our team at Disney Cruise Line remains focused on the health and well-being of our Guests and team members. We are carefully preparing for a return to service following the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As we continue to refine our protocols and await further technical guidance from the CDC, we are cancelling all sailings departing through May 2021.
Disney Magic European Season
Given the likelihood of international borders remaining closed for an extended period of time, we have also made the decision to cancel Disney Magic sailings through August 10, 2021.
In light of the Canadian government’s announcement that they will not allow ships with more than 100 passengers to dock in any Canadian port until February 28, 2022, we are evaluating various options for the Disney Wonder’s scheduled season in Alaska. Once a decision is made, we will reach out to Guests booked on these sailings.
Additionally, as previously shared, based on the conditional sail order provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disney Cruise Line must cancel sailings longer than 7 nights.
Guests booked on affected sailings, who have paid their reservation in full, will be offered the choice of a cruise credit to be used for a future sailing or a full refund. Guests, who have not paid their reservations in full, will automatically receive a refund of what they have paid so far. Affected Guests and travel agents will receive an email from Disney Cruise Line outlining details and next steps.
Guests who’ve booked their reservation through a travel agent should contact them directly with any questions. Those who have booked directly with Disney Cruise Line, and have questions after receiving their email, should call (866) 325-6685 or (407) 566-7797.
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.