Spring has arrived at Walt Disney World and brought with is a bunch of new things. Naturally, spring just wouldn’t be the same without the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival which is now open. Speaking of openings, Blizzard Beach is now welcoming guests once again. We got a sneak peek at the new rooms at Polynesian Resort and the main entrance at Epcot had some additional finishing touches added. Be developments at Disneyland resort with a possible opening date coming soon. Flower & Garden Festival isn’t the only special event happening at Disney World. Several smaller celebrations are happening around property. All this and more below in this week’s news roundup.
1 – 2021 Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival – Now Open!
The Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival opened this week at Walt Disney World Resort, continuing for a record 125 days until July 5, 2021. The park-wide event features fun for the whole family inspired by the season, from spectacular Disney character topiaries to lush gardens to fresh flavors from Outdoor Kitchens and more. Learn what you need to know about the festival at the link below.
2 – Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park – Now Open!
Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park is now open! This week Cindy visited the park to get a sneak peek of the new health and safety guidelines in place and enjoy some of the new food and beverage offerings. Cindy visited Blizzard Beach on opening day to better understand what it’s like visiting the water park with modified operations. Our full guide with everything you need to know will be posted soon!
3 – California Governor Clears Disneyland Resort for Reopening – Opening Date Coming Soon
On Friday, California officials announced theme parks in the state, including Disneyland Resort, will be able to reopen as early as April 1, 2021. According to the state’s guidance, theme parks can operate at 15% once in the tier 2 category, which is expected to be reached as early as next week. (Walt Disney World reopened in July 2020 at 25% capacity).
Ken Potrock, President, Disneyland Resort, reacted to the news on Twitter.
News outlets are also reporting that initially, entry will be restricted to California Residents. This restriction may bring complications to Disney since tickets sold out on Thursday for the ‘Touch of Disney’ event at Disney California Adventure, which is set to run on weekends beginning March 18 through April 19. Many guests who purchased tickets for the event are out-of-state guests. We will report any official updates regarding the opening. Sign up for our newsletter, if you haven’t already, by clicking here.
4 – Disney Release First Look at Reimagined Rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Walt Disney World Resort revealed the first look inside reimagined guest rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, one of the most popular Disney Resort hotels at the Central Florida vacation destination. The resort is now accepting bookings for late July 2021, welcoming guests to rooms featuring a new color palette inspired by the Pacific Ocean and its many islands.
Along with all-new furnishings and fixtures, the rooms will include details, patterns and textures from the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Moana” – those who look carefully may discover several characters and references to the story, including the heart of Te Fiti. In addition, the sandy ocean floor inspires the bathroom tiles and vanity’s carved details, complementing the fresh, modern overall approach to these reimagined rooms.
The resort is also developing a dramatic new porte cochere that will enhance the arrival experience as guests pull up to its Great Ceremonial House. The inviting design features a high-pitched, open-truss roof covered in a thatch style with pops of color. The area’s new open and airy vibe will be complemented by four chandeliers inspired by glass floats, fishing nets and oversized bamboo elements mirroring the chandelier inside the lobby. In addition, the resort’s Monorail station located above the porte cochere is receiving new wooden screens with geometric patterns in tropical colors, adding to the overall ambiance of the entrance.
Drawing inspiration from enduring fantasies of the South Pacific, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a tropical oasis along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, across the water from Magic Kingdom Park. Open since 1971, the resort transports guests to a romanticized American version of the South Seas.
5 – New Flagpoles In front of Spaceship Earth Installed & New Lighting System Debuted
This week new flagpoles were installed in front of Spaceship Earth, and the new lighting system debuted, rounding out the final touches of the new entrance plaza at the park. Walt Disney World Site Portfolio Executive, Zach Riddley, shared information on his Instagram account about the flagpoles. Learn more below.
6 – Foodie Guide to A Touch of Disney at Disney California Adventure Park – Opening March 18
A Touch of Disney at Disney California Adventure is 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. This week Disney released the complete Foodie Guide to the event. Learn more at the link below.
7 – New Orange Bird Mural Now at Sunshine Terrace in Magic Kingdom
This week a new Disney Wall in Magic Kingdom and we’re loving it. The Orange Bird can now be found outside of Sunshine Tree Terrace. It’s a super cute wall that is the perfect backdrop for your Citrus Swirl photos!
Walt Disney World Site Portfolio Executive, Zach Riddley, shared some background information on the Orange Bird on his Instagram account. Learn more below.
7 – Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort Celebrates 25 Years of Magic
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, a Disney Vacation Club resort, recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Disney Cast Member Heather Hunter shares more about the resort below.
Twenty-five years ago today, Disney Vacation Club opened its third property and second beach resort: Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. Reminiscent of a 1940’s-era hunting and fishing lodge, the resort is set among mature live oak trees (some more than 300 years old) and features many recreational activities, including 12 miles of breathtaking beaches.
Often, we hear from members and guests that it is the cast members who bring the magic of resorts like Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort to life. So to honor the 25th anniversary, we wanted to highlight one of the many amazing cast members who continues to welcome members and guests “home” to this one-of-a-kind retreat. We had the opportunity to catch up with General Manager Jerome Smith to learn more about his unique history at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and why he loves making magic.
Jerome has spent his entire career in hospitality, but he was looking for something more when he had the opportunity to meet with Disney. Of that first meeting he said, “Within an hour I knew my career was going to be with Disney. I could feel the magic, the appreciation Disney has for its cast members, and that it was a place where I could dream bigger.”
In 2012, Jerome joined the cast of Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort as food and beverage manager, overseeing the operations of two quick-service restaurants and the resort’s bar. Within two weeks of holding this role, Jerome identified opportunities to improve efficiency, and member and cast satisfaction. He impressed the resort’s management who began setting him on a leadership path.
Jerome served as food and beverage manager for three more years during which he was challenged by the general manager to continue to do everything he did behind the scenes while also building in plenty of time to interact with guests and cast to further improve the experience for all. He embraced this challenge with such enthusiasm that it led to him being appointed as the resort’s first duty manager.
In 2017, Jerome was appointed general manager, becoming the first African American and first South Carolina local to hold this role. His leadership skills were quickly tested by Hurricane Irma’s arrival just a few weeks later. With his leadership and support, cast members were able to safely evacuate guests from the island, close the resort, repair damage and reopen to welcome members home as quickly as possible.
“We are a family here, both cast members and Disney Vacation Club members — we are all family,” said Jerome. “My word of the year is ‘impact,’ how can I make the biggest positive impact for all 150 cast members and our guests. Everything they say to me matters, and I know what I say matters to them.”
While his days as general manager are quite busy, Jerome loves receiving visits from members every week. They stop in to say hello during their stay at the resort and recall the interactions they had when he served as duty manager. Jerome knows the work that he and the cast are doing now to provide excellent service and build meaningful relationships with each other and guests will ensure the resort continues to provide magical vacation experiences for the next twenty-five years.
ABOUT DISNEY’S HILTON HEAD ISLAND RESORT:
Located on the picturesque coast of South Carolina, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort offers a multitude of unique recreation options that can turn any guest’s stay into a true adventure. Families can zip down the wraparound Water Tower Slide at the Big Dipper 72,000-gallon heated pool, while young children can frolic with water-spitting frogs at the Little Dipper Pool. Nature lovers can enjoy fishing, biking, kayaking, a leisurely stroll on the beach and more.
CELEBRATE THE ANNIVERSARY WITH A DIGITAL BACKGROUND:
To help you make this island getaway the backdrop of your next virtual meeting, we’re pleased to present this downloadable digital backdrop to magically transport you to the resort’s scenic Broad Creek Mercantile and be sure to wish Jerome and all the cast of Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort happy anniversary in the comments below. To learn more or book a stay, visit the resort’s website.
8 – Disney Celebrates the Release of ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’
The latest Walt Disney Animation Studios film has been released, and Disney is celebrating. Disney Cast Member Jon Price shares more below.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” releases this Friday and there are many ways to celebrate the new film at Disney Parks and at home!
‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ travels to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, guests can take a photo with a 40-ton sand sculpture at Discovery Island Stage, learn to draw new characters at The Animation Experience at Conservation Station or enjoy several new tasty treats, all inspired by the film. Here’s a look at the making of the sand sculpture that took two artisans three days to carve.
Celebrating from home? Download the free “Raya and the Last Dragon” Activity Packet, a perfect way to discover more about the film with activities themed to nature, storytelling, creativity, friendship and community.
And find your inner-warrior while streaming the “Raya and the Last Dragon” Soundtrack, featuring score by Oscar-nominated composer James Newton Howard and new original song, “Lead the Way” by Grammy-nominated artist Jhené Aiko.
9 – ‘Celebrate HER Story’ at Disney Springs in Honor of Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month and a new event at Disney Springs is celebrating the contributions of women throughout Disney history. Disney Cast Member Kelsey Noland shares more below.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the contributions of women throughout our history and celebrating some of the women who are pioneering our future. We’re keeping this celebration alive at Disney Springs and will be spotlighting the talented women who showcase their super powers as entrepreneurs, to the business-savvy role models and artists behind-the-scenes.
Starting today, I’m so excited to share that “Celebrate HER Story at Disney Springs” puts the spotlight on those talented female cast members, artists, and business leaders making a positive impact at Disney Springs. From special treats created by women, talented female-led entertainment, and unique offerings, there’s something for everyone to enjoy this month!
Celebrate Women and Artistry: We’re celebrating women who have paved the way and are leading the next generation of artists including those who work in art and illustration to filmmaking and entertainment. Be on the lookout and mark your calendars for these happenings:
- Our spotlight series at The Art of Disney and WonderGround Gallery is returning with a focus on female filmmakers, artists, and directors who work or have worked at the Walt Disney Animation Studios including Mary Blair, Ruthie Tompson, Retta Scott (Worcester), Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad, and more. (This month’s spotlight series will be rotating all month long so be sure to follow @DisneySprings on social for updates!)
- Visiting artists will be popping up showcasing their talents and artwork all month-long including: Julia Gabrielov March 13-14, 20-21 at The Art of Disney, Meredith Young March 26-28 at Marketplace Co-Op, Paola Gracey March 26-28 at The Art of Disney and special appearances by Jasmine Beckett Griffith on select dates from March 11-31 at Marketplace Co-Op.
- On March 8, mark your calendar and meet Fabiola Garza Villalobos, Character Artist from the Disney Creative Group. Fabiola is a published author and illustrator, creating the art for A Little Golden Book based on Disney & Pixar’s Coco as well as creating the pattern on the newest Dooney & Bourke collection featuring her favorite characters from “Robinhood.” Stop by and meet Fabiola from 10 a.m-noon at Ever After Jewelry Co. & Accessories where she’ll be greeting guests and signing purchases.
- Look for new entertainment acts at the AdventHealth Waterside Stage every Wednesday night from 5-9 p.m. as we highlight strong female vocalists and acts who are sharing their own inspiring stories or songs in honor of Women’s History Month including Just Imagin3 and the Skillzmatic Band “SMB”.
Delight Your Taste Buds: Many of our guests love all the “Instagrammable” creations that come from Disney Springs and I’m pleased to give you a little peek behind the curtain of two of the powerhouse women who make the ideas come to life. Chef Yolanda Lazo Colon from Amorette’s Patisserie and Chef Amanda Lauder from The Ganachery both execute the creative development of our food & beverage offerings as well as manage the daily operation of their locations, all while leading a talented team of cast members.
During the month of March, both chefs have created their own unique offering inspired by Women’s History Month and what it means to them. At Amorette’s Patisserie, Chef Yoly has whipped up Chef Yoly’s Flancocho, a beautiful mix of her two favorite desserts (chocolate cake and flan) inspired by her Puerto Rican heritage. At The Ganachery, indulge your palate with Chef Amanda’s Chef Toque Bonbon — a sweet treat inspired by her childhood dream of becoming a pastry chef filled with Dark 65% chocolate, Morello cherry gel, and pistachio ganache. Chef Amanda is also bringing back the guest-favorite Captain Marvel Chocolate Piñata filled with pecan toffee crunch pieces and decorated in the superhero’s iconic red, gold, and blue signature colors.
We’re also paying homage to our favorite mom and superhero Elastigirl, with the new Mrs. Incredible Float made with black cherry lemonade, strawberry and lemon DOLE Whip served with a Mrs. Incredible novelty straw at Marketplace Snacks.
At City Works Eatery & Pour House, the restaurant is spotlighting the “Her Hops Flight” featuring four female-owned/led breweries from the southeast including:
- Robonaut Red Ale – Playalinda Brewing Co., Titusville, FL (Co-Owners, Katie Raike & Donna Scott)
- You’re My Boy, Blue! – Brew Bus Brewing, Tampa, FL (Co-Founder and CFO, Toni Derby)
- Hakuna Matata – D9 Brewing Co., Cornelius, NC (Charlotte Regional Head Brewer, Carli Smith)
- Duke’s Cold Nose – Bold City Brewery, Jacksonville, FL (Co-Founder and Co-Owner, Susan Miller)
As part of our continued effort to support HER, in celebration of Women’s History Month,Sprinkles is partnering with the Step Up Organization and honoring women through history with their White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakefilled with raspberry compote and topped with raspberry white chocolate frosting. (Available March 1-14.) Be on the lookout for their “She is FIRECE” red velvet cupcake on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day. Throughout 2021, Sprinkles will also be donating over $25K to various female empowerment organizations including Step Up.
Discover Female-Owned Businesses: Shopping for something special takes on a whole new meaning when you know the people behind each brand and there are several female-owned businesses at Disney Springs that we’re honored to highlight. While you’re visiting with us this month, be on the lookout for these venues:
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (Baker and Owner, Erin McKenna)
- Rustic Cuff (Owner Jill Donovan)
- Sugarboo & Co. (Artist and Owner, Rebecca Puig)
- Vivoli il Gelato(Owner, Silvana Vivoli)
Keep an eye out later this month as we share more stories of inspiring women of Disney Springs and our cast members #WomenBehindTheMagic. While you’re shopping, don’t miss these retailers who are supporting women’s empowerment through special products and offerings:
- ALEX AND ANI – Shop collections that inspire and feature empowered women including the “it’s a NEW DAY” collection celebrating women reaching their full potential through the pursuit of personal growth.
- House of Blues Gear Shop – The shop is putting the spotlight on the Halo Mission Jewelry Collection featuring jewelry pieces made from guitar strings and owned by women.
- L’Occitane en Provence – For over 40 years, L’Occitane has been in fair-trade partnership with women of West Africa who harvest the shea fruit in their products and in honor of Women’s History Month, 100% of profits from their Solidarity hand cream are donated to women’s leadership causes.
- Lovepop – More than half of the Lovepop workforce is made up of strong, passionate women, and they are proud to offer special cards and gifts designed by women for women. From moms to mentors to BFF’s and beyond, take the time to recognize and empower all of the amazing women in your life in celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8.
- Pele Soccer – Pele Soccer is proud to highlight and feature an extensive collection dedicated to the four-time Champion U.S. Women’s National Team with a variety of products in–store such as authentic jerseys, t-shirts, hats, and more.
- Ron Jon Surf Shop – Ron Jon is proud to spotlight two lines of product available in their stores including Central Florida-based brand, SS Designs (President & CEO, Cindy Zimmerman) who develops custom art for their trendy apparel and Natural Life (Founder & CEO Patti Hughes) a trendy line of irresistible treasures with a free-spirit style and a positive vibe.
- Vera Bradley – Minnie Mouse is one of our favorite fashion-forward trailblazers and she’s featured as the star on the new Minnie’s Garden Party and Minnie’s Garden Dots pattern releasing on March 11.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via @DisneySprings to learn about these amazing women and brands as part of our spotlight series. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #CelebrateHERStory for your chance to be featured on our social media handles.
10 – KA WA’A, a Lu’au at Aulani Resort Returns March 27
The Lu’au at Disney’s Aulani Resort is returning! Disney Cast member Nikki Moreno has the details below.
As the sun dips into the ocean to end the day, a conch shell is blown in the distance and you can hear the Hawaiian oli chant begin. This is the tradition of welcoming our guests to KA WA‘A, a Lu‘au at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa … which guests will soon be able to experience once again! I’m thrilled to announce that reservations are now available for KA WA‘A Lu‘au which will reopen on March 27.
Just like we have done with other resort experiences, we have made some adjustments to our lu‘au with the health and safety of our cast and guests in mind. Please see the resort’s website for additional safety measures.
Set under the stars on the beautiful Hālāwai Lawn, KA WA‘A Lu‘au immerses guests in the live music, traditional dance and ancient stories of Hawai‘i through Disney’s signature entertainment. Prior to the show, guests are encouraged to participate in family activities that are now enjoyed from the comfort of their own table. These activities include flower arranging and poi pounding, a process in which Taro root is ground to create poi – a food that is a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet.
My mouth is watering just thinking about all the amazing flavors families enjoy during this special dinner experience! The lu‘au features a three-course plated meal that includes island favorites such as ahi poke and lomilomi salmon salad, imu-style braised pork, island fish, teriyaki chicken, local seasonal vegetables and a dessert trio. To accompany the meal, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are included in the event price.
After dinner, guests are treated to an enchanting journey through Hawaiian history and discover its deep cultural roots in canoe (wa‘a) exploration, which brought the first explorers to the shores of Ko Olina. Throughout the evening, lively music and traditional Hawaiian dance vividly bring the show’s story to life.
The lu‘au is offered three nights per week at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Reservations can be made online, or by calling (844) 284-7644. Reserve early as seating is limited to maintain physical distance between parties.
See you under the stars!
Note: In printed materials, Aulani Resort uses the contemporary spelling of Hawaiian words, which includes marks such as the kahako (macron). Because these marks do not often display correctly in electronic formats, including the text of the Disney Parks Blog, we’ve omitted them in some instances.
11 – Disney x Jerrod Maruyama Home Collection Now at Disney Parks and shopDisney
A new home collection is now available at select Disney Parks and shopDisney! Disney Cast Member Anthony Armenia shares more below.
I don’t know about you but being at home so much over the past year has really inspired me to bring as much joy as possible into these four walls! Today, I’m bringing you a first look at how you can spice up your living space with the latest home collection from Disney Parks by Disney artist, Jerrod Maruyama!
The Disney x Jerrod Maruyama Home Collection features over a dozen new products, perfect for bringing the magic of Disney Parks to life at home. Select items from the collection are available now at shopDisney.com, Walt Disney World Resort and Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort.
From kitchen gear like a baking pan, bowls, plates and serving trays to home décor like a pillow, throw blanket, coasters and succulent planters, you’ll want to redecorate your whole home with this collection. Check it out:
Give your home décor a little Disney flair with some ad-EAR-able items including a classic Mickey Mouse ear hat pillow featuring some of my Disney Parks faves and some must-have succulent planters featuring fan-favorite attractions Mad Tea Party and Dumbo The Flying Elephant!
Head on over to the kitchen for even more cutesy inspiration! Prepare some mini dome cakes or dessert of your choosing with an adorable nesting bowl set, plates and serve it on a whimsical mini cake stand or serving tray!
Take the loveable designs on the go with the cutest lunch box there ever was and a tumbler of your choosing (including one with interchangeable toppers)! Let’s be honest, I’ll take anything with the Orange Bird on it!
The designs feature kawaii-style versions of Disney Parks favorites snacks such as turkey legs, churros and Mickey Mouse bars; favorite attractions such as Spaceship Earth, Mad Tea Party and Matterhorn; and favorite characters such as Figment, Orange Bird and Dumbo.
Go ahead and get ready because with this collection, your home is about to be a whole lot cuter! Head on over to shopDisney worldwide, WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort and in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort to check out each and every item.
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.