There are exciting new things popping up every day at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! Join us every week to read about what’s new “Around the Mouse.” This week’s Walt Disney World news update features: New animals at Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs Updates, show and tour closings, food and restaurant updates, special events and much more!
Walt Disney World Theme Parks
New! Male Gorilla Baby Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: There’s a new family member on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Animal Kingdom – a newborn male gorilla who can sometimes be seen cuddling with his mom. Born Aug. 7 to mother Azizi and father Gino, the healthy infant has already become an integral member of his family group, which includes two other adult females, Kashata and Benga, and 4-year-old Lilly. The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the fourth gorilla born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals.
New! Sumatran Tiger Arrives at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A new tiger name Sohni can be seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, a self-guided walking tour set in the land of Asia. Until very recently only one species of tiger could be found on this trail, but with Sohni’s arrival comes increased diversity in the form of a Sumatran tiger, a species that is only found in the wild on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
New! Additional Purchase Options for MagicBands: Beginning Aug. 19, select locations will test an option for Guests to purchase solid-colored MagicBands and link them to a MyDisneyExperience account at a later time. With the new Link-It Later option, Guests will be able to purchase solid-colored MagicBands (available in seven colors) and link them at a future date, which provides an opportunity to buy MagicBands as gifts. This test is taking place at stores currently selling MagicBands at theme parks, Downtown Disney, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, and Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Hotels. NOTE: This test excludes graphic MagicBands. They must be linked to a valid park ticket, annual pass or MemoryMaker account at time of purchase.
New! Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Epcot: Guests with electric vehicles now have the opportunity to charge their cars at Epcot. Four ChargePoint charging spaces at the front of the Journey parking lot are available for Guests to use by scanning their pre-ordered ChargePoint card, by easily registering for a free ChargePoint account online at http://www.chargepoint.com, or by using a credit card. The cost to charge at these stations is $.35 per kilowatt hour, with a minimum service amount of $1.50. Charging will stop once the vehicle’s battery is fully charged and ChargePoint will “ping” the owners to alert them. The charging stations are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
New! T. Rowe Price Piggy Banks Available for Purchase Online: T. Rowe Price is now selling a replica of the pigs that are a part of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure exhibit at INNOVENTIONS. The piggy banks are only available online at www.MoneyConfidentKids.com for $9.65+ shipping. They are not available at Epcot’s INNOVENTIONS West or any other location at the Walt Disney World Resort®.
New! American Idol Experience Closing: The last show of The American Idol Experience will take place August 30, 2014. At this time, there has been no announcement of what will replace this attraction.
New! American Film Institute Showcase and Shop Closed: On August 18, 2014, the American Film Institute Showcase and the corresponding gift shop its doors. At this time, there has been no announcement of what will replace this portion of the attraction.
New! Ultimate Day VIP Tour at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: Another new Food & Wine Festival event has been added this year. The Ultimate Day VIP Tour is described on the Disney Parks blog as follows: Begin the daylong festivities at the VIP Lounge hidden within the Festival Center at the Wonder’s Retreat. This special tour includes Champagne, a beverage tasting, six-course tapas-style lunch, wine, private backstage tours, time on some of the most popular Epcot attractions, food and beverage pairings with Disney chefs, VIP seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular and more. Occurring rain or shine Thursday and Sundays on select dates September through November, this private tour lasts six and a half hours and costs $399 per person (21 and up only). Call 407-WDW-TOUR (939-8687)
Reminder! New Villains Unleashed Event On August 23, 2014: A brand new special event will take place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Aug 23, 2014 8pm -1am — Villains Unleashed! For the first time ever, a record number of Disney villains – more than 50 in all – will invade Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 23 as a part of the park’s new event, Villains Unleashed. This one-night party will kick off at 8:00pm as the Disney villains have plotted to take over Hollywood Studios. The celebration of their wonderful wickedness will include exclusive merchandise, specialty food and beverage and exciting atmosphere entertainment offerings. Purchase tickets at Disneyvillainsparty.com for $67 for adults and $62 for children, plus tax.
Reminder! Some Performances of Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Cancelled: Due to upcoming concrete work on Main Street, U.S.A., there will not be morning performances of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party on the following dates: Aug 19, 20 and 29. The parade will only perform at 5:40 and 7 p.m. on these dates.
Reminder! New Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Late Nights – LIVE!: Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE! street party will run from 9:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday during the festival between the United Kingdom Pavilion and World Showcase Plaza. The event includes six tastes (food and beverages) from select marketplaces, live music, entertainment, and a DJ. Cost is $79, plus tax. Admission to Epcot is not required after 9 p.m. for guests who have purchased credentials to the event.
Reminder! Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package: From noon-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday during a select festival period (September 22-November 6), the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Premium Package is an opportunity for guests staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel (or the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels) to sip and savor in style. The package includes an in-room gift with wine for guests 21 and older, a festival wine glass, truffles and credential for the Premium Package Areas at the festival – plus an Epcot International Food & Wine Festival MagicBand and a $50 Disney Gift Card to start the fun. The credential gives access to 10 VIP “Premium Package Areas” around World Showcase Promenade where you can order items from Marketplaces and have them delivered to you – no waiting in line. You can also bring your favorite marketplace treats into the Premium Package Areas and just relax. The package also includes one admission to Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE!, which you can attend on Tuesday or Thursday night. Cost is $199 per guest, plus tax, plus Epcot admission.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
New! Capt. Cooks at Polynesian Village Reopened: On Wednesday, August 13 the newly refurbished quick-service dining location reopened to Guests. Capt. Cook’s once again operates 24 hours each day, and is located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Dole Whip is not available at Capt. Cook’s, but it will be served in a new location at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Pineapple Lanai, which is opening soon. The new menu includes a classic lobster roll served on a buttered bun. They’ve added blackened fish tacos, a noodle bowl (beef or shrimp) and delectable coconut curry meatballs. A new gourmet hot dog is slathered with garlic ketchup and mango relish. And crispy fried chicken and waffles, a hearty breakfast favorite that stays on the menu all day. The favorite hot beef ‘n blue sandwich stays as well as the pizzas, grilled chicken sandwich and house-made sushi, delivered from Kona Island upstairs. The breakfast favorite Tonga Toast is still on the menu, along with a new breakfast burrito with egg, bacon, potatoes and Cheddar cheese.
New! Kona Island at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Adds Shaved Ice: Another new treat at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is Hawaiian shaved ice at Kona Island on the resort’s second floor. Located just off the monorail, Kona Island serves specialty coffee and pastries all day, and now shaved ice joins the lineup, along with takeout sushi. Hours are 6:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 5 – 10 p.m.
New! Sunrise Safari Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Ending: the last day of operation for the Sunrise Safari tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be Dec. 28,2014. Guests interested in exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom can still book Backstage Safari and Wild Africa Trek. Guests staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also have the opportunity to participate in the Wanyama Safari, Night Safari and Dine with an Animal Specialist.
New! Disney Food Truck Serving Breakfast at Disney’s All Star Music Resort: Breakfast options are available at the Disney Food Truck every day from 7-11:30 a.m. The food truck is parked near the Singing Spirits Pool Bar at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Menu includes: Egg, bacon and cheese breakfast croissant; Kielbasa and caramelized onion biscuit sliders with sausage gravy; Strawberry-covered waffles with fresh whipped cream; donut holes and more.
New! Wine Pairings at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort: New late-afternoon wine pairings combine food and wine with a little enlightenment, with wine experts on hand to talk about what you’re sipping at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Upcoming dates are 4-5:15 p.m. September 4, September 25, October 2 and October 30. Wineries aren’t yet announced (the last one was France’s Louis Jadot), but the Disney chefs are having fun with pairing delicious food with whatever is poured. It’s an intimate setting – no more than 18 guests, and the conversation flows with the wine. Cost varies, but is in the $20-30 range for three wines paired with three small plates, and price depends on what’s being poured. For reservations, call 407-934-3833.
Reminder! Sassagoula Rivercruise Now Open: The Downtown Disney Marketplace Watercraft dock reopened Aug. 15. It had been closed since February, as part of the overall enhancements at the property. When the dock reopened, the following service changes to the Sassagoula Rivercruise takes effect:
- Port Orleans River Cruise – Yellow Route: Service between Downtown Disney Marketplace and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
- Downtown Disney Area Water Taxi – Red Route: Service between Downtown Disney districts including the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and the West Side
In addition to the Water Taxi (Red Route) that services all locations, the West Side boat dock continues to offer the
- Disney Vacation Club Ferry – Blue Route: Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Disney’s Saratoga Resort & Spa as well as the Treehouse Villas
- Disney Vacation Club Ferry – Green Route: Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Walt Disney World Resort – General
New! Festival of the Masters Cancelled in 2014: Downtown Disney, which normally hosts the Festival of the Masters, is undergoing the largest expansion in its history. As they prepare for Disney Springs, much of the area that traditionally houses the Festival of the Masters is unavailable due to expansion work and unfortunately they will not be able to host the event this year.
Reminder! Reservations Can Now be Made 20 Minutes in Advance: Dining reservations can now be made for available seatings up to 20 minutes in advance by using the My Disney Experience website or via the My Disney Experience mobile app on iOS devices. Future enhancements are planned to include the same booking feature for the My Disney Experience mobile app for Android devices. Previously, reservations could only be made for two hours in advance.
Reminder! Inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Conventions Coming to Walt Disney World: On August 22-23, you can officially kick-off sport’s greatest season of the year with ESPN‘s inaugural Fantasy Football Convention, taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The first-of-its-kind event features unprecedented access to ESPN talent including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Sara Walsh, Mark Schlereth, Stephania Bell, Tim Hasselbeck and more! The event includes an epic Tailgate Party, where you can mix and mingle with ESPN talent and be a judge in the first-ever ESPN Chili Bowl by taste testing creations from decorated Disney Chefs from around the world, and breakfast with some of your favorite characters decked out for the gridiron. The Convention includes a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now. The event finale features the opportunity to take part in a live fantasy football draft with the help of ESPN Fantasy Experts roaming the floor. And best yet, season winners of leagues created during the Convention will receive a customized trophy. Talk about bragging rights! Price is $349 per person.
- August 23: Keep an eye out for spellbinding commemorative T-shirts and more as part of the “Villains Unleashed” event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Remember, a separate ticket is required to attend this event. If you are thinking of going, purchase tickets now at www.DisneyVillainsParty.com or by calling 407.939.1933.
- August 29: Be sure to pick up a copy of Tinker Bell: An Evolution, a full biography about everyone’s favorite fiery fairy by author Mindy Johnson. Mindy will appear at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3 – 4 p.m., alongside special guest and Disney Legend, Alice Davis. Tip: Also being released during the event is Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man.
Written by Lori Wall: Lori is a lifelong fan and visitor of Walt Disney World! Her love of Disney World has grown through visits with her own family as well as through planning magical vacations for others! Lori is an expert in maximizing vacations while sticking to a travel budget. Contact her about saving an extra 5% off your Disney vacation with an insider tip! Book your vacation with Lori at (845) 698- 0102 or request a price online.