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15 for ’15 – What a Year for Walt Disney World Resort Dining!

posted on December 29th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


New restaurants open, one closes (to reopen in 2016) – here are 15 top Walt Disney World Resort culinary stories for 2015. Up next: 16 for 2016.

Starting in March, the Outdoor Kitchens expanded at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. It was the third year for the culinary addition at the festival, with the new Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions with treats like cachapas with farmer’s cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and seafood ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado.

Also in March, the new breakfast started at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park. The quick-service breakfast menu has a decidedly French touch, with everything from assorted cured meat and cheese served with marmalade, fresh fruit and a toasted baguette to eggs Florentine served in a puff pastry shell with country ham and roasted plum tomatoes.

Late March saw the opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s a popular spot, and guests ooh and ah over more than 1,200 pieces of memorabilia. The hand-crafted cocktails are delicious (order an Uh-Oa! and see what happens with the special effects).

Beginning April 1, new allergy-friendly menus debuted in 2015 at more than 100 quick-service and table-service locations at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, along with more ways to make the special-diet-request process easier.

In May, the much-anticipated Harambe Market opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where food plays a starring role with African-inspired street food at four walk-up windows and plenty of shaded seating. Skewered chicken and kabob flatbreads, beef and pork sausage fried in a curried corn batter (like a corn dog), spice-rubbed karubi ribs and South African wines are a home run. Or try tikka masala chicken, the newest addition to the menu.

April saw the opening of The BOATHOUSE, the first all-new dining spot at Disney Springs – not a bad view in the house with all of the dining rooms with waterfront views or on the water. Seafood is the star (try the lobster roll). Then take a ride in the dream boats from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s (or watch for free from the dock).

The new Ferrytale Wishes, A Fireworks Dessert Cruise, debuted in September, the perfect way to experience Magic Kingdom Park fireworks from a spot on Seven Seas Lagoon. The decks are laden with delectable sweets, plenty of ice cream and beverages (with and without alcohol) in souvenir glow glasses. Enjoy this sweet ending to your day, then settle to watch the spectacular Wishes nighttime spectacular overhead, the largest fireworks display ever at Walt Disney World Resort.

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival expands for first time into Future World (Sept. 25-Nov. 16) with four new food and beverage marketplaces. Starting along the Rose Walk between Future World and World Showcase, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese festival area featured the Cheese Studio (offering a cheese sampler to pair with wines) and Wine Studio with premium wines on tap. The new Next Eats area included Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab marketplaces inspired by ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning lifestyle series “The Chew.”

Late September was the opening of the much-anticipated Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar along the waterfront at Disney Springs. With 150 seats inside and out, the bar cleverly features salvaged equipment, spare airplane parts and mementos from Jock’s travels.

For the first time ever, “The Chew,” ABC’s Emmy-Award® winning daytime show, broadcasted from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival October 7-9. Hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall filmed segments across Walt Disney World Resort in addition to taping before a live audience. Episodes aired October 12-16, 2015.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine added to Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With five distinct dining experiences depending on the season, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine, Minnie’s Halloween Dine, and Minnie’s Holiday Dine. Festive new costumes and seasonally themed eats make this dinner fun for the whole family.

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Morimoto Asia also opened in November, the newest to join the line-up at Disney Springs. It’s the newest venture for Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and his first restaurant featuring Pan-Asian cuisine, including the signature Morimoto Peking Duck, carved and roasted in house.

New Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen opened in December in the Magic Kingdom. Diners can set off on a culinary adventure at a new eatery in Adventureland featuring “World Famous Jungle Cuisine.” Just steps from the legendary Jungle Cruise attraction you can enjoy the bold, flavorful tastes of Asia, South America and Africa at this new 222-seat table-service restaurant staffed by the wisecracking crew of the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd.

The Ganachery opened in December at Disney Springs, a jewel box of a shop that’s showcases the beauty of chocolate. The star of the show is a custom-made ganache, Disney’s own recipe for a luxurious mixture of melted chocolate and cream. Stepping inside this shop is reminiscent of an apothecary of another era, a lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ends the year on a high note by winning the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award – that’s 16 years in a row, putting the restaurant in an exclusive tier of dining experiences. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.4 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. The restaurant also was once again honored as one of the top restaurants in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards (No. 6 of 25). And Time Magazine named Victoria & Albert’s to its Top 100 list of U.S. restaurants.

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From Downtown Disney to Disney Springs, Holiday Music is Still a Seasonal Staple

posted on December 15th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager


This holiday season, our first as “Disney Springs,” it’s been fun to see all that’s new on property during this most festive time of year.

It’s also been nice to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about some of my favorite long-time offerings.

At the top of list? The Christmas music that fills the promenade through December.

One of our performers, Pat Frost, has been making musical magic for years. With his Santa hat and conch shells, his rendition of familiar holiday tunes is unique, to say the least!

I loved taking a look back at this 2012 video from Christmas past when we were still “Downtown Disney” and the West Side hadn’t yet begun to make way for new locations like Starbucks and United World Soccer.

If you want to see Pat perform this year, stop by Dockside Margaritas — he’s frequently spotted there. And if you miss him, pick up a Times Guide to check out other entertainment options including Including meet and greets with Santa, live musical performances, stilt walkers and more! ’Tis the season.

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First Look at New ‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Merchandise at Disney Parks

posted on October 2nd, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


New “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” merchandise featuring some frightfully fun friends from Halloween Town is in stores now at Disney Parks! Let’s check it out!

Fall accessories are definitely a must! Look for a messenger bag and sectional tote, along with a cleverly designed Jack Skellington suit tote and reversible Jack and Sally cross-body. Other festive wear includes arm warmers, themed scarves and even a coffin-shaped Jack wallet. I’ve already shared some of this year’s novelty headwear with you, but as you can see there are a few other choices that are a bit more subtle and can certainly be worn any time of year.

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New art debuts on a variety of themed tees including Jack Skellington as the Master of Fright, Pumpkin King and one that will have you wondering if it’s a “trick of the eye.” As the evenings cool down and a chill starts to fill the air, don’t despair – a new themed fleece will have you more than prepared. Ladies, a new dress, fashion tees and even a Sally-themed costume tee (available in select locations) are just a few ways for you to rock any look! Don’t worry, we have your little guys and ‘ghouls’ covered, too, with new fleece and tees and even a Jack Skellington suit-inspired coverall for your little pumpkin.

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Look for all of these new merchandise offerings and more at the following locations:

Disneyland Resort

Walt Disney World Resort

Two new Dooney & Bourke collections themed to “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” are also set to debut this fall! The first collection is a “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” wallpaper print in coated canvas, featuring a black and white all-over pattern with Jack Skellington with leather accent trim and handles. In the coming weeks, a second nylon collection featuring silhouettes of some of your favorite Halloween Town characters will also materialize.

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Look for these new Dooney & Bourke silhouettes at Disney Vault 28 in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort as well as Marketplace Co-Op in Disney Springs Marketplace at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Which “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” merchandise are you most excited for?

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It’s Official – ‘Downtown Disney’ is Now ‘Disney Springs’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 29th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager


Over the last several weeks, “Disney Springs” has started to replace “Downtown Disney” on roadway signage and throughout property. Today, I’m thrilled to share that the name change is official!

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Disney Springs is now live online at disneysprings.com and via Twitter at @DisneySprings. And the timing couldn’t be better, as we are now celebrating two new one-of-a-kind dining experiences at The Landing: Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar which debuted last week, and Morimoto Asia, officially opening to guests tomorrow, September 30, 2015.

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We couldn’t be more excited to operate under our new name as Disney Springs continues to grow and transform through Summer 2016, truly making it “your place to be.”

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Morimoto Opens Tomorrow at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 28th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s official – the name change from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, and the opening of Morimoto on Wednesday, the newest venture for Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and his first restaurant featuring Pan-Asian cuisine.

With everything from pristine sushi to noodle bowls, this cuisine is the real deal. And the knockout dining room includes a private, glass-walled dining space, a lounge, outdoor terrace and a sushi bar sculpted from hand-selected ash wood and hammered copper.

Check out the video for a look at the gorgeous interior. For reservations, call 407-939-MOTO(6686) (reservations through 407-WDW-DINE begin Nov. 1). Open daily for dinner and weekend brunch.

By the time it’s complete in 2016, Disney Springs will double the number of shops and restaurants currently found at Downtown Disney and grow to more than 1 million square feet, including 350,000 square feet of new leasable space. Disney Springs will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options. Sophisticated restaurants will provide experiences for families and convention-guests alike.

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Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Now Open at Disney Springs

posted on September 22nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


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It’s a real wow when you walk through the door at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, opening at 11:30 a.m. today and daily at Downtown Disney. Its eclectic décor includes everything from spare airplane parts to nostalgic postcards and antique maps tacked to the walls, all a nod to the “Indiana Jones” films in which Jock Lindsey was Indy’s pilot and sidekick. We guarantee you’ll discover something new every visit.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Opens Today at Downtown Disney Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Opens Today at Downtown Disney

Located on the waterfront between Paradiso 37 and the BOATHOUSE, the interior has a cozy feel and features light bites and drinks inspired by Jock’s globe-trotting. We got a chance to try some of the opening menu bites: crispy calamari flatbread with a kick from harissa and peppery arugula; Dr. Elsa’s She-Deviled Eggs; “Good” Dates stuffed with goat cheese, and Snack of Ra for a taste of Africa with salads and dips served with injera (bread) and naan crisps. And mixologists are having fun with the cocktails, from the Cool-Headed Monkey to The Scottish Professor. (We’ll let you guess the ingredients.)

The real architectural showstopper is the outside lounge that was Jock’s old canvas-covered steamboat named Reggie (now in dry dock). Stretching out into the water, it’s a spectacular spot for lunch or for sunset-watching.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is part of the largest expansion in Downtown Disney history, which will transform the area into Disney Springs, a lively shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Guests at Disney Springs will have a unique Disney experience amid beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. No reservations.

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Halloween Minnie Mouse Transformation Casts A Spell on Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney Parks

posted on September 11th, 2015 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique magically transforms into Bibbidi Bobbidi “Boo-tique” this Halloween season with a Minnie Mouse “witch”-inspired look that is sure to cast a spell on you. Beginning September 15 through November 1 (or while supplies last), with the wave of a magic wand, a touch of pixie dust and help from our Fairy Godmothers-In-Training, you can watch your little pumpkin get ready for the Halloween season. We did – take a look!

The Halloween Minnie Mouse transformation package includes your choice of boutique hairstyling, shimmering makeup, face gems, nail polish, a Princess sash and cinch sack, plus the Halloween Minnie Mouse costume and matching headband. Reminder: Transformations are only available for children ages 3–12. Disneyland Resort Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique photo package is sold separately, based on availability.

For guests visiting the Disneyland Resort in California, this package will be offered at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland inside Disneyland park (Note: Separate theme park admission required).

Guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Florida can find this packages at the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney Marketplace or inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park (Note: Separate theme park admission required for the latter).

Appointments will book quickly so make your reservation today! Call 714-781-STYLE (714-781-7895) for Disneyland Resort or 407-WDW-STYLE (407-939-7895) for Walt Disney World Resort.

What else do the Fairy Godmothers-In-Training have up their sleeve? Well it’s safe to say the word “holiday”… but something else “cool” might be heading your way.

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9 Reasons to Love Fall Vacations at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 11th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and experiencing this season at Walt Disney World Resort is simply amazing.

Here are just a handful of reasons you should consider planning a fall visit this year.

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  1. Magic Kingdom Park Gets Dressed for Fall – Main Street, U.S.A. is already alive with fall colors and new decor.
  2. Night of Joy Returns September 11-12Disney’s Night of Joy 2015 will return to Magic Kingdom Park in September. This year’s lineup includes performances by TobyMac, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Colton Dixon and many more. We just shared that you can watch a live feed of the sold-out shows. Check out Charles’ post for more details.

"Happy HalloWishes" Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom

  1. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Returns September 15 – Halloween fun will return to Magic Kingdom Park on September 15, and will run select nights through November 1. The Halloween party is a blast and this year will feature a brand-new stage show “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular!” Other party highlights include trick-or-treating, Mickey’s “Boo To You” Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes Fireworks, Disney attractions and much more.

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  1. Sweet Fall Treats – Our candy shops will soon be stocking fall-inspired treats that guests can only find this time of year, such as candy corn-shaped rice krispie treats, fall-themed candy apples, and more. (Although you can get it year-round, one of my all-time favorite fall treats is the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop at Downtown Disney. It’s a must try!).
  2. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Begins September 25 – This fan-favorite event will run September 25-November 16, 2015 at Epcot. In honor of it’s 20th year, the festival will expand into Future World area of the park for the very first time and include new offerings, such as booths inspired by the cast members of “The Chew,” and a brand-new Rockin’ Burger Block Party, and much more.
  3. Eat to the Beat Concerts – This year’s concert lineup features a bevy of new acts Tiffany, Chaka Khan, Everclear and Maxi Priest. Returning favorites include Rick Springfield, Sugar Ray and many more. Check out the full list here. (Concerts are included in Epcot admission).

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  1. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is set to open at Downtown Disney this fall – Themed around Jock Lindsey, a the pilot from the “Indiana Jones” films, the aviation-themed lounge will feature unique drinks and small plates. Check out Pam Brandon’s sneak peek at the menu here.
  2. Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – This exciting race weekend will take place November 6-7. Guests are welcome to come out and cheer racers on – get more info on that here.
  3. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Begins November 8 – Get an early dose of holiday cheer at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which returns in early November. Don’t miss this holiday offering, which includes special entertainment, fireworks, a parade, holiday decor and much more.
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‘Holidays at Disney Springs’ Will Offer Familiar Favorites and Festive New Fun

posted on September 8th, 2015 by Darcy Clark, Disney Springs Marketing Manager


Labor Day weekend is behind us and summer is over, unofficially, at least! Of course that means we’re starting to think about … Christmas? Though it may seem early, here at Downtown Disney, we’ve already started our holiday planning. This season, our transformation to Disney Springs will be in full effect and our holiday offerings will be updated to be more reflective of our new name.

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“Holidays at Disney Springs” will include plenty of familiar favorites. Toy Solider stilt walkers, Snowflake performers, a Kwanza Celebration, Hanukkah medleys, enhanced holiday entertainment, specialty foods and festive décor will return. Santa will be back—this year in a new location across from Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop—which creates a perfect opportunity to savor a rich hot chocolate while you’re waiting to meet him. The best part? Just like last season, guests will be able to pick up a pager upon check-in to secure their place in a virtual queue line. (And as I found out last year, less time in line means more time for, well, everything else!)

New additions will offer something fun for everyone. I’m most excited about the holiday backdrops that will be coming to the Marketplace and West Side; made to look like pop-up greeting cards, they’ll be the perfect place to pose for family photos. And three new unique-to-Disney-Springs holiday trees will make their debut this season. According to Entertainment Show Director, Tom Vazzana, “Every corner of Disney Springs has new decorations that will fill your spirit, and your camera, with holiday memories.”

Look for holiday touches to start appearing on property in mid-November. In the meantime, I’d suggest you start your shopping now at Downtown Disney because I’ve got a feeling the next fifteen weeks will fly by!

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Morimoto Asia Opens Sept. 30 at Disney Springs

posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


If you’re keeping an eye on construction at Disney Springs, you may have noticed the 36-foot-tall building going up along the waterfront – it’s Morimoto Asia, set to open Sept. 30, a creative collaboration between world-famous Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group.

New Morimoto Asia Restaurant to Open in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

It’s the first “pan-Asian” dining experience for Chef Morimoto, and includes his eclectic take on his favorite Asian flavors including moo shu pork, Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, and spicy kung pao chicken. Weekends, dim sum will be served during brunch, with dumplings, shumai, bao, spare ribs and more. (Don’t worry there’s plenty for kids, such as chicken ramen, kakuni pork bao, and karaage fried chicken.)

The sushi bar, sculpted from hundreds of pieces of hand-selected ash wood that’s backed with a wall of hammered copper, has just 14 coveted seats, with global inspiration from toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, salmon and more – whatever is freshest. If you’re in the lounge or dining rooms, a selection of specialty rolls and sushi platters will be available.

The restaurant will serve sake, including the Morimoto signature line, wines from around the globe, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Beers, bottled and draft, will be mostly Asian, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales. (Beer fans, the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will be available.)

The expansive restaurant includes beautiful lounges, dining spaces, open kitchen and a two-story outdoor terrace overlooking the water. The main entrance features a three-story glass corner, and the sculptural bar is one of the largest in the world, more than 270 feet long, connecting the grand dining room on the ground floor with the upper level Forbidden Lounge as it wraps around the staircase. Look for custom glass beaded chandeliers and glass mosaics based on ancient Japanese prints.

Morimoto Asia will begin to accept reservations on September 16 through Open Table. Reservations through 407-939-MOTO(6686) begin November 1. Hours are daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2 a.m. serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

By the time it’s complete in 2016, Disney Springs will double the number of shops and restaurants currently found at Downtown Disney and grow to more than 1 million square feet, including 350,000 square feet of new leasable space. Disney Springs will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a high-quality, diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options. Sophisticated restaurants will provide experiences for families and convention-guests alike.

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