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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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Top 10 Entertainment Experiences at Disney Parks in 2015

posted on December 29th, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


It’s been another unforgettable year at Disney Parks, and our Creative Entertainment team has had a blast producing amazing new entertainment experiences for you to enjoy. In fact, the team has been so busy, this year’s Top 5 had to be expanded to a Top 10!

  1. Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the original Disneyland park was far and away the biggest event of the year, bringing with it the debut of three new nighttime spectaculars: “Disneyland Forever” fireworks, “World of Color – Celebrate!” and the award-winning “Paint the Night” parade.
  1. Tangled: The Musical – This terrific stage adaptation of the tale of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, a Disney Cruise Line exclusive complete with three new songs from Composer Alan Menken, premiered on the Disney Magic in November.

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  1. Inside Out – Riley’s Emotions from the Disney•Pixar hit “Inside Out” made their Disney Parks debut last summer at Disney California Adventure park, arriving on a pre-parade float designed to look like Headquarters from the film. Later in the year, Joy and Sadness made their way to Hong Kong Disneyland, where they appeared in a limited-time character greeting experience.

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  1. More “Frozen” FunAnna, Elsa and Olaf were as popular as ever in 2015, traveling the world to bring a bit of Arendelle to Disney’s kingdoms on three continents. Unique “Frozen” entertainment experiences included sing-along celebrations, playgrounds with real snow, processionals through the parks and deck parties on Disney Cruise Line.

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade ‘Dreamlights’

  1. Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade “Dreamlights – This popular nighttime parade at Tokyo Disney Resort received an upgrade last summer, with an all-new “Tangled” float and seven other floats that were enhanced with dazzling new technological features.
  1. King Triton’s Concert – In the spring, Mermaid Lagoon Theater at Tokyo DisneySea saw the debut of this award-winning musical show that combines dynamic performances with puppetry, projections, Audio-Animatronics and special effects.

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  1. Halloween – The Halloween season was bigger than ever at Disney Parks in 2015, with new shows opening around the world. The headliner was “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” at Magic Kingdom Park, starring the inimitable Sanderson Sisters. Other shows included “It’s Good to be Bad” with the Disney Villains at Disneyland Paris, “The Villains’ World” on Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea and several “Lost in Ghost Town” experiences as part of Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland.

  1. Hong Kong Disneyland 10th Anniversary – Hong Kong Disneyland also marked their 10th anniversary this year, kicking off a year-long “Happily Ever After” celebration with the newly enhanced “Disney in the Stars” fireworks spectacular and the delightful new stage show, “Mickey and the Wondrous Book.”

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  1. Sunset Showcase – An all-new entertainment venue opened this fall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, designed to host a variety of different experiences over time. The premier engagement at Sunset Showcase is Club Disney, a super fun hangout filled with music, dancing, Disney characters and more. A special evening event, Club Villain, comes to the Sunset Showcase starting January 16, and more plans are in the works for the future.

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  1. Star Wars – The Force has awakened at Disney Parks with the openings of Star Wars Launch Bay and “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple” at both Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are now also thrilling to nightly performances of “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular,” an epic fireworks show featuring some of the most iconic music and audio clips from the entire “Star Wars” saga.

There’s been quite a lot happening in the world of Creative Entertainment this year, and 2016 promises to be greater still with additions like “Rivers of Light” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an incredible new stage production of “Frozen” at Disney California Adventure park, the opening of Shanghai Disneyland and so much more.

Keep reading Disney Parks Blog all year long, and we’ll keep you up to speed on all the excitement to come. Happy new year!

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Watch Walt Disney World’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Live December 31 at 11:50 p.m. EST

posted on December 28th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


This New Year’s Eve, Magic Kingdom Park will welcome in the year 2016 with a special presentation of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks at 11:50 p.m. EST. And the Disney Parks Blog team will celebrate by bringing this amazing show to you live, right here on the blog.

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To join us for the live stream, simply visit the Disney Parks Blog main page on Thursday night around 11:45 p.m. EST. The live stream will appear in a fresh blog post at the top of our site.

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This Week in Disney Parks Photos: Holidays at Disney Parks

posted on December 27th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


The sunny skies of Florida and California might not feel holiday season-ish. But with the way our experts beautify the parks, how could you not be festive?

This week in Disney Parks photos we go coast-to-coast: Erin Glover showed us some highlights through the numbers in her neck of the woods, and Jenn Fickley-Baker shared gorgeous after-dark photos from Magic Kingdom Park.

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We hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

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Year in Review: Most Popular Products from Disney Parks in 2015

posted on December 27th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


As this 2015 draws to a close, here is a look back at some of the most popular Disney Parks Blog articles about merchandise. My fellow author Michelle Harker and I loved sharing the latest and greatest products created especially for Disney Parks. Thank you for your enthusiasm and comments this year. We look forward to an exciting 2016 filled with even more Unforgettable tangible memories.

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Retail MagicBands – The most popular item this year was retail MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort. We released a variety of new character, limited release, and limited edition MagicBands throughout the year. In fall, we opened a retail MagicBand on Demand station inside the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. at Magic Kingdom Park where guests can create and personalize their own MagicBands.

Dia De Los Muertos Treats – Michelle shared details about Dia de los Muertos, apples, cake pops and crispies at Disneyland Resort.

Disney Parks Collection | PANDORA Jewelry – We continued offering new items from the Disney Parks Collection | PANDORA, a collection of hand finished sterling silver and 14K gold charms developed especially for Disney Parks.

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Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – One of the most exciting things this year was the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. The Disney Theme Park Merchandise team created more than 500 products, including apparel, accessories, headwear, home décor, souvenirs, toys, pins, D-Tech, collectibles and more. Michelle Harker shared details about these new items in a series of articles throughout the year including this popular behind-the-scenes video.

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New Collections and Classic Collaborations – We introduced two new collections this year for guests who love Disney and Disney Parks – Disney Boutique and Twenty Eight & Main. Guests also found new accessories by Vera Bradley or Dooney & Bourke.

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Unique Souvenirs From Disney Parks – This year saw plenty of unique souvenirs from Disney Parks including the Disney Parks Castle Play Set, hand sanitizers, and a new Disney Park Pack – Trading Edition offered only on the Disney Parks online store. The Disney Egg-stravaganza returned to Disney Parks in spring and the Sanderson Sisters put a spell on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties in the fall.

Finally, we launched the free Shop Disney Parks mobile app which gives guests access to thousands of products created for Disney Parks. It’s one of my favorite downloaded apps this year that can be found at DisneyWorld.com/Shop.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on December 27th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


Our holiday coverage continued this week at Disney Parks with daily stories and even a special edition of our email newsletter with an exclusive Christmas wallpaper. Along with our holiday content, we also shared some important information for those of you planning to welcome 2016 at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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Shawn posted a rundown of some of the entertainment lined up for this year’s celebration at Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom Park. And if you can’t join us in person for New Year’s Eve, be sure to tune in here on the Disney Parks Blog where we’ll be hosting a live stream of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks, direct from Magic Kingdom Park on December 31. Watch for more details coming soon.

We also included an update that reservations opened for Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.

Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party happens January 8-March 20, 2016 from 6:30-8 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with special viewing for the “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks at 7:45 p.m. each night. You can enjoy a selection of sweets as the night sky erupts with an arsenal of impressive fireworks, set to the most dramatic and memorable Star Wars themes of all time. Check Pam’s story for more details.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Guest Talent Coordinator for Special Events Such as Disney ¡Viva Navidad! – Guest Talent Coordinator Danny Gaitan hosts guest performers at the Disneyland Resort during special events such as runDisney race weekends and holiday celebrations. Danny says he creates magic not only for our guests who experience the performances, but also for the performers who get the opportunity to entertain on a world-class stage.

Disneyland Resort Horses Featured in Horsetown Parade of Lights in Norco, California – For the second year in a row, Disneyland Resort horses participated in the annual Horsetown Parade of Lights in Norco, Calif. Pulling a vintage stagecoach used in Frontierland for many decades, Clydesdale team Lucky and Eddie glowed as festive decorations illuminated their harnesses.

By the Numbers: Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park – Last week, we put some numbers on the holiday cheer at Disneyland park, and now we’re back with some festive figures for Disney California Adventure park!

Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks Now Open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Nestled in the imposing shadow of Mt. Everest, Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks is the perfect place for tired and hungry travelers to stop in for a quick bite to eat or a refreshing beverage. For climbers who are returning from their ascent, a stop at the bar is considered tradition.

Set Sail for Wintertime Fun with Adventures by Disney Holiday River Cruises – Every family has their holiday traditions. In my family they all seem to center around baking, sweets and the regret that comes from so much baking and so many sweets.

QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Walt Disney World Resort Holidays? – Have you visited Walt Disney World Resort this holiday season? Do you think you know everything there is to know about the amazing decorations and miles of lights that make our resort even prettier this time of year?

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Special New Year’s Eve Entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 26th, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. Well, 2015 has certainly been fun, and now here we are on the cusp of another incredible new year! For those of you planning to welcome 2016 at Walt Disney World Resort, we have quite a party planned for you. Here’s a rundown of some of the entertainment lined up for this year’s celebration.

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  • Epcot – It’s a night-long party throughout Epcot, with unique entertainment including a DJ and light show at the Future World Fountain Stage, dancing under flame effects and a smoke-billowing dragon in China, a British blast to the past in United Kingdom, Euro-pop and lasers in Italy, a Latin band and DJ on the America Gardens Stage and a “Silent DJ” party in Japan. Cap it all off with one of two showings of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.” The 6:00 p.m. show will include our holiday finale, while the 11:40 p.m. performance will be followed by a countdown and pyrotechnic salute to the New Year.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Ring in a most unforgettable New Year with a Disney character dance party at Center Stage, leading up to fantastic fireworks set to the soundtrack of favorite films and memorable moments from across Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Note: ‘Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular’ will not be presented on Dec. 31)
  • Magic Kingdom Park – You can get a head start on the festivities, with a special New Year’s Eve eve presentation of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks at 11:50 p.m. on Wednesday, December 30. The same show will be repeated on December 31. For families looking to wrap things up a little earlier, both nights will also feature the Holiday Wishes New Year’s Celebration at 6:30 p.m., complete with expanded fireworks and a New Year’s Eve countdown.

If you can’t join us in person for New Year’s Eve, be sure to tune in right here to Disney Parks Blog, where we’ll be hosting a live stream of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks, direct from Magic Kingdom Park on December 31. Watch for more details coming soon!

So tell me… What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

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Tune In To ‘Disney Parks Unforgettable Christmas Celebration’ at 10 a.m. EST

posted on December 25th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


Merry Christmas!

The “Disney Parks Unforgettable Christmas Celebration” will debut on ABC in just a few minutes, and we hope you’ll join us for a merry look inside our parks during this time of year.

Disney Parks Unforgettable Christmas Celebration

This year, “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts and Jesse Palmer will host a two-hour parade of floats and celebrity performances, including:

  • Jason Derulo, singing “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”
  • Ariana Grande, singing “Zero to Hero” and “Focus”
  • Seal, singing “This Christmas” and “Every Time I’m With You”
  • Tori Kelly, singing “Colors of the Wind” and “Winter Wonderland”
  • Andy Grammer, singing “Good to be Alive” and “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas”
  • Plus appearances by the cast of “Descendants” and more

As for parade floats, keep your eye on the horizon for a Pirates of the Caribbean float, as well as moving tributes to “Inside Out,” “Toy Story,” “Frozen” and even “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

We’ll be tweeting about the parade live on our @DisneyParks account, so follow along or join the conversation with the hashtag #DisneyHolidays.

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Disney Parks After Dark: Happy Holidays From Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


Tonight’s “Disney Parks After Dark” image was snapped at Magic Kingdom Park during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

In it, Mickey and friends join together in front of a glittering Cinderella Castle to wish a park full of guests a happy holiday season.

Have a happy holiday and a merry Christmas Eve.

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Disney Doodle: Enjoying ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ At Magic Kingdom Park

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Editorial Content Manager


Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is one of my all-time favorite holiday stories, which is why I’m excited about this week’s Disney Doodle.

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In it, artist Ashley Taylor imagines how Scrooge McDuck and his nephews will spend the holiday – by reading the Disney adaptation of the tale as “Mickey’s A Christmas Carol.”


See the posts below for more Disney Doodles:

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