May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, and as an American of South Korean descent, I can’t wait to celebrate and honor the cultures, experiences, and contributions of my fellow cast members and guests of these communities. All month long, “A World of Voices” will shine a spotlight on some of our talented cast members who are making positive impacts each day through experiences, entertainment and food and beverage offerings.
As a guest, there are many ways to recognize “A World of Voices” that you won’t want to miss out on visiting this May. But don’t worry if you aren’t able to visit this month as most of these experiences will last well beyond, so be sure to check them out on your next trip. Keep reading for some of my favorite offerings happening throughout Walt Disney World Resort.
Explore unique elements of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander culture at EPCOT in the Circle-Vision 360o film Reflections of China. It’s an immersive tour through the sights and sounds of the country. We also invite you to explore the architecture, exhibits and culture throughout the China pavilion in World Showcase – you may even see Mulan, one of my personal favorite characters, once again greeting guests.
While there, try sampling some of China’s delicious food! At Nine Dragons Restaurant, a special Dim Sum Platter awaits with vegetable spring rolls, cheesy wontons and house-made General Tso’s chicken shumai, among other menu items.
Also in World Showcase at EPCOT, is the Japan pavilion. Multiple times throughout the day you can experience the thundering sound of Taiko – an ancient form of Japanese drumming – in Matsuriza. For world shoppers, the Mitsukoshi Department Store showcases traditional Japanese architecture and includes various authentic items from kimonos to kawaii (cute) pop items imported from Japan.
Speaking of kawaii, the Bijutsu-kan Gallery now takes a look at this pop-culture phenomenon that’s swept the globe. You’ll discover how kawaii is rooted in Japan’s Shinto past and how it became a core aspect of Japanese culture.
Over in the Canada pavilion, we’re celebrating the release of Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red,” which stars 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian student Meilin “Mei” Lee. Guests can find food and drinks inspired by the film, like the Pand-Ade or “Turning Red” cake.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
On Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, don’t miss the beautiful art wall themed to Disney’s “Moana.” Accompanied by Moana-inspired music on Discovery Island, the Viva Gaia Street Band! mixes it up with energetic melodies, vibrant costumes and unstoppable dance moves. Starting this month at The Animation Experience at Conservation Station, learn to draw Moana’s best friend – Pua!
Throughout the park, you can also find all kinds of flavors from Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. Cool off with a Kakigori – a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and condensed milk – from Caravan Road or snack on a Tuna Poke Bowl from Nomad Lounge.
Magic Kingdom Park
At Magic Kingdom Park, Moana and Mulan join other favorite characters in the brand-new “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.” Continue to explore AANHPI culture by trying the Veranda Fried Rice or Perkins Thai Noodles at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, followed by a refreshing Dole Whip at Aloha Isle. Your taste buds will thank you.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Close out your picture-perfect day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the “Wonderful World of Animation.” Starting this month, moments from recent animated features, including “Raya and The Last Dragon,” have been added to the finale of this nighttime show that brings to life themes of magic, family and adventure.
Over at Disney Springs, be sure to check out the artist spotlight series at The Art of Disney and WonderGround Gallery. All month long, we’re highlighting filmmakers, artists, authors and screenwriters who work or have worked on Walt Disney Animation Studios films, including Fawn Veerasunthorn, Gyo Fujikawa, Hyun-min Lee and more!
Every day, guests can enjoy a culinary sensation at Morimoto Asia. Just for May, guests can enjoy special nightly offerings that celebrate Asian and Hawaiian dishes, like the Morimoto Asia Loco Moco – a house blend burger with A-5 Wagyu and Filet Mignon, served over a sizzling rice bowl, topped with a sunny side up cage-free egg and teriyaki mushroom gravy.
At Amorette’s Patisserie try the Philippines Maganda Ube. This traditional Filipino dessert is an ube chiffon layered cake with caramel banana mousse, and banana liquor glacage.
There are other sweet and savory food offerings throughout Disney Springs. As a Korean, I can’t wait to indulge at BB Wolf’s Sausage Co. with a Korean Bulgogi Steak Hot Dog – a spicy Korean beef and pork hot dog, bulgogi steak and pickled vegetables! Then I’ll probably try a delicious sweet at The Ganachery like the Sri-Lankan cinnamon square or a Matcha-Yuzu square. Vivoli il Gelato has a refreshing Ube Tiramisu Pop at – a sweet cream of ube with graham cracker crumbs soaked with coconut.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, don’t miss YeSake. The popular Karaage is a Japanese fried chicken that’s as savory as it is filling. Pair it with the Violet Sake for the perfect refreshing match to beat the Florida heat.
The Disney PhotoPass Studio is offering fun backgrounds inspired by “Turning Red” and “Lilo and Stitch” this month. There might also be a few surprise Magic Shots, including posing with Mei and her friends! After your photoshoot, stop by the Henna Cart for a temporary tattoo. Artists will design a unique design using a henna-based ink.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
Finally at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, guests can sit under the stars and watch movies that highlight AANHPI cultures and communities, including a few of my personal favorites like “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Lilo and Stitch” and “Moana.”
At select resorts, you’ll find an authentic Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry with chicken, broccoli, red pepper and onion topped with jasmine rice. You can also find Moana-themed desserts at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, like a vanilla smoothie with flavors of watermelon, mango guava and ginger at ‘Ohana and a vanilla cupcake topped with coconut mousse filling, buttercream, and coconut flakes at Capt. Cook’s.
We’re thrilled to celebrate “A World of Voices” at Walt Disney World and hope that you join us. And be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog and social channels for inspiring stories of cast members, crew members and Imagineers from across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Follow along with #AWorldofVoices on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.