Around the Mouse: Walt Disney World News, January 31, 2015

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: details about Night of Joy 2015, monorail refurbishments, an update on the villas and bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and more!

What’s New This Week?

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Magic Kingdom Park

New! Disney’s Night of Joy 2015 Details Released: The 33rd year for this special event will take place Friday and Saturday nights September 11 and 12 at Magic Kingdom Park. Night of Joy veterans like TobyMac, Skillet and Jeremy Camp will fill the park with masterful melodies along with some great up-and-coming artists like: Seventh Time Down, I Am They, and Veridia, who are all new to the event. It should be two fantastic nights! Tickets will go on sale in the Spring.   2015’s full lineup includes: (entertainment subject to change)

  • Friday, September 11 –  TobyMac, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Colton Dixon, Big Daddy Weave, Francesca Battistelli, Rend Collective, and I Am They
  • Saturday, September 12 – Skillet, Lecrae, For King & Country, Mandisa, Matt Maher, Jamie Grace, Seventh Time Down, and Veridia

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New! Monorail Refurbishments in February and March: The Walt Disney World® Resort Monorail System will undergo refurbishment that will impact the Resort and Express monorail beams on select days in February and March. The modified routes will be in effect on Feb. 3-5, Feb. 9-12, Feb. 23-26 and March 2-5, 2015 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. During these times, Monorails on the Resort beam will travel between Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Magic Kingdom® Park. Monorails on the Express beam will now make an additional stop at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as they travel between Magic Kingdom Park and the Transportation and Ticket Center. Resort Guests traveling to Epcot® can either board a Monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to the Epcot line, or they can take a Walt Disney World Resort bus directly from their resorts to Epcot. Monorail service will continue to be available from all stations while this work takes place. Monorail operating hours will remain unchanged. Guests may note a difference in the way they board the Monorail and should allow for additional travel time to reach their destinations. Guests staying at impacted Resorts will receive in-room communication upon their arrival.

Reminder! Construction Crane Behind Cinderella Castle: There will be a construction crane behind Cinderella Castle from Jan. 11-Feb. 21 for the removal of the holiday lights. As a result, the walkway from Sir Mickey’s to Fairytale Garden will be closed. The smoking area next to Sir Mickey’s will be relocated behind Castle Couture.

Epcot

New! Flower & Garden Festival Gets ‘Fresh’ New Feel for 2015: Some of the new experiences at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival include a variety of fresh inspired seasonal dishes served at eleven Outdoor Kitchens and a new concert series, Garden Rocks, featuring music spanning several decades of contemporary and popular artists. Also, new this year, the Festival Center opens on the weekends starting Friday through Sunday. During the Fun Fresh Weekends in the Festival Center, enjoy complimentary gardening demonstrations, and meet a variety of horticulture specialists for tips to create your very own outdoor experience! Whether day or night, experience the beautiful and colorful locally grown gardens and topiaries- all perfectly trimmed to look like your favorite Disney characters. Every weekend at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is an adventure. So Spring into Fresh Epcot!

Reminder! Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Dates Announced: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival launches September 25 and runs through November 16 this year – 53 days of sweet and savory tapas-sized dishes and beverages, plus tasting seminars, culinary demos, signature dining experiences, live entertainment and more.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Reminder! Sneak Peek of “Cinderella” Movie thru March 21: Starting Jan. 17, Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get an exclusive sneak peek of Disney’s upcoming movie, CINDERELLA at ABC Sound Studio. This special preview, containing several clips from the soon-to-be-released Disney movie, will be presented through March 21. It will show at the top and bottom of every hour, from 10 a.m. until 30 minutes prior to the park closing time. In addition, Guests may also experience more of the story’s charm, by capturing their own close-up photos with Cinderella’s golden coach displayed on Streets of America from Feb. 1 through April 11.

Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration TV Special

Reminder! Sorcerers Hat Now Closed for Removal: With the park’s central hub being reconfigured, the Sorcerer’s Hat will be removed and the pin merchandise location will be relocated to Sunset Ranch located on Sunset Boulevard beginning Jan. 7. Each day more and more of the Hat is disappearing.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New! New Menu Offerings at Pizzafari and Discovery Island Kiosk: New food and beverage offerings are available at Pizzafari and Discovery Island Kiosk, which currently sells allergy menu items. The following options are now available at Discovery Island Kiosk: Gluten-free bagel, Gluten-free muffin, Chicken salad sandwich meal, and Gluten-free glazed doughnut – cinnamon or vanilla. The following options are now available at Pizzafari: Heart of romaine salad with bacon, chicken and Caesar dressing, Baked Pasta Bolognese with breadstick and side salad, Meatball sub with carrot sticks or chips and Tiramisu.

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New! Kali River Rapids Close for Refurbishments: Kali River Rapids is closed for refurbishment through on Feb. 9. During this downtime, work will begin to relocate the attraction entrance to the old FastPass distribution area. Kali River Rapids is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Reminder! Flame Tree Barbecue Temporarily Closed: On Jan. 5, construction started at Flame Tree Barbecue. This location will be closed for approximately three months. Since the food offerings at Flame Tree Barbecue are favorites amongst Guests, a selection of them will be offered at existing kiosks throughout the park during the downtime. Until Flame Tree Barbecue reopens, Mickey-shaped pretzels and jalapeno pretzels will be temporarily located at Isle of Java in Discovery Island, and look for hand-scooped ice cream and sundaes at Dino-Bite Snacks in Dinoland, U.S.A.

Reminder! Mt Everest Wilderness Explorer Badge is Moving: The Mt. Everest Wildness Explorers badge that is currently located at the Expedition Everest merchandise cart will be relocating to across from the ice cream bus on Tuesday, Jan. 20. This badge will stay at this location until further notice. At this badge location, Wilderness Explorers can learn what gear they need on an expedition by looking for items at Expedition Everest.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

New! Grand Floridian Cafe to Stay Open Later: The Grand Floridian Cafe is testing new hours between now and Feb 14, 2015. During this time, the restaurant will remain open until 10 pm for dinner.

New! Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows Update: As we’ve previously shared, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort is currently undergoing an exciting transformation. The resort will include the largest Deluxe Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. The 360 Deluxe Studios will sleep up to five Guests each and have the ability to connect to another Deluxe Studio. These rooms will feature a kitchenette, enhanced storage space, two separate bathroom areas – one a full bathroom with a tub/shower and one with a shower and sink. Plus, a pull-down armoire bed showcases painted artwork from the popular Disney film, “Lilo and Stitch.” Check out photos from our tour below! The new Disney Vacation Club bungalows are the first of their kind on any Disney property. The 20 bungalows will sleep up to eight Guests each in a home-like setting reminiscent of the South Pacific. Beginning Feb. 11, 2015, you can book Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows as rentals when they are not in use by Disney Vacation Club Members. Please note there will be limited availability for the bungalows.

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New! Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village Pool Closed: The waterslides at Samawati Springs Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas—Kidani Village will be closed for refurbishment Jan. 26–Feb. 6. The pool will remain open to all Guests. During this time, Guests can use the waterslide at Uzima Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge—Jambo House.

New! Disney’s Saratoga Springs Pool Closed: Due to refurbishment work, High Rock Springs Pool will be unavailable to Guests Feb. 2–4. During the work, Guests may enjoy Paddock Pool. The pools in the Grandstand, Congress Park and Treehouse Villas also are available.

Reminder! Scat Cat’s Club at Disney’s Port Orleans Gets New Menu: Scat Cat’s Club is offering some new items for the new year starting on Jan. 11! Stop in for a bite of some Southern tastings. Scat Cat’s Club is open every day from 4 p.m. to midnight. Here is what is now being offered at Scat Cat’s Club:

  • Mardi Gras Fritters, pimiento cheese fritters with pepper jelly
  • Caprese Flatbread, pesto sauce and tomatoes with balsamic glaze
  • Chicken Alfredo Flatbread, alfredo sauce with chicken and bacon
  • Quatro Fromaggio Flatbread, blend of four cheeses and spices
  • Spinach & Artichoke Dip, spinach and artichokes blended in melted cheese with tri-color chips
  • Bayou Buffalo Wings, served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing

Walt Disney World Resort- General

New! Monorail Refurbishments in February and March: The Walt Disney World® Resort Monorail System will undergo refurbishment that will impact the Resort and Express monorail beams on select days in February and March. The modified routes will be in effect on Feb. 3-5, Feb. 9-12, Feb. 23-26 and March 2-5, 2015from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. During these times, Monorails on the Resort beam will travel between Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Magic Kingdom Park. Monorails on the Express beam will now make an additional stop at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as they travel between Magic Kingdom Park and the Transportation and Ticket Center. Resort Guests traveling to Epcot can either board a Monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to the Epcot line, or they can take a Walt Disney World Resort bus directly from their resorts to Epcot. Monorail service will continue to be available from all stations while this work takes place. Monorail operating hours will remain unchanged. Guests may note a difference in the way they board the Monorail and should allow for additional travel time to reach their destinations. Guests staying at impacted Resorts will receive in-room communication upon their arrival.

Monorail

New! Additional Designated Smoking Areas Added to Downtown Disney:  Beginning Jan. 18, two new designated smoking locations will be added to Downtown Disney.  They are near the restrooms by the Saratoga Bridge and the area behind Characters in Flight. These locations will appear on new maps in February.

Reminder!  New Retail Locations Coming Soon to Downtown Disney: As Downtown Disney continues its transformation to Disney Springs, we will soon see new signs installed for stores that will be opening soon in the area that will be known as The Landing. Those stores include:

  • APEX by Sunglass Hut – offering the latest in sports and activewear sunglasses
  • Havaianas – specializing in a wide array of flip-flops, including a station where Guests can create their own flipflops
  • Art of Shaving – premium shaving shop offering grooming essentials
  • Sanuk – creatively inspired and distinctively designed footwear
  • Chapel Hats – specializing in hats and headwear
  • Sound Lion – offering the latest technology in headphones, ear buds, speakers, wireless music players and other digital sound and music products
  • Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC – gluten-free, vegan bakery

Merchandise Events

New! New Merchandise Artwork Reminiscent of First Visits: Each year, the Disney Design Group creates a new art program for park merchandise. Unlike the 2015 dated artwork, with this specific program, they sought to create something to capture the feelings guests may have when first visiting Disney Parks. This year’s program, known internally as ‘Project Fairytale,’ captures the emotions, the fantasy, and the wonder that guests may experience during a Disney vacation. Each vividly colorful image melds together attractions, icons and experiences from Disney Parks and can be found on a variety of products.

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New! Tower of Terror Merchandise Coming Soon: Last year, a new merchandise collection called “Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic” that was inspired by the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney Parks was launched. Starting Friday, February 13, some new products will be found inside Tower Hotel Gifts in both Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. The new merchandise options will include numerous items such as apparel, accessories, pins, phone cases, home decor and more!

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Update! Starbucks Walt Disney World Merchandise: Starbucks and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is launching a co-branded merchandise line for Guests. Co-branded retail drinkware will be available exclusively at Disney-operated locations serving Starbucks products which include Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café and Market House at Disneyland Resort, and Main Street Bakery and Fountain View at Walt Disney World Resort. Beginning late Jan., Guests at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort locations will have the opportunity to purchase 24 oz. acrylic tumblers featuring the art of the co-branded hot and cold cups as well as Park-specific “You are here” mugs. Walt Disney World Resort will see 12 oz. ceramic travel tumblers soon thereafter. A purchase limit of five (5) per SKU is in effect. On Wed. Jan 28, Walt Disney World removed the Epcot mug from its shelves because the mug’s design includes one of Disney’s monorails with a purple stripe. This is an issue because Disney’s Monorail Purple was involved in a deadly 2009 crash in which resulted in the death of its pilot. Monorail Purple was retired at that time.

Closures and Refurbishments

Click here to view the latest renovations and closures at Walt Disney World Resort.

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About Siera Duiser

Hello, my name is Siera and I am a travel agent with Destinations to Explore. I have always loved to travel and have had the opportunity to travel to thirteen different countries so far. I have also been to many different parts of the United States. I love sharing about the places I have been and the places I would love to see as well as some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.