Around the Mouse: Walt Disney World News, May 9, 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: a new Star Wars lounge, a sneak peek of Disney•Pixar’s INSIDE OUT, new entertainment at the American Adventure pavilion, and so much more!

What’s New This Week?

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Magic Kingdom Park

New! Hub Expansion Now OpenThe  expansion of the Central Plaza area, or Hub, in front of Cinderella Castle is now open for Guests, with additional seating outside Casey’s Corner and The Plaza restaurant and a new walkway to help Guests travel more easily through this popular area. When completed later this year, the expanded Central Plaza area will include a new perimeter path along with a lush garden environment themed to the style of gardens associated with European castles and chateaus. As a reminder, the FastPass+ preferred viewing area for fireworks has been relocated from the Rose Garden to the new Main Street Plaza Gardens adjacent to The Crystal Palace.

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Reminder! Magic Kingdom Special Event Tickets On Sale Now: Tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Disney’s Night of Joy are now available for purchase.

Reminder! Bus Route Being Tested to Disney’s Fort Wilderness For Dinner Options: Beginning April 20, there will be a direct route bus test to accommodate Guests traveling from Magic Kingdom Park to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground-Settlement Depot for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ reservations. This test will last approximately four weeks. Buses will be available between Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground-Settlement Depot between 4-11:30 p.m.

Epcot

New! Sneak Peak of Disney Pixar’s Inside Out Coming Soon: This summer at Epcot, you can go inside “Inside Out” for a special preview of the movie. This sneak peek will offer guests an advance look at a sequence from the film, complete with special in-theater effects and an exclusive introduction from the filmmakers. “Inside Out” ventures inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley and introduces us to the Emotions that guide her: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. This sneak peek opportunity begins May 30, following our special preview of Disney’s “Tomorrowland,” playing at the Imagination Pavilion theater at Epcot now through May 24. When visiting Epcot, you can also enjoy the “Inside Out” Emotion Garden as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

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New! American Adventure Pavilion Gets New Entertainment: Called American Music Machine, this five-member contemporary a cappella group will bring a vibrant musical energy to the stage of the America Gardens Theatre beginning April 29. With performances that convey the global influence of American pop music, the group will sing a diverse range of contemporary American hits, presented in a unique style with custom arrangements. American Music Machine will be performing daily through May 24 at 12,12:45, 1:40, 2:20, 3 and 3:45 p.m. Beginning May 27, American Music Machine moves to their regular schedule, appearing on the America Gardens Theatre stage Wednesday through Sunday each week. Voices of Liberty will perform there on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

New! Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience Coming to Star Wars Weekends: Guests attending Star Wars Weekends will be able to find shelter and sustenance in the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which will take over part of Backlot Express from 4-9p.m. during Star Wars Weekends. Look for a menu full of Star Wars-themed food and beverage offerings that are out of this world including:

  • Pilot’s Pomme Frites – these are tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley with a garlic aioli for dipping
  • Ensalada Naboo – seared chicken breast, bibb lettuce, grape tomatoes, watermelon radish, almond frica, and a parmesan-peppercorn ranch dressing
  • Lightsaber Bites – hand-dipped corn-battered knockwurst sausages with house-made chips and mustard dipping sauce
  • The Dark Fried – Chicken and Darth Vader waffles served with maple syrup and sweet barbecue sauce
  • Trio of Thermal Detonators – spicy pork wings topped with spicy piquillo-pepper sauce and slaw
  • Slider Sampler featuring “The Sith” barbecue-braised brisket with cole slaw and “The Jedi” with barbecued pulled chicken with arugula
  • Fruit and Cheese “Sabers” featuring Tillamook cheddar, Brie, goat cheese, pickled vegetables, crostini, cheddar crackers, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew melon, strawberry, olives and gherkins
  • Chips & Sith – hummus with red pepper coulis, black sesame dust, and corn tortilla chips
  • Yoda Key Lime Cake
  • Trio of Star Wars mini cupcakes, including Mini Darth Vader (chocolate-peanut butter), Mini Yoda (chocolate-hazelnut), and Mini Jabba the Hutt (salted caramel latte) served in the Han Solo Carbonite Souvenir Box

A new drink menu will also be available. Menu items range from $5.49 to $16.99, and some of the specialty drinks will have a glow cube or clip. Neither Disney Dining Plan nor Tables in Wonderland discount will be accepted. Characters will not be visiting tables, but you never know who might be in an abandoned hangar…

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Update! Frozen Summer Fun Returns This Summer: “Frozen” Summer Fun makes its majestic return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on June 17. You can once again enjoy the huge, frosty fun entertainment—with all-new offerings! This year, you can cool off with Olaf as he appears in his own show, Olaf’s Summer Cool Down, on the event stage. Everyone’s favorite snowman will also be joining the “Frozen” Royal Welcome on Hollywood Blvd. A new float—inspired by Elsa’s ice palace—has been added to the procession. Plus, it will now run twice daily, doubling your chances to catch Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and their Arendelle friends. Of course, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration will also return, but moves to a new home during the Coolest Summer Ever in the Hyperion Theater in the park’s Center Stage area. Also look for some new special effects that just might surprise you! And when the sun dips behind the horizon? Enjoy the high-energy DJ Dance Party and the sky-high “Frozen” fireworks spectacle that lights up the night.

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Reminder! Mobile App Menu Ordering Options for Select Guests: April 28 through May 12, Guests of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to participate in Food & Beverage tests in which they will be able to place orders via a mobile app at Backlot Express and/or Fantasmic! Guests who have a FastPass+ selection and/or dining reservation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the test period will be eligible to participate. Using the test app, Guests of Backlot Express can have meals prepped at the counter for pickup at a later time, prepped at the counter to go (bag for dining elsewhere) or delivered to their table. Fantasmic! Guests will be able to participate in a test using the mobile app to order food and beverage and/or merchandise items from a limited menu while seated during the pre-show.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New! Fun New Tastes at Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: The much-anticipated Harambe Market opens late May 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 – 200+ seats. Built around a Colonial-era train depot design complete with a 1960s water tower, the marketplace re-creates a bustling center of commerce where guests are welcomed from around the world who have come to visit the little seaside town and venture out to the reserve to observe Africa’s animals. It’s designed to be the sort of food you’d find in a street market in Africa, and the menus are intended to reflect the unique personalities of the establishments’ owners. “Kitamu Grill” offers skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwich. “Famous Sausages” features a corn dog, inspired by a South African sausage called a boerewors, dipped in curry-infused corn batter. “Chef Mwanga’s” serves a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw. A fourth window, called Wanjohi Refreshments (“wanjohi” means “brewer” in Swahili) offers beverages including six South African wines by the glass; Safari Amber Lager and Orlando Brewing I-4 IPA on draft; red sangria with Van der Hum tangerine liqueur from South Africa and more.

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New! DinoLand Dance-a-Palooza closes May 9: The last performance of the DinoLand Dance-a-Palooza in DinoLand U.S.A.

New! Tamu Tamu Menu Changes: Tamu Tamu, located in Africa across from Dawa Bar, has transitioned to a desserts-only menu. New offerings include a chocolate waffle with espresso mousse and new ice cream creations. Meal options are no longer available at Tamu Tamu.

Update! Flame Tree Barbecue Construction Extended Again: The construction timeline for Flame Tree Barbecue has been extended into May. This will include additional covered seating areas, covered walkways to some nearby pavilion seating areas and roof extensions over the main building to offer additional cover for Guests. As a reminder, most of the unique food offerings from the restaurant are available at food kiosks throughout the park.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

New! Aromatherapy Spa Treatments at Sense Spas: Beginning May 4, Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort will offer three new spa experiences featuring aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the art of using essential oils—the therapeutic and aromatic extracts from plants—to heal the body and restore the skin. Aromatherapy Associates has been sharing their secrets of powerful and effective aromatherapy blends since 1985. We are delighted to partner with them in offering three new spa experiences enhanced with products featuring ingredients of the highest quality and care. The three experiences are Authentic Aromatherapy Massage – 50/80 min ($150/$210), Hydrating Rose Body Treatment – 50 min ($145), and Rose Renewal Facial – 50/80 min ($150/$200).

New! Additional Restaurants Introduce Allergy-friendly Menus: Disney Parks recently announced a plan to introduce new allergy-friendly menus addressing the most common allergy and dietary requests at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. The next phase launches on April 29 and includes several table-service restaurants at Disneyland Park, as well as table-service and quick-service restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and locations at Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks. They anticipate having allergy-friendly menus available at approximately 120 Disney-operated table-service and select quick-service restaurants by the end of 2015.

Walt Disney World Resort – General

New! Downtown Disney Garage Walkways Now Open: As the first of two planned parking garages for Downtown Disney, the Orange Garage at West Side opened late last year and continues to introduce enhancements to surprise and delight guests. One of the most appreciated features are the smart technology that clearly shows how many spaces are available at each level and even identifies open spaces with an easily recognizable green light above the spots. This week marks the opening of two new walkways that give guests a direct connection to the West Side promenade in two locations: adjacent to Splitsville Luxury Lanes and near Planet Hollywood. These new bridges to the property are accessible via the second level of the garage and give guests the option to use stairs, elevators or escalators.

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New! Roadwork Impacts Access to Downtown Disney Parking Garage: Westbound drivers traveling to Downtown Disney (from Hotel Plaza Boulevard) will still be able to turn right into the parking garage. However, eastbound drivers from the Epcot / Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park area will not be able to turn left into the garage at the Team Disney intersection, and should enter the garage at the intersection across from Typhoon Lagoon where entry is available in both directions. All cars exiting the parking garage near the Team Disney area must make a right turn only. This work will continue for 6-8 weeks. Drivers should plan for extra travel time.

New! Apple Watch Can Be Used for Payments: The Apple Watch is a new device that Guests may present to make purchases via Apple Pay. Apple Pay and other methods of contactless payment are accepted across Walt Disney World Resort at select Disneyoperated locations with stationary touch-to-pay devices, including merchandise, quick- service restaurants, outdoor vending, bars/lounges, spas, recreation, ticket sales, hotel concierge, hotel lobbies and Guest Relations.

New! Super Hero Headquarters Now Open at Downtown Disney: A new retail concept, Super Hero Headquarters, opened its doors to Guests and will be available for a limited time at Downtown Disney. Enthusiasts and emerging super hero fans alike will be able to find Marvel-themed merchandise featuring their favorite super hero characters, including action figures, collectibles, apparel, costumes, accessories and Vinylmation. Super Hero Headquarters will be located on the Downtown Disney West Side, near Candy Cauldron. Hours of operation are the same as other West Side retail locations: Sunday-Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday: 10:30 a.m. – midnight.

Update! Monorail Operating Schedule Changes Begin May 3: As part of ongoing work around the monorail system, monorail service hours will be adjusted beginning at 11 p.m. on May 3. Changes include Resort monorail line not beginning service until 8:30am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays and ending service at midnight Monday – Wednesday. Also, Express Monorails will not begin service until 9:30am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays, and will be suspended mid day on Thursdays and Fridays. Epcot monorail service will not begin until 9am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays and will stop service at 11pm Sunday – Wednesday. Other changes may occur. Ask a front desk or transportation Cast Member for details during your visit. Additional This schedule is set to continue through early July. Full monorail service will be available daily during Memorial Day week period (May 24-27). During this time, buses and watercraft will remain available to Guests.

Merchandise Events

See what’s happening in the world of Merchandise Special Events this May at Walt Disney World Resort!

May 1 – 11: Representatives from Precious Moments dolls will be on hand for the debut of the Precious Moments Mother’s Day Collection. Meet the representatives and see the dolls throughout the day, each day, at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Artist Appearance Tip: Look for a special appearance by designer and artist Linda Rick, May 8 – 10.

May 8 – 9: Disney Fine Art artist, Michelle St. Laurent, will be on hand for a special appearance from 3 – 9 p.m., each day at Art of Disney in Epcot. Be sure to stop in and say hello!

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May 8 – 9:  Artist Liana Hee will be welcomed to WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Take part in a special artist showcase and signing from 4 -7 p.m. each day.

May 8 – 16: Find some of the latest releases by artist David E. Doss from 1 – 9 p.m., each day, at Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

New! Disney Park Pack Pin Trading Collection Coming Soon: Starting May 14, Disney will release the first Disney Park Pack – Trading Edition on the Disney Parks online store. This Online exclusive box of pins includes a limited edition 500 pin that is only available in the Disney Park Pack, as well as two open edition pins guests will receive before they are available in locations at Disney Parks. A new Disney Park Pack will be released on the first Thursday of every month. Retail price at introduction is $39.95 and includes shipping.

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.