Festival of the Lion King Returning to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in June

Festival of the Lion King

Are you a fan of Disney’s “The Lion King”? If so, we have some great news to share with you today. “Festival of the Lion King,” the musical show that tells the tale of Simba through song, dance and aerial acrobatics, will return in a new location in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom this June.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to Open May 28

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

At a special dedication ceremony today at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs announced that the “crowning jewel” of New Fantasyland, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, will officially open on May 28.

During this morning’s ceremony, Tom was joined by Disney Princess Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as he invited everyone to celebrate the addition of the final component to New Fantasyland.

“Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is both literally and figuratively the centerpiece of New Fantasyland, so we knew it had to be something special,” Tom said. “The attraction appeals to everyone in the family and provides just the right blend of heart, humor, and thrill while keeping with the charm of this special land.”

The family-style coaster features an innovative new ride system that allows cars to swing back and forth as they travel down the track. The cars are even designed to reflect similar vehicles that appear in the film, handmade of wood by the Dwarfs, shaped by an axe, and used to haul rocks and jewels.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train also uses the latest in technology featuring some of the most advanced and charming Audio-Animatronics figures we’ve ever created. Adding to the fun, the journey will be accompanied by music from the film classic and scenes filled with Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and playful forest critters.

 

‘Harambe Nights’ Premium Special Event to Debut on June 7 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

DAK-Entrance

From our friends at WDWMAGIC

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will soon be debuting an all new premium nighttime event called ‘Harambe Nights.’

Although not yet officially confirmed by Disney, this is what is understood to be the offer:

Each Saturday night, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will host a special event including appetizers, beer and wine, along with a new theatrical show in the new Harambe Theater. Afterwards, more food and drink will be on offer at the Harambe Nights Street party.

‘Harambe Nights’ will run on Saturdays, from June 7 to August 9 2014, 7 PM to 10:30 PM.

Two categories of seating will be available. With Premium costing $134+ tax for adults, and $94 for ages 3-9. Regular seating will cost $119+tax for adults, and $79 for ages 3-9.

Magic Kingdom Refurbishment Update

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The Liberty Square Riverboat at the Magic Kingdom will be closing for a short refurbishment in August.

The refurbishment will begin on August 4, through to August 8, reopening to guests on August 9 2014.

In other refurbishment news….

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover refurbishment that was scheduled for May 3 to June 30 has been moved back.

The new dates are June 2 to August 4, reopening to guests on August 5 2014.

Following the TTA news, the originally scheduled refurbishment of the Astro Orbiter at the Magic Kingdom has been moved back later into the summer.

The new dates are June 2 to September 19, reopening on September 20 2014. The previously scheduled dates were May 3 through to August 20.

For the 15th Year in a Row Victoria & Albert’s Gets AAA Five-Diamond Award

Victoria & Alberts

Only 15 restaurants in North America have this distinctive honor: 15 consecutive years as AAA Five-Diamond Award winners. And Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa is in one of those coveted spots.

For 2015, just 59 restaurants made the Five-Diamond list – 47 in the U.S., six in Canada, four in Mexico and one in the Caribbean. Each year AAA reviews nearly 30,000 restaurants, but just 0.2 percent make the AAA Five Diamond. Victoria & Albert’s is the only one in Central and South Florida, and one of only two in Florida.

So we again congratulate Chef Scott Hunnel, Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, Maître d’Hôtel Israel Perez and their team for earning the coveted award for the gem of a restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Chef Scott is in his 20th year with Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Erich has been there for 19 years, and Israel is starting his 10th. And the rest of the team gets kudos, too: Chef Aimee Rivera, Chef Tom Hill, Chef Mathew Sowers, and Manager Vivian Altesor.

“The backbone of Victoria & Albert’s continues to be the wonderful, loyal culinarians, dedicated servers and devoted reservationists,” says Israel. “They are the pillars that support our uncompromising commitment to greatness.”

AAA Five Diamond restaurants reflect the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. Add cutting-edge menus, the finest ingredients and “food prepared in a manner that’s highly imaginative and unique” and you’ve got the extraordinary combination that defines a winner. But beyond the kitchen, the maître d’ must lead an expert service staff “that exceeds guest expectations by attending to every detail in an effortless and unobtrusive manner.”

Victoria & Albert’s wows guests every single night of the year with a fabulous “Contemporary-American” menu and refined touches such as Italian Sambonet silver, fine Bernardaud china, and Italian Frette tablecloths (hung, not folded, to avoid creases). Women get a small stool for handbags – and if you’re chilly, they’ll offer a cashmere wrap.

The restaurant offers three dining experiences: the dining room, the elegant Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table in the kitchen.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862). Visit Victoria-Alberts.com for more information. Dining room is $135 per person for six courses and $65 for wine pairings. Chef’s Table and Queen Victoria’s Room are $210 for 10 courses and $105 for wine pairings.

Organizational Changes Take Place at WDI and Epcot

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Disney is in the process of a reshuffle of organizational leadership at Epcot and Walt Disney Imagineering.

As posted earlier, Tom Fitzgerald will be taking over the creative direction of Epcot.

In addition, current Epcot Vice President Erin Youngs will take on the new role of vice president Construction, Horticulture, Textile Services and Distribution Services.  Youngs will be replacing the retiring Greg Ruse.

Replacing Youngs as Epcot VP will be Sam Lau who currently is the vice president of Walt Disney World Transportation.  Lau will report to Jim MacPhee.  Replacing Lau in transportation will be Jason Kirk who will be taking on the role of vice president, Transportation Operations.  Kirk previously had bee part of the team that relaunched Disney California Adventure and most recently was a director of Planning and Industrial Engineering.  Kirk will report to Tom Wolber.

Meanwhile, at  Walt Disney Imagineering, Scott Trowbridge is being moved to a new project studio solely dedicated to the Star Wars franchise.  Additionally, Trowbridge will be taking on the role of portfolio leader at Disneyland Resort.  Previously he was leading WDI Research and Development and various Blue Sky work.

Tom Fitzgerald to Take Over Creative Direction of Epcot

Tom Fitzgerald

Included in the organizational changes that are taking place within Walt Disney Imagineering and in park leadership, veteran Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald will be taking on the lead creative direction of Epcot.

Disney is positioned to begin a major re-imagineering of Epcot, looking to restore the original direction of the park in both World Showcase and Future World.  With Tom’s extensive experience with Walt Disney Imagineering, he should be positioned well to take on such a project.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Celebrate its 25th Anniversary

DHS 25th Anniversary Logo

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on May 1st with a special rededication ceremony, a “Star of the Studios” motorcade, and a firework spectacular finale.

Here is the schedule of events:

  • At 10 a.m., Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will take the stage with Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President Dan Cockerell to start the celebration day, honoring some of the 25-year cast members during a short rededication ceremony.
  • A special motorcade — “Stars of the Studios” — will make its way down Hollywood Blvd. beginning at 7 p.m. and feature many of the famous characters showcased throughout the park. Mickey and Minnie will be joined by television and film stars including Captain Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader, Doc McStuffins, Wreck-It Ralph, Venellope, Sofia the First and more.
  • Following the motorcade, the area in front of the park’s Sorcerer Hat Stage will become a dance party before a fireworks show ends the day in grand fashion at 9:30 p.m. The pyrotechnics show, which will be high in the sky above the Sorcerer Mickey Hat, will pay tribute to 25 years of show business stories that have been told throughout the park.

Changes Coming to FastPass+ Next Week

FastPass+

A few weeks ago Disney shared the latest plans for MyMagic+, and gave a look at more changes to come.  Many guests expressed excitement about the evolution of FastPass+ and the fact that Disney was working on ways to provide guests with the ability add more FastPass+ entitlements in addition to the three they can plan in advance and a feature that enabled the ability to make those additional selections while park hopping.

So starting Monday, after guests have used their first three FastPass+ selections, they will be able to select another one at one of the kiosks located in each of our WDW parks. When they’ve used that one, they’ll be able to select another, and so on, ultimately providing guests with even more ways to customize their Walt Disney WorldVacation. Guests will also be able to select and use their additional FastPass+ entitlements when they hop from park to park.

MyMagic+ will continue to evolve over time with the aim of continuing to improve the guest experience according to Disney.

This Is The Event You’re Looking For

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Rocket your Star Wars experience into hyperspace when you buy tickets for the Feel the Force Premium Package. Enjoy a reserved premium viewing area for 2 popular Star Wars Weekends spectaculars—the Legends of the Force:Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade and the Symphony in the Stars fireworks. During the day, the motorcade viewing area includes beverages and snacks; when the stars come out, the fireworks viewing area features a Star Wars-themed dessert party.

The Feel the Force Premium Package will be with you, always: to remember this very special day in a galaxy far, far away, you’ll receive a special souvenir Disney PhotoPass card that can be used to link your photos to your Disney account—and includes a series of complimentary Star Wars photos.