Plus…. More closures along the Streets of America, Expanded hours for the Best Friends Breakfast at ‘Ohana, and more!
We begin the February edition of the WDW Radio Newswire at Epcot, where final preparations are underway for the 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The big event kicks off on Wednesday, March 2nd, with festivities set to run through Monday, May 30th. At a total of 90 days, this will be the longest running incarnation of Flower & Garden to date. The vastly popular Food Kitchens will be back again for 2016, marking their fourth consecutive year at the festival. In total, you’ll find 13 Food Kitchens to satisfy your tastebuds, including two new kiosks added to the lineup this year: La Isla Fresca and Cider House. La Isla Fresca will feature mouth-watering Caribbean-inspired dishes like Jamaican braised beef, chicken with mango salsa, and jerk-spiced grouper. Cider House will focus on locally produced foods and drinks from the Sunshine State, including a field greens salad made with fruits and veggies grown at The Land pavilion and a blueberry hard cider brewed in Plant City, FL. Most of the classic topiaries will be back in the mix again this year, with a few new surprises in store for 2016. Near Spaceship Earth, you’ll find a newly created Ranger Mickey topiary, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. In addition, the Main Entrance display will feature topiaries of Donald and Daisy Duck, along with brand new topiaries of Huey, Dewey, and Louie. This will be the first time the nephew trio has ever been created for the festival. The Butterfly House and Garden Rocks Concert Series will back again this year, and the Wonders of Life pavilion will play host once again as the Festival Center. There’s a few more new additions to mention, including an edible flower garden in the area by The Land pavilion, as well as the specially-themed Fun Fresh Weekends.
Time to park-hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios now, as there are more closures to report along the Streets of America. In the January edition of the Newswire, I reported that both the Phinneus & Ferb and McQueen & Mater Meet and Greets had closed, as well as the upcoming refurbishment at the nearby Pizza Planet. Just days after the publication, construction walls sprung up along the entire back portion of the Streets of America. The walls block off the aforementioned Meet and Greets, as well as the Premier Theater and Joffrey’s Coffee. More closures are imminent, as Disney recently announced the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will be permanently parked on Saturday, April 2nd. The stunt show had a respectable run of eleven years, as it soft-opened in March of 2005, with its official Grand Opening being held two months later in May of 2005. Several other attractions/dining spots will be permanently ceasing operations on Saturday, April 2nd as well, including the Honey, I Shrunk Kids Movie Set playground, the Studio Catering Company, the Writer’s Stop, Watto’s Grotto, and the Mike & Sully Meet and Greet. These closures all come ahead of the big DHS expansion of Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
Speaking of Star Wars Land, The Wonderful World of Disney will be airing a television special on ABC detailing some major news on the attractions and restaurants coming to the Star Wars Lands at Disney’s California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The special will air on Sunday, February 21st at 8pm EST, and will be hosted by Harrison Ford. This is definitely a throwback to the good ol’ days of Disney TV specials aimed specifically at the parks, and I’ll certainly be tuning in with the anticipation and excitement of a small child for this one!
Time to park-hop over to Magic Kingdom Park now for some refurbishment news on a major attraction. For this one, we venture over to Frontierland, as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is set to see some downtime this Spring. The attraction is set to close on Monday, April 4th, with wild treks around the tiny town of Tumbleweed set to resume on Sunday, July 16th. The mountain hasn’t seen a refurb of this length in nearly four years, and if plans stay on track, the attraction will be out of action for approximately 3 1/2 months.
Time to venture out of the parks now, as there’s news to report on the dining front at Disney Springs. Fulton’s Crab House is set to close down for a major refurbishment in early April. No re-opening date has been officially announced as of the writing of this article, but I’m hearing rumblings of a potential downtime of six to eight months. With a closure of this length anticipated, look for a major overhaul to most of the dining and kitchen areas of the restaurant, which is housed inside the docked Empress Lilly ferry boat.
Our final bit of news today takes us over to the tranquil shores of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Best Friends Breakfast at ‘Ohana has just extended its dining hours. The first seatings begin at 7:30am, with dining hours now running through 1pm. Prior to the expansion, breakfast hours ceased at 11am. The meal features the best friend duos of Mickey & Pluto and Lilo & Stitch, and ranks among the most popular character dining experiences on property. I, for one, am thrilled to hear about the expanded hours. My family loves the character breakfasts, but we also love to sleep in a bit on vacation. I’ve been vocal for an afternoon character breakfast offering at WDW for quite some time now, and finally that wish is a reality at ‘Ohana. BIG props to Disney for this one!
Well, that’s gonna do it for the February edition of the WDW Radio Newswire, but I’ll be back again next month with lots more news, notes, and happenings from Walt’s beloved Florida Project!
Don Myers has covered news and recent events in Walt Disney World for the WDW Radio Blog since 2011. He has been enamored with the World of Disney since his first trip to WDW in 1986. As they say… the rest is history! Don was also a contributing writer for Celebrations magazine, submitting over 30 articles and 7 cover stories for the publication from 2009 to 2012.