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WDW Radio Newswire: Big Changes Coming To Epcot®’s Entertainment Lineup

Big changes are coming to Epcot®‘s World Showcase Daily Entertainment Lineup.  Plus… Jingle Cruise confirmed for return voyage this Holiday Season, Capt. Cook’sand Pineapple Lanai now open at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and more!

As the calendar transitions from August to September, we also find a shift in the seasons, as the Summer heat gives way to the crisp cool air of Autumn. I don’t know how it felt to you, but to me the Summer FLEW by, hard to believe Fall is actually here. But, with the new month and season comes a plethora of news and upcoming events on tap at the Florida Project. Maybe I’ll even throw in a juicy rumor or two while I’m at it! So, let’s get to it. Time for the latest edition of the WDW Radio Newswire….

IMGP4222We begin the September Edition of the Newswire at Epcot®, where some big changes were recently announced pertaining to the daily entertainment lineup for several World Showcase acts. In total, there will be four additions and four subtractions taking place at the end of September. Let’s start with the subtractions. The first act to get the axe will be the World Showcase Players, as they will hold their swan song on Thursday, September 25th. Three more acts will fade into the realm of extinction just days later, as the Spirit of America Fife and Drums Corps, Mo’Rockin, and Off Kilter all hold their final performances Saturday, September 27th. There will, however, be four new acts coming in as replacements. Let’s start in Canada, where they will be swapping out Off Kilter for a new lumberjack inspired show. Next up is Morocco, who is also swapping out one show for another, as they will be losing Mo’Rockin for a new musical and dancing act based on the Berber region. Two pavilions will be gaining an additional entertainment offering as a result of this changeover, as the United Kingdom will be getting a Celtic Folk musical group, and Italy receives a troupe of flag wavers. I understand the entertainment lineup needs to be adjusted over time, but the four acts being cut are four of the most popular acts found in World Showcase. All four have become Epcot® staples, and I, for one, will be personally sad to see them leave (especially Spirit of America). Bu,t I am excited to see some new acts get integrated into the entertainment fold, as all four strive to become WS staples in their own right some day.

While we’re in World Showcase, let’s make a quick stop by the France Pavilion to talk about a potential rumored attraction that has been gaining a lot of steam the last couple months. Now, normally I don’t like to speculate with rumors here on the Newswire, but this one has had an increased buzz of late, so I feel it’s necessary to mention… an attraction based on Ratatouille may be in the works! Now this is not a new rumor by any means, as a Ratatouille-themed attraction at the France Pavilion has been speculated on since the film made its theatrical debut back in 2007. Bu,t the rumor mill was set ablaze once again when “Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy” opened this past July at Disneyland® Paris. The attraction “shrinks” you down to Remy’s size and takes you on a whimsical, heart-pounding 3-D trip through the streets (and over the rooftops!) of Paris. There’s even a scene in the attraction reminiscent from that of the movie where you are being chased through the kitchen by the feisty rolling pin wielding Chef Skinner! I consider myself to be a Disney Traditionalist, so I certainly wouldn’t want the France Pavilion completely re-themed into “Ratatouille World,”nor do I think Disney would do that. But, if the attraction could be implemented into the pavilion in a way that didn’t take away from the look or ambiance of the current area then I’d be all for it. There is ample space to the left of and behind the current pavilion, so an addition wouldn’t necessarily wipe out the current scope of the pavilion if done correctly. Heck, if you put the show building in the area behind the current pavilion the views looking in from Showcase Promenade would still be identical to that of which you see today. The only difference would be an exhilarating 3-D dark-ride adventure now housed inside the depths of the pavilion! What do you think? Should Disney add character-based attractions into World Showcase? If so, what should go where? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section, and also let me know what you think about the possible addition of a “Rumor of the Month” paragraph to the Newswire!

Time to board the Monorail and venture over to Magic Kingdom® Park now for several exciting newsbits. First let’s talk about some changes that are coming this Fall to the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party. Several changes are on tap, including new music, additional characters, and even a name change. The show will soon be known as the Move It! Shake It! Dance And Play It! Street Party, and Phineas, Ferb, and Stitch will all be added into the character lineup already comprised of Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the Big Cheese himself. As I mentioned earlier, the soundtrack will be receiving an update as well, and there will even be a new interactive element put in place which will see Guests afforded the opportunity to vote for one of three current chart topping songs they’d like to hear played during the finale! No official date other than “Fall 2014” has been given as to when we can expect to see these changes implemented into the street party, but I’d expect to see the new version of Move It! Shake It! in place before Halloween.

Next up is some news from the refurbishment front. Let’s begin on Main Street, U.S.A.®, where a closure has just been confirmed early next year for the Harmony Barber Shop. The refurb is set to begin on Monday, February 2nd, with a reopening date slated for Tuesday, March 31st. This will put the total downtime at the popular trim location at just over eight weeks.

Time to head into Fantasyland® now for an update on a previously announced attraction closure. Originally scheduled to run from Monday, September 8th to Friday, September 19th, Mickey’s PhilharMagic® will now be reopening to Guests on Sunday, September 28th. This change will add another week and a half of downtime to the attraction, which will now see a total closure time of three weeks.

Let’s make our way past the Rapunzel-themed restrooms and venture over to Liberty Square now for a pair of newsbits on the Haunted Mansion®. It seems as if the Happy Haunts will embark on a short spell this Winter, as Gracie Manor will be closed for refurbishments from Monday, December 1st through Friday, December 19th. But, don’t fret boys and ghouls; the Mansion will resume hosting foolish mortals on Saturday, December 20th, putting the total closure for the attraction at just under three weeks. But the big news here is what’s coming across the street from the Mansion just after the new year… a Haunted Mansion®-themed gift shop! Currently under construction in the space formerly occupied by The Yankee Trader, the new shop will feature Mansion-themed apparel and collectables, as well as HM logo merchandise like cups, mugs, and shot glasses. There will also be an area in the shop where Guests can view and purchase on-ride photos from the attraction. The gift shop was initially scheduled to open up at the end of September, however the opening date was recently pushed back to Thursday, January 1st.

jingle cruise - disneyFor our final bit of MK news, let’s follow the hub over to Adventureland®, where it was recently confirmed the Jingle Cruise will be setting sail once again this Holiday Season! Making its maiden voyage last year, the Jingle Cruise returns to put a festive Holiday-themed twist on the beloved Jungle Cruise® attraction. The festivities begin Thursday, November 7th (Happy Birthday Dad!) and are scheduled to run throughout the duration of the Holiday Season.

Time to park-hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios® now, as the name for the new Starbucks® location was recently announced. The Trolley Car Café is coming to Hollywood Boulevard! Currently under construction in the space formerly occupied by the L.A. Prop Cinema Storage Store, the Trolly Car Café will become the newest edition to the DHS quick-service and snacking landscape. It will also be the latest store in the Starbucks® line to be integrated into the WDW mix. I remember being hesitant and somewhat disappointed when the announcement was made last year that Starbucks® locations were going to be added to the property. Corporate sponsors have been a part of the landscape since day one, but I wasn’t sure how they’d do it with these Starbucks® locations, and I didn’t want to see Main Street Bakery and other classic spots turned into bland, chain-named corporate entities. But, when the bakery re-opened, the Starbucks® name wasn’t plastered all over every square inch of the building. The name is present, but it’s still very much the Main Street Bakery, it just features Starbucks® products now. Fountain View at Epcot® followed suit in similar fashion, as the location does a fantastic job blending the Starbucks® brand into Fountain View, all the while keeping that Future World theme and feel very much intact. When the Trolly Car Café opens in February 2015, it will be the next location in the Starbucks® line, but it will also be an entirely new, brilliantly themed snacking and dining spot to explore at the Studios! I for one applaud Disney, not necessarily for bringing the Starbucks® locations into the parks, but for the delicate and carefully thought out way they are integrating them into the property.

Time to hop out of the parks and venture over to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort now for some news from the dining front. The beloved quick-service spot Capt. Cook’s has just reopened after an extensive refurb which saw the restaurant closed for over four months. But, the Captain is back and better than ever! The menu has gained several new items, including Coconut Curry Meatballs and Rice, Chicken and Waffles, Grilled Reuben, Hot Beef and Cheddar Sandwich, Lobster Roll, and Fish Tacos. In addition, the decor in the seating area has been completely revamped, with new tables, chairs, wall hangings, lighting fixtures, and flooring all in place. My favorite touch has got to be the addition of vintage-style travel posters of each Poly longhouse now adorning the walls. The posters are illustrated with colorful landscapes and phrases such as “Visit Bora Bora – Ideal in Summer as in Winter” and “Rarotonga – The Year-Round Playground.” The layout of the grab n’ go area still looks relatively the same, but the self-ordering touch screens have been removed, as you simply place your order with a cast member now. The self-serve Dole Whip machine has also been removed, but we’ll get to that in a minute. All in all the restaurant looks great and the menu has gained some delicious new options to tempt the pallet. It’s nice to see Capt. Cook’s back in action, and personally, I can’t wait to devour me some Chicken and Waffles!

As I mentioned earlier, noticeably missing from Capt. Cook’s is the once prevalent self-service Dole Whip machine. But lovers of the delicious soft serve concoction fear not; as a brand-new Dole Whip counter has just opened up right next to Capt. Cook’s! Walk out the doors of the Great Ceremonial House towards the pool area, look to your left, and you’ll find Pineapple Lanai. The location is small and simple, as it basically consists of a walk-up window and about half a dozen patio-style tables. But, it’s not about the setup or seating here… it’s all about the Dole Whip! And there’s plenty of tasty options here. You have your choice of pineapple, vanilla, or swirl (I usually go swirl!) for $3.99 plus tax, or you can opt to have it served in a special souvenir tiki bowl for $8.79 plus tax. Also found on the menu is the Pineapple Float, which consists of pineapple or vanilla soft serve splashed with pineapple juice for $4.99 plus tax. There’s a special keepsake version here too, as the float can also be purchased in a souvenir tiki sipper for $9.99 plus tax. I’m a huge fan of the souvenir food and beverage items, so I’ll definitely be purchasing the bowl and sipper on my next trip to the World! However, there are a few cons to the new setup, as it certainly won’t be the same not being able to serve up my own heaping portion of soft serve goodness myself, and the window isn’t open 24/7 like the old Dole Whip dispenser at Capt. Cook’s used to be. But hey, at least there’s still a spot at the Poly where we can go to satisfy that insatiable craving for Dole Whip!

Well, that’s gonna do it for the September edition of the Newswire, but I’ll be back again next month with lots more news, notes, and happenings from Walt’s beloved Florida Project!

(Mo’Rockin photo from the personal collection of Kendall Foreman.  Jingle Cruise photo ©Disney.)

Don Myers covers news and recent events in Walt Disney World®. 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.