Skip to content

WDW Radio Newswire: Construction Now Underway On Soarin’ Expansion At Epcot


Plus… TCM updates now in place at the Great Movie Ride, Harambe Market open for business at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and more!

We begin the June edition of the WDW Radio Newswire with some exciting news out of Epcot, as construction on the third show building for Soarin’ is now underway! A crane has been onsite behind The Land Pavilion for several days now, as construction revs into full gear. Once completed, the new show building will provide seating for an additional 87 guests per run. Also part of the Soarin’ update is expansions to the queue area. Portions of the theater and stage area for the former Kitchen Kabaret/Food Rocks attraction were still intact behind the walls of the Soarin’ queue. But, the area will finally be fully enveloped to allow for the queue expansions. The Soarin’ expansion project is scheduled for completion by Winter 2016.

Time to board the Monorail and hop over to the Magic Kingdom Park now for an update on Pirates of the Caribbean. The beloved attraction just closed down on Saturday, June 6th for what’s expected to be quite a lengthy refurbishment to address several ride vehicle and Audio-Animatronics issues. If plans stay on track, Captain Jack Sparrow and the rest of those swashbuckling swindlers will be back in action Friday, September 25th. This will put the total downtime for the attraction just a couple weeks shy of four months.

Time to park-hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios now, as the Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM) updates to the Great Movie Ride are now in place. The signage and posters both inside and outside of the theater now feature the TCM logo at the bottom. There’s a new pre-show film hosted by Robert Osborne, and the new Finale scene (also narrated by Osborne) features an updated montage of film clips. With the exception of the new pre-show and Finale scene, nothing else has changed as far as the attraction itself is concerned. Robert Osborne does chime in over the speakers from time to time, but there’s still a Cast Member playing host in each ride vehicle. There’s also a fun little photo-op area once you exit, where you can take a picture with a hand-print cast in front of a TCM backdrop. I think Disney did a good job with this one. The updates have breathed new life into the attraction, and the majority of the classic ride elements that made the Great Movie Ride a cherished favorite are still firmly in place.

harambe market entranceTime to round out our trip across the four parks with some news out of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For our first newsbit, let’s venture into Africa, as Harambe Market is now open for business. The open-air quick service restaurant features five different walk-up windows, each one offering unique and delicious African-inspired drinks and dishes. Chef Mwanga’s Rib Shop specializes in Spice-rubbed Karubi Ribs. Boerewors Famous Sausages serves up sausages on a stick, fried in curried corn batter. At Kitamu Grill, you’ll find ground beef kabob flatbread and chicken skewers on the menu. If food isn’t in your Harambe Market - disneyplans, you can always cool down with an icy drink at Wanjohi Refreshment. The fifth walk-up window, Zuri’s Sweet Shoppe, is slated to open in mid-June. Harambe Market operates from 11am to park close, and entree items have a price range of $8.99 to $13.39. The seating is all outdoors, with the area holding a capacity of nearly 550 Guests.

For more news out of DAK, let’s head over to Discovery Island, as the new Starbucks location now has an official opening date. Starbucks will be officially open for business on Thursday, June 18th. The location has been under construction since January in the area of the former Creature Comforts gift shop. The menu will feature the same pastry and drink options currently offered at the other five WDW Starbucks locations. Coinciding with the Starbucks opening, the nearby Pizzafari will be discontinuing their breakfast menu and hours. The restaurant will now be open from 10:30am to park close for lunch/dinner only.

For our final bit of DAK news, let’s venture over to Flame Tree Barbecue. The popular quick-service spot has been closed for refurbishment since Monday, January 5th. Flame Tree was originally scheduled to re-open March 1st, but that date was pushed back to April 23rd, and then pushed back once again to May 23rd. That date has come and gone, and the refurb has now been extended a fourth time. The new re-opening date is now slated for Saturday, June 27th.

There’s one final newsbit to address. For this one, let’s venture out of the parks and head over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. As of Sunday, May 31st, Chef Mickey’s is now offering a brunch option! Brunch hours run from 11:30am to 2:30pm, and the price is $37.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids ages 3 to 9. The brunch features the same breakfast items found during breakfast hours, as well as additional offerings of cold cuts, seafood, BBQ ribs, soups, and salads. The ice cream bar will also be open for brunch as well! Breakfast will still be available beginning at 7am, and dinner hours will continue to run from 5:00pm to 9:30pm. Personally, I think this is a great idea. Families who may not be “early risers” can now get up at their leisure and still enjoy a Character Meal with breakfast offerings in the middle of the afternoon! Please feel free to leave your thoughts on this in the comments section, and let me know what Character meal you’d like to see add a brunch option in the future!

Well, that’s gonna do it for the June 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!

(Photos ©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.