One of the best times of year to visit the Walt Disney World Resort is the annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, and Imagineers have cooked up a creative and modified festival experience that will be the longest festival yet – A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival!
This new take on the foodie festival will debut July 15 and continue through the fall, offering over 20 signature global marketplaces like Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean, spaced out around the park.
The Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival combines the floral fun of Flower & Garden with the global goodies of the annual Food & Wine Festival.
If you didn’t get to see the park’s newest topiary, Remy, in the France pavilion, or to purchase any Flower & Garden merchandise, this is your chance!
For scavenger hunt fans, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt returns to take guests on an adventure to find their favorite ’Tiny Chef’.
While we don’t have information about the Food & Wine merchandise yet, we are sure to share the information as the products join the fun later on after the festival begins.
While popular musical acts during the “Eat to the Beat Concert Series” often pack the house, they will not be a part of the Take of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in an effort to accommodate proper physical distancing.
However, there will be plenty of music to enjoy at America Gardens Theatre with local EPCOT entertainment such as Mariachi Cobre, the JAMMitors and more.
It’s going to be awesome to see these fan favorites perform throughout the day, giving audiences more options to enjoy them.
Yesterday’s announcement was a bummer for Walt Disney World fans who typically flock to the Resort for all of their fall celebrations.
Before we go any further…
All of these decisions are firmly set in logic and continue to show how Walt Disney World is committed to putting guest and Cast Member safety first, and I absolutely appreciate and support the hard decisions that have been made.
That being said, cue the sad trombone as we go over yesterday’s announcement.
5 Things to Know About the Walt Disney World Seasonal Event Announcement
1. BooHoo to You
Let’s just rip the bandaid off of this one….
This year Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom has been canceled.
“While assessing another fall special event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, we determined that many of its hallmarks – stage shows, parades and fireworks – are unable to take place in this new, unprecedented environment. With that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.”
I wish there was more to say, but here we are.
If you had already purchased Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets, you will receive a refund over the coming weeks.
2. Sort of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
This year Walt Disney World will debut their longest festival ever, the new ‘A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival’ that will begin on July 15 and continue into “fall”.
The foodie festival will feature 20 signature global marketplaces like Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean spaced out around the park.
EPCOT will sprinkle in some Flower & Garden goodness with Food & Wine, as guests will be able to see the newest topiary, Remy, in the France pavilion and find Flower & Garden merchandise available.
I am excited that Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt will be returning as that ‘Tiny Chef’ is one of my faves.
And don’t fret, this year the Food & Wine merchandise will join the fun later on after the festival begins.
3. Eat to the Beat
You’ll notice I didn’t mention that the popular Eat to the Beat Concert Series in the new festival line-up, and that’s because in an effort to accommodate proper physical distancing, these concerts will not take place this year.
But this announcement has a bit of a silver lining as local EPCOT entertainment such as Mariachi Cobre, the JAMMitors, and more will get their time to shine on the America Gardens Theatre Stage!
“These fan favorites will spread out their performances throughout the day, giving audiences more options to enjoy them.”
4. Glow is a No
Unfortunately, Disney H2O Glow Nights, the nighttime special ticket event at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, will also not take place for the remainder of 2020.
If you had already purchased Disney H2O Glow Nights tickets, you will receive a refund over the coming weeks.
I have my fingers crossed that this event returns in 2021 because it is sooooo much fun to slide under the stars!
What about the holiday season at Walt Disney World?
“Looking ahead to the holiday season, this may spark questions about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, which includes the Candlelight Processional. We are monitoring our new environment closely, and will make a decision on these events as we continue to learn more from government and health officials.”
Let’s be real for a moment.
Fall is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World Resort, I am super sad about these announcements.
However, I am beyond happy that this shows that Walt Disney World is dedicated to safety (even if it means canceling profitable events) and finding ways to keep the ‘Disney Magic’ we love during these unprecedented times.
We are all going to get through this together.
Wear your masks, wash your hands, love each other, and I’ll see ya real soon!
The 27th Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival will bloom at the Walt Disney World Resort filling the park with the sights, sounds, and flavors of Spring daily from March 4 until June 1, 2020.
Imagination blooms around every corner during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival as breathtaking flower beds, plots of plant life, and wildlife habitats can be found in every area of the park.
Bamboo Garden – As a member of the grass family, bamboo can be found at the China Pavilion in many colors, patterns and sizes.
Bold Bromeliads – Located at the Mexico Pavilion
Bonsai Collection – Take a trip to the Japan Pavilion and discover the ancient art of bonsai with some of the finest living sculptures created by bonsai masters, who carefully shape and tend these miniature works of art—creating peace and balance with the earth.
Chinese Zodiac Natural Sculptures – Located at the China Pavilion
English Tea Garden Presented by Twinings of London – Discover the history and art of tea blending at this elegant English Tea Garden at the United Kingdom Pavilion, featuring plants important to some of Twinings finest tea blends.
Festival Blooms – Located at Future World, this display boasts thousands of flowers form colorful, living panoramas overlooking Future World’s East and West lakes.
Floating Mini-Gardens – Peer upon more than 100 petite plots drifting on the ponds that border the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase.
Garden Italiano – From fresh spaghetti sauce to your favorite pizza topping, this Tuscan kitchen garden at the Italy Pavilion features all the produce and herbs needed to create a classic Italian feast.
Health Full Trail Presented by AdventHealth – Delight in a whimsical area along Imagination Walkway for kids, made to inspire youthful energy and creativity. Your whole family can learn fun and interactive ways to stay healthy at a brand-new playground and outdoor kitchen.
The Honey Bee-Stro – Learn about the importance of honeybees in this immersive garden. You can also enjoy some food options, made possible by their hard work, from the adjoining outdoor kitchen. Find it near Imagination! Pavilion.
Kokedama Garden – Admire fresh expressions of an ancient Japanese art. The Kokedama Garden features skilled bonsai creations.
Growing the Future Presented by Murata – Explore how cutting-edge technology paired with agricultural science can transform the way we feed the world. Discover the possibilities with our friends at Science from Scientists and engage in fun, fascinating, hands-on experiments—opening April 7, 2020.
Shakespeare Garden – Thou shalt adore matching up famous quotes to flowers found within this vibrant garden at the United Kingdom Pavilion. William Shakespeare often used flowers and exotic gardens to help set the scenes for his plays and employed them as symbols and metaphors.
The Goodness Garden Butterfly House Presented by GoGo squeeZ – Visit this foliage-filled exhibit at Future World West to view a kaleidoscope of butterflies and observe several species up close, learning about their life cycles and maybe even witnessing them emerging from chrysalises.
Plant a Garden Perfect for Pollinators – Stop by this display near the Butterfly House and take garden-ready ideas home with you, along with garden crafts and sustainable best practices.
Tropical Rainforest Garden – Visit the Mexico Pavilion and learn how Mexico rainforests are rich with plants and animals that have adapted to a wide variety of light levels and water conditions.
Urban Spice – At the Morocco Pavilion, learn how in many eastern cultures, ancient spices were considered more valuable than gold. Even today, many cultures are defined by their signature spices and herb blends, created from plant leaves, stems, roots, seeds and flowers.
Topiaries with character
The topiaries are the highlight of every Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, and this year 70 hand-crafted topiaries have been created by Disney’s talented team horticulturists.
While there are many returning favorites, there are a few new additions you won’t want to miss!
Here is where you will find the topiaries during the Festival:
Anna and Elsa from Frozen – Located at the Norway Pavilion
Bambi & Friends(Featuring Flower, Bambi and Thumper) – Located in Future World East just outside of the new Mousegear
Beauty and the Beast Located at the France Pavilion
Bo Peep and Her Sheep with Woody – Located at Future World East
Bold Bromeliads – Located near The Land at Future World East
Bromeliad Dragon – Located at the Japan Pavilion
Buzz Lightyear – Located near Mission: SPACE at Future World East
Captain Hook and Peter Pan – Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
Construction Mickey and Minnie with Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale – Located between Future World and World Showcase
Donald and Daisy with Huey, Dewey and Louie – Located near Showcase Plaza
Fantasia – Sorcerer Mickey, Brooms, Ostriches and Hippo – Located near Imagination at Future World West
Lady and the Tramp – Located at the Italy Pavilion (their new location on the water is my favorite)
Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog – Located between the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions at the France Pavilions
Pandas – Located at the China Pavilion
Pluto and Goofy – Located between Future World and World Showcase
Remy (NEW!) – Located at the France Pavilion
Simba and Friends(Featuring Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa and Sarabi) – Located between The Outpost Shop and the Germany Pavilion
Snow White and Dopey – Located at the Germany Pavilion
Tinker Bell and Fairy Houses – Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
The Three Caballeros(Featuring Jose, Donald and Panchito) – Located at the Mexico Pavilion
Topiary Butterflies – Located at Future World West
Topiary Flowers – Located near the Main Entrance
Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends – Located at the United Kingdom Pavilion
Interactive Play Scapes
Families can take a step off the Festival path to experience two play gardens filled with hands-on activities and interactive playscapes.
At Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds, located near Test Track, little ones of all ages can enjoy a playful playground and garden inspired by Bo Peep and the rest of your Toy Story pals.
The Play Full Garden, located on the Imagination Walkway, will inspire the entire family to gather for interactive activities that focus on nutrition and wellness.
Family Scavenger Hunts
Gardeners of all ages are invited to participate in Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration, a springtime scavenger hunt starring Spike the bzzzz-iest honey bee at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Once you have your Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration map, available for purchase at the Port of Entry for $6.99 plus tax, search for Spike’s best blooms across Epcot’s World Showcase, and once you’ve completed the hunt return the completed map to the Port of Entry store for a special surprise.
Also for a limited time, March 27 to April 12 or while supplies last, Epcot becomes the ‘Hop-piest Place on Earth’ with an Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunt around World Showcase in search of Disney character-themed eggs.
Annual Passholders can receive a discount on the purchase of both Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration and the Egg-stravaganza Scavenger Hunts! Just make sure to show your Annual Pass with ID.
As festival-goers take in all the floral wonders of the Festival, they can also find culinary delights at over a dozen Outdoor Kitchens around Epcot’s World Showcase.
The Outdoor Kitchens open at 11am, and just outside of each location a garden offers inspiration for learning to grow healthy ingredients.
A complete list of Outdoor Kitchens and menus can be found here.
Garden Rocks Concert Series
The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series will rock every evening of the Festival with three performances by chart-topping artists on the America Gardens Theatre stage.
It is such a great way to kick off your evening in the park or wrap up a fantastic day!
Additionally, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at 15 popular Epcot restaurants with guaranteed seating for a nightly concert with a Garden Rocks Dining Package. Dining packages can be booked by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
You can find the entire Garden Rocks Concert Series and more information on the dining packages here.
Festival Exclusive Guided Tours
Guided tours are available for gardeners of all skill levels who are interested in learning more about nature’s magic exclusively during the Festival.
The Royal Tea Garden Tour, presented by Twinings, takes place each festival morning at the United Kingdom Pavilion and guides guests through the tranquil tea garden to learn the history and artistry behind growing and blending tea.
The Gardens of the World tour, offered on select days, lets guests join a Disney horticulturist for a three-hour walking tour to explore the festival gardens and topiaries discovering new plant materials and gardening techniques to use in their home gardens.
Epcot admission and a fee are required to join these tours. To make a reservation, call (407) WDW-TOUR.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, including all gardens and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.
SPACE 220 RESTAURANT IN EPCOT AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT WILL LAUNCH GUESTS TO A NEW HEIGHT OF DINING
Space 220 Restaurant and Lounge in Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort promises to provide the ‘height of dining’ to visitors when it opens in 2020, and the Patina Restaurant Group has released new details about their latest signature table-service.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, Space 220 will invite guests to feel as though they have traveled into the cosmos. The simulated expedition will provide stunning views of Earth by day and night in a new out-of-this-world culinary experience among the stars.
The adventure begins when a crew member invites guests to step inside the restaurant’s space elevator and prepare for liftoff. Guests will feel as if they are on a scenic excursion traveling 220 miles directly above Earth’s surface, docking at the Centauri Space Station suspended just beyond the orbit of Mission: SPACE.
Upon their arrival at the restaurant, guests will be guided to their seats past the grow zone, a spinning wall of produce that mimics Earth’s gravity and represents some of the fresh ingredients used by the culinary team.
“I look forward to welcoming guests to Space 220, an immersive culinary journey intended to celebrate the wonders of our solar system and transport guests 220 miles above Earth’s surface to experience the height of dining,” said Nick Valenti on behalf of Patina Restaurant Group and parent company, Delaware North.
Space 220 will feature the celestial panorama of a space station combined with gourmet menu offerings. Visitors can expect to witness the sublime sights of passing satellites or floating astronauts while enjoying interstellar dishes during a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The highly anticipated restaurant concept will begin departures this winter.
Nine New Ways to enjoy the 2019 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, happening daily until November 23, 2019, is you chance to try irresistible bites and sips from around the world, enjoy entertainment, and experience extra family fun.
And this year there are several new ways to experience the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.
This year the Eat to the Beat Concert Series is back with even more acts than last year, and a new change is that the concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings being an hour later since the park is open later.
College Football fans will want to head over to Future World West to Flavors from Fire where you can not enjoy great food, but ESPN College GameDay fun including your chance to step behind the iconic GameDay desk and enjoy fun facts from the show hosts. Make sure to head to the back of the marketplace to see some culinary inspired GameDay signs.
In the Canada Pavilion, escape the crowds and step into the Appleseed Orchard. Fashioned after a Fall Festival, guests can step under the canopy to enjoy sweet and savory apple dishes paired with ciders, beers and wines. Brews, ciders and wines are offered individually or as flights, and kids of all ages can enjoy a deliciously sweet Frozen Apple Pie drink or the Caramel-Apple Popcorn.
Families can boogie away those extra calories at Future World’s Disney DuJour Dance Party. This super fun celebration features a DJ 7 days a week—and live performances from Radio Disney artists on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tailgate Tasting hosted by ESPN’s Monday Night Football is your chance to enjoy and learn how to make some ‘Gridiron Grub’! During this 45-minute experience participants enjoy a flight of three sample-sized food items with a complementary beverage pairing, inspired by the cities playing in the Monday night game each week.
The best part—you’ll get a chance to learn from culinary experts how to make these dishes at home!
Just outside of the Norway Pavilion, The Alps Global Marketplace explores the Swiss-inspired dishes! Top picks include Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and Baguette, Venison Stew with Crushed Potatoes, and Frozen Rosé.
The Doughnut Box – located just outside of Test Track in Future World East – is your chance to sink your teeth into sinfully sweet snacks and savor delicious beverages! You won’t want to miss the Black and White Coffee Cocktail garnished with a Fresh Yeast Donut with Chocolate Espresso Bean Crumbles or the Sweet Corn Fritter with Fresno and Red Pepper Jelly.
On Emile’s Fromage Montage you join Remy’s brother Emile on a stroll around Epcot to enjoy a variety of delicious cheeses served in inventive ways.
Purchase 5 fabulous fromages and reward yourself with the corresponding stamp in your Festival Passport. Then, bring your Festival Passport to Shimmering Sips for a complimentary specialty cheesecake unique to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!
Also there’s a new way to enjoy the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival…The New Mid-Day Magic Ticket! Starting as low as $79 per day, the Mid-Day Magic ticket grants admission to one theme park per day after 12:00 PM. It’s a great way to enjoy an afternoon of food, an evening of entertainment, and a nighttime capped off with the new Epcot Forever Fireworks Spectacular.
You can find more information about special events like these and theme park news by following @onthegoinmco on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
At the D23 Expo held in Anaheim, California, over the weekend Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Bob Chapek led a presentation on the new additions coming to the Disney Parks around the world.
While there were several large announcements, Walt Disney World’s Epcot received the most attention as it continues to undergo the biggest transformation of any Disney park in history including the addition of several new attractions, restaurants, and experiences.
Starting with the news that Epcot will be organized into four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery.
Let’s start our look at the new additions coming to Epcot in World Showcase where new magic will join the celebration of World culture, cuisine, architecture, and traditions.
The United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. We don’t have an opening date yet, but we do know that it will include a step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house before entering Number 17, the home of the Banks family, where an adventure will begin.
In 2020, following the limited-time run of the nighttime spectacular “Epcot Forever,” the new “HarmonioUS” will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.
It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, and it will feature familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe as well as massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers, and so much more.
In summer 2020, the France pavilion will be home to the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure where you’ll shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure
Also debuting in 2020 is a new restaurant called La Crêperie de Paris featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse that can be enjoyed as a table or quick-service dining location.
And the last bit of news in the France pavilion, is that the classic Impressions de France film will be joined by the new “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” debuting in January 2020 that is directed by Don Hahn, producer of both the animated and live-action versions of this tale as old as time.
“Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” will debut in January 2020 in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
In the China pavilion, “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across the country, filmed, and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.
Over in World Celebration new enhancements and additions will be focused on connecting individuals to the the world around them.
Iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time, but soon it will transform to reflect the power of storytelling and its ability to unite the human experience.
The re-imagined attraction will feature new narration, an entirely new musical score, and a magical “story light” that will lead guests on a journey through history focused on the moments and ideas that define “our” story.
At the exit to Spaceship Earth, a new post-show experience will lead guests to discover a breathtaking new view of World Showcase from Dreamers Point.
A new three-level Celebration Pavilion will be home to live events, serve as the center of Epcot’s signature festivals, and will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular.
Epcot’s entrance plaza will welcome guests with a reimagined fountain, new pathways, and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway to the park paying homage to the origins of Epcot.
The natural environments of the World Celebration neighborhood will have global design elements filled with Disney magic and surprises, including a wishing tree in an enchanted forest and a story fountain celebrating the power and music of iconic Disney storytelling.
World Celebration will also feature a new statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney.
The World Nature neighborhood is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world that will include the existing The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.
Journey of Water, inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Moana” will lead guests down a lush exploration trail to meet and play with magical, living water.
The water will have a life of its own – just like Moana’s friend, the ocean – and you’ll learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
The Land pavilion’s new film, “Awesome Planet,” will debut in January 2020 and will showcase the beauty, diversity, and dynamic story of the planet.
And finally the In World Discovery neighborhood will focus on science, technology, and intergalactic adventures.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot.
The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. Guests will learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue.
The attraction will also feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus your attention on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
This winter guests with reservations can board a special elevator in the Mission: SPACE pavilion for a journey to a space station high above the ground that offers both a celestial panorama of daytime and nighttime views of Earth as well as an out-of-this-world dining experience at restaurant Space 220.
The PLAY! pavilion, in the former Wonders of Life pavilion, will be a digital metropolis filled with games, activities, and experiences that connect guests and Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before.
As part of this new pavilion guests will have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
To help guests get ready for all of these new additions, on October 1, 2019, Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion will invite guests to discover interactive exhibits that showcase the relentless innovation, energy, and excitement driving the park’s future throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.
With so much going on in the theme parks of Central Florida, make sure you follow @onthegoinmco on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more details.
On Friday, November 27, Epcot began their holiday festivities with their annual Holidays Around the World line up. This post will be extra picture heavy as I think they tell the story better than I could.
My family and I like to make a day of the special events each year. We always make reservations for the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package and spend the day going around World Showcase listening to the different storytellers. I love looking at all the decorations that are country-specific too. We also make sure to sample some of the special holiday treats that are available – make sure to pick up a passport!
All of the countries feature a special holiday performer or storyteller (or two). We can never fit in all the storytellers in one day, but I have seen all of them at least once before. There are descriptions posted at each country that are worth a read even if you don’t catch the performer. Here is a description of all of them with pictures of the ones we caught over the weekend, plus some of the decorations in the countries.
Canada – The Holiday Voyageurs perform on the Mill Stage singing songs and describing holiday traditions of different regions in Canada.
United Kingdom – Father Christmas tell us what the holiday season is like in the United Kingdom and explains the mistletoe custom. There’s also a short sing-a-long of Deck the Halls, a song that comes from Wales.
France – Père Noël tells us the story of Babette and her Christmas wish. Through the story we learn about french customs.
Morocco – Hear about holidays and festivals in Morocco, focusing on celebrating the harvests with dances and feasts.
Japan – Listen to the story of the Daruma doll and New Year’s celebrations in Japan.
American Adventure – Hear about the traditions of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and the histories behind them. Santa and Mrs. Claus also meet and Voices of Liberty wear Dickens style clothes and sing songs of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. This year there is a gingerbread Capitol building and Washington Monument inside the rotunda.
Italy – La Befana is a witch who brings presents to children in Italy on the Eve of the Epiphany. She tells a story of searching for the Christ child.
Germany – Helga tells us all about the Christmas traditions in Germany, many of which we have adopted here in the United States like the Christmas tree and the nutcracker.
China – The Lion Dancers perform and bestow good luck wishes for the New Year.
Norway – Sigrid explains the holiday traditions of Norway while Julenissen tries to make her believe in the Christmas gnome, with a lot of help from the audience.
Mexico – Mariachi Cobre and dancers perform traditional songs and dances. Musicians and dancers are fantastic in this and there’s even a piñata for the kids.
The headliner of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World is the Candlelight Processional. A celebrity narrator reads scripture from the Christmas story surrounded by a choir and an amazing orchestra. Our narrator was Gary Sinise. It’s definitely a must-see. We like getting the dinner package at least once so we get seats without waiting in a long line. Other times we’ve stood in the back and still enjoyed it.
Of course, we have to end the day with Illuminations, which features a special holiday ending at this time of year with the countries wishing for Peace on Earth.
Spending the day at Epcot during the holiday season will definitely get you into the spirit.
Throughout the year Animal Kingdom and Epcot will be hosting Connecting Families With Nature Series of special events designed to bring attention to animals, their habitats, and what we humans can do to help them not only thrive but survive!
The events take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot. The goal of each is to provide kids and families with a special opportunity to connect with nature, talk to our animal experts, and learn more about some of the fantastic creatures with whom we share our planet. Here’s the list of our 2014 events. Watch the Disney Parks Blog for more detailed posts shortly before each one. We hope to see you at one or more of them!
We ventured to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for the first event in the year long series on March 4th to celebrate ‘Springing Forward’ a few days early by celebrating frogs, toads and other amphibians.
Once we arrived, we were greeted by Cast Members and found all sorts of great games, activities, and special examinations we could watch.
The first thing we did, as we listened to Guitar Dan, was to make our very own Toad Abode for the frogs and toads in our yard to be comfy as Cast Members told us about frogs that were native to Florida. You know that I HAD to have a few Mickey’s on there!
Once inside we were able to try our hand at several games (who knew I could standing jump 7 ft!), watched an examination of a frog, and learned ways that we could do our part to help frogs.
Did you know that, according to some estimates, as many as one-third of the known amphibian species are threatened by extinction because of loss of habitat, climate change, pollution and disease? To find out more about Disney conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation
These Connecting Families With Nature Special Events are a great way to make your trip to the park extra special, and I know that we will definitely be going to more throughout the year. We had so much fun!
If you want to join in the fun with us, here are the upcoming 2014 events for Connecting Families with Nature! You always want to keep in mind that dates subject to change:
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
March 4: Spring Forward for Amphibians Day — Just a few days before we adjust our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time, we’re “springing forward” to celebrate frogs, toads and other amphibians.
April 22: Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day — Every day is a Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as guests and cast members join together to celebrate the wonders of nature, but, on Earth Day, there will be even more natural magic. Included is a celebration of the release of Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears,” in theaters April 18, which showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.
May 6: International Migratory Bird Day — Time to celebrate of one the wonders of nature – bird migration – and the ways we can help protect birds on their journeys.
May 20: World Turtle Day — Turtles are fascinating creatures, and really cool dudes, too – just ask Crush! Both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate turtles with special activities.
June 10: Pollinator Day — butterflies, bees and other pollinators are the stars of this celebration.
July 29: Big Cat Day — It’s all about the largest cats, like lions and tigers – cats to whom you wouldn’t want to say, “here, kitty, kitty.”
August 5: Primate Day — The perfect place to find out what a 400-pound gorilla and a one-pound cotton-top tamarin have in common.
September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day — Learn fun facts and important conservation information about magnificent and endangered elephants and rhinos.
At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot:
April 22: Earth Day Celebration — It’s an ocean of fun at The Seas on Earth Day as this Earth Day celebration focuses on marine animals.
May 20: World Turtle Day — See the magnificent sea turtles swim by in the main aquarium and find out what each of us can do to keep turtles safe in the wild.
June 4: World Oceans Day — Join Nemo, Dory, Crush and the rest of the gang in celebrating the wonders of the oceans.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I am looking forward to this year as it is almost time to spring forward.
This year I am hoping to participate in at least one race per month, and doing more local races too. This weekend I will be walking the 5K for the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. Next weekend I will probably also walk the Best Damn Race 5K in downtown Orlando near Lake Eola. April I think will be the 5K that goes through Legoland and the rest of the year is up in the air.
Spring Training is about to shift into high gear. Teams are practicing and I’ve got tickets to see my Braves play the Cardinals at home next month. I hope to catch at least one other spring training game and to make it to Atlanta once this year.
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is starting in a couple of weeks and this is always a fun special event. Last year I got to meet one of my HGTV personalities, David Bromstad. I look forward to trying to see him again this year and to try out some of the new food offerings.
I would love to get to Busch Gardens as it has been almost a year since I last visited, despite this being the closer theme park to where I live. I need my coaster fix and to feed some kangaroos too.
A first for me this year will be to visit Universal Studios Mardi Gras. I haven’t been to Universal since 1992 other than a few trips to City Walk over the past decade. I am long overdue and hope to finally get to taste butterbeer and maybe one of those giant donuts from the Simpsons.
Summer will bring the return of Summer Nightastic at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, both of which are a lot of fun. I would like to get back to SeaWorld to see their Viva La Musica celebration.
Coming soon, hopefully, will be the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom. This new coaster will be something between the thrill level of the Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but with some dark ride elements I’m hoping similar to Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.
Late spring into summer brings the return of the beloved Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Last year I missed out on Hyperspace Hoopla in its entirety and I won’t let that happen again this year.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom I am looking forward to the new nighttime spectacular that should be arriving sometime this summer. I also really want Festival of the Lion King to come back soon, but I know it is still a few months off.
July will bring the WWE Raw live in Orlando from the Amway Center. I hope to see this and compare it to my recent experience for WWE Live.
Also in July will be the Destination D event at Walt Disney World for D23. I hope this is as fun if not more so than the event in 2011.
Of course the fall will bring back the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot that this year is extended to even more of September. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party starts up again in September into October. November and December will see Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom as well.
One of the things that is on the back burner, but I’m still trying to work into my schedule is a trip back to Disneyland sometime in the next few months or so. Also, a cruise, or two, will be happening this year!
What events are you looking forward to this year? Did I miss any of your favorites?Follow us for more updates:
Every year Raytheon, sponsor of Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East, helps guests National Engineers Week in Epcot, but this year they have really taken it to the next level!
For the week of February 17-21, 2014, Raytheon is presenting ‘Science Thrills Live’ show in Innoventions West.
In ‘Science Thrills Live’, which is part of Raytheon’s Math Moves You program, Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle leads a group of three scientists who demonstrate various scientific concepts with experiments that involve and engage even the youngest members of the audience!
I had the chance to speak with Dr. Erika Ebbel Angle before the show, and this former Miss Massachusetts is also a Biochemist who founded Science for Scientists with a passion for education and firing kids up about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) to show them the real world applications of science.
Dr. Angle said that ‘Our goal is to dispel stereotypes of science, while also showing kids that science and engineering are awesome, fun, and engaging.’
The energy of the show was really fun, and as an extra bonus they used a lot of music from Meet the Robinsons during the show.
“Science Thrills Live” show is 20 minutes long, and will occur daily all week with shows at 11 a.m., 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. in Innoventions West near the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.
I suggest showing up 30 minutes early, because it is not a huge space. While you are waiting there are experiments to do and a really great pre-show that gives you a taste of what you can expect once the show begins!
In addition to ‘Science Thrills Live’, Raytheon employees will be on hand to lead Guests in hands-on experiments, again located in Innoventions West, to share kid-friendly activities while they share their passion for education and engineering.
And after the show and experiments, you definitely have to take the chance to experience science first hand by designing and experiencing their own thrill ride at The Sum of All Thrills presented by Raytheon
We look forward to celebrating National Engineers Week every year with Raytheon, but this year is especially memorable so be sure to drop by Innoventions West this week!
We thought that to celebrate the day, we would share some of our ideal places to celebrate at Walt Disney World!
A fun unique way to spend ValentinesDayat WDW for me is to take a stroll around the Boardwalk. Grab some dinner & drinks while taking in a view of Illuminations before ending the night at Jellyrolls for a fun sing-a-long.
One of the most romantic things I love to do at Walt Disney World is stroll around with that special someone. I have a few places in particular that I enjoy. One of my favorites is Epcot at night. The parks transforms when the torches are lit before Illuminations and the ambient noise from guests seems the die down. I especially love finding a quiet spot in France by the back gardens or tucked away while everyone else is getting ready for the fireworks and listening to the beautiful French accordion music. Enjoying a toast with an adult beverage or even a snack from the patisserie is a great way to cap off a romantic stroll around World Showcase.
If you are looking for romance outside the parks, also in the evenings I really enjoy walking around the gardens at Port Orleans French Quarter, maybe after enjoying some beignets! After all, the French do seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to l’amour <3! I also would never turn down a romantic walk around the Polynesian with the palms swaying in the breeze, ukelele and steel guitar music gently wafting through the air, sand beneath my toes, and a view of Wishes fireworks from the beach would make almost anyone swoon.
Dining options around Walt Disney World are prevalent, but it can sometimes be hard to picture a romantic place that is quiet and sans children. Of course if I had the choice, I’d pick dressing up with my man to go to Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian where no children under 12 are admitted and the tones are decidedly hushed. I’d also prefer not to pay that bill ;). Looking for something a bit more affordable, but still with a nice atmosphere, I like Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge or Flying Fish at the Boardwalk. Both are quieter than most other restaurants I’ve found on property and have a nice ambiance, great food and wine to match.
There are many restaurants and places to go for Valentines day, depending on how extravagant one is willing to go.
For me, if I’m not planning on going to a restaurant or park, one of my favorite things is fireworks. So my recommendation would be to go to The Polynesian, pick up a coffee and a sweet snack and head down to the beach area. If it’s chilly be sure to take a blanket, which can be used to sit on too.
The view from the beach at the Polynesian is special as you don’t need park access, and the view is stunning as you get the reflections off the lake too. Just be sure to get there around 15/20 minutes before they begin so you can secure a good viewing spot.
Watching the fireworks with your loved one can be so romantic, especially snuggled up with a hot beverage by the beach! Don’t forget a selfie to capture your night!
I’d love to spend Valentine’s Daywith a nice meal at Yachtsman Steakhouse followed by a night time stroll around Crescent Lake or World Showcase. Then cap the evening off with any of the firework spectaculars.
My ideal Valentine’s Dayat WDW would have to be in the World Showcase at Epcot. I especially love wandering around at night when the pavilions are lit up. Maybe grab an ice cream cone at L’Artisan des Glaces in France – my favorite flavor is profiterole! – and do a little window shopping. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of Illuminations!
When I think romance (which I hardly ever do in general) around Disney World, I immediately think of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is it one of our favorite restaurants, but it tends to be quite one-on-one. It’s normally not loud and while it’s “fancy”, it’s got a laid back feel to it as well. And if you’re not looking to spend a bunch of money on dinner, a favorite of mine is to get a good spot on the train station and watch Wishes from there.
If I could pick somewhere to spend ValentinesDayin Walt Disney World it would have to be experiencing a romantic candlelit dinner at the California Grill located within the Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Not only does this location have excellent food and atmosphere, but it also provides for some of the greatest views of the entire Walt Disney World property. Located on the 15th floor, the California Grill provides views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake and numerous other landmarks on Disney World property. There’s nothing quite like being able to catch a Florida sunset from the top of the Contemporary Resort while enjoying an excellent glass of wine and top notch cuisine. At the end of the night you can head out onto the balcony and top off your romantic evening with a breathtaking view of Wishes, the Magic Kingdom’s night time spectacular. In my opinion the California Grill is one of the most romantic dining options on Walt Disney World property and an excellent way to spend your ValentinesDay.
My favorite date night with Dave is a little bit corny, but we love to head to the Magic Kingdom. We have a ‘light’ dinner of appetizer’s at Tony’s Town Square, take a stroll through the park as the sunsets, and then settle into our favorite spot for the rest of the night. We head over to Sleepy Hollow Refreshments to grab a funnel cake and a table near the castle. Sleepy Hollow is an awesome spot, because you can watch the Main Street Electrical Parade and Celebrate the Magic before heading to the castle to watch Wishes! I love our Magic Kingdom nights, because it’s a great chance to slow down and I don’t have to share my treats with Zoe!!!
Wherever you are celebrating today, we hope that your Valentine’s Day is awesome!Follow us for more updates:
While Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World is a must do for many of my friends, this year was the first time I’ve ever watched it!
I grew up in the parks and I’m sure we were here around Christmas time, however, even as an adult, I can’t believe I had never seen this show before. This is definitely the way to get you in the holiday mood!
It was quite the experience!
Watching the cast choir fill into all their spots.
Listening to and enjoying the live orchestra.
And then there was Gary Sinise, who was the narrator for the night that I was in attendance. (For a full list of Candlelight Processional narrators for 2013, you can view the list here.)
It was so awesome to watch his reactions to certain songs – you can catch some of his head bobbing in the video above 🙂
While I am not a religious person, the songs and show are put together so well and I know that the cast members put in a lot of time for each of their practices.
I hope to now make this a yearly tradition!
Do you have a favorite narrator that you have to see? Is there someone that you would like to see added to the list of narrators at Epcot’s Candlelight Processional?Follow us for more updates: