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It’s only the first half of January, and we are already overwhelmed with excitement for this year. Here’s a glimpse at just some of what you can look forward to in 2016 at Universal Orlando Resort.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong Opens
The next saga in this iconic character’s story is coming to life in a HUGE new attraction this summer. You can see much of the attraction’s façade already from the walkways in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The rising structure shows just how mammoth of an experience this will be.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster Returns
We announced in August that one of America’s beloved coasters was going to be undergoing “new enhancements to its storyline, ride vehicles and overall experience.” Well, if you’re strolling around Marvel Super Hero Island, you’ll already start to see the ride coming back into shape. Just wait until you see what this guy looks like now…
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Opens
We’ve already made a few announcements about our newest on-site hotel opening this summer. And man, is it going to be beautiful. I know I can’t wait to check out the new pool—the largest of all the hotels—and grab a drink in the Strong Water Tavern. Tropical bliss awaits.
On top of all that, there are the incredible annual events and the epicenter of awesome, Universal CityWalk.
2016 is definitely going to be a year of non-stop excitement.
If you’ve had a dream that the “Tangled” show would return to the Royal Theatre at Disneyland park, then this Friday will be your Best. Day. Ever.
On the stage of the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire, the hair-raising tale of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider will once again come to life through the inimitable storytelling talents of resident Renaissance men, Messieurs Smythe and Jones. With the assistance of some fellow villagers and a little help from the audience, these lovers of legend and lore weave their version of “Tangled” with equal doses of music, whimsy, humor and heart.
Winner of an IAAPA Brass Ring Award in 2013, “The Royal Theatre Presents ‘Tangled’” will play in repertory with Smythe and Jones’s adaptation of “Frozen,” each performed several times daily starting January 15.
2015 was full of culinary news for Walt Disney World Resort, and 2016 promises to be equally exciting, especially at Disney Springs. From new restaurants to more fun with Disney characters, here’s a look ahead at 2016.
1. Sunday brunches are the hot weekend ticket. Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a new one, and Brunch at the Top debuts February 7 at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
2. Get over to the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom Park and try a rice noodle bowl, sustainable local farm-raised shrimp in chili-garlic sauce, or the Kungaloosh!, an African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas with cashew-caramel ice cream. This is an all-new menu for the Disney chefs.
3. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival expands to 90 days, March 2 to May 30 (from 75 days last year). Fresh garden produce, savory bites and sweet treats will be abundant at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, returning for a fourth year with guest favorites and new food and beverage offerings.
4. Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the art of traveling, featuring foods from places that inspired the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner. (“Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a midday meal or a type of container used to carry food while traveling).
5. Adjacent to Tiffins, Nomad Lounge will feature hand-crafted cocktails using the art of mixology with African, Asian and South American flavors, beers and wines from those regions, and a selection of specialty non-alcoholic beverages in addition to small bites.
6. Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk will temporarily close the end of January, then reopen in the fall with a whole new look – and while the kitchen is working on new menu items, Chef Tim Keating promises that potato-wrapped snapper and the popular New York strip steak will be back. Stay tuned for details.
7. Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’’s Hollywood Studios debuted in 2015, but guests can look forward to new themes coming in 2016, including Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Minnie’s Summertime Dine and Minnie’s Halloween Dine.
8. Let’s start 2016 with a taste of the chocolate at The Ganachery at Disney Springs – the proprietary blend of chocolate and cream made right in the shop is not to be missed. The lovely little space elevates sweets to an experience akin to a wine tasting.
9. Coming to Disney Springs in early 2016 is STK, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building, including a main level and a rooftop-dining area with incredible views of Disney Springs.
10. Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, will serve up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies at Disney Springs in 2016. Their innovative Cupcake ATM will satisfy sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
11. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza also comes to Disney Springs in 2016, a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant will feature an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh toppings.
12. Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine will showcase the cuisine of Chef Art Smith at Disney Springs when it opens in Summer 2016. Smith, who was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., on the Florida-Georgia border, will feature farm-to-fork cuisine that showcases the bounty of Florida, and design inspired by turn-of-the century Florida architecture of the late 1800s.
13. Also opening in Summer 2016 at Disney Springs, Frontera Fresco by Chef Rick Bayless will showcase the gourmet Mexican cuisine that has made Chef Bayless a culinary legend. The restaurant will feature authentic Mexican specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all prepared from time-honored recipes with natural, locally sourced ingredients. Frontera Fresco also will serve an extensive selection of margaritas, cocktails and craft beers and wine.
14. Look for a re-imagined Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs as the flagship venue is transformed into a star-themed Planet Hollywood Observatory to match the look and feel of Disney Springs. As part of the makeover, the venue will add a new outdoor terrace and bar space called Stargazers and feature live entertainment.
15. Also at Disney Springs, new Disney quick-service locations and kiosks will be blooming this spring. Perfect for a quick bite.
16. Two new Disney cookbooks for 2016: a new Delicious Disney: Sweet Treats book due out in the fall, and one celebrating both the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (dates still TBD for the food & wine fest when the book will debut).
About a year and a half ago, “La Nouba,” the resident Cirque du Soliel show at Disney Springs (back then it was still Downtown Disney) introduced a duo of new clowns. It was a nice refresh to an already fantastic experience. The team at “La Nouba” is at it again, this time bringing in two brand-new acts: a high-energy trio of breakdancing b-boys that will make your head spin and a mesmerizing aerial bamboo act that will leave you breathless.
If you’re a fan of shows like “You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Best Dance Crew” then the b-boys may very well become your favorite act. The performers, all well-known solo artists, go by stage names Bebo, Incredible Josh and Flying-buddha. They mix hip-hop and breakdance moves in dizzying combinations; with choreography that merges from freestyle solo moments to precision-timed moves in unison, I can only imagine how much time the boys spent in rehearsal before hitting the stage.
With a rare mix of rhythm, strength and straight-from-the-streets confidence, this threesome has added a bold hint of urban flair to “La Nouba” that can’t be adequately described in mere words. Truly, the best advice I can suggest is that you see the updated show for yourself!
The famed “N’awlins” celebration is back and better than ever at Universal Orlando Resort on select nights starting Feb. 6 through April 16. Our family-friendly version of the legendary Bayou bash will bring everything you love about the Big Easy to Universal Studios Florida. Get your fill of authentic Cajun cuisine, a dazzling parade and exhilarating concerts from some of the biggest names in music. And this year’s concert line-up is a must-see with something for everyone to enjoy.
Headliners include one of rock music’s best-selling bands, Fall Out Boy, teen pop sensation Shawn Mendes, legendary singer Diana Ross, GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Jessie J and country singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes. For the complete line-up, see below.
What could be better this time of year than eating some mouthwatering gumbo and listening to some jazz music from the Big Easy? During our Mardi Gras celebration, you can get a taste of some authentic NOLA cuisine at our French Quarter Courtyard. Plus, you’ll get performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.
Along with the authentic food & music, you’ll enjoy a rockin’ parade with floats engineered by Blaine Kern Artists—the same company that has been hand-crafting floats for the iconic New Orleans celebration since 1947. This year’s parade features four new floats that celebrate different cultures and festivals from around the world—Venetian Carnival, Oktoberfest, 4th of July and Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
And did we mention there will be more than 1.7 million beads? You’ll be catching beads by the handful all night!
If you have ever wondered how the Disneyland Railroad steam engines run, or what Jungle Cruise skippers do when they aren’t in their boats, they’ll soon have a chance to find out.
Beginning this month, Disneyland Park Guests will have unique, limited-time opportunities to experience some of their favorite attractions in new ways.
While the Disneyland Railroad is temporarily closed this year, Guests at the Main Street and New Orleans Square Train Stations will be able to get up-close with the historic steam engines that have circled Disneyland Park for decades, learn about these amazing machines firsthand from our own train engineers and even take a picture with an engine! Each engine will be accompanied by knowledgeable train engineers, who will share fun facts, details on how the engines operate, stories from the history of the Disneyland Railroad and more.
And, while the world-famous Jungle Cruise undergoes refurbishment early this year, the skippers will still share their stories, adventures and humor with Disneyland Park Guests in front of the attraction. They’ll recount tales from their travels while the Jungle Navigation Company headquarters readies for reopening later this year.
Look for these special opportunities and more – including new, limited-time experiences aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia – throughout the year at Disneyland Park.
Attention Disney Channel and Disney Junior fans! Watchers of “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” the hit TV movie that just debuted on Disney Channel in November, will soon be able to become honorary members of the Lion Guard in a brand new Disney’s Animal Kingdom experience called The Lion Guard Adventure.
The fun starts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on February 7. This interactive experience will allow young guests to explore the park in search of five main characters from “The Lion Guard” – Kion, Bunga, Fuli, Beshte, and Ono, who are represented as colorful statues that are perfect for a kid-sized photo-ops. Like the movie, the experience encourages interest in protecting animals and caring for nature. Once they complete the adventure, each child can take a special pledge to become an honorary member of “The Lion Guard” and receive a special button.
The experience will be offered in Disney’s Animal Kingdom through late March, as one of many activities celebrating the debut of “The Lion Guard” series on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.
Awards season is almost upon us, and the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown is in the air! From January 4 to March 20 Minnie Mouse will be inviting all of her friends to join her at Hollywood & Vine, where she’s hosting a fabulous dinner party celebrating the glamour of Hollywood!
Celebrate the magic of the movies at Hollywood & Vine–the hottest spot in town this award season. Walk the red carpet and get ready for your close-up with some of the biggest stars of the silver screen. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy are dressed in their designer best. It’s the perfect Hollywood party filled with dazzling décor and a musical score.
Of course, no fabulous Hollywood party is complete without stellar eats. Scene-stealing soups (including the famous creamy popcorn soup, garnished with caramelized popcorn), best supporting appetizers, best leading entrees (bacon-wrapped pork loin, lobster and shrimp macaroni and cheese and honey-bourbon glazed turkey are headliners) and themed desserts are on the menu.
Reservations are now open for Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, and can be made by contacting your Kingdom Magic Travel Agent!
Adding a Disney cruise to the end of your Walt Disney World Resort vacation is the perfect way to extend your family’s fun-filled adventures. We know the kids won’t run out of energy, but after all the fun you have in the parks, it’s likely the grownups will appreciate the many opportunities to recharge at sea.
Here are the top ways you can unwind and keep the fun alive during your cruise …
Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party happens 6:30-8 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with special viewing for the “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks at 7:45 p.m. each night. Guests can enjoy a selection of sweets as the night sky erupts with impressive fireworks, set to the most dramatic and memorable Star Wars themes of all time, including selections from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
On the menu, guests will enjoy lots of Star Wars-themed treats, including the popular Yoda and Darth Vader cupcakes and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests can purchase tickets for this special Star Wars offering by contacting their Kingdom Magic Travel Planner.
Minnie Mouse and her friends celebrate the magic of the movies and glamour of Hollywood with an epic feast at the new Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The all new character dining experience is hosted by Minnie and her pals and begins just in time for Academy Awards season.
Dinner guests will walk the red carpet and get ready for their close-up with some of the biggest stars of the silver screen. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy will all be there and dressed in their designer best. Mickey will greet guests and pose with them for photographs in the midst of the glitz and glamour before escorting them into the dinner party, where guests get the chance to meet Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy as they enjoy classic cuisine, themed to old Hollywood. This new party at Walt Disney World Resort is filled with dazzling décor, a sweeping musical score, award-winning food, activities and more.
Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine runs from Jan. 4 to March 20, 2016. Guests can make reservations by contacting their Kingdom Magic Vacations Travel Planner.
Take time in the New Year to meet some of the amazing artists behind the magic. Here are a few events taking place in January 2016 at the locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort, so be sure to keep a close eye on where exactly they will be appearing.
Now – Jan. 4: Representatives from Precious Moments dolls will be on hand for the release of some of their newest dolls, among other fan favorites, throughout the day, each day, at Fun Finds in Disney Springs Marketplace.
Jan. 1 – 3: Join us as we welcome artist Bryan Fyffe, who will be on hand for special appearances and signings, Jan. 1 – 2 from 5 – 8 p.m. and Jan. 3 from Noon – 3 p.m. at WonderGround Gallery in Marketplace Co-Op.
Jan. 13 – 17: Artist Greg McCullough returns to Art of Disney this month. See some of his latest releases and more Jan. 13 – 17 and Jan. 27 – 31 from 1 – 8 p.m., each day.
Jan. 16: Meet artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith who will be on hand showcasing some of her newest releases, among other favorites, from 4 – 7 p.m. in WonderGround Gallery at Marketplace Co-Op.
Jan. 22 – 24: ACME Artist Raymond Swanland will be appearing from 7 – 9p.m., each day at Star Wars Galactic Outpost (previously D-Street) in Disney Springs West Side. Don’t miss the chance to see some of his latest Star Wars releases.
Jan. 8 – 10: Be sure to stop by and check out the latest releases of handmade bath and body products from Rinse. Representatives will be on hand throughout the day, each day, Jan. 8 – 10 and Jan. 15 – 17 at Heritage Manor in the American Adventure Pavilion.
Which artists are you most excited to meet?