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).