MickeyBlog Disney News for Week of January 15
As we enter a new year, plenty’s happening at Disney theme parks. We know you want the details about all the most exciting developments, so let’s get started…
Out with the Old…
Disney’s making some changes at the start of the New Year. For starters, they have to create some space for some upcoming attractions at Epcot. You probably heard about some of them at D-23, and a few others are rumored but not yet confirmed. Anyway, those things need room, which means some stuff has to go.
The first major closure of 2018 at Epcot is Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. Located on the second floor of The Land Pavilion, it’s fair to say that this charming movie has outlived its usefulness. Even on heavy park days, it’s sparsely attended, which is why Disney’s chosen to shutter it. Fans of the film still have a few more chances to catch it, though. Epcot will continue regular performances through February 3rd.
What’s replacing the movie? Well, that’s complicated. The answer is technically nothing. More accurately, Disney Performing Arts will move their showcases over to this location for the foreseeable future. They currently offer these performances in a hidden trailer near the Italy Pavilion. Why does Disney need that space? THAT is the mystery of the moment. The relocation of Disney Performing Arts certainly hints at a new ride or – dare to dream – an entirely new pavilion arriving at the World Showcase someday soon(ish).
In with the…Old?
Another major change is transpiring at Disneyland. It too involves a classic attraction, although this one’s roots circle all the way back to the opening day of the Happiest Place on Earth! The Main Street Vehicles i.e. horse-drawn street cars won’t be in operation for a few months. As of this week, Disney has closed the rides to the public. Their plan is a noble one, though.
Rather than shutter the popular vehicles forever, Disney’s laying the groundwork for a better future…and I mean that literally. The company’s repaving the tracks to add a special hue to the Main Street U.S.A. ambience. When the attraction reopens, the updated pavement will make the timeless pathway shiny and new.
Disney’s also tweaking one other old school attraction. Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a Fantasyland staple since 1955, is going away from a brief period. It will remain closed just long enough to create a new line queue. The hope is to improve accessibility while getting rid of a known high congestion area in the park. One of the most impressive things about Disney park planning is how they can make subtle changes like this whose ripple effects vastly improve overall park enjoyment.
And In with the New, Too!
Shh! Can you keep a secret? I’ve got a big one for you! According to my ultra-insider, YouTube, something huge is underway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Yes, as this video clearly shows, testing has begun on Slinky Dog Dash! With actual coasters running on the ride track, it’s clearly not that far away from being ready! The word for more than a year now is that the Toy Story Land expansion will debut in May of 2018. That gives Disney four months to perfect everything, but given this video, they appear to be waaaaay ahead of schedule.
Speaking of Hollywood Studios…
Are you driving to Walt Disney World over the next few weeks? Or are you lucky enough to live in Central Florida (go Golden Knights!)? If so, you need to be aware of a change happening at Buena Vista Drive. The regular park entrance won’t be available for a while due to construction.
As you know, many huge changes are coming to Hollywood Studios, literally all of them great. To accommodate these changes and allow for an impending increase in traffic to the park, Disney’s got to do some roadwork. On the Buena Vista Drive side, you’ll have to shift lanes earlier than normal…or realize too late and have to do a U-turn on a heavily trafficked road. Nobody wants that. So, please be alert for the updated access points. Alternately, take the World Drive entrance instead. Disney’s not altering that path, at least not yet.
The New Restaurants Are Here!
Last time, I mentioned the arrival of Pizza Ponte, the new pizza place at Disney Springs. As MickeyBlog readers know, that’s merely the Quick Service part of a four-restaurant and bar expansion at The Landing. Over the past few days, Disney has opened one of the others with two more in the offing.
The most storied of the eateries is The Edison, a nightclub that inhabits some of the same space as The Adventurer’s Club from back in the day. The East Coast version of a popular Los Angeles establishment, The Edison’s been under construction for more than two years now. On New Year’s, it finally opened to the public. You can even watch some video of the Grand Opening here. It’s higher end fare and a novel afterhours option at Disney Springs. I’m enamored of the place, but I recognize it’s not for everyone.
Joining The Edison are Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante and its companion underground bar, Enzo’s Hideaway. The acclaimed Patina Restaurant Group operates all four properties, assuring the quality of each one. If you want to get an idea of the vibe of Enzo’s, watch this video.
If you don’t have the time, I’ll make two points. The first is that they serve “family-style drinks,” which is to say they’re for parties of 3-5. They also have complimentary bread, but they don’t bring it to your table in a conventional way. Instead, they have a bread server who wanders from table-to-table, interacting and offering the food. Guests who are more insular/private by nature may not love that premise.
Are You Ready to Rock???
During its plethora of holiday announcements, Disney revealed the lineup of musicians for the 2018 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. You can read the full details here, but here’s the important part, the schedule of musical performers:
- “March 2-5: Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
- March 9-12: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
- March 16-19: Simple Plan “Welcome to My Life”
- March 23-26: Little River Band “Reminiscing”
- March 30-April 2: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
- April 6-7: Foghat (NEW!) “Slow Ride”
- April 8-9: Survivor (NEW to Garden Rocks!) “Eye of the Tiger”
- April 13-14: Smash Mouth (NEW to Garden Rocks!) “All Star”
- April 15-16: Rick Springfield (NEW to Garden Rocks!) “Jessie’s Girl”
- April 20-21: Jo Dee Messina (NEW to Garden Rocks!) “Stand Beside Me”
- April 22-23: Lonestar (NEW!) “Amazed”
- April 27-30: Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice “Spinning Wheel”
- May 4-7: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry VIII I Am”
- May 11-12: Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
- May 13-14: Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles (NEW!) “Hotel California”
- May 18-21: The Guess Who “American Woman”
- May 25-28: The Spinners “Working My Way Back to You””
I used to joke about the quality of some of these musicians, but I’ve stopped doing it. The reality is that everyone seems to put on a great show, and the crowd has a wonderful time. Whenever these concerts are playing at the America Gardens Theatre, it seems like that entire walking area of the World Showcase from Morocco to Germany is filled with tipsy people dancing. Over time, it’s become one of my favorite parts of an evening at Epcot.
If you’ve never been, you should make plans for the 2018 exhibition. The floral depictions of Disney scenes are truly stunning in quality, the butterfly tent is always engrossing, and it somehow doesn’t seem to trigger anybody’s allergies. I wish the real season of Spring were like that. Anyway, you should book a trip to Disney for this year’s event. Contact one of our friends at MickeyTravels and let them do all the work on your vacation getaway! It’s 100% free to you!