Friday, February 1, 2013

Ears the News With Richard


The 2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, taking place this year from 3/6/2013-5/19/ 2013, is lining up to be even better than ever. Along with all the topiaries and the Flower Power concert series, new this year will be the introduction of 12 World Showcase promenade marketplace kiosks offering food and drink. Read on for more details from Disney.

•Garden Marketplace culinary creations ranging from smokehouse barbecue and shrimp with grits and Zellwood corn to sweet “frushi” made with fresh fruits and coconut rice. Chefs are perfecting menus for marketplaces that will include Florida Fresh at World Showcase Promenade, Smokehouse Barbecue and Brew at American Adventure courtyard, Primavera Kitchen at Italy showcase, Hanami at Japan showcase and eight others. Around the World Showcase promenade

•Garden Marketplace refreshing libations with a kick like Hot Sun Tomato Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery and Dole Whip with Spiced Rum, as well as non-alcoholic drinks like Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade and Wild Berry Slush. Beverage specialists will feature brews and beverages at food marketplaces and at Fruits by the Glass and Pineapple Promenade. Around the World Showcase promenade

•A new, circus-like “Land of Oz” play area based on the Disney fantastical film adventure “Oz: The Great and Powerful” to be released 3/8/2013. The interactive children’s play zone will feature play systems adorned with giant flowers and designed to stretch kids’ imaginations and muscles. Midway-style games, red-and-white circus-themed tents and the “Oz Movie Garden” of intriguing plants will capture the spirit of the upcoming film. Also on tap: photo opportunities and the “great and powerful Oz’s” crashed hot-air balloon. Imagination Walkway

•Larger-than-life Fab Five Disney character topiary. Floral versions of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck (with Daisy Duck in a cameo) star in a celebratory cookout scene in living topiary color. The 14-foot-tall Goofy topiary will bobble an anniversary cake while Donald and Daisy play badminton, Mickey fires up the grill, Pluto swipes a link of hot dogs and Minnie chills out on a colorful blanket of blossoms. Epcot Front Entrance

•Illuminated Gardens in the park’s Future World and World Showcase will twinkle and glow over the festival’s world-famous Disney gardens and topiaries each festival evening. Epcot Future World and World Showcase

Throughout the 75-day garden party, guests will discover festival surprises around every corner including new topiary triumphs, a butterfly bounty, whimsical children’s play areas, HGTV celebrity designers, daily hands-on gardening seminars and a Festival Center packed with events that offer innovative ideas, gardening know-how and design tips. Weekends, top Flower Power rockers of the 1960s and ’70s will perform.

Every Friday through Sunday, HGTV design celebrities will host Festival Center seminars. During opening weekend, 3/8/2013-3/10/2013, Chris Lambton of “Going Yard” will appear; other designers scheduled to take the stage include David Bromstad of “Color Splash” and Meg Caswell of “Meg’s Great Rooms.”

More festival highlights include:
•“Monsters University” topiary: Floral representations of Mike and Sully from the hit Disney-Pixar film “Monsters, Inc.” and stars of Disney-Pixar’s June 2013 release, “Monsters University,” will join the festivities as new topiary family members. On the Future World Walkway
•Phineas and Ferb topiary: The popular Disney Channel animated celebs limit their shenanigans to go green for a family photo-op. Behind Spaceship Earth
•“Radiator Springs” interactive play zone: Race car Lightning McQueen and tow truck “Mater” of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars 2? will be the well-maintained topiary stars of this play area. On the Test Track Walkway
•Flower Power Firsts: 1970s top disco band The Village People 4/19-21/2013) and 1960s singer-songwriter Tommy Roe (5/3-5/2013) bring on the Flower Power beat when they take the concert stage. At America Gardens Theatre
•Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House: Eight fanciful fairy topiaries of Pixie Hollow, including Tinker Bell, Fawn, Vidia and Terrence, take over the Butterfly House this year where hundreds of colorful winged beauties flit to life. On the Imagination Walkway

In all, more than 100 topiaries, 240 floating mini-gardens, dozens of flower towers and sweeping beds of multi-colored blooms will add floral splendor to the park landscape. Speaking of “flower power,” the Flower Power concert series kicks off 3/8-10/2013 with Micky Dolenz (“I’m a Believer”) and continues each weekend with pop favorites including:

March 15-17: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
March 22-24: The Guess Who
March 29-31: Nelson
April 5-7: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
April 12-14: Paul Revere & the Raiders
April 19-21: The Village People (new!)
April 26-28: The Orchestra, Featuring Former Members of ELO and ELO II
May 3-5: Tommy Roe (new!)
May 10-12: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
May 17-19: Starship starring Mickey Thomas. 

Tamu Tamu Refreshments at Disney's Animal Kingdom has a couple of new menu items. Replacing the Turkey and Swiss Sandwich and the Tandori Chicken Salad are:

Roasted Chicken Salad Sandwich
- Diced Chicken and Dried Fruit blended with mild African Spices, served on Multigrain Bread with House-made Chips or Apple Slices

South African Quinoa Salad
- Romaine Lettuce, Olives, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Fried Tofu, Hand-tossed in a light Vinaigrette and served with Pita Bread

The fitness center at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort will be closed from 1/29/2013 to 2/7/2013. The spa is also closed for a major refurbishment lasting until summer.
Following a six month refurbishment, the Yacht and Beach Club's pool-side bar and restaurant has reopened as 'Hurricane Hanna's Waterside Bar and Grill.'  The quick service dining area has been expanded, along with a new bar and an all new menu. 

Disney has today unveiled the full line-up for what looks to be one of the signature Limited Time Magic weeks at Walt Disney World from 2/11-17/2013. Special decor, a castle light show, specially-crafted dining experiences, limited edition merchandise, character meet and greets, along with some one-off photo opportunities are all planned.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Love is in the air at Walt Disney World Resort as fairytale princesses find true love with their princes, and “happily ever after” becomes reality. It all happens during True Love Week February 11-17, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort.

The weeklong love-fest is all part of Limited Time Magic at Disney Parks, where each week in 2013 guests will be treated to a sprinkling of Disney magic where unexpected surprises and delights enhance vacation memories.

During True Love Week, a tapestry of romance is woven throughout the resort — from limited- time Valentine’s merchandise and special entertainment, to romantic dinners for two and new themed photo locations offering greetings with beloved Disney sweethearts – all for a limited-time only.

The weeklong event celebrates the love of friends and family, and invites couples to rekindle the flame. Here is the lineup:
  • Romantic Setting: Guests will feel the romance at every turn, as banners proclaiming True Love, heart-shaped signage and sweetheart-themed d├ęcor adorn the Magic Kingdom.
  • Blushing Castle: At dusk, hues of pink, red, lavender and blue bathe Cinderella Castle with themed lighting synced to a musical melodies adding to the ambiance.
  • Dinners for Two: Candlelit dinners for two with prix fixe menus at select restaurants during the most romantic week of the year. Specially-created menus at Artist Point (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort); The Wave…of American Flavors (Disney’s Contemporary Resort); Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney’s Hollywood Studios); Yachtsman Steakhouse (Disney’s Yacht Club Resort) make an ideal setting for a romantic evening. To book visit Disneyworld.com or call 407/WDW-DINE.
  • Valentine’s-themed Takeaways: Limited-edition pins, plushes, newly-designed apparel and Vinylmations available at select merchandise locations.
  • Royal Gathering: The rare opportunity to get a photo with Disney Princes as they escort their Princesses to enchanting character greeting locations.
  • In Town Square Theater you may find Mickey and Minnie, Aurora with Phillip or Rapunzel and Flynn. Mary Poppins joins Bert in Fantasyland, while Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana meet guests in the Enchanted Glade in Liberty Square.
Romantic Photo Locations in Magic Kingdom with your Sweetie:
  • Carriage Awaits: New Fantasyland invites lovers to create memories alongside Cinderella’s Glass Coach situated by the new Castle wall for True Love Week.
  • Wishes Come True: Hearts and flowers enhance Cinderella’s Wishing Well creating the perfect backdrop for a cherished moment.
  • Rose Walk: The Rose Garden in Central Plaza is all decked out with enchanting decor.
And more… 

Romantic Touches: Long stem roses, chocolate covered strawberries, the finest champagne, or scattered rose petals create a romantic scene for lovebirds, all available through the Disney florist at www.disneyflorist.com.
 

Elegant Oasis for Relaxation: An aromatherapy couples’ massage is just the escape after a day with the kids in the theme park. Couples’ massages are available at the newly opened, full-service Senses, A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
 

Perfectly Princess: Join your prince for the ultimate fairytale come true with a customized Disney wedding or honeymoon getaway. More than 1,000 couples get married, or renew their wedding vows in romantic settings in various locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort every year. Visit DisneyWeddings.com for more information.
 

RFID door locks are now being installed at Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter. The new lock rollout is nearing completion with most resorts now already converted ahead of the full launch of MyMagic+ later this year.

The new locks allow guests to simply touch their room key to unlock the door, without having to insert a card.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
MyMagic+ 'Touch to Pay' is expanding today to the following locations:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Wide World of Sports
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort


During the next several days Disney will begin rolling out MyMagic+ RFID enabled single-day and multi-day tickets.

So far, only Disney Resort guests have been issued with RFID enabled tickets, but this is set to change from today as tickets purchased at the parks will be enabled with the RFID chip that will allow guests to use the new 'Touch to Enter' turnstiles. As well as allowing touch entry, the tickets will continue to work with the existing FASTPASS system, and the traditional turnstiles. Along with the easier entry to the parks, another bonus of the new ticket media is that is made of a sturdy plastic, rather than the flimsy paper stock that is currently in use.

If all goes to schedule, all park guest relations locations should be issuing the RFID tickets by 2/1/2013.

There is still no word on when Annual Passholder tickets will be converted to the new media.

A member on the photo sharing service Instagram caught a photo of what looks to be a new color scheme for the Disney bus fleet at Walt Disney World.

The new retro silver and red color scheme coordinates with the recently introduced new driver costumes. You can view the photo on Instagram here. A number of upgrades are expected to be coming to the bus fleet, including the addition of articulated busses and a number of news stops at the parks.

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