What’s New Around Walt Disney World: February 28, 2017

Whew! It sure has been a news-y few weeks for Disney World! From the debut of the long-awaited Rivers of Light show in Animal Kingdom, to the announcement of a brand new fireworks spectacular on the way to Magic Kingdom, to the return of another annual Festival at Epcot: the 2017 Flower and Garden Festival.

Fresh Epcot

Fresh Epcot

But it sure doesn’t stop there, because we’ve got even more news to explore… by checking out WHAT’S NEW around Walt Disney World!

Epcot

“You can learn a lot of things from the flowers…” 

Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival

The 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is running from March 1 – May 29, 2017!

Beauty and the Beast Topiary

Beauty and the Beast Topiary

China Pavilion Topiary

China Pavilion Topiary

Anna and Elsa Topiary

Anna and Elsa Topiary

This year, the Festival will feature two new Outdoor Kitchens in addition to the returning thirteen.

Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer from La Isla Fresca

Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer from La Isla Fresca

Look for Northern Bloom and The Berry Basket to join the line-up, and find out what each and every Outdoor Kitchen will be serving by checking out the FULL LIST of menus!

And watch our video about our recommendations for this year’s festival here!

And, hey, if you’re in Epcot for the Festival anyway… why not plan a visit to La Cava del Tequila :) ?

La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila

That’s where you can find the new Horizons Margarita Shot commemorating one of my favorite former Epcot attractions — Horizons!

@cavadeltequila Twitter

@cavadeltequila Twitter

Salud!

The current rotating specials at Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion (typically featuring one drink and one pasta) are the Limoncello Mule and the Truffled Fettucine.

Pasta Special

Pasta Special

Featured Beverage

Featured Beverage

After taking in all the flowers and blooms (and margaritas and mules ;) ) by day at Epcot, you may want to spend your evening in…

Animal Kingdom

Our next stop is Animal Kingdom, where the aforementioned Rivers of Light evening spectacular is in full swing at long last!

Rivers of Light Animals

Rivers of Light Animals

Rivers of Light Projection of Simba

Rivers of Light Lion Projection

Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light Owls

Rivers of Light Owls

Notice for Visitors to the Ampitheatre

Notice for Visitors to the Ampitheatre

This also means that Rivers of Light Dining Packages are now available for booking, with dining options at Tusker House Restaurant and Tiffins (where, by the way, Grilled Swordfish and Smoked Wagyu Beef Bolognese are two new entree options).

Tiffins sign

Tiffins sign

Tiffins Menu

Tiffins Menu

Don’t forget to check out our video about how to grab a seat at the new nighttime event with NO stress and NO wait!

And right next to the FastPass+ entrance to the show’s beautiful amphitheater, Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks is now serving popcorn for your enjoyment during the performance.

Thirsty River Bar sign in Rivers of Light Ampitheatre

Thirsty River Bar sign in Rivers of Light Ampitheatre

Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks Food Menu

Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks Food Menu

Likewise, the nearby Drinkwallah now serves Cinnamon-Glazed Almonds and Pecans as snack options at spots close to the show have amped up their choices a bit.

Drinkwallah kiosk

Drinkwallah kiosk

Drinkwallah Menu

Drinkwallah Menu

And, of course, all sorts of items commemorating Rivers of Light are up for grabs at the park’s merchandise locations.

Rivers of Light Mug

Rivers of Light Mug

Rivers of Light shirt

Rivers of Light shirt

Rivers of Light Wand

Rivers of Light Wand

Rivers of Light Lanyard

Rivers of Light Lanyard

It feels as though an entirely new era has begun in the park, with the additional announcement that Disney World’s newest land, Pandora — The World of AVATAR, will open on May 27th!

Pandora Construction signs

Pandora Construction signs

Entry Bridge into Pandora

Entry Bridge into Pandora

This also means that Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu (the land’s main dining establishment and drink station, respectively) will open at the end of May as well.

Satu'li Canteen Concept Art ©Disney

Satu’li Canteen Concept Art ©Disney

Of course, we like to keep our eyes peeled for small changes, too. For instance, did you know you can now buy Warm Cookies and Milk at select ice cream carts around the park?

Ice Cream Cart Menu

Ice Cream Cart Menu

Cookies and Milk at Ice Cream Carts

Cookies and Milk at Ice Cream Carts

And some are currently carrying Miss Vickie’s Chips and Bud Light Margaritas.

Miss Vickie's Chips

Miss Vickie’s Chips

Bud Light Margaritas

Bud Light Margaritas

For those wondering where they can find Gluten-Free treats now that Terra Treats has removed some of those options, it looks like you can just cross the path to Creature Comforts, where Gluten-Free Doughnuts are now found in the bakery case.

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

Gluten-Free Doughnuts

Gluten-Free Doughnuts

Just to keep you updated on a recent story we’ve been keeping our eyes on… For a short time, Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce was no longer available at Flame Tree Barbecue :( .

Flame Tree Barbecue Sign

Flame Tree Barbecue Sign

Though we still spotted the Sweet and Spicy variety, the signature sauce was recently replaced by Heinz packets.

Heinz Packets in Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

Heinz Packets in Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

So, we were THRILLED to notice the return of the Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce on a more recent visit! Hooray!!

Return of Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

Return of Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

AND we were able at long last to grab the new-ish Buffalo Chicken Chips at Trilo-Bites!

Trilo-Bites Menu

Trilo-Bites Menu

Perhaps now that the pace is definitely picking up in Animal Kingdom, we’ll find this seasonally open spot in operation more often… which is great news when you’re looking at options like these chips. (We’ll have a full review of ‘em very soon!!)

Buffalo Chicken Chips

Buffalo Chicken Chips

A couple of small kiosks with big snack bites have once again changed their offerings. A new BLT menu is being served at The Smiling Crocodile.

The Smiling Crocodile

The Smiling Crocodile

Smiling Crocodile

Smiling Crocodile Menu

And Eight Spoon Cafe has a pumped-up Mac and Cheese menu.

Eight Spoon Cafe Menu

Eight Spoon Cafe Menu

Magic Kingdom

Celebrate a “Tale as Old as Time” with the new Belle Cupcake found in spots like Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Confectionery and Big Top Treats!

Belle Cupcake from Big Top Treats

Belle Cupcake from Big Top Treats

This pretty vanilla cupcake is in honor of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast film, coming to theaters on March 17th.

Next time you’re in Tomorrowland, you may think that Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is closed due to the sheer number refurbishment panels around it.

Construction Walls surrounding Cosmic Ray's

Construction Walls surrounding Cosmic Ray’s

But you can still walk on in, grab a Barbecued Pork Bacon Cheeseburger, and spend some time with Sonny Eclipse, because while the walls are covering up an expansion to the outdoor seating areas, the restaurant itself is still open.

Sonny Eclipse Entertains at Cosmic Ray's

Sonny Eclipse Entertains at Cosmic Ray’s

So that’s an update on an old favorite. But there’s also a new sipping spot on the way to Tomorrowland, as the Magic Kingdom prepares to welcome its very first Joffrey’s Coffee Kiosk!

Joffrey's Coffee

Joffrey’s Coffee

You’ll find Joffrey’s in every other park, but until now the closest place you could find a Joffrey’s kiosk to Magic Kingdom has been at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Better yet, the new Tomorrowland stop will be the ONLY place you will find the More S’mores Latte.

Heading towards the Wild West, the Frontierland Popcorn Cart is THE only place you can find a unique flavor of fresh-popped popcorn.

Frontierland Popcorn Cart

Frontierland Popcorn Cart

It’s Maple Flavored!

Frontierland Popcorn Cart Menu

Frontierland Popcorn Cart Menu

(And, yes, you can refill your Refillable Popcorn Bucket with the Maple, too!).

Frontierland Popcorn Cart Maple Popcorn

Frontierland Popcorn Cart Maple Popcorn

While we’re in Frontierland… have you heard about the Secret Menu Item — otherwise known as the Nachos Rio Grande Challenge — at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe?

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

What’s that? NO, you say? Well, you’ll definitely want to remedy that by reading (and watching!) about it here!

Nachos Rio Grande set up

Nachos Rio Grande set up

Making our way to Adventureland, the Jungle Skipper Canteen has a new appetizer with the Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas (which replaced the previous Arepas).

Skipper Canteen Entrance

Skipper Canteen Entrance

Cachapas on the Appetizer Menu

Cachapas on the Appetizer Menu

And there’s one more item to add to your new Morning Breakfast list at Magic Kingdom.

©Disney

©Disney

The Egg, Ham, and Tomato Waffle Sandwich is officially on the menu at Sleepy Hollow.

Hollywood Studios

Sweeping changes continue to be the name of the game at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but one recently took everyone by surprise: Starring Rolls Cafe closed on February 5th.

Starring Rolls Cafe Closed

Starring Rolls Cafe Closed

We are still waiting to hear what’s to become of this beloved space. Is it simply undergoing a long-term refurbishment, or is there something to the rumors that the spot may be transformed into extended seating for the neighboring Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge?

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

While we wait for an answer to that question, it’s good to know that many of the signature snacks that put Starring Rolls on the map, like the Butterfinger Cupcake (a/k/a the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cupcake) can be enjoyed at the nearby Trolley Car Cafe.

Trolley Car Cafe sign

Trolley Car Cafe sign

Chocolate  Peanut Butter Crunch Cupcake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cupcake

The Trolley Car is also the only place where you can find the Starbucks “You Are Here” Mug for Hollywood Studios.

Hollywood Studios "You Are Here" Mug

Hollywood Studios “You Are Here” Mug

Much like the park itself, even the mug has received a makeover with the removal of the Earful Tower and the addition of a scene from Fantasmic!

Hollywood Studios "You Are Here" Mug

Hollywood Studios “You Are Here” Mug

Hollywood Studios "You Are Here" Mug

Hollywood Studios “You Are Here” Mug

And finally, a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie has been added to the Whoopie Pie selection at Sweet Spells.

Sweet Spells

Sweet Spells

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

All Around the World

Epcot isn’t the only place where the sights of spring are hopping up! Get used to seeing this guy back in confectionery cases all over Disney World.

Easter Bunnies

Easter Bunnies

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

Even the Big Ol’ Donuts at some of the Joffrey’s Coffee Kiosks are sporting spring colors (along with just a few sprinkle snowflakes left for good measure :) ).

Big Ol' Spring Donuts

Big Ol’ Spring Donuts

Let’s see… would you rather have a new Candy Pinwheel, a Candy Fan (now with Elsa), or a Candy Light Saber?

Candy Pinwheels

Candy Pinwheels

Candy Pinwheels

Candy Pinwheels

New Elsa Candy Fan

New Elsa Candy Fan

Candy-filled Light Saber

Candy-filled Light Saber

Candy-filled Light Saber

Candy-filled Light Saber

Decisions, decisions ;). But I think I’ve gotta go with the Saber… it lights up!

Okay, so this next one isn’t food related, but how can we resist mentioning these Disney VHS Tape Notebooks that have been taking Disney merchandise locations by storm?!?

Aladdin VHS Notebook

Aladdin VHS Notebook

Aladdin VHS Notebook

Aladdin VHS Notebook

Lion King VHS Notebook

Lion King VHS Notebook

Beauty and the Beast VHS Notebook

Beauty and the Beast VHS Notebook

How many of you still have your original VHS copies :) ?

Pressed Coin Collectors can spot happy Dole Whips, Turkey Legs, and Mickey Ice Cream Bars in the artwork inside of the latest Coin Collection book.

Pressed Coin Book

Pressed Coin Book

Pressed Coin Book

Pressed Coin Book

Pressed Coin Book

Pressed Coin Book

Staying in stationery, a few notepads and handy lists are featuring some Disney treats and sweet spots, such as Main Street Popcorn, Minnie’s Bake Shop, and Goofy’s Candy Co.

Minnie's Bake Shop Shopping List

Minnie’s Bake Shop Shopping List

Main Street Popcorn Notepad

Main Street Popcorn Notepad

Goofy's Candy Co. Notepad

Goofy’s Candy Co. Notepad

Speaking of Goofy’s Candy Company… we thought we had seen the last of Goofy’s Powered Candy when it disappeared last year, but it’s made a return to the parks!

Goofy's Powdered Candy

Goofy’s Powdered Candy

From The Confectionery to Zuri’s Sweets Shop and beyond, some fun new flavors include Sour Peach, Sweet Root Beer, and Birthday Cake.

And as Disney continues to gear up for the release of the live action Beauty and the Beast film on March 17th, there is plenty of merchandise to match, including these Emma Watson as Belle mugs.

Belle Mugs

Belle Mugs

Belle Mug

Belle Mug

Disney Springs

Two long-awaited openings have taken place in Disney Springs since our last trip around the World!

Planet Hollywood Observatory

Planet Hollywood Observatory

The refurbished Planet Hollywood Observatory opened in late January, bringing a new look, new menu items, and new spots for taking in a drink complete with a great view of Disney Springs.

Inside Shots

Inside Shots

Supernova Shakes

Supernova Shakes

Stargazer Lounge Sign

Stargazer Lounge Sign

And Paddlefish — formerly Fulton’s Crab House — began welcoming guests on February 4th.

Paddlefish -- Outside View

Paddlefish — Outside View

Rooftop Bar -- Back, Seating

Rooftop Bar — Back, Seating

Southern Sangria and Not Everyone's Margarita

Southern Sangria and Not Everyone’s Margarita

Be sure to check out the updated — and beautiful — seafood and steaks spot here!

Oysters -- Up Close

Oysters — Up Close

Seasonal selections at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar feature Mac’s Pork Belly Sliders and Matterhorn Rosti, and the limited time “Jocktails” are the Mariontini and the Smoking Bulleit.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

Seasonal Offerings

Seasonal Offerings

Woo Hoo!! Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC is now selling Doughnut Mix!

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC sign

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC sign

I’m not gluten-free, but I really like these doughnuts. Hence, the excitement :) .

Doughnut Mix

Doughnut Mix

Stop by Earl of Sandwich for the new Rachel Sandwich.

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs

Rachel Sandwich sign

Rachel Sandwich sign

And grab some new Potato Wedges as a side. Yum!

Earl of Sandwich menu

Earl of Sandwich menu

New at Amorette’s Patisserie are the Carrot Patch and Cherry Pistachio Paradise. The Carrot Patch is carrot cake with white chocolate cream cheese mousse with salted caramel pearls.

Carrot Patch

Carrot Patch

Cherry Pistachio Paradise is a chocolate tart shell filled with Morello cherries cooked with sugar, pistachio mousse, cherry pate de fruit, and pistachio glaçage.

Pistachio Paradise

Pistachio Paradise

Resorts

Wilderness Lodge

Welcome to Geyser Point Bar & Grill!

Geyser Point Bar & Grill

Geyser Point Bar & Grill

This new outdoor lounge and restaurant also offers Counter Service eats — all in a gorgeous waterfront setting at Wilderness Lodge.

Bison Cheeseburger and Waffle Fries

Bison Cheeseburger and Waffle Fries

Black Cherry Mule

Black Cherry Mule

Read more about it here! And watch our video review below!

Geyser Point is a great addition to the current expansion of Wilderness Lodge, especially since Roaring Fork — the Resort’s indoor Counter Service option — is currently closed for refurbishment.

Roaring Fork Refurb sign

Roaring Fork Refurb sign

Here’s a peek around the rest of the Resort as the transformation continues!

Boulder Ridge Water Tower

Boulder Ridge Water Tower

Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge

Villas Under Construction

Villas Under Construction

Wilderness Lodge

Boulder Rock Railway and Mining Co.

Contemporary Resort

“Please stand clear of my cupcake!” Contempo Cafe is currently serving a vanilla buttercream Monorail Cupcake among its specialty cupcakes.

Monorail Cupcake

Monorail Cupcake

After you’ve polished off your cupcake, you can head downstairs to The Wave Lounge to take on the Seven Seas Lagoon!

Seven Seas Lagoon

Seven Seas Lagoon

But be sure you have a buddy along, because this massive cocktail is made for two. Check it out!

Disney’s Boardwalk

The Contemporary certainly doesn’t have the only claim to cupcakes.

Boardwalk Bakery

Boardwalk Bakery

BoardWalk Bakery has a Coconut Cream Cupcake in the bakery case.

Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Coconut Cream Cupcake

Coconut Cream Cupcake

A new Barbecued Pork has also found its way to their Sandwich menu.

Step just a few doors down the check out ALL THE ICE CREAM at Ample Hills Creamery.

Ample Hills Creamery sign

Ample Hills Creamery sign

This is where a limited edition flavor — combining Chocolate Marshmallow and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake with brownies and cookie pieces — is available in honor of the 20th anniversary of the ABC daytime talk show, The View.

The View Anniversary Ice Cream

The View Anniversary Ice Cream

But the biggest news out of the Boardwalk is that Advance Dining Reservations are now available for the new Bon Voyage Character Breakfast!

©Disney

©Disney

Start your day with Disney couples like Rapunzel and Flynn Rider and Ariel with Prince Eric at Trattoria al Forno when this new character meal kicks off on April 2nd.

Pop Century

Everything Pop is joining the ranks with the All Star Resorts with their own boozy themed milkshakes.

Everything Pop Food Court at Pop Century

Everything Pop Food Court at Pop Century

Strawberry Fields is a strawberry milkshake blended with Frangelico, and The King Milkshake is chocolate ice cream blended with Knob Creek Bourbon and garnished with — what else? — candied bacon :) .

Adult Milkshakes on the Menu

Adult Milkshakes on the Menu

Before we say farewell, here’s a little more green and bloom — especially for those in areas experiencing just a few more weeks of winter.

Fantasia Scene

Flower and Garden Festival Fantasia Scene

Fresh Epcot with Chip and Dale

Fresh Epcot with Chip and Dale

Flower and Garden Festival Buzz Lightyear

Flower and Garden Festival Buzz Lightyear

Rest assured, my friends…

Flower and Garden Festival Tinkerbell

Flower and Garden Festival Tinkerbell

… Spring is soon on the way!!! Until next time, Eat and Be Happy!

Have you spotted anything new during a recent trip around the World? We’d love to hear about it in a comment!

Comments

  1. Lisa P says

    Thanks for the review. Plenty of good eats in here!
    I love the Rivers of Light segment. The owls (my second favorite animal) look great. As an aside.I was wondering does anyone know if my favorite animal, the manatee, is represented in the tree of life? Or is there a list of all the animals published some where? Thanks again.

  2. Essie says

    I love these reports and this was the best yet!!!! How fun that you included some cute souvenir items for us to see,
    as well as some ROLights photos. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us!

  3. says

    Essie — Yay!! We’re so glad you love them! Wendy and Tina work super hard to pull it altogether. They’re total rockstars! :-D

  4. Doreen Renee says

    I Love your blogs on “what’s new around WDW” I have a cup of tea, sit back, relax, and imagine that I’m at Disney World!!

  5. Jean says

    These updates are my favorite posts of all. They’re already so long and thorough, and yet while I’m reading, I never want them to end. Thanks for all the hard work and research!

  6. Joe says

    Lisa P – yes, there is a manatee (or two?) represented in the tree. If I remember correctly, they are down low near a cave entrance at the base of the tree.

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