News and Views around Walt Disney World, first week of March 2014

News and Views around Walt Disney World, first week of March 2014

I arrived early at Epcot to try and get a sneak peak at the International Flower and Garden Festival opening here on Wednesday.  Guest relations is keeping those brochures locked up tight so we will have to wait until Wednesday to see all that will be available.  But walking around we can still see much of the work done so far. There was nothing special in the flower bed seen immediately after entering the park yesterday, but today there are two ponds, a waterfall, different flowers planted, and three new topiaries: Goofy holding a butterfly net, Donald, with what else but a bumble bee in his bonnet, and Daisy with a handful of pretty flowers.  Continuing to walk past Spaceship Earth we see the trio of Mickey, Minnie and Pluto topiaries playing in the grass. You will once again see some butterflies. Just beyond this is the first FastPass+ kiosk location and it is very busy with guests making their FastPass+ selections for the day.  Disney announced yesterday that they would be extending the MagicBand testing to all Annual Passholders by the end of March.  Passholders will have to ability to schedule FastPass+ selections prior to entering the Parks.

Continuing to walk toward World Showcase we see another HGTV filming location to our left and directly in front of us, beyond the large fountain, is an area surrounded by a hedge to keep us from seeing inside just yet.  I can see a bit through the bushes. Goofy is in there playing soccer! And I believe I see Donald in there also. Then we come to topiaries of Sorcerer Mickey, the Dancing Brooms, the Ostrich and Hippos all from Disney’s movie Fantasia. Glancing to the left I see a very long line in Norway again for the Anna & Elsa meet and greet. It is about four hours at this point. Congratulations Disney on receive more awards for their movie Frozen. This past weekend they received “Best Animated Film” and “Best New Song” for “Let it Go” at the Oscars.  These two sisters are by far the most popular right now. There is new Frozen merchandise in the shop next door too. The new t-shirts for children are really cute. Make sure you check out the photos below of all the new merchandise. In Germany we see Snow White (with a face) and all seven of the Dwarfs in topiary form. In front of the Agent P recruiting station we see Phineas and Ferb topiaries, and off to the right is yet another staging area probably for HGTV shows that have raised bed and hydroponic gardening areas. Beyond that is a closed off area that has a Monster’s Inc. themed playground.  There are so many great ideas here to give you ideas for your own home gardening. I can’t wait to see the merchandise that will be available to us, but we will have to wait until the event officially begins tomorrow.

I am hungry, how about something from France? I am trying the Brie and Apple sandwich, toasted, on a multi grain baguette. Oh my, this is delicious! Coming through Canada and on to United Kingdom, we see Mary Poppins, Captian Hook, Peter Pan, and the Crocodile from Peter Pan.  These are really made well and serve as a great back drop for photos of the family.  Next to the Fish and Chips shop is Winnie the Pooh and his gang in topiary form, and in the formal gardens you will see large tea cups serving as planters. Crossing the bridge toward France we see Aurora, her prince, Cinderella and prince dancing topiaries, without faces.  Within France are several more topiaries. In the front of the formal garden are Beast and Belle topiaries.  Back in the gardens to the outside of the Perfume shops are Cogsworth and Lumiere topiaries.  Just beyond the large fountain in France are Chip and Mrs. Potts topiaries also. Continuing on through World Showcase we come across several Outdoor Kitchens. Their menus are out so we can at least see what food and beverage choices they will be offering. Check them out in the photos below! There is some construction going on at the Maelstrom ride where it peeks out into the Norway pavilion.  We will come back and visit Epcot when the Festival officially opens.

Now, let’s head to Magic Kingdom.  This new plan for redoing the Castle forecourt area has me intrigued. Disney will be expanding this large area to create additional areas for watching the fireworks, adding more formal garden areas with topiaries, much like what you would expect to see around castles of Cinderella’s time. This will greatly enhance guests’ experiences in this area of the park.  To do all of this there will be a lot of concrete work and landscaping to be done.  The castle moat had to be drained, and that means the waterfalls in Tomorrowland are also dry. Check out the photos of these drained areas.

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I would love a snack today, how about Roasted Corn at Liberty Square? I saw this awhile back and wanted to try it and now I will finally get to do that.  There are large grills next to the Liberty Square food area known mostly for fresh fruit and beverages. You can smell the corn!  There are signs for the corn at the register.  The yellow ears of corn are roasted with the husk on, as they should be, and the flavor is very mid-western! Fresh, roasted corn is THE way to eat corn in my humble opinion.  Get an ear and we can sit here and watch the Liberty Belle glide across the Rivers of America.  $3.59 Roasted Corn with a large variety of seasonings in metal shakers that include: salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, Lemon Pepper, Smoky Paprika, Barbeque (my favorite), to shake over them available. The corn was added to the menu, along with baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes ($3.29), Hot Ham and Cheddar Sandwich with Dijonnaise Sauce ($7.19), and Hot Roast Beef and Swiss Sandwich with Horseradish Sauce ($7.19).  This has greatly expanded the number of items you can get at this location.  It really is a great place to sit and eat with several umbrella tables and being able to see many attractions too. I will be coming back for more of this expanded menu.  The corn was delicious!

Splash Mountain is going through an extensive refurbishment and has been completely dry for some time now.  Today there is water in the lower area only and we can see two boats sitting down on the track.  The big drop is still dry.  There have been some boats seen going through parts of the ride so some testing of the completed work is happening.  Do not expect it to be open any earlier than March 22.

Other news in refurbishments: People Mover down May 3 through June 20, 2014; Astro Orbiter down May 3 through August 20, 2014; Pirates of the Caribbean April 28 through May 1, 2014; Big Thunder Mountain April 7 through April 9, 2014; Swiss Family Treehouse March 17 through March 28, 2014; Pinocchio Village Haus Feb. 17 through March 30, 2014; Plaza Restaurant closed through March 1, 2014.

Construction of a second ferry boat dock at the Magic Kingdom and Ticket and Transportation Center continues as the Ferry Boats and Buses work hard to handle the bigger-than-expected crowds visiting the Park these last few weeks. The monorail service has been down between the hours of 11AM and 7PM.  Monorail should be back in full service April 1, 2014.

Magic Kingdom is getting ready for Spring with its new Festival of Fantasy Parade, refurbished rides and restaurants, and the later closing times reflect that with the regular park hours  from 9AM until 1AM on March 7-14; 9AM to 12AM on March 15 through March 29. The Main Street Electrical Light Parade will run twice nightly at 9PM and 11PM.  Wishes will take place nightly at 10PM.  Festival of Fantasy Parade will run daily at 3PM from March 9th. Have you made your plans to come yet? Look for the spring resort specials maybe that will convince you.

Animal Kingdom

Have you visited the new Dinoland Dance Party? The actual name is DinoLand Dance-a-Palooza.  Come join Chester and Hester Diggs along with their character pals dancing to their favorite tunes in Dino Land daily at 11:30PM and 12:30PM.  Festival of the Lion King will reopen in its new location July 2, 2014.

Park Hours will be extended to 8PM March 1 through March 30. Will we be seeing some new evening entertainment?  We are listening for any official news of a new evening parade and night version of Kilimanjaro Safaris. Would you spend the evening in Animal Kingdom if there were after dark opportunities like that?


Preparations are in full swing for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival that begins March 5 and runs through May 18, 2014. Performing next week to kick off the 2014 Flower Power Concert series are The Guess Who with showtimes Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:30PM, 6:45PM and 8:00PM.

Of note so far are the topiaries of the Princes and Princesses, Snow White has a “face” this year, will faces be added to the other Prince/Princess faces? As of the day before opening, the answer is no.  Muppets are to be featured this year as excitement builds for the release of “Muppets-Most Wanted” that will be in theaters in April. As of the day before the opening, they have not been revealed. What is a recurring theme are butterflies.  You will find them featured in their own topiaries near The Land in Future World, alight on several of the other character topiaries, in Tinkerbells Butterfly Garden, and in the floral plantings along the shore of the waters in Future World.  You will be able to watch taping of several HGTV shows being recorded in Future World. I am looking forward to trying the many foods at the Outdoor Kitchens, how about you?


Polynesian Resort DVC is constructing 20 Bungalows that sit out over the water with completion of the project in 2016.  Expect to see the water feature in the Lobby to go away so that guests will be able to see through to the outside as they walk through the front doors.  This water feature has been such a focal point that no other Deluxe resort has, but there will be a tradeoff in the form of comfortable seating in the check-in area.  So with the low number of DVC Bungalows you can also expect the cost to be very high.  The bungalows will bring the amenities expected at the other DVC villas with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. in the style of the Treehouses, but built Tahitian style over the water and a boardwalk will connect them to the rest of the property.  Checkout the photos below to see the walls beginning to go up on a couple of the bungalows and there are several roof structures there as well. All the bungalows will have a fairly direct view of the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom nightly. Captain Cook’s, the resorts counter-service location, will be closing for refurbishment on March 28 with August 1, 2014 as the target date for reopening.  There is a temporary quick service restaurant to open in a nearby building; we will let you know when that opens.  The resort’s Children’s area, “Never Land Club” will be closed through April 11; it is rumored that a new ice cream shop is in the plan for the Polynesian.

Have you seen the new Rapid Fill Mugs? The size and shape are the same, with the handles coming in blue, red, yellow and purple.  The prices are $8.99 for 1 day, $11.99 for 2 days, and $14.99 for three days and $17.99 for “Length of stay”. Remember, days are not counted as a 24 hour period; it is the calendar date that is adhered to by the machines. The picture has Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and a very angry Donald under a Welcome banner. The mug also shows the RapidFill logo. The signage says to select “the number of days you want your souvenir cup activated and enjoy refills of fountain drinks, coffee, and tea at any resort self-service beverage location. Day consists of one calendar day. Additional days are consecutive.”

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.