Epcot Forever – What Do We Know About the Nighttime Spectacular?

Epcot Forever – What Do We Know About the Nighttime Spectacular?

Epcot Forever. It has a special ring to it, doesn’t it? Disney World is gearing up for a variety of updates to the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (Epcot), and we just got a glimpse to one of the biggest changes coming to the park. If you know anything about us, we like two things, food of course, who doesn’t like food? And our Disney World nighttime spectaculars. Disney just revealed some more details around the new nighttime show, so let’s find a spot around the World Showcase and get ready for Epcot Forever!

New IllumiNations Dining Package
Illuminations – Reflections of Earth

First Epcot Update Scheduled

Once Disney World opens Star Wars Galaxy Edge on August 29, 2019 the focus will then shift towards Epcot and the large updates coming to that park. From the redesign of the park’s entrance, to the new Play Pavilion, and new attractions Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille, within the next 5 years we’ll have a new Epcot.

One of the biggest changes is coming to something near and dear to Nate’s heart: Illuminations Reflections of Earth. We’ve known for a while the 20-year-old show would be ending this fall, but we haven’t known the exact date until now – September 30th will mark the end of this firework spectacular. Without missing a step Epcot Forever will begin the next day.

Passholder Insights: Illuminations has tons of great viewing locations. Check out our favorites here.

Preview of Epcot Forever

The Music

Behind every great Disney World nighttime spectacular is a phenomenal soundtrack, and Epcot Forever will be no different. The music will take guests on journey through the years: past, present, and future. Rumor has it some of the songs we could expect to hear are the original themes to the historic attraction know as Horizons (has been replaced by Mission Space), and the original Journey into Imagination.

The part that caught our ear was the mention to the future. Could we get a glimpse at the music for the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction? Or is Disney World referring to the new music for Future World. We’ll only have a few months until we find out!

The Theatrics  

Now that we’ve established our baseline, it’s on to the show. Epcot Forever will light up the sky, literally. From lasers to fireworks, the show will be pageantry in the sky painting the picture of memorable Epcot moments. As we mentioned in our previous article, the Epcot Forever nighttime spectacular will include special effect kites. Leveraging jet skis as their guides, the kites will bring all the action above World Showcase Lagoon.

Epcot Forever replacement show concept art
Concept Art for Permanent Show

Catch It While You Can

Epcot Forever is a temporary show for the park. At the moment there is no scheduled end date, but we do know that the show will continue into 2020. Rumor has it the show is expected to run for about 8 to 10 months, while Disney World works on the permanent replacement for Illuminations.

We’re not surprised that all aspects in Epcot Forever will take place in the sky, as the permanent show will use water effects. At the moment when you walk around the World Showcase you can see the work being done on the lagoon for the show following Epcot Forever. Areas of the lagoon are being drained in order to install water fountains and water canons for the effects. In addition to the water effects, electrical is being run to the islands, which could be for projections that would be used in conjunction with the water effects.

Our Thoughts

We’re definitely looking forward to Epcot Forever. Music alone is enough to get us excited. Add in the special effects kites and you got us hook, line, and sinker. The show is about to start, we’ll meet you in France!

Circle of Flavors – Harambe at Night – Ready for Some Grub?

Circle of Flavors – Harambe at Night – Ready for Some Grub?

It’s the Circle of Flavors! Wait, what? Sounds like Simba is spending too much time with Timon and Pumba, all he’s thinking about is grub! In the DVC Duo house, no anniversary celebration is complete without a great meal. There was this one time Serena made double cut pork chops and let me say, wow! Anyways, I digress, we’re here to talk about Simba’s 25th anniversary dinner, not to steal the spotlight from him. The sun is setting on the Serengeti, let’s grab our seat for the Circle of Flavor – Harambe at Night event where our favorite lion is the star!

Harambe Market is where Circle of Flavors event begins
Outside Harambe Market

What Is It?  

It’s is a salute to all animals, but mostly the lion. Beginning on July 24, 2019 and running every Wednesday night until September 25th, the Animal Kingdom will hold a special ticketed dining experience called the Circle of Flavor – Harambe at Night. You’ll head out on an adventure around the Africa section of the park, making stops at three different locations. Everything kicks off at the Wildlife Train Station at 6 pm sharp and runs until 9 pm.

Pricing will be $125 for adults (age 10 and up) and $99 for children (age 3 to 9), plus tax. Please note that you’ll need a park ticket as well.

Kick Off the Circle of Flavors event at the Wildlife Train Station.
Wildlife Express Train Station

First Stop

Every great party starts with the hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and random small talk with strangers about everyone’s go to topic – the weather.  As you mingle with other guests and cast members you’ll enjoy your choice of African wines and beers, along with light bites, while African music sets the stage. However, luckily for this event you can forgo the weather talk, as the Circle of Flavors will have cast members sharing stories about the continent’s most recognized animals.

Your first stop will also serve as your check in location for the event. As part of the experience you’ll receive a “boarding pass” for the train when you check in. Boarding pass, where are we going? We’re so glad you asked. Onto the second stop!

Second Stop on the Circle of Flavors is Rafiki's Planet Watch
Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Second Stop

It’s time to bust out your boarding pass, we’re heading out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You’ll board the Wildlife Express to make your way out to meet up with Timon and Rafiki. Make sure to have your autograph books ready, as they’re ready to sign the night away. Rumor has it there may be a fun activity as well. Can you say Lion King dance party?

After all that dancing with Timon and Rafiki, you’ll need to refuel. No worries, there’s more appetizers to try. If you’re like Nate and need a little liquid courage to hit the dance floor with Timon and Rafiki, no worries they’ve got you covered! The same African wines and beers from our first stop will be available. When everything wraps up, you’ll jump aboard the Wildlife Express to head back to Harambe.

The last stop on the Circle of Flavor tour is the Harambe Market
Harambe Market

Last Stop

It’s time we learn why it’s called the Circle of Flavors. Rolling back into the train station you make your way to the Harambe Market, where the music is bumping and food is bountiful. In an all you care to enjoy environment, a variety of stations will be set-up with African inspired fare including, but not limited to, chicken, beef, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and desserts. You can wash it all down with your choice of African wines and beer, and a variety of specialty beverages.

As you make your way from station to station, beyond gathering yummy food, you’ll learn about the different African animals and how we can help protect their environment. Cast members will be sharing stories of the famous species, and the type of conservations efforts that are currently under way.

Passholder Insights: Harambe Market is a great place for a quick bite during the day. We’d highly recommend using the mobile ordering, as the lines tend to get long.

Our Thoughts

Any time there’s food involved, we’re usually excited. Circle of Flavors definitely fits the bill. We’ve enjoyed the dessert parties in the past, but have always wished they included more savory options. Circle of Flavors appears to be combining the dessert party concept with a more intimate character meet and greet. We’re expecting the food to have similar flavors to what is offered at Saana or Boma. Which for us is great!

What is really unique is how the Circle of Flavors event is tied in to The Lion King. Walt Disney World is known for testing the demand of an Intellectual Property (IP) through special events. The event could be another way Disney is testing the demand for a Lion King based attraction. For now, let’s enjoy celebrating our favorite lion!

Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion – Updates On The Way?

Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion – Updates On The Way?

It’s a spark of inspiration! With major updates on the horizon for the Epcot’s Future World, could we see new version of the Imagination pavilion? An opening day pavilion, the Imagination Pavilion is the birthplace of Epcot’s beloved mascot Figment. The purple dragon has been inspiring Epcot guests to tap into their imaginations and push the boundaries of what’s possible for years. Recently, Figment has grown beyond the Imagination pavilion to a star role in all the different Epcot festivals. Let’s use our imaginations and see if we can figure out what Walt Disney World Imagineering could create!

Imagineering Team with Bob Chapek outside the Imagination Pavilion
Bob Chapek at Epcot

Hints Of Change

Just over a year ago a large group of Disney executives were spotted exploring two pavilions at Epcot: Wonders of Life and Imagination. Within the group was one of the Bobs, Chapek of course, as he’s all about the parks. Additionally, VP of Epcot Melissa Valiquette spoke about the changes focused around the original Epcot concept: family, Disney (i.e. characters), and timelessness. Fast forward to today, and Walt Disney World has announced the major changes for the Wonders of Life pavilion in the form of the new Play Pavilion. The tea leaves are pointing to a major update in store for the Imagination Pavilion for the 40th anniversary.

Inside Out could be the IP associated to the Imagination Pavilion
Joy and Sadness at Epcot

In The Pole Position

Rumors around the Imagination Pavilion are nothing new. Disneyphiles have been dreaming of an updated version of Journey into Imagination for years. Let’s just say the current version could use some improvements. When Disney World is ready to update the attraction more than likely it will be tied to an Intellectual Property (IP).

The IP in our pole position is Inside Out. If you haven’t seen the movie, take a few minutes and watch it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Go ahead. Alright, now that you’ve seen the movie you can see how easily Inside Out would relate to the Imagination Pavilion concept. From Bing Bong and his flying wagon, to traveling through Riley’s mind, it’s the perfect concept for a Disney dark ride.

We could see an attraction where you’re joined by Joy and Sadness inside the mind of Riley as she goes through her day. The show scenes could revolve around different ideas she creates from her imagination. Along the way you meet up with the rest of the Inside Out cast. The kicker would be how Figment fits in, maybe Riley “dreams” up a friend for Bing Bong that’s Figment. The ideas around Inside Out attraction are endless.

Passholder Insights: Currently Joy and Sadness are meet and greets in the Imagination Pavilion. Joining them is Vanellope and Ralph. You’ll want to head to the entrance for the gift shop to see them.

Could WALL-E and EVA have a ride in the Imagination Pavilion

The Long Shot

Sitting back and letting our imaginations wander, we believe the perfect fit for the area could also be WALL-E. The IP may not be the perfect fit for imagination concept, however the IP is the perfect fit for Future World. From it’s futuristic storyline, to improving the environment, and even the hints to a healthier lifestyle, WALL-E and EVA (of course!) are ideal for the area. It’s an IP that would be family orientated, timeless, and a Disney IP, which speaks directly to the original Epcot concept.

We envision a trackless attraction similar to Ratatouille, where WALL-E brings you back to Earth. The ride vehicles could be designed around the chairs from the spacecraft. Your journey through the attraction would have WALL-E and EVA traveling through show scenes exhibiting ways to clean up Earth and to live a healthy lifestyle. It would fit perfectly into Epcot’s education/fun concept.

Passholder Insights: At the Imagination Pavilion is the Chase Character Meet n Greet, if you’re Chase Visa card holder, there’s a special character meet ‘n greet for you.  

Our Thoughts

No matter what happens with the Imagination Pavilion, we hope that Figment will always be part of Epcot. We believe it’s only a matter of time before the pavilion is updated, the big question is which IP will call it home. Disney Imagineering always finds a way to create great attractions and we’re sure they will do the same here. As much as we would love a new attraction centered around Figment, we believe it’s more than likely Disney decides to go another direction. More than likely Figment will move into his rightful place as the park’s mascot, with an appearance in a new Imagination Pavilion ride. No matter what, imagination will be at heart of this new creation!

Walt Disney World Railroad Update – Blazing New Trails

Walt Disney World Railroad Update – Blazing New Trails

All aboard! Not quite yet, but very soon, we’ll be able to board the Walt Disney World Railroad for a trip around the Magic Kingdom. On December 3, 2018 the Walt Disney World Railroad suspended service due to the construction of the new Tron coaster coming to the Magic Kingdom. Disney is taking this opportunity to update the railroad in a variety of ways. What changes could we expect to see when the Walt Disney World Railroad reopens? Grab a hardhat we’re heading into the construction zone.

Walt Disney posing next to the Walt Disney World Railroad
Walt Disney with the Railroad

Disney Railroad History

No story can begin without a little backstory. Walt Disney is known for Mickey Mouse, animation, and the parks he created. A lesser know fact about the man behind the magic is his affinity for trains. Walt’s love for the railroad started at a young age and carried throughout his life. He brought his love for trains to both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. When the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, the Walt Disney World Railroad opened as well, with the 1 train named after Walt.

Passholder Insights: At both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom is a train named the Lilly Bell for Walt’s wife Lillian Disney.

Walt Disney World Railroad Frontierland station
Frontierland Station

Smooth Ride

The Walt Disney World Railroad is the most popular railway in the world seeing on average 1.3 million guest per year. For the first time since the railroad open in 1971, the whole loop is closed. Over the years different portions have been closed off while new attractions were put in, like Splash Mountain or Space Mountain. While the railroad is shut down Disney has had the opportunity to update the majority of the track, with new railroad ties and smoother riding rails. At the time of posting, you can actually see this process over by the Main Street station.

Passholder Insights: The Walt Disney World Railroad travels through the Splash Mountain attraction. It’s a great way to see a small portion of the attraction with having to endure the drop or the waves!

While the Walt Disney World Railroad is closed an engine is parked at the Main Street Station
Steam Engine Parked at Main Street Station

New Tunnel

The Magic Kingdom is growing beyond the current borders of the railroad with the construction of the Tron coaster. When complete, the majority of the attraction will be on the outside of the track. To ensure guests have a more classic train experience while riding past this new attraction, Imagineering is creating a new tunnel for the Walt Disney World Railroad

When completed, guests in Tomorrowland won’t see the railroad as is rolls by. What the tunnel will include is still unknown at this point, but we should expect something that fits the time period for steam engine, think 1920’s.

Tron is not the first attraction outside the borders of the Walt Disney World Railroad, as Pirates of the Caribbean is always beyond the track. When you ride Pirates and go down the drop (#spoiler), you’re actually going beneath the railroad track.

Passholder Insights: Now is a great time to get pictures with one of the steam engines which are parked in the Main Street station. You can even board the cars for more still framed photo opportunities – perfect for the little, or big train lover in your party!

New scene area for Walt Disney World Railroad
Potential Area for New Scene

New Things to See

Turning 50 is no small feat, and Walt Disney World is in full prep mode for the big day. With the Walt Disney World Railroad being one of the original park attractions, it could be getting a tune up. One of the big rumors is that Disney World is adding new show scenes to see as you make your trek around the kingdom. This would be similar to what Disney did for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, one of the area that could see a new scene is behind Space Mountain.

To make room for the Tron coaster, Disney had to reconfigure the land just outside the park. When doing so they created a “usable” area just to the right of Space Mountain. Traditionally, this part of the attraction was a little sleepy and a new show scene would be the perfect addition.

What the scenes would be is still unknown, but we should have some insight as construction progresses.

Our Thoughts
The Walt Disney World Railroad is an iconic piece of the Magic Kingdom. It’s projected that the railroad will be shutdown for about 2 years. We’re excited to hear that Disney Imagineering is looking to spruce up the railroad though as I think we all have an appreciation for the era of big machinery and steam engines. With its deep connection to Walt and 50th anniversary around the corner it would make a lot of sense for it to be refurbished to its glory. For now, we’ll take advantage of the picture opportunities in the Main Street Station. Meet you there – choo choo!

Mizner’s Lounge Update – The Grand Is Getting More Grand

Mizner’s Lounge Update – The Grand Is Getting More Grand

Who’s Mizner? Funny you ask, the famed Mizner’s Lounge at the Grand Floridian Resort is named in honor of Addison Mizner. It’s what the DVC Duo aspire for, a Walt Disney World lounge named in our honor, one day Nate, one day. Recently, Mizner’s Lounge as gotten a lot of attention, as it’s the centerpiece of a larger update coming to the common areas of the Grand Floridian Resort. Let’s order up our favorite classic cocktail and kick back in the lounge for an adult timeout and discuss all the details. Nate will have an old fashioned, and we all know Serena will have slightly dirty vodka martini. Don’t forget the blue cheese olives!

Inside Mizner's Lounge before refurbishment
Current Layout of Mizner’s Lounge

Getting A Lounge Named After You  

At the turn of the 20th century, South Florida was going through a transformation to the resort area as we know it today. As more and more people discovered the area, demand for resorts grew and Addison Mizner was leading the charge. Known for his Victorian, Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial revival architecture (say that 5 times fast!), Mizner shaped the image of resort life in South Florida.

The connection between Mizner and Disney is simply elementary, as Sherlock would say. When Disney designed the Grand Floridian Resort they took inspiration from the turn of the 20th century designs create by Addison. To honor the famed architect they named the lounge after him, Mizner’s Lounge.

Passholder Insights: If you’re a cigar aficionado, Mizner’s Lounge does sell cigars. Just ask the bartender. You’ll have to find a designed smoking section to enjoy them however.

Orchestra at the Grand Floridian
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra

What We Know  

Mizner’s Lounge is scheduled for a well deserved refurbishment. The update will include a redo of the bar area in a similar fashion to the recent update at the Tambu lounge where they added charging capabilities, after all, we’ve got to charge our cell phones somewhere. As part of the update, Mizner’s Lounge will be expanded into the area currently occupied by Commander Porter’s (men’s apparel). The expansion could increase the overall size of Mizner’s Lounge by at least 50% (capacity for 140 people) depending on how the space is allocated

At the moment Disney World has not set a construction start date. What we do know is that Commander Porter’s will official close on April 4, 2019. As part of the overall update to the common areas, Disney is combining Commander’s Porter’s with Summer Lace shop to create a women’s and men’s store. It’s expected that Mizner’s Lounge would close in the first half of April.

One of the rumors gathering a lot of traction is the concept that Mizner’s Lounge could be rethemed with a Disney Princess backdrop, likely a live-action Beauty and the Beast theme. The rumors say the lounge would reflect the famed library, and a “woods” section. This is still a rumor, but from our point of view,it’s a far stretch for Disney to theme a lounge around an IP, especially an IP that is already located in the Magic Kingdom in the form of Be Our Guest.

If Disney were to move forward with the princess theme for the Mizner’s Lounge, we would guess Disney has larger plan that would include moving the current Princess tea room to the area, then redoing the tea room area as the Grand Floridian lounge.

Passholder Insights: Just outside Mizner’s Lounge is the 5 piece Grand Floridian Society Orchestra performing throughout the day. Pay attention, as you may recognize a variety of famous Disney songs in orchestral form!

Temporary Location for Mizner's Lounge on Grand Floridian Main Level
Grand Floridian Main Floor

While Everything Is Updated

To ensure we can still get our favorite classic cocktails, Mizner’s Lounge will relocate to the first floor of the Grand Floridian. The lounge will take up shop next to the Garden View Tea Room during the renovations. Joining the lounge on the first floor will be the Society orchestra.

Passholder Insights: If you’re looking for a more intimate lounge option at the Grand Floridian we recommending checking out Citricos Lounge.

Our Thoughts

With the opening of the new Disney Riviera Resort later this year, it would make sense that updates would be coming for the Grand Floridian. Both of the resorts are expected to be the flagship resorts for Walt Disney World at the 50th anniversary. Mizner’s Lounge is a little bit on the smaller side and could definitely benefit from additional space, plus it’s definitely showing it’s age and wear. We’re curious if part of the expansion could mean an updated/expanded menu for the lounge. It would be great to see Mizner’s get a larger menu like Crew’s Cup. For now, let’s enjoy our cocktails!