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August 15, 2018

Attn: Tables in Wonderland Members! Contemporary Resort Offering Chef's Table Experience!

UPDATED 8/15/18:

Due to popular demand, two dates have been added! The previously dates are SOLD OUT!

Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.
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This fall, Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center is presenting a number of special Chef's Table dining experiences exclusively for Tables in Wonderland members.

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These evenings with the Contemporary Catering chefs and service staff will be held at the exclusive Chef's Table located backstage at Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center.

The evenings begin with check-in in the East Rotunda on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Convention Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. There will be a reception and champagne toast in the Catering Kitchen, then you'll progress through a secret entrance to the Chef's Table.

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Attendees will enjoy six courses, all presented and finished on-stage and accompanied by an outstanding wine selection, with lots of interaction with the Contemporary's sommelier and chefs.

These special events will be held on the following Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.:

-- October 11, 2018
-- November 1, 2018
-- December 13, 2018

Because this is such a special "signature dining" experience, you're asked to adhere to the following dress code:

-- For men: Khakis, slacks or dress shorts and collared shirts are suggested. Jeans may be worn if in good condition. Sport coats are optional.
-- For women: Capri pants, skirts, dresses or dress shorts are suggested. Jeans may be worn if in good condition.

Tank tops, flip-flops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, hats for gentlemen, cut-offs, torn clothing and t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics are NOT permitted.

Price for the Chef's Table experience is $259 per person, plus tax, gratuity included. Discounts do not apply to this special event. You can make a reservation for a party of up to 10 guests, including yourself. Your valid Tables in Wonderland Member Card must be presented upon arrival. Note that the event is designed for those 18 years of age and older, and that you must be at least 21 to consume alcoholic beverages. A valid form of government ID will be required to verify your age.

To make reservations, call (407) WDW-7762. Be sure to inform the cast member of any dietary restrictions you may have when booking. Space is limited. Remember, there is a 24-hour cancellation policy.

Read more about Tables in Wonderland HERE.





July 20, 2018

Holiday Sleigh Rides Return to Fort Wilderness Nov. 23

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Starting November 23 and running nightly through December 30, Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort will be offering holiday sleigh rides around its grounds.

The 25-minute rides will accommodate four adults, or two adults and three small children, and will cost $84 per sleigh. Participants will also get one limited edition commemorative pin per booking.

Rides will be available from 5 to 10 p.m. every evening.

You can make reservations by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529).

To read more about sleigh rides at Walt Disney World visit our page on Wagon and Carriage Rides.

July 19, 2018

On-the-Water Bar and Grill Coming to Coronado Springs in 2019

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A new on-the-water bar and grill called Villa del Lago will open at Disney's Coronado Springs resort in 2019, along with the previously announced new 15-story tower that is currently under construction.

The new eatery, which will serve light fare and beverages, will seat 60, with room for an additional 90 in designated group areas. Its over-the-water location will be connected to the rest of the resort, which also hosts a convention center, by a series of bridges.

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Work is well under way on the new tower, which will add an additional 500 rooms with suites and concierge level services to this moderate resort. The tower will overlook the resort’s centerpiece lake, Lago Dorado, and will offer rooftop dining with panoramic views of nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.

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As part of this project, Coronado Springs is also reimagining its current resort rooms and transforming its landscape. Despite these changes, the resort's theme, reflecting the spirit of adventure of the Spanish explorers of North America, will stay the same.

The addition of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort tower will bring the number Walt Disney World Resort rooms to nearly 30,000 within its 27 resort hotels.

You can read more about the Coronado Springs project and see photos of a model, along with other artist renderings HERE.

July 9, 2018

Cast Member Killed in Accident at Disney's Pop Century Resort

Disney's Pop Century Resort

Walt Disney World has confirmed that a cast member at its Pop Century Resort was killed in an accident on Monday morning, July 9.

The man, Juan Alberto Ojeda, 33, was found unconscious by the Reedy Creek Fire Department, which had responded to an emergency call. Ojeda was declared dead at the scene shortly after 9 a.m. No other information was available.

Walt Disney World Resort president George A. Kalogridis released a statement that read, in part: “All of us at Walt Disney World Resort are deeply saddened today by the loss of one of our Cast Members. Our thoughts and concerns are with his family, friends, and fellow co-workers.”

The company will provide resources for people affected by the accident, Kalogridis noted, adding that Disney is working with authorities to determine the circumstances of the Ojeda’s death.







March 29, 2018

New Wine-Tasting Experience at Old Key West Debuts April 15

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New Wine-Tasting Experience Debuts April 15 at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Olivia Farnsworth, legendary founder of Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, is among the inspirations behind a weekly wine-tasting experience that’ll begin serving Disney Vacation Club Members at the restaurant on April 15 as part of Membership Magic.

According to our friends at Walt Disney Imagineering, “Olivia Farnsworth is 60 going on 20. She arrived in Conch Flats [the setting of Disney’s Old Key West Resort] longer ago than you’ll get her to talk about … moved into a small cottage along Turtle Krawl, turned on her stove and changed everything around here for the ‘batter.’ Upwind from downtown, Olivia’s cooking was a hard secret to keep. Dinner traffic boomed. Soon, she began doubling recipes, then double-doubling, then triple-doubling until the math got ugly. She pulled up more chairs, added more tables and sat people on the porch until the floor plan got all cattywhumpus. Finally, to the town’s great relief, Olivia made it official, cinched up her apron and hung out her shingle.”

The new Disney Vacation Club wine-tasting experience at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, scheduled to accommodate as many as 20 Members (ages 21 or older) each Sunday (excluding holidays) from 3-4 p.m. at Olivia’s Cafe, will further explore the legend of Olivia Farnsworth and the resort that surrounds her namesake restaurant, all while Members enjoy a sampling of wines accompanied by bite-sized foods. The price of $30 a person includes tax and gratuity.

Call Member Services for more details or reservations.

March 23, 2018

"Return To Sleepy Hollow" at Fort Wilderness Begins Sept. 28

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Starting this September 28, the "Return to Sleepy Hollow" program will once again be offered at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

"Return to Sleepy Hollow" includes a group viewing of the 1949 Disney animated film "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" inside the resort's historic Tri-Circle-D Ranch stables. During event nights, you’ll see galloping ghosts and experience an up-close encounter with the Headless Horseman.

“Return to Sleepy Hollow” will be held at 8 and 10 p.m. on the following evenings: September 28-30, October 3-7, October 10-14, 17-21, 24-31.

New this year, a dessert party will be available at 9 p.m., either after the 8 p.m. movie or prior to the 10 p.m. showing.

General seating costs $22 per person, while premium seating, which includes a priority photo opportunity with the Headless Horseman and a Halloween treat bag, costs $38 per person. The dessert party at 9 p.m. costs an additional $60 per person.

Space is extremely limited for this offering.

You can make reservations for this experience NOW by calling 407-WDW-TOUR.

March 16, 2018

UPDATED: Book Now for Pixar-Themed Children's Experience at Contemporary

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Booking is now open for a new, immersive Pixar character experience that's part of a pilot program that starts April 13, 2018, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Each night, kids ages 4-12, can be transported to a world full of excitement and adventure with their favorite characters from Disney-Pixar films in the Pixar Play Zone.

While the kids play, parents can enjoy their own getaway throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

In Bonnie’s Play Room, children will find a variety of toys. Around the corner, the Living Room will be the center for most of the action, starting with Space Ranger Training where a Space Ranger will teach kids what it takes to become a Junior Space Ranger of Star Command, including how to identify enemies, like Zurg, and finally, the call of the Space Ranger, “To infinity and beyond!” Then, Woody and Jessie will show them the ropes of the Wild West during Woody’s Roundup -- complete with a sing-along.

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Next to the Living Room will be the Radiator Springs Racetrack where youngsters will be able to build their own racecars and take turns sending them down a soapbox derby racetrack for Piston Cup Derby Races.

Finally, they can participate in the Incredible Dance Party with Mr. Incredible and Mrs. Incredible, complete with a party host.

The evening will also include arcade games, dinner and dessert.

The nightly getaway for kids ages 4-12 will open doors for check-in at 5 p.m. The experience will begin at the welcome desk, a stop at the “Monsters, Inc.” handwashing station, then Boo’s Closet Door, where youngsters will be able to store any belongings before taking a couple of steps into an evening of Pixar fun. Programming will run from 6 to 10:30 p.m. for a fee of $65 per child (plus tax). Children must be fully toilet-trained. Parents will be required to be physically present to check children in and out of the experience.

Guests can reserve their spot at Pixar Play Zone now by calling 407-824-KIDS.





December 6, 2017

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort Transformation Details Revealed

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Earlier this year, Disney announced that the Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World would undergo some transformations. Today, as part of the 12 Days of Disney Parks Christmas news series, the Disney Parks Blog shared new colorful details about those enhancements debuting late this summer.

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Old Port Royale at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be reimagined as the port of entry where guests will check in before embarking on their island vacation. This centralized location will offer resort guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining, including an all-new Centertown Market for casual eats, an all-new Shutters restaurant offering waterfront dining adjacent to the new Banana Cabana outdoor bar and lounge, and Calypso Trading Post for shopping.

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Centertown Market will be expanded and enclosed, creating a quick-service restaurant with an indoor street market vibe. Guests will enter the space under a large palapa-like structure, accented with glowing colored light pendants made from glass bottles. The market will feature open shutters, wooden light posts, awnings, ornamentation and unique seating areas. Guests will also have access to the Grab n’ Go market for a specialty coffee and quick bites.

Shutters, a Caribbean-inspired table-service restaurant, will be located on the waterfront of Old Port Royale, transporting guests to a beachfront home in the tropical islands. Large open shutters will allow the sun to cast a warm light into the space adorned with handmade items that appear as they’ve been found on the islands. Leaves and floral design motifs will fill the space, celebrating the natural beauty of the Caribbean.

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A festive poolside bar, Banana Cabana will be a great place to gather for food and drinks, immersing guests into the fun and relaxation of island life. Cabana-style drapes will flank seating areas and re-purposed steel drums will illuminate a central communal table made from a wooden boat.

Forget something? No worries! With its history of being the port’s import and export facility, Calypso Trading Post will offer shoppers Disney merchandise and other vacation essentials.

The Disney Parks Blog will reveal more details on these enhancements coming to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort in the coming weeks.

October 13, 2017

Disney Hotels Become Pet Friendly at Select Resorts

EDITOR'S NOTE: For more details on this program, please visit our new Pet-Friendly Hotel Rooms page HERE.

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The Disney Parks Blog today announced the beginning this Sunday, Oct. 15, for the first time ever, the Walt Disney World Resort will welcome guests – and their dogs – to four of its resort properties!

Four Walt Disney World resort hotels
have been designated dog friendly. Each property’s per night/per room pet-cleaning rate is:

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort $50/night
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort $50/night
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort $75/night
Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort $50/night

A maximum of two dogs per guest room can be accommodated. Each guest room will have easy access to outdoor pet walkways for exercise and green spaces with pet relief areas.

Dog lovers will find plenty of Disney amenities and special touches for their four-legged friends.

At check-in, Pluto’s Welcome Kit includes mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, courtesy plastic disposable bags, puppy pads and dog walking maps. Also included: a Pluto “Do Not Disturb” door hanger indicating to hotel staff that a pet is in the room.

Disney enjoys a partnership with Best Friends Pet Care, an on-property full-service facility that can provide assistance with pet daycare and other pet services (fees apply).

Pet merchandise is coming soon to participating resorts.

While dogs will be allowed to stay in guest rooms, they will be expected to be well behaved, leashed in public resort areas and properly vaccinated. For more information about the new dog-friendly trial program, including other restrictions and policies, guests may contact 407-W-DISNEY. DVC Members should contact Member Services at 800-800-9800.

February 16, 2017

Expansions Coming to Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resorts

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New 15-story tower, dining options and event space in development

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (February 16, 2017) — Walt Disney World Resort continues to invest in the guest experience of its resort hotels and will soon be offering enhanced dining options, added event areas and more guest rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Work has begun on a new 15-story tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort that will bring an additional 500 rooms with suites and concierge level services. The new tower, overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort’s centerpiece lake, will offer a rooftop dining experience with panoramic views of popular nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.

“For many of our guests, magical memories begin at one of our 27-themed resorts each and every day,” said Josh D’Amaro, senior vice president of Walt Disney World Resort Operations. “At Walt Disney World Resort, we continue to expand our portfolio and invest in new resort developments that allow even more guests to be immersed in all that a Disney resort has to offer.”

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will also reimagine its current resort rooms and transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island oasis connected by a series of bridges to other areas of the resort. The transformation will stay true to the resort theme, reflecting the vibrant spirit of adventure that lived within the Spanish explorers of North America.

The addition of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort tower will bring the number Walt Disney World Resort rooms to nearly 30,000 within its 27 resort hotels.


Coming to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will feature a new waterfront dining area and a retail shopping area, creating a new landscape from the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown. The new centralized location will offer the resort’s Guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.

May 24, 2016

Name Changes at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Enrich Storytelling

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Disney Vacation Club is pleased to announce an enhanced name for The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge that deepens the Resort’s roots in Disney storytelling.

Since welcoming its first Members home in 2000, this rustically elegant Disney Vacation Club Resort has celebrated the optimistic journey of Americans who rode the rails west to forge a new way of life. The villas draw inspiration from the quaint residential communities established by those pioneers along the tracks that enabled their mass migration.

The Resort’s new name – Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – gives that rustic community a more distinctive identity and allows Walt Disney Imagineers to bring the community’s story to life in new ways, including through the re-imagined (and soon to be renamed) Hidden Springs Pool area.

The new, more richly themed name also distinguishes the Resort’s condominium association from any proposed new Disney Vacation Club developments at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

The naming evolution is not new to Disney Vacation Club. Disney’s Old Key West Resort, which opened in 1991 as Disney Vacation Club Resort, later adopted its more richly themed name as other Disney Vacation Club Resorts joined the neighborhood. Just as the Disney’s Old Key West Resort name distinguished the Resort from its neighbors and allowed Imagineers to more deeply explore the Resort’s thematic connections to the Florida Keys, the transition from The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge allows Imagineers to further explore the Resort’s rugged roots.

Look for updates to signage and other materials at the Resort in the months ahead, and watch future editions of Disney Files Magazine for more details about the enhanced pool area and its connections to the story of Boulder Ridge.

December 21, 2015

Scat Cat's Cafe Holiday Dining Port Orleans French Quarter

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For a limited time, this holiday season, the former Bonfamille's restaurant has been turned into Scat Cat's Cafe! The cafe serves dinner nightly from December 21-30 from 5 - 10pm night!

Family Style Offerings:

House Salad with sweet roasted garlic vinaigrette; house made corn bread

Grilled Andouille Sausage
Cajun-roasted Chicken
Slow-cooked Pot Roast
Vegetable Jambalaya

Maque Choux, Mashed Potatoes, Collard Greens and Mac and Cheese

Deep South Bread Pudding with Banana-Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Reservations can be made at the podium from noon - 10pm.

All You Care to Eat Cajun Style cuisine is $25.99 for adults and $14.99 for children 9 and younger.

December 14, 2015

Sunday Brunch at California Grill Debuts February 7!

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A new Sunday brunch is set to open at the California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort on February 7, 2016.

Dubbed "Brunch at the Top," the new meal launches a whole new menu as the restaurant opens for daytime dining for the first time.

As part of the dining experience, you get the chance to interact with Chef Brian Piasecki's culinary team in the open show kitchen.

The brunch offers a Bloody Mary Bar, cocktails and craft brews, as well as a signature brunch cocktail (included in the brunch price) and faux “mimosas” for kids. There is also a custom-roast French press coffee.

Brunch starts with an assortment of house-made breakfast pastries delivered to your table (for example, caramel apple Monkey bread, Tillamook Cheddar biscuit and cranberry scones pecan) with house-made jam and orange blossom honey butter. Then you head to the show kitchen for small tastes, such as house-smoked orange honey ham, deviled Lake Meadow Naturals eggs, Greek yogurt with vanilla-scented granola and fresh berries, kale and apple salad, baby iceberg wedge with Cherrywood bacon and avocado-buttermilk Ranch dressing, hardwood smoked salmon, California rolls with jumbo lump crabmeat, spicy tuna rolls and shrimp tempura with orange drizzle and mango.

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Then you can choose your next course, delivered tableside:

--Pan-Fried Buttermilk Organic Chicken Cutlet with Haricots Verts, Toasted Almonds, Frisée, Beurre Noisette
-- Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caramelized Heirloom Apples, Dried Cranberry and Raisin Compote, Vanilla Custard, Warm Canadian Maple Syrup
-- Shrimp and Grits, Gulf White Shrimp with Tillamook Cheddar Grits, Spicy Tomato Broth, Espellette-Spiced Tomato Ragout
-- Poached Lobster Benedict with Butter-Poached Tail, Two Soft-Poached Eggs, Honey Ham, Yuzu Hollandaise, Marble Potato Hash
-- Chef’s Frittata with Three Lake Meadow Farms Eggs, Florida Heirloom Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos, Chorizo, Creamy Goat Cheese, Marble Potato Hash
-- Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Soft Poached Eggs, Chimichurri, Marble Potato Hash and Charred Red Onion.

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Mini-desserts, macarons and chocolate truffles close out the meal.

Cost is $80 (includes signature cocktail) for adults, $48 ages 3 to 11. The meal is two dining credits if you're using the Disney Dining Plan. Tables in Wonderland discount is accepted. Reservations open December 16, and can be made by visiting DisneyWorld.com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

October 6, 2014

Disney Visa Stay, Play, Dine Offer for 2014 and 2015

Disney Visa Stay, Play, Dine And Save Up To $600*

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Walt Disney World® Resort - Most nights 12/14/14 -12/20/14 & 1/5/15- 3/7/15
Are you a Disney Visa cardholder?

Save $600* (based on a family of four) on a 5-night, 6-day Walt Disney Travel Company Room Ticket & Dining plan package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Select Value Resorts save up to $400, select moderate up to $600 & select Deluxe & Deluxe Villas at least $600.

Book by December 29, 2014: AllEars.Net Recommends MouseFanTravel.com for your Disney reservations.

* The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price of the same package for 2 adults, 1 junior, 1 child in the same room. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites and 3-bedroom villas. Excludes alcoholic beverages and gratuities. Children ages 3-9 must order from children's menu if available. Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.


May 3, 2014

Polynesian Reverts to Original Name; Gets New Look, Lounge

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An iconic hotel at Walt Disney World Resort is getting a new name, actually its original name. The Polynesian Village Resort Hotel, a perennial guest favorite, continues a multi-year re-imagining with the renovation of its guest rooms, the resort's feature pool and its centerpiece Great Ceremonial House.


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The "Poly" also plans to add Trader Sam's Grog Grotto with a highly themed lounge area featuring tiki cocktails and Polynesia-themed small plates. It will be based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.


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February 2, 2013

A Preview of the New California Grill at the Contemporary Resort

The Contemporary Resort's popular restaurant, California Grill, closed yesterday for an extensive refurbishment.

The Disney Parks Blog recently released renderings of what the new California Grill dining room and onstage kitchen will look like when it opens later this summer.

Designed by the Puccini Group in San Francisco, the restaurant will feature a wall of wines at the entrance and will showcase the spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom below.

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Chef Brian Piasecki has already begun working on the restaurant's new menu. According to the Disney Parks Blog, the menu will have updated versions of some of the restaurant's classics, like the beloved pork and polenta. This dish will become "Pork Two Ways" -- wood-fired tenderloin with goat cheese polenta, and braised lacquered pork belly with country applesauce.


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The Parks Blog also revealed a new 24-hour braised beef short rib with truffle whipped potatoes, vol-au-vent (puff pastry) with roasted vegetables and natural jus.


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As previously announced, sushi chef Yoshie is retiring, but the new sushi chefs will continue her legacy with such creative new tastes as Sea Urchin Nigiri with mamanori (soybean paper), salmon roe and freshly grated wasabi root.


October 12, 2012

Alice In Wonderland-Themed Water Play Area Opens at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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from the Disney Parks Blog

A new Alice In Wonderland-themed kids' water play area has debuted at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

The area features an upturned Mad Hatter's hat that dumps water when it fills up, as well as an oversized teapot that spills water into a series of teacups, showering the guests below.

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On the ground, kids can have fun playing under sprinklers and water spouts, or sliding down one of the area's two mini waterslides.

July 2, 2012

California Grill to Close for Extensive Rehab

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort Gets Ready for a New Look

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney's California Grill will be closing for an extensive renovation beginning January 6, 2013. The restaurant is slated to reopen late summer.

Sporting a new look when it reopens, Chef Brian Piasecki is very excited about the "enhancements to the interactive kitchen - we'll be able to give a fresh spin to California Grill classics, and add some cutting-edge new selections to the menu."

Chef Brian Piasecki

There will be changes to the menu but Chef Brian explains "we'll still focus on a fresh, seasonal menu with top-of-the-line sushi. You can still look for creative flavors and techniques, and sophisticated cuisine."

California Grill's two private dining rooms are expected to remain.

The Cast Members in the kitchen as well as the dining room all plan to return.

California Grill sits high atop the Contemporary Resort offering spectacular views of not only the Magic Kingdom, but Epcot and the surrounding areas as well. It is one of the most popular spots for dinner and viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks!

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

March 9, 2012

Royal Guest Rooms Open today at Port Orleans Riverside

Disney Parks Blog has announced that the Royal Guest rooms officially opened today at Walt Disney World. 512 rooms are being transformed with all renovations expected to be completed by the end of June, 2012.

The rooms will have will have immersive decor and include stars from films such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog. The bathroom sink design incorporates Genie's magic lamp from Aladdin. Characters from Pixar films are in the wallpaper boarder.

AllEars will be staying in one of the new rooms and have photographs, video and a report beginning Sunday.

February 9, 2012

Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels to Reward A+ Teachers in 4th Annual Contest

Students can nominate favorite teacher for chance for both to win Disney vacation

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 8, 2012 -- The Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels has partnered with Walt Disney World® to once again honor outstanding K-12 teachers with its 2012 A+ For Teachers at Downtown Disney essay contest.

The fourth annual contest, which kicks off today and runs through April 13, 2012, asks students in grades 1 through 12 to nominate their favorite teacher by writing a brief essay of no more than 300 words and submitting it via www.downtowndisneyhotels.com . The essay should explain how the teacher has made a difference in the student's life and will be judged on its relevance to theme, creativity, originality, and the merit of the teacher's accomplishments as outlined in the essay.

Seven winners will be chosen, and those students and their favorite teacher nominees each will win a vacation prize package that consists of:

Five-day / four-night accommodations (for up to four family members) at one of the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels

Four free Walt Disney World® one-day, one-park passes

Four free tickets to the DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive theme park

Complimentary breakfast at the hotel each day (for up to four family members)

One $100 gas card

"We're excited to kick off our fourth annual contest to celebrate those teachers who truly make a difference in the lives of their students in spite of the many challenges their schools are facing," said Kevin Renzi, chairperson of the organization's marketing committee. "We've been amazed by the stories we've received in prior years, so we look forward to selecting even more gifted teachers for the recognition they deserve."

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels has awarded 60 vacation trips to deserving teachers and their students since starting the annual essay contest in 2009. Prior winners have been recognized for home schooling students struggling with challenging illnesses, persevering in their teaching careers despite life-threatening medical conditions, supporting the work of non-profit organizations, helping their students excel academically, inspiring learning in the classroom, and other professional and personal feats.

This year's A+ For Teachers at Downtown Disney contest winners will be notified directly by May 1, 2012 and also announced on the hotels' website and Facebook page at : http://www.facebook.com/DtnDisneyHotels

April 2, 2009

Sanaa Brings Flavors of India, Africa To Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Fans of Jiko - The Cooking Place and Boma-Flavors of Africa have a new reason to dine at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge as Sanaa debuts May 1 in the resort's new Kidani Village expansion.

(Editor's Note: Disney previously released photographs of many of Sanaa's new dishes, which you can find in the Disney News Blog HERE.)

The new Walt Disney World restaurant's unusual name, pronounced "Sah-NAH," is the Swahili word for "artwork." With interiors inspired by African art and remarkable views of the resort's Sunset Savannah through 9-foot windows, diners experience "the art of African cooking with Indian flavors" in the 150-seat, family-oriented restaurant located on the ground floor just below the lobby.

Sanaa's cuisine is a melting pot of tastes from the islands of the Indian Ocean that all are part of Africa - Zanzibar, the Seychelles, Comoro Islands, Mauritius and Madagascar. "These islands were on important trade routes with influences from French, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Arab and Chinese traders," said Chef Bob Getchell. "The diverse spices and flavors give us an endless array of options for Sanaa."

The most indelible mark on the cuisine of the region was made by Indian traders who introduced curries, spice blends and breads. Central to African-Indian cuisine is the use of the tandoor oven, essentially a large clay pot similar to a pizza oven. The tandoor provides very high, dry heat that creates a crisp outer layer and moist interior. Along with meats, a favorite tandoor oven treat is the Indian bread naan, which is slapped directly onto the oven's clay walls and allowed to bake until puffy and lightly browned. The Sanaa kitchen will have two custom tandoor ovens.

Specialties include tandoori chicken, lamb and shrimp, slow-cooked curries, and braised short ribs. "Don't think of curry as spicy," said Chef Getchell, "but as a centuries-old cooking method that allows flavors to fully develop in the meats, vegetables, and sauces." The base blend of seasonings for Sanaa's curries include cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, coriander, nutmeg, fennel seed, cumin, tamarind, turmeric and more. The turmeric is what gives many curry dishes their characteristic yellow color.

Appetizers such as lamb kefta with tamarind-dried papaya sauce, and unusual salads like okra, radishes and tomato, roasted beets, and carrot, orange and mint start the dining experience.

Entrees include the tandoori-roasted meats, curries, and sides such as dahl (stewed lentils), curried crushed potatoes, stir-fried green beans and slow-cooked spinach and paneer (a mild South Asian cheese). Indian style flatbreads including naan, roti, and paratha are paired with chutneys, Indian style pickles and raita (yogurt-based dip).

For guests who prefer more American flavors, there is a grilled pork chop and club sandwich at lunch, and grilled flank steak at dinner.

Sweets are the final adventure, including mango pudding, cardamom-butter cake, papaya with sea salt and lime and vanilla-coconut rice pudding.

The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and from 5-9 p.m. An adjacent 24-seat lounge serves African wines, beer and spirits. For reservations, call 407/WDW-DINE.

Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is part of Disney Vacation Club.

March 5, 2009

Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Villas to Open May 1, 2009

Sanaa (pronounced sah-NAH), the new table service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Villas' Kidani Village is set to open May 1, 2009. Named for the Swahili word for "artwork," Sanaa will feature African-inspired cuisine with an Indian touch and will be open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant will serve familiar foods prepared in tandoor ovens, along with slow-cooked specialties showcasing the flavorful spices of Africa.

The following are some of the dishes that will appear on Sanaa's menu:

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Lamb Kefta with Tamarind and Papaya Sauce.

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Grilled Flank Steak, with spinach and mushroom pancake served with oven-dried chutney.

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Tandoori Chicken served with basmati rice or seven-grain pilaf.

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Tandoori Lamb Chops served with basmati rice or seven-grain pilaf.

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Grilled Pork Chop Loin, glazed with pickled lime and ginger served with sauteed spinach.

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Mustard seed-crusted Scallops with a coconut cream sauce.

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Dum Biryani, Fresh vegetables and basmati rice, wrapped in bread dough served with pineapple raita.

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Slow-cooked beef short ribs, shrimp with green curry sauce, served with basmati rice or seven grain pilaf.

January 26, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Welcomes Threatened Species

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 21, 2009 - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge welcomed the birth of two Ruppell's Griffon Vultures earlier this month. They are the first hatchings of this threatened species at Walt Disney World Resort. Each chick weighed less than six ounces and was about eight inches long when hatched.

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Over the past twenty years, the population of Ruppell's Griffon Vultures has been declining. This reduction led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to raise the status of this species to threatened. Members of Disney's Animal Programs Team hope to increase the species population and generate more awareness of the challenges these birds face.

When grown, each new-born vulture could reach sizes close to three feet in height , with a wingspan of nearly eight feet, and can weigh 15-20 pounds. They are also known for their high-flying skills, being among the highest flying bird on record, once spotted at an altitude of over 37,000 feet in the skies of West Africa. Ruppell's vultures can fly more than three miles in six minutes and are able to stay in the air for as many as six to seven hours a day.

Ruppell's vultures are highly social; they roost, nest and gather to feed in large flocks. While they are generally a quiet breed, they may become vocal at the nest and during feeding time. The Ruppell's vultures pair up for life, which may be forty or fifty years.

January 15, 2009

Pirate-Themed Guest Rooms Debut

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Landlubbers and scallywags alike can live like Captain Jack in a pirate-themed guestroom specially created for Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. More than 350 guestrooms are getting an "Extreme Makeover: Pirate Edition" with new décor and furnishings fit for a buccaneer. Walt Disney World guests can reserve the special rooms through 407 W-DISNEY, www.disneyworld.com or by contacting their travel agent.

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August 19, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Pirate Edition - Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Land lubbers and scallywags alike will be able to live like Captain Jack Sparrow in a pirate-themed room specially created for Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. More than 350 rooms at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort are getting an "Extreme Makeover: Pirate Edition" with new décor and furnishing fit for a buccaneer. Guests can start booking rooms for stays in January 2009, with the entire renovation scheduled to be completed by the end of spring 2009.

Pirate Themed Rooms for Caribbean Beach Resort

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