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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Afternoon Tea at the 2024 EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

 by Beth Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 26, 2024

 

The 2024 EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival is coming down to its final few days, so our family decided to squeak in one last visit before the Outdoor Kitchens (food booths) come down.  We’ve become accustomed to grazing our way through the festivals for dinner, rather than making dining reservations at one of EPCOT’s restaurants, enjoying a variety of treats for our meal, rather than one larger entrée.



The next festival, the 2024 International Food & Wine Festival, doesn’t begin until August 29, 2024, so there will theoretically be a 3-month gap before the next food booths go up, barring any surprise summer announcements from Disney. With that in mind, we headed off to snack through the Flower & Garden fest one last time.


On our visit this week, the EPCOT crowds were low in advance of the holiday weekend, and a nice breeze kept the temperatures on the comfortable side as well.  With little to no wait in line at the food booths, we were able to turn our attention to some of the other activities at the festival, things that we’d either not had time for on previous visits, due to longer wait times in food lines, or because the slots to sign up for events were all filled due to the influx of bigger crowds.  On this day, though, we were able to snag a spot on the Tea Tour in the UK Pavilion.



Each year, the United Kingdom Pavilion in World Showcase hosts several of the festival’s Global Gardens.  In 2024, the UK Pavilion  played home to an English Tea Garden (presented by Twinings); the Shakespeare Garden, featuring quotes from some of the bard’s most famous sonnets and plays, as well as a look at the flowers that influenced them; and the Topiary Heritage Garden, where you can learn about the varied techniques employed by the Walt Disney World Horticulture team to create the festival’s topiaries.



As part of the English Tea Garden presentation, event sponsor Twinings Tea offers a free guided tour of the garden twice a day, at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.  You can also take a self-guided tour if you can’t grab a slot with the engaging tour guides.


The complimentary tour is limited to just 20-25 guests at a time, and cast members from the UK lead guests through the garden behind The Tea Caddy shop, explaining the history and art of tea-blending, as well as the magic involved in creating some of the blends that are unique to Twinings’ teas. Along the way, you’ll get a closer look at some of the plants used to produce your favorite tea flavors.  The small cottage garden is decorated throughout with large ceramic tea cups filled with the ingredients of the various tea blends.


On our tour, guides Kerry and Rachel did an excellent job of leading guests through the garden, sharing some of Twinings’ history, and walking visitors through the background of the tea blends showcased in the garden.  Did you know that the Twinings’ master tasters will train for 15-25 years before taking their places perfecting the company’s blends? We also learned that of the 500 blends offered globally by Twinings, only 50 of those flavors are available in the United States (some of which are available only in The Tea Caddy in EPCOT, so if you are a tea drinker, don’t snooze on the shopping!)  We also discovered that the word “chai” actually means “tea” in Hindi, so if you are asking for a chai tea, you are just asking for tea tea!



The tour was short, about half an hour, and was both entertaining and informative.  And, bonus, you got a surprise tea packet at the close of the tour!



Among the things that we’ve missed the most about the changes to the Food & Wine Festival since COVID have been the specialty seminars, demonstrations, and unique food pairing events, most of which did not return to the festival post-COVID.  Those programs were a chance to learn more about various topics while attending the festival.  We were happy that the Flower & Garden festival continued to offer their mini-tours for guests (there are several others as well; check your festival guide for info), and even happier that we finally got to participate in the tea tour. If you get the opportunity, it’s well worth the half hour investment of your time.

   
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival ends May 27, 2024.  

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Get The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution by Ray Keating. More information at

https://raykeatingbooksandmore.com/shop/ols/products/disneyplanner. And please listen to the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Catching the Last Few Days of the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

 by Beth Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 23, 2024

 

There are just a few days left to the 2024 EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. And given that we don’t know if there are any summer surprises coming our way to fill the nearly three month gap before EPCOT returns with the 2024 International Food & Wine Festival on August 29, 2024, we decided yesterday that we would try to squeeze in one last visit to the Flower & Garden Outdoor Kitchens (food booths) to grab a few dishes we’d missed.  And we were glad we did!




The Avocado Toast ($6.00) at the BRUNCHCOT kitchen near Test Track has been a family favorite every time it’s been offered at an EPCOT festival, and it didn’t disappoint this year, either.  This year’s rendition may have even been a bit better than the usual, because while the toasted ciabatta was crispy, it wasn’t as hard to bite into as the baguettes can sometimes be. And this year’s mashed avocado?  Excellent, with a thicker-than-remembered, slightly salty slather on the bread.  The marinated tomatoes came in a variety of colors, and while the tiny flowers didn’t add any flavor to the dish, they sure were pretty!  A sprinkle of plant-based cheese stood in for the blue cheese crumbles you’d typically find on such a breakfast treat, but if you didn’t know better, you’d be completely unaware that these bits weren’t the traditional cheese.




Without planning to, we leaned heavy on the veggie dishes on this trip. We also stopped at The Honey Bee-stro to try the Honey-Glazed Cauliflower ($5.00).  This economical and filling plate was served on a pool of honey-roasted carrot puree and wild rice pilaf, and topped with a handful of asparagus and spring peas.  Four “honey-blistered grapes” decorated the dish, and “sunflower brittle” gave a touch of texture to an otherwise softer dish.  I personally had been looking forward to the choice earlier in the season, but for whatever reason, just hadn’t made it to the booth.  Now, I’m disappointed that I didn’t try it earlier, because this was a lovely dish that I would have been happy to be enjoying for the second time, instead of the first!



A colorful dish, there was an unexpected touch of heat in the follow-through of the cauliflower.  (No worries, it was just the teeniest hit.). While the asparagus could have been cooked a bit longer, this plate of goodness was full of flavor.  With so many components labelled as “honey-roasted” and “honey blistered,” I expected this dish to be on the sweet side, but it truly wasn’t.  The carrot puree was by far the sweetest part of the combination. While the multi-colored cauliflower bites were labelled “honey-glazed,” the half-dozen florets weren’t sweet, but it certainly was the most flavor I’ve ever gotten from cauliflower.  The wild rice, a blander element to the entrée, was still a welcome choice, because it helped give a firmer foundation to the rest of the veggies.  A toss of micro-greens on top of the green veggies offered a fun presentation to this wonderfully vibrant plate.



Since not all of our family members are as veggie-friendly as others, we also made a quick stop at the Lotus House booth in the China Pavilion, where we selected the Spicy Mala Chicken Skewer with Creamy Peanut Sauce ($6.75).  Weirdly, where the cauliflower at the Honey Bee-Stro was not listed as spicy, but had the tiniest bit of heat, this chicken dish was supposed to be spicy, and wasn’t. There was plenty of sauce on this single chicken-thighed skewer, but there was an odd undertone to the sauce.  It wasn’t a bad flavor, just a slightly unexpected one underneath the predominant peanut ingredients. This dish wasn’t the best quality chicken, but it wasn’t the worst either.  Overall, it was the least spectacular dish of the day.



One of our favorite drinks of the festival, however, is the new this year “Lucky Peach” ($14.25), which happens to be available at the Lotus House kitchen, so that made up for the lackluster chicken skewer.  Made of peach whiskey, Oolong tea, honey, lemon juice and water, it is light and refreshing, perfect for a hot day at the park.  We’re hoping that this drink either finds its way back to next year’s festival, or even finds a permanent home at EPCOT year round!

 
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival ends May 27, 2024. If you are interested in any of these dishes, you’d better make your way there soon, because the Memorial Day holiday weekend is sure to pass quickly.

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Get The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution by Ray Keating. More information at

https://raykeatingbooksandmore.com/shop/ols/products/disneyplanner. And please listen to the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Thumbs-Up for Straczynski on Captain America

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 21, 2024

 

I’ve been a fan of Captain America since I was a kid. Indeed, as I’ve mentioned before, Captain America Marvel Comic books instilled a sense of joy for reading in me, and that led to reading more and eventually becoming a writer.



On a different front, I recently found and have delighted in the 1990s sci-fi television show Babylon 5. J. Michael Straczynski created and continues to be the driving force behind the Babylon 5 universe. Straczynski also has an extensive resume as a comic book writer, and starting last year, he’s been writing a run on Captain America comics. 

 

When I’ve parachuted in to read some comics in recent years, while there have been wonderful exceptions of solid storytelling, too much has offered uninteresting tales, poor-to-mundane artwork, and sometimes painful agendas. Questions came to mind. Among others, where have the great comic writers and artists gone, and where are the formidable new ones? 



So, Straczynski on the Cap title intrigued me. After all, Straczynski penned one of Cap’s all-time great speeches in comics (in a Spider-Man title - see below). 



I just finished the trade paperback collection of the first six installments in the series. I wasn’t disappointed.

 

Straczynski serves up an interesting story that jumps back and forth between Steve Rogers’ (before he becomes Captain America) early run-ins with Nazis in America, and current-day Cap helping others – from fellow superheroes to local neighbors – and taking on a dark, powerful evil. I also appreciated the role played by gangster Meyer Lansky with a young Rogers.

 

Straczynski drives home the essential issue that there really is no rest in terms of fighting against evil and for peace. This point coupled with the timeframe for part of this tale hit home for me as my Alliance of Saint Michael historical fiction touches on related challenges in the 1930s – with Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel soon to be followed by Subversion.

 

And yes, the forms that evil can take often repeat themselves.

 

I appreciated that the writing stayed faithful to the Steve Rogers-Captain America character; enjoyed the writing; and, for the most part, the artwork in these first issues in Straczynski’s run on Captain America. I look forward to reading more.

 

__________

 

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, the Alliance of Saint Michael novels, and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, princesses and more.

 

Never miss any new book by Ray Keating by joining the Pastor Stephen Grant Fellowship with Ray Keating at

https://www.patreon.com/pastorstephengrantfellowship.

 

Various books by Ray Keating…

 

• The Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries. There are 19 books in the series now.

 

• Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel is at Amazon

 

• Order The Weekly Economist III: Another 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an EconomistThe Weekly Economist II: 52 More Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist, and The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist at Amazon.com.

 

• Signed editions of Ray’s books are at www.raykeatingbooksandmore.com

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Delicious and Different Breakfast at the Ale & Compass

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 19, 2024

 

Are you a breakfast person? For a longtime, I wasn’t. But now, I tend to swing back and forth depending on my schedule. 

 

Recently, the idea of getting up early and heading over to Walt Disney World for a nice breakfast to start the day – yes, this is one of those benefits of leaving New York to live not far from Mickey’s Place – has held appeal. And since I can work mobile, then opening the laptop somewhere at a resort or in a theme park only adds to the positives.



So, it was breakfast at the Ale & Compass restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

 

I appreciated the varied menu, and was tempted by the buffet. But I was looking for something different, and settled on trying the Breakfast Flatbread ($14.00). This definitely wasn’t in my normal breakfast wheelhouse. A sunny-side up egg rested in a nest of apple-wood smoked bacon, ham, provolone and arugula, all sitting on flatbread.



This made for a nice-sized breakfast. The flatbread was thin and soft, but with a touch of crunch as well. The sunny-side egg worked well with the other flavors and textures, with the bacon shining through along with sweetness in the dressing.

 

This Breakfast Flatbread serves as a great start to the day, and it requires full engagement with knife, fork and hands.

 

My recommendation: Say “yes” to this different and delicious breakfast. Enjoy!

 

__________

 

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, the Alliance of Saint Michael novels, and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, princesses and more.

 

Never miss any new book by Ray Keating by joining the Pastor Stephen Grant Fellowship with Ray Keating at

https://www.patreon.com/pastorstephengrantfellowship.

 

Various books by Ray Keating…

 

• The Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries. There are 19 books in the series now.

 

• Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel is at Amazon

 

• Order The Weekly Economist III: Another 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an EconomistThe Weekly Economist II: 52 More Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist, and The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist at Amazon.com.

 

• Signed editions of Ray’s books are at www.raykeatingbooksandmore.com

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Annual Passholder and DVC Member Preview Dates Announced for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Disney World; Virtual Queue to Be Used for All Guests

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 14, 2024

 

The new “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” ride in Disney World’s Frontierland will officially open to all visitors on June 28th, 2024.  But a few groups will get a sneak peek ahead of time.  Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and Disney Annual Passholders will get to preview the attraction before it’s officially open to other park visitors. 


Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

While that’s not unusual for new rides, there are a few changes to the access process this time around.  (And, spoiler alert, the process is not going smoothly on the first day of the sign-ups.  Within mere minutes of the Passholder email hitting our inbox, Stitch was already showing up with “Somebody Ate the Page” messages for those trying to sign on to My Disney Experience to make park reservations, the first step in snagging a ride for Tiana’s new adventure. By 11:00 a.m., all the Magic Kingdom reservations were gone, and in trying to make a park reservation at another park, in order to follow Disney’s instructions of park hopping for access to the ride, we got a message that read, “Thank you for your patience. Please keep this page open and do not refresh it as you prepare to make a park reservation.… wait time more than an hour.”  Hmmm… never had THAT happen when trying to make a park reservation before! Apologies to those unlucky guests who were just trying to make park reservations for other non-preview days, as the Tiana-wanna-rides brought the system to a grinding halt.  Ah, Disney technology!)


In the past, Passholders have been able to reserve specific dates and times to jump on a new ride by signing up ahead of time at a designated link. While it sometimes meant hours of waiting for your turn in the online queue to reserve said space and use this special Passholder perk, you knew you had a guaranteed seat when you arrived at the park on your preselected day.  And if you didn’t manage to snap up one of the limited number of spaces in the registration process, you knew you’d been shut out weeks in advance of the big day.  This time, it’ll be more of a game of chance, with Annual Passholders, who still have to make park reservations on most days, using the park reservation system to gain access. Even after you have a park reservation, however, you will still be relying on the luck of the draw to get into a virtual queue that morning.


Most Passholders received an email from Disney this morning (May 14), detailing how the new process will work.  Here are the important points:

 

• First, make a park reservation for Magic Kingdom Park on a preview date to have the opportunity to join the 7 a.m. virtual queue for that day. Or, you can make a Park reservation to any Theme Park on a preview date to have the opportunity to join the 1 p.m. virtual queue.


• Next, on the day of your park reservation, it's time to request to join the virtual queue using the My Disney Experience app. There will be two opportunities to join each day of previews.


• The 7 a.m. virtual queue will be available to Passholders with a park reservation to Magic Kingdom Park for that day.


• The 1 p.m. virtual queue will be available to Passholders with a park reservation to any Theme Park for that day. As a reminder, Passholders must enter the theme park where they have a reservation prior to visiting Magic Kingdom Park. Or, on June 13, 14, 17, 18 or 20, they can enter Magic Kingdom Park without a reservation after 2 p.m.

• Passholders do not need to have entered a Theme Park when they request to join the virtual queue.


(As a sidenote, you can also hold a TRON or Guardians virtual queue at the same time as the Tiana virtual queue during this event.)


Annual Passholder previews will take place:


• June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, and 20


DVC previews will take place on two dates:

 

• Wednesday, June 12, 2024, from 1 PM to 4 PM Eastern Time

• Wednesday, June 19, 2024, from 9 AM to 12 PM Eastern Time

 

For DVC members, (who will also get an email from Disney with the specific details of their registration process), event registration via registration link access opens on Thursday, May 16th at 10AM ET.  Pre-registration is required.  DVC members must hold a qualifying Disney hotel reservation, using your DVC Membership, and must have valid park admission and park reservations to Magic Kingdom on the day of the preview events (unless otherwise noted on your admission type.)  See your DVC email letter for the longer version of the details.

 

For all other guests:


When the ride opens to all guests on June 28, there will be two ways to ride: virtual queue, or Disney Genie+.


For the virtual queue process, guests can use the My Disney Experience (MDE) app to request to join the (free) virtual queue either at 7 a.m. or 1 p.m.  You can check out more information about how the virtual queue process works at disneyworld.com/virtualqueue.  

 

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will also be included as a Lightning Lane entrance in the paid-for-service Disney Genie+.  Prices for Genie+ are available on the MDE app on the day of your visit, and vary by date and park.  Visit disneyworld.com/lightninglane for more details on using the Genie+ service.   (The Individual Lightning Lane rides are not being used for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.) However, access is still not guaranteed with Genie+.  When the slots for the day are gone, they’re gone, even if you purchased Genie+ for the day. You’ll just have to use Genie + for other rides in the park.


Disney notes that while a standby queue will not be available during the attraction’s initial opening days, they expect to open a standby queue soon after the attraction’s opening, once the initial swell of guests slows down.


Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog


So, with this somewhat convoluted data dump, we wish you more luck in getting to be among the first to head down the bayou than the success we had… We’ll be watching you from the sidelines apparently, with one of the brand new “Tiana’s Famous Beignets” that will be dished up at the Golden Oak Outpost in our hands. (Or maybe not, since those fluffy beignets will be limited time only as well.)

 

__________

 

Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Get The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution by Ray Keating. More information at

https://raykeatingbooksandmore.com/shop/ols/products/disneyplanner. And please listen to the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast

Star Wars' Count Dooku - A Favorite?

 Why does DisneyBizJournal’s Ray Keating find Count Dooku in Star Wars so fascinating? 

Well, check out the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast – Episode #863: Favorite Disney Dialogue – Count Dooku Spills the Star Wars Beans.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to Open June 28 in Disney World

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 13, 2024

 

We’re almost there - We have an opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom!



During last night’s (May 12) “Disney Night” episode of American Idol, which was heavily Tiana-themed, a special announcement was made to celebrate the opening of the ride at Walt Disney World.


If you are in the neighborhood on June 28, 2024, you can catch your first trip down the bayou as the ride debuts its Florida splash with park guests.


The episode of American Idol featured a guest performance by Jenifer Lewis, the voice of Mama Odie in the 2009 Princess and the Frog animated movie, singing “Dig a Little Deeper” from the film.   She was accompanied on the trumpet by Grammy winner and jazz musician Terrance Blanchard, also from the Princess and the Frog film, and a collaborator on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

 
The new ride replaces Splash Mountain in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, though it is using the same ride track, and takes place after the events of the Princess and the Frog movie. New, updated animatronics will bring the movie characters to life, many with the voices of the original actors, but there will be a number of newly created critters added to the ride tale as well.



A tiara-topped water tower graces the top of the ride, which was built on an old salt mine that now houses Tiana’s new company, “Tiana’s Foods,” an employee-owned cooperative.  The premise of the ride is that Tiana is hosting a celebration during Mardi Gras to thank all of her friends and family for their help in launching her new business, which grows the herbs and spices she uses in her recipes at her restaurant, “Tiana’s Palace.” Tiana’s Foods is also producing a line of original hot sauces.  The ride is accompanied by music from the film, along with  original New Orleans-style music and art. Louis, the alligator musician, will help out by bringing the tunes.


The former Splash Mountain souvenir shop has also been converted into “Critter Co-op,” a kind of community center for the bayou residents.  Posters in the window advertise an upcoming Mardi Gras Ball; cooking, dance and quilting classes; Firefly Family Sing-Alongs, and even lost and found notices and postings for a new drummer.




Riders must be at least 40 inches tall to take the plunge in the water flume-style ride.  Disney Parks Blog has a whole page of stories to keep you busy until you can take your turn “goin’ down the bayou.”  Disneyland’s version of the Tiana ride is also currently under construction, but has not been given a launch date yet (sometime in 2024). 

More information regarding cast member, Disney Vacation Club and Annual Passholder previews is expected to be released on May 14.

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Get The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution by Ray Keating. More information at

https://raykeatingbooksandmore.com/shop/ols/products/disneyplanner. And please listen to the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast

Sunday, May 12, 2024

New Name Released for Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows in Florida

 by Beth Keating

News/Commentary

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 12, 2024

 

Love it or hate it – the new DVC (Disney Vacation Club) building at Disney’s Polynesian finally has an official name.  It’s Island Tower at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, and it is projected to open in December 2024, though guests in various categories will be able to begin booking stays in June.


Source: Disney Parks Blog


Disney says the new hotel “will take you on a storytelling journey that brings to life the spirit of Polynesia.”


This more modern looking 10-story tower is located on the shores of the Magic Kingdom’s Seven Seas Lagoon, and that is part of the controversy surrounding this facility with Disney fans.  A quick ride across the lagoon on the Disney ferry boats to the Magic Kingdom, or a spin around the monorail tracks, will provide you with a glimpse of the nearly completed hotel, sandwiched between two existing Disney Deluxe resorts.

   
And therein lies the rub – the new building towers (no pun intended) over its mother resort, Polynesian Village Resort, with its low-slung longhouses, and looks even more out of place next to the grandeur of the stately old Victorian, Grand Floridian.  The artist renderings provided by Disney leave those other resorts out of frame, but those who have seen, in person,  the construction in progress are often taken aback at the incongruity.

 
Perhaps we will eventually get used to this change to the shoreline, but for now this blip to the horizon sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, when Island Tower is complete, it will have some of the more themed imagery we’ve come to expect from the deluxe resorts, like the soaring majesty of the National Parks ambiance at Wilderness Lodge, or the safari-bound atmosphere of Animal Kingdom Lodge, rather than an upscale chain representative that is better suited to Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Disney has provided a few new renderings in the meantime.


While the outside of the new building feels more indicative of the contemporary vibe Disney has been reaching for lately (Hello, EPCOT World Celebration Plaza gardens?), the interior of the building promises to have some intriguing artwork, including preserved moss walls and sculptures made from recycled fishing nets, with creations from over a dozen artists from around the world.  Disney shares that each piece “will be inspired by the spirit of conservation and embody the rich cultures of Polynesia.”  In the lobby, a large art panel installation on the ceiling will showcase wildlife native to the Polynesian Islands. “Each animal holds a strong connection to the islands and symbolizes values important to Polynesians,” explains Disney. A Manta Ray symbolizing “freedom, protection and grace” will adorn the building’s exterior. 


Source: Disney Parks Blog

Details, amenities, dining opportunities, and prices are still to come, but Island Tower will feature a variety of room types that will sleep from two to nine guests. Included are duo studios, one- and two-bedroom villas, and brand-new two-bedroom penthouse villas.

   
Guests can begin booking rooms very soon, with the following release dates:

 

• June 4Disney Vacation Club members can make early rental reservations by contacting Member Services at (800) 800-9800. Disney Vacation Club members will be able to make points-based reservations at a later date.

 
• June 5Walt Disney World Annual Passholders can start booking rental reservations by contacting (407) 934-7639.

 
• June 6All guests can make reservations online or by contacting (407) 934-7639.

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Get The Disney Planner: The TO DO List Solution by Ray Keating. More information at

https://raykeatingbooksandmore.com/shop/ols/products/disneyplanner. And please listen to the Daily Dose of Disney with Ray Keating podcast