New Dining and Shopping Experiences Arriving at Epcot’s World Showcase

Just in time for the 15th Annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival, Walt Disney World guests will be able to experience the newest enhancements to the World Showcase at Epcot – a new lagoon-side, 12,000 sq. ft. taqueria at the Mexico pavilion, an authentic 14,000 sq. ft. pizzeria at the Italy pavilion, a new merchandise kiosk at the China pavilion, and a new exclusive Givenchy shop at the France pavilion.

Building on its more than 25 years of success in bringing Mexican cuisine to Walt Disney World guests, San Angel Inn, LLC will open a new 400-seat waterside restaurant and quick-service food location specializing in the freshly baked culinary flavors of Mexico. The Cantina de San Angel Restaurant, located directly in front of the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase, is currently closed until fall 2010 for a significant refurbishment and expansion.

The new indoor and outdoor restaurant will be nearly four times larger than the previous 3,500 sq. ft. Cantina. The Cantina will serve as the first flex- service restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney research has shown that guests prefer a quick lunch while spending a day at the parks and enjoy a nice tableside restaurant experience in the evening hours. As a result, the new restaurant will serve quick service meals during the day where guests can enjoy an indoor, air-conditioned dining, or outdoor dining experience. Then, in the evening hours the restaurant is converted into a tableside restaurant where reservations are recommended.

Concept art for new pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilionAt the Italy pavilion, the Patina Restaurant Group will expand its Italian culinary options by opening a new 300-seat pizzeria that will feature traditional Italian dishes straight from wood-burning ovens representing Italy’s infamous volcanoes. Guests will be immersed in the dining experience as they take in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Italian delicacies, Florentine architecture, vaulted-ceilings, and indoor and outdoor dining.

Based on its success at Naples 45 in New York, the Patina Restaurant Group will import water from a source where the composition most resembles water used in Naples, Italy, to make the authentic Italian dough.

“Together with the addition of the pizzeria and the extensive refurbishment of the Cantina, we’re expanding the table service restaurant seats in World Showcase by approximately 20 percent,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. “We’re excited about this significant expansion, which will certainly enhance the guest experience and the architectural landscape of World Showcase. The timing couldn’t be better since we will be celebrating our 15th annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival.”

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A Taste of Disney at the DIFFA Dining By Design 2010 Collection

(L-R) Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh, Owl © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. Founded in 1984, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) organization launches a tour each spring titled Dining By Design mixing top design with fine cuisine. Currently located Pier 94 in New York City through March 22, the tour will make stops in Kansas City, Chicago and Francisco.

For the third year in a row, Walt Disney Signature joins the DIFFA exhibition, this time teaming up with renown Italian designer Cappellini to bring a touch of Disney to haute design, allowing attendees to indulge in a delectable combination of dining and Disney.

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Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival Celebrates the ‘Art of Flavor’ at Disneyland Resort April 16 – May 31

Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival will create a kaleidoscope of culinary experiences for guests of every palate April 16-May 31 at Disney’s California Adventure park and select locations across the Disneyland Resort.

Chefs, winemakers and brewmasters will celebrate The Art of Flavor at this year’s tantalizing festival, which features entertaining culinary demonstrations, outstanding wine and spirits seminars, and delicious food, wine and beer. General sales for Festival events began Feb. 16.

Look for chefs Guy Fieri and Cat Cora of Food Network, along with Disney culinary masters and special guests as they present their gastronomic talents in a full menu of complimentary demonstrations and signature paid events. The signature events include winemaker dinners, Sweet Sundays, Napa Rose Cooking School and Taste Food-Wine-Life, a night that celebrates the essence of the festival with a mosaic of food, wine and live entertainment.

Opening weekend features celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the popular television personality and “food dude” who appears on shows such as “Guy’s Big Bite” on the Food Network. Fieri will conduct complimentary food demonstrations on the Festival’s main stage.

“Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival is a great time,” Fieri said. “Of course the kids love Disneyland, but now this is something extra for the adults. It’s incredible chefs, great wines from around the world and Disney. You’re gonna dig it. See you there!”

Some events, including culinary demonstrations, are included with admission to Disney’s California Adventure park. Signature events are separately ticketed and require reservations. For details, visit www.disneyland.com/foodandwine.

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Pollo Campero to Open New Concept Eatery at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney in Late 2010

Pollo Campero, an international Latin chicken quick-service restaurant chain, has partnered with franchisee Levy Campero to deliver a new restaurant concept in Downtown Disney® Marketplace at Walt Disney World® Resort. The restaurant will feature Pollo Campero’s signature Latin chicken, as well as a new restaurant concept featuring fresh, healthy food.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Pollo Campero to introduce its famous chicken, along with our newest fresh restaurant concept of salads and wraps, to visitors from all over the world,” said Adam Cummis, president of Levy Campero. “We are thrilled to collaborate with one of the strongest brands in the world to showcase our Latin delicacies and look forward to a long working relationship.”

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WDW Refurb Update: HISTK Playground to Remain Open; Bibbidi Bobbidi and Sunshine Tree Terrace

A few changes to the Walt Disney World refurbishment schedule:

First, the official list from Disney that once listed the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure removed it a few days ago and there are no signs of it coming back, so I removed it from the list here.

Second, we have two additional, unverified additions: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Downtown Disney Marketplace to be closed from January 18 through March 6 and the Sunshine Tree Terrace quick service location in the Magic Kingdom, from January 17 through February 12.

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WDW Refurb Update: Cantina de San Angel Refurb Begins Major Refurbishment and More

Cantina de San Angel, the quick service location in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, has just closed and begun its lengthy refurbishment. Expected to be replaced with a new, more convenient dining opportunity, the restaurant is slated to re-open on September 24, just a week shy of the 2010 Food and Wine Festival.

During the refurbishment, Taqueria Del Lago, the Mexican booth from the 2009 Food and Wine Festival will be operating for guests’ convenience.

We are also being advised that Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats, located near the World Famous Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, will be unavailable from January 8 through January 25.

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PCH Grill: Eat It, Stitch! Aloha, Mickey! Character Meal Does a Switch Stance

As of December 11, the character meal at Paradise Pier Hotel’s PCH Grill will be transforming from Lilo & Stitch Aloha Breakfast to Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends. The buffet menu will include flatbreads from a wood burning oven & signature chilaquiles with shredded beef, salsa verde & queso fresco.

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Disney’s Victoria & Albert’s Restaurant Recieves Tenth Consecutive AAA Five Diamond Award

Chef Scott Hunnel © DisneyLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 24, 2009 – For the 10th year in a row, Victoria & Albert’s restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award. As one of only 52 restaurants to receive this symbol of excellence in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean, Victoria & Albert’s delivers “haute cuisine” with seven-course prix-fixed menus, wine pairings and the finest ingredients from the world market.

At the helm of this critically-acclaimed restaurant is 15-year Victoria & Albert’s veteran, Chef de Cuisine Scott Hunnel.

“It takes every individual on the team to achieve such a great honor consistently, from the reservationists to the wait staff and culinary team,” remarked Hunnel about reaching this prestigious milestone. “The secret to our success is realizing that it’s a continuous journey of reinvention in the restaurant and what we’re doing today has to be better tomorrow.”

Only 0.27 percent of AAA’s 60,000 Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants in North America received this honor for 2010. According to AAA’s ratings guidelines, to achieve Five Diamond status, restaurants must “consistently provide a world-class experience.”

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Magic Kingdom to Host Two New Year’s Eve Experiences for First Time

Via its official blog, Disney Parks has announced that the Magic Kingdom will be hosting two special events for New Year’s Eve this year.

First up is an all-you-can-eat dinner and dessert party at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station with an exclusive viewing of the Wishes fireworks show. Choose from artisan breads, fruit, cheeses, sushi, salads, seared tuna, beef short-ribs and carved pork (a ‘child-friendly’ food station will also be available).  Check-in for the event begins at 6:15 pm and the cost is $139.99 per adult (ages 10+) and $69.99 per child (ages 3-9).

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Victoria and Albert’s to Host New Year’s Eve Event for First Time

Orlando’s single five-star restaurant, Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, will be hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration dinner. The dinner will run from 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm with a chef and sommelier preparing an 8 – 10 course menu that includes caviar from around the world and a collection of some of the most eclectic and famous champagnes available. Chef Scott Hunnel and his team will also make personal appearances during the event.

Please note that viewing the fireworks is not included in this package.

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