Home » The 3 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World This Week (May 11-17, 2014)

    The 3 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World This Week (May 11-17, 2014)

    This is the weekly news, rumors and refurbishments update for Walt Disney World for the week of May 11, 2014.

    We’re trying out a new format this week, so let us know what you think!

    Here are the three biggest updates from around the resort for the past seven days…

    1. A favorite returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in June

    The new Harambe Theater in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is nearing completion. The new theater will host the Festival of the Lion King stage show that closed in January due to the closing of Camp Minnie-Mickey.

    © Disney

    The cast of the show is already allowed to enter the new theater to practice their performances. The Festival of Lion King will return this June.

    2. A new party for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    Disney will be hosting a special event party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom every Saturday from June 7 – August 9 called Harambe Nights.

    © Disney

    The event includes a Welcome Reception of appetizers and African-inspired wine and beers. After the reception is a performance in the newly built Harambe Theater called “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild”. The show will be hosted by a celebrity narrator and will tell the story of how Simba grew up to be King.

    Once the show ends, the party begins. The Harambe Nights Street Party will feature characters, music, and live performers, but most importantly an all-inclusive buffet. The menu for the event is below:

    Fresh Cooked Breads, Salads and More

    • Watercress, melon, feta and berry balsamic onion salad
    • Kachumbari salad with tomato, paneer, carrot and cilantro
    • Roasted beetroot salad with sunflower seeds
    • Creamy mac ‘n cheese
    • Spicy vegetable samosa with mango chutney
    • Traditional naan, onion kulcha and pappadum breads
    • Roasted pepper hummus, raita and garlic-ginger pickle

    Surf and Turf

    • Mango, radish, lime and mustard seed salad
    • Watermelon, cucumber and fennel salad
    • Coriander chutney roasted potatoes
    • Line-caught corvina filet with goan curry sauce
    • On-stage-seared lamb chops with tamarind pomegranate sauce
    • Slow-cook Action Stations
    • Fork-tender peri barbecued pork
    • Vegetarian eggplant tikka masala curry served over creamy goat cheese pap
    • Butter chicken thighs
    • Vegetarian legume wat served over basmati rice


    • Golden pineapple with toasted voconut
    • Apple slices with Amarula caramel sauce
    • Ripe melon with minted lime yogurt dip
    • Rice pudding, dried fruit compote and pistachio gremolata
    • Caramel salted Tanzania chocolate Kenya coffee bite
    • Chai cream with zebra stripes
    • Ice cream bars

    For pricing and availability, visit DisneyWorld.com/HarambeNights. Space is limited and seating for several dates is already filled.

    3. A MAJOR overhaul of Disney’s Polynesian (Village) Resort

    Disney’s Polynesian Resort is undergoing a massive refurbishment. Nothing around the resort is going to remain the same. Beginning with the addition of Disney Vacation Club, three of the twelve long houses are currently being converted into Disney Vacation Club rooms. The three long houses are Rapa Nui, Tahiti, and just last month Tokelau was added to the list. This brings the size of the resort for “regular guests” back to its original size in 1971. The addition of twenty bungalows over the Seven Seas Lagoon is also ongoing.

    The next project is a complete refurbishment of the current Great Ceremonial House (lobby). This will begin with the removal of the large fountain in the center. It will be replaced with a smaller water feature that will allow for more space and a larger feel.

    © Disney

    The rest of the lobby will also be refurbished from the check-in desk to the gift shops. No space is likely to remain the same.

    © Disney

    The opening of a new bar called Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is also planned and will open in 2015. It will take the place of the former arcade that recently closed.

    © Disney

    Finally, the resort’s Nanea Volcano Pool will be refurbished by removing the volcano structure for a smaller rock formation. Disney will also be expanding the deck and adding a new water playground for kids.

    When the entire process is completed at the end of 2015, The Polynesian will be renamed as Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort as it was back in 1971. The Polynesian is my favorite resort for it’s tropical atmosphere and great food, Tonga Toast comes to mind, and it’s refreshing to see life being brought into the resort. The end result should be impressive, 2015 can’t come soon enough.

    Editor’s note: Of course, we know that not everyone is happy about the Polynesian Resort’s overhaul – particularly the lobby! We covered those complaints in this article.