Walt Disney World is constantly changing and making improvements, and while some changes are bigger than others, the resort has been quietly making some improvements this week that were completely unexpected. From a trio of new animals making their debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom inside a lesser-known attraction to an adorable new permanent exhibit in Epcot's Japan pavilion, and even the return of an old favorite after an extensive refurbishment, there’s plenty of awesome new things that have been announced this week at Walt Disney World that we totally didn't expect!
1. A new exhibit opens in Epcot’s Japan pavilion
Earlier this week Epcot surprised everyone by opening a brand new exhibit in the Japan pavilion showcasing the country’s affinity for Kawaii (essentially, cute) culture. The new exhibit replaces the former Spirited Beasts: From Ancient Stories to Anime Stars exhibit and features plenty of interesting household items inspired by pop culture characters like Hello Kitty, Domo, Doraemon, and Totoro.
Of course, like all the other exhibits at Epcot, there’s an educational slant, and guests can learn more about how the "culture of cute" has roots in traditional Japanese culture, and has morphed over the years to fit into modern Japanese society.
You can check out a few photos of the new exhibit below:
2. A trio of new animals move into the Maharajah Jungle Trek
Earlier this week it was announced that a trio of new residents would be joining the lineup at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Maharajah Jungle Trek. Three female water buffalo (cheekily named Rose, Dorothy and Blanche) officially made their debut in the park a few days ago and can now be found with the blackbuck, Eld’s deer, Sarus cranes, ruddy shelducks and bar-headed geese in the grassy area of this trail, near the tigers. This is definitely a great addition to this attraction, and will give guests a great reason to check out this walking trail (which is passed by all too often) once again.
3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios gets a new (ish) character dining experience
A few months ago, Disney announced that the Hollywood & Vine restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would offer a special holiday-themed dinner called Minnie’s Holiday Dine where characters would appear in seasonal outfits, spreading holiday cheer as guests enjoyed an all-you-care-to-eat buffet.
However, even though this new dining experience has yet to make its debut in the park, Disney has confirmed an expansion that will see this experience expanded beyond the holiday season into a new “seasonal” dining experience that changes throughout the year, offering return guests a new experience. After the aforementioned holiday-themed theme kicks things off next month, Minnie’s Seasonal Dine will switch to a new theme in January that will celebrate the magic and glamour of Hollywood from January 4 through March 20, when it will be replaced by a springtime-themed experience. Reservations for this newly extended experience will open on October 27.
4. Walk around the completed hub walkway at the Magic Kingdom
Though the Magic Kingdom’s hub project has been going on for what seems like forever, walls came down this week around the final expanded walkway on the west side of the hub between the Adventureland and Liberty Square bridge. Though work is still continuing on the ramps around Cinderella Castle, the fully expanded walkway is now completed, which should make getting around much easier for guests, and is a sign that there are only a few days left until this project is finally 100% completed.
5. Germany's littles railroad returns from refurbishment with a tiny Food and Wine Festival
The model railroad display at Epcot's Germany pavilion was recently closed for an extensive refurbishment, which saw all of the track replaced so that the train can run continuously throughout the day. Though it wasn't announced, this week the train finally started running again, and has been running smoothly on its all-new track. In addition to its newly extended run times, a tiny Food and Wine festival has been erected at the front of the model display to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Epcot Food and Wine festival.
6. Morocco pavilion's live entertainment cancelled
It looks like the rumors that popped up last week regarding the fate of B'net Al Houwariyat were unfortunately true, as it has been confirmed that this entertainment group will not be performing anymore at Epcot. Though this song and dance group never enjoyed the popularity of predecessor Mo'Rockin, it is still quite strange that Epcot didn't announce any final shows for B'net Al Houwariyat, and has not confirmed any replacement entertainment, leading some to speculate that the departure may not have been planned very far in advance. Whatever the reason is, we expect that a new entertainment offering will eventually come to Morocco, but given the hasty departure of B'net Al Houwariyat, we wouldn't expect a replacement announcement any time in the near future.
7. Menswear finally gets its own dedicated spot at Disney Springs
Though Disney has no shortage of apparel available for purchase around the resort, it has thus far lacked a dedicated menswear store, despite having several locations the cater exclusively to women (like Tren-D) it looks like guys who want a shop to themselves will finally get their own spot. In just a few days Twenty Eight and Main will open at the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs in the spot formerly occupied by the Trophy Room. While this isn't actually a full store, it's a great start and should help guys who want to "show their Disney side" find what they want in a central location.