This week at Walt Disney World, some new additions pop up at Epcot to help kick off Black History Month, a new experience debuts at Disney's Animal Kingdom, plus the first additional details are revealed about Disney's Wide World of Sports expansion. 

Outside Disney, Universal releases a new app to kick off its Mardi Gras festival, SeaWorld announces dates for the 2016 Bands, Brew & BBQ event plus a long-running animal exhibit at Aquatica comes to an end. 

1. Lion Guard Adventure kicks off at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Image: Disney

Starting today, Sunday, February 7, Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be able to become an honorary member of the Lion Guard with the limited time Lion Guard Adventure activity. Guests who want to take part can pick up a Lion Guard Adventure map at the Outpost at Oasis, Island Mecantile, Zuri’s Sweets, Mombasa Marketplace, the Maharajah merchandise cart or at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and then set out on a self-guided adventure to find statues of Lion Guard characters Kion, Fuli, Beshte, Ono, and Bunga.

Once guests have found all the statues, they can return their map to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and can then take a special pledge to become an honorary member of The Lion Guard. A special button will be distributed to commemorate the experience. Currently this limited-time event is scheduled to take place through April.

2. Epcot celebrates Black History Month with limited-time exhibits 

Epcot has announced that it will celebrate Black History Month in February with a number of special events and additions at the American Adventure.  First up, guests who visit Epcot's Kinsey Collection exhibit can check out three new pieces that have recently have been added to the exhibit inside the American Adventure Pavilion, including “Banneker’s Almanack and Ephemeras” by Benjamin Banneker, My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass (first edition) and a linoleum block print of “Survivor” by Elizabeth Catlett. In addition to the new pieces added to the gallery, guests walking around the rotunda will notice more portraits of  notable African American figures, including Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space; and Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to stage a public airplane flight in America.

Finally, the American Adventure will play host to some contemporary authors, who will be doing scheduled signings. Here’s the list:

Saturday, Feb 6, 1 - 2 pm and 3 - 4pm: Terry McMillan, author of “Who Asked You?”

Saturday, Feb 13, 1 - 2pm and 3 - 4pm: Chef G. Garvin, author of “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”

Saturday, Feb 27, 1 - 2pm and 3 - 4pm: Terrence Roberts, author of “Lessons from Little Rock”

3. Disney Confirms Wide World of Sports expansion

Image: Disney

Last week we reported that permits had been filed for an expansion to Disney’s Wide World of Sports and Disney has wasted no time officially confirming that it will be bringing a new 8000 seat venue to the complex.

As rumored, this new venue will be primarily aimed at cheerleading and dance teams. Interestingly, Disney has announced that it is teaming up with Varsity Spirit in an effort to create the first venue in the world specifically designed for cheerleading and dance team competitions. Construction on this new 286,000 sq. ft. venue will begin later this month with the project estimated to be completed some time next year.

4. Concert lineup revealed for “Garden Rocks”

Image: Disney 

As it has in years past Disney is presenting a “Garden Rocks” concert series as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.  This year’s festival will include appearances by several old favorites as well as new acts Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice, Brian Howe, Georgia Satellites and Darlene Love. The full schedule is below:

March 4-6 – The Orchestra starring former members of ELO   

March 11-13 – Starship starring Mickey Thomas “

March 18-20 – Little River Band   

March 25-27 – Village People   

April 1-3 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone   

April 8-10 – The Guess Who   

April 15-17 – NEW! Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice  

April 22-24 – NEW! Brian Howe, former lead singer of Bad Company   

April 29-May 1 – NEW! Georgia Satellites   

May 6-8 – Gin Blossoms  

May 13-15 – NEW! Darlene Love   

May 20-22 – Night Ranger  

May 27-30 – The Spinners  


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