Sunday, June 7, is a not-so-magical day for many local Walt Disney World passholders. For Florida resident seasonal passholders, it’s the last day they can enter the theme parks until the blackout lifts on Aug. 14. So, for their last week of playing tourist, here are some new and limited-time attractions these visitors might not want to miss.
** Hollywood Studios: Star Wars Weekends. It’s the fourth of five weekends dedicated to the popular science-fiction franchise. The key to being able to see and do as many of the themed activities as possible is arriving early. And by that, I mean well before the park opens at 8 a.m. each day. Guests interested in celebrity autographs (Ray Park, Jeremy Bullock, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor for June 5 to 7) should plan to line up between 6 and 7 a.m. to get wristbands to exchange for Fastpasses for the day. Once the park opens, kids interested in the Jedi Training Academy should sign up right away. It’s also a good idea to arrive extra early for the 11 a.m. motorcade, which features the celebrities and dozens of Star Wars characters. In addition to all the special presentations and character meet-and-greets, the event ends with the special Symphony in the Stars fireworks presentation. Finally, don’t forget to stop by Mickey Avenue (between One Man’s Dream and Toy Story Mania) with your annual pass and ID to collect your complimentary Star Wars poster. (For more details about Star Wars Weekends, be sure to check out all our blogs and videos on AllEars.Net)
** Animal Kingdom: Harambe Market. This new open-air marketplace with African-inspired street foods just opened. There are four walk-up windows: Kitamu Grill (grilled chicken skewer, ground beef kabob flatbread), Boerewors Sausages (fried in curried corn batter), Chef Mwanga’s Ribs Shop (Spice-rubbed KARUBI Ribs) and WanJohi Refreshment (specialty cocktails, beer, wine). For a complete menu with prices, see our dining page. Seating is outside, though there is shade. A photo gallery can be found here.
** Epcot: Disney-Pixar’s “Inside Out” preview. Walt Disney World guests can view a special preview of “Inside Out” at the Imagination Pavilion theater at Epcot throughout June. The short sneak peek repeats every 15 to 20 minutes and features in-theater effects and an exclusive introduction from the filmmakers. Critics who have seen early screenings of the much-anticipated animated movie from Pixar have already given it rave reviews. “Inside Out” opens in theaters on June 19.
** Magic Kingdom: Passholder favorites. Although there aren’t any seasonal events or new attractions at Walt Disney World’s signature park for the summer, are there passholders who don’t want to revisit all their favorites before taking a break? Whether it’s foods, such as Dole Whips and turkey legs, or roller coasters, such as Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, passholders are sure to have a must-do list for their last day before the summer break. And who could pass up the classic nighttime presentations of the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks?
And for Florida residents with seasonal passes, there are ways to get your Disney fix during the dog days of summer. Perhaps the best way is to visit the hotels. Guests are welcome to grab quick-service snack, such as a Dole Whip at the Polynesian Village or Mickey waffles at Art of Animation. With a dinner reservation at a resort on the monorail loop or the Boardwalk area, you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the fireworks. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests can taste the flavors of Africa while viewing the animals from the lobby balconies. And, of course, there is Downtown Disney, which is being transformed into Disney Springs. This entertainment district has movies, bowling, video games, boat rides, shopping and restaurants all in one place.
And there’s another place that Florida residents with Walt Disney World seasonal passes know well, of course. When it’s 95 degrees and 60 percent humidity, the locals know that it’s a small price to pay for a Disney fix and a cool respite with summer passes to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks.