March 2016 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 23, 2016 Issue #857 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

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by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Editor

Epcot Flower and Garden FestivalEach month, we rummage around in our archives for this featurette, which indulges in a bit of nostalgia, taking you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World and The Walt Disney Company through the ages. This month, with the 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival about to start in just over a week, we take a look at how the event has evolved.

I recently ran across a set of "fun facts" about the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival from 2006. I thought I'd compare and contrast those stats of 10 years ago with some of the stats Disney recently released about the current event.

— Back in 2006, the festival ran April 21-June 11, for seven weeks. (The festival started, by the way, in April 1994, making this its 23rd year.) This year, it starts much earlier, as it has in recent years, and runs from March 2 through May 30, for 90 days — nearly three full months.

— In 2006, there were more than 70 topiaries, including the sweetheart topiary grouping of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady and Tramp and Belle and her Beast, installed across park grounds. This year, there will be nearly 100 topiary characters, including brand new topiaries for Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, along with new classics like Anna and Elsa from Frozen, and old favorites Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Simba, Peter Pan and the Fab Five: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

— In 2006, 80 floating mini-gardens of multi-hued impatiens, each three feet in diameter, provided splashes of color on the two lakes that border the walkway between Future World and World Showcase. In 2016, more than 200 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

— More than 500 native butterflies representing up to 10 species resided in Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden in 2006. This year, nearly 1,000 butterflies will fill the expansive Butterflies on the Go butterfly house.

— Ten years ago, nearly 40 varieties of trees, plants and flowers were featured in the Ultimate Backyard Garden Party display presented by The Home Depot between the France and Morocco pavilions. This year, festival plants include 60 different species of trees, 47 types of palms, and 48 varieties of bedding plants.

— This year, there will be 13 Outdoor Kitchens, including the new La Isla Fresca and Cider House. Each marketplace will feature a garden planted with select produce and herbs to represent more than 50 beverage choices and 30 food items. This "food among the flowers" concept hadn't even been introduced yet back in 2006!

— It took 300 horticulturists from the Walt Disney World nursery to install the 2006 festival landscape, topiaries and exhibits — this year, 100 more than that (400 in total) will tackle the job.

As you can see, even amid perceived financial cutbacks, the Flower and Garden festival has continued to GROW (if you'll pardon the pun) over the past 10 years. I can't wait to get my first dose of it in the next few weeks!



2016 Flower and Garden Festival Press Release

2015 Flower and Garden Festival Overview

AllEars.Net's Flower and Garden Festival Archives


EDITOR'S NOTE: Would you like to be an AllEars® Guest Columnist? Check out our Writers' Guidelines and send your idea for a feature to AllEars® Editor Deb Koma HERE.

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of, brings you a few Hidden Mickeys from Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. This area is in the midst of a huge refurbishment, so keep an eye out for new (and old) Hidden Mickeys!

1. Disney Springs, West Side, D Street store. On the right side of the rear wall behind the store's main counter, a full-body menacing Mickey has a black classic Hidden Mickey on his belt buckle. (Thanks to Elena Argaluza.)

Hidden Mickey

2. Disney Springs, The Landing, Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. A girl with Mickey ears is at a table at the left middle of a wall painting behind the stage inside the restaurant. (Thanks to Eli Fried.)

Hidden Mickey

3. Disney Springs, Marketplace, Rainforest Cafe. On the outdoor restaurant signs, a classic Mickey is in the middle of the circles on the neck of a green lizard. You'll find a similar lizard on the restaurant sign inside Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Florida and on the Rainforest Cafe sign at Disneyland's Downtown Disney in California. Since the neck circles are not reproduced exactly the same on the various lizards, classic Hidden Mickeys differ in appearance and orientation on each lizard's neck. On the smaller outdoor sign at the left of the entrance to Disney Springs Rainforest Cafe, the lizard's mid-neck classic Mickey is tilted sideways to the left. (Thanks to Matt Mellarkey.)

Hidden Mickey


You can find a selection of past Hidden Mickey Alerts HERE.

And check out our latest Searching Disney with Steve blog.

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March 2 – May 30
EPCOT: Flower and Garden Festival
— To celebrate its 23rd year, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will expand to 90 days and run from March 2-May 30, 2016. The popular spring festival previously ran for 75 days. Fresh farm market flavors at the festival's Outdoor Kitchens, new Disney character topiaries, interactive play gardens and live rockin' music will shower spring surprises on park guests.

March 2 – May 30
EPCOT: Garden Rocks Concert Series
will run on weekends throughout the Flower and Garden Festival. The tentative schedule of performers (subject to change) for March is:

— 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

March 11-17
DISNEY SPRINGS: The 2016 Mighty St. Patrick's Festival
— at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant. Award-winning Irish bands and quick-stepping Irish dancers will showcase their roots during a celebration that also will feature cuisine by Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon. St. Patrick's festivities will include complimentary face-painting and giveaways. Mighty Festival hours are 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. March 11, 14, 15 and 16; noon until 1:30 a.m. March 12 and 13; and 11 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. March 17. The pub opens weekdays at 11 a.m. for lunch and weekends at 10 a.m. for brunch. The entertainment schedule will be posted at

March 25
DISNEY SPRINGS: Ridley Pearson,
author of the popular "Kingdom Keepers" book series, will be at Walt Disney World to celebrate the release of his newest book, Kingdom Keepers: The Return, Book 2: Legacy of Secrets. He will be available at the Marketplace's Art of Disney to sign copies of his books from 4 to 6 p.m. Wristbands will be distributed to guests at store opening on the day of the signing, with each purchase of a book by Ridley Pearson. A wristband from the appearance location is required and allows the guest to get two books signed. A limited number of wristbands will be available the day of the signing. Once the wristbands have been distributed, the line will close.

March 26
EPCOT: Ridley Pearson,
author of the popular "Kingdom Keepers" book series, will be at Walt Disney World to celebrate the release of his newest book, Kingdom Keepers: The Return, Book 2: Legacy of Secrets. He will be available in Epcot's MouseGear to sign copies of his books from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wristbands will be distributed to guests at store opening on the day of the signing, with each purchase of a book by Ridley Pearson. A wristband from the appearance location is required and allows the guest to get two books signed. A limited number of wristbands will be available the day of the signing. Once the wristbands have been distributed, the line will close.


Check our Events page for a full schedule of upcoming events.



Disney's Animal Kingdom

Flights of Wonder in Asia is closed through March 17, 2016.

The Boneyard in Dinoland USA is closed for refurbishment through March 17, 2016.

Warung Outpost in Asia is closed through March 17, 2016.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Midway Mania — More midway track is being added; work is expected to be completed in 2016.

Pizza Planet is closed for refurbishment until late 2016.


Innoventions in Future World West is closed except for the Visa Character Photo Location.

Soarin' closed January 4, 2016, and will remain closed throughout the summer, as another theater is being added, as well as new screens and a projection system.

The Maelstrom attraction and Spirit of Norway movie have closed to make way for "Frozen Ever After," based on the animated film, "Frozen." The new attraction will take guests to the film's land of Arendelle and is expected to open in Spring 2016. The Norway pavilion will also again host a royal greeting location where the characters Anna and Elsa can meet guests.

Magic Kingdom

Jungle Cruise in Adventureland will be closed for refurbishment March 1-3, 2016.

Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is closed for its annual refurbishment through March 12, 2016.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Jambo House Villas are undergoing a soft goods refurbishment from now through May 20, 2016. (Soft goods typically consist of design materials including bedding, wall, window and floor coverings and upholstery.)

Art of Animation Resort

Schoolyard Sprayground is closed for refurbishment through March 11, 2016.

BoardWalk Inn and Villas

BoardWalk Villas rooms are currently undergoing renovations.

BoardWalk Inn is also undergoing exterior repairs and painting now through May 5, 2016.

Flying Fish Cafe is closed through September 30, 2016, for an extensive refurbishment.

Seashore Sweets' closed permanently on February 1, 2016, to make way for a new experience.

Caribbean Beach Resort

Aruba Pool is closed for refurbishment through April 15, 2016.


Bay Lake Tower's Bay Cove Pool is closed for refurbishment through March 18, 2016.

Polynesian Resort

Polynesian East Pool is closed for enhancement through early 2016. Expect noise and construction; some pathways may be blocked.

Pop Century Resort

Bowling Pin Pool is closed for refurbishment until March 1, 2016.

Saratoga Springs

Treehouse Villas — A soft goods rehab runs through June 22, 2016.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is currently undergoing the largest renovation in its 25-year history. The Swan rooms have been completed; the first phase of the Dolphin Hotel room renovations have just begun, with the entire room project currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Wilderness Lodge and Villas at Wilderness Lodge

General resort refurbishments and construction work in multiple areas will continue until 2017. Some pathways and the nature trail will be unavailable at certain times.

Hidden Springs leisure pool, resort beach, playground and recreation fire pit are unavailable.

Cub's Den Children's Activity Center is closed now through 2017.

Disney Springs

Roadwork on Buena Vista Drive – Through March 2016. Due to heavy roadwork, expect delays on Buena Vista Drive. It is recommended that guests use complimentary Walt Disney World Resort transportation from Parks and Resorts to Disney Springs and plan to arrive early for reserved dining and entertainment experiences.

Parking Lots – Entrance 2 – Lots A-G – closed through August 2016, due to the construction of Town Center and the East Garage.

Read HERE for more on Disney Springs.


A complete list of known rehabs can be found HERE.

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Heart-warming Magical Moments brought to us by the amazing Disney cast members!

Karen B.: We were at Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom and were happy to see Guitar Dan. We always looked for him when he hung out at Camp Minnie-Mickey, so we were thrilled to know where he could be found now that construction has taken over that area. I told him what fans we were, and how happy we were to know where he is now. He asked if we had left someone behind who really loves Disney World and might be a bit upset at being excluded. Oh, that would be our daughter, we told him. She had moved to Minnesota, had started a new job, and wasn't able to come. In fact, we were a little afraid to send her pictures during our trip because we thought she might be upset at not being with us. Guitar Dan asked me to tell him a little about her. He listened carefully for a minute or so then told us to video the next song he was going to sing. Instantly he launched into a song specific to our daughter that rhymed perfectly and included many of the facts I had told him about her. It was essentially about her parents being at Disney World "and you're not," but ended with the fact that we love and miss her and were thinking about her. As you can imagine, it was a big hit with our daughter! She confessed that she WAS feeling left out until she got that video. What a wonderful and unforgettable Magical Moment Guitar Dan gave our family!

Nancy R.: On one of our many trips to Walt Disney World, my husband and I stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. When we got to our room, there were beautiful flowers in a ceramic Mickey Mouse vase. I was certain that it was a mistake and that they belonged to someone else. I read and re-read the card until I was sure that they were meant for us. What a wonderful surprise and a great way to start our vacation. I still keep the ceramic Mickey Mouse in our kitchen at home as a constant reminder of our Magical Moment! So thankful for it!

Donna Banks: My husband, two girls (ages 5 and 2), and my parents just spent Christmas at THE World. We were staying at the Beach Club Resort (we are DVC members) and because of some scheduling/planning issues, transferred to the Animal Kingdom Villas on our ninth and final night. I was making the transfer arrangements at the front desk and our 2-year-old was getting antsy. She proceeded to have a pretty good tantrum on the floor in the lobby of the Beach Club. I was a wreck. A very sweet and thoughtful cast member came over to me and asked if I thought a Mickey or Minnie might help the situation. I said sure, thinking he would give us some of the cool Disney Mickey stickers. About five minutes later he came out with TWO large Minnie Mouse dolls and gave one to each of my girls. They were SO excited! I was almost in tears! Talk about Disney Magic and the Disney difference!

Suzanne C.: My husband, adult son and I were enjoying a wonderful day at the Studios and decided to hop over to the Magic Kingdom, because we love to park hop! It was a hot, sunny day and crowded. We just had exited the park and were headed to our bus station when a cast member carrying a clipboard walked up to me and asked where we were headed. I responded, "Magic Kingdom, why?" He told us, "I would like to give you a magical experience!" He ushered us over to an empty bus and told the bus driver to take us to the Magic Kingdom! It truly was a Magical Moment — our own bus ride! We never made it so fast to another park!


We just bet you have a story to tell about an unforgettable moment during your Disney vacation! Please send your favorite memory for inclusion in a future AllEars® to: [email protected] Thank you all for sharing!


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.