By now, you may have already heard about “Celebrate Soulfully at Walt Disney World” which was recently highlighted throughout social media platforms. I love all things that this represents, honoring Black History month and the Black culture from music, entertainment, entertainment and more.
Yesterday, Disney Springs rolled out the red carpet to showcase some of its best new and exciting offerings, coinciding with the start of Black History month. Let’s look at some of the great things that are coming our way this month and beyond! Hosted by our good friend and “MC Extraordinaire” himself, Mark Daniel, Disney hosted a group of influencers to come and share and showcase achievements and inspiration from the Black community locally and beyond.
Indulge in New Tastes: If you’re seeking a special, elevated dining experience, stay tuned for more details on a special ticketed event at The Edison. “Chef Dee Presents A Taste of the Bahamas” is a one night-only event taking place on February 25, hosted by the newest Executive Chef at Patina Restaurant Group, Deaundra “Dee” Rolle. From appetizers of conch fritters with remoulade to a steamed snapper entrée and benne cake ice cream for dessert, guests will feel transported to the Caribbean with every bite as Chef Dee describes the inspiration behind her creations, drawing on her Bahamian heritage. For those with a sweet tooth, the debut of two new petite cakes at Amorette’s Patisserie is not-to-be-missed. One cake celebrates Disney’s first Black princess, Princess Tiana, while the other features Joe Gardner, the African American jazz musician at the heart of “Soul.” (if you haven’t seen that movie yet you are missing out). Both are chocolate cakes with raspberry mousse and each is a culinary work-of-art inspired by a beloved film.
Immerse Yourself in Music, Art and More: I love music, all types of music and the music of Black culture really shaped my musically path personally when I was younger and still today so this is truly something that hits me in a special place. Getting the guest excited and inspired was Motown in Motion, taking the stage with their amazing voices.
Motown Mondays, Jazz Thursdays and Smooth Sundays is a line-up of musical acts that will stir your soul. Three evenings a week, you can find a collection of notable artists taking the stage throughout Disney Springs, among them Motown in Motion, Tonya Staples Duo and Joseph Jevanni. Also, as you walk through the property at Disney Springs now, you can hear some jazz-style renditions of some of your favorite Disney tunes as you meander through property – select locations feature a soundtrack that will make any jazz-loving Disney fan smile from ear-to-ear.
Also smile-worthy are four new art displays inspired by Disney and Pixar’s SOUL, created by emerging Black artists: Bee Harris, Bianca Pastel, Arrington Porter and Cory Van Lew. Originally developed in collaboration with Disney and Pixar as part of a HUE Unlimited collection of wearable artwork, the work reflects each artist’s interpretation of the film. To take in even more art, make plans to dine at House of Blues Restaurant and Bar. You can check out special Mardi Gras-themed menu items from February 12 – February 16, but their impressive collection of Southern Vernacular Art, available year-round, is the largest permanently displayed collection of Outsider and American Folk Art in the country. More than 150 untrained, self-taught and mostly African-American artists (including notable artists such as Mose T., Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Leroy Almon, Roy Ferdinand, Howard Finster, Richard Burnside, Ruth Mae McCrane, Jon Bok and Archie Byron, to name just a few,) created emotional, raw, primitive and powerful pieces which serve as a Visual Blues, visible throughout the venue.
Shop for Something Spectacular: Of course, a trip to Disney Springs is not complete with out the shopping experience, or so I am told. Be on the lookout for these stores, spotlighting Black designers, artists and visionaries:
- Visit Bowes Signature Candles, located inside Marketplace Co-Op, and delight your senses with aromatic must-haves and invigorating scents to suit your every mood. The company was founded by Jamaica native Dave Bowes, an artisan who discovered his passion for candle-making in 2002. Today, his company boasts over 110 inspired candle scents sold proudly at Disney Springs and shipped worldwide, including the featured “Jamaica Me Crazy” candle – it’s one of Bowes’ signature scents and a masterful blend of mango, papaya, orange, pineapple, coconut and watermelon.
- At Sephora, the company has made a commitment to dedicate substantial shelf space in-store to diverse companies. Fenty Beauty (Founder and CEO, Rihanna), Briogeo (Founder and CEO, Nancy Twine), Pat McGrath Labs (Founder & CEO, Pat McGrath) and Shani Darden Skincare (Founder and CEO, Shani Darden) are among the brands they are proud to prominently feature. In addition, Sephora recently launched BREAD BEAUTY SUPPLY which offers haircare for basics, kinky and coily hair; their aim is to double the assortment by the end of 2021.
- Inside Art of Disney, check out the Artist Spotlight to learn more about Floyd Norman, Bruce Smith and Marlon West – some of the talented animators who have worked with the Walt Disney Animation Studios in films ranging from “The Jungle Book” to “Hercules” to “The Princess and the Frog” and beyond.
- Within some of the most popular Disney-owned locations, you’ll discover products featuring classic and new characters and films. At World of Disney, look for items tied to “Soul” and “Princess at the Frog.” Marketplace Co-Op will also feature “Princess and the Frog” merchandise, while Super Hero Headquarters will offer some of the most popular “Black Panther” must-haves.
Also highlighted yesterday was the new M&M Store. I feel that this is going to be my go to spot for sure and I know it will be for Alessa as well. One influencer described it as “this is what heaven must smell like!” (thanks DisLyfeOfOurs).
The new state-of-the-art store offers an immersive experience that combines the colorful fun that fans of the M&M’S brand enjoy with lasting memories. “Guests will be fully immersed into an interactive chocolate experience that will create more moments and more smiles through the colorful fun of M&M’S,” said Patrick McIntyre, director of global retail at Mars Retail Group. The new store is located next to the NBA Experience and is filled to the max with your favorite M&M candies!
At Epcot, there was a sneak peak inside the Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure presented in the America. This new exhibit celebrates the distinctly American musical art form, originated by African Americans and fusing the influences of many different cultures. Joe Gardner – the musician, mentor and teacher from Disney and Pixar’s new film “Soul,” streaming on Disney+ – shares the rich and surprising history of jazz by taking you on a musical tour of several influential American cities. You’ll also discover artifacts from legendary jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong. And soon you’ll be able to use the Play Disney Parks mobile app to interact with the exhibit and test your knowledge of jazz. Walt Disney Imagineering was honored to work with jazz experts and institutions across the country to explore the rich history and influence of this ever-evolving genre of music. I know that we cannot wait to check this out on our next stream at Epcot.
As part of their “Movies Under the Stars” program, select Disney Resort hotels throughout the month of February will show films celebrating Black culture, such as “The Princess and the Frog.” These complimentary movie screenings are available to guests of Disney Resort hotels, offering relaxing evening entertainment for the whole family in a serene outdoor setting.
There is so much more when it comes to celebrating Black History month and don’t worry, we will be checking it out very soon. Also, be sure and support your local black businesses, artists and musicians as supporting local is very important, especially during these tough times.
Want a see a little of that sneak peak from Epcot? Here you go:
If you do have the chance to visit, tag your photos with #CelebrateSoulfully for your chance to be featured on our social media handles.
Disney Parks Blog: Spokesmayne
#celebratesoulfully #ArtfulEpcot #DisneySprings #WaltDisneyWorld