By Ketan Patel, Sr. Manager, Finance, Walt Disney World
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and as an American of Indian descent, I am proud of the diverse offerings and experiences that showcase the varied cultures of these communities across Walt Disney World Resort. We’re thrilled to celebrate and recognize these diverse communities throughout this month and beyond.
Here are a few ways you can join us in celebrating “A World of Voices,” from live entertainment to delicious dining and authentic cultural experiences.
Say Hi to Your Favorite Characters
One of my favorite things about Disney is how people from all over the world are represented in the stories that generations have grown up with. At Walt Disney World, you can meet some of those characters in person and make timeless memories.
Moana is now greeting fellow adventurers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Be sure to bring your best adventure stories and a big smile before heading over to meet her at Discovery Island Character Landing. You can also give a warm “Wilderness Explorers” welcome to Russell from the Disney-Pixar animated feature “Up” on the Adventure Flotilla.
Wave to Raya in the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade at Magic Kingdom Park or strike a pose with Mulan in the China pavilion at EPCOT. And be sure to wear your best outfit to The Edna Mode Experience in Pixar Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can meet the celebrated designer herself beginning May 14.
Dance and Sing With Live Entertainment
You can enjoy fun for the whole family with unforgettable live entertainment across Walt Disney World. The Disney Springs Kids Club will feature Polynesian luau performers with story drumming and dance on May 6 and May 27. Plus, there will be a variety of amazing musical acts performing live at the Orange Node, representing various Asian American Pacific Islander music and dance. Growing up in an Indian household, watching Bollywood movies was a primetime activity, so I can’t wait to see how DJ Pram and the dancers stack up. Check out the dates below.
- DJ Pram featuring two Bollywood-style dancers: May 4, May 11, May 18 and May 25
- Lahjit, a Salt Lake City, Utah band that plays music from various genres: May 7 and May 8
- The Collective, a high-energy vocal group that celebrates boy bands and K-pop (short for Korean pop music) sensations from throughout history: May 14, May 15, May 28 and May 29
- NETANE Polynesian Productions, whose performances feature authentic Polynesian dances from the Pacific islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and more: May 21 and May 22
Over at EPCOT, you can experience the thundering sound of taiko, an ancient form of Japanese drumming, with daily live performances from Matsuriza in the Japan pavilion. You can also dance along with the Viva Gaia Street Band at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This month, the band is adding songs you may recognize from the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film, “Moana.”
Find Inspiration at Disney Springs Art Walk: A Canvas of Expression
Can you believe it’s been nearly a year since the debuted with its first stunning pieces of artwork? If you haven’t had the chance to tour this amazing collection of murals, there’s no better time than now. And one of my favorite ways to experience Disney Springs is by strolling around with a cold beverage in hand as the Florida heat picks up.
You won’t want to miss two more artists who have added their art to the walls: Vietnamese-American artist Thao Huynh French and Cambodian-American artist Andrew Hem. French uses texture and bright colors to create captivating graffiti art. She hopes her work inspires other Asian-American women to follow their own dreams. Hem is excited to make his mark at Disney Springs after originally starting his career as a character artist for Disney. He hopes guests who visit the Art Walk take a moment to explore the little details hidden throughout his work and experience the joy of childhood. Our newest Asian American artists join a diverse roster, including Eric Tan, Stacey Aoyama and Leah Abucayan.
Savor Delicious Dishes and Drinks
Let your taste buds delight in the variety of flavors featured in dishes and drinks inspired by Asian American Pacific Islander cultures across Walt Disney World Resort. From the Hamachi Tuna Roll at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to the Japanese-Hawaiian Pineapple Nigori Cocktail at EPCOT, there’s a treat to satisfy any craving.
One must-try dish is the new Korean Fried Chicken Bowl with Cucumber Namasu. Grand Floridian Executive Chef Kevin Chong pulled inspiration from his Korean roots to create flavors that would make his family proud. This homestyle Korean comfort food dish features double-fried chicken thighs tossed with Gochujang sauce, sesame seeds, green onions and namasu (pickled cucumbers). Find this tasty entrée at various quick-service stops around Walt Disney World Resort hotels, including Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I don’t know about you, but that description made me hungry!
If you’re looking for a new favorite cocktail, the Pad Thai Fizz may be your best bet. Featuring Asian-American-owned Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, this unique drink is inspired by the tangy flavors of traditional Pad Thai. You can try it for yourself at various Walt Disney World Resort hotel pool bars and restaurants. As a cocktail enthusiast, I can’t wait to try this blend of east-meets-west cocktail, and who doesn’t want to have a drink that tastes like food?
And we can’t forget about dessert! Amorette’s at Disney Springs is serving up a Philippines-inspired treat – Ube Pianono, an ube roulade cake filled with cinnamon banana mousse and ube buttercream.
Check back with the Disney Parks Blog later today for this year’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Foodie Guide for even more delicious dishes and drinks you won’t want to miss.
Commemorate Your Visit With the Perfect Memento
I love browsing the latest merchandise at Walt Disney World. There are so many new items inspired by AAPI cultures, including a new collection from renowned artist Joey Chou. Taking inspiration from Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom Park, his latest line celebrates the joy and magic of Disney Parks through his unique and colorful art. Some of the must-have pieces are the Disney Parks Ear Headband featuring Tinker Bell, plus other iconic characters, and the Walt Disney World Spirit Jersey depicting some fan-favorite attractions you can find at Magic Kingdom Park.
If you’re a Moana fan, there’s a whole new collection just for you. Offering everything from button-down shirts to hoodies and pants, it features Moana herself, as well as vibrant imagery representative of her culture. You can even find home décor pieces to bring her love of nature and adventure into your home. Or if you’re a fan of Mulan, there’s a whole line dedicated to your favorite fierce princess, including dolls and apparel.
Jump Into Your Favorite Disney Stories With Disney PhotoPass Service
One of my favorite things to do after a visit to Walt Disney World is to scroll through the photos I took with family and friends while there. This month, there are some exciting new Magic Shots and props to plus-up your photos with Disney PhotoPass Service. I love the extra flair Magic Shots add to my photos, and the Disney PhotoPass team is always so creative with new ideas. At the Disney PhotoPass Studio in Disney Springs, you can pose in front of a virtual background inspired by Chinese-Canadian Meilin “Mei” Lee from the Disney-Pixar animated feature “Turning Red.” Another background features a scene inspired by “Moana,” plus there’s a new prop from the film. Over at Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, snap a photo with Hiro and his lovable robot companion Baymax from the Walt Disney Animation Studios animated feature “Big Hero 6” in a special Magic Shot.
Enjoy Movies Under the Stars and Fitness Fun With the Whole Family
A stay at one of our Disney Resort hotels during your visit offers so many benefits, and this month there are a few new ones! Each resort will show some of our favorite movies throughout the month, including “Big Hero 6,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “Up” and “Mulan.” The whole family can enjoy these Movies Under the Stars as a fantastic way to end the night.
If you’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, there are more ways to add magic to your vacation. You can kick-start your day with fun, Disney Family Wellness classes every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Sway along to the music and learn some new dance moves inspired by Moana. I can’t wait to see how far you’ll go after taking one of these exhilarating classes!
There are so many ways to celebrate “A World of Voices” at Walt Disney World, but don’t worry if you can’t visit this month. Most of these offerings will stick around beyond the month of May, so be sure to check them out during your next trip. We hope you’ll join us in experiencing some of the amazing art, food and entertainment inspired by our incredible Asian American Pacific Islander cast and communities throughout the month of May – and beyond!