Homecoming: Florida Kitchen And Southern Shine To Open In Disney Springs

Homecoming

Another new dining option has just been announced for Disney Springs in 2016 – Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine. Celebrity Chef Art Smith is thrilled to be returning to Florida for this new venture. Here are all of the latest details about this upcoming addition courtesy of Disney:


Celebrity Chef Art Smith is bringing a taste of real Florida to a new restaurant opening in summer 2016 at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine will showcase the cuisine of Chef Smith, who was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Florida, on the Florida-Georgia border. After 25 years of preparing award-winning meals for celebrities and heads of state and appearing on television, he is making Florida his home once again.

With farm-to-fork cuisine that showcases the bounty of Florida, and design inspired by turn-of-the century Florida architecture of the late 1800s, Homecoming will feature traditional Southern favorites with sophisticated, chef-inspired creations. The 6,000-square-foot, 200-seat restaurant “is where Florida heritage meets New Southern cuisine,” explains Smith.

“I couldn’t be happier about coming back to Florida and Walt Disney World Resort,” he continues. “To be able to prepare the food I love in the place where I have so many special memories is a dream come true.” Smith is a sixth generation Floridian, and his family still raises cattle, pecans and heirloom vegetables on their ancestral farm.

Smith says he is especially pleased with the restaurant’s Disney Springs connection, as he recalls summertime gatherings at the springs in the Northern part of Florida, casual get-togethers known as “homecomings” when family and friends gathered to share Southern specialties, enjoy homemade desserts and maybe sip a hand-crafted cocktail under the shade of live oak trees.

“Once we heard the story of his passion for Florida and his vision for the restaurant, we knew that it was a perfect match” said George Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We’re thrilled to welcome Chef Art back to the state and share his spirit of Homecoming with our guests from around the world.”

Chef Art Smith 2Homecoming Cuisine

“The menu is a big part of my ongoing homage to Florida’s bygone era,” explains Smith.  “We will proudly and prominently support the Fresh from Florida campaign and the vast majority of our seafood, produce, poultry and beef will be from local farms, ranches or fisheries.”

The “rustic-chic” restaurant has a glass-walled show kitchen and the Southern Shinebar that celebrates an era where characters might have created some homegrown spirits on their homesteads just beyond the springs.  The bar will feature whimsical cocktails, punches and coolers, including some made with now-legal variations of moonshine.

Smith’s expertise is all over the menu from Southern favorites like homemade pimento cheese, Church Lady deviled eggs, low country shrimp and grits, kale salad with Sweet Grass Dairy cheese and spiced pecans and a grilled Blackstrap pork chop with sawmill gravy. “Each dish has a little Florida twist and makes guests feel like they’re on the back porch with me for every meal,” says Smith.

Desserts will be a specialty, with cakes, pies and delectable sweets made daily and shipped from a bakery in Hamilton County, including the restaurant’s signature Mockingbird Cake. “Southern women, using delicious ingredients and love, are the world’s best bakers,” explains Art.

Chef Art Smith Biography 

Charles Arthur “Art” Smith, age 55, is an American chef who worked for former Florida governors Bob Graham and Jeb Bush and, until 2007, was personal chef to Oprah Winfrey. His expertise is Southern American cooking. While attending Florida State University, he completed culinary internships with The Greenbrier in West Virginia and the Walt Disney World College Program.

A James Beard Award recipient for his New York Times best-seller list cookbook Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family, Smith has also authored Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families; and Back to the Family. His latest cookbook, Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, has a focus on healthy cooking and healthy living.

Smith has made regular television appearances on programs such as “Iron Chef America,” “The Today Show,” “Nightline,” “Fox News,” “Extra,” “BBQ Pitmasters,” “Dr. Oz,” “Oprah,” “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters.”

Smith founded the non-profit charity Common Threads, which focuses on teaching children about different cultures through food and art. Common Threads has served thousands of healthy meals to children around the world since 2006, and in 2007 he received the Humanitarian of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation.

With Smith moving his family back to Florida, he founded Reunion, a non-profit charity that focuses on community renewal projects as well as teaching Southern tradition from the garden to the kitchen at Chef Art Smith’s Florida Garden and Kitchen School.

Smith is executive chef and co-owner of the highly successful restaurants Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. 


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Coming To Disney Springs In 2016

Disney Springs has made amazing progress in its transformation. We’ve already seen parking garages, pedestrian walkways, restaurants, and shops open, but now Disney has announced even more to come in 2016. Here are all of the latest details courtesy of Disney:


Disney Springs continues to expand and transform as new dining and shopping locations debut at the re-imagined Walt Disney World Resort destination in 2016.

The lively shopping, dining and entertainment district treats guests by day and night to a one-of-a-kind Disney experience amid beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm. Disney Springs will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options. Sophisticated restaurants will provide experiences for families and convention-guests alike.

The new offerings are part of an expansion that – when Disney Springs is fully completed in 2016 — will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues from the current 70 to nearly 150.

New dining locations opening in 2016:

  • STK OrlandoSTK: The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc., known for developing upscale, high-energy restaurants, is opening STK, a modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. The vibrant, lively scene will offer guests fine dining, signature cocktails, and a DJ playing eclectic music nightly. It will be one of the largest STK locations in the world, occupying 14,000 square feet in a two-story building, including a main level and the only rooftop-dining venue in Disney Springs. STK is expected to open in The Landing at Disney Springs in 2016.
  • EdisonThe Edison: A lavish “Industrial Gothic”-style restaurant, bar and nighttime destination that will feature exceptional classic American food, artisanal craft cocktails and unparalleled live entertainment. Similar to its sister location on the west coast, The Edison at Disney Springs will be dedicated to a resurgence of old-world style, sophistication and romance. Themed to a 1920s-period electric company, the space will recall an exuberant era of invention and imagination. With 35-foot ceilings and a range of themed areas to explore, The Edison will feature nightly entertainment including contortionists, palm readers, DJs and more.
  • Sprinkles: The world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, will serve up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies. Their innovative Cupcake ATM will satisfy sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
  • Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza: Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant will feature an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh, artisanal toppings – all for one price. The generously sized, 11-inch pizzas will be “fast-fired” in a blazing hot open-flame oven and ready to enjoy in just 180 seconds.

Planet Hollywood ObservatoryRe-imagined dining coming in 2016:

  • Planet Hollywood: Transforming its flagship venue, Planet Hollywood will become a star-themed Planet Hollywood Observatory to match the look and feel of Disney Springs. As part of the makeover, the venue will add a new outdoor terrace and bar space called Stargazers and feature live entertainment.

New retail locations opening in 2016:

  • Zara: Owned by the Inditex Group, Zara is one of the world’s largest fashion retail groups. The retailer is known for its men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, and how it expertly interprets current fashion and style trends of the season, delivering original designs to the consumer in a matter of weeks.
  • Tommy Bahama: Iconic island lifestyle brand Tommy Bahama embodies relaxed sophistication. The hallmarks of this casual collection include island-inspired sportswear, denim, and swimwear for men and women in luxuriously soft silks and cottons, richly woven textures and eclectic prints.
  • Lilly Pulitzer: The authentic American resort wear brand, Lilly Pulitzer, is landing in the heart of Disney and will be offering their clothing and accessories, optimistic outlook, and happy prints to those who’ve loved the brand for years and new Lilly Girls out there. 
  • UNIQLO: Leading global retailer UNIQLO designs, manufactures, and sells casual apparel that comes from the company’s Japanese values of simplicity, quality and longevity. The simplest design hides the most thoughtful details in clothing that is constantly being innovated to bring more warmth and lightness, better design and comfort to people’s lives.
  • PandoraPANDORA: Building on its existing relationship with Disney Parks, the popular jewelry brand will offer classic yet modern charm bracelets, along with necklaces, rings and earrings, as well as a line of exclusive Disney-themed jewelry.
  • UGG: The UGG® brand is recognized as a premium lifestyle brand offering men’s, women’s and kid’s footwear as well as loungewear, outerwear, home products, cold weather accessories and handbags.
  • L’Occitane en Provence: L’Occitane en Provence is an international skincare and beauty line celebrating the culture and beauty of Provence, France.
  • Edward Beiner: A leading eyewear designer, purveyor and retailer, Edward Beiner offers today’s aspiring lifestyle-oriented customer the world’s most original, authentic and innovative designer, fashion and high performance eyewear.

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Downtown Disney Officially Becomes Disney Springs

Disney Springs

Well, it’s finally official. Last week we said good-bye to Downtown Disney and hello to the new Disney Springs. Here are all of the latest details courtesy of Disney:


Disney SpringsWalt Disney World Resort officially changed the name of Downtown Disney to Disney Springs, an important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the shopping, dining and entertainment district at the world’s No. 1 family vacation destination.

Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs treats guests to a one-of-a-kind Disney experience amid beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm.

Disney Springs will include four interconnected neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side and Town Center. When Disney Springs is fully completed in 2016, the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues will increase from the current 75 to more than 150.

With more exciting venues to come, new dining and shopping open now at Disney Springs includes:

  • Morimoto Asia 3Morimoto Asia Morimoto Asia is a one-of-a-kind dining experience from Chef Masaharu Morimoto. This Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian restaurant provides flavors from across Asia with unique exhibition kitchens showcasing the continent’s traditions. Included among them are street-food stalls, Peking duck carving and dim sum. Designed by STUDIO V Architecture and located at The Landing, Morimoto Asia’s extraordinary, 36-foot tall, two-story layout includes open terraces, grand halls, private rooms, a cocktail lounge, waterside seating and more.
  • Jock Lindsay's 6Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar – An aviation-themed lounge, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at The Landing at Disney Springs is tucked between Paradiso 37 and The BOATHOUSE restaurant, this new venue features unique cocktails and small plates. Ardent fans of the “Indiana Jones” films may recognize Jock Lindsey as Indy’s frequent pilot. In the main room, guests will discover an expansive bar, aviation decor filling the room, vintage travel posters covering the walls and correspondence between Jock, Indy and their fellow adventurers on display.
  • BoathouseThe BOATHOUSE An incredible culinary experience is showcased in the expansive restaurant with nautical-themed rooms, two private dining rooms for special events, and three distinctive bars. Guests will enjoy a gourmet menu with steaks, chops, seafood and a raw bar, served until 2 a.m. daily. This upscale, waterfront-dining experience immerses guests both on land and on water. There’s live music, plus guided tours aboard a 40-foot Italian Water Taxi and Amiphicar rides that launch from land, enter the water and take guests on a 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney Springs.
  • Paradiso 37Paradiso 37: Paradiso 37 recently expanded its outdoor dining to take advantage of its beautiful waterfront setting. As part of its renovation, the restaurant is doubling its seating, adding more terrace dining and building a new outdoor performance stage.
  • Disney Springs - ApexApex by Sunglass Hut- A first-of-its-kind sunglass store that was built with the athlete in mind. This retail location showcases the industry’s best selection of sport performance and lifestyle eyewear including Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Under Armour. In order for guests to choose a lens to best suit their needs, Apex has developed environmental simulators so guests can test out how a specific lens will perform under a variety of light conditions.
  • Disney Springs - Art of ShavingThe Art of Shaving– A boutique retail offering that sells high-end shaving supplies and related grooming products for the modern man. Founded by a husband and wife in a Manhattan apartment, The Art of Shaving has grown to a worldwide organization that is still nurtured by the founders’ talents and passion. Guests can receive expert shaving advice on products and techniques, or make an appointment for a luxurious grooming experience at the Barber Spa.
  • Disney Springs - Chapel HatsChapel Hats – A fashion forward shop that specializes in an assortment of hats for guests of all ages.  The location carries stylish hats including fedoras, cowboy hats, floppy hats, outdoors hats, kid’s hats and more. Every Chapel Hats location is themed to a different time period and is built by using old pieces of shops, factories, schools, pubs and churches from a bygone era.
  • Dockside Margaritas 2Dockside Margaritas – Dockside Margaritas treats guests to thirst-quenching margaritas made with fresh, all-natural products. Using authentic Florida ingredients whenever possible, the location (at the Marketplace) features unique theming reminiscent of a 1960s Florida roadside fruit stand. In addition to margaritas, the menu includes select frozen beverages, wine, bottled and draft beer. There is ample seating for guests and a built-in entertainment area.
  • Disney Springs - Eric Mckenna's Bakery NYCErin McKenna Bakery NYC – A unique bakery with savory offerings and an all-vegan and gluten-free menu. Look for a full selection of award-winning donuts, cupcakes, cookies, bagels with vegan butter, and other delicious items daily. Some of their fan-favorite cupcakes from their flagship bakery in New York and sister bakery in Los Angeles include vanilla cupcakes with zesty lemon frosting, red velvet cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting and brownie cupcakes with rich chocolate frosting.
  • Erwin PearlErwin Pearl – Specializing in fashion jewelry and accessories, Erwin Pearl features hand-painted French enamels, 22k gold plating, sterling silver and freshwater pearls. The New York City-based company manufactures more than 80 percent of their products in U.S. factories, including earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, pins, watches and scarves. Erwin Pearl began his career as a diamond cutter and is recognized as one of the country’s foremost fine jewelry designers.
  • HavaianasHavaianas – A Brazilian-based shoe store that offers fashionable flip flops made with the highest quality rubber — with hundreds of styles to choose from. This store features a large assortment of colorful Havaianas for women, men and children, plus kids’ rain boots. There’s also the “Make Your Own Havaianas” and “Embellish Your Own Havaianas,” option, where guests can customize this casual footwear.
  • Disney Springs - SanukSanuk– Innovative, fun and comfortable footwear with more than 175 designs is available at this 1,000-square-foot venue. Taking its name from the Thai word for “fun,” Sanuk strives to make more innovative products that are as much about funk as they are about function. Favorite styles including Yoga Mat Sandal Collection and its patented “Not-A-Shoe” Sidewalk Surfers will be showcased.
  • Joffrey's TeaTea Traders Café by Joffrey’s — Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s specializes in premium loose-leaf teas (hot, iced, blended) featuring customs blends, accessories and packaged teas from all over the globe; created to go or for a tea experience in the café.
  • Vivoli il GelatoVivoli Gelateria – A family-run gelato shop, Vivoli Gelateria serves up gelato that is made with fresh, top-quality ingredients using the exact same recipes from the original shop in Italy. (The storefront at Disney Springs is the second for Vivoli, the first outside of Italy.) The artisans use local and seasonal products, with cocoa powder, hazelnut and pistachio imported from Italy. In addition to their signature gelato, Vivioli Gelateria also serves traditional Italian panini, biscotti, espresso and tarts.
  • Sound LionSound Lion – A new retail concept that offers the latest technology in headphones, docking stations, wireless music players and other products. Before purchasing a product, guests can hang out at their Listening Barand find which product works best for them.

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Have you visited the new Disney Springs? Please leave a comment!