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Update for August 20 – August 26, 2012

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Comments

News and Views

Be Our Guest Restaurant reservations are now open | Phineas and Ferb resurrect Dreamfinder interactivity for new audience | New Fantasyland Forest image adds perspective to layout of new land | Calling all with a spirit of adventure! MouseAdventure: World Explorers comes to Magic Kingdom! | Night of Joy schedule released | Disney Cruise Line reroutes some Galveston itineraries | Disney Cruise Line hikes prices for solo travelers | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Be Our Guest Restaurant reservations are now open

As I noted on my blog Monday, phone reservations for dinner at the soon-to-open Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland opened at 7 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday, and online reservations open today. You can now make reservations for dates from November 19 (opening day) through February 18 (180 days from now) either online or by calling the Walt Disney World Dining Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).


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Guests flooded the phone lines with their calls on Monday, with guests receiving an "all circuits are busy" message all day. Those who made it through were greeted with an automated system that was not prepared to handle the requirement for a credit card number to hold the reservation. Initially, those who waited through to get to an agent and give their credit card were told by agents that reservations that were not guaranteed with a credit card would be cancelled after 24 hours. Later in the day, that position was changed, and callers were told that all reservations would be honored as made.

Reservations are only available for dinner, as the restaurant will provide quick-service dining at lunch time.

At lunch, you'll order using ordering kiosks similar to those in use at Pecos Bill's Cafe, with choices such as Croque Monsieur, Grilled Steak Sandwich, and Tuna Niçoise Salad. There will be staffed cashier stations in case you need to pay with cash or if you need to make a special request. Once you order, either by kiosk or by cashier, have a seat. A castle servant will deliver your meal on actual china. There are no paper plates here.

At dinner, the meal is traditional table service featuring such entrees as Rotisserie Rock Hen, Grilled Strip Steak, Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops, and Ratatouille Confit Byaldi. You can take a look at the complete menu offerings online (lunch menu and dinner menu).

While the demand for the new restaurant is expected to rival that for Cinderella's Royal Table, at least initially, the location will still only cost one quick-service credit for lunch and one table-service credit for dinner on the Disney Dining Plan.

The food is French-inspired—"After all, Miss, this is France!" You'll be able to eat in one of three dining rooms. The West Wing, with Beast's enchanted rose, should be a favorite, as should the Ballroom, ripped straight from perhaps the movie's most iconic scene. The Rose Gallery is probably a bit of a wild card until proven out.

Join the discussion on these coveted reservations on our MousePad discussion forums.


NextGen equipment continues to be placed throughout attractions in the Magic Kingdom. There are two components to this. The first is an exterior set of posts and podium located outside, as in this example at Peter Pan's Flight. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The second component is a similar set up inside at the same location where FastPasses have traditionally been collected. This example is in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. The wall to the left is new and separates those using this service from those in the standby line. The interior setup also includes a podium, not seen. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Phineas and Ferb resurrect Dreamfinder interactivity for new audience

Once again proving that good ideas never die at Walt Disney Imagineering, an early 1980s-era feature that ran at Journey Into Imagination's Image Works until its 1998 remodel has resurfaced at Downtown Disney West Side with a brand new theme.

Long-time fans of EPCOT Center remember Dreamfinder's School of Drama, an early theme park use of Chroma-Key ("blue screen") technology to insert young park guests into one of three movies. Guests would act out a scene from a Western, a space movie, or a fantasy in front of a blue screen while the composited image was shown to their adoring audience of parents on monitors overhead.

The new, limited-time offering of "Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality" uses modern green-screen technology to insert guests of all ages into one of 20 randomly chosen, 30-second scenes, where they will interact with Phineas, Ferb, Agent P, and/or Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Up to three guests can participate at a time. Guests will receive a complimentary souvenir digital photo of their experience via a special website, where they can download or digitally share the image. Of course, there will also be a nearby merchandise stand with Phineas and Ferb souvenirs.

This is the third concurrent appearance of the animated Disney Channel stars at Walt Disney World, following the themed meet-and-greet at Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Agent P World Showcase Adventure at Epcot.

The offering opens at Downtown Disney West Side next to Bongos Cuban Cafe from September 1 through December 1 from 2:00 to 9:30 p.m. daily.


It appears that everything masked in the queue at Pirates of the Caribbean is now on display. But nothing suggests any interactive activity yet. This area just prior to the boarding area of the right queue was one such area that had been masked. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This shot, difficult to photograph, is from the left queue looking over the load docks to the right loading dock and what is now an open queue beyond that. What has significantly changed in the queue is that both queues come to an open connecting point before again separating. This is probably to allow one Cast Member to direct the Next Gen queuing. It may also allow both queues to be swallowed at the end into only one loading dock. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

New Fantasyland Forest image adds perspective to layout of new land

A new signature image of New Fantasyland released by Disney shows a detailed look at the area from the perspective of the top turret of Cinderella Castle. Aside from giving a good overview of the relative location of and transitions between the Belle's Village/Beast's Castle, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Storybook Circus-themed sections, it also provides a look at the boundaries between the existing Castle Courtyard area and the Fantasyland Forest.


A new overview of New Fantasyland gives some perspective on the new expansion. Image © Disney.

The castle walls only surround the central courtyard area, from Pinocchio Village Haus past the Prince Charming Regal Carousel area. To the east of that, the boundary becomes softer, with grass and treescapes dividing the built-up courtyard from the more rural Forest.

New Fantasyland opens for previews on November 19, with the official opening slated for December 6.


Two videos released by Walt Disney Imagineering show some of the details of the Beauty and the Beast-themed area in New Fantasyland. The first discusses the statue of Gaston and Lefou that graces the courtyard between Gaston's Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.


The second video takes you inside Maurice's Cottage through the entry area for the enhanced meet-and-greet with Belle. It gives a great look at the "magic mirror" that expands and grants you access to the Beast's Castle, where you meet some of the enchanted characters on your way to visit with Belle.


Looking toward Cinderella Castle one cans see that Snow White's Scary Adventures is under cover and being renovated into the new Princess Fairytale Hall. More interesting is on the right side along the roof line of Mickey's PhilarMagic where some unexpected construction is taking place. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A wide angle of the new castle gates leading to the Fantasyland Forest. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Looking beyond the wall, you can see the intricacy and detail in these walls and entries. Look carefully at the green wall beyond the center entry. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Looking through those center entries one can see that a new construction fence is lined up. The right fence belongs to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. What is unusual is that another fence on the left shuts out the Beauty and the Beast area, leaving guests able to continue through to the Little Mermaid attraction. Note the paint buckets. This is probably temporary during an early piloting of attractions to cast members and a few select guests. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Again the green fences. Notice the partially wrapped lamps, intricate with a medieval design that will direct guests out of the Forest at the end of the evening. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Construction of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in front of the nearly-complete construction of the Little Mermaid attraction. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


You can see artificial grasses being inserted into what seems like white snow banks on the cliffs above Prince Eric's castle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure! MouseAdventure: World Explorers comes to Magic Kingdom!

Registration is now open for MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV. The fourth annual running of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 3 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 11 years now). Do you think that you know the Magic Kingdom? We bet you don't know it as well as you think you do! Test your wits against those of our puzzle masters. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page.


The former queue to the Swan Boats is getting a complete refurb. Note that the bridge leading to Tomorfowland is also being refurbished. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


From the Fort WIlderness parking lot one can get a glimpse of the Four Season resort that is now some five or six levels high in the distance. It will probably not be much higher. The resort is difficult to see when in the campground itself. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Night of Joy schedule released

The full line-up of entertainment for the Night of Joy events has been released. The hard-ticketed Christian music festival takes place after park closing (7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.) on Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8. Here's the schedule, as always subject to change:

Friday, September 7

  • Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage
    • 7:45 p.m. – NEEDTOBREATHE
    • 9:50 p.m. – Chris Tomlin
    • 11:55 p.m. – Casting Crowns
  • Galaxy Stage
    • 7:30 p.m. – Francesca Battistelli
    • 8:50 p.m. – Francesca Battistelli
    • 10:25 p.m. – Red
    • 12:10 a.m. – Brandon Heath
  • Rockettower Plaza Stage
    • 8:15 p.m. – Disciple
    • 9:40 p.m. – Disciple
    • 11:20 p.m. – Royal Tailor

Saturday, September 8

  • Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage
    • 7:35 p.m. – Gospel Music Association Winner Theresa Bailey
    • 7:55 p.m. – Lecrae
    • 9:55 p.m. – Third Day
    • 11:55 p.m. – MercyMe
  • Galaxy Stage
    • 7:30 p.m. – Kutless
    • 8:50 p.m. – Kutless
    • 10:25 p.m. – Thousand Foot Krutch
    • 12:10 a.m. – Yolanda Adams
  • Rockettower Plaza Stage
    • 8:15 p.m. – Chris August
    • 9:40 p.m. – Chris August
    • 11:20 p.m. – Dara Maclean

Tickets are $52.95 plus tax in advance and $62.95 plus tax on the days of the event (if available). Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more. You can get more information and purchase tickets online or by calling 407-W-DISNEY (407-934-7639).


A new entryway is being completed in the Big Top Gifts tent of Storyboard Circus. This entry will face more directly Dumbo's Flying Elephants. Photo by J Jeff Kober.


Pavers are largely completed running up to the yellow food & beverage tent. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A photogenic Dumbo awaits guests. The Dumbo experience is largely completed with only Next Gen technology to be implemented (though it is already in place on the left spinner. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Send us your menu photos

Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see our complete list of of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to menus@mouseplanet.com to help us keep our listings updated.

Disney Cruise Line reroutes some Galveston itineraries

Last Tuesday, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix posted on the MousePad discussion forums regarding some changes to the 8-night Disney Cuise Line sailings out of Galveston:

Mary Kraemer from MousePlanet sponsor MouseEar Vacations just sent us an update about Disney Cruise Line's plans for the 2013 Galveston sailings onboard the Disney Magic. Disney is converting three of the planned 8-night cruises into six 4-night cruises, and adding stops at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral to some of the remaining 8-night cruises to satisfy customer demand.

New 4-night cruises:

The 8-night cruises previously scheduled to depart 2/1/13; 3/15/13 and 4/12/13 have been canceled. Instead, Disney will offer 4-night cruises to Cozumel departing 2/1/13; 2/5/13; 3/15/13 3/19/13; 4/12/13 and 4/16/13.

Disney has not yet released the itinerary for these 4-night cruises. Passengers who already booked one of the affected sailings will be contacted and offered the opportunity to re-book a different cruise, or cancel the trip entirely.

New ports for 8-night cruises:

Disney is also modifying the 8-night cruises scheduled to depart on 1/18/13; 2/15/13; 3/1/13; 3/29/13; 4/26/13 and 5/10/13 to replace the Grand Cayman and Costa Maya stops with a day at Disney's private island Castaway Cay, and a day at Port Canaveral, Florida. Passengers will receive transportation to Walt Disney World and a one-day park-hopper ticket. Disney says this change is due to customer demand.

New itinerary:

  • Friday Galveston
  • Saturday Day At Sea
  • Sunday Day At Sea
  • Monday Disneys Castaway Cay
  • Tuesday Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Wednesday Day At Sea
  • Thursday Key West, Florida
  • Friday Day At Sea
  • Saturday Galveston

Original itinerary:

  • Friday Galveston
  • Saturday Day At Sea
  • Sunday Key West, Florida
  • Monday At Sea
  • Tuesday Grand Cayman
  • Wednesday Costa Maya
  • Thursday Cozumel
  • Friday Day At Sea
  • Saturday Galveston

Passengers who already booked one of the affected sailings will be contacted and offered the opportunity to re-book a different cruise, or cancel the trip entirely.

New bookings for these modified cruises opens Sept. 5, 2012. The Disney Cruise Line website has not yet been updated to reflect the new cruises.


A four story draping overlaps the entire front of the Yankee Trader. While the building is only two stories in height, the draping has been expanded in size to also covers the steeple of the building. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


In the foreground, the two half cylinder pieces probably suggest the location of a bridge going over water. In the back an unusual architectural shape takes place, almost reminiscent of a dutch windmill style building. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Cruise Line hikes prices for solo travelers

Last Wednesday, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix posted on the MousePad discussion Forums about another Disney Cruise Line price hike for people sailing alone:

Another piece of interesting DCL news: effective August 21, the company is increasing the "single supplement," the added fare paid by solo passengers sailing alone in a stateroom, to 200 percent of the regular fare. The single supplement was 175 percent for categories 5-12; Cats 1-4 (now called "R, S, T and V") were already at 200 percent.

This increase, along with the switch to a single queen-size bed in each stateroom on the new Fantasy and Dream, instead of the convertible queen = 2 twin beds offered on the Magic and Wonder, makes DCL an even less attractive option for solo cruisers who don't care to share a room, much less a bed, with a stranger.

Thanks to Mary Kraemer for the heads up.


Work on the Disney Vacation Club villas at the Grand Floridian continue rapidly. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A roof has been added to a new service building adjacent to the main Grand Floridian. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The new wet play area at the Grand Floridian has gone vertical. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction update

The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Magic Kingdom – castle wall graphics.
  • Magic Kingdom Country Bear Jamboree – refurbishment.
  • Epcot entrance kennel building – mechanical work.
  • Epcot turnstiles – construction.
  • Epcot Ticket Complex East – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Epcot Test Track – interactive electronic equipment installation.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Craisins Cranberry Bog graphics.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – New Zealand Kiosk.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Bean to the Bar graphics.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Radebergers Brewery Collection at Germany barn.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Belgium exhibit.
  • Epcot Canada pavilion – Disney Vacation Club signage.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios main entrance complex – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney Junior Live – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Voyage of the Little Mermaid – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Midway Mania – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios MuppetVision 3D – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Star Tours – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios American Idol Experience – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom main entry outpost shop – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom main entrance building 2 – electrical outlets.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Restaurantasaurus – hood installation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Mombasa Marketplace – electrical fan addition.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Tucker House – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Tusker House – hood installation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids – electrical queue fan installation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest – electrical dimmer switch installation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Flame Tree Barbeque – hood modifications.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Flame Tree Barbeque – electrical.
  • Downtown Disney West Side DisneyQuest – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace – snacks.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa main building – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort – mechanical.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort fourth floor – ceiling repairs.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – electrical for SAMS project.
  • World Drive between water bridge and bus entrance to Magic Kingdom – mill and overlay.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground entrance & service area – carpentry.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground main entrance – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Golden Oak Estates – installation of rockwork sculptures.
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort reception – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Carriage House – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort check-in building – electrical for SAMS project.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – domestic hot water.

Quick takes …

…After the opening of the Lion King-themed wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort on August 10, there's only one wing remaining under construction. The wing themed to The Little Mermaid is scheduled to open on September 15. The wing will host the only standard hotel rooms at the resort, as the Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo-themed wings consist entirely of family suites. The wing's Flippin' Fins pool will join the Big Blue pool and Cozy Cone pool as the resort's thrd swimming hole.

…The Beastly Bazaar shop on Discovery Island closed on August 12, and will be converted to an indoor character greeting area. There are rumors that the location will host characters from Camp Minnie-Mickey, adding fuel to the fire of speculation that the the Camp area will be absorbed into an Avatar-themed land.

…We're hearing that on Sunday Typhoon Lagoon became the second park at Walt Disney World (after the Magic Kingdom park) to get complimentary in-park Wi-Fi connectivity.

…runDisney has revealed the finishers' medal for the 20th annual Walt Disney World Marathon. The medal features two spinning parts. An outer ring with the words "Walt Disney World Marathon," the years 1994 and 2013, and a "20 Years" tab surrounds a spinning ring containing a different quote from Walt Disney on each side. Inside the middle ring is a center medallion with an image of classic Mickey Mouse on one side, and modern Mickey on the other.


Finishers of the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon receive this special anniversary medal. Image © Disney.

…Registration for the January 10–13, 2013, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is now open. Registration for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 90 percent full, the full Marathon is 84 percent full, the Half Marathon is 79 percent full, and the Disney Family Fun Run 5K is 54 percent full.

…Registration for the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend is now open.

…Registration for the featured race of the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is full. The related runDisney Kids' Races are now 71 percent full and the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run is now 78 percent full, and the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash after-party is 68 percent full.

…Registration for the featured race of the November 9–10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is full. There are still some opportunities available to run the race via charity groups and travel operators. Look for details at the event website. The related Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K is 54 percent full, and runDisney Kids Races are 53 percent full.

…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, go to the MousePlanet main page and enter your email address in the top right box labeled "Join the MousePlanet Newsletter." Click Join, then fill out the fields in the registration page, including your first and last name. The Newsletter is free, but you must complete this registration to receive it, even if you may have signed up for one with us in the past.

Crowd update

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Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the website of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, to help you better plan your trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. TouringPlans.com gathers wait time data from a team of in-park researchers and users of their Lines mobile phone application, and then predicts crowd levels for the next 365 days. Using a scale from 1 to 10, TouringPlans.com has a 90 percent accuracy of predicting the crowds to within 1 point, helping visitors prepare for their trips so they can "Do more. Wait less."

Crowds fall a bit more this week at Walt Disney World! TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls, and will help you avoid the dreaded tour groups, with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 6 / 10
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 5 / 10
Thursday, August 23, 2012 5 / 10
Friday, August 24, 2012 6 / 10

Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

  • Crowds will continue to fall next week, but expect restaurants to be busy.
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed until Fall 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • An air-conditioned play/waiting area, FASTPASS, and twice as many ride vehicles are now available at Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Expect more pleasant (and possibly shorter) waits!
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android or Smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.


 

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming up

  • August 20: Reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant open at 7 a.m.
  • September 7-8: Night of Joy.
  • September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, November 2. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
  • September 15: The Little Mermaid wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • September 28–29: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.
  • September 28 to November 12: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • October 2-3: D23 Sip & Scream.
  • Fall (exact date to be determined): Splitsville opens.
  • November 3: MouseAdventure World Explorers IV.
  • November 8–11: Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
  • November 9–10: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
  • November 9–11: Festival of the Masters.
  • November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30, December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
  • "In time for Holidays 2012": Little Mermaid- and Beauty and the Beast-themed sections of New Fantasyland open at Magic Kingdom.
  • December 13: Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association annual meeting.
  • January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
  • February 22-24, 2013: Disney's Princess Half Marathon.
  • May 4, 2013: Expedition Everest Challenge.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – closed for refurbishment August 22 – October 16.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed for refurbishment October 9.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Maurice's Cottage – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Gaston's Tavern – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Bonjour Village Gifts – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Ariel's Grotto – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.

Epcot

  • Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."
  • Bistro de Paris – closed through December 1 for refurbishment.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment September 10-14

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Grand Floridian Spa closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Beach Pool Bar closed through August 24.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Sandy Cove shop closed August 21 through December.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Courtyard Pool closed August 24 through November for addition of zero-entry area.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Gasparilla Grill & Games closed August 24 through December.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed January 6, 2013, through late summer 2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort Yachtsman Steakhouse – closed for refurbishment August 27 through September 15.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort – villa buildings undergo exterior cleaning and painting one at a time between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through August 30.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool through September 28. The pool remains open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck are closed periodically throughout this period.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 through January 5, 2013 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – January 6, 2013 through March, 2013 closed for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed through September 28 for refurbishment.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
    • September 18 to 22
    • November 27

Current Discounts & Promotions

Free dining offers released for late September through mid-December

Walt Disney World has announced a free dining offer for Disney Visa card members and the general public. The offer is valid for stays most nights September 30 through October 4, October 19 through November 1, November 9–15, November 23–29, and December 10–20, 2012. As with the most recent offers, guests staying at Value resorts receive a free Quick Service Dining Plan, while guests staying in Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa accommodations receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Guests can upgrade their dining plan for the usual difference in price between each dining plan.

The offer is only available for packages including room, tickets, and dining, and all members of the party much purchase the same package and tickets. Minimum length of stay is three nights with two-day base tickets; maximum stay on the package is 14 days. Some blackout dates apply.

Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, and the Little Mermaid standard view rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included in this offer, and you must book by September 29 to get this offer.

Remember: If you're planning to play MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV on November 3, you can get free dining as long as you arrive by the preceding Thursday, November 1.

You can make your reservations through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7631 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code F8Z (Disney Visa) or X9N (general availability) for Value resorts or D85 (Disney Visa) or I87 (general availability) for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts.

MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Special Summer PhotoPass+ deal

Disney's PhotoPass service has announced a new summer discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $169.95 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests receive a voucher to exchange for a PhotoPass+ card upon arrival at the resort, a Photo Gallery CD with over 400 stock photos ($39.95 value), a unique code to create and order a photo CD upon return from their trip ($169.95 value), print packages at select dining locations ($29.95 value each), and digital photos from select attractions ($14.95 value each). Applicable taxes will be charged to all orders.

This special offer is only available from this link or by calling the Guest Support line at 407-560-4300, and only prior to arrival at Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.

The package may take as long as 14 days to arrive, and you must bring your voucher from the package to redeem it, so make sure that you order far enough in advance to allow your materials to arrive.

Attractions currently participating in the program are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur. Current participating restaurants are 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Chef Mickey's Cinderella's Royal Table, Tusker House Restaurant, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

Passholder room discounts for August and September

A Passholder discount is available for most dates August 17 through September 29. Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates is limited, and minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Suites, 3 -bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts range from 25-35 percent and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7635 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code W9G. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

2011-12 Military ticket offer

From now through September 28, 2012, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $138 per ticket, plus tax, or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $165 per ticket, plus tax. No Base ticket is available with this offer.

The tickets expire and may not be used after September 30, 2012. July 4, 2012 is a blockout date.

Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. No more than twelve Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased, activated and/or used by any Eligible Service Member or spouse during the life of this promotion, and no Eligible Service Member or spouse may purchase, activate and/or use more than six Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets during any single week of the promotion. One of the Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call 407-939-7830, visit the Walt Disney World website, or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.

2013 Military Salute offers

From now through September 28, 2013, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $156 per ticket, plus tax (up from $138 last year), or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $184 per ticket, plus tax (up from $165). No Base ticket is available with this offer.

The tickets expire and may not be used before October 1, 2012, or after September 28, 2012. Blockout dates are December 24-31, 2012 and March 24-April 4, 2013 at all ticketed locations, and July 4, 2013 at Magic Kingdom park only.

Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. Tickets may be purchased by active and retired military personnel for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. One of the Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.

In addition, specially priced rooms are available to active and retired U.S. military personnel at select Walt Disney World resorts for stays most nights from October 1, 2012 through September 28, 2013, except for November 24, 2012, December 23-31, 2012, and March 25-April 4, 2013.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets and discounted resort rates, military personnel may call 407-939-7830, visit the Walt Disney World website, or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.


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Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.