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Update for October 8 – 14, 2012

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

News and Views

Tickets for Passholder and D23 previews of New Fantasyland available today | Will "Magic Band" change the way you experience Walt Disney World? | Calling all with a spirit of adventure! MouseAdventure: World Explorers comes to Magic Kingdom! | Room-only discount for January through early March | Magic Your Way package discount for January through early March | Characters in Flight back in the air with new balloon | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Tickets for Passholder and D23 previews of New Fantasyland available today

Passholders and D23 members can get a special preview access to New Fantasyland in early November. Tickets for both previews will be available starting today.


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The Passholder previews take place on November 3, 10, and 11. Each day features three three-and-a-half-hour sessions (8:00 to 11:30 a.m., 12:30 to 4:00 p.m., and 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.). Passholders can register parties up to 8 guests total, but each member of the party must be a valid passholder at both the time of registration and on the date of the preview. To register, you will need the names, dates of birth, and annual pass numbers for each member of the party.

The Passholder website will post a reservation link when tickets become available at noon EDT. After you register, you see a confirmation page. Print this confirmation, and take it to the event check-in locatin with a valid photo ID and valid annual pass to receive your ticket(s). Disney is only accepting printed confirmations, and will not accept electronic images (on cell phones, tablets, etc.) for admission.

D23 previews take place on November 3 and 4, with two sessions each day. Those sessions take place from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. D23 members in good standing can reserve a ticket for themselves and one guest. You will be required to provide your membership number when making your reservation. The reservation link will be posted on the D23 website when tickets become available at 1:00 p.m. EDT. After you register, you see a confirmation page. Print this confirmation, and take it to the event check-in locatin with a valid photo ID and your D23 membership card to receive your ticket(s). Disney is only accepting printed confirmations, and will not accept electronic images (on cell phones, tablets, etc.) for admission.

When you reserve your tickets, you choose between two itineraries. Both provide a self-guided tour of Be Our Guest Restaurant and a ride on Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. The itineraries diverge, as one provides the chance to experience Enchanted Tales with Belle, while the other provides access to the meet-and -greet photo opportunity with Ariel at Ariel's Grotto.

Passholders and D23 members can also purchase a special set of commemorative merchandise for the preview, linked from the D23 and Passholder sites. You may only order the merchandise until October 14. There is one style of women's T-shirt and one style of men's T-shirt (both in multiple sizes), a ball cap, a pin, and a magnet. You must provide a copy of your D23 membership card or your Pass in order to purchase. Passholder, Disney Vacation Club member, and cast member discounts are all available. Once purchased, your cannot cancel your order. After October 14, all requested merchandise are custom-printed and shipped to you around mid-January. For more information, check the links on the D23 and Passholder websites.

As of this time, there are no known Disney Vacation Club member previews scheduled.

Will "Magic Band" change the way you experience Walt Disney World?

There's been a lot of talk lately about Fastpass+ and the impact that it could have on Walt Disney World's theme parks. But a new technology created by Disney could have an even bigger impact on how guests experience the parks. The FCC is currently reviewing a request from Disney for approval of a "Magic Band" wristband that could be used for multiple purposes in the parks. The wristband would be fully sealed to prevent tampering, and would contain a built-in battery, a low-powered 2.4 GHz transmitter, and passive HF and UHF RFID tags.

The wristband can be personalized, and can be discarded when no longer needed. It's waterproof, so it could be used at Disney's water parks. The Magic Band could be used for various purposes in and around the Walt Disney World Resort utilizing RFID such as admission, Fastpass and Fastpass+, purchasing against a guest room or Disney gift card, or even opening guest room doors. It's likely to assume that the wristband will also be able to have new ticket media or other special privileges associated with it after the fact, perhaps even via Internet purchase from home. The band could even allow Disney to further personalize your in-park experience by transmitting your name to an earpiece worn by a character so that the character can greet you by name.

The paperwork filed with the FCC claims that the wristband will communicate with an "indoor wireless infrastructure," which would probably validate the band and check what entitlements are associated with it.


A "Magic Band," as included in documentation submitted to the FCC for approval.

In conjunction with a patent issued to Disney for "Method and system for performing affinity transactions" and another for "Wearable bands with interchangeable RFID modules allowing user sizing and personalization," as well as a pending patent application for "Identification band with secured association to wearer," the Magic Band could not only allow you to perform all of these transactions, but also only allow the wristband to work when worn by you. If the wristband is taken off (say, at the end of the day), it will sense that you are no longer wearing it. When the wristband is put back on, it would require you to revalidate your identity via fingerprint or by typing a PIN into a keypad. This would provide security against someone taking another person's wristband and using it to enter a theme park, charge purchases to their room, or even gain entry to their room. (It would also likely require a large number of fingerprint scanners or keypads distributed throughout the entire resort to revalidate wristbands.

This is an extremely interesting development, though we'll have to wait to see how long it will take for Disney to actually implement it in a real-world situation. What do you think of this new technology? Let us know in the comments below.

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. Registration will close on Friday, October 19th at 11:00 p.m. (EDT), or when the event sells out. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page.


Construction at the rear of the gift shop at the France pavilion prepares for the new location of Boulangerie Patisserie. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

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.

Room-only discount for January through early March

Starting October 10, all guests can book a room-only reservation at select Walt Disney World resorts for 15-35 percent off of standard rates most nights from January 2 through March 7, except January 18-20. Reservations must be booked by December 31.

Disney Visa offered this discount from October 4-7, prior to general availability this Wednesday, October 10. It appears that the deal will not be available for booking by anybody today or tomorrow.

Guests can receive 35 percent off at all Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts, except for Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, which both offer 25 percent off..

30 percent discounts are available at most Moderate Resorts, including Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins.

Guests can also get a 25 percent discount at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, and Disney's Pop Century Resort

Fifteen percent discounts can be had at Disney's Art of Animation Resort, family suites only. Standard rooms in the Little Mermaid-themed section are excluded. Also excluded are Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, All-Star Music Resort, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Fort Wilderness campsites.

The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7661 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Magic Your Way package discount for January through early March

Starting October 10, all guests can book a room-only reservation at select Walt Disney World resorts for discounts on room, ticket, and dining packages most nights from January 2 through March 7. Value Resort package discounts apply to Quick-Service Dining Plans, while Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas Resorts all offer discounts on the standard Disney Dining Plan. Reservations must be booked by December 31.

Disney Visa offered this discount from October 4-7, prior to general availability this Wednesday, October 10. It appears that the deal will not be available for booking by anybody today or tomorrow.

Packages are available at all resorts except for the standard rooms in the Little Mermaid-themed section of Disney's Art of Animation Resort, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Fort Wilderness campsites.

The discount codes for the Disney Visa cardmember offer are T64 for Value resorts and Q85 for all other resorts. We do not have word on the general-availability codes yet.

The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling 407-939-7661 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).


Mariachi Cobre performs to open Epcot's 30th Anniversary "moment." Photo by Stephanie Wien.


Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President for Next Generation Experience and Walt Disney World Parks, addresses the crowd. Photo by Stephanie Wien.


Cast members from various Future World pavilions wave to the crowd. Photo by Stephanie Wien.


Cast members from the World Showcase pavilions line the stage as Walt Disney Parks President Meg Crofton addresses the crowd. Photo by Stephanie Wien.


The Voices of Liberty perform for the assembled guests. Photo by Stephanie Wien.


Disney Legend Marty Sklar talks to the crowd. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Characters in Flight back in the air with new balloon

The Characters in Flight at Downtown Disney West Side reopened for business last Friday with a brand-new balloon. The previous balloon was taken out of service early this summer following an incident involving a similar balloon in Hong Kong. The Florida balloon had already been scheduled for replacement in November, so the schedule was moved up by a month to decrease the attraction's down time.

The new balloon sports a new red, yellow, and blue color scheme and striped pattern, and a new set of flying characters, including Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Jasmine, and Aladdin. Characters in Flight is currently offering an early bird special every day, where you can take a flight before 10:30 a.m. for just $10.


Work continues on Test Track, which is expected to open in about two months. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Construction update

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

  • Transportation & Ticket Center Jafar parking lot – rejuvenation.
  • Magic Kingdom "it's a small world" – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain bridge – concrete.
  • Magic Kingdom Pirates of the Caribbean – PIRIM Interactive hardware installation of low voltage equipment.
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Hops & Barley display.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Soundstage 4 – exterior graphics.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Epic Theater – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Conservation Station – construction.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – construction.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa buildings 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 – construction.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort parking lot – rejuvenation.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Ranchos and Casitas pools mechanical rooms – mechanical.

Quick takes …

…Free Wi-Fi is now available to guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios. That leaves Disney's Animal Kingdom as the only theme park without the service. Expect to see Wi-Fi at all theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney by the end of the year.

…Disney Vacation Club Member Services will close briefly from 5 p.m. EDT tonight until 1 p.m. EDT tomorrow for system updates. An updated booking system launches at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The online booking tool at the DVC member website will also be unavailable.

…There are two special "Magic Shots" available through PhotoPass during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year. The shots are taken by photographers in front of the Haunted Mansion, in Liberty Square, and at the Adventureland bridge, and feature the Hitchhiking Ghosts. "Magic Shots" are photos where Disney characters are digitally inserted into the picture with you.

…Fans of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom will get some a new way to show their love while simultaneously helping themselves in the game. Four new "power up" T-shirts will be available in the Magic Kingdom in the near future. The shirts will not only celebrate the game, but they will also provide extra power to any spells played by those wearing them. The shirts will be available at the Emporium, Uptown Jewelers, Sir Mickey's, and Frontier Trading Post.

…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 68 percent full, runDisney Kids Races are 65 percent full, and the Wine & Dine Finish Line Party is 80 percent sold out.

…Registration for the featured events of the January 10–13, 2013, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend are full, including the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, the full Marathon, and the Half Marathon. The Runner's World Challenge is also sold out. The Disney Family Fun Run 5K still has room at 73 percent full, and the runDisney Kids' Races are 53 percent full. Space for the featured races is still available through Team in Training and other groups with reserved spots.

…Registration for the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend is open. The individual and team Half Marathons are both 67 percent full. The Race Retreat is 80 percent full and the post-5K breakfast is 52 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."

It will be a moderately busy fall 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, October 9, 2012 5 / 10
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 6 / 10
Thursday, October 11, 2012 2 / 10
Friday, October 12, 2012 4 / 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!

  • Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Monday, Thursday, and Friday this week. Guests without admission for this separately ticketed party must leave the park by 7:00 pm on those days.
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed until Fall 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • Magic Kingdom is our Best Park on Friday.
  • 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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Coming up


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 through October 16.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed for refurbishment October 9.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed for refurbishment October 18-25.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle – now in previews, soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Gaston's Tavern – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Bonjour Village Gifts – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Ariel's Grotto – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • 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 3 for refurbishment.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • American Film Institute Showcase – closed for refurbishment October 8 through November 16.
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment October 8 through November 16.

Animal Kingdom

  • No current known refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
    • Grand Floridian Spa closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
    • Sandy Cove shop closed through December.
    • Courtyard Pool closed through early December for addition of zero-entry area.
    • Mouseketeer Club closed through November 2012.
    • Gasparilla Grill & Games closed through December 17.
    • Ivy Trellis Beauty and Barber Shop closed October 20 through December 3 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed February 2, 2013, through late summer 2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts:
    • Ship Shape Health Club closed through November 16 for refurbishment. A temporary health club has been set up in the Solarium at the Beach Club Villas.
    • Periwig Beauty & Barber Shop closed through November 16 for refurbishment.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 through January 5, 2013 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – January 6, 2013 through March 16, 2013 closed for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Palm, Magnolia, and Oak Trail Golf Courses – closed due to Children's Miracle Network Classic October 29 through November 11.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed for refurbishment October 22–28.
  • Osprey Ridge Golf Course – closed for refurbishment November 12–18.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed for refurbishment November 26 through December 2.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 3–9.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 10–14.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show will not be performed on November 27.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Passholder room discounts through end of year

A Passholder discount is available for most dates through December 24. 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. Campsites, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts range from 20-35 percent and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7859 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code Q5M. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

2013 Free dining package for United Kingdom citizens

A free dining package for 2013 is now available for citizens of the United Kingdom. The package is valid for arrivals in 2013 between January 13 and March 19, as well as April 7, through December 8. The package includes not only a free Disney Dining Plan, but also a $100 gift card and a 14-day ticket for the price of a 14-day ticket. The deal is valid for a free Quick-Service Dining Plan at Moderate resorts and a free standard Dining Plan at Deluxe resorts. You must book by November 15, 2012 to get this deal.

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 before you arrive 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, and Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

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.

You cannot use these tickets before October 1, 2012, and they expire after September 28, 2013. Blockout dates are December 24 to 31, 2012 and March 24 through 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.

You may upgrade the tickets 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 through 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.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.


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(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)

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.