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Update for April 15 – 21, 2013

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News and Views

New records set for 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend | New Disney Cruise rumors afloat | Party for the Planet celebrates Earth Day and Animal Kingdom anniversary | Unearth the Treasures of the Seven Seas | Construction notes | Quick takes | Crowd update

New records set for 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend

The first starting line fireworks won't begin for several more months, but records have already been broken in several Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events for 2014. The inaugural Walt Disney World 10K event sold out in just over seven hours, with the Disney Family Fun Run 5K reaching capacity the next day. MousePlanet contributing writer Lorree Tachell, who tracks registration statistics for the various runDisney events, noted that the 5K didn't sell out until November 12 last year, and thinks the new Dopey Challenge (which sold out in a little over two days) is responsible for the huge early spike in registrations.

The good news is that even though runDisney announced last week that Disney was reducing the capacity for the half-marathon for 2014, there is still room in that race, as well as in the full marathon. If you'd like to tackle both events, the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge was also open as of press time. Once you've registered for any of the events, be sure to head over to our Team MousePlanet forum to add yourself to the race roster and chat with other runners.

New Disney Cruise rumors afloat

Discussing rumors of new port destinations, cruise itineraries and even ships is a popular pasttime among Disney Cruise Line fans, and it's a time-honored tradition to try to pry details from the ship's officers during onboard social events. Rumors of a fifth and sixth ship for the Disney Cruise Line have been circulating ever since the maiden voyage of the Disney Fantasy, when Bernard Meyer, president of the Meyer-Werft shipyards that built Disney's third and fourth ships, was overheard several times talking with DCL executives about changes that would be made "next time."

Disney is famously unwilling to discuss future plans for the cruise line before a public announcement is made, even off the record. (I once had a DCL publicist assure me that he knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about a rumored itinerary I asked about, only to hand me a press release about that exact topic the very next day. He maintains I didn't phrase my question properly. I made a mental note never to play poker with him.) Even so, rumors do have a way of slipping out in a company of several thousand people, and we've been hearing more and more chatter that Disney Cruise Line is about to make a "major announcement," likely involving the next generation of ships. Disney has a major press event scheduled at Walt Disney World in the coming weeks, which would be an ideal time and place for such an announcement.

We've also heard that senior managers were briefed last week about an upcoming major refurbishment of the Disney Magic, the first ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. The Magic marks its 15th anniversary this June, and is spending the summer season offering Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Spain. At the end of that schedule, the Magic will undergo a six-week renovation before returning to Florida.

Party for the Planet celebrates Earth Day and Animal Kingdom anniversary

Walt Disney World is marking the 15th anniversary of Animal Kingdom park with a Party for the Planet on Monday, April 22. Based on the details already posted to the Disney Parks blog, the one-day event will include

  • Special opening ceremony with park executives and Imagineers, including the colorful Joe Rohde, Executive Designer and Vice President, Creative, with Walt Disney Imagineering.
  • Special interactive activities from park opening until 5:00 p.m.
  • Artist showcase on Discovery Island.
  • Limited edition 15th Anniversary merchandise.
  • Special food and beverage offerings.

Additional events and activities will be released before the anniversary.

Unearth the Treasures of the Seven Seas


Walt Disney Imagineers share a sneak peek at the new interactive quest, Pirates of the Caribbean: Treasures of the Seven Seas.

The Disney Parks Blog has posted a sneak preview of the A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, a new interactive game coming to the Magic Kingdom park sometime this summer. The game offers five quests for players to solve, and uses a number of new interactive elements around Adventureland. The opening date has not yet been confirmed (Disney originally said Spring, but has now changed that to Summer), but J. Jeff Kober has spotted some of the infrastructure already in place.


New signs for Pirates Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas is in place at the old Crow's Nest. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction notes

A few interesting items appeared in the construction permit paperwork filed with Orange County last week.

  • Disney Hollywood Studios – refurbishment of the Sunset Coutures shop.
  • Disney Hollywood Studios – OZ wall graphics for the AFI exhibit.
  • Disney Hollywood Studios – work on the Monster's Meet-and-Greet at Disney Hollywood Studio.
  • Transportation and Ticket Center - telecommunications permit filed for Mickey's Gift Station and the ticket booths.
  • Magic Kingdom – refurbishment of the Baby Care Center.
  • Magic Kingdom – refurbishment of the Mad Tea Party attraction, which is closed through May 21.
  • Magic Kingdom – unspecified general construction at the Haunted Mansion and Dumbo attractions.
  • Magic Kingdom – Starbucks graphics for the Main Street Bakery
  • Grosvenor Hotel – repairs to "correct fire sprinkler deficiencies."


Construction is underway on a major addition to the bus drop off/pick up area to the Magic Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The Mad Tea Party is closed for refurbishment. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


All of the Tea Cups have been removed for the Mad Tea Party refurbishment. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes…

...Disney is offering two Passholder days at Blizzard Beach. WDW passholders receive free admission to the water park after 2:00 p.m. on Thursdays, May 9 and May 16. Free refreshments and giveaways are offered at Lottawatta Lodge during the event. Visit the passholder website for full details.

...Tinker Bell and her fairy friends are the stars of Fairies Week, this week's Limited Time Magic offering. A rotating gathering of the fairies will appear April 15-21 at "Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook" inside the Magic Kingdom.


The Spring Trolley Show is part of the Limited Time Magic offering from March 3 to May 12th. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

...Two Orlando-area hotels have announced Florida resident rates. Residents receive 10 percent off of the best available rate at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort , along with free transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Both offers are valid through September 5, 2013.

...Walt Disney World's Splitsville will soon have another competitor in the upscale bowling alley concept. Kings Orlando is scheduled to open today (Monday, April 15) on South International Drive, about a 15-minute drive from Downtown Disney. The new lanes offer bowling, pool, bocci ball, plus dining, bars, and private event rooms.

…EasyWDW.com reports that Disney Hollywood Studios will close at 6:00 p.m. on October 26 due to a private event for the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Construction continues on Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Villas. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Construction for the new waterfront eatery at the Morocco Pavilion, Spice Road Table, is well underway. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A water wheel is the only element remaining of the former shop and gardens at the edge of the Morocco Pavilion. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The entertainment stage for Mo'Rockin has been moved further toward the France pavilion. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Part of the sidewalk surrounding the old bakery location in France is torn up for construction of the new ice cream shop. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Work continues on the new rest rooms being built on the West side of the American Adventure. The gardens in that area have been completely removed. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

We're Hiring!

Are you interested in writing for MousePlanet? We're currently looking for columnists to bring cover new areas of the Disney universe. We're especially looking for Florida locals to provide photos and information for the weekly Walt Disney World Update

If you are interested in contributing to the weekly Updates, or you have an idea for a great new column, please contact us—we'd love to hear from you!

Crowd Forecast

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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."

Enjoy moderate crowds 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, April 16, 2013 3 / 10
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 3 / 10
Thursday, April 18, 2013 5 / 10
Friday, April 19, 2013 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!

  • Tuesday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday and Sunday 6 out of 10.
  • 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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Resort Events

2013

2014

runDisney events

An update on upcoming runDisney events and their registration statuses:

2013

  • Expedition Everest Challenge (May 4, 2013) – Sold out: The Challenge and the Family Edition. Still available: Kids Races for kids ages 4 to 10 and tickets for the pre-race picnic and the post-race party.
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend (October 4–5, 2013) – Registration is open for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, Kids Races, Disney Villains Hollywood Bash. The 10-Miler is now 70 percent full.
  • Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (November 8–9, 2013) – Registration is open for Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K, Kids' Races, Wine & Dine Finish Line Party). The half marathon is now at 68 percent full.

2014

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January 9–12, 2014) – Sold out: WDW 10K, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Runner's World Challenge. Registration is open for the Walt Disney World Marathon, Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Family Reunion Breakfast, Pasta in the Park Party. The Dopey Challenge was 99 percent full as of Sunday evening; we expect this to become sold out by the time this park update is published.
  • Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend (February 21–23, 2014) – Registration opens on Tuesday, June 11. Events include Disney's Princess Half Marathon individual and team events, Disney Royal Family 5K, Kids Races, post-5K Breakfast, and Pasta in the Park Party.

Do you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events? Visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Main Street Bakery – closed through May 18 for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • Mad Tea Party – closed April 10 through May 21 for refurbishment.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – closed May 13–15 for refurbishment.
  • Cinderella's Royal Table – closed May 13–16 for refurbishment.
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel – closed May 28 through June 10 for refurbishment.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed June 17–20 for refurbishment.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.

Epcot

  • Fountain View Ice Cream – closed April 8 through early August for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • France pavilion ice cream shop – scheduled to open June, 2013 in location of former bakery.
  • New restroom between America and Japan pavilions – scheduled to open Fall 2013.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No known refurbishments, but both parades (Disney Channel Rocks and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade) have ended their run. No new parades have been announced.


This weekend marked the final performance of the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade at Disney Hollywood Studios. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


It was also the last week of Disney Channel Rocks. It is rumored that the space currently storing these shows will be used for new construction projects. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.


The push-button triggers that allowed visitors standing on a bridge over Kali River Rapids ride to squirt riders below are back in operation at Animal Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Resorts

  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort - Duck Pond pool closed for refurbishment April 1–12. Fantasia pool will remain open.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed through late summer for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – Beach area closed through mid-June for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – Beach pool slide closed May 27 to June 1 for refurbishment, and the entire Beach pool area closed May 30 to June 1. The Courtyard pool will remain open.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – Hippy Dippy Kiddy Pool refurbishment April 1–26.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Spa closed through summer for conversion to Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. The spa at the Grand Floridian is open during this time.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Grandstand pool closed May 13–31 for refurbishment. The High Rock Springs Pool will be open.

Water Parks

  • No known refurbishments.


The first construction trailers for the Downtown Disney renovation project are staged behind Cirque du Soleil. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. Will not be performed on the following dates in 2013:
    • May 14–18
    • May 21–25
    • July 23
    • September 17–21
    • November 5–6

Current Discounts & Promotions

Disney Visa Cardholder room discounts for June 13 through August 14

A Disney Visa Cardholder discount is available for most dates June 13 through August 14. The new promotion offers discounts of 5% - 30% off room-only bookings, with the option of adding non-discounted tickets and dining plans if desired. Rooms must be booked by June 14, 2013 to qualify.

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, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts vary by accommodation type and date, and availability varies by date. Discount percentages shown below are on room only. You can add non-discounted tickets and dining.

Resort Category Resort Name Discount
Value Resorts All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century, Art of Animation Suites – 15% 15%
All-Star Movies 5%
Art of Animation Suites only (Standard Mermaid Rooms are not included) 15%
Moderate Resorts Disney's Riverside, Coronado Springs Caribbean Beach 20%
Disney's French Quarter 15%
Disney's Coronado Springs Suites 5%
Deluxe Resorts Disney's Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge 30%
Disney's Wilderness Lodge 20%
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Club Level 5%
Disney's Deluxe Resort Suites – limited availability 5%
Disney Vacation Club Resorts Disney's Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas 30%
Disney's Villas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani and Jambo House) 5%
Disney's Villas at the Wilderness Lodge 20%
Disney Vacation Club Grand Villas are not included 0%

Thanks to MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the information.

Passholder room discounts for April through early June

A Passholder discount is available for most dates April 2 through June 3. Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. The discount is a two-level discount, with a lower price per room if the room is booked by March 31.

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, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts vary by accommodation type and date, and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7926 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Florida residents get special discount tickets through June

Florida residents can get discounted three- or four-day tickets through early June. The Discover Disney ticket provides three days of base admission for $119 plus tax, or four days for $129 plus tax. The Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun & More Options can be added for just $28.50 each, plus tax. The tickets are priced the same for adults and children.

Tickets are available for purchase from now through June 3, and may be used through June 7. Passes may not be used during the Easter peak weeks from March 23 through April 5.

For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the special deal website or call (407) 939-1283.

Florida resident hotel offers

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando has announced Florida resident rates valid through September 5, 2013. Residents will receive 10% off of the best available rate, along with free transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Book using the Florida Resident offer website.

The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort has announced Florida resident rates valid through September 5, 2013. Residents will receive 10% off of the best available rate, along with free transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Book using the Florida Resident offer website.

PhotoPass+ pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $149.95 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 more than 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 are 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 might 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.

These tickets expire after September 28. Blockout dates are March 24 through April 4 at all ticketed locations, and July 4 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 four-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 through September 28.

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 Adrienne here.


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(Send an email to Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix)

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix (@MousePlanetAVP) is an original MousePlanet staffer and manages to find time for all of this while running two retail stores, MouseShoppe and CharmingShoppe.